Naturopathy and Its Professors (1932)

Morris Fishbein, M.D.
July 27, 2003

After his decease, and a severe casualty deemed fatal by skilful physicians, we discovered that the Principle of all healing and the law that governs it is God, a divine Principle, and a spiritual not material law, and regained health.” — Mary Morse Baker Glover Patterson Eddy.

F all the nations of the world, the United. States is most afflicted by its healers. Besides those holding the degree M.D., signifying doctor of medicine and, nowadays, some seven years of study following high school graduation, a host of queer practitioners pervade the medical field. They have conferred on themselves strange combinations of letters, indicating the peculiar systems of healing which a somewhat lax system of legislation and law enforcement permits them to practice on an unwary public.

Cult follows cult, and quackery succeeds quackery, frequently with amazing rapidity. Moreover, many cults seem to be definitely confined to small districts and fail to come to light in the available literature on the subject, or even in a careful investigation. Then, too, a single temporarily successful cult like chiropractic — itself the child of osteopathy and magnetic healing — gives birth to many offshoots which again propagate more bizarre offspring and unusual hybrids. A complete picture of the farcical scene would require endless research. The United States unquestionably bears the palm in every class so far as healing cults are concerned.

The scientific medicine of today is based on the discov-eries made in the fundamental sciences. It holds to no single theory as to the causation of disease and it, does not insist correspondingly that the successful treatment of disease de-pends on the use of any single method of manipulation or administration. The cults may be classified easily into men-tal healing cults, mechanical cults, electric cults, nature cults and similar divisions, since they adhere definitely to such single devices. Other cults may be classed merely as nonmedical, since they deprecate the use of medicaments. They are founded, moreover, on peculiar fallacies with relation to the anatomy of the body, on misconceptions of certain physiologic functions, or on exaggerations of the relative importance of certain parts of the body in maintaining it in a constant state of health; these cults avoid the fundamental sciences as far as possible. Rather than attempt to correlate the fallacies on which the cults are based with established knowledge, cultist leaders are inclined to deny flatly the facts that have been demonstrated. Of germs and their causation of disease, they take little cognizance, referring constantly to the “germ theory.” Many cultist leaders denounce the eating of meat because of some weird notions of body chemistry. Others employ apparatus of such intricacies as would bring a flush of envy to the cheek of Rube Goldberg; mechanically such machinery excites the ridicule of the humblest tyro in the science of physics. The complacency with which cultist leaders dispose of the fundamental facts of science in. promoting their views may be taken as sound evidence of their essential eccentricities.


In one of the suburbs west of Chicago was a sanatorium conducted by a son of a naturopath, one Dr. Henry Lindlahr, who was a graduate of a low-grade medical college in Illinois called the National Medical University; that also has passed into the beyond. Chief in this college (?) was old Dr. L. D. Rogers, once secretary of the National Association of Panpathic Physicians, an attempt to organize all of the comical cultists into a single group.

The evidence available indicates that Henry Lindlahr fell early in life for the strange notions of health and disease exploited by Bernarr Macfadden in the moron’s bible, Physical Culture, and also for the schemes of Benedict Lust, founder, as he claims, of the main school of naturopathy in this country. Of him, more later! As in every other naturopathic institution, the methods of diagnosis used in the Lindlahr institution were preposterous, the methods of treatment varied and ridiculous. The slogan of the institution was that rallying call of all the peculiar cultists — “no surgery, no drugs, no serums.” The methods of treatment used include strange diets, air baths, water cures, light treatments, chiropractic, osteopathy, homeopathy, herbals, psychoanalysis, and any other monkey business that any strange healer might bring temporarily in the limelight. For instance, schools of naturopathy teach, among other courses, sysmotherapy, glucokinesis, zone therapy, physicultopathy, astrological diagnosis, practical sphincterology, phrenological physiology, spectrochrome therapy, iridiagnosis, tension therapy, and naprapathy.


When Eugene Debs, eminent leader of the Socialist party, left Atlanta Prison, he was sent by a woman practitioner of the Abrams electronic methods in Terre Haute, Indiana, to the Lindlahr institution. One night I went to see him with Sinclair Lewis and Paul Dc Kruif. Lewis was interested in Debs as material for a novel on labor. The ride was an event, but the details are of little interest for the present story. As a physician I was much surprised at that time to find a patient in a sanatorium coming down to see guests on his own responsibility just before midnight. We sat on the porch of the institution talking until the early morning hours. I explained to Mr. Debs casually the nature of the institution to which he had committed his health. I remember that Lewis pleaded with him to get some modern medical attention. I did not see Debs again, however, until the night before his death. The freethinker in politics is likely to fall for freethinking science just as he falls for political panaceas.

