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Full text of "Life and medical discoveries of Samuel Thomson, and a history of the Thomsonian materia medica, as shown in "The new guide to health," (1835), and the literature of that day. Including portraits of Samuel Thomson; the famous letters of Professor Benjamin Waterhouse, M.D.; the celebrated "Trial of Dr. Frost," and other features of a remarkable epoch in American medical history"

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Cornell University Library 
RV 8.T48L79 

Life and medical discoveries of Samuel T 

3 1924 011 815 598 

Cornell University 

The original of this book is in 
the Cornell University Library. 

There are no known copyright restrictions in 
the United States on the use of the text. 

Bulletin No. n. 1909. Reproduction Series, No. 7. 


of the 




J. U. & C. G. LLOYD 





and a history of 


as shown in " THE NEW GUIDE TO HEALTH," (1835), 
and the literature of that day. 

Portraits of SAMUEL THOMSON ; Fac-Simile of THOMSON'S " PATENT " 

to the Practice of Medicine; the famous Letters of Professor Ben- 
jamin WaTERHOUSE, M. D. ; the celebrated "TRIAL OF DR. FROST," and 
other features of a remarkable epoch in AMERICAN MEDICAL HISTORY. 


Copyright secured according to law. 

[From "The Thodisonian Materia Medica," 1841.] 


Samuel Thomson. In presenting this Bulletin of the Lloyd 
Library, the editor finds it necessary to .deviate from the methods adopted 
in the publications heretofore offered in our Reproduction Series. In the 
preceding issues, the aim has been to present fac similes of each work, 
even to the copying of gross errors, and the imitation, as far as possible, 
of both the type and the manuscript form of the publication. In the 
present Bulletin such a method is impossible, owing both to the extent 
and cosmopolitan nature of the publication we are presenting, and to 
the fact that our aim is to portray the man, and picture conditions of 
that period, rather than to present in full any one or more of his works. 
In our opinion, a comprehension of this remarkable man can be accom- 
plished only by bringing the reader into touch with conspicuous phases 
of his life and examples of his methods, as well as by a realization of 
his ideals, as shown by the efforts and the sacrifices he made, in the face 
of the most pronounced resistance to his processes. This we aim to do 
in the pages that follow. 

In our opinion, this Bulletin will give to the reader a fair picture 
not only of the man before us, but also of the conditions that, at the 
time mentioned, dominated the disciples of the healing art in America. 
To this we may add that one can not now easily enter into the problems 
of that day concerning medicine and the practice of medicine. The 
passion, the dogmatism, the vituperation of the period, the suppression of 
free thought and investigation outside authority, is a something that can 
not now be expressed or readily appreciated. But a touch of it all 
can be grasped and partly comprehended by noting the evolution that 
has taken place in the fields of American pharmacy and medicine since 
the beginning of the last century; by contrasting present conditions with 
the period typified in the record of Samuel Thomson. 

The New Guide to Healthj whose title-page is given in fac simile, 
was first issued by Samuel Thomson in 1822. It passed rapidly through 
many editions, some of them exceedingly large, but with few changes, 
other than supplements, as shown in the Additions, reproduced by us, 
pages 50-54. 



That 1835, one-volume edition, in small type set solid, comprised 
both the Narrathej 228 pages, and the Guide to Healthy the latter con- 
sisting of a description of diseases and their treatment, 168 pages. The 
latter section, which was in the outset Thomson's Materia Medica and 
methods of practice, was afterwards issued in more pretentious form as 
Thomson's Materia Medica or Botanic Family Physician. It carried 
a discursive introduction, a work on anatomy, a section on materia medica, 
and one on botany, as well as one on the theory and practice of medicine 
according to the Thomsonian methods. A number of editions of this 
work were issued by Thomson and his agents, until in 1841 appeared 
the unabridged Thirteenth Edition, issued by his son, John Thomson, 
the elaboration of which, however, did not altogether meet the approval 
of the original author. Hence we find, page 831 of the 1841 edition, an 
editorial note by John Thomson, illustrating the manner in which his 
father insists upon the work being accompanied by the following qualified 
statement, in order to show his disapproval of the innovations named. 


"The following objections to the different articles and compounds in this book, 
were made by Dr. Samuel Thomson, after the work was printed. And in justice 
to him, and out of respect to his opinion, we insert them here, that every one 
may know that his opinion is not changed in relation to cathartics, and that what 
is said upon that subject is done on our own responsibility, and for which Dr. 
Thomson is not to be held responsible. The following are the objections, viz. 

All cathartic medicine, of every kind ; also, the compounding of the black salve, 
on page 734 (for which we have inserted a substitute on page 823) ; borax for sore 
mouth, page 738; maple charcoal to prevent mortification, on page 727; a paper 
saturated with salt petre, and burned, to relieve asthma, page 742; Peruvian bark 
to clean the teeth, page 740; poke root made into ointment for the piles, page 741; 
sulphate of zinc compounded into poultices for syphilitic ulcers, page 733; burnt 
alum for dysentery, page 726; tobacco emetic pills, page 700; asafetida for hysteria, 
page 634; blood root for emetic, page 684; black cohosh to cure rheumatism, and to 
regulate the monthly turns with females, page 643 ; and, page 695, the injection should 
be given before steaming. 

It is to be understood, that he objects to the use of those articles, in every form 
or shape whatever, except the enemas." JOHN THOMSON 

(Thomson's Materia Medica or Botanic Family Physician, 1841.) 
In our reproduction of the text of the New Guide to Health, as 
given in this Bulletin, pages 3 to 64, no change has been made in state- 
ment or in text, other than in editorially excising, in blocks, more or 
less material unnecessary to the presentation of Samuel Thomson's life 
as written by himself. These excluded fragments are usually accounts of 
special cases illustrating his methods," or disconnected digressions which 


may be omitted without in any wise affecting the continuity of the work. 
In some instances the excluded portions comprise not more than half a 
page, while in other cases several successive pages are excised. Had the 
entire text been reproduced, our Bulletin would have been fully twice 
its present size; but we take it, all the important features concerning the 
events in Thomson's life, as he has recorded them, are connectedly pre- 
sented. To this we will add that the headings of the paragraphs are all 
our own,* 

One feature in Thomson's life is absolutely ignored in his writings, 
nor is it, so fiar as we know, elsewhere recorded. On page 51 of this 
Bulletin is to be found an intimation by him that he was involved by 
Mr. Locke in the famous Morgan Masonic controversy, then raging in 
New York. This leads us to state that a share, and possibly no small 
proportion, of Thomson's troubles, came also from his pronounced po- 
litical activity, at a time when in American politics no toleration what- 
ever was exhibited by one party for an adherent of the opposite political 
faith. We have it in'aletter from the late Alexander Wilder, M. D., to 
ourselves personally, that Thomson's allegiance to the minority party of 
that date led to much of his persecution, a fact that Thomson utterly 
ignores in any print that we have seen from his pen. 

On page 50 and following, of this Bulletin, subsequent to the Nar- 
rative and Guide, we introduce the Additions made to that publication in 
the 1825 edition, and on page 51 the Additions made in 1831, both of 
which, in connection with the life history of Samuel Thomson, are of 
exceeding interest. On page 54 we reproduce a Notice, by which he 
authorized agents to sell his patented rights to the Botanical System of 
Practice in Medicine, and another from an authorized agent, announcing 
the right to practice by that authority. Following these are a couple of 
characteristic reproductions (pages 54, 55) showing the turn of Thom- 
son's mind for philosophizing over incidents. 

Pages 56 to 64 present the letters of Professor Benjamin Waterhouse, 
M. D., to whom the 1841 edition of Thomson's Materia Medica is dedi- 
cated, these being also published in the 1835 edition of Thomson's Guide 
to Health. The comments upon these letters, pages 63, 64, are written 
by the editor of this Bulletin. 

Page 65 is a reproduction of the title-page of a pamphlet concerning 
the celebrated Trial of Dr. Frost, from which enough is taken, pages 67-74, 
to make a lucid account, illustrating the manner in which Thomson's 
disciples were handled at that time. The introduction to this section, 

* " Concentrated Principles " (now in process) will, we hope, soon be issued as a companion Bul- 
letin to this one. In this, the history of the evolution of Thomsonism and Eclecticism is continued 
and ampliAed. 



page 67, is also from our pen, as well as are the remarks concerning lobelia, 
page 73, and the closing paragraph, page 74. 

Pages 75-77 give a list of the authorized Thomsonian remedies, to- 
gether with an introduction to same (page 75) by ourselves. Following, 
on page 78, is to be found the advertisement of Dr. John Rose, Editor 
of the Lobelia Advocate, 1838, as well as an advertisement of the Botanico- 
Medical College, Cincinnati, Ohio, 1844. Following these, 79-85, come 
verbatim reproductions of directions for taking the Thomsonian Courses 
of Medicine. Here we offer a few editorial remarks, and have added 
(page 85) the remedies recognized under Thomson's famous numbers, 
I to 6. 

In pages 86-89, Nathaniel S. Magoon, of Boston, in whose house 
Thomson spent his last days, describes the death of this remarkable man. 

We have, in our opinion, made a collaborated record, presenting suc- 
cinctly to the readers of this Bulletin the life of the man who, in one way 
or another, exerted a tremendous influence on the American practice of 
medicine. In this may be included the efforts of antagonists who but 
for Thomson would not have become conspicuous, or even known, as well 
as of reformers, to whom Thomson's aggressive methods and Thomson's 
suggestions proved a stimulus. Out of it all came the kindlier theories 
that have largely succeeded the heroic age, an era of barbarism, in Ameri- 
can medicine. And, in our opinion, one and all at the present time can, 
in charity for all who were involved at that day, and without bitterness 
towards any one, review this story of the past, crediting those to whom 
credit is due. John Uri Lloyd. 





Botanic Family Physician. 











Printed for the Author, and sold by his General Agent, at 

the Office of the Boston Investigator. 

J. Q. Adams, Printer. 


[Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 
183S, by Samuel Thomson, in the Clerk's Office 
of the District Court of Massachusetts.] 



The preparing of the following work for the press, has been a task 
of much difficulty and labor, for to comprise in a short compass, and to 
convey a correct understanding of the subject, from such a mass of 
materials as I have been enabled to collect, by thirty years' practice, is a 
business of no small magnitude. The plan that has been adopted I thought 
the best to give a correct knowledge of my system of practice; and am 
confident that the descriptions and directions are sufficiently explained to 
be understood by all those who take an interest in this important subject. 
Much more might have been written; but the main object has been to 
confine it to the practice, and nothing more is stated of the theory than 
what was necessary to give a general knowledge of the system. . If any 
errors should be discovered, it is hoped that they will be viewed with 
candor; for in -first publishing a work, such things are to be expected; but 
much care has been taken that there should be no error, which would 
cause any mistake in the practice, or preparing the medicine. 

Many persons are practising by my system, who are in the habit of 
pretending that they have made great improvements, and in some instances 
it is well-known that poisonous drugs have been made use of under the 
name of my medicine, which has counteracted its operation, and thereby 
tended to destroy the confidence of the public in my system of practice; 
this has never been authorized by me. The public are therefore cautioned 
against such conduct, and all those who are well disposed toward my 
system, are desired to lend their aid in exposing all such dishonest prac- 
tices, in order that justice may be done. Those who possess this work, 
may, by examining it, be able to detect any improper deviations therefrom; 
and they are assured that any practice which is not conformable to the 
directions given, and does not agree with the principles herein laid down, is 
unauthorized by me. 

[The above is the preface to Thomson's original edition, 1822. — L.] 




Childhood of Samuel Thomson. 

THERE is nothing, perhaps, more unpleasant than to write one's own life; 
for in doing it we are obliged to pass over again, as it were, many scenes, which 
we might wish to have forgotten, and relate many particulars, which, though they 
may seem very important to ourselves, yet would be very uninteresting to the 
reader. It is not my intention to attempt to write a history of my life, nor would 
it be in my power to do it if I had such a wish; but as I have been the greater 
part of my life engaged in one of the most important pursuits, and which is of 
more consequence to the great human family, than any other that could be under- 
taken by man; that of alleviating human misery, by curing all cases of disease 
by the most simple, safe, and certain method of practice, I think the public will be 
interested to know something of me, and the reason of my having taken upon myself 
so important a calling, without being regularly educated to the profession, which 
is thought by the world to be indispensably necessary; but I shall take the liberty 
to disagree a little with them in this particular; for, although learning may be a 
great advantage in acquiring a profession, yet that alone will never make a great 
man, where there is no natural gift. 

By giving a short sketch of the early part of my existence, and relating those 
accidental circumstances that have occurred during my life, and which were prin- 
cipally the cause of my engaging in the healing art, will enable the public to judge 
more correctly, whether I have taken that course, in fulfilling my duty in this life, 
which the God of nature hath pointed out for me. In doing this, I shall endeavor 
to give a plain and simple narrative of facts as they took place, and relate only 
those particulars of my life, with such of the cases that have come under my care, 
as will best convey to the reader, the most correct information of my system of 
practice in curing disease. 

I was born February 9, 1769, in the town of Alstead, county of Cheshire, and 
State of New Hampshire. My father, John Thomson, was born in Northbridge, 
county of Worcester, and State of Massachusetts; he was twenty-five years old when 
I was born. My mother's name was Hannah Cobb; she was born in Medway, 
Mass., and was four years older than my father. I had one sister older than 
myself, and three brothers and one sister younger, who are all living except my second 
brother, who died in his fourteenth year. My oldest sister married Samuel Hills, 
and lives in Surry, New Hampshire, and my two brothers live in Jericho, Vermont. 
My youngest sister married Waters Mather, and lives in the State of Ohio. 

That country was a wilderness when I was born; my father had began there 
about a year before, at which time there was no house within three miles one way, 

*This is an autobiography. It was many times reprinted, but no account was kept of their 
number. — L. 



and about one the other; there were no roads, and they had to go by marked trees. 
The snow was very deep when they moved there, and my mother had to travel 
over a mile on snow shoes through the woods to get to their habitation. My parents 
were poor, having nothing to begin the world with; but had to depend upon their 
labor for support. My father had bought a piece of wild land on credit, and had 
to pay for it by his labor in what he could make off the land, which caused us 
great hardships and deprivations for a long time. 

As soon as I began to form any correct ideas, of things, my mind was much 
irritated by the impressions made on it by my parents, who, no doubt with very 
good intentions, filled my young head with all kinds of hob-goblin and witch- 
stories, which made a very deep impression on my mind, and which were not 
entirely eradicated for many years. I mention this as a caution to parents, not to 
tell their children any thing but the truth; for young children naturally believe 
whatever their parents tell them, and when they frighten them with such stories, 
for the purpose of making them behave well, it will most generally have a very 
bad effect; for when they arrive at years of discretion, and find that all those 
stories are falsehoods, they will naturally form very unfavorable opinions of their 
parents, whose duty it is to set them better examples. 

Domestic Medicine In Thomson's Day. 

When I was between three and four years old, ray father took me out with 
him to work. The first business I was set to do was to drive the cows to pasture, 
and watch the geese, with other small chores, which occupation kept me all day 
in the fields. I was very curious to know the names of all the herbs which I saw 
growing, and what they were good for; and, to satisfy my curiosity was constantly 
making inquiries of the persons I happened to be with, for that purpose. All the 
information I thus obtained, or by my own observation, I carefully laid up in my 
memory, and never forgot. There was an old lady by the name of Benton lived 
near us, who used to attend our family when there was any sickness. At that 
time there was no such thing as a Doctor known among us, there not being any 
within ten miles. The whole of her practice was with roots and herbs, applied to 
the patient, or given in hot drinks, to produce sweating; which always answered 
the purpose. When one thing did not produce the desired effect, she would try 
something else, till they were relieved. By her attention to the family, and the 
benefits they received from her skill, we became very much attached to her; and 
when she used to go out to collect roots and herbs, she would take me with her, 
and learn me their names, with what they were good for; and 1 used to be very 
curious in my inquiries, and in tasting every thing that I found. The information 
I thus obtained at this early age, was afterwards of great use to me. 

Discovery of Lobelia. 

Sometime in the summer, after I was four years old, being out in the fields 
in search of the cows, I discovered a plant which had a singular branch and pods, 
that I had never before seen, and I had the curiosity to pick some of the pods and 
chew them; the taste and operation produced was so remarkable, that I never 
forgot it. I afterwards used to induce other boys to chew it, merely by way of 
sport, to see them vomit. I tried this herb in this way for nearly twenty years, 
without knowing any thing of its medical virtues. This plant is what I have called 
the Emetic Herb, and is the most important article I make use of in my practice. 
It is very common in most parts of this country, and may be prepared and used 


in almost any manner. It is a certain counter poison, having never been known 
to fail to counteract the effects of the most deadly poison, even when taken in large 
quantities for self-destruction. There is no danger to be apprehended from its 
use, as it is perfectly harmless in its operation, even when a large quantity is taken; 
it operates as an emetic, cleanses the stomach from all improper aliment, promotes 
an internal heat, which is immediately felt at the extremities, and produces 

The Lobelia Patent, "My RIgtii to tlie Discovery." 

The exclusive right of using this plant for medical purposes is secured to me 
by patent, and my right to the discovery has never been disputed; though the 
Doctors have done every thing they could to destroy the credit of it, by false state- 
ments, representing it to be a deadly poison, and at the same time they knew to 
the contrary, for they have made use of it themselves for several years, and have 
tried to defraud me of the discovery. I feel perfectly convinced from near forty 
years' experience of its medical properties, that the discovery is of incalculable 
importance, and if properly understood by the people will be more useful in curing 
the diseases incident to this climate, than the drugs and medicines sold by all the 
apothecaries in the country. 

Experimentation with Lobelia on Child Friends. 

The winter I was eight years old, I was very sick with the canker-rash; but 
was attended by the widow Benton, who cured me by making use of such medicine 
as our country afforded, and I was in a short time able to be about. After I had 
got well, my mind was more attentive to the use of roots and herbs as medicine, 
than ever. I had at that time a very good knowledge of the principal roots and 
herbs to be found in that part of the country, with their names and medical uses; 
and the neighbors were in the habit of getting me to go with them to show them 
such roots and herbs as the doctors ordered to be made use of in sickness, for 
syrups, &c. and by way of sport they used to call me doctor. While in the field 
at work I used often to find the herb, which I tasted when four years old, and 
gave it to those who worked with me, to see them spit and often vomit; but I 
never observed any bad effect produced by it, which simple experiments eventually 
led me to observe the value of it in disease. 

Hope of Becoming a Physician and Subsequent Disappointment. 

Sometime during the year that I was sixteen years old, I heard my parents 
say, that as my mind was so much taken up with roots and herbs, they thought 
it best to send me to live %vith a Doctor Fuller, of Westmoreland, who was called a 
root doctor. This pleased me very much, and in some measure raised my ambi- 
tion; but I was soon after disappointed in my hopes, for they said I had not 
learning enough, and they did not know how to spare me from my work, which 
depressed my spirits, and was very discouraging to me. I now gave up all hopes 
of going to any other business, and tried to reconcile myself to spend my days in 
working on a farm, which made me very unhappy. I had little learning, and was 
awkward and ignorant of the world, as my father had never given me any 
chance to go into company, to learn how to behave, which caused me great 


A Wound and Its Results Illustrating the Terrible Methods of Medical Practice, Domestic, 
Empirical, and Regular at that Date. " My father in dressing my wound had 
drawn a string through between the heel-cord and the bone, and another between 
that and the skin ; so that two-thirds of the way round my ancle was hollow." 

In the year 1788, when I was in my nineteenth year, my father purchased a 
piece of land on Onion river, in the state of Vermont, and on the 12th day of 
October, he started from Alstead, and took me with him, to go to work on the 
land and clear up some of it to build a house on, as it was all covered with wood. 
In about four days after our arrival, we were enabled to clear a small spot and 
to build us a camp to live in; we had to do our own cooking and washing; our 
fare was poor, and we had to work very hard; but we got along tolerably well 
till the zd of December, when I had the misfortune to cut my ancle very badly, 
which accident prevented me from doing any labor for a long time, and almost 
deprived me of life. The wound was a very bad one, as it split the joint and 
laid the bone entirely bare, so as to lose the juices of my ancle joint to such a 
degree as to reduce my strength very much. My father sent for a Doctor Cole, 
of Jericho, who ordered sweet apple-tree bark to be boiled, and the wound to 
be washed with it, which caused great pain, and made it much worse, so that in 
eight days my strength was almost exhausted; the flesh on my leg and thigh was 
mostly gone, and my life was despaired of; the doctor said he could do no more 
for me ; my father was greatly alarmed about me, and said that if Dr. Kitteridge, 
of Walpole, could be sent for, he thought he might help me; but I told him it 
would be in vain to send for him, for I could not live so long as it would take 
to go after him, without some immediate assistance. He said he did not know 
what to do; I told him that there was one thing I had thought of which I wished 
to have tried, if it could be obtained, that I thought would help me. He anxiously 
inquired what it was, and I told him if he could find some corafrey root, I would 
try a plaster made of that and turpentine. He immediately went to an old place 
that was settled before the war, and had the good luck to find some; a plaster was 
prepared by my directions and applied to my ancle, the side opposite to the wound, 
and had the desired eflfect; the juices stopped running in about six hours, and I 
was very much relieved; though the pain continued to be very severe and the 
inflammation was great; the juices settled between the skin and bone, and caused a 
suppuration, which broke in about three weeks; during which time I did not have 
three nights sleep, nor did I eat any thing. This accidental remedy was found 
through necessity, and was the first time the mother of invention held forth her 
hand to me. The success which attended this experiment, and the natural turn 
of my mind to those things, I think was a principal cause of my continuing to 
practice the healing art to this time. 

Our stock of provisions being now exhausted, and my wound somewhat better, 
my father was very anxious to return to Alstead. He asked me if I thought I 
could bear the journey, if he should place me on a bed laidin a sled. I answered 
that I was willing to try. He immediately went to work and fixed a sled, and put 
me in it on a straw bed; and on the first day of January, 1789, we began our 
journey. There was very little snow, and the road rough, which caused the sled 
to jolt very much, and my sufferings were great. It was very doubtful with my 
father, and likewise with me, whether I should live to perform the journey; but we 
proceeded on, however, without any thing important happening, except wearing 
out the runners of our sled, and having to make new ones, and accomplished twenty 


miles the first day. At a place where we stopped all night, there was a woman 
whose situation apppeared to me so much worse than my own, that I felt much 
encouraged. She had been sick with a fever, and the doctor had given so much 
poisonous medicine, to break the fever, as he called it, she was left in a most 
miserable situation. Her side and shoulder were in a putrid state, and in full as 
bad a condition as my ancle. My father in dressing my wound had drawn a 
string through between the heel-cord and bone, and another between that and the 
skin; so that two-thirds of the way round my ancle was hollow. 

Discouraged to Desperation. Dr. KItterldge Becomes a Good Samaritan. 

