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How a Mysterious "Black Box" Alternative Therapy Cured James Coburn's Crippling Arthritis.

Gary North
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Aug. 9, 2005

James Coburn for years suffered from crippling arthritis. It kept him from acting. Then he reappeared on-screen.

This is the unknown story of how he regained his health and his career. Well, not quite unknown. I interviewed Coburn for my monthly audiotape subscription service, FireStorm Chats, in the early 1990s. He went public with the amazing facts of his deliverance. But I had very few subscribers. This story is generally unknown.

I published this information again in my e-letter, Gary North's Reality Check, in November, 2002, the week after his death.

James Coburn never stopped working after The Magnificent Seven, his third movie, in which he had one of Hollywood's legendary walk-on roles. Decades later, he was still having fun with James Garner and Mel Gibson in the re-make of "Maverick." He won an Oscar for the 1998 movie, "Affliction." And he will be heard forever as the voice of the villainous corporate boss in "Monsters, Inc."

His action roles disappeared in the 1980's. There was a reason for this, and it wasn't age. If you look closely at his hands as he deals the cards in Maverick, you'll see why. They are gnarled. He had been dealt a bad hand in the late 1970's -- actually, two bad hands: rheumatoid arthritis. There were times when he could not hold his comb to comb his hair. Yet he was able to deal cards in 1994. There was a reason for this: a "black box." It was a miracle machine. I know, because it saved my wife, just as it saved Coburn.

It could have saved a lot of other people, except for one thing: the U.S. government pulled the plug. ("Agency pulls plug on LV pain clinic," Las Vegas Sun, Oct. 19, 1991)

At about the same time that Coburn's symptoms were disappearing, my wife began treatment by the same genius inventor. The inventor had invented a machine that he said destroyed viruses. However it worked, it healed my wife at the same time that it healed Coburn. This took three days.


My wife was in even worse shape than James Coburn in 1988. She was in such bad shape that I wrote an entire issue of my newsletter, Remnant Review, about her affliction, warning my subscribers to take the disease seriously. She had what is sometimes called chronic fatigue syndrome, sometimes called Epstein-Barr, and in England is called ME. In 1988, few physicians and no insurance companies acknowledged it as a disease. My wife went to doctor after doctor in search of a diagnosis, let alone a cure. She was told it was some form of mononucleosis. They could find nothing wrong with her.

In the late 1980's, the affliction was beginning to receive a lot of media coverage and even more official medical skepticism. "Depression, not virus, may cause chronic fatigue, new study says." (Seattle Times, May 10, 1988). In comparing 26 people who were "suspected of having chronic Epstein-Barr virus with 18 healthy volunteers," reported the University of Washington School of Medicine, "the only significant difference emerged on the psychiatric tests." In short, it's all in your head. I wrote my report to let any sufferers know that they were not alone, that the disease was real, that it was not a psychological affliction.

Those who had the worst form of the disease were bedridden. They lived in terrible pain when they were awake, and they slept 16 hours a day. They suffered joint pain, headaches, and memory loss. There were at least two dozen symptoms, all bad.

My wife was always tired, suffered headaches, and could not concentrate. She would read a paragraph in a book three times and not remember what she had just read. She would drive at 20 miles an hour in town, which was the limit of her ability to respond fast enough. She sometimes walked across the room as if she was an 80-year-old woman. She was 38. I began my report, "The Disabling of the Spirit," with these words:

Because of the grim nature of this report, and also because of its importance to thousands of families, I am removing the copyright. You are hereby authorized to reproduce it by any means you choose, and so is anyone who receives a photocopy or some other version. When you read it, you will understand why I have done this.

I had originally intended to call this report "The Yuppie Disease," but that would be much too cute. There is nothing cute about Chronic Epstein Barr Virus (CEBV). I know. My wife has it. It has begun to reshape our lives.

I would not bore you with the details of this disease if it were not a rapidly spreading epidemic, but tragically it is. No one knows how fast it is spreading, but if it continues to spread, it will have profound economic effects on the economy. It could literally reshape American life.

That's true of any disease, of course. But not all diseases spread far and wide. One well- respected researcher estimates that 12 million Americans will contract this disease before the end of the 1990's, and maybe sooner. If he is correct, then right in the middle of their prime working years, millions of Americans will leave the work force to go on Social Security disability payments, possibly for the rest of their lives. If he is correct, the Medicare system may not survive to the year 2000. Social Security faces a similar crisis.