One evening in 1926 I received a telephone call from the Lindlahr Sanatorium. The person who called said that Mr. Debs was dying and that his brother wished to have me secure for him the advice of some medical specialist. Mr. Debs, it appears, had told his brother that he wanted me to be notified in case he was ever in a serious condition. To the person who called I said that a competent medical man would ask first to have the patient removed to a reliable hospital. The patient was in this instance too far on the last trail to permit removal. Mr. Debs, it seems, had gone to visit Carl Sandburg who lives in Elmhurst near the sanatorium. While returning, the great socialist had lapsed into unconsciousness. For two days he had been treated in the institution, then his condition being apparently fatal, his brother had been sent for.

In view of the circumstances I consented to ask two well known medical specialists in Chicago to make the trip, and I went with them to see Mr. Debs. What was the procedure followed in the naturopathic institution when its chiropractic director and its medical consultants, such as they were, were confronted with a serious situation? Mr. Debs, when we saw him, was clearly the victim of malnutrition. He had been treated with the strange diets and the starvation treatment recently so strenuously supported by Bernarr Macfadden in his periodicals. The noted speaker for socialism lay in bed barely breathing. His heart was in a state of fibrillation — a mere twitching of the fibers rather than the sustained beat characteristic of an active heart. The pupil of one eye was dilated and the other contracted. The record sheet of the institution made no note of this observation, which would have indicated to any competent diagnostician a probable disturbance in the condition of the brain. Confronted with this situation, the healers of the naturopathic sanatorium had attempted to overcome the congestion in the lung due to impeded circulation of the blood by applying diathermy or electrical heat. Perhaps because of the unconsciousness of the patient, he had suffered burns which were visible on the skin at the points of application of the electrodes. Apparently he had not been turned in bed as a competent physician would always turn such a patient to prevent congestion from settling of fluids in the lung. The tissues were practically dehydrated. Water had not been put into the body, as it must be put into the tissues of every unconscious person if life is to be saved. An unconscious man does not voluntarily ask for a drink.

Disturbed by the failing heart, the practitioners, whose slogan was “no surgery, no drugs, no serums,” endeavored first to support the heart by giving a prescription which was listed on the history chart merely as “eclectic remedies.” An inquiry revealed the fact that cactus, an old eclectic remedy, had been prescribed a plant preparation which was once seriously tested by the American Medical Association. During the tests it was found that cactus solution put into the tissues of a dog would not produce a symptom. Then when the eclectic remedies failed, an attempt was made to give digitalis. This sovereign drug in diseases of the heart almost always produces results when properly administered. The tincture had been given in small doses; a few drops placed upon the tongue. Finally when this remedy failed also in stimulating and controlling the heart an attempt was made to inject a preparation of digitalis into the muscles. Obviously, since the practitioners were unaccustomed to the use of drugs, they hardly knew how to avail themselves of potent remedies when they found them necessary. The incident is typical of naturopathic treatment.


A naturopath ought to be, as his name implies, a healer who depends on natural methods of cure. However, while walking barefoot in the dew, exposing one’s self in the garb of nature to the rays of sunlight, the eating of hay, grain, and oats, and similar technics may constitute a part of every course of naturopathy, the cult has gradually embraced every strange system of healing that has come across the American horizon in the past twenty-five years.

The chief exponent of naturopathy is one Benedict Lust of the American School of Naturopathy in New York City. Following the name of this philosopher appear usually N.D., D.O., D.C., and M.D. The N.D. signifies doctor of naturopathy; the next two degrees cover osteopathy and chiropractic; the M.D. claimed is from some homeopathic and eclectic medical college, although on the witness stand Lust was apparently unable to prove graduation. Lust claims osteopathic licensure in New Jersey, but there is no evidence that he has ever been licensed for anything in New York. On the other hand, he has been convicted of practicing without a license and fined $100 in that state. In his Naturopathy School and Health Home he offers, as do all other naturopaths, the whole category of peculiar technics. Benedict Lust used to be found constantly among the advertisers in Macfadden publications. There he promoted from time to time his scheme for blood washing. The technic of blood washing can be had also by correspondence for $100. It is taught, furthermore, in several resorts operated by this minor prophet of healing in Florida and in New Jersey.

From the first, naturopathy has been developed as an effort to give chiropractic something more to sell than adjustments of the spine. Several chiropractic schools teach naturopathy. Probably 50 per cent of naturopaths have come from the ranks of chiropractic, and any chiropractor can become a naturopath by taking a three months’ postgraduate course in a naturopathic school. To dignify these institutions with the title of schools is exalting them far beyond their merits. The average course runs through 24 or 36 months with a short school day. Students come and go as they please. One school has twenty different names for its courses and offers a liberal reduction to a student taking four courses at the same time. One school counts attendance in each class twice -once for naturopathy and once for chiropractic. Another school gives each student two diplomas, each diploma bearing a different name for the school. These systems are planned primarily to meet special requirements in various state laws. Our laws regulating the practice of healing are the joke of the universe. Of course no school of naturopathy is associated with a regularly established hospital. The students learn what they can, when they can, on whom they can.

