A Letter to the Allopathic Doctors of Dayton, Ohio

Dr. Henry Wigand challenges allopaths to acknowledge the failure of their system and look with reason at homeopathy.

old-letterHenry Wigand, M.D. 1849

Gentlemen of The “Regular” Profession! Learned Sirs!! You will excuse me for the liberty which I take in addressing you; the liberty of one who is well aware of the vast distance which separates him, the insignificant homoeopathic physician, with his little pills, his infinitesimal doses, from the “regular” Doctor, who, high upon horse or gig, parades through the streets, his saddle-bag well filled with big pills, herbs, roots, and minerals, perchance lancet or forceps sticking out of his pocket. But, Gentlemen, being convinced, that you are practicing a system by which thousands of fellow-beings are rendered miserable and hurried to a premature grave, knowing that you, with two or three exceptions, have resorted, and daily resort to falsehoods to injure my reputation as a physician, that you slander and misrepresent in the dark, wherever an opportunity offers itself, the medical system called Homoeopathy.   I owe it, under these circumstances, to myself, I owe it to suffering humanity, to forget for a moment the high respect which is due to such an “honorable body,” and show you, show the world as far as I am able, that the allopathic mode of treating diseases is not only wrong in principles—but an enemy to human happiness and human welfare.

That ignorant, uneducated men should oppose new truths is to be expected, but when men, who by the very nature of their profession and their supposed education do so when they abuse or misrepresent a science, a medical or any other system, when they darken it with foul slander before having investigated the same, why it seems to me they make themselves unworthy of the names of scholars and Gentlemen. Shame upon such a man; shame upon you, Gentlemen,—when you thus close your minds against, and refuse to investigate a new system of medicine, merely because it clashes with your favorite mode, notwithstanding it is presented to you by men of as gifted and cultivated minds and generous hearts, as ever graced any age of our world. As well ask a blind man the color of the evening sky, as consult the opinion of men, who thus go, blinded by prejudice and selfishness, against all new truths in Medicine, and trampling on humanity and justice in their mad course. You may call this plain language, I care not. My motto is: “If thou hast a truth to utter, speak! and leave the rest to God!!” I rather would not live, than forsake truth or become a slave to this or that man’s opinion, or be dependent on this or that clique’s favor.

But, you will ask me, what right have you to censure us and our old and so long cherished system, thus? What do you know about it?   Let me answer plainly. I have done Gentlemen, what you neglected to do. Before I condemned Allopathy, I investigated the same. I studied this glorious system for years. I received like perchance some of you, a Diploma, of the oldest allopathic medical school in this country; I was pronounced competent by the most learned professors in the U. S. to go out into the world and heal,—I will not say slaughter,—the sick, allopathically. I have declined this honor, and allow me now to tell you why I feel no desire to make any further use of this privilege.

The first and sole duty of a physician is to restore health to the sick, to remove and anihilate disease by the mildest, shortest, safest, and most certain means, upon principles that are at once plain and intelligible, but not be trying as you do, to heal them at haphazard with remedies, the effects of which are violent and dangerous and which most always leave worse diseases in place of those they remove.

The allopathic mode of treating diseases is a continual experimenting upon poor mortals. You have no therapeutic law according to which you administer medicines. You try this and that remedy and if it does not prove beneficial, you resort to others, and, Gentlemen, is this anything else but quackery in its very worst form? But, you say, we cure diseases, and some of our patients do recover! An allopathic physician never has and never can cure a disease radically, in a safe and mild manner. Then, I hear you ask with astonishment, have we never cured a disease? No Gentlemen, you never have cured a disease radically upon allopathic principles. You sometimes remove the products of a disease, but never the disease itself. You evacuate bile, in cases of bilious fever, by emetics; you prescribe vomits in the so named foul stomach, you give Cathartics for costiveness, you purge away mucus and intestinal worms in worm complaints, you remove a polypus by ligature, extirpate a tumefied gland; you amputate a cancerous breast, or a limb where the bone has become carious, and imagine you have cured the maladies in a radical manner, and destroyed their cause. You also imagine the same thing, when you dry up an old ulcer in the legs, by lead, copper and zinc; when you cauterize chancres, drive back the itch or other eruptions from the skin by sulphur ointment, lead, mercury or Zinc; when you cure inflammations of the eyes with solutions of lead, or remove ulcers and pustules in the eye by Lunar Caustic; when you drive away pain by opiates, volatile liniment, etc. In all such cases you think you have annihilated the evil, triumphed over the disease and performed a rational treatment, directed against the cause. But mark what follows!   The same disease returns, or, new forms of diseases will manifest themselves sooner or later, and which, when they appear, are taken for fresh maladies, being always worse than the primitive affections.

