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Bruce Halstead 1920-2002
Bruce Halstead 1920—2002

Bruce W. Halstead, MD, a pioneer in the field of marine pharmacognosy and natural products research, died unexpectedly in December 2002, after suffering a stroke. He was 82. In the words of his college friend James Carter, MD, of New Orleans, "We have lost a giant."

Bruce W. Halstead was born Newton Bruce Mellars, March 28, 1920 in San Francisco, California. He was related to Sir Isaac Newton, an ancestor of his father, hence his given name Newton. At age nine, when his stepfather adopted him, Bruce’s name was legally changed to Bruce Walter Halstead.

He earned his bachelor’s degree in zoology from the University of California at Berkeley and his medical degree from Loma Linda University. His medical and teaching positions included Assistant Director and Associate Professor of Preventative Medicine, School of Tropical and Preventative Medicine, Loma Linda University; Assistant Surgeon, U.S. Public Health Service; and Instructor in Tropical Medicine, U.S. Naval Medical School.

Halstead’s scientific investigations led him to the world of natural-based medicine, including the fields of marine bio-toxicology, toxic plants and animals of the world, tropical medicine, global pollution, chelation therapy, hyperbaric oxygen therapy, medicinal plants, radiation sickness, AIDS, cancer, adaptogenic immune enhancement, nutrition, and molecular bio-chemistry.

His earliest professional work gained world recognition as the first to establish the scientific field known as "Marine Bio-Toxicology," due largely to his three-volume opus (with third and fourth editions), Poisonous and Venomous Marine Animals of the World. The first edition was over 3,000 pages (United States Government Printing Office 1970), which is still the most definitive work on this subject. In 1959 Halstead founded the nonprofit World Life Research Institute in Grand Terrace, California, containing a unique library, botanical collections, artworks, and a wide range of scientific documentation of botanical and marine-derived medicines.

During his long career he served as a consultant to more than 40 governmental and international agencies, including the World Health Organization (WHO); UNESCO; the U.S. Army, Navy, and Air Force; the equivalents of the National Institutes of Health of numerous foreign governments (e.g., the former Soviet Union, Peoples Republic of China, and Cuba); domestic and foreign universities; research institutes; and the pharmaceutical industry. He was a member of the Group of Experts on the Scientific Aspects of Marine Pollution (GESAMP) of the United Nations. In 1972, he was selected by WHO to serve as a participant at the Stockholm Conference, which brought 150 countries together to deal with global pollution. He served as a consultant to both the Jacques Cousteau and the Jean Michel Cousteau organizations and accompanied the Cousteaus on several of their expeditions. He was also a professional diver. In 1989, Halstead was appointed an honorary advisor to the Military Institute of Radiation Medicine, Beijing, China.

Dr. Halstead authored more than 17 books and more than 300 scientific publications. He was considered one of the global pioneers in chelation therapy, having used it in his practice as early as 1979 and having authored in 1984 the first concise scientific work on this medical modality, The ScientificBasis of EDTA Chelation Therapy (second edition released in 1997 by Halstead and Rozema).

His many scientific expeditions took him to more than 150 countries. In 1995, he conducted a major study for the U.S. Navy on the poisonous animals of the Mid-East and their treatment. This work resulted in the book Dangerous Aquatic and Land Animals of the Middle East (by Halstead and Medrano, in press).

In 1981 Halstead was introduced to the Russian scientist Professor I.I. Brekhman. Brekhman’s work on eleuthero so fascinated Halstead that he pursued special permission to visit Brekhman in the Soviet Union during the Cold War (1982), resulting in Halstead’s 1984 book summarizing Soviet eleuthero research, Eleutherococcus senticosus (Siberian Ginseng): An Introduction to the Concepts of Adaptogenic Medicine, which was also published in the former Soviet Union.

After he returned from Russia, Halstead continued his quest investigating traditional medicine and applying modern analytical chemistry, physiology, and immunology to his research. He collaborated with scholars and scientists in most parts of the world, especially in China. In May 2002, Dr. Halstead had the extreme satisfaction of seeing first-hand the remarkable effectiveness of Chinese herbs being used in Asia to treat cancer. This story was documented in the book he and his wife completed shortly before his untimely death, entitled The ScientificBasis of Chinese Integrative Cancer Therapy (by Halstead and Holcomb-Halstead, projected release date May 2004).

There are several writings by Dr. Halstead yet to be published. The greatest of all being an extensive investigation which Dr. Halstead authored over a period of 16 years. Upon completion, it reached more than 1,000 pages. He had entitled this manuscript A Chinese Adaptogenic Approach to Cancer, AIDS, and Radiation Sickness. This book includes a beautifully illustrated colored atlas of more than 300 medicinal plants (projected publication 2008).

Dr. Halstead is survived by his first wife, Joy Arloa; their six children, Linda G. Halstead, Sandra Lee Halstead, David Halstead, Larry Halstead, Shari Halstead and Claudia Halstead; his sister, Patrice Mellars; 11 grandchildren and 2 great-grandchildren; his second wife, Terri Lee Holcomb-Halstead; and his dog, Toto. The World Life Research Institute continues serving as a 501(c)3 non-profit organization. For more information about Dr. Halstead’s lifework and publications, visit the websites <> or <>.

–Terri Lee Holcomb-Halstead Grand Terrace, California