The True Healing Art or,
Hygienic vs Drug Medication
By: Russell T. Trall, M.D.
Speech Delivered at the Smithsonian Institute
Washington, D. C., 1862
Some background on this famous historic
speech; Dr. Trall was in Washington, DC in the
midst of the Civil War trying to get permission to
give a lecture at the Smithsonian Institute in
order to present to the world his natural healing
solutions for disease as opposed to drugs and medications.
He is having difficulty persuading the head master at the Smithsonian,
professor Henry, to allow him to speak to a distinguished audience of
scientists and lawmakers.
The country was in a tough bloody civil war and it was difficult to be heard
amid the confusion and chaos in Washington. This fascinating story of Dr.
Trall’s determination to be heard in the early days of the Hygienic movement
is heroic and his logic supporting his arguments seem incontrovertible.
The True Healing Art
By: Dr. R.T. Trall, M.D. 1862
My Interview With Professor Henry
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 textbook. I have had an interview with Professor Henry, of
the Smithsonian Institute of Washington City, the capital of these United
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
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 in 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, etc.
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 this 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 a purely scientific one; that
the medical profession had always been in error respecting the fundamental
premises 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 issues 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
"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
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; and 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 known.
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, "but 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 circumstances were such that it would not be
prudent nor judicious to accede to my wishes. I bid "good-by" to the
Professor, but not to my project.
Dr. Trall To Professor Henry
On returning to my rooms, and thinking 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:
Washington, D. C., 487 Sixth Street, Feb. 4, 1862
Professor Henry--Dear Sir:
I cannot go home in peace without appealing to you once more. I have no
manner of fault to find with neither 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 capital of the
nation, but you would invite me so to do.
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
my 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 references 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.
Very truly yours, for humanity,
R. T. TRALL, M.D.
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.
The Washington Lecture Association
There is in Washington city an organization under the above title, 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 a duty as well as
a pleasure to make honorable mention are, J. K. Herbert, Esq., attorney-at-law;
J. N. 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 Patent 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. H. Jones,
of New York, came on to Washington to assist; and his services were most
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 the committee was determined to see
established on a basis never more to be questioned in the nation's capital.
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. It is due to
Mr. Herbert to say that, while all of the gentlemen named rendered all the aid I
desired, he was especially active and vigilant, and devoted much to preparing
the way and making all needful preparations for the lecture. Mr. Van Vliet also
exerted himself judiciously and effectively to secure the final success of my
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.
I am indebted to Rev. Dr. Pierpont for a very complimentary introduction to the
audience, and to the politeness of Mr. Devereux for sending his private
carriage to and from the lecture-room.
As my address was prepared with the view to publication, I will not dwell on
the points presented; but if one can judge from the repeated plaudits of the
audience, I had the full sympathy of at least nine-tenths of the house.
It is proper to add that, on account of the length of the address I had prepared,
some portions of it were omitted in the delivery. These portions, however,
related to details and illustrations, and not to essential facts or primary
I should mention also that, on account of some previous disagreement among
the members of the Washington Lecture Association, respecting the subjects
that were properly within the scope of their organization, a rule had been
adopted disclaiming all responsibility for the doctrines and sentiments, which
any speaker might introduce. This fact will explain my allusion in the opening
True Healing Art
I am very thankful, Mr. President, for this introduction, and especially for this
disclaimer. It is what I am accustomed to, and it makes me feel at home. It
assures me that I am indeed "free and independent" as I desire to be; that I am
privileged to select my own theme, and that I can speak on my own
responsibility of my own peculiar "isms" or "ologies" without compromising
any association, and without involving any individual, because of my
And I am very grateful, Ladies and Gentlemen, to the members of the
Washington Lecture Association, for having prepared the way for free
discussion in this place; even for the presentation of the most radical subject
that can be named—the ultraism; and, moreover, for the first appearance, on
this stage, of the most unpopular speaker who could be introduced on this
platform; for 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 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, even 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 Medicines; 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.
By all the data of science applicable to the subject.
These are bold, plain, sweeping assertions--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
issues, which I shall present.
I am most happy to be privileged to stand in this presence; in this magnificent
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.
With these preliminaries, and your kind indulgence, I will now address myself
to my subject.