Look at a fever and ague patient, who has been under your “rational” mode of treatment, and to whom you have administered large doses of quinine! You have suppressed the type of the disease by means of enormous doses of that medicine, but is the disease removed? No, the poor patient is left in a worse condition after such suppressions of the periodical return of the fever than before. We behold him moving slowly along, his countenance sallow, his breathing asthmatic, the digestive system diseased, frequently the abdomen and limbs in a bloated condition, without healthful appetite or refreshing sleep, weak and low spirited, he is discharged from you, in this state of complicated sufferings, as cured. Read the proofs of the rationality of your allopathic cures, the proofs of your recklessness in the haggard countenance of one, the disfigured face of another, the palzied limbs of a third, the rotten teeth, the filthy gums of hundreds.

Listen to the complaints, the moans of your best cases. Say they,—“the Doctor salivated me, and I never have been well since; my bones ache; my limbs fail, I can’t stand cold. I am no longer myself!”

Tell me, ye rational Doctors, how many cases of diseased and torpid liver you have radically cured by Calomel, by blue Pills? “Ah! says one,” a dose of Calomel always puts me right.”   I am subject to billious attacks,” says another, “and a blue pill always makes me feel better.”   Poor fellows! Yes, it puts you right, and you have dosed yourself with Calomel and blue pills these 10 and 20 years, and still ain’t right and never will get rid of your torpid liver until death closes your eyes. I have known a great many Calomel and blue pill eaters, but never have known one in health. Have you?

Behold the thousands, once strong constitutions, now broken down by calomel, by salivation! Are these poor crippled beings well? And these innocent children, once pictures of health and happiness, now pale, prostrated, some of them with cheeks and gums eaten away, their teeth rotten, they are made miserable, made simpletons for their lifetime, and laid in a premature grave! And all this done by your sheet—anchor Mercury! Behold! a strong man, he has taken cold and is attacked by chills, weakness etc. In goes the Mercury in large doses—12” blue pills a day—he sinks of course, and this strong healthy man dies in a few days, and when you, the “rational” Doctors are asked of what disease?, why, you put on the most serious face in the world, and say with dignity; “died of sinking chills.” Do you say, this is not true; such cases do not happen? Do you wish me to state facts? In cases of Rheumatism where mercury has been given to salivation the rheumatism seems to yield and for a while the patient is free from pain, but go and see him again in a few weeks or months, pains come at night in the extremities accompanied with sweat, he becomes weaker and weaker and medicines afford no relief except large doses of opium; emaciation and debility sets in, and finally an organic injury takes place and the scene is soon closed by death; and the Doctors certificate reads, “died of Consumption.”

You give Mercury in Bowel complaints, under the idea of altering the secretions, and you don’t know, that it is the very thing to keep up the intestinal irritation, that it was given to correct?   In some cases Mercury produces a medicinal fever. In other cases it develops the latent tendency to other diseases, such as Scrofula, Consumption, etc.   The effects of a drug and natural disease, working in combination in the human system are most terrible!—and most of the thousands of incurable chronic diseases, have been manufactured thus by you and your colleagues, the “regular” Profession.   Aye, and how many gifted minds have been thus broken and their power and talent lost to community by the insidious and torturing workings of these artificial diseases, entailed on them by your crude drugs!

You admit that Calomel has been given in too large doses, and that thousands have been crippled by it. European allopathic physicians admit that diseases can be cured without this “Archangel” in a shorter time and better manner than with it, and you ask me, but are there not some means in allopathic practice, which are useful and without which no physician can get along in the treatment of certain diseases? Take bleeding for an instance! How could you do without bleeding in a case of Pleurisy or of inflammation of the lungs? Why, Sirs, it is just as rational to bleed in such a case, as it is to apply cold water to your big toe when your house is on fire. In what does the inflammation of the lungs consist? It consists in some disturbance of the circulation of the blood, and to cure it, you have to restore the circulation to its original condition. ‘ The blood is not the cause of its circulation, for the self same quantity may be in the vessels when it does not circulate at all, as in concussions, epilepsy etc. Neither is there a greater quantity of blood in the vessels during the inflammation than before it took place. The taking away of blood only alters the quantity, and as blood contains the life of man, you diminish life itself and the means of obtaining life, the Respiration. By bleeding, therefore, you diminish the quantity of life. Can any man have too much life?— Bleeding relieves the pain of an inflamed part, but it does not act upon the part diseased and produces no change in its condition.   The pains in many cases return after bleeding. You bleed again, and thus remove for a while the pain again, but is your patient getting better?   No, he is sinking, or the dissase changes to the brain.

