The True Healing Art
By: Russell. T. Trall, M.D.
PART 2 OF 2
United States Dispensatory says:
"Medicines are those articles which make
sanative impressions on the body." This may
be important, if true. But, per contra, says
Professor Martin Paine, M.D., of the New York
University Medical School, in his Institutes of
Medicine: "Remedial agents are essentially
morbific in their operations."
This is rather a bad beginning. Professor Paine is the only author in modern
times who had made any serious attempt to write the philosophy of medical
science; and the "United States Dispensatory" edited by Professors Wood
and Bache, of Philadelphia, is universally recognized as "good authority" in
the United States.
And here are our two leading authorities starting with a point-blank
contradiction. Which is right? Who are we to believe? Or is it of no sort of
consequence whether medicines produce "sanative" or "morbific"
Is it not enough for us to know that they make impressions of some sort,
good, bad, or indifferent? That they operate somehow, or in some way, or at
least occasion certain effects? It seems to me that everything depends on a
correct starting-point--on the truth of the primary premise.
But again says Professor Paine "Remedial agents operate in the same
manner as do the remote causes of disease." This seems to be a very distinct
announcement that remedies are themselves causes of disease. And yet
again: "In the administration of medicines we cure one disease by producing
another." This is both important and true.
Professor Paine quotes approvingly the famous professional adage, in good
technical Latin "Ubi virus, ibi vitus" which, being translated, means, "our
strongest poisons are our best remedies."
Would professors Wood and Bache say, "the more powerful the poison the
more sanative the impression"? This would be as consistent as was the Irish
doctor's handwritten bill: "To curing your wife till she died."
As it is important in this controversy of Paine vs. United States Dispensatory,
to know which party is in the right, let us seek for other testimony.
Says Professor Alonzo Clark, M.D., of the New York College of Physicians
and Surgeons: "All of our curative agents are poisons, and as a consequence,
every dose diminishes the patient's vitality."
Says Professor Joseph M. Smith, M.D., of the same school: "All medicines
which enter the circulation poison the blood in the same manner as do the
poisons that produce disease."
Says Professor St. John, of the New York Medical College: "All medicines are
Says Professor E. R. Peaslee, M.D., of the same school: "The administration
of powerful medicines is the most fruitful cause of derangements of the
Says Professor H. G. Cox, M.D., of the same school: "The fewer remedies you
employ in any disease, the better for your patients."
The authorities all seem to be on the side of Professor Paine; and I imagine
that the Dispensatory's idea of a sanative poison must be regarded as a
"rhetorical flourish" or a "glittering generality."
It is a favorite pretension of the professors of the Eclectic and PhysioMedical
schools, that the poisons of their materia medica are sanative; but I can find
no author of the Allopathic School, save the "United States Dispensatory"
who affirms the absurd proposition. But, waving for a moment the question
whether medicines are sanative or morbific let us see what the authors say of
their effects and modus operandi.
Says Professor E. H. Davis, M.D., of the New York Medical College: "The
modus operandi of medicines is still a very obscure subject. We know that
they operate, but exactly how they operate is entirely unknown."
Says Professor J. W. Carson, M.D., of the New York University Medical
School: "We do not know whether our patients recover because we give
medicines, or because Nature cures them."
Says Professor E. S. Carr, of the same school: "All drugs are more or less
adulterated; and as not more than one physician in a hundred has sufficient
knowledge in chemistry to detect impurities, the physician seldom knows just
how much of a remedy he is prescribing."
The authors disagree in many things; but all concur in the fact that medicines
produce diseases; that their effects are wholly uncertain, and that we know
nothing whatever of their modus operandi.
But now comes in the testimony of the venerable Professor Joseph M. Smith,
M.D., who says: "Drugs do not cure disease; disease is always cured by the
vis medicatrix naturae."
And Professor Clark further complicates the problem before us in declaring
that, "Physicians have hurried thousands to their graves who would have
recovered if left to Nature." And again: "In scarlet fever you have nothing to
do but to rely on the vis medicatrix naturae."
We are in a sad predicament. Professors Wood and Bache inform us that
medicines are sanative. Professors Clark and St. John declare that they are
Professor Paine explains that they cure one disease by producing another;
and Professor Smith asserts that they do not cure at all. In the midst of
counsel there is much perplexity.
But has it come to this? Are we to believe that the profession has been
accumulating remedies for three thousand years; that whole libraries have
been written in laudation of their curative "virtues" that twenty classes and
two thousand drugs are already recorded on the pages of the works on
materia medica and therapeutics; that the cry is "still they come" and yet that
they do not cure at all?
No, not by sanative impressions; nor by morbific operations; nor by
poisoning the blood; nor by diminishing the vitality; nor even by producing
Why, then, give drugs? If the vis medicatrix naturae is the curative agent,
why not administer the vis medicatrix naturae? Ah. But drugs may "aid and
assist the vis medicatrix naturae." How? By making sanative impressions?
By making morbific impressions? By poisoning the blood? By diminishing
the ‘vitality? By inducing a new disease? What is the rationale? Was there
ever another such a metaphysicotherapeutical muddle?
The questions I have propounded are not answered in medical books; but I
intend to solve them before I leave the stand. They never can be answered
until another and a primary question is solved. What is disease?
