Kentucky Amish Farmer Goes On Trial Over Homemade Health Products

Samuel Girod’s federal trial began this week. The Kentucky Amish farmer made and sold several homemade products, some of which suggested bold curative properties, in a business running for over 20 years.

These include a “black salve” called “To-Mor-Gone” (with a sales pamphlet claiming it to be “very good at removing tumors”), and a “Chickweed Salve” which had the words “Cures Cancer” on the container.

This WKYT article summarizes Girod’s case:

Girod’s troubles started back in 2013 when someone reported his products to the state health department in Missouri. A federal judge in Missouri ruled that FDA officials must complete inspections of the property where Girod made his products which is where Kentucky comes into play.

Girod makes his products on the family farm along Satterfield Lane in Bath County. The farm is home to Girod and his wife, along with their 12 children and 25 grandchildren.

The FDA requires anyone who manufactures a defined drug to register their facility with them. The Girod farm is not registered. According to the indictment, the FDA says their officers were prevented from conducting an inspection at the farm.

The 12 federal charges Girod faces “include conspiracy, distributing misbranded drugs, and threatening a witness.”

Here’s a news report on Girod’s case, from late January:

Charges too harsh?

Are the charges against Girod too severe?

That’s what supporters are suggesting. And Girod seems to have a lot of support, both off- and online (in the above video, a non-Amish woman says they are “targeting the Amish”). You can find his story linked and covered on many health and political websites across the internet.

Girod faces some serious charges. Various sources suggest he could face 48 or more years in prison. I don’t know what the “threatening a witness” charge stems from, but in any case seems to be secondary to the main issue.

These products by their labeling suggested they could cure cancer. Even though someone may have formed that conviction based on a personal experience, that sort of claim is rather bold.

In Amish communities, word of mouth is powerful, and particularly when it comes to health matters. Decisions on health care are influenced by a number of factors. But generally speaking, unconventional approaches to medical matters are common. This is driven in part by internal recommendations, which can be especially powerful in the close-knit, family-centered Amish society.

I respect those who use natural remedies. And I’m not a fan of bureaucratic overreach. But I also fear that products making unverified promises could give false hope, or even preclude someone opting for a more effective and scientifically confirmed treatment option.

Leaving aside the conspiracy and witness threat charges (it’s unclear what this consists of), claiming your product can cure cancer with little or no scientific backing seems a tad irresponsible, no matter how strongly you believe it might. But I don’t know that it should garner decades in prison (or anything near that).

What do you think?

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    26 Comments

    1. Lorelei

      The Olden Days

      This reminds me of the olden days when men traveling in wagons so there snake oil that promise to cure every ailment one might encounter. But those days are long gone. He should have put his business to bed having enjoyed some years of profitability rather than face criminal charges. This is not the 1800s and we have laws and the laws apply to everyone.

      1. Facts

        Did the Amish farmer actually “say” or “put on the label” that his remedy cures cancer. From what I read it states that the label “suggest” it cures cancer. This could be just the opinion of someone or a few people. Amish people have always been the target of the government. Why? Simply because they choose a different way of life. Leave them alone and go after the doctors who actually do more harm with their “treatments” than anything an Amish man could do.

        1. "Cures Cancer" on the label

          According to the WKYT report, the words “Cures Cancer” appeared on the label of the chickweed salve.

          http://www.wkyt.com/content/news/Federal-trial-begins-for-Amish-farmer-accused-of-mislabling-products-414897833.html

          I used “suggest” in my description above, to also cover the suggestively named “To-Mor-Gone” product, though as mentioned above this product also had the words “very good at removing tumors” included in its sales pamphlet.

          1. Jim [Jakob] Kramer

            Hausgemachte Produkte

            I believe the penalty is too harsh for a first offense. A reasonable fine and a warning would be more appropriate. After all, there are charlatans peddling all sorts of things with nary a care on television [so called doctors and pop psychology new age mumbo jumbo talk show hosts]. Be reasonable and give him a chance to clean up his approach and business! He may have some things that are beneficial in other ways like skin care or other products. Erik, thank you again for this fascinating, informative and enjoyable website!!