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
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
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
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. If their system is true, mine 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
And what interests 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.
There are but two medical systems in existence--the Drug Medical System and
the Hygienic Medical System. One employs poisons as the proper and natural
remedies for diseases; the other employs normal or hygienic materials and
There are several branches or sects of the Drug Medical System--the
Allopathic, Homeopathic, Eclectic, Physio-Medical, etc. But they are essentially
one and the same.
They all differ in certain secondary and unimportant problems and theories;
but they all agree in primary premises. They are all reducible to the
fundamental proposition of "curing one disease by producing another." They
are all based on the principle of inducing a drug disease to cure a primary
It is true that Eclecticism and Physio-Medicalism do not recognize this
principle; but it is true nevertheless.
Drug Medication, no matter in what disguise nor under what name it is
practiced, consists in employing, as remedies for diseases, those things
which produce disease in well persons.
Its materia medica is simply a list of drugs, chemicals, and dyestuffs--in a
word, poisons. They may be vegetable, animal, or mineral, and may be called
"apothecary stuff" or medicines; but they are, nevertheless, poisons.
They may come to us in the shape of acids, alkalis, salts, oxides, earths, roots,
barks, seeds, leaves, flowers, gums, resins, secretions, excretions, etc., but all
are subversive of organic structures; all are incompatible with vital functions;
all are antagonistic to living matter; all produce disease when brought in
contact in any manner with the living domain; truly all are poisons.
On the contrary, Hygienic Medication consists in employing, as remedial
agents for sick persons, the same materials and influences, which preserve
health in well persons. It rejects all poisons.
And here let me correct a common error abroad in relation to what thousands
of people have understood as "Hydropathy" or "Water Treatment" the "Water-
Cure" and the "Cold-Water-Cure" etc.
It is a prevalent opinion that the advocates of this system accept the
philosophy of the Allopathic system, but reject its remedies, employing water,
diet, etc., as substitutes for drug medicines.
The true system of the Healing Art---Hygienic Medication--rejects not only the
drugs, medicines, or poisons of the popular system, but also repudiates the
philosophy or theories on which their employment is predicated.
It is in direct antagonism with the Drug System, both in theory and in practice.
It does not propose to employ air, light, temperature, water, etc., as substitutes
for drugs, or because they are better or safer than drugs.
It rejects drugs because they are intrinsically bad, and employs hygienic
agencies because they are intrinsically good. I would reject drugs if there
were no other remedial agents in the universe, because, if I could not do
good, I would "cease to do evil" I would not poison a person because he is
No physician has ever yet given the world a reason that would bear the ordeal
of one moment's scientific examination, why a sick person should be
poisoned more than should a well person; and I do not believe the world will
endure until he finds such a reason.
The medical profession may prosecute this inquiry another three thousand
years, and destroy other hundreds of millions of the human race in
experiments with drugs and doses, but they will never arrive any nearer to a
solution of the problem. They will never be able to give a satisfactory answer
to the question, for none exists.
In approaching the argument, allow me, firstly, to call your attention to certain
facts which may tend to convince you that the philosophy of my subject (if
indeed, it has a philosophy), is worthy of your profoundest attention; and
which will, moreover, explain why I am so glad of this opportunity to speak
before the learned men and the honored servants of the American people, and
through them to the nation, and through the nation to the whole civilized
And I especially invite and solicit the attention of medical men of all the Drug
Schools. I shall controvert all of their fundamental dogmas; deny all of their
pretended science; challenge all of their philosophy; and condemn nearly all
of their practice.
If I know myself, I have no motive, no desire, and no interest in this
discussion, save the advancement of truth. And I ask medical gentlemen to
hear me through, and take exceptions to every word I utter amiss, and to state
their objections to whatever I affirm which they deem erroneous, as frankly
and as publicly as I express my opinions.
In this intellectual as well as commercial age, most people prefer to reason
inductively--to construct principles from facts--rather than to deduce facts
I will, therefore, refer to certain historical data in the shape of "fixed facts"
which go to prove, in a general sense, the propositions I have announced,
and afterward proceed to develop the principles, which underlie them, and the
premises that explain them.
And here it becomes necessary for me to make a brief introduction to my
preface. I must indicate the groundwork of my whole argument, that you may
be the better able to judge, as I go along, whether the facts and the logic
which I shall adduce, agree or disagree with my premises and my
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, text-books 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
A False Doctrine of the Nature of Disease.
