The Vindication of Vincent Van Gogh


Self Portrait

Just mention the words “Sunflowers” or “Starry Night,” and the paintings of Vincent Van Gogh effortlessly float into mind.  They are the result of the mastery of one of the most prolific and accomplished painters of all time.   Although his distinctive painting style has made him one of the most celebrated—and most easily recognizable—artists in the world, he sold only one painting during his life, and it wasn’t until after his death that he became famous.


Starry Night

Sadly, his name also conjures the image of the “tortured artist,” a man who suffered from hallucinations and grappled with demons.  His short life was marred by hospital stays for mental illness and physical decline.  After just ten years of painting and producing 900 paintings, Van Gogh took his own life in 1890, at the age of 37.

Self Portrait

 In the 122 years since his death, attempts have been made to understand the underlying causes of his feverish work style, his exhaustion and his suffering.  Diagnoses range from bipolar disorder to epilepsy to sunstroke from spending long hours out of doors while painting.



One of America’s top Environmental Medicine physicians and a fan of Van Gogh since her teens,  Adrienne Sprouse M.D. has spent years studying the life of Vincent, and believes the answer lies in a different direction:  repeated daily exposure to dangerous chemicals.



The son of a pastor, Vincent didn’t decide to pursue art until 1880, when he was 27.  He studied in Belgium, then lived briefly in Paris with his brother, Theo. He met Pissarro, Monet and Gaugin.  After moving to the South of France in 1888, Vincent re-charged his original somber-toned palette with bright yellows, greens, and blues, deliberately creating contrasts and using light in new ways. Eventually he moved into his Yellow House, using the ground floor as his studio and his second floor bedroom as a private “gallery,” hanging freshly-painted tableaux around his bed to dry.


Yellow House

Even as Vincent was creating his masterpieces, his health was declining.  He was known among his friends for having a nervous temperament, and he could be a difficult companion.  But near the end of 1888 came his famous breakdown.  In December of that year, in an incident involving Gaugin, Vincent cut off part of his ear.  His closest friends feared the worse, as his mental state deteriorated into madness.


Hospital Ward

What happened next is the subject of the Docu-Drama feature film Passion and Poison-The Vindication of Vincent Van Gogh, based on Dr. Sprouse’s extensive research into Vincent’s work and the cause of his mental and physical decline.

Dr. Sprouse has researched Vincent’s medical condition for more than 30 years, traveling to France, Belgium, England and The Netherlands dozens of times, searching through hundreds of documents and medical records.  She has gained unprecedented access to the asylum where Vincent stayed, has taken thousands of photographs, interviewed countless people, including leading experts, meticulously read all of Vincent’s (more than 800!) letters to his brother Theo and others, combed through ancient texts in French (she is fluent) and even followed the trail to a 19th century physician’s belongings stored in a warehouse in a secluded area of southern France.

After years of exhaustive research, Dr. Sprouse is able to make the provocative statement “I know why Vincent Van Gogh died. He wasn’t crazy.” And she can prove it.  The heroic efforts of this dedicated 21st century physician finally sets the record straight on the illness of one of the most celebrated 19th century artists.

“Passion and Poison: The Vindication of Vincent Van Gogh” not only describes Van Gogh’s illness, but also demonstrates how, today, people are becoming sick from products they never suspected would make them ill.  The public health message…exposure to small levels of common chemicals can cause big health problems.

Join director Frank Zagottis, producer Mario Sprouse, and researcher Adrienne Sprouse for a special fundraising event.  For the first time, a 20 minute preview of the documentary film will be shown on the big screen of The Newtown Road Backyard Cinema. 

Wine, soft drinks and food will be served.  A $25 minimum donation toward the production of the film is suggested.  A fireside discussion with the film makers will follow.

See you there!

Sunday, September 23, 2012 6:30 p.m. at the Newtown Road Backyard Film Festival Cinema.   45-19 Newtown Road, Astoria, Queens NY.

For more information: 718-204-2498 or 917-941-3130

Or please visit the website for more information and to contribute to this ground-breaking movie.

You can read an earlier post by Dr. Sprouse about ADD here.





Guest Post: Adrienne Sprouse, MD, Talks about ADD

From Trudy:  “I’m delighted to have the opportunity to share the thoughts of Dr. Adrienne Sprouse as a guest blogger.  Dr. Sprouse has dedicated herself to the field that saved her life:  Environmental Medicine.  After being diagnosed with Chemical Sensitivity and successfully treated, she was accepted to eleven medical schools at the age of 37, and chose Columbia College of Physicians and Surgeons, graduating with multiple awards.