When we got on to the high land there was considerable snow, and we got 
along much more comfortably. I had to be carried in on the bed and laid by 
the fire, every night during the journey. The people generally, where we stopped, 
treated me with kindness, and showed much pity for me in my distressed situation; 
but they all thought -that I should not live to get through the Journey. The doctors 
had advised to have my leg cut oflF, as the only means of saving my life, and all 
those who saw me during our journey, expressed the same opinion; and I think 
it would have been done had I given my consent; but I positively refused to 
agree to it, so the plan was given up. I preferred to take my chance with my 
leg on, to having it taken off ; which resolution I have never repented of, to this day. 

On arriving in Walpole, my father proceeded immediately to the house of the 
famous Dr. Kitteridge, to have him dress my wound, and get his opinion of my 
situation; he not being at home, and it being nearly dark, we concluded to put up 
for the night, and I was carried in on my bed and laid by the fire. The doctor soon 
came home, and on entering the room where I was, cried out in a very rough 
manner, Who have you here? His wife answered, a sick man. The devil, 
replied he, I want no sick man here. I was much terrified by his coarse manner 
of speaking, and thought if he was so rough in his conversation, what will he be 
when he comes to dress my wound ; but I was happily disappointed, for he took 
off the dressing with great care, and handled me very tenderly. On seeing the 
strings that were in the wound, he exclaimed, What the devil are these halters 
here for? My father told him they were put in to keep the sore open. He said 
he thought the sore open enough now, for it is all rotten. Being anxious to know 
his opinion of me, my father asked him what he thought of my situation. What 
do I think? said he, why I think he will die; and then looking very pleasantly at 
me, said, though I think young man, you will get well first. In the morning he 
dressed my ancle again, and gave me some salve to use in future; and my father 
asked him for his bill, which was, I think, for our keeping and his attending me, 
about fifty cents. A great contrast between this and what is charged at the present 
time by our regular physicians; for they will hardly look at a person- without 
making them pay two or three dollars. I have been more particular in describing 
this interview with Dr. Kitteridge, on account of his extraordinary skill in sur- 
gery, and the great name he acquired, and justly deserved, among the people 
throughout the country. His system of practice was peculiarly his own, and all 
the medicines he used were prepared by himself, from the roots and herbs of our 
own country. He was a very eccentric character, and uncouth in his manners; 
but he possessed a good heart, and a benevolent disposition. He was governed 
in his practice by that great plan which is dictated by nature ; and the uncommon 
success he met with is evidence enough to satisfy any reasonable mind, of the 


superiority of it over what is the practice of those who become doctors by reading 
only, with their poisons and their instruments of torture. 

Empirical Study of Field and Forest Plants. 

My mind was bent on learning the medical properties of such vegetables as I 
met with, and was constantly in the habit of tasting every thing of the kind I 
saw; and having a retentive memory, I have always recollected the taste and use 
of all that were ever shown me by others, and likewise of all that I discovered 
myself. This practice of tasting of herbs and roots has been of great advantage 
to me, as I have always been able to ascertain what is useful for any particular 
disease, by that means. I was often told that I should poison myself by tasting 
every thing I saw; but 1 thought I ought to have as much knowledge as a beast, 
for they possess an instinct to discover what is good for food, and what is necessary 
for medicine. I had but very little knowledge of disease at this time; but had a 
great inclination to learn whatever I had an opportunity; and my own experience, 
which is the best school, had often called my attention to the subject. 

First Overdose of Lobelia and Its Results. 

The herb which I had discovered when four years old, I had often met with; 
but it had never occurred to me that it was of any value, as medicine, until about 
this time, when mowing in the field with a number of men, one day, I cut a 
sprig of it, and gave it to the man next to me, who ate it; when he had got to 
the end of the piece, which was about six rods, he said that he believed what I 
had given him would kill him, for he never felt so in his life. I looked at him 
and saw that he was in a most profuse perspiration, being as wet all over as he 
could be; he trembled very much, and there was no more color in him than a 
corpse. I told him to go to the spring and drink some water; he attempted to go, 
and got as far as the wall, but was unable to get over it, and laid down on the 
ground and vomited several times. He said he thought he threw off his stomach 
two quarts. I then helped him into the house, and in about two hours he ate a 
very hearty dinner, and in the afternoon was able to do a good half day's labor. 
He afterwards told me that he never had anything do him so much good in his 
life; his appetite was remarkably good, and he felt better than he had for a long 
time. This circumstance gave me the first idea of the medical virtues of this 
valuable plant, which I have since found by forty years' experience, in which 
time I have made use of it in every disease I have met with, to great advantage, 
that it is a discovery of the greatest importance. 

First Use of "Steaming" by Thomson. 

When my second daugher was about two years old she was taken sick, and 
had what is called the canker-rash. Dr. Bliss, who lived on my farm, was' sent 
for, and he said she had that disorder as bad as any one he ever saw. He tried 
his utmost skill to prevent putrefaction, which he feared would take place; but 
after using every exertion in his power, without doing her any good, he said he 
could do no more, she must die. She was senseless, and the canker was to be seen 
in her mouth, nose, and ears, and one of her eyes was covered with it and closed- 
the other began to swell and turn purple also. I asked the doctor if he could 
not keep the canker out of this eye; but he said it would be of no use, for she 
could not live. I told him that if he could do no more, I would try what I 



could do myself. I found that if the canker could not be stopped immediately, she 
would be blind with both eyes. She was so distressed for breath that she would 
spring straight up on end in struggling to breathe. I sat myself in a chair, and 
held her in my lap, and put a blanket round us both; then my wife held a hot 
spider or shovel between my feet, and I poured on vinegar to raise a steam, and 
kept it as hot as I found she could bear, changing them as soon as they became 
cold; and by following this plan for about twenty minutes, she became comfortable 
and breathed easy. I kept a cloth wet with cold water on her eyes, changing it 
often, as it grew warm. I followed this plan, steaming her every two hours, for 
about a week, when she began to gain. Her eyes came open, and the one that 
was the worst, was completely covered with canker, and was as white as paper. 
I used a wash of rosemary to take off the canker; and when the scale came off, the 
sight came out with it; and it entirely perished. The other eye was saved, to 
the astonishment of all who saw her, particularly the doctor, who used frequently 
to call to see how she did. He said she was saved entirely by the plan I had 
pursued, and the great care and attention paid to her. She entirely recovered 
from the disease, with the exception of the loss of one eye, and has enjoyed good 
health to this time. This was the first of my finding out the plan of steaming 
and using cold water. After this I found by experience that by putting a hot 
stone into a thing of hot water, leaving it partly out of the water, and then pouring 
vinegar on the stone, was an improvement. Care should be taken not to raise the 
heat too fast; and I used to put a cloth wet with cold water on the stomach, at 
the same time giving hot medicine to raise the heat inside; and when they had 
been steamed in this manner so long as I thought they could bear it, then rub them 
all over with a cloth wet with spirit, vinegar, or cold water, change their clothes 
and bed clothes, and then let them go to bed. 

Beginning of Thomson's Theory, " Food the Fuel that Continues the Fire or Life of IVIan. 
Maintain the Internal Heat and Restore Perspiration." 

I had not the most distant idea at this time of ever engaging in the practice 
of medicine, more than to assist my own family; and little did I think what those 
severe trials and sufferings I experienced in the cases that have been mentioned, 
and which I was drove to by necessity, were to bring about. It seemed as a 
judgment upon me, that either myself or family, or some one living with me, were 
sick most of the time the doctor lived on my farm, which was about seven years. 
Since I have had more experience, and become better acquainted with the subject, I 
am satisfied in my own mind of the cause. When ever any of the family took a 
cold, the doctor was sent for, who would always either bleed or give physic. 
Taking away the blood reduces the heat, and gives power to the cold they had 
taken, which increases the disorder, and the coldness of the stomach causes canker; 
the physic drives all the determining powers from the surface inwardly, and 
scatters the canker through the stomach and bowels, which holds the cold inside, 
and drives the heat on the outside. The consequence is, that perspiration ceases, 
because internal heat is the sole cause of this important evacuation; and a settled 
fever takes place, which will continue as long as the cold keeps the upper hand. 
My experience has taught me that by giving hot medicine, the internal heat was 
increased, and by applying the steam externally, the natural perspiration was 
restored; and by giving medicine to clear the stomach and bowels from canker, 
till the cold is driven out and the heat returns, which is the turn of the fever, they 


will recover the digestive powers, so that food will keep the heat where it naturally 
belongs, which is the fuel that continues the fire or life of man. 

Necessity now Compelled a Course of Medication In His Own Home'. 

At the birth of our third son, my wife was again given over by the midwife. 
Soon after the child was bom, she was taken with ague fits and cramp in the 
stomach; she was in great pain, and we were much alarmed at her situation. I pro- 
posed giving her some medicines, but the midwife was much opposed to it; she 
said she wished to have a doctor, and the sooner the better. I immediately sent for 
one, and tried to persuade her to give something which I thought would relieve my 
wife until the doctor could come; but she objected to it, saying that her case was a 
very difficult one, and would not allow to be trifled with; she said she was sensible 
of the dangerous situation my wife was in, for not one out of twenty lived through 
it, and probably she would not be alive in twenty-four hours from that time. We 
were thus kept in suspense until the man returned and the doctor could not be found, 
and there was no other within six miles. I then "came to the determination of hearing 
to no one's advice any longer, but to pursue my own plan. I told my wife, that 
as the midwife said she could not live more than twenty-four hours, her life could 
not be cut short more than that time, therefore there would be no hazard in trying 
what I could do to relieve her. I gave her some warm medicine to raise the inward 
heat, and then applied the steam, which was very much opposed by the midwife; 
but I persisted in it according to the best of my judgment, and relieved her in about 
one hour, after she had laid in that situation above four hours, without anything 
being done. The midwife expressed a great deal of astonishment at the success I 
had met with, and said that I had saved her life, for she was certain that without 
the means I had used, she could not have lived. She continued to do well, and 
soon recovered. This makes the fifth time I had applied to the mother of invention 
for assistance, and in all of them was completely successful. 

Beginning of Neighborhood Calls In Home Treatment. 

These things began to be taken some notice of about this time, and caused much 
conversation in the neighborhood. My assistance was called for by some of the 
neighbors, and I attended several cases with good success. I had previous to this 
time, paid some attention to the farrier business, and had been useful in that line. 
This, however, gave occasion for the ignorant and credulous to ridicule me and 
laugh at those whom I attended; but these things had little weight with me, for I 
had no other object in view but to be serviceable to my fellow creatures, and I was 
too firmly fixed in my determination to pursue that course, which I considered was 
pointed out as my duty, by the experience and many hard trials I had suffered, to be 
deterred by the foolish remarks of the envious or malicious part of society. 

Successfully Treated His Own Family for Measles. 

Sometime in the month of November, i8oa, my children had the measles, and 
some of them had them very bad. The want of knowing how to treat them gave 
me a great deal of trouble, much more than it would at the present time, for experi- 
ence has taught me that they are very easy to manage. One of the children took 
the disease and gave it to the rest, and I think we had four down with them at the 
same time. My third son had the disorder very bad; they would not come out, but 
turned in, and he became stupid. The canker was much in the throat and mouth,. 



and the rosemary would have no effect. Putrid symptoms made their appearance, 
and I was under the necessity of inventing something for that, and for the canker. 
I used the steam of vinegar to guard against putrefaction, and gold thread, or 
yellow root, with red oak acorns pounded and steeped together, for the canker. 
These had the desired effect ; and by close attention he soon got better. 

Small Pox "A Looking Glass In which We May See the Nature of Every Other Disease." 
"The Same Means that will Put Out a Large Fire will Put Out a Candle." 

This experience enabled me to relieve many others in this disease, and likewise 
in the canker-rash ; in these two disorders, and the small pox, I found a looking-glass, 
in which we may see the nature of every other disease. I had the small pox in the 
year 1798, and examined its symptoms with all the skill I was capable of, to ascer- 
tain the nature of the disease; and found that it was the highest stage of canker 
and putrefaction that the human system was capable of receiving; the measles the 
next, and the canker-rash the third; and other disorders partake more or less of the 
same, which I am satisfied is a key to the whole; for by knowing how to cure this, 
is a general rule to know how to cure all other cases; as the same means that will 
put out a large fire will put out a candle. 

Comments on Simple Medication Contrasted with " Fashionable Treatment." 

Soon after my family had got well of the measles, I was sent for to see a 
woman by the name of Redding, in the neighborhood. She had been for many years 
afflicted with the cholic, and could get no relief from the doctors. I attended her 
and found the disorder was caused by canker, and pursued the plan that my former 
experience had taught me, which relieved her from the pain, and so far removed 
the cause that she never had another attack of the disease. In this case the cure 
was so simply and easily performed, that it became a subject of ridicule, for when 
she was asked about it, she was ashamed to say that I cured her. The popular 
practice of the physicians had so much influence on the minds of the people, that they 
thought nothing could be right but what was done by them. I attended in this 
family for several years, and always answered the desired purpose ; but my practice 
was so simple, that it was not worthy of notice, and being dissatisfied with the 
treatment I received, I refused to do any thing more for them. After this they em- 
ployed the more fashionable practitioners, who were ready enough to make the 
most of a job, and they had sickness and expense enough to satisfy them, for one 
of the sons was soon after taken sick and was given over by the doctor, who left 
him to die; but after he left off giving him medicine he got well of himself, and 
the doctor not only had the credit of it, but for this job and one other similar, his 
charges amounted to over one hundred dollars. This satisfied me of the foolishness 
of the people, whose prejudices are always in favor of any thing that is fashionable, 
or that is done by those who profess great learning; and prefer long sickness and 
great expense, if done in this way, to a simple and natural relief, with a trifling 

A Typical Case. 

Soon after this, I was called on to attend a Mrs. Wetherbee, in the neighborhood, 
who had the same disorder (measles). She had been afflicted with the cholic for 
several years, having periodical turns of it about once a month; had been under 
the care of a number of doctors, who had used all their skill without affording her 



any relief, excepting a temporary one by stupefying her with opium and giving 
physic, which kept her along till nature could wear it off, when she would get a 
little better for a few days, and then have another turn. After hearing of my curing 
Mrs. Redding, they sent for me; I gave her my medicine to remove the canker, and 
steamed her, which gave relief in one hour. She had a very large family to attend 
to, having thirteen children, and before she had recovered her strength she exposed 
herself and had another turn; I attended again and relieved her in the same manner 
as before; but she could not wait till she gained her strength, and exposed herself 
again as before, took cold and had another turn. Her husband said I only relieved 
her for the time, but did not remove the cause, and being dissatisfied with what I 
had done, he sent for a doctor to remove the cause; who carried her through a 
course of physic, and reduced her so low, that she lingered along for eight weeks, 
being unable to do any thing the whole time; they then decided that she had the 
consumption, and gave her over to die. After the doctors had left her in this situa- 
tion as incurable, she applied again to me; but I declined doing any thing for her, 
as I knew her case was much more difficult than it was before she applied to the 
doctor, and if I should fail in curing her, the blame would all be laid to me, or if 
she got well I should get no credit for it; for which reason I felt very unwilling to 
do any thing for her. After finishing my forenoon's work, on gmng home to dinner, 
I found her at my house, waiting for me, and she insisted so much upon my under- 
taking to cure her, and seemed to have so much faith in my being able to do it, that 
I at last told her, if she would come to my house and stay with my wife, who was 
sick at the time, I would do the best I could to cure her. She readily consented, and 
staid but three days with us; during which time I pursued my usual plan of treat- 
ment, giving her things to remove the canker, and steaming to produce a natural 
perspiration ; at the end of the three days she went home, taking with her some 
medicine, with directions what to do for herself, and in a short time entirely recov- 
ered her health. 

Anolher Case In which the Prevailing " Fashionable " Methods of that Date are Described. 
In about a year after the above case, one of this family, a young man about 
sixteen years old, was attacked with a fever; the doctor was sent for, who followed 
the fashionable course of practice, and reduced him with mercury and other poisons, 
so that he lingered along for three or four months, constantly growing worse, till 
the doctor said it was a rheumatic fever, and afterwards that he was in a decline. 
He had taken so much mercury that it had settled in his back and hips, and was so 
stiff that he could not bring his hands lower than to his knees. By this time, the 
doctor had given him over as incurable, and he was considered a fit subject for me 
to undertake with. They applied to me, and I agreed to take him home to my 
house, and do the best I could to cure him. It was a difficult task, for I had in the 
first place to bring him back to the same situation he was in when he had the 
fever, and to destroy the effects of the poison, and regulate the system by steaming, 
to produce a natural perspiration; by pursuing this plan, and giving such things as 
I could get to restore the digestive powers, in two months he was completely restored 
to health; for which I received but five dollars,' and this was more grudgingly paid 
than if they had given a doctor fifty, without doing any good at all. 

Thomson Decides to Either Give Up Practice or Make Medicine His Business. 

I began to be sent for by the people of this part of the country so much, that I 
found it impossible to attend to my farm and family as I ought; for the case's I had 


attended, I had received very little or nothing, not enough to compensate me for my 
time; and I found it to be my duty to give up practice altogether, or to make a 
business of it. I consulted with my wife and asked the advice of my friends, what 
was best for me to do; they all agreed, that as it seemed to be the natural turn of 
my mind, if I thought myself capable of such an important undertaking, it would 
be best to let my own judgment govern me, and to do as I thought best. I maturely 
weighed the matter in my mind, and viewed it as the greatest trust that any one 
could engage in. I considered my want of learning and my ignorance of mankind, 
which almost discouraged me from the undertaking; yet I had a strong inclination 
for the practice, of which it seemed impossible to divest my mind ; and I had always 
had a very strong aversion to working on a farm, as every thing of the kind ap- 
peared to me to be a burthen; the reason of which I could not account for, as I had 
carried on the business to good advantage, and had as good a farm as any in the 
neighborhood. I finally concluded to make use of that gift which I thought nature, 
or the God of nature, had implanted in me; and if I possessed such a gift, I had no 
need of learning, for no one can learn that gift. I thought of what St. Paul says 
in his epistle to the Corinthians, concerning the different gifts by the same spirit; 
one had the gift of prophecy; another, the gift of healing; another, the working of 
miracles. I am satisfied in my own mind, that every man is made and capacitated 
for some particular pursuit in life, in which, if he engages, he will be more useful 
than he would if he happens to be so unfortunate as to follow a calling or profession, 
that was not congenial to his disposition. This is a very important consideration 
for parents, not to make their sons learn trades or professions, which are contrary 
to their inclinations and the natural turn of their minds; for it is certain if they 
do, they never can be useful or happy in following them. 

Questions whether He would have been More Useful, With or Without a Systematic Medical 

I am convinced myself that I possess a gift in healing the sick, because of the 
extraordinary success I have met with, and the protection and support I have been 
afforded, against the attacks of all my enemies. Whether I should have been more 
useful had it been my lot to have had an education, and learned the profession in 
the fashionable way, is impossible for me to say with certainty; probably I should 
have been deemed more honorable in the world; but honor obtained by learning, 
without a natural gift, or capacity, can never, in my opinion, make a man very useful 
to his fellow-creatures. I wish my readers to understand me, that I do not mean 
to convey the idea, that learning is not necessary and essential in obtaining a proper 
knowledge of any profession or art ; but that going to college will make a wise man of 
a fool, is what I am ready to deny; or that a man cannot be useful and even great 
in a profession, or in the arts and sciences, without a classical education, is what I 
think no one will have the hardihood to attempt to support, as it is contrary to rea- 
son and common sense. We have many examples of some of the greatest philoso- 
phers, physicians, and divines the world ever knew, who were entirely self-taught; 
and who have done more honor, and been greater ornaments to society, than a 
million of those who have nothing to recommend them but having their heads 
crammed with learning, without sense enough to apply it to any great or useful 


Arrogance of Those Practicing the " Fashionable " Mode of Disease Treatment. 

Among the practising physicians, I have found, and I believe it to be a well 
known fact, that those who are really great in the profession, and have had the 
most experience, condemn as much as I do, the fashionable mode of practice of the 
present day, and use very little medical poisons, confining themselves in their treat- 
ment of patients to simples principally, and the use of such things as will promote 
digestion and aid nature; and many of them disapprove of bleeding altogether. 
Those of this description, with whom I have had an opportunity to converse, have 
treated me with all due attention and civility; have heard me with pleasure, and 
been ready to allow me credit for my experience, and the discoveries I have made 
in curing disease. The opposition and abuse that I have met with, have been uniformly 
from those to whom I think I can with propriety, give the name of quacks, or 
ignorant pretenders; as all their merit consists in their self-importance and arrogant 
behaviour towards all those who have not had the advantages of learning, and a 
degree at college. 

Contends that His Antagonists were Aggressive because he Cured Cases They could not 

This class comprises a large proportion of the medical faculty throughout our 
country; they have learned just enough to know how to deceive the people, and 
keep them in ignorance, by covering their doings under an unknown language to 
their patients. There can be no good reason given why all the technical terms in 
medical works are kept in a dead language, except it be to deceive and keep the 
world ignorant of their doings, that they may the better impose upon the credulity 
of the people ; for if they were to be written in our own language, everybody would 
understand them, and judge for themselves; and their poisonous drugs would be 
thrown into the fire before their patients would take them. The ill-treatment that 
I have received from them, has been mostly where I have exposed their ignorance, 
by curing those they had given over to die; in which cases they have shown their 
malice by circulating all kinds of false and ridiculous reports of me and my practice, 
in order to destroy my credit with the people. 

Decides to Formulate and then to Teach His "System" to Others. 

After I had come to the determination to make a business of the medical prac- 
tice, I found it necessary to fix upon some system or plan for my future government 
in the treatment of disease ; for what I had done had been as it were from accident, 
and the necessity arising out of the particular cases that came under my care, with- 
out any fixed plan; in which I had been governed by my judgment and the ad- 
vantages I had received from experience. I deemed it necessary, not only as my 
own guide, but that whatever discoveries I should make in my practice, they might 
be so adapted to my plan that my whole system might be easily taught to others 
and preserved for the benefit of the world. I had no other assistance than my own 
observations, and the natural reflections of my own mind, unaided by learning or 
the opinions of others. I took nature for my guide, and experience as my instructor* 
and after seriously considering every part of the subject, I came to certain con- 
clusions concerning disease, and the whole animal economy, which more than forty 
years experience has perfectly satisfied me is the only correct theory. 


Thomson Formulates His " System," In whicli were Devised his Famous Remedies by Number. 

