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Russell Thacker Trall, M.D.: Excerpts

Graham, S., Trall. R., Shelton, H.  (2009) The Greatest Health Discovery. Youngstown, OH. National Health Association. 

The development of the philosophy of Natural Hygiene was pioneered in the 19th century mainly by medical doctors and includes such names as Sylvester Graham, Mary Gove, Isaac Jennings, Russell Thacker Trall, Robert Walter, Thomas Low Nichols, Susanna Way Dodds, James Caleb Jackson, Charles E. Page, and John Henry Tilden.

Russell Thacker Trall, M.D.

As Graham’s work prospered and grew, he had many helpers. Among them was Dr. Russell T. Trall, who was acknowledged by his contemporaries as the man who discovered the basic principles of hygiene and provided most of its philosophy. He was said to be the “father” of the hygienic system.

In his Hydropathic Encyclopedia (1851), Dr. Trall declared that all fresh fruits and vegetables are antiscorbutic (preventing the development of scurvy). Trall soon joined Graham in his crusade for vegetables and fruits and against meat, milk, eggs, white bread, wines, narcotics, etc.

Dr. Jennings joined them early in the crusade. After Dr. Trall’s death in 1877, Drs. Page and Densmore added to our fund of knowledge about dietary science.

Dr. Trall’s words in his Hydropathic Cook Book (1853) are still true: “However strange may seem the assertion, it is nevertheless true, that the philosophy of diet has never been taught in medical schools! Physicians, generally, are as profoundly ignorant of the whole subject as are the great masses of people.” Confirming this statement in 1916, Dr. Richard C. Cabot, one of the outstanding physicians of the world, wrote: “Almost nothing is known about diet. There are numerous books on the subject which are useful for pressing leaves, but not for much that they contain.

Trall was the man who systematized Hygiene, made it into a distinct school of thought and practice and made the world conscious of the fact that there was a new and better way of life available to all.

A writer in the Herald of Health in January 1865 said: “R. T. Trall, M.D. is the discoverer of the Philosophy of Medical Science, and the father of the system of Hygienic Medication. While others have done much to agitate the public mind and develop great truths in the healing art, it was left to him to solve the great primary problems, which must underlie all medical systems, and to base a theory of medical science and a system of the Healing Art on the laws of nature themselves. No author except him traced medical problems back to their starting point and thereby discovered their harmony or disharmony with universal and unalterable law. In this manner, he has been enabled to do what no other author before him ever could do; vis, explain the nature of disease, the effects of remedies, the doctrine of vitality, the vis medicatrix naturae, and the law or conditions of cure.

His philosophy goes back of all medical systems and proves to a positive demonstration the fallacy and falsity of medicating disease with poisonous drugs. Hygienic medication, therefore, is with him, a system, full, perfect, complete, and of universal application. Knowing that the system he teaches is grounded in scientific truth, he boldly challenges all the medical men and all the scientific men of the earth to meet and oppose it; but no one accepts the challenge, although they continue to drug and dose their patients into premature graves.

Probably no man who has lived in modern times has been more persistent and consistent, more active and uncompromising. If all of his writings in the form of books, journals, and lectures could be collected together, they would make quite a respectable library. His professional correspondence and practice have also been excessive and arduous, and when we add to these circumstances the fact that he is engaged in writing and has nearly ready for the press, several works of greater magnitude and importance than any he has yet given to the world, on which he has expended already much time and labor, it will be readily understood that he can have few idle moments.

In a discussion with an allopathic physician, Dr. Wilson, in the Water Cure Journal February 1854, Trall said: “It was the good fortune of my patients that I had the good sense to discover the falsity of many medical doctrines, and the benevolence to repudiate the practice of many of the most destructive of the drug-shop appliances, even before I was made a ‘graduate.’ Hence, I never administered such deadly drugs as nitre and tartar emetic, which you know or ought to know are the common medicaments in candies, lozenges, cough syrups, soothing cordials, etc., that are so generally fed to children, per advice of allopathic doctors, never used leeches nor scarifications, never bled much, nor blistered much, nor gave much mercury; in short, during my whole career as a ‘regular,’ my drugifications were continually growing ‘small by degrees and beautifully less,’ til there was not force enough of poison left to kill a baby or mar a shadow.

It would be good to give the reader some background on this remarkable man. Russell Thacker Trall was born at Vernon, Connecticut August 5, 1812. His parents moved to Western New York, then almost a wildneress, while he was an infant. He was designed for the life of a farmer. His opportunities for education were exceedingly meager and were wholly confined to the District School.

Before he had fairly emerged from boyhood Trall lost his health. Receiving, as he believed, nothing but injury from the treatment of all the physicians whom he consulted, and being dissatisfied with their explanations of his malady and their talk about the remedies proposed, he determined to investigate the subject for himself. His father was astonished and the whole family circle surprised on being informed that he had “chosen a profession” and had entered the office of the village physician as a medical student.

Some opposition was manifested by the “constituted authorities” to the boy’s action, but when it was found that he had “made up” his mind, the point was conceded; a yoke of oxen was made over to the doctor in payment for two years’ tuition, after which the medical aspirant was to work his way in bleeding, pulling teeth, visiting unimportant patients, and otherwise assisting the “old doctor.” He had, however, no definite idea of ever becoming a physician. His health was lost, and if he did not regain it, he was useless. He determined to sacrifice all to that primary consideration and let the future take care of itself. He pursued his studies diligently for three years without finding the health he sought, and then, after attending courses of lectures at Castleton, Vermont, and Albany, New York, he graduated and practiced for several years following the theories into which he had been educated.

Having studied medicine as perhaps very few other people have, with no reference to acquiring a profitable trade or business, but solely with the view to self-preservation, Trall was almost of necessity a close and critical scholar and an impartial and unprejudiced truth-seeker. Before he had finished his course of studies, he began seriously to think that a majority of medical doctrines were, as he styled them himself, “the incoherent expressions of incoherent ideas”; that many of the rules of practice as taught in the standard textbooks were entirely erroneous, and that many of the remedies in general use were not only harmful but dangerous. Therefore, before he earned his M.D. degree, he had become very skeptical about much of the world’s so-called medical science.

Having no love for, or interest in, any system but the true one and being determined to satisfy himself, if possible, as to what was true, he investigated theoretically and tested experimentally the Homeopathic, Eclectic, and Physio-Medical systems, his observations and experience continually leading him away from all faith in drug medicines of any kind.

In 1840 Dr. Trall came to New York, where he had enlarged opportunities for pursuing his research, and soon became fully satisfied in his own mind that the whole system of drug-medication was false in philosophy and absurd in science, “in opposition to nature and contrary to common sense,” and that the only true remedial agents were those materials and influences which possessed normal relations to the vital organism—air, light, water, food, temperature, exercise and rest, sleep, emotional influences, electricity, etc.

About the year 1844, he opened in New York City a “water-cure,” the first undertaken in the United States. His first patients were a set of desperate cases from the Broadway Hospital, all of whom recovered under his management. From that time, Dr. Trall did not administer a grain of drug-medicine or alcoholic stimulation of any kind.

In 1847, Trall started the New York Hygienic Institute on Leight Street, New York City, and continued to direct it until 1864, when he disposed of his interest and went to Minneapolis, where he had organized a “Cure” on a large scale. This enterprise, however, did not succeed in accordance with his expectations, and he returned to New York in 1866; shortly thereafter, he opened an establishment at Florence Heights, New Jersey.

In 1852, Dr. Trall founded a “Hydropathic and Physiological School,” chartered by the State Legislature in 1857 under the name of the New York Hygeio-Therapeutic College and was authorized to confer the degree of M.D. In this college, men and women were admitted on equal terms.

Even with his extensive and exacting professional business, Dr. Trall found time to write many valuable books and pamphlets, besides editing and contributing to several periodicals. His published book catalog includes more than twenty-five volumes, embracing the subjects of Physiology, Hydropathy, Hygiene, Vegetarianism, Temperance, etc. The most noted of these was his Hydropathic Encyclopedia, an elaborate work of nearly one thousand pages, which not only treats of the theory and practice of Hydropathy but also considers the philosophy and treatment of diseases advanced by the older schools of medicine. The circulation of this work exceeded forty thousand.