Says Professor Gross: "Of the essence of disease very little is known; indeed,
nothing at all."
And says Professor George B. Wood. M.D., of Jefferson Medical College,
Philadelphia Wood's Practice of Medicine: "Efforts have been made to reach
the elements of disease; but not very successfully; because we have not yet
learned the essential nature of the healthy actions, and cannot understand
We have, then, the confession of the highest authorities, that the medical
profession knows nothing of the nature of disease; nothing of the modus
operandi of medicines; and of course it can know nothing of the relations of
the remedies to the diseases for which they are prescribed; and for this very
reason physicians should not prescribe them at all. Nor would they, if they
understood the rationale of either one of these subjects.
Now I do profess to understand the essential nature of disease, the rationale
of the action of remedies, and the relations of remedies to diseases, and I do
not prescribe drug medicines.
And if all the physicians of the United States should understand these
questions tonight, there would be no drug doctor in all this land with
tomorrow's rising sun.
It is precisely because medical men do not understand the relations of
remedies to diseases that they administer poisons because a person is sick.
I admit that physicians, as a class, are honest; but I know they are mistaken.
I know that when they suppose themselves to be opposing and subduing an
enemy, which they term disease, they are really warring on the human
I do not believe there is a physician on earth who has so poor a judgment or
so bad a conscience as to be a drug doctor for one moment after he
understands the essential nature of disease, or the rationale of the action of
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
virtues of the healing art" which "cures one disease by producing another." I
mention names familiar in this place--Senator Douglass, Count Cavour,
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. There was no malice prepense, as the lawyers say. 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
And three Presidents of the United States--Washington, Harrison, and Taylor--
were manslaughtered by their medical advisers, as I may have time to show
you. But, perhaps, it would not be judicious on this occasion to dwell on
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 pneumonia, or a fever? [Note: a few days after this lecture, Willie
Lincoln was among the dead].
Ah. When I have read of illness in the presidential 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 fatal to sufferers of the upper classes of life than to patients of the
poorer kind." Let me be poor, aye, 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 have already done this
indirectly. I will now do it directly. 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 of the United States 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.
There assembled at St. Louis, Mo., a few years ago--I believe in 1855 or ‘56--a
National Medical Convention. This convention was composed of the very
elite of the profession--professors in medical colleges, presidents of medical
societies, authors of standard books, and other gentlemen of distinction from
all parts of the country.
And they met professedly for the purpose of elevating the character and
dignity of the profession, conserving the public health, and putting down
Well, what did this body of learned and influential Aesculapians do in St.
Louis? Among other things they ate a huge dinner, and passed a great
resolution. I mention the dinner merely to say that on the table at which these
representatives of medical science and these conservators of the health of
the dear people sat down to "The feast of reason and the flow of soul" were
forty kinds of alcoholic liquor! --A display not very complimentary to the
And I mention the grog merely to say that, if it be suspected that the
resolution, or any part thereof, was passed under the inspiration of the Cup
that cheers and also inebriates, the members of the American Medical
Association like all prisoners at the bar, shall have the benefit of the doubt.
In plain English, an intelligent community demands a medical system, which
will cure, and not kill. But what do these words mean? Are they true? And
when did these medical gentlemen ascertain that the system, which they had
practiced so long, was "erroneous in theory and fatal in practice?"
Did they make the discovery while in convention assembled, or had they
known it long before? And have they discontinued this "injurious, and often,
very often, fatal practice" now that they know it to be predicated on a false
doctrine? I fear not.
I suspect that all of them are practicing this false system to this day and
hour. Have they a moral right to do this? And do they wish for the people to
have confidence in a system that they declare to be false and fatal? Would I,
would you, prosecute any calling which you knew to be wrong in principle
and injurious in practice, and especially when you professed to serve your
neighbor for pay?
The medical profession holds a most false relation to society. Its honors and
emoluments are measured, not by the good, but by the evil it does.
The physician who keeps some member of the family of his rich neighbor on
a bed of sickness for months or years, may secure to himself thereby both
fame and fortune; while the one who would restore the patient to health in a
week or two, will be neither appreciated nor understood.
If a physician, in treating a simple fever, which if left to itself or to Nature
would terminate in health in two or three weeks, drugs the patient into half a
dozen chronic diseases, and nearly kills him half a dozen times, and
prolongs his sufferings for months, he will receive much money and many
thanks for carrying him safely through so many complications, relapses, and
But if he cures in a single week, and leaves him perfectly sound, the pay will
be small, and the thanks nowhere, because he has not been very sick.
But the majority of the people still demand drug doctors, and so long as they
demand them they will have them. Whenever there is a demand for hygienic
physicians, they will be forthcoming.
Much is said in these days of reforming medical practice. I can give you an
infallible recipe for providing the very best of physicians at the least possible
expense. Pay your physician when you are well, and stop his pay when you
are sick, or else pay him a stipulated salary whether you are sick or well.
Let your health be to his advantage, and not your sickness his opportunity.
Then he will study Hygiene, which keeps you well, instead of druggery, which
complicates your maladies and keeps you sick. As it is now, he is hired,
virtually bribed, to do the very worst he can for you.