      2. Debbie

        The modern day “snake oil salesman” is pharma. They even show 2 snakes on their caduceus symbol. And God told us long ago in His Word the truth about pharmakia – it is sorcery/witch craft. Rev. 18:23, “…for by thy sorcery (pharmakia is the word in the orig. Greek text) were all nations deceived.”

        Natural remedies/medicines/products are NOT drugs. Drugs are chemicals. There was/is no cause for this man to be arrested. Pharma and the FDA are both lying frauds. They are the ones who should be arrested and I believe we’re going to see that happen in the near future as the full truth will become known. The world governments were taken over by a gang of criminals – a satanic gang who work to destroy all God made, including humanity. Watch Fall Cabal videos on rumble & elsewhere for the full information.

        May God bless and protect all good people who use what our Creator gave us to help themselves and others. It’s the right thing to do.

    2. Forest Hazel

      He won’t serve anything like 48 years. Murderers get less than that. He’ll be found not guilty of most if not all the charges, maybe end up pleading to a lesser charge. He should have known better than to do what he did, tho. Not to say that he wasn’t being targeted because he was Amish; that does seem to be a popular pastime for some government officials.

    3. PATTY SHERWOOD

      What a waste of taxpayer dollars. Why aren’t these items treated as Homeopathic? There are products toted to cure all kinds of things out there that do nothing at all.

    4. Amish are not above the law.

      As an Anabaptist prediger (minister) I do not believe the Mennonites, Hutterites or our Amish cousins are above the law. Br. Samuel was provided with a lawyer and he chose to fire him/her. Now he acts alone. Let it be know Br. Samuel is simply not above the law. He is being very unAmish in his actions. It’s very sad. The goop he peddles does NOT cure cancer or tumors. He will have to be held accountable. Most Anabaptists will agree, I am sure, probably even his own Bishop and church district.

      1. Jedaho

        Lessons to be learned...

        I agree with brother Miller. Plain people are NOT above the law, as a matter of fact, we are required by God to obey the laws of the land unless they are contrary to His Word, which is not the case here. Firing an appointed attorney was very foolish because there is no way the ordinary person understands and knows legal terms. He demonstrated that by not showing up for a hearing which resulted in a bench warrant, therefore his arrest. He also resisted orders when he was first notified to consider his claims and shut the business down. This man leaves a terrible testimony for ALL plain people, out of ignorance or possibly stubbornness. Neither one is pleasing to God. I personally can testify of false claims that are spread by word of mouth and unfortunately are believed by many plain folks who are very much into herbs, supplements etc. A huge money maker. I can only imagine the number of individuals that passed away from cancer because they trusted these false claims and “testimonies” before they ever went to a medical doctor. By that time their cancer might have been way too far progressed to be cured. I had a huge melanoma and was told by a church sister that some mushroom potion would CURE melanoma. I got so extremely mad, I had to repent of my attitude. Had I not gotten immediately into surgery to have a very large section of my belly skin removed, I would not be typing this, 3 1/2 yrs. later. By God’s grace and mercy my aggressive melanoma had not spread yet, against all odds. So, I don’t even want to think about a person who would have trusted this sister and her suggestion because very few plain people have sufficient medical knowledge to be able to distinguish between serious and harmless medical issues. I would feel that there should be some plea deal, maybe a serious fine and probation, but the suggested jail sentence is absolutely ridiculous. Sounds like he might be made a scape goat for all other folks who mix up and sell non-approved products.

    5. Farmer on trial

      I believe this is another incident of picking on the difference not the actual act. Did they tell him to reword his statement on the label? Did he refuse to. What about the other homeopathic “doctors” who say their diet, drink, etc cures cancer, why are they not stopped. Neumprous people have died unnecessarily because a Tv commercial, web stite or owner of a health Food store told them Chemo was poison and their diet or list of herbs could cure them. My mother was one. Why aren’t these people stopped?