The Hydropathic Cookbook was a natural outcome of the practice of his system of dietetics in the hygienic establishments which he started. It is not only a compilation of recipes, but also a scientific treatise on foods for man.

Popular Physiology was a brief but thorough treatise on the subject of human physiology, adapted to the use of the reader and to schools as a textbook.

One of Dr. Trall’s later works is Digestion and Dyspepsia, which found a wide circulation. The Mother’s Hygienic Handbook, as its name implies, was a manual for the use of women in the home treatment of the disorders peculiar to themselves, and in the management of children. It was considered an exceedingly valuable work.

Other works by Dr. Trall worthy of mention are Alcoholic Controversy, True Healing Art, Uterine Diseases, Tobacco Using, Water Cure for the Millions, and The Temperance Platform.

For over fifteen years, Trall was in charge of the editorial department of the Water-Cure Journal, published by Fowler & Wells, and was afterward called The Hygienic Teacher. Then later, it became his own under the name of The Herald of Health.

Trall openly challenged the leading medical men of his day to dispute the veracity of Natural Hygiene and to show that their system had any validity. His culminating efforts in this direction occurred in February 1862 when he delivered an address at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D. C., which brought out the stark fact that many famous figures in history were led to their deaths by the treatment of medical doctors.

Trall recounts that he was induced to give this talk while on a homeward journey from a lecture tour in the West. It seemed to him an opportune time for introducing the subject of “a true healing art” in the national capital “which would probably never again occur and in a manner which must more or less attract the attention of men of position and influence.

The object in going to Washington and the rebuffs encountered before he was able to be heard, constitute an important, but little known, piece of American history. Here are the details as written by Dr. Trall in his Water Cure Journal.

The soldiers of our camps and hospitals were dying off fast of typhoid fever, pneumonia, measles, dysentery, etc. and quite unnecessarily. I knew that the application of our system of Hygienic medication would save most of their lives. I was well advised that there were surgeons of our school in the army who gave no drug medicine in these diseases and who lost no patients, and I was in correspondence with nurses who had attended our school, who were saving the lives of all the sick soldiers in their hands, by putting aside the drugs and nursing them properly.

“The subject of the best or most successful treatment of the diseases of our officers and soldiers in the field being of national importance, it seemed to me that I could present the merits of our school versus the drug school, in high places, so as to be heard by the dignitaries of the land, and through them by the civilized world.

Accordingly, I determined, if the thing was within the scope of possibility, to expose the fallacies of drug medication, and explain the truths of the Hygienic system, in the place and under the circumstances that would command attention.

I addressed letters to President Lincoln, the secretaries of State, War, the Navy, and the Treasury, giving them references to Members of Congress in Washington and elsewhere, who had been my patients, as to personal character and standing, and assuring them that I would be very glad of an opportunity to explain in the Halls of Congress or elsewhere, before the ‘powers that be’, the Medical Faculty and Bureau, and the learned and scientific men of the nation, a system of the healing art which, applied to the treatment of the diseases prevailing in the camps and hospitals of our armies, would save thousands of the lives of our officers and soldiers.

I offered, moreover, to meet and answer all criticisms and objections that might be presented to my position from any source whatever; and to remove all appearance of ‘pretentious empiricism’. I offered, if my propositions were favorably entertained, to afford them an opportunity for any personal examinations or acquaintance they desired before deciding whether I should have a hearing.

To these letters I received no response, nor did I expect any. But I had determined to be heard in Washington, and was unwilling to leave aught undone toward effecting that object.

Meanwhile, I had written my friend and former patient and associate, Dr. H. F. Condict, of Washington, to secure a place for a course of popular lectures, and also addressed several letters to gentlemen of distinction and ex-members of Congress, asking them to speak a word for me in the right quarter to favor the enterprise. Dr. Condict telegraphed me at Dayton, Ohio, that he had secured the hall of the Christian Association, on Pennsylvania Avenue, opposite Brown’s Hotel, a very central and convenient place, and also rooms in a convenient private house a few doors distant, where I could be at home and receive calls. I wrote also to my sterling friend, Hon. H. R. Low, of the New York Senate, asking such assistance as he could render. He promptly sent a letter of introduction to Hon. Ira Harris, of the United States Senate, soliciting his aid, and assuring him that my subject, in importance, was all that was claimed for it.

It was also my good fortune to meet, in Washington, Hon. L. S. May of western New York, who aided us so efficiently five years ago in securing a charter for our College from the New York Legislature, who kindly promised all the assistance he could render. Armed and equipped with such missiles, and supported by these and other friends, acquaintances, and old patients, some of whom were officers in the army, I felt an assurance that I could ‘carry the war into Africa.’ Mr. May introduced me to Judge Harris, who promised me all the assistance he could render to get a hearing in the Capitol.

Meanwhile, it was suggested by some friends that the Smithsonian Institute, being a national concern, founded for ‘diffusion of useful knowledge among mankind’, and having a large and excellent lecture hall, would be quite as desirable a place as the Capitol. And so I turned my efforts in that direction.

“I have heard of fossilized conservatism. I have seen men who have mistaken their own ingrained prejudices for established principles. I have known men who could not entertain an idea if presented to them outside of the formulary of some standard text book. I have had an interview with Professor Henry, of the Smithsonian Institute of Washington city, the capital of these United States.

I was introduced by Dr. Condict, who assured the Professor that I was a regular physician in good standing and that I had letters of introduction from the first men in our own city and State to Hon. Members of Congress in Washington. But this was not the point—my character was not questioned. The difficulty was the unpopularity of my subject. It was not orthodox, or rather it did not come to the world through the usual channels.

I asked the privilege of giving a lecture in that temple of science, on the true healing art, and in exposition of the errors of the present medical system. The Professor thought my subject, though perhaps important, did not come within the strict line of subjects proper to be discussed at the Institution. I reminded him that radical speakers—Emerson for example—had been heard there, and that my subject was intrinsically more important to the welfare of the human family than all the subjects which had been discussed in the Institution, or would be in the next century. The Professor replied that the introduction of radical subjects had already occasioned some trouble, and he had no doubt that when the trustees met again, they would come to the conclusion not to admit anything in future outside of its own regular scientific business. I remarked that so long as the trustees had taken no order on the subject, I could not understand why I might not be permitted to speak. But the Professor deemed it advisable to anticipate the presumed action of the trustees in denying me a hearing.

I was unable to see the propriety of his course. Indeed, I looked upon it then, as I do now, as an extreme manifestation of scientific illiberality, and I was informed that, so unfair and bigoted is the presiding genius of the Smithsonian, that he will not permit a scientific lecture on any subject when he can help it, if the speaker entertains any notions which in the least conflict with his own opinions. Such a professor is better fitted to preside over a Spanish inquisition than over an institution endowed by the munificence of an individual to ‘diffuse knowledge among mankind’.

Professor Henry was curious to know my points—what I would say if I could have the chance. I explained that my subject was purely a scientific one; that the medical profession had always been in error respecting the fundamental premise of medical science, and that I could show in what the error consisted; and, moreover, explain the true premises of medical science; and that my subject involved not only the issue of health and disease, life and death, but the physical salvation of the human race. I also stated that I could and would explain all of the problems in medical science which medical men confessed themselves unable to explain, and even regarded as incomprehensible mysteries.

The Professor admitted that there might be some truth in my views, but he thought I assumed too much. ‘No matter what I assume,’ I replied, ‘give me the opportunity, and I will prove it.’ ‘How will you prove it?’ asked the Professor, with a simplicity almost childlike. ‘To tell you how I will prove it would be to prove it. Listen to me through a two hours’ lecture and you shall have the proof, which you cannot gainsay, and which all the scientific men of Washington and the whole medical profession cannot controvert. And here is precisely the place where my subject should be presented. Here are a learned Medical Faculty, a capable Medical Bureau, men distinguished in all the departments of literature and science, who are capable of appreciating the principles of my system, if true, and of refuting them, if false.