I know many of you will say, "My physician is a very excellent man and a good
scholar--I have all confidence in him." But he says his system is false. Is your
confidence in him or in his system? If in his system, you are to be pitied. If in
him, take his good advice and refuse his bad medicine.
We offer the medical profession the very system, which it says an intelligent
community absolutely demands, and the profession not only refuses to
adopt it, but even to investigate it.
And it applies to those of us who advocate and practice it, such unpleasant
epithets as "quack" "fanatic" "one-idealist" etc. "One-idealism" indeed. I will
show you that the one-idealism is all on the other side.
What is drug medication? It is simply poisoning a man because he is sick.
How many ideas are there in that idea? I can see but one and that happens
to be a very bad one. True, there are two thousand drugs in the list of
remedies. But they are all poisons--banes, venoms, and viruses-- The dregs
and scum of earth and sea.
Take one of them separately, and it is a poison. Give a patient the whole
apothecary shop, and it is one mass of poison. It is poisonopathy first, last,
Now the remedies of the Hygienic System, as I have already stated,
comprehend everything in the universe except poisons. The Drug System
rejects everything except poisons. My system rejects only poisons, and
adopts everything else.
But now a truce with facts and authorities. I come now to the principles and
premises of our subject; to the philosophy that underlies this discussion.
How shall we explain the facts before us? How can we reconcile or
understand these conflicting authorities?
I will give you an infallible criterion of judgment, which will apply to the
solution of all the medical problems under consideration; and then I will give
you an invariable rule of practice, which will apply to the treatment of all
manner of diseases.
And this criterion, and this rule, will be found in the laws established in the
constitution of all living beings. Without some fixed and unalterable and
demonstrable rule of judgment, all of our reasoning may be in vain; facts may
be misapplied experience misinterpreted; observation deceptive; and logic
Though an angel speak to us in the voices of the rolling thunders; though
God send instruction in the red lightning's flash; yet, without a principle of
interpretation, without the recognition of some law by which to explain the
phenomena, we only know that it thunders, and that the sky is ablaze.
But with the knowledge of the law that determines the results, we may rightly
apply all of the data of science and misapply none; we may use all things,
and abuse nothing.
The grand fundamental error of medical men, and the great primary mistake
of physiologists and chemists, and of philosophers, psychologists, and
metaphysicians, and even of theologians, so far as their doctrines and
dogmas apply to the subject in hand, consists in mistaking the relations of
living and dead matter.
They have erected all of their systems and philosophies on a false basis--on
a reversed order of Nature. And, think you, can the superstructure be reliable
and enduring if the foundation be laid in error?
Medical schools and books teach that medicines--acids, alkalis, salts, earths,
minerals, more drugs--which are dead, inert and inorganic substances, act on
the living system. Nature teaches the contrary; that the living system acts on
Medical schools and books teach--and the whole drug system is predicated
on this idea--that particular medicines, in virtue of "inherent affinities" which
they possess for certain parts and organs of the body, act upon or make
impressions on them. Nature teaches the contrary.
Nature teaches that the relation of medicines to the vital tissues is that of
antagonism, not affinity.
There is no word in our language that covers so much delusion as this little
word, impression. Our philosophers have in all ages wholly mistaken its
meaning. And a false definition of the word, applied to pathology and
therapeutics, has given the world a false doctrine of the nature of disease,
and a false theory of the action of remedies; a false medical science, and a
false healing art.
What is an impression? Not the action of an external object on the body or
mind, as our doctors and philosophers teach, but the recognition by the
body or mind of the object. Whatever action results from the impression or
recognition, is the action of the living system in relation to the object, and not
the action of the object on the living system.
An impression is not the action of an inert substance--of a thing that does not
act at all--but simply vital or mental recognition. And if I am correct in the
definition of this word, all of the doctrines, which medical men have
entertained and taught for three thousand years, in relation to diseases and
remedies, are exactly contrary to truth and Nature.
Baron Cuvier, in defining the boundaries of the various sciences, in his great
work on the Animal Kingdom says: "The manner in which external objects
make their impressions on the mind is an impenetrable mystery."
I must solve this problem, or I cannot go on. I must penetrate this
"impenetrable mystery" for all that I presume to know or pretend to teach, in
relation to life and health, diseases and remedies, depends on knowledge of
Strictly speaking, external objects do not make any impressions on the mind
at all. Dead matter does not act on living, but the contrary. The mind,
through the medium of the special senses, perceives the existence of
external objects and the relation of the body the house it lives in--to them.
This is the solution of the mystery. All Nature is marvelously simple, when we
Vital and mental impressions or recognitions differ in this. The vital or
organic instincts take cognizance of things in contact with the bodily
structures. Mental instincts take we could almost say "fake" cognizance of
objects at a distance.
Vital instincts or powers relate us to food or poisons; to things usable or
injurious. Mental instincts or powers relate us to surrounding objects and to
The doctrine that external objects act on the vital structures has been the
source of many ridiculous practices, as well as the cause of many grave
errors in theory.
Light is said to act on the eye; sound on the ear; air on the lungs; food on the
stomach; diseases on the blood, nerves, and viscera; medicines on the
various organs, etc. But when this idea of dead matter acting on living is
carefully analyzed, it amounts to nothing neither more nor less than a
In the very nature of things, the action, so to speak, of a dead substance on a
living structure, could result in nothing but a displacement of particles or
In explaining the philosophy of vision, philosophers tell us that the rays of
light, being reflected from the object perceived to the eye, paint or impress its
image or picture on the retina of the optic nerve.