A False Doctrine of the Action of Remedies.
A False Theory of Vitality.
A False Theory of the Vis Medicatrix Naturae.
A False Doctrine of the Relations of the Disease and the Vis Medicatrix
A False Doctrine of the Relations of Remedies to Diseases.
A False Doctrine of the Relation of Disease to the Vital Functions.
A False Doctrine of the Relations of Remedies to the Healthy Structures.
A False Theory of the Relations of Organic and Inorganic Matter.
A False Doctrine of Diseases in Relation to their Causes and Effects.
A False Doctrine of the Law of Cure.
A False Doctrine of the Nature and Source of Remedies.
These propositions comprehend all the premises of medical science and 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 on 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, small-pox, 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 in all the ages.
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
And thousands of fathers and mothers have written me that they have
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.
Certain distinguished medical men have regarded nearly all of the diseases to
which flesh is heir as better left to Nature than treated with things.
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
And although I am no friend to sensational literature nor sensational
advertising, yet when words of modesty and candor cannot be heard amid the
"noise and confusion" of the times, and when all ears are intently listening to
the din of preparation for, and when all minds are momentarily expecting the
crash of, Battle's magnificently stern array, the necessity of the occasion may
perhaps justify the means.
I was quite in earnest in my endeavors to attract the attention of "the powers
that be" in Washington, and the notice of the professors of the medical
college here, and the criticisms of the scientific men of this noble Institution.
I knew that I had truths, great truths to utter; and I knew that if I could, by any
announcement, secure a hearing from them, the result could hardly fail to be
such as would rejoice the heart of every philanthropist in the land.
For this reason it was that I sent letters and circulars and books to the
President, Secretary of State, and Secretaries of the Treasury, War, and Navy.
To these I received no response. I did not expect any. But I felt my mission to
be important, and it seemed to be my duty to leave no means untried to
I intend to make all of my statements good; and now to the proof:
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. F. 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 small-pox, which had
prevailed endemically in that city, without a particle of medicine, and that all of
the cases--some of which were very grave ones--recovered.
Dr. John Bell, Professor of Materia Medica in one of the Philadelphia colleges,
and also in the Medical College of Baltimore, testifies, in a work, which he has
published ("Bell on Baths") that he and others have treated many cases of
scarlet fever with bathing, and without medicines of any kind, and without
losing a patient.
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
Such patients were always liable to collapses and re-lapses; 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 neither more nor less than drug diseases. And
Dr. Ames found on changing his plan of treatment to milder and simpler
remedies that he lost no patients.
And here a remark made by a veterinary surgeon of some celebrity, Dr. Youatt,
is illustrative and significant. The Doctor has recently published a large
volume on the diseases of that noble animal, the horse--a work, I fear, no
reasonable beast will have any reason to thank him for.
Horse Doctor Youatt gets his ideas for treating pneumonia in the horse from
the allopathic materia medica. Ho proposes to manage the animal when
suffering of inflammation of the lungs, as the human doctors do their fellow-
beings when sick of the same malady--with bleeding, blisters, salts, calomel,
Well, the animal goes through the disease and the treatment, or the disease
and the treatment go through the animal, and the animal either lives or dies. If
the poor horse happens to survive the disease and the treatment, Dr. Youatt
advises the owner to get rid, of him as soon as he can; "for" says the
professor of Equine Pathology, "after having the pneumonia once, he will
always be feeble, and very liable to relapses."
The same remark, as to feebleness and relapses, will just as well apply to a
man treated in a similar manner.
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
The late Professor Wm. Tully, M.D., of Yale College, and of the Vermont
Academy of Medicine at Castleton, Vt., 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 TuIly, "no deaths
occurred." And I might add, as an historical incident of some pertinency in
this place, that regular physicians were once banished from Rome, so fatal
did their practice seem, so far as the people could judge of it.