This system is rapidly extending. We have a chartered medical college. We are educating and sending out male and female physicians to turn the minds of the people against the popular medical system, and if we are wrong our business ought to be stopped; if we are right, the people ought to know it.

And now, Professor Henry, I propose to present this whole subject to the wise men of the nation, so that, if we are in error, the error may be shown, and that if we are in the truth, the truth may be shown. And, further, let me explain our system here, and then; if I cannot defend it against all cavils or criticisms from any source, and answer all the objections that you or all of the learned men of the nation can bring against it, I will pledge myself never to speak in its advocacy again.

Did I not expect that this fair offer and eloquent appeal would have brought the Professor to terms? But it did not. His answer reminded me of certain specimens of petrified plants and animals I have read of, and which are, no doubt, on exhibition in the museum of the Smithsonian. He did not doubt that I meant well, but—and here the shoe pinched—it might occasion trouble. If I lectured in the Smithsonian, the lecture might go forth to the world having, in some sense, the endorsement, or at least the reputation of the Institution to commend it to public attention. He was sorry, very sorry, that things were so circumstanced that it would not be prudent nor judicious to accede to my wishes.

I bid ‘goodby’ to the Professor, but not to my project. On returning to my rooms, and cogitating an hour or two on the subject of ‘diffusing useful knowledge among mankind’, I concluded to make one more appeal to the stolid heart and book-cased head of the Smithsonian Institution. The next morning I addressed him the following communication: ‘I cannot go home in peace without appealing to you once more. I have no manner of fault to find with my reception nor your decision yesterday, but I am not understood. I know that if you knew my theme, you would not only permit me to present it before the scientific men of the capitol of the nation, but you would invite me to do so. I send you my last school catalogue, in which you will find on page 26, a very brief exposition of my principles; also, on page 47, my proposition to discuss any differences with the medical gentlemen of other schools. I can give you, in this city, and in almost any place in the civilized world, ample reference as to character, freedom from all ‘pretentious empiricism’, etc.

My whole life has been devoted to the investigation of those medical problems, and those relations of vital or living, and inorganic or dead matter which underlie all Medical Science, and are the sole basis of the Healing Art. I know— and I can not only prove, but I can demonstrate—that I have ascertained the exact truth in relation to each and all of the problems which are fundamental in medical philosophy, and which knowledge the world is perishing for want of. All I desire is the privilege of giving this knowledge to the world, in such a manner as will induce it to investigate it, and accept it.

Did I not flatter myself that this missile would penetrate the very depths of the Professor’s soul? But, again, I was mistaken. I received no reply. The Professor was as inexorable as the stone, and brick, and mortar of the splendid palace in which he dwells.

There is in Washington city an organization known as the Washington Lecture Association, composed mainly of the more progressive minds of the place, and embodying a large class of energetic young men of the ‘down east’ go-ahead stamp. Rev. John Pierpont, of world-wide fame, is chairman of the executive committee, and other members of the committee to whom I am under obligations for courtesy and assistance, and of whom I feel it is a duty as well as a pleasure to make honorable mention are J. K. Herbert, Esq., attorney-at-law; J. R. S. Van Vliet, Esq. of the National Republican; N, B. Devereux; D. T. Smith, and W. A. Croffett, of the Treasury Department, and W. C. Dodge, Examiner in the patient office.

On learning that I wished to make a demonstration in Washington which would tell on the nation and the world, one of my assistants, Dr. F. R. Jones, of New York, came on to Washington to assist, and his services were most efficient. While I was ‘working the wires’ to get into the Capitol, through the influence of members of Congress, Dr. Jones made the acquaintance of some members of the committee above named, who at once, with generous liberality, espoused my cause. Rev. Dr. Pierpont, whom I had often met in temperance conventions, called on me and proffered all the aid in his power, but could not give much encouragement that could obviate the finality of Professor Henry’s refusal. But on learning the true state of affairs, Messrs. Herbert and Van Vliet—the last named gentleman having been one of my fellow-workers in the temperance cause in New York in the days of the Washingtonian movement—took the matter in hand and declared that I should speak, and that, too, in the Smithsonian—the Professor to the contrary notwithstanding. And I did speak.

The gentlemen of the committee did not profess to be sufficiently familiar with my subject to judge of its merits, nor did they, in any manner, commit themselves to, or indorse, any of my peculiar ‘isms’ or ‘ologies’. It was enough for them that I desired to present a new subject for the consideration of the people, and that I had been refused a hearing simply because my theme was unknown, and hence, of necessity, unpopular. Free discussion was in issue, and this the committee was determined to see established on a basis never more to be questioned in the nation’s capitol. Forthwith a paper was drawn up, and signed by all the members of the committee, with two exceptions, inviting me to deliver the next lecture of their course, in the Smithsonian, and to select my own subject. The day was gained. My victory was complete, thanks to the untrammeled souls of a few young men of the Washington Lecture Association.

I had never before faced so intelligent an audience. There were present many members of Congress, military officers, physicians of different schools, army surgeons, gentlemen of literary, scientific, and judicial distinction from different States, and a large audience of the most thinking and progressive people to be found in Washington.

In such company I could not but feel at home, for I knew my theme would be appreciated, and I determined to talk so long as the audience could be kept together. I inquired how long a Washington audience could be kept patiently in their seats and was informed that about one hour was the usual length of lectures in that place, and that the longest lecture thus far had been one hour and a half.

The reader may judge of the interest felt in my subject, when I state that the audience listened with profound attention two hours and a half—from eight o’clock to half-past ten.

Dr. Trall Speaking In Washington On ‘The True Healing Art’

I have been so long contending against what I deem to be popular errors, that I am now as unpopular as it is possible to be. I have nothing more to lose, and am, therefore, thoroughly free, and can afford to be honest, and to keep a conscience, knowing that any change which occurs henceforward must be in the direction of popularity.

When, in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for the physicians of one School to dissolve the fraternal and philosophic bonds which have connected them with another, and to assume, among the institutions of the earth, the position to which Truth and Nature entitle them, as free thinkers and independent actors, a decent respect for the opinions of mankind, and a conscientious regard for the welfare of the human race, should prompt them to declare the causes which impel them to a separation.

I hold these truths to be self-evident, or, at least, susceptible of positive proof and absolute demonstration: That the doctrines and theories commonly entertained among men, and taught in medical schools and books, and practiced by the great body of the medical profession, and which constitute the so-called Science of medicine, and on which the popular practice of the so-called Healing Art is predicated, are untrue in philosophy, absurd in science, in opposition to Nature, and in direct conflict with every law of the vital organism, and that these are the reasons, and the only reasons, why medical science does not progress as do all other sciences; why success in the healing art bears no due relation to the advancement of all of the collateral sciences, and to the progress of intelligence among mankind; why medical theories are ever changing; why all of its assumed principles are in controversy, its hypotheses in dispute, why its fundamental rules and primary premises are wholly overlooked or misunderstood, and why its application to the cure of disease and the preservation of health is so uncertain, so dangerous, often so fatal, and, on the whole, so vastly more injurious than useful to the world.

And I claim, on the other hand, to have ascertained the true premises of medical science, which discovery enables me to explain all of its hitherto mysterious problems, over those problems which have ever baffled the investigations of medical men, and which are to. this day regarded by the standard authors and living teachers as without the pale of human comprehension, to wit: The Essential Nature of Disease, and the Modus Operandi of Medicine, and thereon to predicate a philosophy and a practice of medicine, which is correct in science, in harmony with all of the Laws of Nature, in agreement with every structure and function of the living system, and successful when applied to the prevention or cure of disease.

I am about to prove the falsity of the popular medical systems—1) By facts universally admitted, 2) By the testimony of its advocates, 3) By the testimony of its opponents, 4) By the Laws of Nature, 5) By argument and logic, 6) By all of the data of science applicable to the subject.