But as this does not make the question, how the mind knows the existence of
the object, any clearer, we are gravely informed that the object, or its image, is
passed along the optic nerves to its origin--the thalami nervorum opticorum,
and even to the cineritious or gray matter of the brain. But, admitting all this,
it affords no clue to the rationale of seeing.
On the supposition that the last impression on the retina would be the most
distinct, and that impressions on the optic nerve were like mechanical
indentations or foreign substances, obliterating each other as the successive
waves of the ocean erase the ridges or indentures in the sand along the
shore, it has been seriously proposed to apply the microscope to detect a
It was imagined that, as the murderer might be the last object which the victim
would see so as to have a strong impression made on the retina, before his
organ of vision lost the power of recognition, the image of the murderer
would be stamped thereon so distinctly that it might be seen with the aid of a
And the experiment was actually tried in Auburn, N. Y., a few years ago--
fruitlessly, of course--and was proposed, though not tried, in the case of the
late Dr. Burdell, who was assassinated in Bond Street, New York, ten years
On the theory that remedies act on the living system, and by a power or
property inherent in themselves, and that this property enables them to elect
or select the organ or structure on which they will make an impression (we
drop for the moment the question whether the impression be "sanative " or
"morbific" medical men have arranged and classified their materia medica as
emetics which act on the stomach; purgatives, which act on the bowels,
diaphoretics, which act on the skin; diuretics, which act on the kidneys;
expectorants, which act on the lungs cholagogues, which act on the liver;
stimulants, which act on the blood-vessels; tonics, which act on the
muscular fibers; narcotics, which act on the brain, etc.
All this seems very plausible, but there is no truth in it.
The person who is ignorant of the first principle of astronomy, could affirm
most conscientiously that the sun rises in the east and sets in the west, and
passes around the earth once in every twenty-four hours.
Does he not see it with his own eyes? But with knowledge of the law of
gravitation, he would know that this appearance was illusory, and that the
earth revolved on its axis, while the sun stood still.
A knowledge of the law of vitality would teach medical men that only living
structures have inherent powers to act; that all dead things, in relation to
living, are entirely passive; and that the only property they possess is inertia,
which is the tendency to remain quiescent until disturbed by something else--
the power to do nothing.
The living system acts on food to appropriate it to the formation and
replacement of its organs and tissues. This is digestion and assimilation--the
And the living system acts on drugs, medicines, poisons, impurities, effete
matters, miasma, contagions, infections on everything not useful or usable in
the organic domain--to resist them; to expel them; to get rid of them; to purify
itself of their presence through the channel or outlet best adopted to the
purpose under the circumstances.
And herein is the explanation of the classes of medicines; the rationale of the
action of medicines, which has so puzzled the brains of medical
philosophers in all ages.
Emetics do not act on the stomach, but are ejected by the stomach.
Purgatives do not act on the bowels, but are expelled through the bowels.
Diaphoretics, instead of acting on the skin, are sent off in that direction.
Diuretics do not act on the kidneys, but the poisonous drugs are got rid of
through that channel, and so on.
And this equally mysterious entity called disease! Is not its essential nature
sufficiently apparent? The disease is simply the process of getting the
poisons out of the system; and so this perplexing problem is also solved.
That the explanation I have given of the nature of disease and the modus
operandi of medicines is the true one may be demonstrated in this way. We
can take all of the medicines of the pharmacopoeia and produce all the
diseases of the nosology.
Thus certain combinations of brandy, cayenne pepper, and quinine will
produce, in a healthy person, inflammatory fever; calomel, nitre, and opium
yield typhus symptoms or typhoid fever; gamboge, scammony, and ipecac
simulate cholera morbus; nitre, antimony, and digitalis, the Asiatic or
spasmodic cholera; cod-liver oil, salt, and sulfur, the scurvy, etc. Castor oil,
Epson salts, and a hundred other articles called cathartics, will occasion
diarrhea; and lobelia, Indian hemp, tobacco, and many other drugs, will
And what in the name of medical science and the healing art are the diarrhea
and the vomiting except efforts of the living system to expel the poisons--
purifying processes, diseases?
Any person, who can explain the philosophy of sneezing, has the key that
may be applied to the solution of all the problems before us. Does the dust or
the snuff sneeze the nose, or does the nose sneeze the dust or the snuff?
Which is acted on or expelled, and what acts? Is sneezing a healthy or a
morbid process? No one will pretend that it is normal or physiological. No
one ever sneezes unless there is something abnormal in or about the nasal
organ. Then sneezing is a remedial effort, a purifying process, a disease, as
much as is a diarrhea, a cholera, or a fever.
And this brings me to the rule for the successful treatment of all diseases.
Disease being a process of purification, I do not wish to subdue it, but to
regulate it. I would not repress the remedial action, but direct it.
Patients are always safe, as the remedial action is nearly equally directed to
the various depurating organs, or mainly to the skin. They are in danger just
to the extent that the remedial action is diverted from the skin and
concentrated on some internal organ.