I will put it bluntly: if you get it, within one year you could (and should!) be out of the full-time labor force, and possibly unable to perform even part-time labor. For how long? For as long as you have it. How long is this? Nobody knows. At present, CEBV appears to be a lifetime disease.

That issue was run verbatim in the Japan Times. The disease was raging there, too.

One month after I wrote the report on my wife's condition, I published an update. I here reprint more of the report than you may care to read. If it bores you, skip over it. I'll get to the part about Coburn. I'll tell you about my interview with him, and why he was outraged enough with the Food and Drug Administration to consent to the interview. On September 2, 1988, I wrote the following:

* * * * * * *

What I'm going to tell you in the first section of this report I would not have believed possible as recently as a month ago. It has boggled my imagination. It will cost me some subscribers, especially among physicians, but I don't care. I really don't know what to make of this information, but I at least want you to know. Some of you will think I've gone off the deep end. Nonsense! I went off the deep end years ago. This time, I've gone over the falls. (But I survived!)

It relates to my wife's physical condition. Thanks to many of you, we were literally inundated with suggestions regarding potential alternative therapies that might work. Although I have been on the "fringes" of the health movement since the age of seven, when my mother took me to the famous Pottenger Clinic in Monrovia, California (where I was restored to health), I would not have guessed that there were so many different approaches.

What it boils down to is this: there is no "one" human body and no "one" affliction. People are different; their environments are different. There are be statistical patterns in both sickness and health care, as in anything else, but no single cure exists that is guaranteed to help every disease victim equally well. A cure that will work for one victim can lie hidden in the statistical "noise" of the scientific verification process. We can't see the trees for the forest.

As it turned out, my wife probably is not going to test any of these dozens of therapies. She no longer needs to. It now appears that she is cured of her Chronic Epstein-Barr Virus syndrome (CEBV). That is to say, for the moment, she is no longer suffering any of her former symptoms. A week from now, or a year from now, we will see. But for the last month, she has not has one bad day. No headaches, no inside-out weariness, no 16-hour slumber sessions, no wild emotional swings. She is back to normal -- normal being defined as what she was two years ago.

When I wrote the August 5 issue, she was about to leave Texas in order to visit another odd-ball specialist with a weird treatment. She had spoken with a woman who had been helped by this specialist. He is not a physician, although he has a physician who serves as a front for him. (This is what several alternative health care specialists are forced to do. This raises fees, of course.)

The husband of this woman is a friend of mine. He is in the hard-money movement. I trust him. My wife has spent hours on the phone with her. The lady had suffered from a terrible disease called endometriosis. The disease afflicts women. It kills them in some cases. She had been treated at Hospital Santa Monica in Rosarito Beach in Baja California, where my wife also went. Before she went there, she had been operated on to remove the uterine tumors the disease produces, and the surgeon told her husband that she would have to be operated on repeatedly, possibly for the rest of her life. That discouraged them both. She was in constant pain, slept 16 hours a day, and was a true basket case. She tells me that her treatments at Hospital Santa Monica were very successful. She thinks it saved her life. But she still suffered from a discouraging lack of energy. She then went to the man who treated my wife, and his treatments produced another leap forward -- mainly, a return of her lost energy. The series of treatments took only a week.

While at his offices, she had met another woman who in a matter of days had been partially delivered from some of the effects of muscular dystrophy. The woman's hand, which had been useless for four years, had begun to regain its strength. The woman told her that she had recently taken a bath, and found herself out of the tub drying herself off. It had been years since she had been able to do this unassisted.

Next, the wife of my friend invited another hard-money writer to send his epileptic son to the man. She monitored the boy day and night. He suffered three seizures an hour.

These seizures were continual, day and night, even when he was asleep. After a week of treatments, the seizures were reduced to three a day. Subsequently, the number increased, but nothing like what they had been before the treatments.

As I write this report, this woman is on a hunting trip with her husband in the far reaches of British Columbia. Six months ago, she was in agony, sleeping 16 hours a day to escape, with only the prospect of annual surgery sessions to keep her alive. Understandably, she recommended that my wife try the treatment.