I found, after maturely considering the subject, that all animal bodies are 
formed of the four elements, earth, air, fire, and water. Earth and water constitute 
the solids, and air and fire, or heat, are the cause of life and motion. That cold, 
or lessening the power of heat, is the cause of all disease; that to restore heat ta 
its natural state, was the only way by which health could be produced; and that^ 
after restoring the natural heat, by clearing the system of all obstructions and caus- 
ing a natural perspiration, the stomach would digest the food taken into it, by which 
means the whole body is nourished and invigorated, and heat or nature is enabled 
to hold its supremacy; that the constitutions of all mankind being essentially the 
same, and differing only in the different temperament of the same materials of which 
they are composed; it appeared clearly to my mind, that all disease proceeded from 
one general cause, and might be cured by one general remedy; that a state of per- 
fect health arises from a due balance or temperature of the four elements; but if 
it is by any means destroyed, the body is more or less disordered. And when this 
is the case, there is always an actual diminution or absence of the element of fire> 
or heat; and in proportion to this diminution or absence, the body is affected by its 
opposite, which is cold. And I found that all disorders which the human family 
were afflicted with, however various the symptoms, and different the names by which 
they are called, arise directly from obstructed perspiration, which is always caused 
by cold, or want of heat; for if there is a natural heat, it is impossible but that 
there must be a natural perspiration. 

No. 1. Seeliing a General Remedy to "Increase the Internal Heat, Remove ail Obstructions 
of the System, Restore the Digestive Powers of the Stomach, and Produce a Rational 
Perspiration, Selects Emetic Herb (Lobelia), but it was Found Inadequate. It was 
Like a "Fire Made of Shavings." 

Having fixed upon these general principles, as the only solid foundation upon 
which a correct and true understanding of the subject can be founded, my next 
business was to ascertain what kinds of medicine and treatment would best answer 
the purpose in conformity to this universal plan of curing disease; for it must, I 
think, be certain and self-evident to every one, that whatever will increase the 
internal heat, remove all obstructions of the system, restore the digestive powers of 
the stomach, and produce a natural perspiration, is universally applicable in all' 
cases of disease, and therefore may be considered as a general remedy. 

No. 1.* 

The first and most important consideration was to find a medicine that would 
establish a natural internal heat, so as to give nature its proper command. My 
emetic herb, (No. i,) I found would effectually cleanse the stomach, and would 
very effectually aid in raising the heat and promoting perspiration; but would not 
hold it long enough to effect the desired object, so but that the cold would return 
again and assume its power. It was like a fire made of shavings; a strong heat 
for a short time, and then all go out. 

♦Thomson's Famous Remedies, by number: No. i, Emetics (Lobelia, typical); No. 2, Stimu- 
lants (Capsicum, typical); No. 3, Astringents (Bayberry, typical); No. 4, Bitters (Balmony, typical); 
No. s. Restorative Tonics (Peach, typical); No. 6, Antiseptics (Myrrh, typical). Thomson's Ccm/cund 
Tincture of Myrrh and Capsicum became celebrated as "Number b." 



No. 2. The Medicine Fixed Upon to Increase the Internal Heat was Capsicum. 

After much experience and trying every thing within my knowledge, to gain 
this important point, I fixed upon the medicine which I have called No. a, in my 
patent, for that purpose ; and after using it for many years, I am perfectly convinced 
that it is the best thing that can be made use of to hold the heat in the stomach until 
the system can be cleared of obstructions, so as to produce a natural digestion of the 
food, which will nourish the body, establish perspiration and restore the health of 
the patient. I found it to be perfectly safe in all cases, and never knew any bad 
effects from administering it. 

No. 3. Bayberry Root, combined with White Pond Lily Root Preferred. In Case the Pond 
Lily can not be Obtained, Hemlock, Marsh Rosemary, Sumach, Witch Hazel, Red 
Raspberry Leaves, or Black Cohosh may be Substituted. (Subsequently, these 
Remedies by Number were Continued to 6. See footnote, page 15.) 

My next grand object was to get something that would clear the stomach and 
bowels from canker, which are more or less affected by it in all cases of disease to 
which the human family are subject. Canker and putrefaction are caused by cold, 
or want of heat; for whenever any part of the body is so affected by cold as to 
overpower the natural heat, putrefaction commences, and if not checked by medi- 
cine, or if the natural constitution is not strong enough to overcome its progress, it 
will communicate to the blood, when death will end the contest between heat and 
cold, by deciding in favor of the latter. I have made use of a great many articles, 
which are useful in removing canker; but ray preparation called No. 3, is the best 
for that purpose, that has come to my knowledge; though many other things may 
be made use of to good effect. 

System of Treatment Summarized. 

My general plan of treatment has been in all cases of disease, to cleanse the 
stomach by giving No. i, and produce as great an internal heat as I could, by 
giving No. 2, and when necessary, made use of steaming, in which I have always 
found great benefit, especially in fevers; after this, I gave No. 3, to clear off the 
canker; and in all cases where patients had not previously become so far reduced 
as to have nothing to build upon, I have been successful in restoring them to health. 
I found that fever was a disturbed state of the heat, or more properly, that it was 
caused by the efforts which nature makes to throw off disease, and therefore ought 
to be aided in its cause, and treated as a friend; and not as an enemy, as is the 
practice of the physicians. In all cases of disease, I have found that there is more 
or less fever, according to the state of the system; but that all fevers proceed from 
the same cause, differing only in the symptoms; and may be managed and brought 
to a crisis with much less trouble than is generally considered practicable, by in- 
creasing the internal heat, till the cold is driven out, which is the cause of it. Thus 
keeping the fountain above the stream, and every thing will take its natural course. 

After making Reports of a Number of "Cases" Treated, comes an Intimation of Trouble 
with the " Fashionable Doctors." 

Notwithstanding this desperate case was cured, to the astonishment of all who 
witnessed it, the doctors had so much influence over the people, and made so many 
false statements about it, that I got no credit for the cure. This woman's brother 
had said that her husband wanted to kill her, or he would not have sent for me. 



Such kind of ingratitude was discouraging to me; but it did not prevent me from 
persevering in my duty. 

A short time after the above case happened, that woman's brother, who made 
the speech about me, was taken very sick, with what was called the yellow fever, 
and sent for me. I attended him and asked him if he wanted to die. He said no; 
why do you ask that? I told him, that I should suppose from the speech he made 
about my being sent for to his sister, that he did, or he would not have sent for me, 
if he believed his own words. He said he thought differently now. I attended him 
through the day with ray new practice. To sweat him, I took hemlock boughs, and 
put a hot stone in the middle of a large bunch of them, wrapping the whole in a 
cloth, and poured on hot water till I raised a lively steam, and then put one at his 
feet and another near his body. I gave him medicine to raise the inward heat, 
and for the canker; after attending him through the day, I went home; and on 
calling to see him the next morning, found his fever had turned, and he was quite 
comfortable, so that he was soon about his business. 

Description of a "Case," chief iy of interest as an iiiustration of the Methods of IVIedication 
One Hundred Years Ago. 

I was about this time sent for to see a child in Surry, a neighboring town, which 
was taken very sick, and was entirely stupid. I told the father of the child that 
it had the canker, and made use of my common mode of practice for that difficulty. 
Being sent for to go to Walpole, to see two young men who had been taken the 
day before with the prevailing fever, I left the child, with directions how to pro- 
ceed with it. I then started for Walpole, and found the two young men violently 
attacked with the fever. They had a brother who had been attended by the doctor 
for above four weeks for the same disease, and was then^just able to sit up. It 
was thought by all, the two that were attacked last, were as violently taken as the 
other was; and they expressed a strong wish, that they might be cured without so 
long a run as their brother had. I was as anxious as they were to have a short 
job, and exerted all ray powers to relieve them, which I was enabled to do that 
night, and left them in the morning quite comfortable, so that they were soon able 
to attend to their work. The brother who had the doctor, was unable to do any 
thing for several months. The doctor was paid a heavy bill for his visits; but my 
cure was done so quick, that it was thought not to be worthy of their notice, and I 
never received a cent from them for my trouble. On returning to the child that I 
had left the day before, I found that the doctor had been there and told them that 
I did not know what was the matter with the child; and had persuaded them to 
give him the care of it. He filled it with mercury and run it down; after having 
given as much mercury inside as nature could move, and the bowels grew silent, he 
then rubbed mercurial ointment on the bowels as long as it had any effect; after 
which he agreed that the child had the canker very badly; but he still persisted 
in the same course till the child wasted away and died, in about two months after 
it was first taken sick. After the child was dead, its parents were willing to allow 
that I understood the disorder best. The doctor got twenty-five dollars for killing 
the child by inches, and I got nothing. 

A Journey, during which a Number of "Cases" were Treated. One being of "Cancer" 
again iilustrates the "Fashlonabie Methods" of Medication In Thomson's Day. 

After returning home, I was sent for to attend a woman in the neighborhood, 
who had been under the care of a celebrated doctor, for a cancer in her breast. 
He had tortured her with his caustics, till her breast was burnt through to the 



bone; and by its corrosive nature, had caused the cords to draw up into knots; he 
had likewise burnt her leg to the cords. She had been under his care eleven weeks ; 
until she was much wasted away, and her strength nearly gone. In this situation 
the doctor was willing to get her off his hands, and wished me to take charge of 
her. After some hesitation, I consented, and attended her three weeks, in which 
time I healed up her sores, and cleared her of tlie humor so effectually, that she 
has ever since enjoyed good health. 

Illustrative of Thomson's Aggressive Sarcasm. 

I attended the funeral of a young man, one of his patients, who was sick but 
twenty-four hours, and but twelve under the operation of his medicine. He was 
as black as a blackberry, and swelled so as to be difficult to screw down the lid 
of the coflin; when I went into the room where the corpse was, the doctor followed 
me, and gave directions to have the coffin secured so as to prevent the corpse from 
being seen; and then began to insult me, to attract the attention of the people. He 
said to me, I understand, sir, that you have a patent to cure such disorders as 
that, pointing to the corpse. I said no, and at the same time intimated what I 
thought of him. He put on an air of great importance, and said to me, what can 
you know about medicine? You have no learning; you can not parse one sentence 
in grammar. I told him I never knew that grammar was made use of as medicine; 
but if a portion of grammar is so much like the operation of ratsbane, as appears 
on this corpse, I should never wish to know the use of it. This unexpected appli- 
cation of the meaning of what he said, displeased the medical gentleman very much; 
and finding that many of the people present had the same opinion that I had, it 
irritated him so much, that he threatened to horsewhip me ; but I told him that he 
might do what he pleased to me, provided he did not poison me with his grammar. 
He did not attempt to carry his threat into execution, so I have escaped his whip 
and his poison; but the people were justly punished for their ingratitude and folly, 
in preferring death and misery, because it was done more fashionably, to a mode 
of practice by which they might relieve themselves in a simple and safe manner. 

A Journey to New York to Study Yellow Fever. 

In the spring of the year 1806, I came to a determination to go to New York, 
for the purpose of ascertaining the nature of the yellow fever, having been impressed 
with the idea, that this disease was similar to that which had been prevalent in 
different parts of the country, only differing in causes which were local. 

On my arrival, I looked round to find a place to board, and took up my 
lodgings with a Mr. Kavanagh, an Irishman, and a Roman Catholic. After 
spending some time in viewing the city, I applied to the Mayor of the city, and 
to the Board of Health, to ascertain whether I could have an opportunity to try 
the effect of my medicine and system of practice on the prevailing fever. They 
told me that I could; but that I could get no pay for it by law. I went to see 
Doctor Miller, who was then President of the Board of Health, and had some 
conversation with him upon the subject. He told me the same as the Mayor had, 
and inquired of me in what manner I expected to give relief; I told him my plan 
was to cause perspiration. He said if I could cause them to sweat, he thought 
there was a good chance to effect a cure. 


stricken with Yellow Fever, Thomson Takes a Course In His Own " System." 

After spending several days in New York, I went to West Chester Creek to 
procure some medicine. I thought that I was going to have the yellow fever, for I 
felt all the sjonptoms, as I thought, of that disease ; my strength was nearly gone, 
my eyes were yellow, and a noise in my head; my tongue was black, and what 
passed my bowels was like tar. I was among strangers, and had little money; I 
went to the house of a Quaker woman, and asked to let me stay with her that day; 
she gave her consent. Had but little medicine with me, and could find nothing 
that I could relish but salt and vinegar; I used about half a pint of salt; and 
double that quantity of vinegar, which gave me relief, and I gained so much 
strength, that the next day I was able to return to the city of New York. On my 
arrival there, I was so weak that it was with the greatest difficulty I could walk 
to my boarding house, which was about forty rods from the place where we landed. 
I immediately took Nos. 2 and 3, steeped, and No. 4; in a short time, I began to 
have an appetite; the first food that I took was a piece of smoked salmon, and 
some ripe peach sauce. I soon recovered my strength and was able to be about. 
This satisfied me that I had formed a correct idea of this fatal disease; that it 
was the consequence of losing the inward heat of the body, and bringing it to a 
balance with the surrounding air; and the only method by which a cure can be 
effected, is by giving such medicine as will increase the fever or inward heat 
to such a degree as to get the determining power to the surface, by which means 
perspiration will take place, and which is called the turn of the fever; if this 
is not accomplished either by medicine, or by nature being sufficient to overcome 
the disease, mortification will be as certain a consequence as it would be if a person 
was strangled. The reason why they lose their strength in so short a time, is 
because it depends wholly upon the power of inward heat; and as much as they 
lose of that, so much they lose of their strength and activity. 

An Advocate of Pure and Good Food, thus Anticipating the Government Crusade Nearly a 
Century Later. 

I will here make a few remarks upon the food taken into the stomach, which 
is of the utmost importance to the preservation of health. While I was in New 
York, I took particular notice of their manner of living; and observed that they 
subsisted principally upon fresh provisions, more particularly the poorer class of 
people; who are in the habit in warm weather of going to market at a late hour 
of the day, and purchasing fresh meat that is almost in a putrid state, having 
frequently been killed the night previous, and being badly cooked, by taking it 
into the stomach, will produce certain disease; and I am convinced that this is 
one of the greatest causes that those fatal epidemics prevail in the hot season, in 
our large seaports. Mutton and lamb is often drove a great distance from the 
country, and having been heated and fatigued, then are cooled suddenly, which 
causes the fat to turn to water; and often when killed, are in almost a putrid 
state, and the meat is soft and flabby. Such meat as this, when brought into the 
market on a hot day, will turn green under the kidneys in two or three hours, and 
taken into the stomach will putrify before it digests, and will communicate the 
same to the stomach, and the whole body will be so affected by it, as to cause 
disorders of the worst kind. If people would get into the practice of eating salt 
provisions in hot weather, and fresh in cold, it would be a very great preventive 
of disease. One ounce of putrid flesh in the stomach is worse than the effect 



produced by a whole carcass on the air by its effluvia. Much more might be said 
upon this important subject; but I shall defer it for the present, and shall treat 
more upon it in another part of the work. It is a subject that has been too much 
neglected by our health officers in this country. 

Illustrative of Thomson's Methods of Procuring Remedies. 

In November, I went to Plum Island to collect medicine; on my way I called 
on Joseph Hale, Esq., of Pepperell, and engaged him to come down with his wagon 
in about three weeks, to bring back what medicine I should collect. I went by 
the way of Newburyport; and after being on the Island three or four days, collected 
such roots as I wanted and returned to that place. 

Introducing Dr. French. The Beginning of Thomson's Persecution, or Prosecution, as One 
Looks at the Matter. 

While there, being in a store in conversation with some persons, there came 
in a man from Salisbury mills, by the name of Osgood, who stated that he was 
very unwell, and that his wife lay at the point of death, with the lung fever; that 
she had been attended by Dr. French, who had given her over. One of the gentle- 
men standing by, told him that I was a doctor, and used the medicine of our own 
country. He asked me if I would go home with him, and see his wife. As I was 
waiting for Mr. Hale, and had nothing to do, I told him I would, and we imme- 
diately started in the chaise for his home, which was about six miles. On our 
arrival, he introduced me to his wife as a doctor who made use of the medicine 
of our country; and asked her if she was willing that I should undertake to cure 
her. She said if I thought that I could help her she had no objection. I gave my 
opinion that I could, and undertook, though with some reluctance, as I was in a 
strange place, and no one that I knew. I proceeded with her in my usual method 
of practice, and in about fourteen hours her fever turned, and the next day she 
was comfortable, and soon got about. 

This cure caused considerable talk among the people in the neighborhood, who 
thought very favorably^of me and my practice; but it soon came to the ears of Dr. 
French, who was very much enraged to think one of his patients, that he had 
given over, should be cured by one whom he called a quack; and attempted to 
counteract the public impression in my favor, by circulating a report that the 
woman was getting better, and sat up the greatest part of the day before I saw 
her ; but this was denied by the woman's husband, and known by many to be false. 

While I remained in this place, waiting for Mr. Hale to come down with his 
wagon to carry home my medicine, I was called on to attend several cases, in all 
of which I was very successful; most of them were such as had been given over 
by the doctors. One of them was the case of a young man, who had cut three of 
his fingers very badly, so as to lay open the joints. Dr. French had attended him 
three weeks, and they had got so bad that he advised him to have them cut off, as 
the only alternative. The young man applied to me for advice. I told him if I 
was in his situation, I should not he willing to have them cut off till I had made 
some further trial to cure them without. He requested me to undertake to cure 
him, to which I consented and began by clearing the wound of mercury, by washing 
it with weak lye; I then put on some drops, and did it up with a bandage, which 
was kept wet with cold water. While I was dressing the wound, a young man, 
who was studying with Dr. French, came in and made a great fuss, telling the 
young man that I was going to spoil his hand. I told him that I was accountable 



for what I was doing, and that if he had any advice to offer I was ready to 
hear him; but he seemed to have nothing to offer except to find fault, and went off, 
after saying that Dr. French's bill must be paid very soon. I continued to dress 
his hand, and in ten days he was well enough to attend to his work, being employed 
in a nail factory. Soon after, I saw liim there at work, and asked him how his 
fingers did; he said they were perfectly cured; he wished to know what my bill 
was for attending him. I asked him what Dr. French had charged, and he said 
he had sent his bill to his mother, amounting to seventeen dollars; I told him I 
thought that enough for us both, and I should charge him nothing. 

After a Number of Journeys, In which his "System " was Used Continually, Thomson again 
IVIeets Dr. French. 

After stopping at Pelham three weeks, in which time I had as much practice 
as I could attend to, I went to Salisbury Mills, where I was very cordially welcomed 
by all those who had been attended by me the season before. I was called on 
to practise in this place and Newburyport, and my success was so great that it 
caused much alarm among the doctors, and a class of the people who were their 
friends, who did all they could to injure me, and destroy my credit with the 
people. A considerable part of the patients, who were put under my care, were 
such as the doctors had given over, and those being cured by me, had a tendency 
to open the eyes of the people, and give them a correct understanding of the nature 
of their practice, and convince them that a simple and speedy cure was more for 
their interest and comfort, than long sickness, pain, and distress; besides having 
to pay exorbitant doctors' bills, for useless visits and poisonous drugs, which had 
no other effect than to prolong disease, and destroy the natural constitution of the 

Among those doctors who seemed so much enraged against me, for no other 
reason that I could learn, than because I had cured people whom they had given 
over, and instructed them to assist themselves when sick, without having to apply 
to them; there was none that made themselves so conspicuous as Dr. French. I 
had considerable practice in his neighborhood, and was very successful in every 
case; this seemed to excite his malice against me to the greatest pitch; he made 
use of every means in his power, and took every opportunity to insult and abuse 
me both to my face and behind my back. A few of the inhabitants who were 
his friends, joined with him, and became his instruments to injure me ; but a 
large proportion of the people were friendly to me, and took great interest in my 
safety and success. The doctor and his adherents spread all kinds of ridiculous 
reports concerning me and my practice, giving me the name of the old wizzard; 
and that my cures were done under the power of witchcraft. This foolish whim 
was too ridiculous for me to undertake to contradict, and I therefore rather 
favored it merely for sport; many remarkable circumstances took place tending 
to strengthen this belief, and some of the silly and weak-minded people really 
believed that I possessed supernatural powers. This will not appear so strange, 
when we take into view, that the people generally were ignorant of my system of 
practice, and when they found that I could cure those diseases that the doctors, in 
whom they had been in the habit of putting all their confidence, pronounced as 
incurable; and that I could turn a fever in two days, which would often take 
them as many months, they were led to believe that there was something super- 
natural in it. 


Thomson Becomes Aggressively Sarcastic. 

A man who was one of the friends of Dr. French, and who had been very 
inimical to me, doing all in his power to injure and ridicule me, sent word one 
day by a child, that his calf was sick, and he wanted me to come and give it a 
green powder and a sweat. Knowing that his object was to insult, I returned 
for answer, that he must send for Dr. French, and if he could not cure it, I would 
come, for that was the way that I had to practise here. 

After a Journey, and a Rest at Home, Thomson Again Invades the Territory of Dr. Frenph, 
who Prepares for Him a Trap. 

In the year of 1808, I went again to Salisbury, and on my way there, stopped 
at Pelham, and attended and gave relief in several cases of disease. On my 
arrival at Salisbury Mills, where I made it my home, I was immediately called 
on to practise in that place and the adjacent towns. Many came to me from 
different parts, whose cases were desperate, having been given over by the doctors, 
such as humors, dropsies, mortifications, fellons, consumptions, &c. Fevers were 
so quickly cured, and with so little trouble, that many were unwilling to believe 
they had the disease. My success was so great, that the people generally were 
satisfied of the superiority of my mode of practice over all others. This created 
considerable alarm with the doctors, and those who sided with them. Dr. French 
seemed to be much enraged, and having failed to destroy my credit with the 
people by false reports, and ridiculous statements of witchcraft, shifted his course 
of proceeding, and attempted to frighten me by threats, which only tended to show 
the malice he bore me; for no other reason, that I could conceive of, as I had never 
spoken to him, than because of my success in relieving those he had given over 
to die. He would frequently cause me to be sent for in great haste to attend some 
one in his neighborhood, who was stated to be very sick; but I saw through 
these tricks, and avoided all their snares. It seemed to be his determination, if 
he failed in destroying my practice, to destroy me. Being in company one day 
at Salisbury village, with Mr. Jeremiah Eaton, of Exeter, whose wife was under 
my care for a dropsical complaint, I was sent for four times to visit a young 
man at the house of Dr. French; the last time, a man came on horseback in the 
greatest haste, and insisted that I should go and see him. I asked why Dr. French 
did not attend him; he answered that he had rather have me. Being convinced, 
from the appearance of things, that it was an attempt to put some trick upon me, I 
refused to go, and the man returned. In a short time after, Dr. French came into 
the village, and Mr. Eaton, who was present when they came after me, asked 
him what ailed the young man at his house; he said nothing, but that he was as 
well as anybody. This revealed the whole secret. Mr. Eaton then asked him 
why he caused me to be sent for so many times, under a false pretence. He said 
to see if I dared to come into his neighborhood; that he did not care how much I 
practised on that side of the river; but if I came on his, he would blow my brains 
out; that I was a murderer, and he could prove it. Mr. Eaton observed that it 
was a heavy accusation to make against a man, and that he ought to be made to 
prove his words, or to suffer the consequence; that his wife was under my care 
and if I was a murderer, he ought to see to it. Dr. French again repeated the 
words, with many threats against me, and showed the spite and malice of a savage. 



Thomson has Dr. French Arrested, Wins His Case, and Resumes His Practice. 