What then? You call a consultation of one, two and even six “regular”. Doctors.   They come, look upon the poor patient in his forlorn condition with astonishment, and not knowing that the lancet has done all this mischief, and in order to do something to gratify people, they propose torturing him a little more. You put draughts to his feet, tie plasters to his neck, chest, back, abdomen, and 1 doubt not, would blister his very inside, lungs and brain, had not kind nature protected these noble organs by hard bones! And how is your patient after all these tortures? Any better.” Better? No, and what are you going to do now?   You answer, we have done all our “rational” system teaches us, we have taken him through a regular course, we tried everything, there is no help for him. The patient continues sinking, and slowly the spirit takes its flight to better regions, for he cannot inhabit a dwelling so beautifully constructed by an omnipotent father, but so horribly mutilated by the rough and unskilful hands of an allopathic doctor.

Excuse me, Gentlemen, if I dwell no longer upon this subject. It is sickening to picture all the cruelties resorted to by your rational school, and would require volumes to expose, to relate all the miseries, tortures, sufferings and premature deaths caused by the wrong treatment of disease by allopathic physicians. And, in the face of all these facts, you still continue to work thus blindly in the bodies of your fellow beings, and in those of your own children and wives! You witness the immense sufferings caused by your tortures without effecting any good, any radical cure of diseases, you see this destruction of human life and human happiness by your hands, and you don’t blush? You are not ashamed? Is that the rational treatment you boast upon? Heaven deliver us from such a rationality, deliver suffering humanity from a treatment, which indeed is worse than famine or pestilence.

Do you tell me, it is a law of nature, is it rational, that, when a man is sick, feeble and exhausted the aid of an allopathic physician should be called, to increase his pains, his sufferings, his weakness by blistering, bleeding, purging, etc. No, sir, it is nature’s will that there should be no suffering no disease in this world, that men should not only die without disease, but that they should live without pain.

The allopathic school, as I remarked before, has no therapeutic law for the administration of medicines. Therefore, Gentlemen, your whole medical horizon is wrapped in darkness. You never can agree. Your ship is without a helm and is driven to and fro upon the waves without your knowing where you are, and how and where you are going to land! One of you says: “this Remedy is the proper one for such a disease,” another says: “No, I found that such a one proved more efficacious”. Each of you has his own notions, each one has his own way of experimenting upon his fellow beings. What a confusion! What a nonsense! What quackery!

But, our system is very old, you remark. It is 3000 years old, and must be right.   Nobody should doubt, that it is all right, even if it is wrong.   Yes, Gentlemen, it is very old. It belongs to the dark ages, and it is a shame, that in this enlightened 19th century such a system is still propagated, should still find its advocates! It is very old; so old, that a great many of you, perchance, never have known or, never have inquired how this glorious system originated! Do you know who has been the father of this beautiful child? Why, learned Sirs, in olden times, when we had no regular M. D’s. and of course very few diseases, Shepherds, witches and old woman did all the doctoring. These individuals discovered, that certain roots, and herbs would, when taken in large doses produce sweating, diarrhoea, vomiting, etc., and which, when their friends or neighbors were sick, they urged them to take, assuring them that they certainly would be benefited by them, for such a man, such a woman or such a child had used the same remedy with remarkable success.

Well, later, so many different herbs, roots, and other things were discovered, which would produce vomiting, purging, etc. that it became necessary, in order not to forget the one or the other of these medicines, to give them certain names, and classify them.   They had a dozen or more things which would purge, and they called them Cathartics; another dozen which would produce vomiting and they called them Emetics and so forth. Many years after this foundation to the present allopathic Materia medica was laid, people became more intelligent, more rational and some of them were anxious to know, why and upon what principles these vomits, cathartics, diaphoretics were administered!   Why, said the Doctor, with much dignity have we based our treatment of diseases upon observations in nature.   We saw, that, when a dog wants to vomit, he eats grass; here the origin of emetics. We observed that a bird called Ibis, uses his bill, which is of considerable length, as a self-syringe; here the origin of cathartics. (People didn’t know at that time, that birds are troubled with considerable itching at posteriorem, which they are trying to relieve by scratching with their bills.)   We further observed, these shrewd observers replied, that the Rhinoceros and the Arabian horse before inflammation sets in, bite open a vein to relieve themselves of a surplus of blood; here the origin of bleeding. (People at that time, were not aware that these poor animals are not provided by nature with fingernails to do the scratching with, when it itches and thus occasionally will bite open a vein.)