Recently the Department of Medical Education of the American Medical Association undertook a special investigation of naturopathic schools. The shrine was visited on November 7, 1927, when it was situated in an old apartment house on E. 35th Street in New York. There it used two floors and a portion of a third. The equipment included an osteopathic table, five chiropractic adjusting tables, a chemical laboratory with one table big enough for two students, two old cupboards, some glassware, and some Bunsen burners. Twenty students were in the college, and fifteen were graduated in 1926. The school meets only at night and the students pay two hundred and fifty dollars annually. In Philadelphia the naturopathic college and hospital is housed in an old apartment building, the hospital thus far existing only as a dream. Nevertheless the college issues an eight-page announcement which not only gives a picture of the hospital with a complete list of its staff, but also announces the appointment of six of the graduates as assistant physicians to the hospital. Although the school claimed ninety students, about forty were actually found somewhere around the institution. Most of the courses are given at night.

In Newark, New Jersey, a two-story dwelling house, the First National University of Naturopathy, is operated by one F. W. Collins, N.D., A.M., and his assistant John Parsons Fields, who it seems is D.C., Ph.C., N.D., D.C., D.Ph., and M.D. In the same institution are also the Collins and Hill Realty Co. and the Standard Products Corporation, which manufactures a water softener and cleanser. This school gives each graduate two or three diplomas and charges him six hundred dollars tuition. Actually the school advertises some twenty bizarre courses, representing twenty different colleges. The one classroom of which the twenty institutions can boast, included when seen thirty chairs, a blackboard, a table, and a piano.

The most recent scheme of geheimrat Collins is the American Academy of Medicine and Surgery, incorporated in New Jersey not for pecuniary profit and registered with the Recorder of Deeds of the District of Columbia, under Congressional Act. An admission fee of $25 charged at first was raised later to $50. A certificate in the form of a diploma, granting the degree of a Doctor of Medicine and Master Diagnostician is given to those who attain a total average of 75 per cent or over in the examination required by the Academy. This diploma or certificate, be it understood, does not permit or give anyone the right to practice Medicine and Surgery. Each member was requested to send in at least once yearly a report of his investigations, relative to the application of surgery, drugs, serums, vaccines, electrical and drugless treatments, and mental therapeutics.

The Academy, President Collins now announces, which has been attacked from many sides, and has been inspected through the Federal Department, Department of Justice, Attorney General’s Office, and the Post Office Department, is still in good standing.

Any graduate physician or surgeon, medical or drugless, who desires to become a member of the Academy must furnish at the time of application a photograph of himself and photostatic copy of his diploma or diplomas. He must answer 99 questions and, upon receiving a total average of 75 per cent or over, he is granted the diploma of the American Academy of Medicine and Surgery, signifying that he passed a successful examination and conferring upon him the degree of Doctor of Medicine and Master Diagnostician. In case of failure in the examination his admission fee into the Academy is refunded. So far no list of diplomates or failures has been reported.

The investigation recently completed revealed ten naturopathic schools actively engaged in turning out peculiar healers for those who like their medicine fantastic. Pennsylvania has four of the schools and New York, New Jersey, Minnesota, Maine, Florida, and California provide one each of the remainder.

Among the strange devices promoted through schools of naturopathy are biodynamochromatic diagnosis, in which the patient sits facing east or west while his abdomen is thumped, and colored lights are thrown upon it; iridiagnosis, which claims ability to diagnose disease through the color of the iris of the eye; spectrochrome therapy, in which the patient is advised to wear clothing and garments according to the colors of the spectrum; and, in many schools, zonotherapy. On this technic the body is divided into zones lengthwise and crosswise, disease in one zone being cured by the application of little wire springs around the fingers and toes controlling other zones.

Benedict Lust’s own definition of naturopathy includes the “art of natural healing and of the science of physical and mental regeneration on the basis of self-reform, natural life, clean and normal diet, hydrotherapy (Priessnitz, Kneipp, Lehmann, and just system), osteopathy, chiropractic, naturopathy, electrotherapy (sunlight and air cult), diet, phytotherapy, physical and mental culture to the exclusion of poisonous drugs and non-adjustable surgery.”

Out of the schools of naturopathy and our exceedingly lackadaisical laws controlling the practice of healing have come opportunities for other inspired prophets to develop still more bizarre institutions in medical instruction.

The American College of Sagliftology, located in San Diego, California, is controlled by one P. Hollow Poole and his wife. Poole assumed the title of doctor and was promptly indicted for misuse of that title. His technic is primarily a part of the uplift movement. Mr. Poole is convinced that health depends on keeping everything in the interior uplifted. He therefore sells corsets, belts, rubber stockings, and other devices planned toward this end. In his college anatomy, contourology and mensuration constitute courses run-fling from six to twelve months. A graduate is called a sagliftologist.