Mr. Eaton and others of my friends considered my life in danger; and came 
immediately to me and related what had been said by the doctor; and advised 
me to be on my guard. I had to pass his house every day to visit my patients; 
but did not consider myself safe in going in the night, nor in the day time without 
some one with me. I continued in this manner for several daj's, and finding his 
malice towards me to be as great as ever, and still continuing his threats; with 
the advice of my friends, I was induced to have resort to the law for protection. 
I went to Newburyport and entered a complaint against him before a magistrate, 
who granted a warrant, and he was brought before him for a trial. My case 
was made out by fully proving his words; he asked for an adjournment for three 
hours to make his defence, which was granted. He then brought forward evidence 
in support of his character, and proved by them that he had always been a man 
of his word. The Justice told him that he thought he proved too much, and to 
his disadvantage, for it had been fully proved that he had made the threats alleged 
against him, and to prove that he was a man of his word, went to satisfy the 
court that the complaint was well grounded. He was laid under two hundred 
dollars bonds to keep the peace and appear at the next court of common pleas. 
He appeared at the next court, was ordered to pay all the cost, and was discharged 
from his bail. This was an end of our controversy for that time; but his malice 
continued against me long after; seeking every means to destroy me and prevent 
my practising, that he could devise; but proceeded with more caution, which caused 
me a great deal of trouble and much suffering, as will be hereafter related. 

I continued to practise in this place, and had as many patients as I could 
possibly attend upon, notwithstanding the opposition I constantly met with from 
the doctors and their friends; for with all their arts and falsehoods they were not 
able to prevent those laboring under complaints, which they had found could not 
be removed by the fashionable mode of treatment, from applying to me for relief; 
none of whom but what were either cured or received great relief by the practice. 
Some of the most extraordinary cases I shall give a particular account of for the 
information of the reader. 

Dr. French Seeks Revenge. 

Previously to my difficulty with Dr. French, as has been before mentioned, 
Mrs. Eaton and another woman by the name of Lifford, came to me at Salisbury 
Mills from Exeter. Their complaint was dropsy; and were both desperate cases, 
having been given over by the doctor who had attended them. Mrs. Eaton was 
swelled to such a degree, that she could not see her knees as she sat in a chair, 
and her limbs in proportion. I felt unwilling to undertake with them, as I con- 
sidered there would be but little chance of a cure ; and declined doing any thing 
for them, and sent them away, stating that there was no place that they could get 
boarded. They went away as I supposed to go home; but they soon returned, 
and said they had found a place where they could stay, and a young woman had 
agreed to nurse them. I undertook with them very reluctantly; but could not 
well avoid it. I gave them some medicine, and it operated favorably on both, 
especially on Mrs. Lifford; then gave strict orders to the nurse, to attend them 
attentively through the night, and keep up a perspiration; but she almost totally 
neglected her duty, spending her time with the young people. On visiting them 
in the morning I was very much hurt to find my directions neglected. Mrs. Lifford 



was quite poorly; and stated to me that the nurse had neglected her, and that she 
had got her feet out of bed; her perspiration had ceased, and other symptoms 
appeared unfavorable. 

I attended upon her through the day and did all I could to relieve her, but 
could not raise a perspiration again. She continued till the next night about mid- 
night and died. My hopes of doing her any good were small; but think that 
if she had not been neglected by the nurse, there might have been some small 
chance for her, as the first operation of the medicine was so favorable. Her 
bowels were in a very bad state, and had been almost in a mortified condition 
for three weeks, and what passed her was by force, and very black. 

This caused great triumph among my enemies, and Dr. French tried to have a 
jury on the body; but he could not prevail; for the circumstances were well known 
to many, and all that knew anything about it, cleared me from all blame. The 
nurse said that I did all I could, and if there was any blame it ought to fall on 
her and not on me. So they failed in their attempt to make me out a murderer; 
but this case was laid up to be brought against me at another time. 

Thomson Meditates on Contrasts. 

This shows what may be done by the folly of people, and the malice and 
wickedness of designing men, who care more for their own interested ends, than 
for the health and happiness of a whole community. The fashionable educated 
doctor may lose one-half his patients without being blamed; but if I lose one out 
of several hundred of the most desperate cases, most of which were given over as 
incurable, it is called murder. 

In Dr. Shephard, Thomson at last Finds an Appreciative Physician Observer. 

As soon as I could get the patients under my care in a situation to leave them, I 
left Salisbury Mills, and went to Exeter, and commenced practising in my usual 
way, and was applied to from all parts. I had not so many to attend as I had in 
some places; but they were all of the most desperate nature, such as had been 
given over by the doctors, in all of which I met with great success. Many of the 
cases had been attended by Dr. Shephard; he had attended with me upon his 
patients at Salisbury; was a very plain, candid sort of a man, and treated me 
with much civility. I well remember his first speech to me, which was in the 
following words: "Well, what are you doing here, are you killing or curing the 
people?" I replied, you must judge about that for yourself. "Well," said he, "I 
will watch you, not for fear of your doing harm, but for my own information; I 
wish you well, and will do you all the good I can." I always found him candid 
and friendly, without any hypocrisy. He once called on me to visit with him 
one of his patients in the town where he lived, who had the rheumatism in his 
back and hips. The doctor had attended him about two months, and said he had 
killed the pain, but his back was stiff, so that he could not bring his hands below 
his knees. I attended him about forty-eight hours, and then went with him to see 
the doctor, which was half a mile; the doctor apppeared to be much pleased to 
see him so well, and have the use of his limbs; for he could stoop and use them 
as well as he ever could. He said that he was as glad for the young man's sake 
as though he had cured him himself. He frequently came to see Mrs. Eaton, whom 
I was attending for the dropsy; and expressed much astonishment at the effect 
the medicine I gave had in relieving her of a disease which he had considered 
incurable. At one time when conversing with her upon her situation, and finding 



her so much better, having been reduced in size above fifteen inches, he expressed 
himself with some warmth on the occasion, saying, that it was what he had never 
seen or heard of being done before, and what he had considered impossible to be 
done with medicine. Addressing himself to me with much earnestness, inquired 
how it was that I did it. I replied, you know doctor that the heat had gone out 
of the body, and the water had filled it up; and all I had to do was to build fire 
enough in the body to boil away the water. He burst into a laugh, and said that 
it was a system very short. 

Again Illustrating "Fashionable" Medication of that Date, and Thomson's Opinion of 

While practising in Exeter, I had many desperate cases from the different 
parts of the country, and from Portsmouth. One from the latter place I shall 
mention, being diflferent from what I had before witnessed. A woman applied to 
me who had the venereal, in consequence, as she stated, of having had a bad hus- 
band; which I believed to be true. She had been attended by the doctors in 
Portsmouth for nearly a year, who had filled her with mercury, for the purpose of 
curing the disorder till the remedy had become much worse than the disease. Her 
case was alarming, and very difficult; she was brought on a bed, being unable to 
sit up ; and seemed to be one mass of putrefaction. I proceeded with her in my 
usual way of treating all cases where the system is greatly disordered, by giving 
medicine to promote perspiration, steaming to throw out the mercury, and restore 
the digestive powers ; and in three weeks she returned home entirely cured. Another 
woman came to me from the same place, who had been sick five years, which had 
been in consequence of having had the same disease, and the doctors had filled her 
with mercury to kill the disorder, as they called it, then left her to linger out a 
miserable existence. When she stated her case to me, I felt very unwilling to 
undertake with her, apprehending that it would be very uncertain whether a cure 
could be effected, having been of so long standing; but she insisted upon it so 
strongly, that I could not put her off. After attending upon her three weeks, how- 
ever, her health was restored, and she returned home well ; and in less than a year 
after, she had two children at one birth. She had not had a child for eight years 
before. This disease is very easily cured in the first stages of it, by a common 
course of medicine, being nothing more than a high stage of canker seated in the 
glands of certain parts of the body, and if not cured, communicates to the glands 
of the throat and other parts; by giving mercury, the whole system is completely 
disordered, and although the disease may disappear, it is not cured ; and there 
is more difficulty in getting the mercury out of the body of one in this situation, 
than to cure a dozen of the disease who have not taken this dangerous poison. 

The Medical Profession "Alarmed" and for the Second Time Charge Thomson with 
While in Exeter, I had a case of a young man, son of Col. Nathaniel Oilman, 
who was in a decline. He was about fourteen years old, and had been troubled 
with bleeding at the nose. They had made use of such powerful astringents, with 
corrosive sublimate snuffed up his nose, that the blood vessels in that part seemed 
to be shrunk up, and his flesh much wasted away; I carried him through a course 
of medicine, and gave an equal circulation of blood through the body, and stopped 
its course to the head; then raised a natural perspiration, restored the digestive 
powers, and regulated the system, so as to support the body with food instead of 



medicine. In a short time he recovered his heahh so that he commanded a company 
of militia at the alarm at Portsmouth, during the late war. 

My success while at this place, and the many extraordinary cures I performed, 
gained me great credit among the people; but the medical faculty became much 
alarmed, and made use of every artifice to prejudice them against me. The foolish 
stories about witchcraft, which had been made a handle of at Salisbury, were 
repeated here, with a thousand other ridiculous statements for the purpose of 
injuring me; but I treated them with contempt, as not worthy of my notice, except 
in some instances, to amuse myself with the credulity of the ignorant, who were 
foolish enough to believe such nonsense. 

Thomson Invades the Territory of Dr. Manasseh Cutler. (See Bulletin, Lloyd Library No. 
VII, for Portrait and History of Cutler.) Again He Lays Up Trouble for Himself. 

Some time towards the close of the summer, while I was at Exeter, I was sent 
for to go to Portsmouth to see a young man by the name of Lebell, who was in a 
very dangerous situation, supposed by his friends to be in a dying state, having 
been given over by Drs. Cutler and Pierpont, at ten o'clock that morning. I 
arrived about two' in the afternoon. He had been attended by the two doctors 
above named for upwards of a month, to cure the venereal; they had filled him 
with mercury, so that he had swelled all over with the poison. The doctors 
pronounced it to be the dropsy. His legs had been scarified to let ofiF the water; 
the disorder and the mercury had gained the power, and nature had submitted. I 
at once pronounced it to be a desperate case, and told the French Consul, who 
had the care of him, that I could give no encouragement that I could do him any 
good; but he was very solicitous for me to do something for him. I told him the 
only chance was to raise perspiration, and that twenty-four hours would determine 
his case; for he would either be better in that time, or be dead. The idea of 
perspiration caused him to urge me to try; and he said if I could effect it, he 
would give me one hundred dollars; the doctors had tried for a month, and could 
not succeed. I gave him some medicine, then put on the clothes by degrees, until 
he was shielded from the air, and he sweat freely in about an hour. The two 
doctors were present, and seemed astonished at my success; they walked the room, 
talked low, then went out. I staid with him till six o'clock, and the symptoms 
seemed to be favorable; he sweat profusely, and spit much blood. I told the 
nurse to keep him in the same situation till I returned; went out and was gone ' 
about an hour, and came back again with Mr. Underwood. When we came into 
the room, found that the doctors had taken him out of bed and sat him in a chair, 
and opened the window against him. I told them that their conduct would cause 
his death, and I would do no more for him; but should give him up as their 

It appeared to me that they were afraid I should cure him, and thus prove 
the superiority of my practice over theirs; for they had tried a month to get a 
perspiration, without success, and I had done it in one hour. The man fainted 
before I left the room. I went home with Mr. Underwood and staid that night, 
and left them to pursue their own course; the man died before morning. Instead 
of getting the hundred dollars, as was agreed, I never got a cent for all my 
trouble of coming fifteen miles, and returning back again on foot; and besides 
this loss, afterwards, — when I came to be persecuted by the faculty, — the above ' 
two doctors gave their depositions against me, in which I was informed they 
swore that 1 killed this man, notwithstanding they had given him over to die the 



morning before I saw him, and they had taken him out of my hands, as above 
stated. On being informed that they were trying to support a complaint against 
me, 1 got the depositions of Mr. Underwood and others, who were knowing to 
the facts, to contradict these false statements. On finding that I was determined 
to oppose them, and prove what they had sworn to be all false, they thought 
proper to drop the matter; but I was informed they had sworn that my medicine 
was of a poisonous nature, and if it did not cause the patient to vomit soon after 
being taken, they would certainly die. It is unnecessary for me to contradict this, 
for its incorrectness and absurdity is too well known to all who have any knowl- 
edge of the medicine I use. 

After a number of Journeys Is Called by a Man Who Heard that he, Thomson, " Sweat His 
Patients To Death." Description of Treatment. 

I was frequently in Portsmouth to visit those who had been sent to me to be 
attended upon at Exeter. Sometime in September in 1808, when there, I was called 
on to visit Mr. Richard Rice, who was sick with the yellow fever, as it was 
called. The reason for his sending for me, was in consequence of having heard 
the reports of the doctors, that I sweat my patients to death. He conceived an 
idea that if he could sweat, he should be better; but they would not allow him 
to be kept warm, taking the clothes off of him, and keeping the windows and 
doors open; no fire was permitted in the room, while he was shivering with the 
cold. The plan was to kill the fever, and to effect this with more certainty, the 
doctor had bled him, and told his sister that he had given him as much ratsbane 
as he dared to give, and if that did not answer he did not know what would. 

I began to give him medicine a little before night, and in one hour perspira- 
tion took place. He was so weak that he was unable to help himself. In the 
morning the doctor proposed to bleed him; but he was dismissed. I was with 
him till the symptoms were favorable, and then left him in the care of three 
persons whom I could confide in. After I was gone, Dr. Brackett came into the 
room where the patient was, in a great rage, saying that they were killing him; 
for the mortification would soon take place, in consequence of keeping him so 
warm. He was asked by one of those present, in which case mortification was most 
likely to take place, when the blood was cold and thick, or warm and thin. He 
suspected some quibble, and would not give an answer; and it was immaterial 
which way he answered ; for in either case he had no grounds to support an 
argument upon, but what might be easily refuted. After he had failed in the 
interference with those who had the care of the patient, he went to his wife and 
other relations, and tried to frighten them; but he did not succeed, for they were 
well satisfied with what was doing. 

The patient was much out by spells, sometimes imagining himself to be a 
lump of ice; but my directions were pursued by the person I left in charge of 
him during the night, keeping up a perspiration, in the morning he was much 
relieved, and had his right mind. He had no pain except in the lower part of 
the bowels; to relieve which he was very anxious that I should give him some 
physic. I opposed this, being confident that it would not do in such putrid cases. 
He was so urgent, however, I gave him some, which operated very soon; and the 
consequence was, that it reinforced his disorder, and threw him into the greatest 
distress. He asked for more physic, but I told him that I would not give him 
any more, for I was satisfied of the impropriety of giving it in such cases, and I 
have never given any since. It checked the perspiration, and drew the determining 



powers from the surface inward; so that I had to go through the same process 
again of raising perspiration, and vomiting, which was much more difficult than 
at first, and it was with the greatest attention that I was able to keep off the 
mortification for twelve hours that he was kept back by taking this small dose 
of physic. I kept up the perspiration through Friday and Saturday, and on Sunday 
morning when I called to see him, he was up and dressed. On asking how he did, 
he said as strong as you are, and took me under his arm and carried me across 
the room. On Monday he was down on the wharf attending to his business. 

This cure caused considerable talk in the town, and because it was done so 
quick, the doctors said that there was but little ailed aim, and he would have got 
well himself if he had taken the physic and been left alone; but those who saw 
it were convinced to the contrary; others doubted, and said among themselves, how 
can a man, who has no learning, and never studied physic, know how to cure 
disease ? 

Outward and Inward Heat. 

I continued to practise in Portsmouth and vicinity during this autumn, and 
while there, was sent for to go to Salisbury, to see a child that had been attended 
by a woman for several days, who I had given information to, but they said the 
perspiration would not hold; and they wished for further information. On seeing 
the child, I at once found that they had kept about an equal balance between the 
outward and inward heat; when they gave medicine to raise the inward heat and 
start the determining power to the surface, they at the same time kept the 
outward heat so high as to counteract it. After explaining to them the difficulty, 
I raised the child up and poured on to it a pint of cold vinegar, and it immediately 
revived. Applied no more outward heat, but only to shield it from the air; and 
gave the warmest medicine inward, on the operation of which, the child grew 
cold and very much distressed. As soon as the inward heat had gained the full 
power, and drove the cold out, the circulation became free, and the child was 
relieved from pain and fell asleep; the next day the heat was as much higher 
than what was natural, as it had been lower the day before; and when heat had 
gained the victory over cold, the child gained its strength and was soon about, 
perfectly recovered. 

Again Trespasses on Territory of Dr. Frencti, Is Arrested, Fined and Reprimanded. 

I had not practised in Salisbury before, since I went to Exeter, which was 
in June, and my returning there seemed to give Dr. French great ofiEence. He had 
been to see the child mentioned above, and tried to discourage the people from 
using my medicine; and threatened them that he would have them indicted by 
the grand jury, if they made use of any without his consent; his threats, however, 
had very little effect, for the people were well satisfied of the superiority of my 
practice over his. About this time the bonds for his good behavior were out; I 
did not appear against him, and when the case was called, the court discharged 
him and his bail, on his paying the cost. The action was brought on a complaint 
in behalf of the Commonwealth; but I had caused another action of damage to 
be brought against him, which was carried to the Supreme Court, and tried at 
Ipswich the spring following. I employed two lawyers to manage my case, and 
brought forward two witnesses to prove my declaration, who swore that the de- 
fendant made the assertion, that I was guilty of murder and he could prove it. 
His lawyer admitted the fact, but pleaded justification on the part of his client, 



and brought witnesses on the stand to prove that what he had said was true. 
The young woman who nursed Mrs. Lifford, and by whose neglect she took 
cold, swore to some of the most ridiculous occurrences concerning the death of 
that woman, that could be uttered, which were perfectly contradictory to every 
thing she had before confessed to be the truth. Another young woman, the daughter 
of a doctor at Deerfield, made a statement, to make it appear that I was the cause 
of the death of the three children, who died as has been before related. I had 
no knowledge of ever seeing this woman, and have since ascertained that she 
was not at the house but once during the sickness, and then did not go into the 
room where the sick were; and her exaggerated account must have been made 
up of what she had heard others say. 

These things were a complete surprise to me, not thinking it possible that 
people could be induced to make such exaggerated statements under the solemnity 
of an oath. I could have brought forward abundance of testimony to have con- 
tradicted the whole evidence against me if there was time, but not expecting that 
the cause would have taken the course it did, was unprepared. There appeared 
to be a complete combination of the professional craft against me, of both the 
<loctors and lawyers, and a determination that I should lose the cause, let the 
evidence be what it might. My lawyers gave up the case without making a plea; 
and the judge gave a very partial charge to the jury, representing me in the 
worst point of view that he possibly could, saying that the evidence was sufficient 
to prove the facts against me, and that if I had been tried for my life, he could 
not say whether it would hang me or send me to the state prison for life. The 
jury of course gave their verdict against me, and I had to pay the cost of the court. 

The counsel for Dr. French asked the judge whether a warrant ought not 
to be issued against me, and I be compelled to recognize to appear at the next 
court, to which he answered in the affirmative. This so frightened my friends, 
that they were much alarmed for my safety, and advised me to go out of the way 
of my enemies, for they seemed to be determined to destroy me. I went to 
Andover to the house of a friend, whose wife I had cured of a cancer, where I 
was very cordially received, and staid that night. The next day I went to Salisbury 
Mills, and made arrangements to pay the cost of my unfortunate lawsuit. 

The Lovett Case, the Beginning of Thomson'» Famous Trial. 

While practising in Beverly, was called on by a Mr. Lovett, to attend his 
«on, who was sick, as they supposed with a bad cold; some thought it a typhus 
fever. I was very much engaged in attending upon the sick at the time, and could 
not go with him ; he came after me three times before I could go. On seeing 
him, found that he complained of a stiff neck, and appeared to be very stupid, and 
had no pain. His aunt, who took care of him, said that he would certainly die, 
for he had the same symptoms as his mother, who died a short time before. I 
gave some medicine which relieved him; the next day carried him through a 
<:ourse of the medicine, and he appeared to be doing well. Being called on to go 
to Salem, I left him in the care of Mr. Raymond, with particular directions to 
keep in the house and not expose himself. This was on Wednesday, and I heard 
nothing from him, and knew not but what he was doing well, till the Sunday 
afternoon following, when I was informed that he was worse. I immediately 
inquired of Mr. Raymond, and learned from him that he had got so much better, 
he had been down on the side of the water, and returned on Friday night; that 
the weather was very cold, being in the month of December; that he had been 

3 29 


chilled with the cold, and soon after his return had been taken very ill; he staid 
with him on Saturday night, and that he was raving distracted all night; that 
he had not given any medicine, thinking he was too dangerously sick for him to 
undertake with. 

I told the young man's father, that it was very doubtful whether I could do 
any thing that would help him; but that I would try, and do all I could. I found 
that the patient was so far gone that the medicine would have no effect, and in 
two hours told him that I could not help his son, and advised him to call some 
other advice; this was said in presence of Elder Williams, and Mr. Raymond. 
Mr. Lovett made answer that if I could not help his son, he knew of none who 
could; and was very desirous for me to stay with him all night, which I did, 
and stood by his bed the whole time. He was much deranged in his mind till 
morning, when he came to himself, and was quite sensible. I then again requested 
the father to send for some other doctor, as I was sensible that I could do nothing 
for him that would be of any benefit. He immediately sent for two doctors, and 
as soon as they arrived, I left him in their care. The two doctors attended him till 
the next night about ten o'clock, when he died. I have been more particular in 
giving the history of this case, because two years after it was brought as a charge 
against me for murdering this young man. The father and friends expressed no 
dissatisfaction at the time, in regard to my conduct, except they thought I ought 
not to have neglected the patient so long; but it was a well known fact, that I 
attended as soon as I knew of his being worse, and that the whole cause of his 
second attack was owing to his going out and exposing himself, and could not be 
imputed as any fault of mine. 

After a Period of Practice In Various Localities, came Thoinson's "Treatment" of Captain 

Some time this season I was sent for to attend Captain Trickey, who was very 
sick. I examined him and was confident that I could not help him, and took my 
hat in order to leave the house. His family insisted on my stopping and doing 
something for him; but I told them that I thought he was in a dying state, and 
medicine would do no good. I told his son that in all probability, he would not be 
alive over twenty-four hours, and that he had better go for some other help, for 
I could do him no good. I told the wife that I should give no medicine myself, 
but as they had some in the house that they knew the nature of, she might give 
some of it to her husband, which she did. Two doctors were sent for; the first 
one that arrived bled him, and he soon breathed very short, and grew worse- 
the other doctor came, and said that his breathing short was in consequence of the 
medicine I had given him; but by this he did not gain credit, for all the family 
knew to the contrary; and the woman soon after told me of his speech. The patient 
continued till the next day about ten o'clock, and died. Soon as he was dead, the 
doctors and their friends spared no pains to spread the report in every direction 
that I had killed this man with my screw auger, a cant name given to my emetic 
herb, in consequence of one of my patients, when under the operation of it, saying 
that it twisted in him like a screw auger. This was readily seized upon by the 
doctors, and made use of for the purpose of trying to destroy the reputation of this 
medicine by ridicule. They likewise gave similar names to several other articles of 
my medicine, for the same purpose; and represented them as the names by which 
I called them. They had likewise given me several names and titles, by way of re- 
proach; such as the sweating and steaming doctor; the Indian doctor; the old wiz- 



zard; and sometimes the quack. Such kind of management had a great effect on 
the minds of many weak minded people; they were so afraid of ridicule, that those 
whom I cured were unwilling to own it, for fear of being laughed at for employ- 
ing me. 