So long ago as my earliest school-boy days--and that was not very long ago,
for I do not confess to being an old man yet--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
Western New York was then sparsely populated, and there was no doctor
within a dozen or fifteen miles. But people were sick. Agues prevailed. Colds
and coughs were as common as rain, sleet, and slosh. Pneumonia and
influenza were every-day affairs. Whooping cough, 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. Catnip teas, hemlock sweats, warm water for the feet, and
gruel for the stomach and bowels, seemed to be infallible in all cases. No
doctors were to be had, and nurses were obliged to rely on domestic
remedies and common-sense 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."
But one death occurred in the town those years, and that was the case of an
old man who froze to death on a bitter cold December night. The rum-fiend,
however, had to do with this death.
At length, as the country settled around, a stranger of good address came
along and offered to teach the village school. He was employed. It was soon
noised around that he was a doctor. How fortunate.
At this time colds, and pneumonia, and influenza, and pleurisies were
prevalent. The schoolteacher soon began to visit patients out of school
hours, and the calls for his professional services became so frequent and
urgent that he was obliged to relinquish teaching in the middle of the term and
devote himself night and day to doctoring.
Then it was that people began to die. I soon became familiar with funerals,
and in a few years, cripples and bed-ridden women were numerous in the
Three of my father's family--my mother and two brothers--for some slight
indisposition, called the doctor; and neither of them ever saw a well day
afterward. These things I noticed then and wondered. Now I think I can
understand and explain them.
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 dysentery 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, Ill., 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 this 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.
Magendie also divided his typhoid-fever patients into two classes, to one of
whom he prescribed the ordinary remedies, and to the other no medicines at
all, relying wholly on such nursing and such attention to Hygiene as the vital
instincts demanded and common sense suggested.
Of the patients who were treated the usual way, he lost the usual proportion,
about one-fourth. And of those who took no medicine, he lost none. And
what opinion has Magendie left on record of the popular healing art? He said
to his medical class, "Gentlemen, medicine is a great humbug."
Who has not heard of Dr. Jennings, now of Oberlin, Ohio? Some years ago he
practiced medicine in Derby, Conn. Being a close observer and a very
conscientious man, and, withal, something of a philanthropist, he became a
"reformer" and what all true reformers must be in the world's estimation, a
"radical" an "ultraist" a "one-idealist" a "fanatic" etc.
He became fully convinced that the system of drug medication was all wrong;
that drugs, instead of curing persons, or aiding Nature to cure them, really
hindered the cure, or changed the primary malady to a drug disease as bad or
worse; and to put the matter to the proof, he practiced for several years
without giving a particle of medicine of any kind.
But his patients did not know it. The people did not mistrust that they were
humbugged out of their diseases; cheated into health; deceived into saving
the greater part of their doctor's bills, all of their apothecary's bills, and the
better part of their constitutions.
Under Dr. Jennings' administration, diseases seemed to have lost all of their
malignancy and danger, and to have assumed a singularly mild and
manageable form, type, and diathesis. He gave harmless placebos--colored
water, sugar pellets, and starch powders, to keep up confidence and furnish
the mind with some charm of mysteriousness to rest its faith upon and then
he directed such attention to Hygienic conditions as would enable Nature to
work the cure in the best possible manner and in the shortest possible time.
His success was remarkable. His fame extended far and wide. The praises of
his wonderful skill were heard in all the region roundabout. In a few years,
having conclusively demonstrated the principle involved, he disclosed to his
medical brethren the secret of his extraordinary success.
And do you not think that they were all swift to adopt the no-medicine plan of
Dr. Jennings? Not quite--no, not one of them. Dr. Jennings has not at this
day a single disciple, perhaps, in all Connecticut, The Connecticut doctors all
thought, doubtless, with Dr. Flint, of New York, "This no-medicine plan may do
in public hospitals, but it will never answer in private families. It may do for Dr.
Jennings or for the people, but will never answer for us."
And the "Matchless Sanative"--who has not known of its marvelous cures?
Twenty-five or thirty years ago it was all the rage in some places. I have seen
many chronic invalids who had worn out half a dozen regular physicians, and
swallowed the whole round of patent nostrums; but nothing ever did them so
much good as the "Matchless Sanative."
Well, it was a matchless medicine. It was the very best remedy, as a universal
panacea, ever sold to an afflicted mortal at an extravagant price, for it was
pure water, and nothing else. The price was only two and a half dollars per
And our friends the Homeopaths. They treat the gravest forms of disease with
almost no medicine at all. They come as near to non-entity as possible and
miss it. Their remedies, when prescribed Hahnemann-style, may be
represented for all practical purposes by the formulary of the solution of the
shadow of a shade of nothing at all, to begin with.