Blisters found their way into the therapeutics at a later period, and were first observed upon hogs, and as there is no scarcity of these beautiful animals with and without plaster’s in the good State of Ohio. Skeptics have sufficient opportunity to find out, that these observations were correct. Thus, nothing human remains in the allopathic treatment of diseases, than the red hot iron, which his majesty, the devil himself, must have introduced into the allopathic therapeutics, in order to give people a taste of hell!

Could a system based upon such observations, and destitute of a fixed therapeutic law, satisfy the minds of men accustomed to reasoning?   Did it meet the demands of suffering humanity?   No. diseases and doctors increased; failures after failure of remedies in cases, in which they had been employed successfully by others, were reported. New theories after theories were set forth, but none of these were based upon any fixed law, until Samuel Hahneman by long years of study and investigation discovered that a medicine, which when given to a person in health produces a certain class of symptoms will remove or cure those symptoms, when they appear as a consequence of a disease or disturbed health!

Here, Gentlemen, you have Homoeopathy, a system of medicine based upon a fixed law of nature, based upon facts, proved by 50 years trial and experience as true, and which in your imagination is a ghost that continually haunts you by day and by night. Here it is Sirs, the first true medical system, not wrapped in mystery and misery like Allopathy, but plain and pure, for investigation open to all, adopted by thousands of allopathic, “regular” allopathic physicians in this country; practised equally successfully in the ice-fields of Russia and in the sunny valleys of Italy and Spain, in the down trodden Germany as well as in our free and glorious Union. Dr. Hull says: Whether applied to unconscious infancy, ripened manhood or the tottering decrepitude of old age,—whether aimed at the eminent danger of acute sickness, or the insidious devastation of chronic maladies, the general results invariably and irresistibly converge to one conclusion, the confirmation of the principle “like cures like;” as one of the immutable laws of nature. Its practitioners are spread all over the face of the earth, and it is adopted by almost all intelligent people of the world.

In France all the leading men, Lamartine, Louis Blanc, Bethmond, Marie, Cremier, Guizot, etc. have for years been adherents of Homoeopathy, and Paris has now more than 50 homoeopathic physicians. In England the Queen Dowager Adelaide after having been given up by her allopathic physicians, was saved by Dr. Stapf, an eminent German homoeopathic physician, who had been expressly sent for to Germany, and since then Homoeopathy has been adopted by the whole nobility.

There are now several homoeopathic dispensaries in London, others are in prospect, there is a homoeopathic hospital likewise, and over £7000 have been subscribed towards the erection of a homoeopathic institution.

It is the same in Spain, in Russia, in Italy, in the Brazils, in Scotland; go where you please you find Homoeopathy firmly established, and the wealthy, the most influential intelligent class as its adherents. And is it not the same in these United States?   Longfellow, Bryant, Channing, Dwight, Greeley, C. M. Clay, and a host of other great and good men are the friends of Homoeopathy, (hear!) In 1833 the allopathic medical society of the city and County of New York, at an annual meeting, at which there were present nearly 200 members, unanimously elected Samuel Hahnemann, the discoverer of Homoeopathy, an honorary member, and the Society’s diploma was sent to him, with a letter by the corresponding secretary which were duly acknowledged by Hahnemann!

Every little city in the Union has one or more homoeopathic physicians. Physicians of the old school daily desert their ranks and embrace Homoeopathy, a college for Homoeopathy has been established in Philadelphia, another to be established in Cleveland, is in prospect and several journals are published.

And, Gentlemen, in the face of these truths you still continue to sneer at, to oppose Homoeopathy? Is it too much for the monstrous pride of an allopathic Doctor in Dayton to investigate this new system of medicine, when a Dr. Forbes of England, a Professor Henderson of Scotland, a Croseno of France, a Nunex of Spain, a Hull, Gray, Ioslin and other eminent physicians of this country have investigated adopted it, and have pronounced” it far superior to Allopathy? Do you

really think, your feeble cry “Humbug” uttered in a confectionary or tailor shop of Dayton, could stop its progress? Why men it seems to me you are 200 years behind the age!