The circumstance of the death of the above mentioned Capt. Trickey, was seized 
upon by the doctors and their friends, and the most false and absurd representations 
made by them through the country, with the intention of stopping ray practice, by 
getting me indicted for murder, or to drive me off; but my friends made out a 
correct statement of the facts, and had them published, which put a stop to their 
career for that time. I continued my practice, and had a great number of the most 
desperate cases, in most of which I was successful. The extraordinary cures I had 
performed, had the tendency to make many people believe, that I could cure every 
one who had life in them, let their disease be ever so bad ; and where I had attended 
on those who were given over as incurable, and they died, whether I gave them any 
medicine or not, the report was immediately circulated that they were killed by 
me, at the same time the regular doctors would lose their patients every day, with- 
out there being any notice taken of it. When their patients died, if appearances 
were ever so much against their practice, it was said to be the will of the Lord, and 
submitted to without a murmur; but if one happened to die that I had any thing 
to do with, it was readily reported by those interested in destroying my credit with 
the people, that I killed them. 

Arrest, Imprisonment and Trial. In this, but for the Testimony of Dr. Cutler, Thomson 
would Probably have Fared Much Worse. This (see note, page 37) Marks the 
Beginning of the Medical Laws In America. 

I shall now proceed to give the particulars of one of the most important circum- 
stances of my life, in as correct and impartial a manner as I am capable of doing 
from memory; in order to show what I have suffered from the persecutions of some 
of the medical faculty, for no other reason, as I conceive, than that they feared my 
practice would open the eyes of the people, and lessen their importance with them; 
by giving such information as would enable them to cure themselves of disease, 
without the aid of a doctor; and from many others, who were governed altogether 
by the prejudices they had formed against me by the false reports that had been 
circulated about my practice, without having any other knowledge of me. Many of 
the latter, however, have since been convinced of their error, have a very favorable 
opinion of my system, and are among my best friends. 

After practising in those parts through the season of 1809, I went home to 
Surry, where I remained a few weeks, and returned back to Salisbury. On my 
way there, I made several stops in different places where I had before practised, 
to see my friends and to give information to those who made use of my medicine 
and practice. On my arrival at Salisbury, my friends informed me that Dr. French 
had been very busily employed in my absence, and that he and a Deacon Pecker, 
who was one of the grand jury, had been to Salem, to the court, and on their 
return had saiS that there had been a bill of indictment found against me for 
wilful murder. They advised me to go off, and keep out of the way; but I told 
them I should never do that; for if they had found a bill against me, the govern- 
ment must prove the charges, or I must be honorably acquitted. About ten o'clock 
at night Dr. French came to the place where I stopped, with a constable, and made 
me a prisoner in behalf of the commonwealth. I asked the constable to read the 
warrant, which he- did ; by this I found that Dr. French was the only complainant, 



and the justice who granted the warrant, ordered me before him to be examined 
the next morning. I was then taken by the constable to Dr. French's house, and 
keepers were placed over me to prevent me from escaping. While at his house and 
a prisoner, Dr. French took the opportunity to abuse and insult me in the most 
shameful manner that can be conceived of, without any provocation on my part. 
He continued his abuse to me till between two and three o'clock, when he took his 
horse and set out for Salem to get the indictment. After he was gone, I found on 
inquiry of the constable, that after he had been before the grand jury and caused 
me to be indicted, he came home before the bill was made out, and finding that 
I was at Salisbury, fearing I might be gone, and he should miss the chance of 
gratifying his malicious revenge against me, he went to a brother doctor, who 
was a justice of the peace, before whom he made oath, that he had probable ground 
to suspect, and did suspect, that I had with malice aforethought, murdered sundry 
persons in the course of the year past, whose names were unknown to the com- 
plainant; upon which a warrant was issued against me, and I was arrested as before 
stated, in order to detain and keep me in custody, till the indictment could be ob- 

In the morning I was brought before the said justice, and he not being ready 
to proceed in my examination, the court was adjourned till one o'clock; when I was 
again brought before him, and he said he could not try me until the complainant 
was present, and adjourned the court again till near night. The constable took me 
to his house in the mean time, and put me in a back room and left me alone, all 
of them leaving the house. When they came back, some of them asked me why 
I did not make my escape, which I might very easily have done out of a back 
window; but I told them that I stood in no fear of the consequence, having done 
nothing whereby I ought to be punished; that I was taken up as a malefactor, and 
was determined to be convicted as such, or honorably acquitted. Just before night. 
Dr. French arrived with a Sheriff, and ordered me to be delivered up by the con- 
stable to the Sheriff; and after Dr. French had again vented his spleen upon me 
by the most savage abuse that language could express, saying that I was a murderer, 
and that I had murdered fifty, and he could prove it; that I should be either hung 
or sent to the State prison for life, and he would do all in his power to have me 
convicted. I was then put in irons by the sheriff, and conveyed to the jail in New- 
buryport, and confined in a dungeon, with a man who had been convicted of an 
assault on a girl six years of age, and sentenced to solitary confinement for one 
year. He seemed to be glad of company; and reminded me of the old saying, 
that misery loves company. I was not allowed a chair or a table, and nothing 
but a miserable straw bunk on the floor, with one poor blanket which had never 
been washed. I was put into this prison on the loth day of November, 1809; the 
weather was very cold, and no fire, and not even the light of the sun, or a candle; 
and to complete the whole, the filth ran from the upper rooms into our cell, and 
was so offensive that I was almost stifled with the smell. I tried to rest myself as 
well as I could, but got no sleep that night, for I felt something crawling over me, 
which caused an itching, and not knowing what the cause was, inquired of mj 
fellow sufferer; he said that it was the lice, and that there was enough of them to 
shingle a meeting-house. 

In the morning there was just light enough shone through the iron grates, to 
show the horror of my situation. My spirit and the justness of my cause prevented 
me from making any lamentation, and I bore my sufferings without complaint. 
At breakfast time I was called on through the grates to take our miserable breakfast; 



it consisted of an old tin pot of musty coffee, without sweetening or milk, and was 
so bad as to be unwholesome; with a tin pan containing a hard piece of Indian 
bread, and the nape of a fish, which was so hard I could not eat it. This had 
to serve us till three o'clock in the afternoon, when we had about an equal fare, 
which was all we had till the next morning. The next day Mr. Osgood came 
from Salisbury to see me, and on witnessing my miserable situation, he was so much 
affected, that he could scarcely speak. He brought me some provisions, which I 
was very glad to receive ; and when I described to him my miserable lodgings, and 
the horrid place I was in, he wept like a child. He asked liberty of the jailor to 
furnish me with a bed, which was granted, and brought me one, and other things 
to make me more comfortable. The next day I wrote letters to my family, to Dr. 
Fuller, and to Judge Rice, stating to them my situation. 

The bed which was brought me, I put on the old one, and allowed my fellow 
sufferer a part of it, for which he was very thankful. I had provisions enough 
brought me by my friends for us both, and I gave him what I did not want; the 
crusts and scraps that were left, his poor wife would come and beg, to carry to 
her starving children, who were dependent on her. Her situation and that of her 
husband were so much worse than mine, that it made me feel more reconciled to 
my fate; and I gave her all I could spare, besides making his condition much more 
comfortable, for which they expressed a great deal of gratitude. 

In a few days after my confinement, Judge Rice came to see me, and brought 
with him a lawyer. On consulting upon the case, they advised me to petition to 
the Judges of the Supreme Court to hold a special court to try my cause; as there 
would be no court held by law, at which it could be tried, till the next fall, and 
as there could be no bail for an indictment for murder, I should have to lay in 
prison nearly a year, whether there was any thing against me or not. This was 
the policy of my enemies, thinking that they could keep me in prison a year, and 
in all probability I should not live that time; and their ends would be fully 

I sent on a petition agreeably to the advice of my friends, and Judge Rice 
undertook to attend to the business and do every thing to get the prayer of the 
petition granted. He followed the business up with great zeal, and did every thing 
that could be done to effect the object. I think he told me that he or the lawyer, 
Mr. Bartlett, had rode from Newburyport to Boston fifteen times in the course of 
three weeks, on the business. At length Judge Parsons agreed to hold a special 
court at Salem, on the loth day of December, to^try the cause, which was one 
month from the day I was committed. My friends were very attentive and 
zealous in my cause, and every preparation was made for the trial. 

During this time the weather was very cold, and I suffered greatly from that 
cause, and likewise from the badness of the air in our miserable cell, so that I had not 
much life or ambition. Many of my friends came to see me, and some of them 
were permitted to come into the cell; but the air was so bad and the smtll so 
offensive, that they could not stay long. My friend. Dr. Shephard, came to see 
me, and was admitted into our dungeon. He staid a short time, but said it was 
so offensive he must leave me; that he would not stay in that place a week for 
all Newburyport. On Thanksgiving Day we were taken out of our cell and put 
in a room in the upper story, with the other prisoners, and took supper together" 
they consisted of murderers, robbers, thieves, and poor debtors. All of us tried to 
enjoy our supper and be in as good spirits as our condition would permit. The 
most of their complaints were of the filthiness and bad condition of the prison in 



which we all agreed. Before it was dark I and my companion were waited upon 
to our filthy den again. There was nothing in the room to sit upon higher than 
the thickness of our bed; and when I wrote any thing, I had to lay on my belly, 
in which situation I wrote the Medical Circular, and several other pieces, which 
were afterwards printed. 

After I had been in prison about two weeks, my son-in-law came to see me. 
I had before my imprisonment sent for him to come to Portsmouth on some busi- 
ness, and on hearing of my being in prison, he immediately came to Newburyport 
to see me. He seemed much more troubled about my situation than I was myself. 
I felt perfectly conscious of my innocence and was satisfied that I had done nothing 
to merit such cruel treatment; therefore my mind was free from reproach; for I 
had pursued the course of duty, which I conceived was allotted me by my Maker, 
and done every thing in my power to benefit by fellow-creatures. These reflections 
supported me in my troubles and persecutions, and I was perfectly resigned to my 

About this time, a lawyer came into the prison and read to me the indictment, 
which was in the common form, that I, with malice aforethought, not having, the 
fear of God before my eyes, but moved by the instigation of the devil, did kill 
and murder the said Lovett, with lobelia, a deadly poison, &c. ; but feeling so 
perfectly innocent of the charges, which the bill alleged against me, it had very 
little effect upon my feelings; knowing them to be false, and that they had been 
brought against me by my enemies, without any provocation on my part. 

In the morning of the day that was appointed for me to be removed to Salem 
for trial, I was taken out of my loathsome cell by the jailor, who gave me water 
to wash myself with, and I was permitted to take my breakfast by a fire, which 
was the first time I had seen any for thirty days, and could not bear to sit near 
it in consequence of its causing me to feel faint. As soon as I had eaten my 
breakfast, the iron shackles were brought and put on my hands, which I was 
obliged to wear till I got to Salem. The weather was very cold, and the going 
bad; we stopped but once on the way, the distance being about twenty-six miles. 
On our arrival, I was delivered over to the care of the keeper of the prison in 
Salem, and was confined in a room in the second story, which was more com- 
fortable than the one I had left. I was soon informed that Judge Parsons was 
sick, and had put off my trial for ten days; so I had to reconcile mysell to the 
idea of being confined ten days more without fire. However I was not without 
friends; Elder Bolles and Capt. Russell came to see me the first night, and Mrs. 
Russell sent her servant twice every day with warm coffee, and other things for 
my comfort, for which I have always been grateful; and Mrs. Perkins, whom I 
had cured of a dropsy, sent for my clothes to wash against the day of my trial. 

Many of my friends came to Salem to attend my trial; some as witnesses, and 
others to afford me any assistance in their power. A few days before my trial. 
Judge Rice and Mr. Bartlett, whom I had employed as my lawyer, held a con- 
sultation with me, as to the arrangements necessary to be made; when it was 
decided that it would be best to have other counsel; and Mr. Story was agreed 
upon, who engaged in my cause. I had also engaged Mr. Bannister, of Newbury- 
port, to assist in the trial; but he was of no benefit to me, and afterwards sued me 
for fifty dollars, at fifty miles distance, to put me to great expense. In order to 
be prepared for the trial, my counsel held a consultation together, and examined 
the principal witnesses in the defence. Mr. Bolles, Judge Rice, and several others 
gave great satisfaction as to the value and usefulness of the medicine, and the 



variety of cures that had been performed with it within their knowledge. Dr. 
Fuller, of Milford, N. H., was present and made many statements in my favor, as 
to the value of the medicine, and advised to have Dr. Cutler, of Hamilton, sum- 
moned, which was done. Every thing was done by my friends that was in their 
power, to assist me and give me a chance for a fair trial, for which I shall always 
feel very grateful. 

On the 2oth day of December, 1809, the Supreme Court convened to hear my 
trial, at which Judge Parsons presided, with Judges Sewall and Parker, assistant 
Judges. The case was called about ten o'clock in the morning, and the chief 
justice ordered me to be brought from the prison and arraigned at the bar for 
trial. I was waited on by two constables, one on my right and the other on my 
left, in which situation I was brought from the jail to the court-house and placed 
in the bar. The court-house was so crowded with the people, that it was with 
much difficulty we could get in. After I was placed in the criminal seat, a chair 
was handed me and I sat down to wait for further orders. Here I was the 
object for this great concourse of people to look at; some with pity, others with 
scorn. In a few minutes I was directed to rise and hold up my right hand, to 
hear the indictment read, which the grand jury had upon their oaths presented 
against me. It was in common form, stating that I had with malice aforethought, 
murdered Ezra Lovett, with lobelia, a deadly poison. I was then directed by 
the court to plead to the indictment, guilty, or not guilty; I plead not guilty, and 
the usual forms, in such cases, were passed through, the jury called and sworn, 
and the trial commenced. 

The Solicitor General arose, and opened the case on the part of the Com- 
monwealth, and made many hard statements against me, which he said he was 
about to prove; he stated that I had at sundry times killed my patients with the 
same poison. The first witness called to the stand, on the part of the government, 
was Mr. Lovett, the father of the young man that I was accused of killing. He 
made a tolerable fair statement of the affair in general, particularly of coming 
after me several times before I could attend; though I think he exaggerated many 
things against me, and told over several fictitious and ridiculous names, which 
•people had given my medicine, by way of ridicule, such as bull-dog, ram-cat, 
screw-auger, and belly-my-grizzle ; all of which had a tendency to prejudice the 
court and jury against me; and I also thought that he omitted to tell many 
things in my favor, that must have been within his knowledge; but there 
was nothing in his evidence that in the least criminated me, or supported the 
charges in the indictment. 

The next witness called, was Dr. Howe, to prove that I had administered 
the poison alleged in the indictment. He stated that I gave the poison to the said 
Lovett, and produced a sample of it, which he said was the root of lobelia. 
The Judge asked him if he was positive that it was lobelia; he said he was, 
and that I called it coffee. The sample was handed round for the court to 
examine, and they all appeared to be afraid of it, and after they had all satisfied 
their curiosity. Judge Rice took it in his hand and ate it, which very much 
surprised them. The Solicitor General asked him if he meant to poison himself 
in presence of the court. He said it would not hurt him to eat a peck of it, which 
seemed to strike the court with astonishment. Dr. Howe was then called at 
my request for cross-examination, and Mr. Story asked him to describe lobelia, 
how it looked when growing, as he had sworn to it by the taste and smell. This 
seemed to put him to a stand, and after being speechless for several minutes, he 



said he had not seen any so long, he should not know it if he should see it at 
this time. This so completely contradicted and did away all that he had before 
stated, that he went off the stand quite cast down. 

Dr. Cutler was called on to inform the court what the medicine was that 
Dr. Howe had declared so positively to be lobelia, and after examining it, he said 
that it appeared to him to be marsh-rosemary, which was the fact. So far, all 
they had proved against me was, that I had given the young man some marsh- 
rosemary, which Dr. Cutler had declared to be a good medicine. 

Some young women were brought forward as witnesses, whom I had no 
knowledge of ever seeing before. They made some of the most absurd and 
ridiculous statements about the medicine, that they said I gave the young man, 
that were probably ever made in a court of justice before; some of which were 
too indecent to be here repeated. One of them said that I crowded my puke 
down his throat, and he cried murder till he died. This was well known to be a 
falsehood, and that the story was wholly made up by my enemies, as well as what 
had been before stated by those women, for the purpose of trying to make out 
something against me. I had two unimpeachable witnesses in court, ready to 
swear that I never saw the young man for more than fourteen hours before he 
died, during all which time he was in the care of Dr. Howe; but by not having 
an opportunity to make my defence, in consequence of the government not making 
out their case against me, could not bring them forward. 

John Lemon was the next witness brought forward on the part of the Com- 
monwealth, and was directed to state what he knew about the prisoner at the bar. 
He stated that he had been out of health for two years, being much troubled 
with a pain in his breast, and was so bad that he was unable to work; that he 
could get no help from the doctors; that he applied to me and I had cured him 
in one week; and that was all he knew about the prisoner at the bar. By this 
time Judge Parsons appeared to be out of patience, and said he wondered what 
they had for a grand jury, to find a bill on such evidence. The Solicitor General 
said he had more evidence which he wished to bring forward. 

Dr. French was called, and as he had been the most busy actor in the whole 
business of getting me indicted, and had been the principal cause, by his own 
evidence, as I was informed, of the grand jury finding a bill against me, it was 
expected that his evidence now would be sufficient to condemn me at once; but it 
turned out like the rest, to amount to nothing. He was asked if he knew the 
prisoner at the bar; he said he did. He was then directed to state what he knew 
about him. He said the prisoner had practised in the part of the country where 
he lived, with good success; and his medicine was harmless, being gathered by 
the children for the use of the families. The Judge was about to charge the 
jury, when the Solicitor General arose and said, that if it was not proved to be 
murder, it might be found for manslaughter. The Judge said, you have nothing 
against the man, and again repeated that he wondered what they had for a 
grand jury. 

In his charge to the jury, the Judge stated that the prisoner had broken no 
law, common or statute, and quoted Hale, who says, any person may administer 
medicine with an intention to do good; and if it has the contrary effect from 
his expectation, and kills the patient, it is not murder, nor even manslaughter. 
If doctors must risk the lives of their patients, who would practise? He quoted 



another clause of law from Blackstone, who says, where no malice is, no action 

The charge being given to the jury, they retired for about five minutes, and 
returned into court and gave in their verdict of Not Guilty. 

I was then honorably acquitted, without having had an opportunity to have 
my witnesses examined, by whom I expected to have proved the usefulness and 
importance of my discovery before a large assembly of people, by the testimony 
of about twenty-five creditable men, who were present at the trial; besides con- 
tradicting all the evidence produced against me. After the trial was over, I was 
invited to the Sun Tavern to supper, where we enjoyed ourselves for the evening. 
When we sat down to the table, several doctors were present, who were so offended 
at my being acquitted, that they left the table, which made me think of what the 
Scripture says, that "the wicked flee when no man pursueth, but the righteous 
are as bold as a lion." 

During the evening, I consulted with my friends upon the subject of prose- 
cuting Dr. French, and making him pay damages for his abuse to me when a 
prisoner at his house, in saying that I had murdered fifty, and he could prove it; 
and after having had a fair chance, and having failed to prove one, it was 
thought to be a favorable opportunity to make him pay something for his conduct 
towards me, in causing me so much suffering, and for the trouble he had made 
me and my friends. A prosecution was agreed upon, and to bring the action in 
the county of York. Judge Rice agreed to be my bail, and likewise he undertook 
to pay my lawyers and witnesses for the above trial, and paid Mr. Bartlett forty 
dollars' that night. Mr. Story was paid twenty dollars by a contribution of my 
friends in Salem. I staid at Mrs. Russel's that .night; I had but little sleep, 
for my mind was so much agitated, when I came to consider what I had gone 
through, and the risk I had run in escaping the snares of my enemies, with the 
anxiety of my family till they got the news of my acquittal, that sleep fled from 
my eyelids, and I was more confused than when in prison. 

The next day I went to Salisbury, and stopped with Mr. Osgood, where I 
was first arrested. Mrs. Osgood and a young woman who had been employed 
by me as a nurse, assisted to clean my clothes, and clear me of some troublesome 
companions I had brought with me from the prison; and when I had paid a visit 
to all my old friends, who were very glad to see me, I went to Portsmouth, to 
recover my health, which was very much impaired, by being confined forty days 
in those filthy and cold prisons, in the coldest part of a remarkably cold winter. 
My friends attended upon me, and carried me through a regular course of medi- 

* As the learned Judge could find no law, common or statute, to punish the accused, he directed 
or advised those present to stop this quackery, as he called it, and for this purpose, to petition the 
Legislature to make a law that should make it penal for all who should practise without license from 
some medical college ; to debar them of law to collect their debts ; and if it should not answer, to 
make it penal by fine and imprisonment. 

This hint, thus given by the Judge, was seized upon first in Massach\isetts ; from thence it 
has spread to nearly all the States in the Union. From this source may be traced all those unconsti- 
tutional laws which have been enacted in relation to this subject, and all those vexatious suits which I 
have had to attend in many of the States, from Massachusetts to South Carolina, more or less almost 
every year since. But I have been able to break them down by my patent being from higher author- 
ity, which Judge Parsons could not prevent, or perhaps he never thought of. He however made his 
own report, and handed it to the reporter, which is published in the 6th volume of Massachusetts, Re- 
ports, and is resorted to by all the enemies of the practice, for a defence against the system. 



cine; but the first operation of it had little eflfect, in consequence of my blood 
being so much chilled, and it vfas a long time before I could raise a perspiration 
that would hold. I am confident that I should not have lived through the winter 
in prison, and believe that this was their plan; for which reason they managed 
to have me indicted for murder; knowing in that case there could be no bail 
taken, and there would be no court at which I could be tried, for nearly a year, 
I should have to lay in prison during that time, and that I should probably die 
there; or in any case, they would get rid of me for one year at least, whether 
there was any thing proved against me or not; and in that time, the doctors 
and their dupes would be enabled to run down the credit of my medicine, and 
put my practice into disrepute among the people ; but I have been able, by good 
fortune, and the kind assistance of my friends, to defeat all their plans. 


