CARSON B. BURSTINER, MD
LEGACY OF A HEALER
By Timothy Daiss
Dr. Burgstiner didn’t know why he felt this way: sore joints, fatigue and
flu-like symptoms. But it became suddenly, painfully clear something was wrong.
He had a hunch, and it proved true. He had Hepatitis B, a highly contagious and
life-threatening disease contracted in an operation with an infected patient. To
compound matters, this would spell the end of his medical career, a career that
had spanned nearly three decades.
He could continue examining patients, but was prohibited from performing surgery
or helping bring new life into the world, both a source of joy and personal
satisfaction. It appeared that Savannah had lost a gifted physician in his
Seven years elapsed, and Dr. Burgstiner was still a carrier of the hepatitis
virus, but, as often is the case with great men, he would turn tragedy into
triumph. He went back to the basics, consulted his medical school books, and
searched for answers.
Finally, a principle, long forgotten, sprang to life. Dr. Burgstiner reflected
upon that time, “I recalled that I was taught in medical school that the
thymus gland controls the immune system. It is large in children and decreases
as we age”. He reasoned, if the thymus gland could be reactivated, it may be
able to boost the immune system and deal with the hepatitis that plagued him.
Armed with this knowledge, Dr. Burgstiner visited a health food store and bought
a preparation made of calf thymus. To the thymus he added a vitamin-mineral
complex, digestive enzymes, and several herbs known for liver and immune
support. He began to ingest the formula daily. Simply put, it worked. In six
weeks his hepatitis had converted to what is described as a “non-carrier
Elated with his personal breakthrough, as well as the ramifications for the
medical world, Burgstiner contacted the Center for Disease Control (CDC) in
Atlanta and reported his findings. Blood samples were sent to Massachusetts
General at Harvard as well as Scripps Institute in California. Countless studies
were performed on the samples, including DNA testing and liver enzyme levels.
The test results were encouraging, his hypothesis confirmed.
Dr. Burgstiner took the next step. He consulted with other physicians and
researchers, most of whom responded with great interest and enthusiasm. Dr.
Julian Whitaker, America’s foremost
physician advocate of natural healing, talk show host, and author of the
nationally circulated newsletter Health and Healing remarked, “The ability to
maintain high levels of thymus hormone activity has enormous potential for
alleviating suffering from age-related diseases.”
Dr. Burgstiner stated, “With this confirmation from my colleagues and with the
knowledge that the government would not support studies on these products
because they are food supplements, I began to recommend the thymus,
vitamin-mineral supplements to my patients.”
In a short period, many of his patients reported marked improvements. In a span
of only three years, Dr. Burgstiner had arrested 84 cases of hepatitis B, 34
cases of hepatitis C, and 28 cases of rheumatoid arthritis, as well as 12 cases
of lupus, 10 cases of multiple sclerosis, 7 cases of squamous cell cancer of the
skin, and several cases of atopic dermatitis.
No small feat, for a simple yet overlooked fact-reactivation of the thymus gland
boosts the body’s immune system. The next step in Dr. Burgstiner’s journey
was a report in the January 1991 Journal of the Medical Association of Georgia
which published his findings. Soon physicians across the country took note.
Burgstiner stated, “The results of this article [were] overwhelming. We
received thousands of letters and calls from MDs throughout the country.”
This simple yet amazing breakthrough continued to gain momentum, in spite of
naysayers and disregard by the established medical community. An Atlanta
television station, hearing about a “small town” doctor and some sort of
perceived medical breakthrough, sent their medical correspondent, Dr. Michael
Rosen, MD to Savannah to investigate what Dr. Rosen presumed to be
Instead, Dr. Rosen filmed a multi-part report praising Dr. Burgstiner’s
findings. This time news spread quickly, and the Atlanta station was inundated
with calls from across the globe. Once more the determination of this medical
pioneer was changing history. Yet, formal “double blind” studies needed to
be conducted before the FDA or the medical community would give credence.
Though highly respected as a surgeon and OBGYN, many of his colleagues thought
that Dr. Burgstiner had crossed the line of medical orthodoxy and entered into
“alternative” medicine. In fact, the medical establishment cautions that
herbal remedies pose unknown dangers due to lower regulation as well as lack of
patient supervision and direction.