      As for not getting the 45 years. How many times have people gotten exorbatent sentences for lesser than murder crimes? Quite a few, especially minorities. If the government prosecuting wants to use this man as an example he will get the full sentence.

      After saying all this, I do ynderstand the statement made about his actions being against Amish belief. They believe in obeying the law as long as it doesn’t interfer with God;s law. Seems to me the farmers actions are breaking the law because it interfers with his profits.

    6. Jack

      Common Sense

      This is a sad and complex story – there are so many ways of looking at it.

      I am all for alternative medicine, the use of herbs, tinctures, mixtures, soothing balms, essential oils etc etc – but only for mild things like a headache or muscle pain – we all know honey and lemon are great to sooth a sore throat!

      But serious and life threatening illnesses such as cancer require very complex medicines and treatments and common sense would or should tell us that a homemade remedy will not cure a serious illness like cancer.

      Did Samuel Girod genuinely believe in what his products said they could do? Was it a gimmick to make more sales? Was he deliberately trying to induce people into buying the products? Instinct tells me he didn’t think too much about it and that his products were traditional remedies long used to maybe sooth the effects of an illness rather than cure them.

      The judgement should be that he acted in folly, the product labelling should be changed or that he cease trading them. If it can be proven that someone came to harm or did not seek proper treatment on account of buying his products instead, then maybe the judgement should be harsher.

      1. Jedaho

        Common Sense

        I have to say, unfortunately, many plain people have a firm belief in tinktures, vitamin stuff, anything “natural” where some “testimonies” claim that the product helps. I am a convert, from ungodly worldly to Mennonite and I see and hear it all the time. There are outrageously priced products out there that are being sold not only in stores or by mail order but also by sales reps. I hardly know any household in my community (except mine) that does not use these products. Pregnant women, nursing mothers using whatever tinktures to ease child labor/birth etc. and they believe it helps. They are so separated from the world that they have no clue that testimonies might not be true, they sure wouldn’t tell the difference between curing cancer and relief of symptoms that accompany the suffering of a cancer patient. I hear of young/middle aged individuals that are diagnosed with leukemia on Monday and by Friday they have died. Such tragedies can only come about when a person does procrastinate a doctor’s visit when first feeling sick. I don’t hardly run to a doctor but I have fairly decent knowledge of numerous health issues and basic treatments. But I’m also pretty good at realizing when it’s time to see a doctor, that there is something serious going on. Many plain people go to a doctor as absolutely last resort and I believe that’s the reason why cancer patients are usually very far advanced cases that are beyond cure. These home made natural are playing a role in such tragic incidents.

        1. Jay Johnson

          You sound like a horse with his caps on.
          How were people healing 200 years ago?
          How was your grand grand parents healing?

    7. Patty Sherwood

      Modern Medicine

      Well I know far too many people that have died a long, terrible death because they went with modern medicine. People need to be educated in both Homeopathic Medicine and Modern Medicine. Too many people treat today’s’ doctors like “God” and do whatever they are told, and that is just as wrong as putting an incorrect label on a jar of salve. In both instances it is just “practicing medicine.” Personally in today’s pharmaceutical push for the all mighty dollar, I have to wonder if this gentleman was just too close to dipping in their pockets. I also wonder if he was advised to change his label or just drug off to be made an example. I am very active in the Amish community and can’t imagine he was out to harm anyone.

    8. Garry Chaney

      Van Driver

      Sam has been a good friend of mine for about 10 years. I don’t agree with all his decisions, but feel that the punishment will be to harsh for the circumstances. I have been driving a Amish passenger van for the last 2 years and I took Sam and his family to most of the court hearings, and took his sons and sons-in-laws to the trial each day. The most thorough write up I have seen is at http://www.kyfreepress.com.