Most of those who have been instrumental in trying to destroy me and my 
practice, have had some judgment befall them as a reward for their unjust 
persecutions and malicious conduct towards me. I was credibly informed that 
Deacon Pecker, one of the grand jury that found a bill against me, went with 
Dr. French, to hunt up evidence to come before himself, in order to have me 
indicted. A short time after I was put in prison, he had a stroke of the palsy, 
and has remained ever since, [1822,] one half of his body and limbs useless. 
Dr. French, one year after I was acquitted, was brought to the same bar in 
which I was placed, and convicted for robbing a grave yard of a dead body, 
which it was reported he sold for sixty dollars. He lost all his credit, and was 
obliged to quit his country.* 

Again Invades Dr. French's Territory and Prosecutes Him for Damages, but Loses the Case. 
In the month of January of igio, I returned home to my family, and staid 
till I had in some measure recovered my loss of health by imprisonment. In 
March I returned to Portsmouth, and after taking the advice of my friends, made 
arrangements for prosecuting Dr. French. The prosecution was commenced, and 
he was summoned before the court of common pleas, in the County of York. 
Judge Rice undertook the principal management of the business, and became my 
bail. The action was called and carried to the Supreme Court by demurrer, 
which was to set at Alfred, in October. I attended with my witnesses, and 
expected to have gone to trial; and after waiting several days to know what the 
defence was going to be, the counsel for the defendant made their plea of justifica- 
tion. I found that their plan was to prove that I had murdered sundry persons 
whom I had attended, and by that means to make it out that any one had a right 
to call me a murderer; and that for this purpose, Dr. French had been to every 
place where I had practised, collecting every case of the death of any that I had 
attended in this part of the country, and had made out eight cases, all of which 
have been before mentioned in this narrative, most of whom had been given over 
by the doctors, as past cure, and the others known to be desperate cases. He had 
obtained the depositions of all that were prejudiced against me, and had collected 
a mass of evidence to support his defence. After finding what their plan was, it 
was thought necessary for me to go to all the places where they had been, and 

*I do not pretend that these things followed on account of their treatment to me • but I onlv 
state them as matters of fact ; for so it happened. ' 



get evidence to contradict these highly colored and exaggerated statements, and I 
was under the necessity of requesting a delay of the trial for one week, which 
was granted. I proceeded immediately, and took the depositions of those who 
were knowing to the facts; but found that these were not sufficient, and went 
again to Deerfield, and summoned two men to appear at court, and give their 
verbal testimony. When I had got ready to come to trial, the defendant was not 
ready, and got it put off to the next term, which would be holden at York the 
next year. In the spring, before the setting of the court, I went to the clerk's 
office to find what the depositions were that were filed against me; and the 
whole appeared to be a series of exaggerated statements, made by those who were 
governed by their prejudices, without having but very little, if any, knowledge 
of the facts, more than what they obtained by hearsay. This caused me to redouble 
my diligence to get witnesses to appear on the stand to contradict their testimony, 
on each case they had alleged against me. 

On the day appointed for the trial, every thing was prepared on my part 
to have a fair hearing. Judge Parsons was on the bench, and seemed, as I thought, 
to be determined to have the case go against me; for he appeared to know every 
thing that was to be in the defence beforehand. I made out my case by proving 
the words uttered by the defendant, which were in my declaration. They then 
proceeded in the defence, to make out the eight cases of murder, which were 
alleged against me. The first was the case of a man by the name of Hubbard, 
of Eliot, who had been dead above two years, the particulars of which I have 
before stated. The witness brought to support this case, told a very lamentable 
and highly colored story; and I brought on the stand a very respectable witness, 
who completely contradicted the whole . statement. 

The next cases brought up, were the three children of Mr. Fulsom, of Deer- 
field, the particulars of which have been before related. A number of depositions 
were read, which the defendant had obtained of those that had been my enemies, 
and who knew nothing of the matter, more than hearsay reports among themselves. 
They gave a very highly colored account of my treatment of the children; so 
much so, that it would appear by their stories, that I had taken them in health, 
and had roasted them to death; never saying a word about the fifteen that I 
cured, some of which had been given over by the doctors. To rebut the evidence 
that was produced to prove that I had killed those children, I brought on to the 
stand, two respectable witnesses, who were knowing to all the circumstances, being 
present at the time of my attending the family. They gave a correct and par- 
ticular account of all the circumstances as they took place; of the situation of the 
family when I first saw them, and the violence of the disorder; how the doctors 
had lost all their patients that had been attacked with the disorder before I came ; 
with the number that I cured by my mode of practice; and that the doctors 
afterwards adopted my plan, and saved the lives of a number by it. The Judge 
interrupted them and read some of the depositions over again; but these witnesses 
stated that they were not true, and went on to give some of the particulars of 
the opposition I met with in my practice from those very persons, whose deposi- 
tions had been read, when the Judge seemed put out, and attempted to stop them, 
saying they had said enough. They said that having sworn to tell the whole truth, 
they felt it their duty to do it. 

They next brought on the case of a woman who had died at Beverly, that I 
attended, and with it the case of Ezra Lovett, whom I had been tried for mur- 
dering. I was very glad to have this case brought up again, as I wished to have 



an opportunity to prove all the facts relating to it, which I had been prevented 
from doing on my trial, in consequence of being acquitted without making any 
defence. The evidence brought forward to support this case, were the depositions 
of those who had testified against me on my trial at Salem; they were pretty 
near the same as then given. After those depositions were read, I called on to the 
stand Elder Williams and Mr. Raymond, who gave all the particulars of my 
attending upon the young man, as has been before related, which completely con- 
tradicted all the depositions they had read in the case. The Judge interrupted 
these witnesses, and read the deposition of the girl, who stated that I crowded my 
pukes down the patient's throat, and he cried murder till he died. They both 
positively testified, that there was not a word of it true; for when he died, and 
for twelve hours before, he was under the care of Dr. Howe, during which time I 
did not see him. As to the woman in Beverly, whom they tried to make out that I 
murdered, it was proved by these witnesses, that she was in a dying condition 
when I first saw her, and that I so stated it as my opinion at the time, and that 
ray medicine would not help her. 

The next case was that of Mrs. Lifford, who died at Salisbury, the particulars 
of which have been before given. The evidence brought to prove this case of 
murder, was the deposition of the woman who nursed her, and by whose neglect 
the patient took cold, after the medicine had a very favorable operation, and 
appearances were much in her favor; in consequence of which she had a relapse, 
and I could not produce any effect upon her by the medicine afterwards. This 
woman confessed at the time, that she was the only one to blame, and that no 
fault ought to be attached to me; but she afterwards was influenced by Dr. French 
to turn against me, and made threats that she would swear to any thing to injure 
me. After her deposition was read, I brought witnesses on the stand, who com- 
pletely contradicted every thing contained in it; but the Judge read her deposition 
to the jury, and directed them to pay attention to that in preference to the wit- 
nesses on the stand. 

The eighth and last case was that of the son of Thomas Neal, of Portsmouth, 
who was very violently attacked, and was attended by Dr. Cutter. I was called 
on at night to attend him, and thought there was a possibility of helping him; but 
the man with whom he lived, would not consent that I should do anything for 
him, and I went away, after telling them that he would be either worse or better 
before morning, and if he was worse he would die. I was called to visit him in 
the morning, and was informed that he was worse, and that his master had con- 
sented to have me attend upon him. I told his father it was undoubtedly too 
late; but he insisted upon it so much, I attended, and told them the chance was 
very small for doing him any good, as I considered it a desperate case. After 
being very hardly urged by his friends, I gave him some medicine, but it had no 
effect, and about sun-down he died. The doctor who attended him was brought 
forward to prove that I murdered the patient. If I recollect rightly, he swore 
that the patient had the dropsy in the brain, and that the disorder had turned, 
and he was in a fair way to recover; but I came and gave him my poison pukes, 
and killed him. I brought forward evidence who swore to the facts as I have 
above related them, and that the doctor would give no encouragement of helping 
the patient. The father of the young man gave his evidence, and stated that the 
son was in a dying situation when I gave him medicine; but the Judge inter- 
rupted him, and asked if he was a doctor, to which he answered no. He then 



said the doctor has stated that his disorder had turned, and he was getting better; 
are you going to contradict the doctor? and thus managed to do away his testimony. 

I have thus given a brief sketch of the evidence in the eight cases, which 
were attempted to be proved as murder, in order to make out justification on the 
part of the defendant, with my defence to the same, in as correct a manner as I 
am able from memory; and am confident that every circumstance as I have related 
it, can be substantially proved by living witnesses. After the evidence was gone 
through, the lawyers on both sides made their pleas, making the case on my 
part as good and as bad as they could. The Judge then gave his charge to the 
jury, which was considered by those who heard it, to be the most prejudiced and 
partial one that had ever been heard before. He made use of every means to 
raise the passions of the jury, and turn them against me; stating that the defendant 
was completely justified in calling me a murderer, for if I was not guilty of 
wilful murder, it was barbarous ignorant murder; and he even abused my law- 
yers for taking up for me, saying that they ought to be paid in screw-augers 
and bull-dogs. The people that were present were very much disgusted at his 
conduct, and they expressed themselves very freely upon the subject. It was said 
by some, that our courts, instead of being courts of justice, had become courts of 
prejudice. One man said that he hoped Judge Parsons would never have another 
opportunity to sit on a cause; which prediction turned out true, for he soon after 
had a stroke of palsy, and as I am informed, died before the next court met. The 
jury brought in their verdict of justification on the part of the defendant, and 
throwed the whole cost on me, which amounted to about two thousand dollars. 

When I found how the case was going to turn, I went to Portsmouth, and 
soon after made arrangements to pay the costs. Judge Rice was my bail, and 
undertook to pay all (he bills that I had not paid at the time. On my settlement with 
him, I owed him six hundred dollars for money that he had advanced on my 
account; for which I had no way to secure him, but by giving him a mortgage 
on my farm; which I did, and it was put on record, and never known to any 
of my friends till I had paid it up. He charged nothing for all his time and 
trouble, through the whole of my persecutions and trials, for which, and for his 
kindness and friendship on all occasions, I shall ever consider myself under the 
greatest obligations. 

Attesting to the Fact that jhe "Fashionable" Doctors and Thomson had not yet Buried the 

About the first of June, 1811, I received a letter from Eastport, where I had 
been the fall before and shown some of my mode of practice. Some of the people 
in that place were so well satisfied with it, that seven men had subscribed their 
names to the letter, requesting me to come there and practise in the fevers, which 
prevailed in those parts. I left the care of my business at Portsmouth with Mr. 
Carpenter, my apprentice, and immediately took passage for Eastport, where I 
arrived about the middle of June. I vs-as very gladly received by those who had 
wrote to me, and by those with whom I had become acquainted when there before. 
I agreed to practise under the protection of those who had sent for me, until I 
had convinced them of its utility, to which they consented, and promised me all 
the assistance in their power. I was soon called on to practise, and had all the 
most desperate cases that could be found, in all of which I met with very great 
success. The first cases I attended in presence of the committee, were five des- 



perate cases of consumption. These patients were all relieved in three weeks, and 
were all living this present year, (1831.) While attending these people, I was 
called upon to attend a young man on board a vessel, who had his foot bruised 
to pieces by a block falling from mast-head, weighing thirteen pounds. It being 
done five days before I saw him, it was morticed, and the whole body in con- 
vulsions. I took off three toes and set the fourth, and cured him in five weeks 
with the usual practice. While attending him, I had to pass a doctor's shop. A 
scythe was thrown at me, point first, about the distance of two rods. It passed 
between my feet without doing any injury. In consequence of this assault, I 
sent word to all the doctors who had opposed me, that for the politeness with 
which they had treated me, I would compensate them by taking off the burden 
of being called up at night, and thus breaking their rest, and would give them 
the chance of laying in bed until noon, without being disturbed by their patients. 

Indicating that Nofwithstandlng His Prolesls, Thomson Believed In Wilchcrafl or some 
" Baffling " Influence Outside the Natural. 

While practising here, I frequently heard of the abuse and scandal towards 
me and my practice, from Mrs. Lovett, the old woman before mentioned, as the 
marse of her son's wife, whom I cured of the dropsy. This old woman was a 
singular character, and was called a witch by the people; I have no faith in 
these kind of things, yet her conduct, and certain circumstances that took place, 
were very extraordinary, and puzzled and astonished me more than any thing 
I had ever met with, and which I have never been able to account for to this day. 
Mr. Carpenter was attending a man, where this woman often visited, who had 
the consumption, and his child, which was sick and had fits. He came to me 
and said that the medicine he gave would not have its usual effect; that the emetic, 
instead of causing them to vomit, would make them choke and almost strangle. 
I attended them myself, and on giving the medicine, it would operate on the 
man, and not on the child at one time, and the next time on the child and not on 
him. Sometimes the child would lay in fits, for a whole night, and nothing 
would have any effect upon it; in the morning it would come out of them and 
appear to be bright and lively. I had never known the medicine to fail of pro- 
ducing some effect before, where the patient was not so far gone as not to have 
life enough left to build upon. I can give no reason for this strange circumstance, 
satisfactory to myself, or which would be thought reasonable by the readers. The 
old woman, before mentioned, was frequently in and out of the house where the 
man and child were, and seemed to be very much interested about them; when 
she was gone the child would frequently go into violent fits, and when I steamed 
• It, It was said the old woman would be in great distress. It caused much con- 
versation among the neighborhood; they believed it to be the power of witchcraft- 
and that the old woman had a control, over the destinies of the man and child' 
and was determined to destroy them, in order to get her revenge on me I 
have no belief in these things; but must confess that her strange conduct, and the 
extraordmary circumstances attending the whole affair, baffled me more than any 
thing I had ever met with before. I was unable to do anything for these two 
patients, except sometimes by a temporary relief. They continued to grow worse 
and finding it not in my power to do them any good, I left them, and they both 
soon after died. 



Decides to "Patent" his System of "Thomsonian Treatment." The Famous Beginning of 
American Patent li/ledicines. (See note, page 37.) 

When I had maturely considered the subject in all its bearings, and exercised 
my best abilities in devising some plan by which I could extricate myself from the 
dangers which threatened me on every hand; and to prevent those rights, which 
twenty years labor, with much suffering and great expense had given me a just 
claim to, from being wrested from me ; I finally came to the conclusion that there 
was only one plan for me to pursue with any chance of success; and that was 
to go on to Washington, and obtain a patent for my discoveries; and put myself 
and medicine under the protection of the laws of my country, which would not 
only secure to me the exclusive right to my system and medicine, but would put 
me above the reach of the laws of any state. 

After coming to the conclusion to go on to the seat of government and apply 
for a patent, made all necessary preparation for the journey, and started from 
Portsmouth on the yth of February, and arrived at Washington on the 23d. The 
next day after my arrival, I waited on Capt. Nicholas Gilman, of Exeter, showed 
him my credentials, and aslced his advice, what I must do to obtain ray object. 
He said that he thought it could not be made explicit enough to combine the system 
and practice, without being too long; he however advised me to carry my petition 
to the patent office; which was then under the control of Mr. Monroe, Secretary 
of State. I went to the patent office and found that Dr. Thornton was the Clerk, 
and presented him my petition. He asked me many questions, and then said I 
must call again; I called again the next day, and he said the petition was not 
right; that I must specify the medicine, and what disorder it must be used in; 
he said that those medicines in general terms to cure every thing, was quackery; 
that I must particularly designate the medicine, and state how it must be used, 
and in what disease. I then waited on Martin Chittenden, late governor of Ver- 
mont, who was at Washington, and asked his assi^ance; he was from the same 
town where my father lived, and readily consented. We made out the specifica- 
tions in as correct a manner as we could, and the next day I carried them to the 
patent office, and gave them to Dr. Thornton; he complained much about its 
being too short a system, and put rae off once more. I applied again and asked 
him for my patent; but he said I had not got the botanic names for the articles, 
and referred me to Dr. Mitchell, of New York, who was in the House of Repre- 
sentatives. I applied to him, and requested him to give the botanic names to the 
articles mentioned in my petition. He wrote them, and I carried them to Dr. 
Thornton; but he was unable to read some of the names, one in particular; he 
said I must go again to Dr. Mitchell, and get him to give it in some other words, 
and not tell him that he could not read it. I went, and the doctor wrote the same 
word again, and then wrote, or "Snap-dragon;" which I carried to Dr. Thornton, 
and requested him to put in the patent my names, and record it for himself, snap- 
dragon, or any other name he chose. He then talked about sending me to Phila- 
delphia, to Dr. Barton, to get his names. 

I found he was determined to give me all the trouble he could, and if possible 
to defeat my getting a patent, and I intimated that I should go with my complaint 
to Mr. Monroe, upon which he seemed a little more disposed to grant my request, 
and said he would do without Dr. Barton's names. He then went to work to make 
out the patent, and when he came to the article of myrrh, he found much fault 
about that, and said it was good for nothing. I told him that I paid for the patent, 



and if it was good for nothing it was ray loss. After much trouble, I got it made 
out according to my request, and the medicine to be used in fevers, colics, dysen- 
teries and rheumatism; he then asked me if I wanted any additions, and I told 
him to add, "the three first numbers may be used in any other case to promote per- 
spiration, or as an emetic," which he did. I then had to go to the treasury office 
and pay my money and bring him duplicate receipts. After all this trouble, I at 
length succeeded in obtaining my patent according to my request, which was 
completed and delivered to me on the third day of March, 1813. 

Interviews the Celebrated Medical Authorities of that Date, Drs. Barton and Rush, of Whom 
He Speaks Highly. . 
The next day after I had completed my business was the day of inauguration of 
the President of the United States; and I had the curiosity to stay and see the cere- 
monies on that occasion. After the ceremonies were over I went to the stage 
office and found that the seats were all engaged for a fortnight; and was obliged 
to stay till the 13th before I could get a passage. I then took passage in the stage 
and came on to Philadelphia, where I remained several days for the purpose of 
seeing Drs. Rush and Barton, to confer with them upon the subject of introducing 
my system of practice to the world. I spent considerable time with Dr. Barton; 
but Dr. Rush was so much engaged, that I was unable to have but little conver- 
sation more than stating my business. He treated me with much politeness; and 
said that whatever Dr. Barton agreed to, he would give his consent, so that my 
business was chiefly with the latter gentleman. I asked him many questions con- 
cerning my system and patent, and requested his advice of the best mode of in- 
troducing it. He advised me to make friends of some celebrated doctors, and let 
them try the medicine, and give the public such recommendation of it as they 
should deem correct. I told him that I feared that if I should do so, they would 
take the discovery to themselves, and deprive me of all credit or benefit from my 
labors, and asked him if he thought that would not be the case. He said it might 
with some, but he thought there were some of the profession honorable enough 
not to do it. I asked him if he would make " trial of it himself, and give it such 
credit as he should find it to deserve. He said that if I would trust it in his hands, 
he should be pleased, and would do justice to me and the cause. I accordingly 
left some of the medicine with him, with directions how to use it; but before I 
received any return from him, he died; and Dr. Rush also died some time pre- 
vious; by which means I was deprived of the influence of these two men, which 
I was confident would otherwise have been exerted in my favor. 

Thomson In an Interview with Barton Criticises the Prevalent Medical Treatment and Points 
Out the Absurdity of Bleeding to Cure Disease. " It appeared to me very extraor- 
dinary to bleed twenty times to cure the most fatal disease ever known ; the same 
manner of treatment would kill one-half of those in health.'' 

During my interviews with Dr. Barton, we had much conversation upon the 
subject of the medical skill, and he being quite sociable and pleasant, I expressed 
myself very freely upon the fashionable mode of practice, used by the physicians 
of the present day. He acknowledged there was no art or science so uncultivated 
as that of medicine. I stated to him pretty fully my opinion of the absurdity of 
bleeding to cure disease; and pointed out its inconsistency, inasmuch as the same 
method was made use of to cure a sick man as to kill a well beast. He laughed and 
said it was strange logic enough. 



While in the city of Philadelphia, I examined into their mode of treating the 
yellow fever; and found to my astonishment that the treatment prescribed by 
Dr. Rush was to bleed twice a day for ten days. It appeared to me very extraor- 
dinary to bleed twenty times to cure the most fatal disease ever known; and am 
confident that the same manner of treatment would kill one half of those in health. 
This absurd practice being followed by the more ignorant class of the faculty, 
merely because it has been recommended in some particular cases by a great man, 
has, I have not the least doubt, destroyed more lives than has ever been killed 
by powder and ball in this country in the same time. Those I met in the streets, 
who had escaped the fatal effect of bleeding, mercury, and other poisons, carried 
death in their countenance; and on conversing with them, they said they had never 
been well since they had the fever; that they took so much mercury and opium, 
they were afraid that they were in a decline. 

After a Series of Journeys, Introducing His "System," Establishing Agencies, and Selling 
Patent Rights to His System of Practice, Thomson Is again Disappointed In 
Financial Affairs. 

This season I went to Eastport, and collected some money to pay my friend 
Rice ; and thinking to make some profit, laid it out in fish, and sent it to Portland, 
consigned to my friend Fickett. When I went there myself, sold the fish to him. 
I afterwards made a settlement with him, and took his note for one hundred and 
sixty-three dollars, which he agreed to pay Judge Rice; as he was going to Boston 
in a short time, and he would call on him at Portsmouth for that purpose. I then 
went home to see my family, and in about six months after, returned to Portsmouth, 
and on calling on Judge Rice, found to my surprise that Mr. Fickett had not paid 
the money, that he had failed, and there was no chance for me to get any thing 
of him. So I was again disappointed in my expectations of paying this demand, 
and it appeared to me that all my hard earnings would be sacrificed to pay the 
expense of persecutions; but my friend Rice was very indulgent; and instead of 
complaining, did all he could to encourage me and keep up my spirits. 

Meets a Disaster that " Was Taken Advantage of by His Enemies." 

In 1814 returned to Portsmouth, which place I made the principal depot of 
my medicines; having previous to my returning from the Eastward, made ar- 
rangements with my agents to supply them, and all others who had purchased the 
rights, with such medicine as they might want, by their applying to me for them. 
I had laid in a large stock, the value of which I estimated to be about one thou- 
sand dollars. I went to Boston and Salem, to procure some articles that could 
not be obtained elsewhere, in order to complete my stock; when absent, the great 
fire took place at Portsmouth, and all my stock of medicine was consumed. This 
was a very serious loss to me, not only in a pecuniary point of view, but it dis- 
arranged all my plans, and put it out of my power to supply those who I knew 
depended upon me for all such articles as were most important in the practice. 
The season was so far advanced that it was impossible to obtain a new recruit of 
most of the articles; and I was obliged to collect a part of what had been sent 
to different places, in order to be able to supply, in the best manner I could, 
such demands for medicine, as I should be called on for. In doing this, I was 
put to great trouble and expense, and in order to make myself whole, was under 
the necessity of raising the price of the medicine fifty per cent.; this caused much 
grumbling and complaint from the members of the societies in different places, 
and was taken advantage of by my enemies to injure me all they could. 