In St. Louis Dr. William H. Woodfin, A.M., Ph.D., D.D., first a Methodist and then a Congregational minister, has a college of divine metaphysics. There he offers courses in the psychology of business success, metaphysical interpretation of the Bible, Biblical literature, comparative religions, and the master mind system. Dr. Woodfin confers the degrees of Doctor of Psychology, Doctor of Metaphysics, and Doctor of Divinity for from $20 to $100. He must be busy, since he has about twenty stenographers constantly employed. He not only trains healers but himself treats the sick.

In Seattle, Washington, in 1919 the Universal Sanipractic College was organized. The word “sanipractic” was defined as the “practice of health” with the keyword “ilimination.” The devotees were concerned with all methods of treatment except drugs and major surgery, but permitted the administration of herbs and teas. The Washington state law permits sanipractors to try everything except the administration of drugs. The students were therefore primarily chiropractors who wanted unlimited rights to practice. This institution represents merely another attempt to find a short route into the practice of healing for those who want to enter by the back door.

Naturopathy and the allied cults represent capitalization for purposes of financial gain of the old advice that outdoor life, good diet, enough exercise, and rest are conducive to health and longevity. When these simple principles can be linked with the printing of worthless pamphlets, intricate apparatus, or faith cures, the formulas yield gold. By these systems, misinformation in the field of science is spread widely among what is probably one of the most ignorant people in the world relative to the organization of their own bodies and their care. The slogan, “no bugs, no drugs, no surgery,” is used to catch the unwary. The appeal is one likely to attract particularly the laborite, the radical, and the freethinker. The writings of Upton Sinclair on these subjects mislead thousands. The example of Eugene Debs must have misled hundreds of others. In time of stress when pain becomes impossible to bear even by the self-hypnosis of Christian Science, the nature cure healer himself or the fanatical exponent of faith healing reaches eagerly for the hypnotic tablet of a barbituric acid derivative, the soothing needle of the narcotic, or the blissful unconsciousness of anesthesia. Then when the heart is no longer able to urge

the tired circulation and begins feebly to discontinue its automatic functions, the physician is called in; shaking his head mournfully he provides enough digitalis to slow the beat and make it more forceful. To this state of affairs one may apply the reverse of the slogan of a famous rat-paste: “They don’t die in the house.” As the spectre of dissolution peeps over the foot of the bed the naturopathist, chiropractor, manipulator and faith healer depart. The physician enters, fountain pen in hand, ready to sign the death certificate.

The practitioners of naturopathy, according to Dr. Louis S. Reed’s late report to the Committee on the Costs of Medical Care, number some 1,500. Whereas most cults embrace a single conception as to the cause and healing of disease, naturopathy embraces everything in nature. Benedict Lust, N.D., D.O., D.C., M.D., already mentioned, presents the following definition:

a distinct school of healing, employing the beneficent agency of Nature’s forces, or water, air, sunlight, earth power, electricity, magnetism, exercise, rest, proper diet, various kinds of mechanical treatment, mental and moral science. As none of these agents of rejuvenation can cure every disease (alone) the Naturopath rightly employs the combination that is best adapted to each individual case. The result of such ministrations is wholly beneficent. The prophylactic power of Nature’s finer forces, mechanical and occult, removes foreign or poisonous matter from the system, restores nerve and blood vitality, invigorates organs and tissues, and regenerates the entire organism.

The real naturopaths were, of course, such healers as Father Kneipp, Priessnitz, and others who advocated natural living and healed by the use of sunlight, baths, fresh air, and cold water, but there is little money to be made by these methods. Hence the modern naturopath embraces every form of healing that offers opportunity for exploitation. Thus, there have grown from naturopathy a myriad peculiar doctrines which run the gamut from aeropathy to zonotherapy.

The schools of therapy having any status whatever are three in number, one in Philadelphia, one in New York, and one in Florida. In these schools the strange notions that have been mentioned are taught to candidates who may not be able even to read or write, because preliminary requirements in such schools are given little if any consideration. Although a high-school education may be mentioned as a necessity, its equivalent may be substituted and the equivalent, in the judgment of the admitting officers, would give pause even to such a mathematical genius as Einstein. The professors themselves are without baccalaureate degrees or, in most instances, any other degree of importance; and the students are not even the equivalent of the professors.