One Allopathic dose of magnesia or cod-liver oil, diluted through a body of
water which would fill all of the ethereal space from the earth's surface to the
farthest star within the reach of telescopic vision, and one millionth part of a
drop of this vast expanse of fluid for a dose, would not exaggerate the idea of
the "pathogenic" potency of the infinitesimal pharmacology, however much it
might transcend the grasp of the human imagination.
And are not the Homeopaths quite as successful as are their rivals, the
Allopaths, in the treatment of disease? Let their rapidly increasing numbers,
and their employment in the families of so many thousands of the wealthy and
intelligent, answer. This is not because the people believe in Homeopathy
more, but because they fear it less.
The Homeopaths of New York have been offering for years, to go into the
public hospitals, and treat all manner of diseases side by side with Allopathy,
as a test experiment of the relative value of the two systems.
But they are not permitted to do so. Allopathy has all the power in its own
hands. It is incorporated, as it were, into the national, State, and municipal
governments, and it stands on its advantages, and says, "Let us have no
dangerous experiments. The dignity of the profession will not permit us to
countenance any irregular system, nor to encourage quackery in any shape."
Did dignity ever cure anybody? Does Allopathy, in refusing this fair offer, fear
for the dear people, or does it fear for itself? Even now the Homeopaths are
importuning for the privilege of having a department in our army hospitals,
where their system can be administered to such patients as prefer it.
Should, their petition be granted, I would not predict what the result would be.
I simply know it would not be favorable to Allopathy.
Last week the New York State Medical Society (Allopathic) met at Albany, and
passed resolutions against the "introduction of Homeopathic practice in any
portion of our army."
Of course. But have not the people some right to some voice in this matter?
Is it not as much their business as the medical profession's? It is they who
are to foot the bills, and endure the sickness, and suffer the dying.
I may here, perhaps, make a remark, in passing, of some practical importance.
It is with all schools of medicine as it is with each individual practitioner of the
healing art--the less faith they have in medicine, the more they have in
Hygiene; hence those who prescribe little or no medicine, are invariably and
necessarily more attentive to Hygienic conditions--to good nursing--which
always was, and ever will be, all that there is really good, useful, or curative in
Such physicians are more careful to supply the vital organism with whatever
of air, light, temperature, food, water, exercise, or rest, etc., it needs in its
struggle for health, and to remove all vitiating influences--all poisons,
impurities, miasms, or disturbing influences of any kind.
And this is Hygienic Medication; this is the True Healing Art. Nor God nor
Nature has provided any other; nor can the Supreme Architect permit any
other without reversing all the laws of the universe, and annulling every one
of His attributes, as I expect to make appear in due time.
Why have you a "Sanitary Commission" to look after the health of our soldiers
in the field? Where are the Doctors? For what purpose have we a Medical
Bureau? Why should it be necessary for a self-constituted committee, with a
clergyman at its head, and a non-professional person for secretary, to
supervise the medical department?
Why do we not have, in private families, some benevolent clergyman, or some
intelligent layman, to regulate the Hygiene while the physician deals out the
The "Sanitary Commission" visits the camps and hospitals of our armies, and
reports that no proper attention is paid to the most obvious conditions of
health. And it has been gravely charged in the newspapers that the Medical
Bureau feels its dignity wounded and its prerogative intruded upon by the
outside and unprofessional interference.
The "Sanitary Commission" report that no proper attention is paid to
ventilation; that cleanliness is disregarded; that stagnant waters are allowed
to be drunk; and that sources of miasms, infections, and contagions are
permitted to accumulate and breed pestilence. Why all this? Do our
physicians understand the conditions of health? Do they know what are the
causes of disease? If they do, why cannot they attend to these matters as
well as outsiders? Are they reckless, ignorant, or indifferent?
Oh, no, hygiene--health--is not in their technically professional line. The
prevention of disease, the preservation of health, must be left to others, save
so far as diseases may be prevented, or rather changed into other forms, by
dosing and drugging.
Strange as the announcement may sound in this hail, 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 arsenic in large doses.
