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Sylvester Graham – Publications


Of his numerous publications, the best known are:

  • Graham, Sylvester. (1833). A Lecture on Epidemic Diseases Generally, and Particularly the Spasmodic Cholera. New York: Mahlon Day, 1833. Presented in New York, March 1832. Albany, June, 1832. Albany, July, 1832. New York, June, 1833. 80 pages.
    • In this lecture, he connected all the nerves of organic life and shared how they are woven together. It is through these connections that food is transformed into energy.  He shares that when the function of digestion is healthy, man has the greatest physical power for achievement and endurance and the ability to resist the influence of cold, heat, wet, dry, or any infectious diseases. When the stomach is debilitated, as a necessary consequence, a general debility of functional power presents as inflammation, painful sensibility, and disorganization, followed by death.
    • He discussed the practice of tobacco, which he considers to be a powerful narcotic poison to the body. He shares that the action of all artificial stimulants on living tissues is always at the expense of the vital energies of the tissues.
    • He discussed cholera and how the alimentary canal wants to expel it from the body. Giving warm water to cleanse and soothe the stomach and intestine, the disorder ceases. But if the person has a long history of abuse, it can result in the body being unable to sustain these irritations, which induces death. He points out that extreme cases are exhibited by those who do not have a good diet or health and have extremely reduced vital powers of their organic nerves, resulting in almost instant death, as noted in the summer of 1831 in Georgetown, DC.
    • He discussed the winter of 1809 and the epidemic that broke out in CT. Many used brandy and laudanum as treatment, which he felt resulted in death.
    • Treatment, he believed, should begin by removing the irritation of the alimentary canal, allowing it to calm down.  He recommended giving only water, wheat bran tea, or rice water. The patient should be kept clean in person, including clothing, bedding, house, etc., and the morbid irritation should be subdued within the next 24 hours.
    • The appendix contains several testimonials and the rules of the Graham boarding house.

  • Graham, Sylvester. (1834). The Aesculapian Tablets of the Nineteenth Century. Providence, RI. Printed by Weeden and Cory.  96 pages.
    • Aesculapian was an ancient physician and, in mythology, was the god of medicine. Temples were dedicated to him. In the temples, people who had been sick and recovered their health went and set up a pillar and recorded their disease. The cause and healing.
    • However, today, man has moved towards the belief that there are remedies for disease in every form rather than prevention of the disease by avoiding its causes. Remedies often prove more destructive than the original, cause themselves, and accelerate death. 
    • If the body becomes diseased, it is always the result of some disturbing, offending cause. The disease can only be kept up while such a cause continues to prevent the healthy operation of the system. Health can only be recovered by the healthy operation of the system. Chronic disease is the continued result of continued action of disturbing causes.
    • He shares general rules to follow: medicine of every kind should be totally abstained from. Distilled spirits, wine, beer, cider, tobacco, opium, coffee, tea, condiments, stimulants, and narcotics should be totally abandoned. If the patient is very diseased, he should abstain from food and consume pure water or liquids until health is restored. 
    • Solid forms of food should be eaten in their natural and simple state, plainly prepared, and eaten in moderate quantities at regular periods. The battle should be kept regular with unbolted wheat meals, bread, and fruit. The last meal of the day should be simple, light, and a good distance from bedtime. Never sleep full stomach. Keep the skin clean, and exercise the body regularly.
    • He goes on to share letters he has written and received.

  • Graham, Sylvester. (1837) Treatise on Bread and Bread-Making. Boston, Mass. Light & Sterns. Reissued in 2012 by Andrews McMeel Publishing. 131 pages.
    • Librivox – Acoustical liberation of books in the public domain. 
    • Graham starts with the history of bread, beginning with the Greeks and Romans, and dives into the laws of diet and why food should be as close to its natural state as possible. He goes into the bread materials and how they should be kept whole and not separate out any of the nutrient particles. A coarsely ground wheat meal, even when the bran is retained, makes decidedly sweeter and more wholesome bread than a very finely ground meal, which causes injuries to the human body. He goes into the process of fermentation, preparation of the bread, and the importance of having good quality bread. He strongly recommends that the bread should be made in the home where the mother has control over the ingredients used. He believes that no one can feel so deep an interest in their husband and children’s happiness as they do, which requires a degree of care and attention that can only spring from the affections and solicitude of a wife and mother. He ends this book by discussing the different varieties of bread.

  • Graham, Sylvester. (1837). A Lecture to Young Men on Chastity: Intended also for the Serious Consideration of Parents and Guardians, Boston, MA. Light & Stearns, Crocker & Brewster. 206 pages.
    • In this lecture, he shares that man’s constitutional nature, when strictly obeyed, will always secure the highest happiness and that every disease and suffering results from violating these laws of nature.
    • He shares that the nerves of the genital organs are susceptible to irritation, causing a diseased excitability. He believes that this forces the sufferer into excessive desires and unclean thoughts. All kinds of stimulating and highly seasoned foods, eaten to excess, increase the excitability of the genital organs. This forces the sexual desire to influence the whole domain of the nerves of organic life. This particularly affects the stomach, brain, and heart and causes digestion to be interrupted. These irritations and disturbances cannot be continued for long without serious injury to the entire system.
    • He discusses puberty and its impact on fully developed organs. He believes that sexual desire disturbs the functions of nerves for vital energy and that the unchastity of thought is the beginning of immeasurable evil.
    • He writes that if our children are given to eating animal flesh, highly seasoned and richly prepared food, and learn to drink tea, coffee, alcohol, and other stimulants, it will drive them to further their desires. 
    • He discusses the difference between marital sex and that of sex through illicit commerce and how this will increase lust. He also goes into depth on what he calls “self-pollution” and believes it to be unnatural and, when begun early in life, can cause permanent health issues.

  • Graham, Sylvester. (1837). Lectures On the Science of Human Life. New York. Fowler and Wells.
    • Considering that it was written over 150 years ago, it is remarkable and a veritable classic on the subject. This text covered practically the entire field of the hygienic reform movement, diving into anatomy, physiology, mortality, regularity in eating, thorough mastication, hygienic cookery, quantity and quality of food, fasting, sleep, air, bathing, and exercise. Scholars have selected this work as being significantly crucial regarding human health. It is a foundation of the knowledge base of health science as we know it today and has been digitally preserved for generations to come. 650 pages.
    • Graham, Sylvester. (1839). Lectures on the Science of Human Life (Boston: Marsh, Capen, Lyon, and Webb), 2:537.
    • Graham, Sylvester. (1839). Lectures on the Science of Human Life (Volume 1). Boston, Mass. Marsh, Capen, Lyon, and Webb
      Graham, Sylvester. (1839). Lectures on the Science of Human Life (Volume 2). Boston, Mass. Marsh, Capen, Lyon, and Webb.
    • Graham, Sylvester. (1839). Lectures on the Science of Human Life. Boston, Mass. Marsh, Capen, Lyon, and Webb.

  • Whitten, James C., and James C. Whitten Collection on the History of Vegetarianism (Schlesinger Library). The Graham Journal of Health And Longevity. Boston, Mass.: David Cambell, 1837-1839.
    • V.5: No 1-25 (1839)
    • V.3: No 8 (April 13, 1839)
    • V.3: (1839)
      • The Graham Journal was absorbed by William Andrus Alcott’s ‘The Library of Health and Teacher on the Human Constitution’ after its final issue on 14 December 1839.
      • It was “designed to illustrate by facts and explain by reason and principles the science of human life as taught by Sylvester Graham.

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