These are bold, plain, sweeping asseverations—radical, aggressive, revolutionary. But I mean all that my words import, in their strictest literality and in their broadest implications. It is for those who hear me to judge for themselves whether I make these allegations good. But I do now and here, as everywhere, most respectfully, yet most unreservedly, challenge the whole scientific world to meet the issue which I shall present.

I am most happy to be privileged to stand in this presence, in this magnificient Temple of Science, consecrated not only to the enlightenment of the people of a nation, but to ‘the diffusion of knowledge among mankind’, and in this keen and concentrated intellectual atmosphere, surrounded by the moral power of a great and mighty nation, before some, and I hope many, of the chosen representatives of—in the language of one of your number—’the most glorious country that the sun has ever shone upon’, and, as one of the sovereign people, speak to the wise heads and great hearts of these Dis-United but soon to be Re-United—in bonds never more to be broken or even questioned—States, the great truths which concern the Preservation of Health and the Cure of Disease, which involve the issue of the rise and fall of nations; and which, next to the Gospel of Christianity, are the most important to the perpetuity of this nation, the permanency of its institutions, and the welfare and progress of the American people.

Even this mighty and majestic war you are now waging so successfully upon the ‘Contraband Confederacy’ does not involve the prosperity and destiny of our country so deeply as do the principles on which I wage exterminating war against a false medical system.

It has always been one of the most difficult practical problems in the world how to present new truths so as not to offend old errors; for persons are very apt to regard arguments directed against their opinions as attacks upon their persons; and many there are who mistake their own ingrained prejudices for established principles.

And here I must be permitted to say a few words by way of personal explanation. Why do I go to the people instead of the medical profession with my controversy? And why do I seek controversy at all? Because the profession utterly refuses to discuss the issues I present, and because controversy is the only method by which both sides and all points of our subject can be brought fully and fairly before the public mind. It is difficult for one person to represent both sides of an argument. He may not do equal and exact justice to the positions of his opponent, or if he does, the public may suspect him of unfairness, or ignorance, or prejudice.

For these reasons is it that I have long desired and many times invited and challenged a discussion with the strong men of the profession on the merits and demerits of our respective systems. I wish to bring our controversy before the whole people, that all may see and judge for themselves where the truth is. If I am wrong, I wish to be righted. If my opponents are right, they should be sustained. If my system is true, theirs is false. There is an irrepressible conflict between them.

And again, the Drug Medical System cannot bear examination. To explain it would be to destroy it, and to defend it even is to damage it. Its only safety consists in non-agitation, and all it asks is to be ‘let alone’.

But the system I teach cannot live without investigation. The more it is examined, the better it is liked; the better it is understood, the more it is confided in, and no person probably lives on the broad earth who has fully investigated it who does not fully believe it. Give me the most capable expounder and defender of the Drug Medical System that the Colleges can furnish for an opponent, and I will soon have three-fourths of the American people, and nine-tenths of the doctors, of my faith.

And what interest have you, Ladies and Gentlemen, in this discussion? Who appreciates health except those who have lost it? Who values life till it trembles on the verge of the grave? Tell me what value you place on health; inform me what advantage it would be to you to be relieved of all danger and all apprehension of dying of disease; say what you are worth to yourselves, to your families, to society, to humanity, and then I will calculate the value of my subject to you.

I charge, and shall undertake to prove—nay, I shall prove, for it is true, and I have the evidence—that the regular medical profession, in all of its standard authorities, textbooks and schools, and in all its current periodicals, and in all of its floating literature, and in all its history, and in all the lectures of its living authors, teaches—

1.A False Doctrine of the Nature of Disease

2.A False Doctrine of the Action of Remedies

3.A False Theory of Vitality

4.A False Theory of the Vis Medicatrix Naturae

5.A False Doctrine of the Relations of the Disease and the Vis Medicatrix Naturae

6.A False Doctrine of the Relations of Remedies to Diseases

7.A False Doctrine of the Relation of Disease to the Vital Functions

8.A False Doctrine of the Relations of Remedies to the Healthy Structures

9.A False Theory of the Relations of Organic and Inorganic Matter

10.A False Doctrine of Diseases in Relation to their Causes and Effects

11.A False Doctrine of the Law of Cure

12.A False Doctrine of the Nature and Source of Remedies

These propositions comprehend all the premises of Medical Science, all the principles of the Healing Art. Each is fundamental. Without an exact knowledge of the truth of each, the physician can have no True Medical Science, no Rational or Successful Practice. All must be presumption or assumption in theory, and empirical or experimental in practice. His theory will amount to little more than technical gibberish—‘incoherent expressions of incoherent ideas’, and his practice, ‘blind experiments on the vitality of the patient’. But to the facts.

It is well known that, in various periods of the world’s history, and in various parts of this and of other countries, physicians of close observation and long experience, whose lives were consecrated to the relief of suffering humanity with honest zeal and tireless assiduity, have become convinced, fully and thoroughly convinced, that medicines do not cure patients; that they hinder more than they assist Nature’s process of cure, and that they are more injurious than useful in all diseases. A still greater number of practitioners have come to the same conclusion with regard to particular diseases, for example, scarlet fever, croup, cholera, diphtheria, pneumonia, rheumatism, measles, dysentery, smallpox, and all forms of typhoid fever, and in every instance when they have discontinued all medicine—everything in the shape of drug or apothecary stuff—and relied wholly on Hygiene, their success has been remarkably increased. To this testimony, I believe there is no exception on all the earth.

More than two hundred physicians of the United States have written me within ten years, that they were entirely convinced that drug medicines were worse than useless, and that they had wholly discontinued their employment, and every one of them testifies to better success in the treatment of all forms of disease. And thousands of fathers and mothers, have written me that they had discarded all drug medicines, never employing drug doctors except to get their opinions as to the name or nature of the disease, and that by means of such information as they could obtain from the Hydropathic Encyclopedia, they had been enabled to cure themselves and families without ruining their constitutions by a course of drug-medicine-poisoning. And these are growing sentiments among physicians and people and surely they mean something.

Nearly all of the disease to which flesh is heir have been regarded by certain distinguished medical men as better left to Nature than treated with drugs. But I must not detain you too long, and I will limit my remarks on this point, and my citation of authorities, mainly to the diseases which are just now of especial interest to the audience before me—diseases which constitute the chief sources of mortality in our armies.

I have publicly announced that the system of Hygienic Medication which I teach and practice, and which I claim to be the True System of the Healing Art, would, if applied to the treatment of typhoid fevers, pneumonia, measles and dysentery, so prevalent in our camps and hospitals, save to our country the lives of thousands of our officers and soldiers, and to our treasury millions of money.

Professor Austin Flint, M.D. of the New York Medical College, and physician to one of the large hospitals of our city, said a few weeks since, in a clinical lecture to his class of medical students, that, in treating pneumonia in the hospitals, he did not give any medicine at all. In the hospitals, mark you! But how in private families? ‘There’, said the professor, ‘it would not do to refuse to prescribe medicine.’ Would not do? Why not? We will see presently. Dr. Flint loses no patients in the hospitals. In private families the deaths of pneumonia in the city of New York are thirty or forty per week.

Professor B. E. Parker, of the New York Medical College said, not long since, to a medical class: ‘I have recently given no medicine in the treatment of measles and scarlet fever, and I have had excellent success.’

“Dr. Snow, health officer of Providence, R. I. two years ago, reported for the information of his professional brethren, through the Boston Medical and Surgical Journal that he had treated all the cases of smallpox, which had prevailed endemically in that city, without a particle of medicine, and that all of the cases—some of which were very grave—recovered.

Dr. Ames, of Montgomery, Alabama, a few years since, published in the New Orleans Medical and Surgical Journal, his experience and observations in the treatment of pneumonia. He had been led to notice, for many years, that patients who were treated with the ordinary remedies—bleeding, mercury, and antimony—presented certain complications which always aggravated the malady, and rendered convalescence more lingering and recovery less complete. Such patients were always liable to collapse and relapse, to ‘run into typhoid’, to sink suddenly, and die very unexpectedly.