I will neither identify the name of the specialist nor his location. I wish I could. He requests anonymity. Neither he nor I has any doubt that he would be shut down by the Feds and the local medical association within a month if I did mention him by name. He has already served time in prison briefly because he treated a few cancer patients. I will say only this: he uses a "black box" electronic cure that I would have regarded a year ago as a typical quack treatment. But desperation changes people's views. So, I assure you, does the disappearance of all symptoms.

Since the day he hooked her up to the box's wires, she has suffered zero CEBV symptoms. The treatments cost $3,000, took a little over a week, and were the best investment I've ever made. (By the way, insurance companies do not recognize the existence of this relentless disease, so they refuse to pay claims on it. Given the rapid spread of this disease, this makes economic sense. If this disease ever becomes official, you can kiss goodbye to today's "cheap" health insurance premiums. They will soar. Victims will spend fortunes fruitlessly seeking relief, just as the author of did.)

Now, it is possible that there is some other reason for her deliverance. It might be psychological: an overnight deliverance from a disease with effects that were detected by blood tests, one that had afflicted her mercilessly and without respite for two years. She has also been the beneficiary of a lot of prayers, including the laying on of hands and anointing of oil by our minister, which is a New Testament practice still honored by some churches: James 5:13-15. (Most people don't know that the Queen of England, as head of the Anglican Church, still practices healing as an annual rite. Whether she believes in the efficacy of this rite, or whether anyone is cured, I cannot say. But the rite still exists.)

I am not running a non-profit scientific laboratory. We tried anything we could think of, and all at once. We ran no scientifically valid double-blind experiments. But from what I have seen of the bureaucrats who control access to medical delivery in this country, they are suffering from double blindness. I wanted to see her get well, any way she could.

Before her "black box" treatments began, my wife spoke with the daughter of a man I have known for ten years, an important (though neglected) author in the conservative movement. She has had the disease for a decade. At first, she and her family believed she would die from it, so devastating were the symptoms. She gets temporary relief by the use of medication (which is at least something), but has had no permanent success with anything. If you are a CEBV sufferer, consult your physician and ask about Codeine II and Symmetrel. She says that the latter makes her feel as if a horse had kicked her in the stomach, but it helps her from being wiped out when the flu hits. She confirmed what my wife had suspected from her own experience: if you have CEBV, stay out of the sun. You become highly sensitive. You belong indoors, preferably in bed.

But what does the black box do? The inventor claims that it kills viruses inside cells without killing the invaded cells. Then it should work with AIDS, right? That's what he says, too; he claims that his treatments did reverse a third-stage AIDS carrier so completely that the man no longer tests positive. Is the inventor a crackpot or a potential benefactor of civilization? All I know is that my wife no longer suffers any symptoms of CEBV.

I will mention one physician who does treat CEBV. I know two sufferers who say he has helped them. I have asked his office if he would permit me to refer to him, and he agreed. He treated my father over a decade ago for a different ailment, an allergy. He has treated my nephew for a skin condition. He treats Howard Ruff. Sooner or later, those of us in the hard-money newsletter camp run across his name, Fuller Royal. His office is in Las Vegas, Nevada. To say that he uses unorthodox diagnostic approaches is putting it mildly. He would have been my third step in trying to get my wife well, had the second step not worked.

* * * * * * *

My wife had gone on one of his machines for 8 hours a day for three days. All symptoms disappeared. They have never returned. She stayed on the machine for another few days, just to make sure. I would say that she was restored to 90% of what she had been before. We were both grateful.

Immediately after I mailed that issue, I began getting letters from subscribers who had the disease. I referred about a dozen of them to the clinic, which officially treated pain. Several of them contacted me later to say they had gone there and had been healed. One woman was not helped, but she was not upset. Nothing had worked for her.

This was just one more failure.

I had told all of them in advance, "If this works, say nothing publicly. If it doesn't work, say nothing publicly. I'm worried that my wife may relapse, and I don't want the clinic shut down." I knew that the reports of cures would be a greater threat than the reports on failures, but the regulators could use the failures to justify shutting down the clinic.

Three years later, the FDA did shut it down. The inventor-practitioner had already been forced out of California into Nevada. But then he unwisely went on a local TV show to say that it cured cancer and AIDS, and that was the end . . . in the United States.