A few of our states provide for licensing naturopaths but most states include them with the drugless or limited practitioners. Once admitted to the practice of healing, these cultists begin at once to practice unlimited medicine. Since the weapons of medicine against disease are potent for harm as well as good, such practitioners are a menace to the public health and a drain on the public purse. A description of a few of the extraordinary doctrines follows:


Aerotherapy. Among the hundred or more types of healing offered to the sophisticated is aerotherapy. Obviously, aerotherapy means treatment by air, but in this instance hot air is particularly concerned. The patient is baked in a hot oven. Heat relieves pain and produces an increased flow of blood to the part heated. The blood aids in removing waste products and brings to the part the substances that overcome infection. There is nothing essentially wrong about hot air therapy.

Since the time of Hippocrates and indeed even in Biblical legend men have availed themselves of the healing powers existing in nature. The light and heat of the sun, the burning steam from natural hot springs, the dry air of the desert, and even the buffeting of the waves of the sea have been used for physical stimulation in overcoming disease. It has remained for the astute commercial minds of our progressive land to incorporate these qualities for their personal gain.

Aerotherapy as one department of physical therapy be-comes a cult when it is used to the exclusion of all other forms of healing. In New York a progressive quack established an institute equipped with special devices for pouring hot air over various portions of the body. He issued a beautiful brochure, illustrated with the likenesses of beautiful damsels in various states of negligee, smiling the smile of the satisfied, under his salubrious ministrations. In this document appeared incidentally the claim that hot air will cure anything from ague to zoster. The same claim has been made by the faith healers and the apostles of manipulation. But the first call it Christian Science and the second call it chiropractic.

Alereos System. Here is a system of drugless healing which “recognized the human body as a wonderful and perfect machine, which, properly adjusted and taken care of, will run without friction.” It emanates from Brooklyn. “The Alereos system,” says the folder, “in relation to the human machine, occupies the place of the skilled mechanic to the disabled engine. It searches for the causes of the trouble and seeks to remove them by its tools. These are the hands, aided by several mechanical appliances and vibrations.” The home office supplies heat and mechanical vibration with “several specially constructed apparati (sic).” Not content to sell its simple hot air and vibration treatments on their merits, the Alereos system plays strongly on the osteopathic and chiropractic claims of contractions and pinched nerves, and condemns all drug treatment as poisoning. It is the acme of exploitation of the sweat bath and massage. One takes ten treatments for twenty-five dollars in advance; obviously, the cost is little, provided one is not fooled into neglecting tuberculosis or ulcer of the stomach, which are among the conditions mentioned in the Alereos folder.

Astral Healing. Casanova, international lover and charlatan, tells at great length of his delving into magic, of the drawing of horoscopes, and of astrology. The mystery of the stars has always had fascination for the multitude and it would have been strange, indeed, if some astute healer had failed to take advantage of this folly in the founding of a cult. The Astral healers advertise in foreign language newspapers. They read the diagnosis from the horoscope and then make an additional charge for giving the advice indicated by their readings.

Autohemic Therapy. For many years one L. D. Rogers was the head and chief owner of the National Medical University of Chicago. The school was a low-grade institution, virtually a diploma mill. Rogers is a promoter of medical schemes and fancies. Like many other cultist leaders he is constantly founding societies of which he is the chief panjandrum. Once he was the permanent secretary of the National Association of Panpathic Physicians, apparently an attempt to organize all the comical cultists into a single group. However, the society had only a brief existence, and the permanent secretary was quite temporary. Then he began to exploit a cancer serum and organized the American Cancer Research Society, L. D. Rogers, president. Finally, he got the notion called “autohemic therapy.” “It consists,” he says, “in giving the patient a solution made by attenuating, hemolizing, incubating and potentizing a few drops of his or her own blood, and administering it according to a refined technic developed by the author.” Playing the game to the limit, Rogers also advertises a one-hundred-dollar mail order course for other physicians. He wrote a book called Autohemic Therapy and organized the Autohemic Practitioners. Newspaper publicity in the form of full-page advertisements and clever press agentry fetch the come-ons for the course. The appeal is made cleverly to the anti-medical cultists of all varieties by the slogan “without use of bugs or drugs.” A clever and shrewd old fakir is L. D. Rogers! There is not an iota of scientific evidence that his method or his system ever cured anybody of anything.

Autology. E. R. Moras, M.D., founder of autology, finally arrived in the “booby-hatch.” Before that, however, he had achieved a considerable following through advertising in the press, and through exploitation along the lines established by Elbert Hubbard. Indeed, Elbert said of autology: “Dr. Moras has written a Commonsense Book on Autology, and by so doing, placed the Standard of the Creed of Health farther to the front than any man who has lived for a thousand years.” Ah, well, Elbert was never much given to conservative statements! As might be expected Moras also had the support of Physical Culture, Bernarr Macfadden’s major opus; of J. H. Tilden of Denver, who has some fads of his own, and even of Luther Burbank.