    9. Kentucky Farmer

      My Mom was not Amish, but grew up in the hills of Kentucky. When she was a child, there weren’t doctors like today and she couldn’t afford one if they had one. So my Mom learned all the home made medicines of the time. When she married my Dad and both worked, they came into a better financial position, but still Mom used her medicines. But, my Mom would only go so far. If Dad has chest pains – she’d call the ambulance. If our feaver hit a certain degree – off to the doctors we went.

      As an adult, I remember going to the doctors three times for the same thing. The third time she went with me. The doctor was going to subscribe the same medicine again. Mom looked at the doctor and told him she was taking over. He said to her if she had a medical degree and the knowledge he had. Mom said maybe not, but she never lost a patient. Could he say that? That was on a Friday. The doctor ordered me back on Monday.

      She took me home and started teas, poltices, etc. Wouldn’t let me out of the house even when the feaver broke. I went into the doctor’s office Monday with a 98.6. The doctor asked me how the heck she had done that. Whatever I had never came back again.

      I wish I learned some of the mediciens my Mother knew. My Mom is gone now. But my Mom believed there was a time for home medicine and a time for the doctor.

      1. Terry from Wisc

        A story from my family...

        The year was 1902 and my dad’s brother Henry who was 1 yr old was “diagnosed” with meningitis and the doc said there was nothing he could do to save him. So, grandpa went to the Indian mission to fetch Betsy Thundercloud their medicine lady. She brought along her leather pouch (I can picture her sitting in the buggy with grandpa holding a leather pouch with beaded pull strings). Well…she saved little Henry!!! The question that has gone down through the generations since is…”How’d she do that?” What herbs etc was in that pouch?
        Uncle Henry lived into his 80’s and passed away from cancer. Betsy was held in high esteem for her healing abilities in the community.

        For giggles I searched for her on the WI historical website and found a picture of Betsy! I asked her what she did to cure uncle Henry but she didn’t answer me! 😉

    10. Ken Tibbetts

      Big Pharma

      I know an Amish woman whom all the Amish go to when they suffer from a burn, cut, wound, etc. And, she puts together balms, poultices, brews to cure the malady or mishap. Well! I’m here to tell you that I’ve seen the results of her administrations many, many times and “cures” were in evidence in all cases.

      All her “medications” are made from “natural” ingredients – all readily derived from Mother Nature; nothing artificial like those ingredients found in the concoctions put together by the Big Pharmaceutical companies.

      Put me on the jury at this honest farmer’s trial and I’ll convince my fellow jurors that the billion dollar pharmaceutical companies are only trying to pull something nefarious on a poor honest guy trying to help his fellow creatures.

      1. Rick

        Trust FDA???

        The same corrupt FDA wants to put this good man in prison for an “unsafe” salve but wants to FORCE us all to take a “safe” vaccine by the corrupt big pharma.

    11. Update: Girod found guilty on 13 charges

      Samuel Girod was convicted yesterday:

      Jurors rejected Girod’s defense after about four hours of deliberation, convicting him of conspiring to impede federal officers; obstructing a proceeding before a federal agency; failing to register with the FDA as required; tampering with a witness; failing to appear for a hearing; and distributing misbranded drugs.

      The jury ruled that the salves Girod distributed didn’t have adequate directions for use. One element of the charge was that he misbranded the products with the intent to defraud or mislead people.

      In the case of TO-MOR-GONE, the jury ruled that the product label didn’t have adequate warnings against its use in cases when using it would be dangerous, and that it would endanger health when used in the dose and manner suggested on the package.

      U.S. District Judge Danny C. Reeves scheduled sentencing for Girod in June.

      Read more here: http://www.kentucky.com/news/state/article135986318.html#storylink=cpy

    12. Alice Mary

      I’ll be interested to learn his sentence.

      If he were defrauding people by watering down milk he sold, I’m sure the community would be upset. It sure doesn’t sound like he was just a poor, innocent Amish farmer, meaning no harm. He knew what he was doing, and just punishment is due. The only problem is, would any Amish person who used the products, believing they’d cure their cancer (and they didn’t), demand so much as their money back? I know the Amish don’t sue, but what happens in a case like this, I wonder.

