Ellen White's Hot Drinks

By Dirk Anderson, May, 2024

One of Ellen White's health rules that nearly all modern Seventh-day Adventists ignore is her prohibition on hot drinks. In 1885, in one of her testimonies that she supposedly received from God for the SDA people, she wrote: "Hot drinks are debilitating to the stomach."1 A year earlier she had called them both enslaving and debilitating, warning that they should not be drunk with foods:

Hot drinks are debilitating; and besides, those who indulge in their use become slaves to the habit. Food should not be washed down; no drink is needed with meals.2

She explained how hot drinks and hot food enfeebled the organs of the body:

The stomach is greatly injured by a large quantity of hot food and hot drink. Thus the throat and digestive organs, and through them the other organs of the body, are enfeebled.3

Mrs. White even forbid her staff from using hot drinks such as bran coffee:

I told my girls I did not wish them to get accustomed to drinking hot drinks with their food as it was debilitating to the stomach. Sarah, the one who did my work, had given them warm drinks until I told her it was contrary to my custom, and I forbade her giving the children—any of them—hot drinks. When she called for hot bran coffee, Sister McNimme said she was told not to give any of the girls hot drinks.4

Contradicts Her Own Testimonies

As was her habitual practice, Mrs. White's behavior was contrary to her own testimonies, indicating she had little faith or belief they actually came from God. She and her family drank hot drinks frequently and regularly, including drinking them with meals:

  • 1873 - "We had hot water to drink with our cold crackers." (Manuscript 12, Oct. 23, 1873 at Walling's Mills)
  • 1875 - "...we hope to obtain a few crackers and get a cup of hot water at the next stopping place." (Letter 20, June 27, 1875 on train to Milwaukee)
  • 1877 - "Mary has cooked Father’s breakfast over the little stove, and we have all had hot drink." (Letter 21, Oct. 11, 1877, in Nebraska)
  • 1885 - "We only drank the hot drink out of their tiny china cups." (Manuscript 26, Oct. 26, 1885, in Grythyttehed, Sweden)
  • 1886 - "...ordered hot drink to our room." (Letter 84a, Sep. 16, 1886 in Great Grimsby, England)
  • 1887 - "We tried to counteract the coldness of throat, lungs, and stomach with hot drink." (Manuscript 31, May 13, 1887, on a train in Switzerland)
  • 1887 - "Ate a couple of crackers and took hot drink for our dinner." (Manuscript 33, June 8, 1887 in Copenhagen, Denmark)
  • 1890 - "Brother Hicks provided hot water for me to drink before retiring." (Manuscript 44, Oct. 30, 1890 in Brooklyn, New York)
  • 1890 - "We tried to get a cup of hot drink." (Manuscript 53, Dec. 29, 1890, in Washington)
  • 1890 - "Stepped into a restaurant across the street and called for warm drink—hot water and milk—and were refreshed. (Manuscript 53, Dec. 30, 1890, in Battle Creek)
  • 1891 - "...we obtained a cup of hot drink and some crackers which made us feel very much better." (Letter 32, Jan. 8, 1891, in Toledo)
  • 1891 - "I ate a few crackers and a biscuit and drank a hot cup of drink." (Manuscript 40, Jan. 16, 1891, in Lansing, Michigan)
  • 1903 - "...we were glad to have a warm room and hot water to drink." (Manuscript 174, July 5, 1903, in St. Helena)

How many SDAs carefully followed her testimonies and refused to drink hot drinks? How many suffered the chills of frosty weather and avoided the simple remedy of hot drinks out of fear they might "debilitate" their stomachs? How many SDAs suffered eating dry food that caked to the roof of their mouths but refused to drink any liquid with their meals because of her testomonies from God? Meanwhile, she routinely ignored her testimonies and drank hot drinks to warm up her body and drank them while eating crackers.

While warning others of the dangers of "hot" soup, Ellen White ate it and served it to others:

  • 1880 - "This morning was exceedingly cold but with our hot chicken soup we were excellently provided for." (Letter 7, Feb. 27, 1880, on a train near Ogden, Utah)
  • 1898 - "...we gave them a dish of good, hot vegetable soup." (Manuscript 183, June 14, 1898, at Sunnyside, Australia)

Are Hot Drinks Bad for Health?

One must wonder why the world health authorities were never informed of this heaven-sent warning about the dangers of hot foods and drinks. Interestingly, SDA hospitals all over the world serve hot food and hot drinks to their patients every day. Why would they give their patients something so debilitating to health?

Obviously, no one is suggesting that scalding hot drinks—those that burn the flesh—are healthy. No one needs a "testimony" to realize scalding drinks are harmful. But what about normal hot drinks that virtually everyone living in a cold environment drinks? Healthline reported in 2024 that "drinking hot water is considered safe":

When drinking hot beverages, research recommends an optimal temperature of between 130 and 160°F (54 and 71°C).

That is based an actual scientific research. The latest medical knowledge suggests that hot drinks can have several positive effects on the stomach and the body.

  • Stimulation of Digestive Enzymes: Hot drinks, especially warm water or herbal teas, can stimulate the production of digestive enzymes in the stomach, aiding in digestion. This can potentially help with the breakdown of food and absorption of nutrients.

  • Relaxation of Stomach Muscles: Warm beverages may help relax the muscles in the stomach and intestines, which can alleviate symptoms of indigestion and promote smoother digestion.

  • Increased Blood Flow: Consuming hot drinks can lead to a temporary increase in blood flow to the stomach, which may promote better nutrient absorption and overall digestive function.

  • Relief from Respiratory Symptoms: Hot drinks like herbal teas, broths, or hot water with lemon and honey can provide temporary relief from respiratory symptoms such as sore throat, cough, and congestion by soothing the throat and thinning mucus.

  • Antioxidant Benefits: Certain hot drinks, such as green tea and herbal teas, are rich in antioxidants that help protect the body from oxidative stress and inflammation, potentially reducing the risk of chronic diseases like heart disease and cancer.

  • Mood Enhancement: Enjoying a hot beverage can have a comforting and relaxing effect, which may help reduce stress and improve mood.

  • Warmth and Comfort: Especially during cold weather or when feeling under the weather, hot drinks can provide warmth and comfort, promoting relaxation and a sense of well-being.

Even Mrs. White once admitted that drinking hot water helped heal a man suffering from stomach pains:

They advised him to drink hot water in abundance whenever the [stomach] pains returned. He afterwards told them that he did this, and had no more trouble. We thank the Lord for this.6


One of the BIG lies of promoted by some SDAs is that Ellen White was "years ahead of science." In reality, she was "years behind science." Many SDAs continue to follow the outdated and incorrect health rules in her testimonies thinking this instruction came from God. Ellen White deplores science that contradicts revelation, calling it "guesswork":

...whatever in the teaching of so-called science contradicts the truth of God's revelation is mere human guesswork.7

If this statement is true, then there are only two possibilities: Either Mrs. White's testimony was correct and science is wrong about hot drinks, or, Mrs. White's testimony was false, being mere guesswork, ignored by both her and her followers. You decide.

See also


1. Ellen White, Testimonies for the Church, vol. 2 (Mountain View, CA: Pacific Press Publishing Association, 1885), 68.

2. Ellen White, Review and Herald, July 29, 1884.

3. Ellen White, Letter 14, 1901 (16LtMs).

4. Ellen White, Letter 20, 1882 (July).

5. Ellen White, Manuscript 86, 1897.

6. Ellen White, Letter 154, 1897.

7. Ellen White, Testimonies for the Church, vol. 8 (Mountain View, CA: Pacific Press Publishing Association, 1904), 325.

Category: Health Teachings
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