He noticed particularly that patients who took calomel and antimony were found, on post mortem examinations, to have serious and even fatal inflammation of the stomach and small intestines, attended with great prostration, delirium, and other symptoms of drug poisoning. These ‘complications’ were nothing more or less than drug diseases. And Dr. Ames found, on changing his plan of treatment to milder and simpler remedies, that he lost no patients.

I have known several allopathic physicians who, seeing or believing that the ordinary remedies; instead of helping the patient to live, assisted him to die, have abandoned all strong medicines, and from that hour have lost no patients.

The late Professor Wm. Tully, M.D. of Yale College, and of the Vermont Academy of Medicine at Castleton, Vermont, informed his medical class, when I attended his lectures, that some years previous the typhoid pneumonia was so fatal in some places in the valley of the Connecticut River, that the people became suspicious that the physicians were doing more harm than good, and in their desperation they actually combined against the doctors and refused to employ them at all, ‘after which’, said Professor Tully, ‘no deaths occurred’.

So long ago as my earliest school-boy days, the advent and career of our district schoolteacher made an impression on my mind which induced me to study medicine much more critically and suspiciously than I would otherwise have done. Western New York was then sparsely populated, and there was no doctor within a dozen or fifteen miles. People were sick. Colds and coughs were as common as rain, sleet, and slosh. Pneumonia and influenza were every-day affairs. Whooping coughs, mumps, and measles were as plenty as blackberries, and bilious, inflammatory, and even typhoid fevers, with now and then a case of rheumatism, were well known and duly appreciated. But nobody died. Many persons were very sick, but somehow or other all came out well and sound in the end. No doctors were to be had, and nurses were obliged to rely on domestic rememdies and commonsense appliances alone. And children were born. It was dreadful to be without a doctor, but, strange to say, all the mothers persisted in getting along ‘as well as could be expected.

I have myself, during the sixteen years that I have practiced the Hygienic Medical System, treated all forms and hundreds of cases of typhus and typhoid fevers, pneumonia, measles, and dysenteries, and have not lost a patient of either one of these diseases. And the same is true of scarlet and other fevers. And several of the graduates of my school have treated these cases for years, and none of them, so far as I know or have heard, have ever lost a patient when they were called in the first instance, and no medicine whatever had been given.

I fear there is too much truth in the statement of Professor B. F. Barker, M.D. of the New York Medical College: ‘The remedies which are administered for the cure of measles, scarlet fever, and other self-limited diseases, kill far more than those diseases do.

During a recent tour to the West, I have seen the graduates or practitioners of our school, who reside in Peoria and Aurora, Illinois, Iowa City, Wabash and Huntington, Indiana, and Dayton, Ohio, all of whom give the same testimony. Deaths of these diseases are frequent all around them, but none of them have yet lost a patient.

“The great Magendie, of France, who died two years ago, and who long stood at the very head of Physiology and Pathology in the French Academy—which, by the way, has claimed to be, and perhaps is, the most learned body of men in the world-performed the following experiment. He divided the patients of one of the large Paris hospitals into three classes. To one he prescribed the common remedies of the books. To the second he administered only the common simples of domestic practice. And to the third class he gave no medicine at all. The result was, those who took less medicine did better than those who took more, and those who took no medicine did the best of all.

Strange as the announcement may sound in this hall, I must assert that Health is not taught in the popular schools of medicine, nor explained in their books, nor much regarded in the prescriptions of their physicians. But when the typhoid pestilence and the malignant pneumonia appear as the inevitable consequences of the permitted causes, the doctors can drug and dose secundem artem. They can administer quinine in huge doses, give any quantity of calomel, and subdue the vital struggle—and too often the patient—with bleeding and narcotics.

Who supposes that this quinine, so freely administered as a curative, and even a preventive of miasmatic diseases, is a deadly poison? Who does not know that arsenic is a poison? Yet, I read this very day in last week’s New York Medical Times (which speaks by authority), an article in favor of arsenic as a substitute for quinine. And I read, too, this day, in Braithwaite’s Retrospect, for January 1862 (the leading European journal of the allopathic school), several articles commending arsenic as the better article of the two. Is there not some mistake somewhere? Can it be that two articles, one a harmless tonic and the other an intense poison, are perfect substitutes for each other? I think I shall be able to show in what the delusion consists.

The Medical Bureau can have no excuse for disregarding the sanitary conditions of our armies, save that of a false medical system and an erroneous or defective medical education. If it knows its duty and does it not, it is more to be execrated than all the rebels in Dixie’s Land. No. I say most emphatically, that health is taught in but one medical school in the world—the New York Hygeio-Therapeutic College—and this school is repudiated by the medical profession of ‘this land of the free and home of the brave’.

True, this school is chartered by the Legislature of New York, and legalized by the people of the State, but the profession will not acknowledge it. Medical students go to College to learn the symptoms of disease, and how to cure them, or rather in what way to drug them, not to learn the conditions of health and how to preserve it. Are physicians, as a class, any more observant of the laws of life, or more exempt from ordinary disease and infirmities than others?

And Florence Nightingale! Is that name new or strange in this place? For what purpose did that noble and heroic English girl, overflowing with patriotic emotion, and full of sympathy for suffering humanity, as only woman can be, pitch her tent and make her abiding-place amid the wailing of the wounded, the groans of the dying, and the stench and contagion of camps and hospitals? Alas! She must needs go to the Crimea to teach the British surgeons health, to instruct the graduates of the first medical schools in the world in the simplest maxims of plain, unsophisticated common sense, to show to medical men of learned lore, and scholastic honor, and high-sounding titles, and large experience, and many degrees, that invalids cannot breathe without air, that personal cleanliness is essential to the successful management of disease; that water, and light, and equable temperature, and rest, are requisite to correct morbid excretions, restore normal secretions, purify the vital current, and dissipate and destroy the ever-engendering miasms and infections of such places.

The British surgeons could amputate limbs admirably, dress wounds skilfully, bleed dexterously, mercurialize strongly, narcotize effectually, given quinine largely, and administer arsenic powerfully, but they could not purify—and purification was the one thing needful in most cases.

“I have visited the camps and hospitals of our armies in this vicinity, and I have learned—just what I knew before. One of the surgeons told me yesterday that his regiment was the most healthy one in the department. He gives no medicine, and his associates almost none. They have had several cases of typhoid fever, many cases of pneumonia, and some hundreds of cases of dysentery to treat, and have lost none.

I will not mention their names here, for prudential reasons. It might compromise their position. But when this war is ended—on or before the Fourth of July I hope—the names will be given to the world, and these facts will be certified. Suffice it to say now that they are of my school and my faith. Nurses in the hospitals inform me that hundreds of sick soldiers implore them to throw away the medicine. They do not want to take a particle of any kind. Many of them fear the doctor’s drugs more than they do the rebels’ bullets, and well they may. I was assured that in scores of cases of typhoid fever and pneumonia, the medicines all went in some other direction than down the esophagus. And did these patients die, think you? No. They all recovered!

Three brilliant names have recently gone down from the political firmament, like suns setting at mid-day. Three strong, vigorous, stalwart men, in the very prime of life, in the beginning almost of their maturity and their usefulness, have been sent to premature graves, to molder beneath the clods of the valley, and crumble to dust, when they should have remained on the earth, and would have continued above ground, had it not been for the deadly virtue of the healing art which ‘cures one disease by producing another’. I mention names familiar in this place—Senator Douglas, Count Cavour, Prince Albert.


Mark you! When I intimate that these men were killed, I do not mean to say that they were murdered. I would use the milder term, manslaughter, and in the fifth degree. It was excusable, if not justifiable homicide.

I shall revert to these names again presently, and explain, if I have time, how they were sent to their graves by medical treatment.