Autology is a system of stereotyped hygienic and dietetic advice sandwiched in between a lot of pseudoscience and bad counsel. It is essentially another preachment of Ecclesiastes’ urge for moderation in all things. Unfortunately it was carried to the point at which Elbert Hubbard said, “Moderation, equality, work, and love you need no other physician.” Moras exploited his book at anywhere from $10 to $2, and on the side sold some patent medicines. Finally, his eccentricity went beyond the bounds of legal sufferance. He was arrested for insulting a woman on a train; he attempted to blackmail Leon Mandel out of a million dollars, and appealed to the President of the United States to help him collect $50,000 from Parke-Davis and Company. So his friends put him in a sanatorium!

Auto-Science. An Auto-Science Institute is conducted in San Francisco, devoted, it appears, to practical psychology, scientific serums, and suggestive therapeutics. The watch-word is “Law of Creative Energy.” Regular lessons can be had for four weeks on trial, but the diploma, the degree, and the “Auto-Science” textbook cost $35, which is a special reduction from the sum of $50, the regular fee for the course. The high priest, Dr. E. C. Feyrer, presents testimonials of grateful imbeciles who have been cured of all sorts of things. It appears that not only can you heal yourself, but you can help others by mental broadcasting. Is there no protection against this sort of thing? Must one be healed even when he enjoys ill health?

Autotherapy. This pleasant little idea grew in the mind of a homeopath. presumably obsessed with the homeopathic slogan “similia similibus curantus,” or “like cures like.” Dr. Charles H. Duncan of New York was able to have his views promulgated through some of the good medical jour-nals and their strangeness secured him unusually great news-paper recognition. “Autotherapy,” as the name implies, is “self-therapy” or “natural therapy.” The word “nature” is a term to conjure with in cultism. Carrying the idea of the “hair of the dog that bit you” to its ultimate interpretation, Duncan recommends the healing of boils by cooking up and swallowing the matter from the boil; for dysentery he filters the excretions and injects the fluid that filters through; for tuberculosis he filters the sputum and injects the filtrate. He claims all sorts of cures. It is the belief of competent authorities that the system has no basis in scientific knowledge and that the results secured, if any, are merely such as follow injections of foreign substances of any kind into the body.


Biodynamochromatic Diagnosis and Therapy. Whenever the irregulars in the healing art assemble for the purpose of exchanging trade secrets and telling each other how good they are, George Starr White, M.D., F.S.Sc. (Lond.), D.C., Ph.D., LL.D., Los Angeles, is among those present. He was “second vice president” of the Allied Medical Associations in 1918. He is also opposed to vaccination and helps out the American Medical Liberty League. White o was graduated from the New York Homeopathic Medical College when he was forty-two years old. He played with Abrams’ spondylotherapy (see later) and also pushed Fitzgerald’s “zone therapy” (see later). Then he developed the fancy-name system that combines a lot of hocus-pocus — it seems one diagnoses disease by a “sympathetic Vagal Reflex.” To elicit the said phenomenon, the patient faces east or west and his abdomen is thumped until a dull area is found. Then colored lights are thrown on the abdomen and the thumping is continued. A ruby and blue light with associated dullness means one thing and a green light combination another. That is to say, Dr. White says so; really, it doesn’t mean anything. Once Dr. White took a flier in the patent medicine business. The F.S.Sc. (Lond.), with which he is endowed, means “Fellow of the Incorporated Society of Science, Letters, and Arts of London, Ltd.” Lots of people who play the same game as White have the same letters. The cost of the elegant diploma is about $. Sometimes White also puts after his name D.C., Ph.D., LL.D. No one knows where he got those. The method was given a beautiful send-off in Mr. Macfadden’s Physical Culture magazine by Dr. Edwin F. Bowers in February, 1918. Dr. Bowers is not a doctor of medicine, and the only M.D. he has is the one Macfadden gives him. Strange how the same names recur again and again in these stories of the ghoullike activities of the harpies who live by exploiting the sick!

In 1925, White produced the last word in this fancy business, the Rithmo-Chrome and Duo-Colors. He has a lot of books to sell and a lot of apparatus. For instance, in his latest announcement, Figure 10 shows a “person sitting on a Filteray Cushion and receiving Filtered Ultrared Rays while doing Rithmo.Chrome breathing and inhaling Oxygen-Vapor or Medicated Vapor and at the time getting therapeutic effect of the magnetic forces of the earth, as he is grounded and facing exactly north and south.” If the Duo-Colors are added to this, Dr. White affirms, the patient is certainly getting “Natural Methods Condenst.” And if he isn’t getting that, what is he getting?

Biological Blood-Washing. This utter humbug is accredited to Benedict Lust, of whom more later. He is one of the kingpins of the naturopathy cult. Under “naturopathy” his record will be made apparent.