Our rule, then, is to balance the remedial effort, so that each organ shall
perform its due share of the necessary labor, and no part be disorganized
and ruined by overwork. And to direct and control the remedial effort we
have only to balance the circulation; and to balance the circulation we have
only to regulate the temperature, and for these purposes we have no more
need of drugs than a man has of a blister on his great toe to assist him to
travel. He wants useful, not injurious, things.
Perhaps I can give an illustration of the leading problems of my subject still
more obvious and satisfactory. I read in a newspaper the other day, that a
boa-constrictor, while on exhibition in one of the theatres in Paris, having
been kept without food for a long time, "Began to feel, as well he might, The
keen demands of appetite" and took it into his fancy to swallow a bed-
The snake was two or three days in getting the blanket down and after
retaining it for some four or five weeks, the blanket, after another two or three
days' struggle, was found in its former position, and not much the worse for
the vain attempt of the monster to digest it.
Now the questions to be answered are: did the blanket act on the snake, or
did the snake act on the blanket? Again, to expel a bed-blanket from the
stomach is not physiological.
No boa constrictor in the normal state ever did it. Then it must be
pathological, and pathology is disease. The blanket was the cause of
disease--the obstructing material, and the disease itself was the process--the
vomiting, which expelled it. Should this process of ejecting the blanket have
been counteracted, suppressed, or subdued, or killed, or cured; or regulated
All the functions of vitality may be resolved into two sets of processes one
transforms the elements of food into tissue, and throws off the waste
matters; this is Health--Physiology. The other expels extraneous or foreign
substances and repairs damages; this is Disease--Pathology. Is this not all
But some authors tell us that medicines cure disease, and other authors tell
us that the vis medicatrix naturae cures. They are both wrong. ‘What is the
vis medicatrix naturae? It is vital struggle in self-defense; it is the process of
purification; it is the disease itself.
So far from the disease and the vis medicatrix naturae being antagonistic
entities or forces at war with each other, they are one and the same. And if
this be the true solution of this problem, it is clear enough that the whole plan
of subduing or "curing" disease with drugs is but a process of subduing and
killing the vitality. ‘We see, now, the rationale of the truth of the remark of
Professor Clark: "Every dose diminishes the vitality of the patient."
The announcement of the doctrine that the remedial powers of Nature and
the disease are the same; that the vis medicatrix naturae which saves and the
morbid action which destroys are identical, may sound strange at first; and
so do all new truths which are in opposition to doctrines long entertained
and universally believed.
It seems exceedingly difficult, and in many cases utterly impossible, for
medical men to get hold of this idea, so contrary is it to all their habits of
thought, and all the theories of their books and schools. Their minds have
been so long wedded to the dogma, that disease and the vis medicatrix
naturae are in some inexplicable way hostile powers, that, after I have talked
with them for hours on the subject, answered all of their criticisms, and
silenced every one of their objections, they cannot overcome their prejudices
and prepossessions sufficiently to comprehend it.
And some of my medical students have revolved, and pondered, and
criticized, and controverted this idea for months before they fully understood
it. But it is true, nevertheless.
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 dogmas, 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?
A few words as to the forms of disease. This is another of the vexed
questions of medical philosophy. I know of no author who attempts to
explain it. And how can physicians understand the rationale of the forms of
disease, so long as they cannot understand what disease itself is?
All that our authors pretend to know is, that there are different forms of
disease; the why and wherefore are among the "impenetrable mysteries."
Why do persons, for example, have inflammatory, bilious, typhus, typhoid,
intermittent, remittent, or continued, etc., fevers? Why one instead of
another? Why a fever instead of an inflammation? Why a cholera, or spasm,
or dyspepsia, or consumption, instead of either?
The answers to all of these questions depend on the solution of the primary
problem, what is inflammation? And what is fever? And the answer to these
questions must be traced back to the primary premise, what is disease?
In the light of correct premises there can be no difficulty in understanding all
of these subjects.
Certain forms of diseases--measles, smallpox, scarlet fever, etc., are said by
certain modern authors to be "self limited" and medical journals are still
discussing the questions, "Where is the seat of fever?" Is typhoid fever a
blood-disease or a nervous affection?
[Dr. Bigelow, of Boston, in a late work Nature in Disease says: "By a self-
limited disease, I would be understood to express one which receives laws
from its own nature, and not from foreign influences; one which, after it has
obtained foothold in the system, cannot, in the present state of our
knowledge, be eradicated or abridged by art." Dr. Bigelow's notions are
entirely consistent with the prevalent false doctrines of the nature of
Fever has no seat; fever is an action. Do not forget the primary question,
what is disease? Fever is one form of disease; and as disease is a process
of purification, fever must be one of the methods in which the system relieves
itself of morbid matter.
How much longer will medical men expend brain and labor, and waste pen,
ink, and paper, in looking for a thing which is no thing at all, and in trying to
find a seat for a disease which has no localized existence?
As well might a general point his spy-glass to the moon to discover the
whereabouts of the electrical force, as for our doctors to turn their mental
microscopes to any given locality in the vital domains, to ascertain the local
habitation of a fever.
But there are many kinds of fever, and there are precisely as many different
conditions under which the process of purification takes place. A person of
vigorous constitution, and not greatly infected with morbid matter, will
determine the remedial effect almost wholly to the surface, and this will
constitute the inflammatory diathesis of fever, and the continued type.