“And three Presidents of the United States—Washington, Harrison, Taylor—were manslaughtered by their medical advisers. I read in your papers, a day or two since, that Willie Lincoln, the son of the President, was sick. Why should a healthy, vigorous boy of fourteen or fifteen years of age, full of vitality and of excellent constitution, die because of a cold, or a pneumonia, or a fever?

When I have read of illness in the Presidental mansion, I have trembled, not always for my country, but always for some individual. The more exalted in life is the position of the patient, the more doctors, the more medicines, and the more danger. The London Lancet of Feb. 1862, in allusion to the death of Prince Albert, makes a very significant remark: ‘The disease was typhoid fever, not very severe in its early stages. But this is a disease which has inevitably proved far more tatal to sufferers of the upper classes of life than to patients of the poorer kind.’ Let me be poor, ay, very poor indeed, if I must go through the ordeal of drug medication.

But let me finish the testimony. I said I would prove the popular medical system to be false by the testimony of its advocates. I could give you a volume of quotations similar to those I have thus far adduced, but I have one piece of evidence which covers the whole ground. It is conclusive in itself in the absence of all other testimony, for it is the best the nature of the case admits of. And this is precisely the kind of evidence that lawyers and judges and juries can best appreciate. It is the Medical Profession of the United States vs. Itself. The medical profession has arraigned its own system as false in theory and fatal in practice. And it only devolves on me to prove and illustrate what they allege.

When Harvey discovered the circulation of the blood—a problem which medical men had been assiduously investigating for seventeen centuries—he knew so well the inveterate prejudices of the profession, and its blind adhesion to ancient dogma, that for many years he did not dare to publish his discovery to the world. And when he did announce it, some ten years after he had completely demonstrated its truth, he was reviled and persecuted by his medical brethren. And it is recorded in medical history, that not a single physician over forty years of age ever acknowledged the truth of Harvey’s discovery.

But if Harvey’s discovery, which in no way affected the interests of the profession, and did not very materially disturb the prevailing practice, elicited such bitter opposition, what may not we expect when we announce a doctrine that not only revolutionizes the whole system of medical practice, but virtually annihilates the whole medical profession?

I have asked many of the professors of the Drug Schools to explain to me how their remedies acted, and how their law of Cure operated—the why, the wherefore, the rationale, but not one of them could ever tell me; yet each referred to his own experience to prove that his method of prescribing drugs was the best one. None of them had ever thought of the primary question: Is any drug medical system right?

Experience! What is experience? It is merely the record of what has happened. It only tells what has been done, not what should be.

Was there ever any reasoning in the world like unto medical reasoning? If the medical man with good intentions administers one of these drug poisons, or a hundred of them, and the patient dies, he dies because the medicine can’t save him. But if a malefactor with murderous disposition gives the same medicine to a fellow being and the fellow being dies, he dies because the poison killed him! Does the motive of the one who administers the drug alter its relation to vitality?

I speak in the presence of lawyers. If such testimony and such reasoning were offered in a court of justice, would they not say that the individual offering it ought to be tried by a commission de lunatico inquirendo, on the issue of sanity?

Why, this infernally murderous strychnine which is employed to medicate bad whiskey, and give potency to mouldy tobacco, which the rebels are accused of poisoning wells with, and which is supposed to be the cause of the hog cholera, is becoming one of the most common remedies all over the civilized world for numerous diseases. It is almost universally prescribed for paralytic affections, and an Eclectic medical journal published in Cincinnati, has lately lauded it highly as a remedy for dyspepsia. I remember that a clergyman, Rev. Jacob Harden, was hung in New Jersey last year for giving this medicine to his wife. I gave a dose once to a mischievous dog, and it cured him of all his bad habits.

A few weeks since, I surveyed, from the dome of the capitol of the State of Maine, one of the most beautiful cities, and one of the most salubrious localities that mine eyes had ever beheld, and in my lectures to the people there I said, “Surely this is no place for doctors.” Yet I learned that typhoid fevers, diphtheria, pneumonia, and consumption were prevalent. A few minutes after arriving there, I saw a solemn procession of twenty young girls, all dressed in snowy white, with bare heads and bare arms, marching behind the black hearse which contained the corpse of one of their late playmates, who had died the day before of diphtheria.

My friends, go with me, in imagination, to any one of your rapidly-peopling cemeteries, where the freshly-broken earth tells of the newly-made graves, and there interrogate the moldering bodies of the prematurely dead. Ask them why and of what did they die? What will, what must, their answer be?

Did cholera infantum take that smiling babe away? Was it scarlet fever that dragged that beautiful child down to the cold grave? Did rheumatism so soon cause that vigorous youth to lie pale and prostrate beneath the clod of the valley? Did typhus fever send that stalwart man to his final account? Was it the mere incident of childbirth, with a slight cold, which hurried that mature woman out of the world so suddenly and so strangely? Or was it a ‘mysterious providence’, or a more mysterious chance?

No, no. Human beings do not die so easily of such trifling ailments. No, I say! Could those crumbling bones and ghastly relics speak, they would tell you in deep sepulchral but in thunderous tones: ‘This infant died of antimony and ipecac. This child was destroyed with calomel and opium. This youth was killed with nitre and digitalis. This man was slain with bleeding, and blisters. This woman perished of henbane and strychnine, and all victims to ‘medical science’. There would be exceptions. But such would be the general rule of graveyard testimony.

I was called last week to visit an officer of one of the New York regiments. His brief, sad story may be soon told. Two months ago he had jaundice. This was cured with drugs in one week. Then inflammation of the liver ‘set in.’ This was drug-cured in another week. Then the typhoid fever attacked him. This was drugopathically silenced in another week, and then the rheumatism ‘supervened’. Now, his right arm is badly swollen, his left knee enlarged, and the cords spasmodically contracted, his finger-joints distorted, and the whole body crippled and neuralgic. Yesterday he left for my establishment in New York, where his system will soon be undrugged and his limbs straightened—not for the grave, but for service in the tented field.

All of these complications, the inflammation of the liver, the typhoid, and the rheumatism, were drug diseases, and were caused by the remedies given to cure the rheumatism.

I do not regard typhoid fevers, or pneumonia, of which so many of our officers and soldiers are said to die, as dangerous diseases. They would seldom terminate fatally if the patients were not doctored at all. I have not lost a case in fifteen years, and have treated hundreds. The fatility is attributable to the medication.

Do you know how many drug medicines, or poisons, you are liable to take into your system, for example, during an ordinary course of fever? Two or three kinds of medicine are usually administered several times a day, each probably compounded of several ingredients, so that a dozen drugs, on the average, may be swallowed daily. These are changed for new ones, to a greater or less extent, nearly every day, and in a month’s sickness fifty to one hundred poisons are sent into the domain of organic life.

No wonder there are nowadays all sorts of complications and collapses and relapses and sinking spells and running down and changing into typhoid, etc. No wonder that new diseases seem to hover around the patient and infest the very atmosphere, like a brood of malignant imps or voracious goblins ready to set in, or supervene, or attack whenever the medication has brought the patient to the vulnerable point, or within range of their influence. Under Hygienic treatment these occurrences are wholly unknown.


I mentioned the late Senator Douglas. He had acute rheumatism, a disease of which he would certainly have recovered in a week or two under hygienic treatment, and of which he would not have died under no treatment. His severe labors and unphysiological habits induced obstruction in the liver and joints, and Nature made an effort to relieve the morbid condition by deterging the impurities from the body. The disease was drugged, the rheumatism was cured and the patient—killed.

Paracelsus, the quack and vagabond of the fifteenth century, and the author of the calomel, antimony, and opium practice, acquired great reputation by curing a printer of gout in the foot. The patient died a few days afterward of apoplexy in the head; but no one suspected that the medicine which cured the gout caused the apoplexy.

Commodore Perry died very suddenly and unexpectedly in New York two years ago. The colchicum relieved the gout, but the patient died. How strange, that no sooner had the doctor subdued the rheumatism, than the typhoid set in and carried off the patient! Where was the typhoid while the patient was being doctored for the rheumatism? How did it exist before Senator Douglas had it, or before it had him? Where did it come from and where did it go? And what was it? I answer, it was the prostration of the patient caused by the treatment. Maltreat any form of febrile or inflammatory disease; reduce the patient sufficiently by bleeding, blistering or drugging, and the typhoid will be sure to make its appearance.