Do you ask me to give you proofs of the superiority of Homoeopathy over Allopathy! Open your eyes and look around you in this city, if you please and you can meet a man, a woman, a child almost in every Street, who were cured by homoeopathic medicine after they had been treated by you for weeks and months without success. I daily cure patients of yours which you had been torturing for months without any benefit. But you are like Dr. Seidlitz an eminent German physician, when in a private family, a splendid cure by homoeopathy was proved to him, he covered his eyes with his hands, and ran away, exclaiming: “I will not see anything, I will know nothing.”

Three years ago Dayton numbered about 7 or 8 homoeopathic families. We now claim 2-300 families for Homoeopathy. And how have these families become converts? None of them understood the principles of the new system; every one of them was prejudiced against it. They had recourse to it only as a last resource, because the old system had signally failed in the attempt to relieve them. Nothing then but cures of innumerable diseases treated in vain by allopathic physicians were the means of their conversion.

The eyes of people are now opened, and, in spite of your slander and misrepresentations, family after family wheels in to the homoeopathic ranks.   Parents will no longer suffer their little children to swallow your nauseous potions.   Your red blue and green bottles, richly ornamented with gold labels and exhibited in show cases have lost their charm. People know they contain poison and they fully understand that poison will injure, will kill them. Your theory, to cleanse the stomach, the bowels, the blood from impurities by purging, vomiting, blistering etc. is no longer believed. People well know that, as certain as no barrel or vessel can be cleaned by dirty, filthy water, their stomach and bowels cannot be freed from impurities by your dirty, nasty pills and mixtures which they hitherto have been doomed to swallow.

Children refuse to take your trash, they cry for homoeopathic medicines, and would to heaven I could make every infant, every child now living shut up its mouth when you the old fashioned doctor, or, she the old fashioned nurs approach them with medicine spoon in hand.

Look, ye practitioners of the ‘rational’ system, at the difference between children raised by a rational mother, homoeopathically, without crude drugs, and those which have been dosed with your hellish Paregoric, Rhubarb, Calomel, Catnip tea and other poisons. The former are healthy and happy, the latter are cross, restless, they look pale and sad, and the seeds to innumerable diseases of body and mind have been sown by your hands. And here, Gentlemen, stop a moment! Stop and think, whether an all good heavenly father, who is all love and all wisdom, ever intended to have these little innocent children tortured by nauseating drugs, their bodies and minds crippled by the hands of an ignorant doctor. It is sin, it is blasphemy to entertain such a thought!

Do you think, God loves men less than beasts? Have you ever seen a young or an old animal in pain, or under necessity of swallowing such horrible poisons as you administer to men? To no man and to no beast can pain, can disease come from his own organization!

If the evils I have enumerated, spring not from the causes assigned in this letter, to wit: Ignorance, Cruelty, Selfishness, Prejudice, from what cause or causes do they spring?   Can you tell?   Open your libraries, your tool boxes; analyze your motives, recall the past in your own career as doctors; weigh all together and let reason, conscience, truth decide and then show us the right. We await your response, in plain matter of fact language, which can be comprehended by the suffering millions, for whom we plead. Learned essays, high sounding, mystical words are an insult to humanity, not to say to deity himself!

In conclusion, gentlemen, let me assure you, that nothing I have written arises from a lack of proper respect for the medical profession and medical men. In the ranks of doctors are found some noble specimens of man, in the highest sense. I am actuated by an ardent desire to increase the number of these noble ones. If I have used harsh terms, attribute them to the firery character of my German blood and meet me on the platform of impartial Philanthropy. Good men err from the force of habit, as well as from the force of prejudice and education. But, such apologies are worn out, and the progressing spirit of this age demands deep, impartial, calm, mental investigation, united with a larger share of Benevolence, than belongs to the past history of medical practice.   We live in a time, too far advanced for the success of bigotry, superstition, prejudice or selfishness, and it becomes us for our own sake, for the sake of man, for the honor of the profession to act in accordance with this spirit of our day, not by antagonistical measures, but by seeking to prevent disease, suffering and premature death.

About the author

Henry Wigand

Dr Henry Wigand was an American homeopathic physician circa 1850’s practicing in Ohio. In 1851 he published the Dayton "Herald of Health". He is the author of “Homoeopathy explained and objections answered, with additional articles, viz: 1. The effects of mercury. 2. Physics and purging. 3. Laudanum and paregoric. 4. Coffee, tea, liquors, and tobacco, and “A Letter To The Allopathic Doctors Of Dayton Ohio”.

1 Comment

  • A very funny and uplifting article. Dr. Henry Wigand really socks it to the allopaths for their closed mindedness. That was back in the 1850’s, and it seems nothing has changed! He makes excellent arguments which are just as relevant today.

    Martin Earl

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