4 45 


Concerning Two Remedies and Further Trouble with Infringers on His Patented System 
of Medication. 

After staying in Washington a few days, we went to Alexandria where we 
remained about a week, in which time I collected some Cyprus bark, which is 
known there by the name of poplar, and what we call poplar, is by them called 
quaking-asp, on account of the constant shaking of its leaves. 

During this summer, I visited Eastport, Portland, Charlestown, South Reading 
and other places where societies had been formed, or rights sold to individuals, to 
give information to the people ; and in all places where I went, found the book of 
directions, which had been clandestinely obtained and published by the doctors 
and others, to injure me by stopping the sale of rights, selling at 37J4 cents. 
I was under the necessity of putting an advertisement in the papers, cautioning 
the people against this imposition, which put a stop to their sale; but great pains 
were taken by my enemies to circulate them among the people; and this is the 
way that some of my articles of medicine came to be made use of through the 
country in colds, such as cayenne, ginger, &c. In 1815 I published another edition 
of my book of directions, and secured the copy right; but this was reprinted at 
Taunton, and I advertised it as before, and stopped its progress. 

Marsh Rosemary Becomes Scarce, but Thomson finds that It Is " Too Cold and Binding." 

In the fall of the year 181 5, I went to Cape Cod to procure some marsh- 
rosemary, and collected a quantity, carried it to Portsmouth and prepared it for 
use. This is the last time I have collected any of this article, and as it becomes 
scarce, think I shall make no more use of it. It is too cold and binding, without 
using a large share of bayberry bark and cayenne with it, to keep the saliva free. 
I have found other articles as substitutes, which answer a better purpose, such as 
hemlock bark, which I have of late made use of and found very good, white lily 
roots, witch-hazle and raspberry leaves, and sumach berries; the last article is 
very good alone, steeped and sweetened, and is as pleasant as wine; it is good 
for children in cases of canker, especially in long cases of sickness when other 
articles become disagreeable to them. 

Thomson Experienced Much Trouble with Persons Who Bought His " System Rights." Ever 
In a Turmoil, He Decides at last that Whoever " Purchases a Right for Himself and 
Family Is Entitled to All the Privileges." 

I formed those who purchased the rights, into a society; and they chose a com- 
mittee, whom I authorized as agents to sell rights and medicine; but this caused a 
jealousy among the rest of the members, who said I gave privileges to some more 
than to others. 

I have formed four societies, and given them certain privileges, by allowing 
them part of the profits on the sale of rights and medicine; but as soon as there 
was any funds, it has always created uneasiness among the members. Some of 
the ignorant and selfish, would call for their dividends, as though it was bank 
stock, instead of feeling grateful for the advantages they enjoy by having their 
diseases cured, and their minds relieved from the alarming consequences of a 
disease, with a trifling expense. I have since altered my plan, and now have 
but one society. Every one who purchases a right for himself and family, be- 
comes a member of the Friendly Botanic Society, and is entitled to all the privi- 
leges of a free intercourse with each other, and to converse with any one who has 



bought a right, for instruction and assistance in sickness, as each one is bound to 
give his assistance, by advice or otherwise, when called on by a member. In this 
way much more good can be done, and there will be much more good-will 
towards each other, than where there is any money depending. 

In the Decline of Life, Disconsolate and Disappointed at Men's Ingratitude, Thomson Con- 
cludes to Appoint a " Suitable Agent " to Care for his Business. He Selects Ellas 

After having discovered a system, and by much labor and constant perse- 
verance reduced it to practice, in a manner that had given general satisfaction 
to all who had become acquainted with it, and having secured the same by patent, 
in order that I might reap some benefit from my discovery, to support me in 
my old age, having by a long series of attendance on the sick, both as physician 
and nurse, become almost worn out, I came to the determination to appoint some 
suitable person, who would do justice to me and the cause, as a general agent, to 
take the lead in practice, and give the necessary information to those who should 
purchase the rights, which would enable me to retire from practice and receive 
a share of the profits as a reward for my long sufferings. After considerable 
inquiry, I became acquainted with Elias Smith, who was recommended as a man 
in whom I could confide, and who was every way qualified as a suitable person 
to engage in the undertaking. I found him in Boston, and in very poor circum- 
stances; having been for many years a public preacher, but in consequence of his 
often changing his religious principles and engaging in difEerent projects in which 
he had been unsuccessful, he was now without a society or any visible means of' 
supporting himself and family. He readily engaged with me, and promised to 
do every thing in his power, to promote my interest and extend the usefulness of 
my system of practice. 

I sold him a family right in December, 1816, and was in his family during 
the winter, for the purpose of instructing him in the practice, to qualify him to 
attend upon the sick and give information to others. I put the utmost confidence 
in his honor, and spared no pains in communicating to him, without any reserve 
whatever, all the knowledge I had gained by my experience, both by practice and 
verbal instruction; under the expectation, that when he became sufficiently ac- 
quainted with the system and practice, I should be rewarded for my trouble, by 
his faithfully performing his duty towards me, according to his promise. I shall 
make no remark upon my being disappointed in all my expectations in regard to 
Mr. Smith's conduct, and the treatment I received from him after he had gained 
a knowledge of the practice from me, to enable him to set up for himself; but shall 
proceed to give a short account of what took place during my connection with him. 

Comes now a Series of Troubles In which Smith and Thomson Disagree, and, as usual, 
Thomson Becomes an Enemy of His Friend. 

In the winter of 1819, I went to Philadelphia, and previous to my going made 
arrangements with Mr. Smith to publish a new edition of my book of directions; 
we revised the former edition, and made such additions as we thought would be 
necessary to give a complete and full description of my system, and the manner of 
preparing and using the medicine; and I directed him to secure the copy-right ac- 
cording to law. I left the whole care with him, to arrange the matter, and have 
it printed. On my return to Boston in March, he had got it done; but in a manner 



very unsatisfactory to me, for he had left out twelve pages of the most useful part of 
the remarks and directions, and it was otherwise very incorrectly and badly printed. 
I asked him the reason of this, and he said a part of the copy had got mislaid, and 
the printer had not done his work well. I had no idea at the time, that he had 
any design in having this pamphlet printed in the manner it was ; but his subsequent 
conduct would justify the belief that he had previous to this, formed a plan to usurp 
the whole of my system of practice, and turn every thing to' his own advantage; 
for he has since attempted to satisfy the public, that my system was no system; and 
has brought forward this very book, which was printed under his own inspection, 
and arranged by him, as a part of his proof, that I was incapable of managing 
my own discoveries, and of communicating the necessary information in an in- 
felligible manner to make my system of practice useful to those who purchased the 
rights. It is a well known fact, that some of the most essential parts of the direc- 
tions were to be verbal ; and I had allowed him ten dollars each, to give the proper 
instructions to all those to whom he sold the rights. 

Another circumstance that I have recently found out, goes to show a dishonesty 
in design, to say the least of it. He deposited the title page of the above mentioned 
pamphlet, and obtained a certificate from the clerk, in the name of Elias Smith, as 
proprietor, and caused it to be printed in the name of Samuel Thomson, as author 
and proprietor. What his intentions were in thus publishing a false certificate, I 
shall not attempt to explain; but leave the reader to judge for himself. 

Smith, now in Open Rebellion, Publishes a Book that Conflicts with Thomson's Exclusive 
Right to the " System." 

In May, igzo, Mr. Smith collected together those in Boston who had bought 
rights of me or my agents, and formed them into a society, under a new name; 
he wrote a constitution, which they signed; and the members paid one dollar en- 
trance, and were to pay twelve and a half cents per month assessment, for which he 
promised them important instructions and cheap medicine. He was appointed presi- 
dent and treasurer, and after he had obtained their money, the meetings were dis- 
continued, and the society was broken up in the course of nine months. In this he 
appears to have taken the lead of all those who had purchased the right of me, 
and make them tributary to himself. 

In November, I returned from the country and found that he had advertised, 
without my knowledge or consent, in the Herald, a periodical work published by 
him at that time, "proposals for publishing by subscription, a book to contain the 
whole of the system and practice discovered by Samuel Thomson, and secured to 
him by patent. The price to subscribers to be five dollars. By Elias Smith." This 
mostly stopped the sale of rights, for no one would purchase a right of me or my 
agents at twenty dollars, when they had the promise of them at five. I went to 
him to know what he meant by his conduct, in issuing these proposals; he plead 
innocence, and said he had no improper design in doing it. 

Thomson and Smith Now Separate. 

I was now under the necessity of doing something in order to counteract what 
had been done by Mr. Smith, in publishing the above proposals; and came to the 
determination to issue new proposals for publishing a narrative of my life as far 
as related to ray practice, with a complete description of my system of practice in 
curing disease, and the manner of preparing and using the medicine secured to me 



by patent; the price to subscribers to be ten dollars, including the right to each of 
using the same for himself and family. Mr. Smith undertook to write the proposals 
and get them printed; after they were struck off, I found he had said in them, by 
Samuel Thomson and Elias Smith; all subscribers to be returned to the latter. I 
asked him what he meant by putting his name with mine ; he said in order to get 
more subscribers. I said no more about it at that time, and let them be distributed. 
When I settled with him the last time, I asked him what he would charge me 
to prepare my manuscript for the press; he said he thought we were to write it 
together; I asked him what made him think so; he said because his name was on 
the proposals with mine ; I admitted this ; but told him the reasons he had assigned 
for putting his name to it without my consent or knowledge. He then intimated 
that he thought he was to be a partner with me; I asked him what I ever had of 
him to entitle him to an equal right to all my discoveries. To this he made no 
reply; but said he would write it, and we would agree upon a price afterwards. I 
told him no; I must know his price first. He said he could not tell within fifty 
dollars. I then told him we would say no more about it. This conversation, to- 
gether with his conduct in regard to the proposals, convinced me beyond all doubt, 
that his design was to destroy me, and take the whole business to himself. I felt 
unwilling to trust him any longer, and took all my books and manuscripts from 
his house. 

Thomson Enters Suit for Infringement of Patent, to find It "Improperly Made Out." 

He continued to practise and prepare medicine, bidding me defiance. I made 
several attempts to get an honorable settlement with him, without success. I em- 
ployed three persons to go to him and offer to settle all our difficulties by leaving 
them to a reference; but he refused to do any thing, continued to trespass, and 
made use of every means to destroy my character by abusive and false reports con- 
cerning my conduct, both in regard to my practice and private character. Finding 
that I could get no redress from him, I put an advertisement in the papers, giving 
notice that I had deprived him of all authority as my agent; and cautioning the 
public against receiving any medicine or information from him under any authority 
of mine. He redoubled his diligence in trespassing, and prepared the medicine and 
advertised it for sale under different names from what I had called it. I found 
there was no other way for me to do, but to appeal to the laws of my country for 
justice, and brought an action against him for a trespass on my patent, to be tried 
at the Circuit Court, at the October term, i8zi. The action was continued to May 
term, when it was called up, and the Judge decided that the specifications in my 
patent were improperly made out, not being sufficiently explicit to found my action 
upon. In consequence of which I had to become non-suited, and stop all further 
proceedings against him, till I could make out new specifications and obtain a new 
patent from the governmnet. 

Closes the " Narrative of the Life of Samuel Thomson " with a Bitter Complaint Concerning 
Man's Ingratitude. 

Mr. Smith has lately [1822] published a book in which he has given my system 
of practice with directions for preparing and using the vegetable medicine secured 
to me by patent, and my plan of treatment in curing disease as far as he knew it. 
In the whole of this work there is not one principle laid down or one idea suggested, 
except what is taken from other authors, but what he has obtained from my written 
or verbal instructions; and still he has the effrontery to publish it to the world as 



his own discovery, without giving me any credit whatever, except he has conde- 
scended to say that "Samuel Thomson has made some imperfect discoveries of dis- 
ease and medicine, but has not reduced any thing to a regular system." This assertion 
will appear so perfectly ridiculous to all those who have any knowledge of my prac- 
tice, that I shall forbear making any comment upon it. It is true that he has made 
alterations in the names of some of the preparations of medicine, but the articles 
used, and the manner of using them, are the same as mine. It is also a well known 
fact, that he had no knowledge of medicine, or of curing disease, until I instructed 
him; and if what he says be true, the effect has been very remarkable, in as much 
as his magnetical attraction has drawn all the skill from me to himself, by which 
he has taken upon himself the title of Physician, and left me nothing but the appella- 
tion of Mr. Thomson, the imperfect projector. 

I have been more particular in describing Mr. Smith's conduct, because it has 
been an important crisis in the grand plan for which I have spent a great part of 
my life, and suffered much, to bring about; that of establishing a system of medical 
practice, whereby the people of this highly favored country may have a knowledge 
of the means by which they can at all times relieve themselves from the diseases 
incident to our country, by a perfectly safe and simple treatment, and thereby relieve 
themselves from a heavy expense, as well as the often dangerous consequences arising 
from the employing those who make use of poisonous drugs and other means, by 
which they cause more disease than they cure; and in which I consider the public 
as well as myself have a deep interest. I have endeavored to make a correct and 
faithful statement of his conduct, and the treatment I have received from him ; every 
particular of which can be substantiated by indisputable testimony if necessary. I 
now appeal to the public, and more particularly to all who have benefited by my 
discoveries, for their aid and countenance, in supporting my just rights against all 
encroachments, and securing to me my claims to whatever of merit or distinction I 
am honorably and justly entitled. While I assure them that I am not to be dis- 
couraged or diverted from my grand object by opposition, or the dishonesty of those 
who deal deceitfully with me ; but shall persevere in all honorable and fair measures 
to accomplish what my life has principally been spent in fulfilling. 


Proceeds to Take Legal Evidence with the Object of Preventing Infringement of His 
" Patent," which had been Issued January 28th, 1823. 

After having failed in my attempt to obtain justice, by prosecuting Elias Smith 
for trespass, as has been before related, I found it necessary to adopt some new plan 
of procedure, in order to meet the universal opposition I have in all cases met with 
from not only the medical faculty, but from all those who belong to what are 
called the learned professions. When I obtained my patent, I had good legal advice 
in making out the specifications, besides, it was examined and approved by the At- 
torney General of the United States; and it was said at the time of the trial, by 
several gentlemen learned in the law, to be good; and that the very nature and 
meaning of the patent was, that the compounding and using the articles specified in 
manner therein set forth, was what I claimed as my invention. 

There was, however, no other way for me to do, but to obtain another patent; 
and immediately after the above decision, I set about getting one that would meet 
the objections that had been made to the first. In making new specifications, I had 
the assistance of several gentlemen of the law, and others, and every precaution 
was taken to have them according to law; but whether my second patent will be 



more successful than the first, time must determine. It embraces the six numbers, 
composition or vegetable powders, nerve powder, and the application of steam to 
raise perspiration ; and to put my claim beyond doubt, I added at the end as follows, 
viz.: "The preparing and compounding the foregoing vegetable medicines, in manner 
as herein described, and the administering them to cure disease, as herein mentioned, 
together with the use of steam to produce perspiration, I claim as my own invention." 
My second patent is dated January 23, 1823. 

Enters Suit Against Ellas Smith for Commission Money Due on Patents, Wins His Suit, and 
Rejoices In his Victory. 

At the time I failed in my attempt against Elias Smithy in consequence of the 
decision against the correctness of the specifications of my patent, as has been before 
related, I had a number of notes for rights sold, among them were two against a 
person, who had previously expressed great zeal in my cause, for a right for him- 
self, and one for his friend. During the pending of the trial, he took sides with 
Smith; and after the decision, came to the conclusion, or, as I suppose, was told by 
Smith, that the notes could not be collected by law, and refused to pay them. I did 
not wish to put him to cost, and therefore let the business rest, in hopes he would 
think better of it and pay me according to contract; but after waiting until the notes 
were nearly outlawed, and he still refusing to pay, I put one of them in suit, and 
the action was tried before the Boston Police Court. The defence set up was, that 
the contract was void, in consequence of the failure of the patent; and also that 
there was no value received. 

The trial was before Mr. Justice Ome, and was managed by Mr. Morse, for 
the plaintiff, and Mr. Merrill, for the defendant. On this trial, as on all others 
in which I have been engaged, there seemed to be the same fixed prejudice against 
me and my system of practice. The Judge took several days to make up his judg- 
ment, and finally decided in my favor, giving me the full amount of my claim; 
thus settling the" principle, that obligations given for family rights were good in 
law. This was the first time I have ever had a chance to prove the utility of my 
medicine and system of practice, before a court of law; having always before been 
prevented by some management of the court. 

A writer has lately come forward and published a series of numbers in the 
Boston Patriot, under the title of "Eclectic," who appears well qualified, and seems 
disposed to do me and my system of practice justice, by laying before the people a 
correct view of my case. 


Appoints an Agent, John Locke, Who Turns Traitor and Unexpectedly Involves Thomson In 
Morgan's Masonic Controversy. 

In all this time, I had never thought or mistrusted that there was a plot laid 
against me, either by him (Locke), my agent, or the committee, or with all combined, 
nor until about the end of the second year, which now seems but too obvious. Hav- 
ing recently returned from the West, I was at Mr. Locke's house, and showed him a 
newspaper which contained an account of the masonic outrage at Batavia. After 
reading it, he flew into a great passion, and accosted me as though I had made the 
story. I tried to argue the case with him; but in vain. He called me by as many 
hard names as he could well think of, and occasionally, the words "lie," and "fool," 
were in the compound. 



Another Agent, House, Now Refused to Pay his Commission. 

I have tried repeatedly to get a settlement with Col. House, my principal agent, 
but cannot effect it. He has paid me nothing for the large number of rights sold 
in about ten years, nor will he render any account. I know not how many books 
he has sold, as he took them whenever he wanted, in my absence. When I called 
on him last to settle, he said he had lost his account of credit. Here is the result 
of ten years agency ! Besides which, I lent him and his partner, ten years ago, two 
hundred dollars, one of which he has paid in printing, the other he refuses to pay. 
I might mention many other circumstances which would go to show a decided 
hostility against me, and a determination to raise Mr. Locke, if po'ssible at my ex- 
pense; but I forbear, for they have neither built him up, nor put me down. I have 
paid no attention to all this opposition; but have kept on in a straight forward 
course, attending to the preparing of good medicine and supplying all those who 
wished for it. 

Describes His Travels and Troubles, Tells of Counterfeit Books and Agents' Concerns. 

Since my last edition was printed in Boston, I have been six times in and 
through the State of Ohio. In the year 1835, I appointed Charles Miles, as agent 
in Ohio, and furnished him with seventy-two books for family rights. On his 
way home he purchased a number of counterfeit books, of David Rogers, of Geneva, 
I understood about one hundred, more or less. He went down into the central part 
of the State, and in the course of eighteen months sold about ten thousand dollars 
worth of rights, and imposed on the inhabitants at a great rate. Some he sold 
for seventy-live dollars, some twenty-five, others twelve, and he would leave but 
one book for four rights. When he came round again, he would borrow my book 
and leave the other, and sell my book again to another set of four or five; and 
so continued until he had sold all mine, and nearly all the others. In the fall of 
1826, Horton Howard caused a letter to be sent to me, giving an account of Miles's 
conduct, and requesting me to come on to see about it. I arrived in January, 1827, 
and, following after Miles, I found his conduct to be as had been stated. I pub- 
lished handbills, and otherwise showing that he had no authority from me to do 
as he had done. I revoked his agency, and pacified the rage of the people as well 
as I could, by restoring the family right to those to whom he had so improperly sold 
it, and besides this, I lost a great part of what he owed me. 

Horton Howard, of Ohio, Prints Books, Sells Patent Rights to Thomson's Treatment and 
Keeps the Money, about $80,000. 

In January of the same year, I made Horton Howard agent for the Western 
country, with authority to print my book, and in three and a half years, he had 
printed about six thousand copies, and sold about four thousand rights, with the 
assistance of his sub-agents, amounting in all to about eighty thousand dollars. I 
tried at several different times to come to an honorable settlement with him, until 
August, 1830, at which time he utterly refused to give me an account from beginning. 
I then had but one alternative, either to bring an action against him in the court 
of chancery, or else take what he was willing to give. I chose the latter, by which 
I sacrificed about seven-eights of what should have been coming to me. I took 
his notes for four thousand dollars, in two annual payments, two thousand dollars 
each year. I revoked his agency in two days afterwards, August 9, 1830, and ap- 



pointed four other agents in his stead, and took about two thousand copies of books, 
and left them with my other agents. 

Reform Medical College Started In New York City and Another in VVortliington, Oliio. -' Tills 
Thomson considers "Villainous." 

But the dernier resort of the doctors will be to get my practice into their own 
hands, and under their own management, if possible. Finding that I should succeed 
in my Bontanic practice, certain individuals of them have set up what they call a 
reformed college, in New York, where they have adopted my practice as far as 
they could obtain a knowledge of it from those who had bought the right of me, 
and would forfeit their word and honor to give them instruction. And finding that 
the Botanic practice gained very fast at the West, they have established a branch 
of their reformed college in Worthington, Ohio. I saw Dr. Steel, last winter, who 
is the President of that Institution, I was introduced to him by Mr. Sealy, a member 
of the Senate, and Dr. Steel was introduced to me as President of said college. I 
asked him if he was President of that reform which was stolen from Thomson, in 
New York. This seemed to strike him dumb on the subject. At the same place, 
a few evenings after, I was introduced to one of the practitioners under this reform, 
who studied and was educated at the college in New York, and was one of the 
instructers at Worthington. I asked him if he ever saw any of my books in the 
college in New York. He said he had accidentally seen one there. I replied, then 
you accidentally confess that my books were studied in that college. I then asked 
him whether they used the lobelia. He said they did. I then named the cayenne, 
rheumatic drops, bayberry and nerve powders. He confessed they used them all 
in manner and form, as I had laid down in my books. I am, therefore, satisfied 
that if my medicine were taken from them, their Institution would not be worth 
one cent. But, to have bought the right, would have been too mean for such digni- 
taries; but, to steal it from a quack, was, perhaps, in their estimation, much more 
honorable! ! ! Every honest man who hears any of the doctors speak of those col- 
leges with approbation, ought to upbraid them with these facts. 

Sums Up and Closes His Narrative by Consoling Himself In that the Result of his Trials and 
Persecutions has been a Blessing to Humanity. Relates that He Has a Stocl< of 
Golden Seal and Madagascar Cayenne, and calls Attention to the Gross Adultera- 
tions in Commercial or "American Cayenne." 

Thus I have given a few prominent items, though but a small proportion of 
my experience, sufferings, perplexities and difficulties, since the second edition of this 
work was published. But much of that which operated to my disadvantage, as an 
individual, served to extend the knowledge and practice of the system. This gives 
me consolation in the midst of all my trials; and considering the Botanical practice 
as being now well established, I think it is for me to retire from the field of contest 
and war with either learned ignorance or legal opposition. 

I have collected about three hundred weight of the golden seal the year past, 
and a large quantity of cayenne from the island of Madagascar; nearly three tons. 
I have sent to the southern States nearly twenty barrels, floured, which is a great 
help in the agues of that country. 