I spoke of Count Cavour. A feeble, brain working invalid for years, exhausted with care, study, intermittent fever, and dyspepsia, and of course in a very low state of vitality, he was bled six times in two days, when he really needed twice as much blood instead of less. Death was a necessary consequence of the treatment.

I alluded to the late Prince Albert. The report at first came to us that he was attacked with gastric fever. Why should any one die of gastric fever? What man among you, living somewhat promiscuously at hotels or boarding houses, and not standing on your physiology in dietetic, sleeping, and working habits, has not had gastric fever a dozen times? It is merely a slight indigestion, for which rest and abstinence are infallible restoratives.

Prince Albert was in the prime of life. Possessing an excellent constitution, and of temperate and regular habits, and, withal, opposed to taking medicine, he should have lived for many years. So was the queen opposed to taking medicine. And no wonder. The most eminent of the British authors and professors had condemned it time and again. Let me give you a few specimens of their utterances:

The medical practice of our day is, at the best, a most uncertain and unsatisfactory system; it has neither philosophy or common sense to commend it to confidence.’—Dr. Evans, Fellow of the Royal College, London.

There has been a great increase of medical men of late, but, upon my life, diseases have increased in proportion.’—John Abernethy, M.D., Iondon.

Gentlemen, ninety-nine out of every hundred medical facts are medical lies, and medical doctrines are, for the most part, stark, staring nonsense.’—Prof. Gregory, of Edinburgh.

It cannot be denied that the present system of medicine is a burning shame to its professors, if indeed a series of vague and uncertain incongruities deserves to be called by that name. How rarely do our medicines do good! How often do they make our patients really worse! I fearlessly assert, that in most cases the sufferer would be safer without a physician than with one. I have seen enough of the mal-practice of my professional brethren to warrant the strong language I employ.’—Dr. Ramage, Fellow the Royal College, London.

The present practice of medicine is a reproach to the name of Science, while its professors give evidence of an almost total ignorance of the nature and proper treatment of disease. Nine times out of ten, our miscalled remedies are absolutely injurious to our patients, suffering under disease of whose real character and cause we are most culpably ignorant.’—Prof. Jamieson of Edinburgh.

Assuredly the uncertain and most unsatisfactory art that we call medical science, is no science at all, but a jumble of inconsistent opinion; of conclusions hastily and often incorrectly drawn; of facts misunderstood or perverted; of comparisons without analogy; of hypotheses without reason, and theories not only useless, but dangerous.’—Dublin Medical Journal.

Some patients get well with the aid of medicines; more without it; and still more in spite of it.’ —Sir John Forbes, M.D.

Thousands are annually slaughtered in the quiet sickroom. Governments should at once either banish medical men, and proscribe their blundering art, or they should adopt some better means to protect the lives of the people than at present prevail, when they look far less after the practice of this dangerous profession, and the murders committed in it, than after the lowest trades.’—Dr. Frank, author and practitioner.

The science of medicine is a barbarous jargon, and the effects of our medicines on the human system in the highest degree uncertain; except, indeed, that they have destroyed more lives than war, pestilence, and famine combined.’ —John Mason Good, M.D., F.R.S., author of “Book of Nature”, “A System of Nosology”, “Study of Medicine”.

I declare, as my conscientious conviction, founded on long experience and reflection, that if there were not a single physician, surgeon, man-midwife, chemist, apothecary, druggist, or drug on the face of the earth, there would be less sickness and less mortality than now prevail.’ —Jas. Johnson, M.D., F.R.S., editor of the Medico-Chirurgical Review.

Prince Albert and the Queen could hardly have been unacquainted with the opinions of those distinguished physicians. Prince Albert was inclined to medical studies and physiological investigations. He has probably done more to improve the sanitary condition of the poor of London than all the doctors of the British Empire. Prince Albert was afraid to take the medicine of the regular profession, yet he was killed by it. Lord Byron held medicine in contempt and execrated bleeding; yet he was bled to death. Prince Albert refused to take the ordinary drugs, but consented to take alcoholic stimulants. There was the fatal error.

Prince Albert did not regard alcohol as drug medicine in the technical sense. Why should he? Do not all of the learned chemists teach that alcohol is ‘respiratory food’? Do not all the standard physiologists call it a ‘supporter of vitality’? Do not physicians everywhere prescribe it in all cases of debility and exhaustion? Why should the Prince have been wise above what is written? How could he refuse to take alcoholic stimulus when all the authorities of all the civilized world declared it to be both nourishing and vitalizing?

Perhaps Prince Albert had not noticed the fact that the distinguished author, Pereira, who, in his treatise on Food and Diet places alcohol among the ‘alimentary principles’ in his elaborate work on Materia Medica, declares it to be a ‘caustic and irritant poison’ and demonstrates, by a series of experiments, that it is inimical to everything that has life.

Prince Albert had not learned, nor do medical men seem to understand, that stimulation and nutrition are incompatibilities. There is no grosser absurdity abroad, no greater delusion on earth, than the notion that alcohol is in any sense, or under any circumstances, a supporter of vitality, or respiratory food; and on this issue I am willing to meet all the physicians of the United States, and all the learned men of the earth.

The story comes to us in the English newspapers, that Prince Albert was ‘kept up on stimulants’ for five or six days. No one suspected any danger. Physicians did not regard the complaint as anything serious. But, all at once, the patient became prostrated. The typhoid set in. His system refused to ‘respond’ to any further stimulation. Why did his system refuse to respond? Because his vitality had all been stimulated away. His system needed quiet, repose; but he was kept in a feverish commotion, in an inflammatory excitement, in a constant commotion with alcoholic poison—I mean ‘respiratory food’.

Ah! this terrible ‘typhoid’. How ready to supervene or set in whenever and wherever a drug-doctored fellow-mortal is reduced to the dying point!

So inexplicable and mysterious was the death of Prince Albert, that suspicions were entertained of foul play for political considerations. My own opinoin is, that the treatment is sufficient to account for the death.

I recollect that soon after President Taylor died, newspapers and medical journals were discussing the cause, and it was then hinted that politics had more to do with the death than disease. Physicians imputed the malady of which he is said to have died—a slight bowel complaint—to having partaken rather freely of blackberries and milk a couple of days before, while on an excursion connected with official business.

Blackberries and milk! Such a meal could not have seriously damaged a nursing baby, much less the hardy old veteran who was almost proof against Mexican bullets. When I heard of blackberries as among the causes of General Taylor’s death, I thought of blue-pill, and gray powders and green tincture, and red lotions and brown mixtures.

President Harrison was sick, as the medical report vaguely stated, of congestion of the liver and derangement of the stomach and bowels. The patient was physicked and leeched, the typhoid set in and handed him over to the grim grasp of death. After his death the medical journals disputed the propriety of the bleeding part of the treatment. Some contended that he was bled too much, and others insisted that he should have been bled more.

Washington, too, died suddenly and strangely. A British author, Professor Reid, of Edinburgh, Scotland, has publicly declared that he was trebly killed; that he was bled to an extent that would of itself have caused death; that he took of antimony and of calomel each enough to have killed him outright, had there been no other medication.

I would respectfully commend to Presidents and Princes, Counts and Senators, Lords and Kings, and to all who desire to live long in the land that they may do more good in their day and generation, the example of that shrewd man and enigmatical monarch who rules the destinies of France. Louis Napoleon does not resort to drug medicines when he is sick, and his enemies have little ground to hope that he will die of disease. A few years ago, when suffering of that serious and generally fatal malady, albuminaria, he resorted to a bathing establishment, and recovered. The Paris correspondent of the New York World says that the Emperor has depended principally upon the Hydropathic treatment for several years, and that he keeps two water cures completely fitted up, one in the palace of the Tuileries, and the other at St. Cloud.

