Medical treatment with non-Kosher foods

Please note: This is article is currently under update-a new version will be published IY”H in the near future. In all cases of question, please contact your Rav.

Medical treatment with non-Kosher foods:[1]

A. Time of danger-Lethal illness:[2]
It is permitted for one to benefit/consume forbidden foods for medicinal purposes in a case that one’s illness is [even possibly] life threatening. The food may even be consumed in its normal fashion. This applies to all forbidden foods, even foods that are Biblically forbidden in benefit and contain a prohibition of being consumed even in an irregular fashion. Thus, such a person may consume meat and milk, or Kileiy Hakerem for the sake of medicine.

A known medication:[3] In all cases, it is only permitted for an ill person to benefit/consume a forbidden food for medicinal purposes if that food is accepted in the medical world as a treatment for the illness, or if it was prescribed by a doctor.

If Kosher medicine is available:[4] It is forbidden for an ill person to consume any prohibited food [even Rabbinical] if there is a Kosher remedy available, of the same quality results. This applies even if there will be some delay in retrieving the permitted remedy, being that the situation does not involve danger.

B. Not time of danger-Non-lethal illness:
Regular method:[5] It is forbidden to consume forbidden foods in its normal method for the sake of medicine, if one’s illness is not dangerous. It is likewise forbidden to benefit from foods in its normal method for the sake of medicine if the food contains a benefit prohibition.

Irregular method-Foods that are forbidden in benefit: It is permitted to benefit from [even Biblically] forbidden foods in an irregular manner for the sake of medicine. This applies even if the food is Biblically forbidden in benefit. [Likewise, it is permitted to consume the food in an irregular fashion for medicinal purposes.[6]] This however is with exception to a food prohibited due to Kileiy Hakerem or Basar Bechalv, in which case it is forbidden for a non-lethally ill person to benefit from it even in an irregular fashion. [The above allowance only applies for the sake of medical treatment; however it is forbidden to benefit from any food that is forbidden in benefit for non-medicinal purposes even if one does so in an irregular manner.[7]]

Irregular method-Foods that are permitted in benefit but forbidden in consumption: As stated above, it is permitted to benefit/consume from [even Biblically] forbidden foods in an irregular manner for the sake of medical treatment, even if the food is forbidden in benefit. Thus, one may consume Cheilev in an irregular manner, such as through swallowing it. Furthermore, in the case that the food is not forbidden in benefit, some Poskim[8] rule it is permitted to consume/benefit from it in an irregular fashion if the food, even if one is healthy and is not being used for medicinal purposes.

Rabbinical prohibitions:[9] Some Poskim[10] rule it is permitted to benefit for the sake of medical treatment, even in the regular fashion[11], from any food that is only Rabbinically forbidden in benefit. This applies even if one’s illness does not involve danger. [This applies even if the food is Biblically forbidden in consumption, but only Rabbinically forbidden in benefit.] It is however forbidden to consume [i.e. eat/drink] the food [in its regular fashion[12]] even if only Rabbinically forbidden in consumption, being that his illness does not contain danger.[13] [It is however permitted to consume the food in an irregular fashion for medicinal purposes.[14] Furthermore, if the food is not prohibited in benefit, it is permitted to consume it in an irregular fashion even for non-Medicinal purposes.]

A known medication:[15] In all cases, it is only permitted for an ill person to benefit/consume a forbidden food for medicinal purposes if that food is accepted in the medical world as a treatment for the illness, or if it was prescribed by a doctor.

If Kosher medicine is available:[16] It is forbidden for an ill person to consume any prohibited food [even Rabbinical] if there is a Kosher remedy available, of the same quality results. This applies even if there will be some delay in retrieving the permitted remedy, being that the situation does not involve danger.

Summary:
One who has a potentially lethal medical condition may benefit from and consume any prohibited food for medicinal purposes if other Kosher alternatives are not available, and it is a known medication. One who is not lethally sick may not benefit from, or consume, a Biblically prohibited food in the regular fashion although he may do so in an irregular fashion, if other medicinal alternatives are not available. A Rabbinically forbidden food may be benefited from even in the regular fashion if other medicinal alternatives are not available, although may not be consumed in the regular fashion. According to some Poskim, food that is not prohibited in benefit may be consumed in an irregular fashion even if one is healthy.

 C. Yayin Nesech:[17]
In today’s times [that Stam Yayin[18] is only Rabbinically forbidden in consumption[19]] it is permitted to use Yayin Nesech for medical treatment, such as to make use of in a spa, even in its regular method. It goes without saying that one may spray wine over a fire. It however remains forbidden to drink the wine, even for medicinal purposes, being he does not have a lethal illness. [It remains forbidden for a healthy person to benefit from the wine in a spa, as anointing is like dinking.[20]]

D. Ash of non-Kosher food:[21]
It is permitted to burn an insect or other non-Kosher food and consume it for medicinal purposes. [This applies even if the food is Biblically forbidden in benefit.[22]] This applies even if one’s illness is not lethal. This however is with exception to items of idolatry which may not be consumed even after being burnt to ash.

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[1] Michaber 155/3; Pesachim 25

[2] Michaber 155/3; Pesachim 25

[3] Rama 155/3; Aruch 32

[4] Rama ibid; Beis Yosef 155; Rashba 134

[5] Michaber 155/3; Pesachim 25

[6] Shach 155/14; Mordechai; Aggudah; Ravaya; See also Shach 155/13

[7] Shach 155/13; Rosh Perek Kol Shah

[8] Shach 155/13 in name of “Poskim”; Vetzaruch Iyun from the next Shach 155/14 who quotes Mordechai to state “A healthy person is to beware” from swallowing Cheilev, even though it is an irregular method.

[9] Rama 155/13

[10] Ran Perek Kol Shah; Rivash 45

[11] Rama ibid regarding Yayin Nesech; Shach 155/15

[12] Shach 155/14

[13] Rama ibid regarding Yayin Nesech of today [which may only be Rabbinically forbidden-see Rama 123/1; Shach 155/15]; Shach 155/14 learns this ruling of Rama applies to even a Rabbinically forbidden foods and that so is explicit in the Ran and Rivash ibid

[14] Shach 155/14; Mordechai; Aggudah; Ravaya; See also Shach 155/13

[15] Rama 155/3; Aruch 32

[16] Rama ibid; Beis Yosef 155; Rashba 134

[17] Rama 155/3

[18] Beir Hagoleh ibid says intent of Rama is Stam Yayin, as Yyain Nesech is in truth Biblically forbidden. Perhaps however Rama refers to even Yayin Nesech, of which some Poskim hold that today it is not real libation and hence permitted in benefit [see Rama 123/1], and hence although we are stringent, nevertheless in a case of illness we are lenient.

[19] Shach 123/1; See Rama 123/1 and previous footnote

[20] Shach 155/17 in name of Issur Viheter

[21] Rama 155/3; Aruch 32

[22] Shach 155/19

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