Many also disagree with Dr. Burgstiner’s thymus hypothesis. Thomas Boyer, MD,
professor of immunology at Emory University stated, “My guess is that the
thymus gland shrinks for a good reason-it is no longer needed.”
Yet, Dr. Burgstiner saw his breakthrough as anything but alternative. Instead,
he believed that sound nutritional support was integral to wellness and sound
Dr. Burgstiner continued using thymic formulations in his practice. Eventually
he developed a comprehensive wellness formula that bears his name. Thousands
began to benefit from the use of his formula and anecdotal evidence continued to
mount. Reports of the hepatitis virus being arrested were cited as were positive
reports in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis, allergy problems and chronic
This was big news, and people took notice. Several celebrities tried and
benefited from Dr. Burgstiner’s formula.
Country singer Naomi Judd, diagnosed with hepatitis, consulted with the doctor
about his thymic research during her recovery. Former baseball star, Brett
Butler, diagnosed with throat cancer in 1995, also used his formula and
discusses in his book, Field of Hope, its role in his recovery.
It was Dr. Burgstiner’s desire that double blind studies be conducted to prove
his theories, to confirm the anecdotal evidence. Unfortunately, he died in 1997,
partly due to liver damage suffered during the seven years before re-activation
of his thymus gland. He did not see his wish of double blind studies come to
The torch was passed to his son, John Burgstiner, who took the helm of the
nutrition company that Dr. Burgstiner founded. Hoping to validate his father’s
claims, John began pursuing the evidence so long hoped for. “I thank God every
day for using my father in such a powerful way, and it is my passion to fulfill
his legacy,” John said.
FDA PROTOCOL APPROVED
Nova Southeastern University in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., recently approved an FDA
protocol for a double blind/placebo controlled study on chronic fatigue syndrome
using Dr. Burgstiner’s formula. The study will begin with the enrolling of
patients next summer.
In addition, another double blind study using Dr. Burgstiner’s formula is
being prepared by the Anti-Aging and Life Enhancement Institute, an affiliate of
Savannah Plastic Surgery Associates at Memorial Medical Center.
Dr. Arcie Mizell, a naturopathic practitioner and medical research director at
the institute, is hopeful. He stated, “Dr. Burgstiner’s formula appears to
be just as beneficial as homeopathic growth hormone which is used to stimulate
the body’s production of growth hormones and slows the aging process.”
He continued, “As we age, growth hormones are depleted, and our physical
functions are diminished. Ailments such as heart diseases, thyroid diseases, and
joint disease become prevalent.”
“If the study proves Dr. Burgstiner’s hypothesis,” Mizell stated, “it
would potentially save billions of dollars by delaying the length of time that
new populations of elderly would enter long-term care facilities.”
Dr. Eric Scheinbart, a board certified physician in anti-aging medicine
affiliated with Memorial Health University Medical Center, validates the
importance of the thymus gland in maintaining good health
and delaying the aging process. He said, “Reactivation of the thymus gland
increases cell longevity, thereby diminishing the decline of immune function.”
Yet, according to Barry Schlafstein,MD, a young physician and surgeon that
worked closely with Dr. Burgstiner the last year of his practice, Dr.
Burgstiner’s legacy was not limited to his medical research. Schlafstein said,
“Every young physician should have the opportunity to work one-on-one with a
physician like Bucky Burgstiner. Not only did he have outstanding gynecological
and surgical skills, he related to patients in a unique way; he genuinely cared
about each and every patient.”
When asked what kind of legacy Dr. Burgstiner left, Schlafstein remarked, “He
was a medical genius. It was his superior knowledge and grasp of human
physiology and anatomy that allowed him to be more aggressive, to move into new
areas of research.”
While waiting for the results of the double blind studies, Dr. Burgstiner’s
research continues to help, continues to heal, and increasing numbers of
physicians validate his claims.
With the increasing awareness in alternative medicine, it is inevitable that the
established medical community will take note, adhere, and join the fold.
In this regard, a medical maverick like Dr. Burgstiner, years ahead of his time,
becomes a pioneer, a founder and an innovator whose work far exceeds his life.
Reprinted from the Connect Savannah Weekly News
Originally published December 10-16, 1999