I cannot conclude without one more allusion to the alcoholic contoversy. Has any one yet discovered the cause of the Bull Run disaster, that strangest of all the strange panics yet recorded in history—an army fleeing when no enemy pursued; indeed when the foe was also retreating? Each army seemed to labor under the delucion that it was ‘badly whipped’ or ‘all cut to pieces’. Many theories have been suggested, but none appear to be very satisfactory, even to their authors.

There have been panics among armies before, but never such a panic. Both armies running from each other; and the abandoned artillery remaining for twenty-four hours undisturbed on the affrighted field, neither party going to claim it, or scarcely daring to look in the direction where it was last seen.

I am of the opinion that it was a liquor panic. It was a respiratory food explosion. It is in evidence that some of our officers were intoxicated on that day and occasion. Who does not know that persons who use liquor habitually, will, on extraordinary occasions, drink extra quantities? The surgeon of one of the New York regiments, Frank Hamilton, M.D., has reported, through the New York Medical Times, that he not only furnished brandy plentifully to the wounded, but also caused it to be freely distributed to the soldiers engaged in battle, to sustain them, as he expressed it, in their arduous duties.

Who cannot understand that, when the brain is so intensely excited, as in the struggle of mortal combat; when the passions are almost maddened, when hopes and fears sway the mind by turns, and when the whole soul is furious with conflicting emotions, a trivial addition to the cause of disturbance may unbalance the mind entirely? An unusual quantity, an extra dose of intoxicating liquor, might easily under such circumstances, and I think did, cause the officers, or the soldiers, or the teamsters, or the spectators, to see with disordered and with double vision. They might mistake friend for foe and fire in the wrong direction, as has happened more than once during our pending struggle. They might imagine a reinforcement to the enemy of 30,000 strong, in a cloud of dust raised by a retreating quartermaster. They could perceive a legion of rebels where only a broken and scattered battalion existed, or they might fancy the distant forest or the waving bushes to be newly-advancing columns, and they might run forty miles to Washington ere the fumes of alcohol were sufficiently dissipated to enable them to look back and discover that the enemy, too, was running—the other way! In my judgement, there is something grossly wrong, or radically defective in that government which, while its brave defenders are assaulting the enemy in front, cannot protect them from an alcoholic fire in the rear.

I have publicly declared that the system of the Healing Art which I advocate, if applied to the treatment of typhoid fever and other diseases prevalent in our army, would save thousands of lives and millions in money. Would you, would the powers that be know all the particulars? Do you or they desire information as to the details of the treatment? Would you know how to manage Hygienic medication at the bedside of the sick? You have only to indicate the wish for such knowledge, and it will be forthcoming. Tonight I have only time to indicate principles, and present such data as I hope will induce some of you, at least, to investigate further. If I am right, the people ought to know it. If I am wrong, surely somebody ought to show it.

I appeal to your medical men, to your professors of science, to show wherein I am in error. I appeal to them as conversators of the public health, and for the cause of suffering humanity, to admit and adopt the principles I have presented, or else to controvert and refuse them.

It may seem presumptuous to me to oppose my feeble voice and humble opinion to the accumulated lore of three thousand years. No matter. Are my positions true? If false, the medical faculty has the ability, and ought to have the disposition to make it appear, for the issue of life and death is involved.

But it may help my cause to relieve myself of the imputation of presumption. I do, indeed, profess to be able to refute and disprove all of the assumed philosophy of all the drug medical schools. I do most unqualifiedly claim to have discovered the true premises of medical science and the true principles of the Healing Art, and I do most unreservedly declare my readiness to explain and defend them against all possible controversy.

I claim, however, no merit, no superior intelligence, no extraordinary genuis, no wonderful sagacity, no remarkable opportunities. I do not blame physicians of the drug system for practicing as they do. They cannot help it. They act consistently with their theories, as I do with mine. Once I honestly believed in the drug system, and conscientiously practiced it.

It was mere accident—a necessity of my existence— which led me to do what no other medical man had ever done, so far as I know—to investigate the premises of medical science in their relation to the laws of nature. Many men have written its history; hundreds have investigated its hypotheses; thousands have discussed its problems, and a few have studied its philosophy. But no one before me had explored its primary premises. All have assumed the dogmas of their predecessors as starting-points, dogmas which originated in the ignorance and superstition of the dark ages, and which have been admitted and accepted, uninvestigated and unquestioned, as self-evident truths, but which, when examined in the light of the unerring laws of nature, are found to be self-evident absurdities.

I conclude with a single remark. All history attests the fact, that wherever the Drug Medical System prevails, desolation marks its track, human health declines, vital stamina diminishes, diseases become more numerous, more complicated, and more fatal, and the human race deteriorates.

On the contrary, wherever the Hygienic Medical System is adopted—and there is no exception—renovation denotes its progress, and humanity improves in all the relations of its existence.

Dr. Trall’s Unanswered Challenge To The Medical Profession To Show Their SystemIs More Valid Than Natural Hygiene

For ten years, Dr. Trall directed a challenge to the medical profession through D. Meredith Reese, M.D., LL.D., editor of the New York Medical Gazette, professor of theory and practice of medicine and medical jurisprudence in the New York Medical College. The challenge, which was never accepted, read as follows:

You and I stand before the public as teachers and practitioners of medical systems whch are diametrically opposed to each other. There is between our theories an irrepressible conflict; our methods of treating diseases are as opposite as possible.

You are educating and sending abroad young men to teach and practice your system. I am educating and sending out young men and young women to teach and practice my system, and turn the minds of the people against yours. And now, sir, I need not remind you that the world has a vast, an incalculable interest in this matter of difference between us. Humanity has an interest in knowing the exact truth or falsity of your system and of mine, as important as are the issues of health or disease, of life or death, of physical salvation or perdition.

I propose, therefore, most respectfully, and with due deference to the more exalted station you occupy in the world’s estimation, that we publicly discuss the merits and demerits of our respective systems, in a candid, gentlemanly, but earnest and truth-seeking spirit. The world will recognize you and me as proper champions of our respective systems, and, no doubt, the leading newspapers will publish our controversy, so that it may be brought before the whole American people. If you are well and honestly assured of the truthfulness of your system (which it does not become me to doubt), you can have nothing to fear. Those who are conscious of possessing the true light, do not seek to hide it under a bushel of unintelligible technicalities.

I now offer you the opportunity of showing, if you can, the truthfulness of your system and the falsity of mine, on the condition that I have an equal and precisely the same opportunity to prove the truthfulness of my system and the falsity of yours. Is not this fair? Can you, in justice to yourself, to the profession you in part represent, to truth, and to humanity, refuse to embrace it? I give you the chance to refute, disprove, or damage my system, by facts and figures, logic and argument in any way, and to any extent you please, through the column of its organ, the Water-Cure Journal. I will place before my own patients and patrons all that you can allege or prove against the system I practice, and in favor of your own, asking, in return, the equal privilege of defending my system and discussing yours, through the columns of your journal, to the end that the physicians of all schools, as well as the people at large, may judge for themselves between us—all articles to be written by either of us in relation to this controversy to be published in both the Water-Cure Journal and the Medical Gazette.

In this discussion you will have many advantages. You have been in the profession many years longer than I have. When I was a medical student, you were a medical author. You are acknowledged to be a fluent speaker, an able teacher, a ready writer, an experienced debater, a reputable practitioner, and you have long occupied a distinguished and influential position in the medical profession of this country.

The medical profession cannot object to recognize in you a competent exponent of its principles and its practice. Indeed, I am acquainted with no one, among my many able opponents, so well qualified as you are to do justice to your side of this great argument. And it is for this very reason that I desire you for an opponent; for I wish either to achieve a victory over your system which shall be decisive and complete, or to suffer a defeat which shall be effectual and final, so far as my system is concerned In a word, as our respective systems are antagonistic and irreconcilable, I wish to see one or the other annihilated.

Should Dr. Reese decline the proposed discussion, the above offer is open to any professor in an allopathic medical college, in the civilized world.

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