A person of more gross and impure conditions will have the putrid form of
fever--the "typhus." Another less gross and feebler will have the nervous
form of fever--the typhoid. And those who have been longer exposed to
malaria or other causes, so that the liver or other depurating organs have
become chronically congested or torpid, will have the intermittent or remittent
I have not time to follow out these illustrations, but I have indicated the
principle, which will explain every manifestation of morbid action, and the
rationale of all forms of disease.
We are told that Nature has provided a "law of cure." Here is another vexed
question for us to settle, and I meet it by denying the fact. What is this law of
The Allopaths say it is "contraria contrariis curantur"--contraries cure
opposites. The Homeopaths proclaim "similia similibus curantur"--like cures
The Eclectics declare that the law exists in or consists in "Sanative"
medication, and the Physio-Medicals believe that the law is fulfilled in the
employment of "physiological" remedies.
They are all wrong; there is no law of cure in the entire universe; Nature has
provided nothing of the sort; Nature has provided penalties, not remedies.
Think you, would Nature or Providence provide penalties or punishment as
the consequences of transgression, and then provide remedies to do away
the penalties? Would Nature ordain disease and suffering as the corrective
discipline for disobedience to the laws of life, and then permit the doctor to
drug and dose away the penalties? There is a condition of cure, and this is
And now, if Nature has provided no law of cure, she has provided no
remedies. What then becomes of the materia medica and its two thousand
drugs? And what becomes or should become of the hundreds of quack
nostrums which are deluging the land, filling the newspapers with lying
advertisements, and robbing the sick and suffering of millions of their hard
The regular practice and the irregular trade are based on the same false
dogmas; and when one goes to oblivion the other will soon follow.
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? 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. I would not
give a green cucumber for all the experience of all the medical men of all the
earth in all the ages, unless predicated on some recognized law of nature,
and interpreted by some demonstrable rule in philosophy.
Medical men have been curing (killing?) folks for three thousand rears with
drug medicines, and their experience has led them away from truth and
If a dozen persons are sick of a fever for one, two, or three months, and the
physician gives them half a dozen drugs half a dozen times a day while the
fever lasts, and one half of them die and the other half recover, the question
then arises, what the drugs had to do with the results?
The drug doctor will of course assume that all that survive owe their lives to
the medication, while all that die, die in. spite of the medicine. But one who
reasons from another stand-point, who reasons from the law of vitality
instead of the false dogmas of medical schools, will conclude that those who
die are killed by the medicine, while those who recover, recover in spite of it.
Such is medical experience.
Says Dr. Bigelow (Nature in Disease): "The effects of remedies are so mixed
up with the phenomena of disease, that the mind has difficulty in separating
Indeed it has. It never can separate them. The "effects of remedies" are the
"phenomena of disease" and nothing else.
And what are the remedies, which God and Nature have provided? Drugs,
poisons, chemicals, banes of every name and kind? Banes, did I say? Has
not every medical school its favorite bane?
Allopathy regards arsenic--rat's-bane--as a very good tonic. Homeopathy
prescribes nux vomica--dog's-bane--as an admirable nervine. Eclecticism
selects hyoscyamus--hen-bane--as a proper sedative. And Physio-
Medicalism considers erigeron--flea-bane--as an excellent febrifuge.
Professor Paine is right. We do indeed "cure one disease by producing
But the provings, aye, the provings. How do medical men prove that these
medicines are remedies for sick folks? In precisely the same way that
Toxicologists prove that they are poisons for well folks.
When these remedies are given to well persons they produce more or less of
nausea, vomiting, purging, pain, heat, swelling, griping, vertigo, spasms,
stupor, coma, delirium, and death. When they are given to sick persons they
produce the same manifestations of disease, modified, more or less, by the
condition of the patient and the circumstances of the prior disease.
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
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 moldy 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 (Eclectics, you know, go for "sanative" medication).
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, a beautiful girl, who had died the day before of
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
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 thunder 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
There would be exceptions. But such would be the general rule of graveyard
"God lent his creature light and air, and waters open to the sky; Man locks him
to a stifling lair, And wonders why his brother dies."
Look at the materia medica of this false and fatal system once more. If you
could see it but for one instant with clear vision and unbiased minds, you
would recoil from it with horror. You would renounce and execrate it forever.
What are its agents, its medicines, and its remedies? Poisonous drugs and
destructive processes--bleeding, leeching, scarifying blistering, caustics,
irritants, parasites, corrosives, minerals, vegetable excrescences and animal
excretions--all of the causes of disease known to the three kingdoms of
And are these the remedies that Nature has provided? The assumption is a
libel on the God of Nature.
No, no. Nature has not stultified herself, but man has mistaken her
teachings. So far from Nature providing drugs as remedies for diseases, the
truth is, every drug taken into the living system induces a new disease.
Every drug has its own penalty. Every dose is an outrage on the living
system, and in disobedience to physiological law.
Let me illustrate how this "curing one disease by producing another" works in
On the cars between Rock Island and Iowa City my attention was called to an
invalid soldier, whose pale, thin face, short, husky cough, and unsteady walk
told too plainly that consumption was far advanced.