In between, I had told Arthur Kay, an English pastor, about the treatment. I had stayed in his home in 1985. His teenage son had come down with ME. The boy was truly a basket case. He was in a wheelchair. He could barely walk. He could not study.

My friend believed me. He flew to Las Vegas with his son, who spent two weeks on one of the machines. He did not improve. The inventor had warned the father about this. My wife's case had been exceptional in the speed of her recovery. He flew home with the son. The inventory had told him to wait a month, and then come back. The boy was very ill on the plane. When they landed in Manchester, they wheeled him into the terminal. Then he saw his mother. He got up and ran to her.

A TV crew with the local BBC station was in the terminal for another story. One of them saw this, and out of curiosity, went over to see what it was all about. They told him. The boy said he felt much better. The BBC later sent a crew out to interview him. (I have a videotape of that show somewhere in a box.) They asked him how he was doing. He said he was much better, but still weak. They asked him what he would do if he ever got well. "I'll run around that field." The family lived on a farm, and it had a large field.

My friend took the boy back to Las Vegas a month later for another week of treatments. The boy was fully cured in that second set of treatments. He went back to school. He did better than run around the field. He joined the track team and ran the 200-meter dash. After graduation, he got work as a hod carrier: the guy who carries cement around in a construction project.


In 1991, the FDA shut down the clinic. But they made a crucial mistake. This, you'll love. Anyway, some of you will. They had put a 30-day cease-and-desist order on the machines, but not on the inventor. They taped over the machines' controls, on threat of felony arrest if he tampered with the tapes.

Here was their mistake. They forgot about the shut-down for 32 days. On day 31, the order became null & void.

The inventor came in the night and loaded the machines onto a van. Then he and the machines disappeared.

His receptionist got a call the next morning from a U.S. Marshal. He wanted to know how to turn off the burglar alarm. She could hear it wailing. "What's going on?" she asked. The FDA's enforcers had shown up, a day late and a dollar short, to find the office locked and empty. They broke in. The alarm went off.

The good guy got away. It reminded me of the outrage of banditos in "The Magnificent Seven." Only in this case, the banditos were the Federales.

The FDA was so livid that four years later, it published this account of the event.

U.S. marshals seized a semitruckload of the detained items on Nov. 29, 1991, at Kyttaron. When the marshals arrived at Paradise Pain Clinic that same day to seize the devices there, they found the facility empty of all but two incomplete devices. An informant later told FDA that Rapsomanikis had moved the devices and promotional literature to another location the night before the seizure. Investigators never located the missing devices. The FDA believes that Rapsomanikis fled the country, possibly with some of his devices, and that he may have set up practice in London.


Thanks, QuackWatch, whoever you are, for keeping this completely objective and unbiased FDA report on-line. It cheers me up every time I think about it. Too bad the report left out the story of the frantic call to the receptionist about the burglar alarm.

My wife loaned him $10,000 to pay a lawyer, which she figured she would never see again, and didn't. The case failed. He lost. So, he took his machines to England. He took at least two of his clients with him: my wife and James Coburn. My wife went there one more time, as a booster, just in case.


I knew that James Coburn was one of his customers. I contacted him to see if he could get Coburn to agree to an interview for my FireStorm Chats audiotape series. He contacted Coburn, and Coburn agreed.

In the interview, conducted over the phone, Coburn described how arthritis had destroyed his career as an action movie hero. He told me that it's difficult to be an action hero when it hurts too much to comb your hair.

He found out about the machine and its inventor. He tried it, and his worst symptoms disappeared. He then went every six months for booster treatments. By the time I interviewed him, he was flying to England to be treated. The inventor once sent me a newspaper with a photo of Coburn at the clinic.

I shall not forget Coburn's words in my interview. "Instead of driving him out of the country, the government should give him a medal."

The inventor, Evans Rapsomanikas, died in 2001. His machines have survived him.



When the state gets involved in health care matters, standing in between people who want to be healed and people trying to heal them, forbidding the transaction, the losers will be sick people whom conventional medical science cannot cure. Economist Murray Rothbard said it best in 1974, when we were chatting about alternative health care. "If my doctor ever tells me I'm terminal, I'll tell him, 'Find me a quack!' "

Me, too.

[As in the case of my original 1988 report about my wife's affliction, I remove all restrictions on the republication of this report. If you think it can help someone, go ahead and post it, email it, or whatever. Just don't spam it.]


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