Chirothesians. This peculiar group emanates from California, and its fountainhead is the Western College of Drugless Therapeutics. It combines a new religious cult with medical hocus. Many State laws give amnesty to religious healers. The catalogue of the college says: “While working under this title, healers ordained to work are protected from annoyance by the state medical board.” Evidently a chirothesian is not limited to any system. One had his office full of bottles labeled cancer, paralysis, rheumatism, and tumors; another said that he made his diagnoses by examination of the pulse and “irido-diagnosis.” (For the latter system, see Under “I.”) Chirothesianism is apparently a method of mixing religion and fake healing to get around the medical practice laws.

Christos (blood washers). A half-dozen cults use the term, “blood washing” as a come-on. It usually refers to some method of purging the intestinal tract. The Christos cult consists mostly of Negroes. Herb tonics are dispensed with the claim that they are especially blessed by Christ, the Savior. Taken in the form of tea, these herbs wash the blood of sin and impurities. New York authorities arrested and prosecuted the Negro leaders.

Chromopathy. Naturopathic physicians who practiced White’s colored light system on the side used this term to indicate the healing of disease by colored lights.

Chromatherapy. Another modification of White’s colored light scheme.


Electric Light Diagnosis and Therapy. See Electrotherapy. Electro-Homeopathy. A combination of electrotherapy and homeopathy. (See under each.)

Electro-Naprapathy. A combination of two cults. (See under each.)

Electrotherapy. The use of electric devices has a definite place in the treatment of disease. It should not be thought, however, that any electrician or machinist is competent to use such methods. Electricity is a two-edged sword; in the hands of the ignorant, it may wreak disaster. Actually its use should be limited to those who have had the training of a physician and then given special study to the use of electric devices or to competent technicians working under the direction of a physician.


Geotherapy. New York investigators found a concern treating disease by the application of little pads of earth — hence the grandiloquent title. A warning resulted in the abandonment of the enterprise.


Irido-Diagnosis. The poetical notion that the eye is the mirror of the soul evidently convinced a minor medical prophet in Chicago that money might be made by founding a school of medicine in which the diagnosis of all diseases would depend on the ability to notice the changing colors of the iris or colored material of the eye. With a remarkable genius for publicity, he succeeded in attracting much free newspaper mention and in leading to his school numerous ignorant satellites who desired to enter on the practice of healing by some easy route. Among those attracted have been a few regularly licensed physicians who sought to exploit themselves and enhance their incomes by adding the claim of this superior power to such as might already have been conferred upon them by the state. Even today the practitioners of this vagary burst into temporary luminescence in the sensation-seeking press. Fortunately the prophet himself was accused by his wife of mental vagaries. He gradually subsided!


Kneipp Cure. See Naturopathy.


Limpio Coinerology. A Mrs. Caroline M. Olsen and her husband, Emil, hailing from St. Louis, adopted the name of Limpio Comerology for their health service, which appears to have been founded primarily on the doctrine of clean eating. In connection with the teaching of the science, there were dispensed “Q-p” and “Q-34,” proprietary preparations, to make the clean eating physically successful. Mrs. Olsen, obviously Norwegian or Danish, explained that the term “Limpio Comerology” was taken from the Spanish.


McLean. James A. M. McLean, born in Martinique, claims that he is a geologist, evolutionist, pathologist, psychologist, anatomist, biologist, chemist, erosionist, and theophonist. Like many other quacks, he turned up in California, claiming in his advertisement the special powers of reducing and building obesity, and reducing various disorders, diseases and infirmities. His system was a combination of physical, metaphysical, and spiritual healing — bunk from start to finish.


Naturology. This is merely another name for naturopathy. This school was founded by a naturopath of the Benedict Lust school who adopted this fanciful name to show that he knew things that even they didn’t know.


Pathiatry. This particular cult is trademarked. “It combines the best principles of spinal adjustment, traction, manipulation, deep massage, etc., administered by oneself. So simple and delightful as to become a part of the daily toilet. Done anywhere, at any time, while standing, even sitting; without appliance of any kind.”

Poropathy. Arthur de Collard turned up in Richmond, Va., and persuaded the legislature in that State, in 1918, to license him to practice poropathy. Arthur claimed to be a cousin of Napoleon and a graduate of several European universities. His diplomas, he said, had all been burned, and he would not answer the simplest question on the elements of medicine and surgery. The bill defined poropathy and manipulative surgery as a new branch of therapeutics. It employs no medicine taken through the stomach, and does not employ the knife. Healing and curative agencies and lotions, however, applied directly to the diseased organs and to the nerves controlling those organs, through the pores of the skin and mucous membrane, which are opened by medical manipulation, immediately reach the disease or ailment through the eliminating organs, and by this process heal and cure most of the ills to which flesh is heir, including: internal cancer, cerebrospinal meningitis, epilepsy, tuberculosis of the joints and heart disease. This system, according to the bill, would adjust, heal and cure broken bones, sprains, and dislocations. After a committee substitute for the bill and various amendments to the substitute had been rejected, the bill was passed and Arthur de Collard through it acquired the right to practice poropathy in Virginia. There are now several poropathists in the state who have taken a course under De Collard.