I had seen and heard so much of the "typhoid" in the camps and hospitals of
our armies, and of the drug treatment which cured the fever by killing the
patient, that I seemed to understand his case at a glance and I remarked to
my traveling companions. That poor soldier is going home to die. He has
probably had the typhoid fever, and been drugged into a fatal consumption.
Soon I approached the sufferer, and inquired: "How long since you had the
"It was not the typhoid fever at first, but the measles."
"How long were you sick of the measles?"
"About ten days."
"Did you take medicine for the measles?"
"Yes, lots of it."
"What happened after you recovered of the measles?"
"I had bleeding at the lungs--hemoptysis."
"Did you take drugs for the hemoptysis?"
"Yes, any quantity."
"How long were you doctored for this?"
"About one week."
"What happened next?"
"Then the typhoid set in."
"You took medicines for the typhoid?
"Ever so much, for nearly two weeks."
"Well, what next?"
"I got about, but have had a bad cough since."
"You are now consumptive, probably?"
"0h, no, I hope not; but I guess I am pretty well on the road toward it."
"Was your constitution originally good?"
"Excellent. I was never sick before in my life."
My suspicions were confirmed. The bleeding at the lungs, the typhoid, and
the consumption, were most clearly the effects of the remedies that were
administered for the measles.
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. This patient rapidly recovered under hygienic
Last year a patient came to me with both arms paralyzed. Three months
before he had, acute rheumatism--a disease I have treated scores of cases of,
and never failed to cure within two weeks--for which his physician prescribed
mercury, antimony, colchicum, and potassium hydroxide.
The drugs had cured the rheumatism, but ruined the patient. And what do
you suppose his physician proposed to "try" next? Why, strychnine, of
I saw a patient, a few weeks since, in Cleveland, Ohio, on my way to the
West. Four years ago, the young man--he was a youth then, and of excellent
constitution--had lung fever. His physician reduced his fever and his vitality
with powerful doses of antimony, and kept blisters on the chest continually.
In two weeks he appeared to be convalescent, but soon relapsed, when
calomel was given in large doses. And lingering several weeks, the disease
was said to have run into the typhoid, for which more calomel was
The fever next assumed the intermittent form, attended with profuse
sweating, for which iron and quinine were liberally administered. He was
drugged continually for six months, when it was discovered that the liver and
spleen were badly congested and enlarged, and he was put on a course of
mercury in a new shape--blue-pill mass.
After this the disease assumed many complications, as well it might, for
which a promiscuous medley of medicaments were prescribed for two years
longer, among which was hellebore, irritating plasters, several kinds of pills,
and a variety of homeopathic pellets and placebos.
Now, the patient has an enlarged and indurated liver; "ague-cake" of the
spleen; a double curvature of the spine, so that the head is thrown forward
and to one side; the lower extremities are very weak; the ankle-joints lame;
the knees incline to stiffness; there is a tight, husky cough; the chest has a
constant sense of soreness all through; the heart throbs incessantly; the feet
are constantly cold; along the back he has frequent rigors or chills, like a
"dumb ague" his mind and memory, once vigorous and clear--he possesses
large language and very large individuality--are now feeble and confused;
and his eyes are so weak, it is painful to read with them at all. In a word, he is
a miserable wreck.
But what has done all this? Drug medicines, and nothing else. Every one of
the secondary diseases and complications, for which he has been doctored
nearly to death, is the effect of the medicines he has taken. I have seen and
investigated thousands of such cases, and know whereof I affirm.
The drugs which were administered to cure the primary disease, induced the
secondary or drug diseases; and then drugs were given to cure the drug
diseases, and this occasioned still other drug diseases, "typhoid" "relapses"
and "complications." And all together have induced the indurated organs,
curved spine, shattered nervous system, consumptive diathesis, and mined
And even now his drug doctors, having brought him to the borders of the
grave, and destroyed the best part of his vital stamina forever, can propose
nothing better for this newly old young man than more drugs.
Nor can his friends, neighbors, or parents even, yet understand why, if he is
sick, he should not have the doctor come again and take more medicine.
In Peoria, Illinois, I examined and prescribed for several similar cases before
an audience of nearly a thousand persons. Among them was a Mr. Gorsuch.
He was twenty-eight years of age--of originally excellent constitution. Five
years ago he had the ague, for which he took quinine in huge dozes. This
treatment so paralyzed the functions of the liver that it became greatly
congested and enlarged; for which mercury was prescribed.
The mercury induced chronic inflammation of the duodenum--mercurial
duodenitis --for which antimony and opium were administered. These drugs
extended the inflammation to the kidneys, prostrated the external circulation,
and torpified the action of the skin; for which more mercury, in the shape of
blue-pill, with narcotics, was given.
These remedies so exhausted the vital energies that the next phase of
disease was termed "nervous debility" and then strychnine was prescribed.
After the nervous debility had been sufficiently cured with strychnine, the
doctors diagnosed "spinal disease" and proceeded to blister and cauterize
the back. Lastly, neuralgia "set in" and the doctors resorted to henbane.
