Oh! what a noble profession is this! Reared and nourished in a free country, where every institution is founded upon the broad basis of free thought, we have in our midst a noble profession that, to preserve its dignity, shuns controversy and debate. Were they now with us, in what tones would the founders of America demand that the fires of agitation they had kindled may not go out, but be permitted to continue to burn until they have consumed every old structure, the dignity and beauty of which fades and withers when agitations open their musty petals and unravels their errors and mysteries!
Referring to this "dignity" of the medical profession, a young graduate of the College of Hygeio-Therapeutics (class of 1855) by the name of Hall, of Carlton, New York, said in the concluding remarks of his graduation paper: "Here, Fellow Students, is a duty which we owe to ourselves and to humanity, who are suffering from this dignity. Let us be thankful that we have not had such principles inculcated in our minds and that our steps have been guided in the path we are now treading."
Truth cannot be eternally opposed. It grows in spite of opposition. And even the opposition has to recognize it. Editorially, Trall said, September 1860: "The world moves. We learn from the reports of doings of the American National Medical Convention, which met at New Haven, Conn., recently, that Dr. Reece, of this city, Chairman of the Committee on Education, presented a report in which he recommended, among other things, that a Chair of Hygiene be introduced into medical schools. We have been for years calling the attention of our professional brethren to this subject, and we are glad to see that our advice has some prospect of being respectfully entertained. Is it not a little astonishing that the subject of Hygiene--the art of preserving health--has never been taught in any medical school in the world except the Hygeio-Therapeutic? It is true that Prof. Parker, of the New York College of Physicians and Surgeons, says, 'Hygiene is of far more value in the treatment of disease than drugs,' and that Prof. Clark of the same school, relies wholly on Hygiene for the cure of many diseases, and that all medical professors testify to the good value of Hygiene, not only to prevent but to cure disease. But we must venture the prediction that the proposition of Dr. Reece will be merely entertained. There the matter will stop. The Chair of Hygiene will never be introduced. Hygiene and drug medication are incompatibles. They can never co-exist. Barnum in his museum has solved the problem that a carnivorous, an omnivorous, an herbivorous, and a frugivorous animal may dwell together in the same cage without devouring or being devoured. But Hygiene and drugs could not be taught in the same school without a war of extermination. The drugs would eat up the Hygiene, or the Hygiene would drown out the drugs. Whatever may be said of other conflicts, this one is irrepressible."
Further evidence that the value of Hygiene was recognized, even though they tended to discredit the source, is contained in a paper read before the Medical Library and Journal Association in 1875 by Henry Hart, M.D., of New York City, in which he stressed the fact that there are "benefits which patients can only receive at the hands of quacks." He referred to Hygienists and hydropaths as "quacks." He criticized his own profession for permitting "ignorant pretenders and irregular practitioners" to monopolize the use of "water, rubbing and passive methods" and suggested the establishment of an institution, under the control of the medical profession, to which "private practitioners could send their patients to obtain the benefits which they can only now receive from the hands of quacks."
Writing in The Science of Health, April 1876, on this lecture by Hart, in which he recommended a hospital "for the radical and permanent cure of chronic disease," Trall expressed the hope that such a hospital would be established, so that the merits of drugging could be thoroughly tested, and said: "For years hygienic practitioners have been confined in great degree to this class of cases, simply because the patients had been driven in desperation to try anything rather than die; for die it was evident they must, unless they received better aid than the medical schools usually furnish. In the majority of cases these chronic invalids that had been either pronounced incurable by competent physicians, or were considered beyond hope by friends, because of the repeated and absolute failure on the part of their medical advisers; and yet many, if not the majority have been either restored to health or been so greatly benefitted as to feel very grateful to the hygienic system."
Trall charged, in his reply, that the chronic diseases which Hart wanted a "respectable medical institution" in which such cases could receive non-drug treatment, were "in ninety-nine cases out of every hundred, if not in the other, the consequence of the vigorous treatment, which changed a single and simple and acute disease into a complication of chronic drug diseases. Acute diseases which are treated hygienically are never followed by chronic disease of any kind."
Trall further said on this occasion: "Acute diseases, we insist, are mere bagatelles as compared with the 'difficult and intractable' chronic ones, and hygienic treatment is not only as successful with them, but very much more so. Acute diseases are simple and tractable, as a rule, and the patients recover in spite of the doctor, but Dr. Hart will find that the treatment of chronic invalids is a very different matter."
Hart had referred to chronic disease as "difficult and intractable," an unusual thing for a medical man, who prefers to think of such diseases as "imaginary and trifling," especially if they are restored to health by Hygienic means.
It is true that the sooner the patient can get off drugs, the better; but it is equally true that, the sooner he gets off Hygiene, the worse. A return to unHygienic living, which caused the disease in the first place, will build disease all over again. As total abstinence is the only course for the former alcoholic (it is well known that a return to drink will result in a return of consequences), so a permanent desertion of unHygienic ways is the only safe way of life.
In an article in The Science of Health, May 1875, Trall pointed out that the drug schools, "making a virtue of necessity, have concluded to let each other live, dosing and drugging, each after its own fashion, and make a combined effort to suppress the Hygienic system." A Dr. Smith of the New York Board of Health proposed to squelch the Hygienists bylaw. He proposed to put M.D. into the constitution and to have the state take the doctor-making business (under drug-medical auspices) into its own hands and appoint a board to examine all would-be physicians in the materia medical of all the drug schools. This ingenious scheme would have rendered it impossible for a Hygienist to have received a diploma and to receive a license to practice.