Practo-therapy. This was a group of men and women, mostly nurses, who treated human ills through intestinal irrigation. “Practo-therapy” was evidently a fanciful title in place of the word “procto.”


Quartz-therapists. A term used by “Naturopath” irregulars who use quartz mercury vapor lamps.


Sanatology. Sanatology is a delightful title conferred on his particular science of healing by Dr. P. L. Clark, Chicago, who insists that he is the first man in the world to make the pronouncement and prove that acidosis and toxicosis are the two basic causes of all disease. In his school on Prairie Avenue in Chicago he teaches people, so he says, how to remove the causes and restore the body to normal. He issues little cards for free consultation and blood-pressure test, which are the “come-ons” by which he secures permanent contributors.

Somapathy. The Illinois College of Somapathy is located at Elgin, Illinois, and its fond father is Dr. C. H. Murray. It appears that this science is devoted to the body suffering. The diagnostician feels around in the place where the nerves emerge from the spinal cord and adjusts them. Then he continues his good effects by applying ice cold, or material heated up to two hundred degrees at the place of adjustment. Here again is an offshoot of chiropractic and osteopathy, with which it is associated in another school. Dr. Murray promises his graduates $10,000 a year if they are successful.

Spectrocromists. This was an establishment operated through advising individuals to wear clothing or garments according to the color of the spectrum. How they came to the conclusion as to what part of the spectrum the individual should assume, in selecting his colors, is not clear. Perhaps it was for this advice they charged. They have been arrested and fined.


Tropo-therapy. This was a group of food faddists advertising special nutritional foods under this fanciful name.


Vita-O-Pathy. The name of this particular system indicates how hopeless is any attempt to simplify the control of quackery. Its prophet, Orrin Roberston, Ph.D., D.M., M.D., announces that:

Vita-O-Pathy is the essence and quintessence of the follow-ing thirty-six systems with additional discoveries and inventions; yet it is unlike any of them. Consequently it Restores Health to Humanity without a Surgical Operation. It is based on Geometry, a true science which contains the fundamental secrets of Ancient Science, Philosophy and Religion.

    1. Prana-Yama
    2. Zoism
    3. Spiritual Science
    4. Psychic Sarcology
    5. Somnopathy
    6. Christian Science
    7. Osteopathy
    8. Chiropathy
    9. Divine Science
    10. Botanic
    11. Allopathy
    12. Biopneuma
    13. Prayer Cure
    14. Rest Cure
    15. Diet Cure
    16. Eclecticism
    17. Hydropathy
    18. Magnetism
    19. Phrenopathy
    20. Nervauric Therapeutics
    21. Electro-Therapeutics
    22. Chromopathy
    23. Vita pathy
    24. Homeopathy
    25. Psychopathy
    26. Magnetic Massage
    27. Faith Cure
    28. Biochemic System
    29. Therapeutic Sarcognomy
    30. Physio Medical
    31. Mechanical Therapy
    32. Suggestive Therapeutics
    33. Auto-Suggestion
    34. Tripsis
    35. Spondylotherapy
    36. Chirothesia

He has worked out a scheme of muddling the moronic mind, and there are apparently enough persons of an intelligence below that of a child of eight to provide him with plenty of victims. His price varies from $40 a week to whatever he can get. It appears that he was born on May 28, 1858, in Cass County, Missouri, under the control of the Archangel Haniel, who it seems controls Friday, and whose chief characteristic is spiritual love. Further than this the deponent saith not.


Zodiac Therapy. This group was an offspring, formerly employed in an establishment called “Aero-therapy-Astral Healers.” On the walls of the establishment, on blue paper, were photographic enlargements of signs of the Zodiac. The ceiling was painted to look like the heavens. Persons desiring their horoscope read, the effect of the horoscope on their health was determined, for which a charge was made. Pamphlets were sold, also herb remedies.

Zonotherapy. One Dr. Fitzgerald of Hartford, Connecticut, has divided the body into zones, lengthwise and cross-wise, and heals disease in one zone by pressing on others. To keep the pressure going he developed little wire springs. For instance, a toothache on the right side may be “cured” by fastening a little spring around the second toe of the left foot. Naturally, Fitzgerald has never convinced any one with ordinary reasoning powers that there is anything in his system — except what he gets out of it.


Dr. Fishbein, who served for 25 years as editor of the Journal of the American Medical Association, was probably the most vigorous crusader against quackery who ever lived. This article was a chapter in his 1932 book Fads and Fallacies in Healing: An Analysis of the Foibles of the Healing Cults, with Essays on Various Other Peculiar Notions in the Health Field, published by Blue Ribbon Books in New York City.

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This article was posted on July 27, 2003.