And I read, too, this day, in Braithwaites'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
condition 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 Hygiene 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 that 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
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
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
skillfully; bleed dexterously; mercurialize strongly; narcotize effectively; give
quinine hugely, and administer arsenic powerfully; but they could not purify--
and purification was the one thing needful in most cases.
Oh, for a Moses among the doctors. When Moses, in olden time, led the
reckless and sensual Israelites a forty years' journey through the wilderness,
how strict and inexorable were his Hygienic injunctions. How careful was that
admirable physiologist in directing all the minutia of the sanitary condition of
And that no source of pestilence should be tolerated, he would not allow any
nuisance, or impurity even, to defile the camp ground. Fortunately for his
people, he had no quinine to "neutralize malaria" no arsenic to cure fevers;
and so he was obliged to prevent them.
Had Moses been as ignorant or as regardless of Hygiene as are our modern
medical men, civil or military, before he could have led the Israelites a quarter
of a forty years' journey, they would all have perished of the pestilences so
prevalent among modern armies.
I have visited the camp 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 healthiest one in the department. He gives no medicine
and his associate 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 prudent 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 (more
than one) 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
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.
I saw many patients in all stages of these diseases, and of convalescence; all
were doing well; none of them had any complications; no one feared relapses
or collapses. In the largest hospital in this department are several nurses who
give the medicines to the gutter, and they have not lost one patient of
I was told, moreover, that the young surgeons in the hospitals give a great
deal of medicine, while the old surgeons give comparatively little. This
accords with the testimony of the venerable Professor Alexander H. Stevens,
M.D., of the New York College of Physicians and Surgeons: "Young
practitioners are a most hopeful class of community. They are sure of
They start out in life with twenty remedies for every disease; and after an
experience of thirty years or less they find twenty diseases for every remedy."
And again: "The older physicians grow, the more skeptical they become of the
virtues of medicine, and the more they are disposed to trust in the powers of
There are, aside from accidents--mechanical injuries but two sources of
disease in the world, namely poisons or impurities taken into the system from
without, and effete or waste matters retained.
In either case the result is obstruction. These extraneous particles are the
causes of disease, and, aside from mental impressions and bodily injuries, the
So what is this mysterious thing, disease? Simply the effort to remove
obstructing material from the organic domain, and to repair damages.
Disease is a process of purification. It is remedial action. It is a vital struggle
to overcome obstructions and to keep the channels of the circulation free.
Should this struggle, this self-defensive action, this remedial effort, this
purifying process, this attempt at reparation, this war for the integrity of the
living domain, this contest against the enemies of the organic constitution, be
repressed by bleeding.
Should it be suppressed with drugs, intensified with stimulants and tonics,
subdued with narcotics and antiphlogistics, confused with blisters and
caustics, aggravated with alternatives, complicated and misdirected,
changed, subverted, and perverted with drugs and poisons generally?
To give drugs is adding to the causes of disease; for drugs always produce
disease. Indeed, they cure one disease, when they cure at all, by producing
others. Can causes cure causes? Can poisons expel poisons? Can
impurities deterge away impurities? Can Nature throw off two or more
burdens more easily than one? No, never.
Poisoning a person because he is impure is like casting out devils through
Beelzebub, the prince of devils. It is neither Scriptural nor philosophical.
The effect of drug-curing or drug-killing, as the case may be--I mean drug
medication--is to lock up, as it were, the causes of the disease within the
system, and to induce chronic and worse diseases.
The causes should be expelled, not retained. The remedial struggle--the
disease--should be aided, regulated, directed, so that it may successfully
accomplish its work of purification, not subdued nor thwarted with poisons,
which create new remedial efforts (drug diseases), and thus embarrass and
complicate the vital struggle.
To give drugs is to give the living system more work to do. It is aiding and
assisting the enemy. It is, in effect, very much like fighting the rebels by firing
at our own soldiers in the rear, while they are attacking the enemy in front.
Can our army manage two adversaries better than one? It is like tying one
hand fast to the body and form of the Constitution, and going at the rebels
with the other. Had you not better employ both hands?
But, before I pursue the argument further, let us briefly glance at the
authorities. I will cite mainly the standard textbooks of medical schools, and
the exact words of the living teachers.
Continue To Part 2 of 2