The condition of the patient, as I explained it to the people, in presence of
several drug doctors, was this. An enlarged liver, ague-cake of the spleen,
crooked spine, short breath from enlarged liver and spleen, and semi-
paralysis of the abdominal and dorsal muscles, catarrh, laryngitis, duodenitis
or "canker in the stomach" albuminuria or degeneration of the kidneys,
constant heat and tenderness throughout the abdomen, inability to lie in the
horizontal position, coldness and torpor of the extremities, and a thoroughly
The doctors had worked at this young man for four long years, continually
killing him with their curings, every one of his maladies, except the original
ague, being nothing more nor less than the disease occasioned by the drugs
administered for the preceding disease.
Had the patient been let alone, as I stated to the audience, and had there been
no doctors in the world, he would have been well and sound in a month; or
had he been put into the hands of a competent Hygienic physician he might
have been well in a week, in either case avoiding the expense of a five years'
course of drug medication, and the inconvenience of a ruined constitution,
and the horrors of carrying about a shattered and frail organism for the
remainder of his days.
Let me mention one more case. I have noted the particulars of many similar
ones during a recent tour in the Western States. The students of the medical
class of the New York Hygienic-Therapeutic College for 1856-7, will recall to
mind one of their number, Walter Nevins, a noble youth, full of life, animation,
happiness, hope, and promise of future usefulness.
He died in December last; but why did he die? Walter was among the
earliest, as was his only brother, to volunteer his services at the call of his
country. His brother entered the Missouri army, while he received a
commission in the army of Kentucky.
There, as a result of severe exposure, he sickened of typhoid fever. He was a
favorite with all, especially with his superior officers; and the surgeon of his
regiment--of course a drug doctor--did all he could to save him, and that was
precisely what destroyed him.
Walter Nevins would not voluntarily have taken a single dose of apothecary
poison; he would much sooner have faced the masked batteries of the foe
than have swallowed the more deadly drugs of the surgeon; but, as has
happened in many similar cases, he became delirious, with the determination
of blood to the brain, and was powerless to resist.
So the murderous missiles were poured into his system, and the soul went
out. Walter died, as the majority of our soldiers have died, not of rebels'
bullets and bayonets, not of disease, but of drugs.
His father was earlier telegraphed, and had started immediately for the camp;
but before reaching his son, in order to rescue him from the doctors, the very
thing, which he feared, had happened--his well-beloved and noble son had
been drugged to death.
Now I do not regard typhoid fevers, nor 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 fatality 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 medicines 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--rebels, if you please--
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
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 should not have died under any treatment.
His severe labors and unphysiological habits induced obstructions 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 practices, 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 that 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. Queries--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? 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 excellent constitution, and
of temperate and regular habits, and, withal, opposed to taking medicine, he
should have lived many years.
I said Prince Albert was opposed to taking medicine; so was the Queen, 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
"The medical practice of our day is, at the best, a most uncertain and
unsatisfactory system; it has neither philosophy nor 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., The Good of London.
"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, author of a work on Theory and Practice of Physic.
"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 of 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 diseases of whose real
character and cause we are most culpably ignorant."--Prof. Jamison, of
"Assuredly the uncertain and most unsatisfactory art that we call medical
science, is no science at all, but a jumble of inconsistent opinions; 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., F.R.S.
"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, an eminent author and practitioner.
"Our actual information or knowledge of disease does not increase in
proportion to our experimental practice. Every dose of medicine given is a
blind experiment upon the vitality of the patient."--Dr. Bostock, author of
History of Medicine.
"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" etc.
"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, nor 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 MedicoChirurgical 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 have.
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
Why should the Prince have been wise above what is written? How could he
refuse to take alcoholic stimulus when all the authorities of the entire 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 debate 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,
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
opinion is that the treatment is sufficient to account for the death.
The late King of Portugal died in a similarly sudden and mysterious manner,
as did also his royal brother, and in their cases intentional poisoning was
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
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
tinctures, 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, albuminuria,
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.
But I have detained you too long. Yet I cannot conclude without one more
allusion to the alcoholic controversy.
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 delusion that it was "badly whipped" or
"all cut to pieces." Many theories have keen 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.
Well, I have my theory. 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
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 causes 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
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 where 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 judgment, 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 detained you too long; yet I have only hinted at many important
problems I would like time and opportunity to explain. I could speak two
hours each evening for a whole year on the multitudinous problems involved
in this discussion, without exhausting the subject. But, if my theme is worthy
of your earnest thought, I have already said enough; if not, I have said too
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 of money.
Would you, had 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 conservators 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 refute them; for I assure them that the
doctrines I advocate are rapidly extending among the people.
My school is sending out every year lecturers and practitioners--missionaries
of the gospel of health--who are continually and surely indoctrinating the
masses in favor of hygienic and against drug medication. If they are teaching
truth, it is the duty of men of science, of power, and place, and influence, to
bid them God-speed in their good work. If they are teaching falsity, it is their
duty to expose and denounce it.
It may seem presumptuous in 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
I claim, however, no merit; no superior intelligence; no extraordinary genius;
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-- 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 Healing System is adopted--and there
is no exception--renovation denotes its progress, and humanity improves in
all the relations of its existence. And these, Ladies and Gentlemen, are the
reasons why I esteem the opportunity to speak in this place so auspicious for
the cause I represent, and so important to the welfare of the great human
By: R. T. Trall, 1862
Complete Smithsonian Lecture: The True Healing Art