In 1995, she opened New York City’s first chemical-free environmental medicine center, treating patients made ill from environmental factors.  She has appeared on ABC News, NBC News, New York One and The Tony Brown Show, as well as serving as the Environmental Specialist for Fox Good Day New York. She has been an important part of my own journey to good health.”

A.D.D.:  Psychiatric Illness or Medical Problem in Disguise?

Children and adults who suffer from Attention Deficit Disorder usually have one or more of these symptoms: inattention,hyperactivity, poor impulse control, poor school performance, social impairment, and low motivation.  However, these troublesome symptoms can also be caused by several medical problems.

Medical Illnesses Mimicking ADD

Several medical conditions cause symptoms similar to ADD.  These medical conditions include:

  • nutritional deficiencies
  • food allergies
  • inhalant allergies
  • sensitivities to chemicals
  • heavy metal exposure
  • hormonal imbalances
  • medication reactions
  • seizures, etc.


If You Are Having Behavioral Problems, Please Consider the Following:

Do you have a nutritional abnormality?

The body needs certain vitamins, minerals, fatty acids,carbohydrates, and amino acids to work correctly.  If one or more of these vital nutrients is low or abnormally elevated, behavior changes can follow.  It is possible to measure your body’s levels for these important nutrients and then tailor a nutritional program to your specific needs.

Do you have a hormonal abnormality?

Thyroid, adrenal, and sex hormones play key roles in body metabolism.  An abnormality in any of these hormones can cause inattentiveness and a depleted mood.  Many chemicals in the environment today are hormone disruptors and can alter the performance of hormones in your body.  A thorough hormonal assessment can identify abnormalities and a corrective plan can be designed.

Do you have food allergies?

Symptoms of food allergy include irritability, itchy eyes, abdominal bloating, headache, sleepiness after a meal, bed wetting, recurrent ear infections (esp. in children) sinus infections, and behavior changes.  Treating food allergies can bring significant relief.

Do you have inhalant allergies?

The following inhalants have been documented to cause illness:  molds, pollen, trees, grasses, flowers, dust, cats, dog, and cockroach.  Identifying and treating your inhalant allergies can go a long way toward returning you to good health.

Do chemical exposures make you sick?

Toxic chemicals abound in our environment and often go unsuspected as a cause of illness.  Any one (or more) of the following chemicals or items can make you ill:  your gas stove, commercial cleaning products, air fresheners, new carpeting, perfumes, paint and varnish, personal care products, new computers, cigarette smoke, copier fumes, pesticides, etc.

Where Chemicals Are Stored

After chemicals enter our bodies, they circulate through the bloodstream to all parts of our bodies…even our brains.  In fact, many of these chemicals are fat soluble and get stored in the body’s fat.  After chemicals enter your body, they will find that fat which then will serve as a reservoir for dangerous toxins and become a staging ground for toxic illness.  Only proper diagnosis followed by individualized treatments to remove those substances will reduce your chemical load.

Clearing Chemicals From the Body

Chemicals already in the body are not likely to leave on their own.  So if you can, avoid them.  But if you can’t or didn’t, you have to remove them.   To remove them, we’ve got to assist the one organ in our body that is the command center for clearing and fighting our war against toxic chemicals:  the liver.  Through a process called detoxification, your chemical load can be reduced.

Phase I liver detoxification results in the modification of reactive  chemicals  by a series of chemical reactions like oxidation, reduction, etc.  Big words, but let it go as the first internal “scrub down.”

Phase II liver detoxification may follow Phase I reactions or may proceed independently.   Here, the liver maximally converts fat-soluble substances to water-soluble substances, facilitating their excretion from the body.  Look at Phase II as the “flush.”

To accelerate the detoxification process, a combination of selected nutrients and amino acids are given to the patient along with an in-center heat detoxification program.  This program contributes to the reduction of the total body chemical burden, and the eventual reduction or disappearance of symptoms.


Allergy, malnutrition, hormonal abnormalities, and toxicity arereversible causes of behavior problems. Those with allergies are often misdiagnosed with ADD.  Look for the underlying causes of your ADD.  The right treatment can make all the difference!

Learn more about Dr. Sprouse and her work at