      Always something to think about here…

      Alice Mary

      1. Excommunication

        If his Bishop is a man of conscience, he will most likely be excommunicated and shunned until true repentance. That’s the reality of the Amish world.

    13. Kentucky Farmer on trial

      Wow this article took me by surprise. Several years ago we were traveling on vacation to come across this Amish Restraunt which were selling many Amish products. After we ate I talked to the owners of this establishment that was selling these products. So I bought to mor gone plus acouple other one for sinuses & one for pain. I use them regularly and they work wonderful. I never felt that they were sold under false protest as worked as they said. The gentlemen that sold it to us also said it may or may not work But said many seemed to been improved by using it. Over my life span I’ve take many chances on products which have not worked & never heard about them going to prison for making them which hadn’t worked for me. I Love These Products. I’m sur he didn’t understand Please give him a second chance/warning. Sounds like he’s tried by changing the label several times. What is wrong with this government?

    14. Nicholas

      A friend of mine sold the chickweed salve for many years and had to testify at the trial. He said Sam Girod received a lot of support from many people from different Anabaptist groups. The chickweed salve did help my psoriasis, but not as much as a prescription from the dermatologist did. As someone who used to study the legal process, I wish Sam Girod had allowed the search of his property as that would have helped him some. His main fault was mislabeling, something that is easily fixed and sounds like he tried to comply to the best of his knowledge. However, the courts hold the position that ignorance of the law is no excuse for breaking it. My prayer is that the judge shows mercy at the sentencing.

    15. Patty Sherwood

      Same salve available

      I saw the same salve and many others available at our local Amish store just this past Friday with pamplets. I informed my neighbors of this trial, so now they will be behind the counter. I think this whole trial was a waste of a lot of time and money. People need to educate themselves on any health issues they have and all the options available and make a decision based on that information. I know an Amish lady that doctors were looking at chemo therapy because they didn’t know exactly what the problem was she went to Mexico to find her thyroid was the problem. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket, some of the old ways are still the best. I will pray for the people that have brought this hardship on this family.

    16. Donald Curtis

      Mark's two cents on this

      I asked my son, Mark, who joined the Amish about 14 1/2 years ago about this situation. He mentioned that he has seen the products. He uses chickweed salve and so do I. I don’t know if it is the same chickweed salve made by this man. The salve I use is great for bug bites and small cuts and bruises. However, the cancer cure claims to Mark are unfounded and misleading. Mark, also, understands the reaction of this Girod to the authorities. He doesn’t agree with Girod’s actions but is not surprised. He said that many Amish, especially the more conservative and traditional groups view any government authority with suspicion. It goes back the centuries to when they were Anabaptist in Europe and the State Churches used the civil authorities to enforce church discipline. ( imprisonment, burning at the stake, etc.). Some of the Amish can get kind of stubborn when confronted and just get a “We’re being persecuted, again.” mindset. They just hunker down and balk and refuse to budge. Just like a stubborn mule. This defiance and stubbornness doesn’t go over well with the authorities. It can be seen in more than medical cures. The same mindset can be seen in SMV emblems and lighting on buggies; outhouse and health regulation issues; building permits, selling raw milk, etc. etc. etc. Mark doesn’t agree with this. He feels it is a very poor light. If a government requirement doesn’t compromise the Bible then it should be obeyed. Just because somebody is Amish doesn’t mean he or she is above the law. This Girod should never have made statements about curing cancer. Mark wonders how many people perhaps lost their lives because they trusted his claims and used this ointment instead of going to the doctor. Mark said there is another cancer treatment that some Amish use for cancer treatment called “Two Feathers” which is purported to be a Native American remedy. He knows of Amish folks who have used it instead of going to the doctor. He doesn’t trust it. But then again, my dear wife went to the doctor for the severe pains in her back and was treated for tendonitis and fibromyalgia. Turns out a lymphoma cancer tumor was prying her spine apart. She was paralyzed from the armpits down for four years until she passed away. We trusted the doctors, too. What is the answer?