And here it is proper to remark, that great impositions are practised on what 

'•'This, in 1845, was moved to Cincinnati, Ohio, its name changed to "The Eclectic Medical 
Institute." From that date to the present it has been uninterruptedly continuous and usually pros- 
perous. (See Felter's History of the Eclectic Medical Institute.) 



is called the American cayenne. The doctors have declared it to be poison, and de- 
structive to health, and I think they have made it as bad as they have represented it 
to be. It appears to be mixed with some red paint or mineral. When burnt, it 
leaves about two-thirds of the quantity, of the blackest substance. When taken in- 
wardly, it produces violent vomiting, and ought to be shuimed as a mad dog. 
There is but little or none sold at the groceries for ordinary purposes but of this 
kind. The only safe way to detect the poison, is to try it by burning. If it be pure, 
there will be a proportion of ashes as of other vegetables, and of a light color; 
if it be bad, the ashes will not only be black, but there will be double, and perhaps 
triple or quadruple the quantity there should be for the quantity burnt. 


I hereby appoint Abner Kneeland, editor of the Boston Investigator, Agent, 
generally, but not exclusively, throughout the United States, to receive and answer 
my letters, to sell the Rights to my Botanical System of Practice in Medicine, and 
my Books containing a Narrative of my Life and System of Practice, and to attend 
to all matters and things expressed or implied in the above agency, especially 
during my absence, the same as I should or could do if present, and the agencies of 
E. G. House and John Locke, are hereby revoked. SAMUEL THOMSON. 


The Subscriber having been appointed Agent for Dr. Samuel Thomson, as 
above stated, all letters intended for the Doctor, may be addressed either to him 
or to the Subscriber, as all the Doctor's letters come into the box of the Investigator, 
and of course into the hands of the Subscriber, who will keep Family Rights, with 
the Books containing the System of Practice, constantly for sale at the Investigator 
Office; and who will appoint sub-agents, with the advice and consent of the Doctor, 
when, and wherever they shall be thought necessary, and will also keep the Medi- 
cine for sale at the same prices, and as low as it can be bought of the Patentee, and 
the patronage in this line, which the public are disposed to give, will be gratefully 
received by the public's obedient servant, 


I will here relate an anecdote, which may be of use to some. At the time of my 
taking up my first large hive, we asked some neighbors in, to eat honey. I gave 
away about one hundred weight of honey, with biscuit and butter answerable. 
Before the season came round, I bought a few pounds in presence of one of the 
men who partook most liberally of the bounty. He asked, "Have you got rid of 
all your honey?" I replied, "Yes." "Why," said he, "you should not have been 
such a fool as to have given it all away." Here I made a notch in my memory. 
The next fall I took up my bees, and carried honey enough to Walpole, to fetch 
ten dollars. This I thought better than to be twitted for giving it away. However, 
in the course of the fall, I was in company with the same man; he asked, "Have 
you taken up your bees?" "Yes," was the answer. He rejoined, "And did you ask 
in the neighbors to eat honey?" My answer was, "No; I carried it to Walpole 
and sold it." He replied, "Why, they say you are a hog for not asking them." 



I replied, "You have learned me a lesson, which I had not thought of; when I gave 
my honey all away, I was a. fool; and when I kept it, I was a hog; therefore, unless 
I am a hog at least half of the time, I cannot live." The conclusion is this. When 
a man begins the world, if he means to escape censure, he must observe a proper 
medium between being a hog and a fool, in the estimation of his neighbors, but if 
he has any thing which to them will be as sweet as honey, he must not keep all, 
nor give all away. — [A specimen of Thomson's philosophy.] 

Now, reader, just take a general survey of the calamities of the world. The 
condition of a great portion of mankind is truly deplorable, and has been ever 
since the healing art was lost, and the plants and herbs of the field and forest ceased 
to be used as medicine; and since poison minerals of the rankest dye were substi- 
tuted in their stead by Paracelsus, who in consequence was called a hater of man- 
kind. Dr. Robinson says, "Paracelsus gave the tartrite of antimony, because it 
burnt up the stomach and lungs like hell fire." If this expression be true, I think 
it sufficient to prove the truth of his being a hater of mankind. In addition to this 
physic dealer and hater of mankind, comes Sydenham, who introduced bleeding to 
cure disease. These two plagues being joined in matrimony, against the life and 
health of mankind, I think, have caused the greatest plagues that ever infested the 
earth. The writer says that after Sydenham introduced bleeding into the practice 
of physic, in the space of one hundred years, "more died with the lancet alone, 
than all that perished by war in that time." — [A specimen of Thomson's opinion of 
"Fashionable Medicine" and its effects.] 



[Benjamin Waterhouse, M. D., Professor of the Theory and Practice of 

Medicine, Cambridge University, Discourses on 

Thomson and His Crusade.] 

The record of plain-spoken Samuel Thomson, his aggressive exposures 
of the evil results of orthodox medication, his persistent attacks on indi- 
viduals who practiced medicine "by authority," together with the facts 
concerning it all so potent at that date to the people at large, led to the tre- 
mendous rebellion against cruelty to the sick, that for half a century swept 
over America. Not all the legalized medical profession, however, were 
Thomson's antagonists, nor were they all unfriendly to his cause. The 
talented Dr. Manasseh Cutler, as has been shown, testified in his Behalf, 
and the scholarly Professor Tully, M. D., of Yale, believed in kindly 
American remedies instead of the vicious heroics that authoritatively then 

In this direction the celebrated Professor Benjamin Waterhouse, 
M. D., Professor of the Theory and Practice of Medicine, Cambridge 
University, openly advocated the recognition of Thomson and pleaded that 
credit be given him both for his efforts and for his discoveries. With a 
view of presenting this side of the question fairly, we append to the narrative 
a few letters by Dr. Waterhouse that properly are by reference connected 
therewith. In addition, they have a historical bearing on the question of 
"Who discovered and introduced lobelia." These letters also enter into 
the subject of Quackery, which Dr. Waterhouse defines, to Thomson's 

To the Editor of the Boston Courier: 

I have lately read, with considerable interest and some surprise, a little volume 
of nearly 200 pages, entitled, "A Narrative of the Life and Medical Discoveries of 
Samuel Thomson, containing an account of his System of Practice, and manner of 
Curing Diseases with Vegetable Medicines upon a Plan entirely New;" to which 
is added his New Guide to Health, containing the principles upon which the system 
is founded. 

While reading the book, I said to those who recommended it to my perusal, this 
man is no "Quack."' He narrates his medical discoveries, gives an account of his 
system of practice, together with his manner of curing diseases, upon a plan con- 
fessedly new; to which he adds the principles on which his new system is founded. 
He who does this is no Charlatan, but by uniting theory to practice, merits atten- 



tion. With these ideas of cultivation and promulgation of human knowledge, I 
read the narrative of Samuel Thomson, and soon perceived that he was a man of 
good capacity, persevering temper, and benevolent disposition; and then he ac- 
quired his knowledge of the hitherto unknown virtues of certain plants by experi- 
ments, first on himself, and then on those about him. In the course of twenty or 
thirty years, he arranged his experimental knowledge into a system, as did the 
father of physic before him, however imperfect; and, having done this to the best 
of his power, (for he had no literary education,) he published the result of his 
experience, labor and thoughts to the world, for it to judge of them and of him. 

Auto Biography is a profitable species of writing to the world, but dangerous 
to the writer himself, especially if a professional man, or a political partizan; before 
he can gain credit for one honorable motive, every sinister object that can be imag- 
ined will be laid to his account. Who, among his competitors, will exercise that 
impartiality on hearing his story, which they require of him in relating it? Narrow 
minded jealousy will pervert everything. We may allow for a little high coloring 
in controversy with rivals — ^very few physicians or divines are free from it; but 
if Samuel Thomson, in the narrative of his life, has not turned aside from facts, 
he has been unjustly treated, and, in some instances, most cruelly persecuted. He 
has given names, dates, places and events, and spoken of judges, sheriffs, jailors 
and witnesses, in a style so plain as to exclude equivocation; and the same of a 
noted preacher. If what he said of them be false, he ought to be exposed and 
publicly punished; if true, he merits protection. His discoveries, are valuable or 
insignificant; his practices, a nuisance or a benefit; his writings, useful, or a tissue 
of lies and calumnies; his Patent, honorable, or a disgrace to our government; and 
it is not beneath the dignity of any physician, divine, or philosopher, to inquire into 
the truth of a series of experiments published with so much confidence, and pur- 
porting to be for the benefit of mankind. 

I have no doubt that Samuel Thomson has added a very valuable article to 
the Materia Medica, and that he has again and again relieved the sick where others 
have failed. From all that I can recollect, I am induced to believe that he is not 
an avaricious man, but one who is more flattered by success in relieving the sick 
than in receiving their money. This at least, entitles him to a fair and patient 
hearing. It is possible he rriay have deceived himself, but it does not appear that 
he has laid himself out like a conjurer, to deceive others. If this man has devoted 
the greater part of his life to the relief of his fellow-men, his labors claim respect, 
and his errors our indulgence; for who of us are free from them? Let the un- 
prejudiced man, who reads his Narrative and Guide to Health, judge for himself; 
but should he boggle at his theory of heat and cold, let him remember that 
Thomson, without knowing it, has adopted a theory of Galen; and his idea of the 
preserving power of nature, the curer of disease and preserver of life, appears to 
be the same as that acknowledged by Hippocrates; but the writer could not express 
it in Greek. 

Thomson is not a Quack, if by quack, we mean a vain, artful, tricking practi- 
tioner in physic. He is an Experimenter, who accumulates knowledge by his own 
experience. There was a sect among the ancients who assumed the appellation 
to distinguish themselves from dogmatists, who, without experience taught dogmas. 
If Samuel Thomson be a quack, he is a quack sui generis, for being an enemy to 
concealment^ he tells all he knows in as plain a manner as he possibly can, and 
leaves you to form your own judgment, provided you divest yourself of the fashion 
of this world in physic, which, with priestcraft, is fast passing away. 



Read the book, men of New England, and after making due allowance for the 
author's condition, situation and provocations, judge whether such a man merits the 
persecution he has endured, and the treatment he has met with. 


Cambridge, Dec. 8, 1835. 
To Samuel Thomson, Botanic Practitioner of Medicine. 

Dear Sir: — ^To the questions put to me yesterday, I answer, that I remain firm 
in the opinion that you were the discoverer of the remarkable virtues of the Lobelia 
inflata, as a safe emetic, and other rare qualities in effectually deterging the stomach 
and intestines of foul and morbid matter — a prime object in the removal of all 
disorders consequent on imperfect digestion. The efficacy and safety of the vege- 
table I have had ample and repeated proofs of in a number of cases, and in my 
own person, and have reason to value it equal to any article in our Materia Medica. 

That you yourself were the originator of this compound process, very extensively 
known under the title of the Thomsonian Practice or System, I have no doubt what- 
ever. I mean the uniting the warm bath, with the thorough cleansing of the whole 
alimentary canal. I value and recommend it on this account. It effects in three 
or four days, what we regular physicians use to occupy as many weeks to accom- 
plish. As a public teacher of the practice of physic, I have told my pupils for nearly 
half a century, past, that when they have learned how to restore the long impaired 
organs of digestion to their pristine or natural state, they have acquired two-thirds 
of their profession; and on that simple principle is based the whole doctrine of 
my printed lecture on the pernicious effect of smoking cigars, and the inordinate use 
of ardent spirits. 

Furthermore: the regular physician finds it necessary sometimes to make a great 
change in the human frame, or to make a very strong counter irritation, so as to 
obliterate the morbid or destructive one. This used to be done by quicksilver, that 
is, mercury, in the various preparations; when pushed to a salivation it dilapidates, 
if we may so speak, or dissolves the human fluids, all of which are made up of 
globules, or round particles, on the crasis of which depends the vital integrity of 
our bodies, and of course, our health and vigor. After the hazardous process of 
salivation, the physician may, perhaps, be able to say. Now I have so far changed 
the morbid state of the patient, that his disease is conquered, and entirely overcome 
by the powerful operation of the mercury. But then in what condition does he find 
the sufferer? His teeth are loosened, his joints are weakened, his healthy condition 
is impaired, his voice is more feeble, and he is more susceptible of cold, and a damp 
state of the weather. His original disorder is, to be sure, overcome; but it is 
paying a great price for it. Secret history conceals from public notice innumerable 
victims of this sort. 

Now, my sagacious, industrious, and much-respected Empiric, or Eclectic, if 
you like the latter term better, let us come to the point you seem to aim at, namely, 
my opinion on the whole. 

I consider a man laboring under a chronic disease of some time standing, who 
has passed through one, two, three, (as the case may be) of your processes of the 
lobelia emetic, to be as much altered as the man who has gone through the very 
disagreeable and dangerous operation of mercurial salivation; and, if so, your 
discovery is highly valuable, and on this account it was that I spoke freely and 
strongly in commendation of the new practice, and was not afraid nor ashamed 



to hail you as a Reformer, and to give you full credit, and, in this view, I have 
always considered you as standing on higher ground than Paracelsus, who was 
born in 1493. 

As to the point of your originality, I will sum it up in as few words as I can — 
I regard you as a Tree, the root and trunk, of the Lobelia and vapor bath system 
conjoined; its limbs your immediate agents; and its leaves and fruit, the purchasers 
of the rights and privileges — all deriving their value from the Tree of knowledge; 
and, having said this, I have performed a grateful office, and I may add, to all 
around me, and remain, and hope ever to remain. 

Your steady friend, 


Dr. Thomson was indicted before Chief Justice Parsons, for poisoning with 
lobelia, but the charge was of so frivolous a character that he was discharged 
without being put upon his defence. Here the aflfair should have rested; but Judge 
Parsons, to gratify a malicious disposition, made out a garbled report of the case, 
calculated to injure Dr. Thomson, and reflect discredit upon his system; and this 
report has now grown into a precedent, and is cited by the old faculty to prove 
that the Thomsonian remedies are pernicious. It was not known for many years 
that Parsons was the author of this report — no one suspecting him of such an act 
of baseness — ^but it was ultimately discovered by Col. House who addressed a letter 
to Mr. TjTig on the subject, and received the following answer, which is now in the 
possession of Dr. Waterhouse: 

Cambridge, nth Dec, 1835- 
Dear Sir: — I have found the letter of Col. House. This is the copy of it, viz: — 

Newburyport, 17th October, 1825. 
"Sir: — Yours of yesterday came to hand by this morning's mail. In answer to 
your inquiry, I have to inform you, that the late Chief Justice Parsons compiled the 
report of the case of the Commonwealth vs. Thomson, and handed it to me, pre- 
cisely in the words published, soon after the terra of the court at which the case 
was tried. 

"Your ob't. servant, 

"E. G. House, Esq., Boston.'' 

The original is at your service, whenever you shall find it needful. 

Were the case mine, (as much as I lament this lawsuit,) I should insist on your 
adverse lawyer to define Quackery — call on him to explain etymologically the 
derivation and origin of the word, — insist on his drawing the line where quackery 
ends, the proud science begins. Let your attorney tell his opponent that if Samuel 
Thomson was a quack, Hippocrates and all the Greek physicians were quacks, and 
all the Jewish ones also; and every Roman physician, not only through the entire 
Roman republic, but down through all the Roman emperors, and all the first ages 
of Christianity, and down through all the dark ages, and still long after the revival 
of letters of Italy. Prior to 1400 there were no regular schools of anatomy, and 
the science of chemistry was unknown, until the Arabians brought the medicinal 
chemistry into use. The art and practice of physic was the result of experience, and 



■was a collection of facts delivered verbally from father to son, and from tutor to 

Anterior to 1745, the study and practice of physic was very little variant, if any, 
from what Samuel Thomson, the Patriarch of the lobelia and steam system, has 
by great pains and labor accumulated during more than forty years of an industrious 
life. The most solid, immovable, and valuable portion of our art, is derived from 
experience; and the best qualification of it is sagacity, and the next to that is 
industry, — all of which the Patriarch, Samuel Thomson, possesses eminently. The 
scientific physician follows, and copies the rules of others, and that constitutes the 
learned physician; but Samuel Thomson studies the Book of Nature, — that is, the 
nature of man, and everything about him, as did the famous physicians among the 
ancients, and some of the best and most successful among the moderns. 

Samuel Thomson restricts his means of cure to the vegetable kingdom, and 
rejects entirely the mineral one, all except water. I will not dispute with him. 
Let him stick to his system, and let us regulars profit by it, and in return it would 
enlarge his own useful knowledge. I confess I have learned several valuable 
things from his many experiments, and his severe scrutiny into the nature, qualities, 
and medicinal virtues of our own native plants. 

I rank Samuel Thomson among discoverers, and respect him as such. He is 
not an imposter. He has an uncommon stock of natural knowledge, and enjoys 
the benefit of his discoveries and trials by the security of a patent. The vast West 
has been benefited by them, and they have been, in some degree, tributaries to 
him. I who introduced vaccination into America, in 1799, distributed the blessings 
everywhere in this new world, disclosed everything, and kept nothing back; but 
sacrificed my practice, and even my medical professorship, to that great discovery 
by which one of the greatest plagues that ever afflicted human nature, has been 
drawn from the condition of man. I never. disputed, except in one instance, with 
any man or body of men, but gave to the public all my pains and labor. I beat 
the bush, but never laid myself out to catch the bird. I have the honor, others 
the profit — ^while others are unhappy in disputes and unprofitable contentions, I do 
not repent of my forbearance. 

In one thing every thinking man must and will agree; for it admits of no 
dispute. It will be admitted as an axiom, namely — ^The Thomsonian practice has 
been diffused through New England between fifteen and twenty years, and still 
maintains its credit; and every year its roots strike deeper, and its branches spread 
wider and wider. Now make any man of due reflection believe that such a 
practice could have spread so wide among such a discerning, inquisitive people 
as we of New England certainly are, without having discovered its nothingness, — 
its worse than northingness, — its vain and nonsensical pretensions. The thing is 
impossible. If the lobelia had been proved a worthless plant, it would have been 
years ago, "thrown like a lonesome weed away." On the contrary, I had rather 
be without that very nauseous powder, ipecac, which makes me spit while I write, 
than to be deprived of the more agreeable and efficacious Lobelia. 

We import Ipecacuanha from South America, and sometimes use it after it 
has been a dozen or twenty years out of the ground, whereas we can cultivate 
the Lobelia in our own gardens, and pick it up in our own fields. I not only 
prescribe it to. otliers, but I take it myself whenever I have any occasion for an 
emetic. I value it equally with the Peruvian bark, or with rhubarb, jalap or 
senna or any other medicinal plant you can mention. Instead of Lobelia, it 
ought in justice, in honor, and in gratitude, to be called Thomsonian emetica. 



But the discovery of the medicinal qualities of this indigenous plant, is not 
the sole merit or felicity of Samuel Thomson. His vapor-bath process, to which 
the Lobelia is the Prodromos, (or, in plain English, file-leader, or fore-runner,) 
is, taken together, a very valuable improvement in our practice, if conducted by 
persons as experienced and as sagacious as the Patriarch Thomson. 

In England, Parliament would probably have purchased the procedure by a 
liberal grant. In France, at least under the old regime, the King would have 
bought it. But we, wiser than any of them, have only tried to pick it to pieces. 
Still I consider it a valuable anchor, the emblem of Hope, to which is attached a 
firm cable, that numbers have been trying in vain to pick to oakum; but which 
will, I trust, be like the strongly twisted cord that binds our happy States together, 
acquiring strength by age. 

To weigh Patriarch Thomson in the scales of the regular physician would 
be as unjust as for them to be weighed by his steel-yards. They practice on 
different principles, feelings and views — each honest in his respective path of art 
and nature. They both will come out in the same road at last, and travel on 
together to the Temple of honor and profit. 

Samuel Thomson, like most reformers, has endured in our county of Essex 
as much severe persecution as ever was perpetrated in it; which is saying a 
great deal, when we call to mind the days of the delusion of Witchcraft. Though 
capitally indicted for murder by using Lobelia, he was discharged without a 
trial, after something like a reprimand of the Solicitor-General by the Court. Yet 
it is remarkable that Chief-Justice Parsons deemed it worth while to write the 
report of it in the VI. Vol. of Tyng's collections. 

I feel difiident and doubtful whether I have said too much or too little on a 
subject that will increase in importance with time. Reformers— originators, and 
exterminators of loathsome and shocking diseases, are always considered as bene- 
factors of the whole human race — not merely those who are living, but of those 
who shall live after us, as long as letters and other records shall endure. 


Letter to Samuel L. Mitchell, M. D., L.L. D., of the city of New York: 

Cambridge, Dec. 19th, 1825. 

My Dear Sir: — Dr. Samuel Thomson, who has the honor of introducing the 
valuable Lobelia into use, and fully proved its efficacy and safety, will deliver you 
this. He has cured and relieved many disorders which others could not, without 
being a regular diplomatized physician, and dared to be a republican in a hot bed 
of federalism; for which he has been shamefully ill-treated, even to persecution. 

I have aided and assisted Thomson from a firm belief that his novel practice 
has been beneficial to numbers, and that it may be placed among improvements. 
If he be a quack, he is a quack sui generis, for he proclaims his mode and means. — 
Had John Hunter, whom I knew well, been born and bred where Samuel Thomson 
was, he would have been just such another man, and had S. T. been thrown into 
the same society and associations as J. H. he would, in my opinion, have been 
his equal, with probably a wider range of thought; both are men of talents and 
originality of thought. 

I am, indeed, so disgusted with learned quackery, that I take some interest 
in honest, humane and strong-minded empiricism; for it has done more for our 
art, in all ages and in all countries, than all the universities since the times of 

■; 61 


Charlemagne. Where, for goodness sake, did Hippocrates study? — air, earth, and 
water — man, his kindred — vegetable; disease and death, and all casualties and 
concomitants of humanity, were the pages he studied — every thing that surrounds 
and nourishes us, were the objects of his attention and study. In a word, he read 
diligently and sagaciously, the Great Book of Nature, instead of the little books 
of man as Thomson has. 

How came your Legislature to pass so unconstitutional an act as that called 
the antiquacfc law? such as the Parliament of England would hardly have ven- 
tured on; for who will define quackery? Were I sufficiently acquainted with your 
Governor Clinton, I would write to him on the subject. You New-Yorkers are 
half a century behind us in theological science, but your quack bill looks as if 
you halted also in physic. 

By what I have seen and learnt of Mr. Thomson, I wish him success, and 
the notice of the eminent and the liberal in the profession; and with these views 
I give him this rapidly-written letter to you, and am with a high degree of 
esteem and respect, his steady friend, 


To Samuel Thomson, Boston. 

To the Editor of the Boston Courier: 

I read in one of your late papers an article entitled. The Battle of Doctors, 
purporting to have been contested at Baltimore on Lyceum ground. The account 
seemed chiefly serious, but partly ludicrous. But as it related to the very serioug 
subject of health and disease, or, in other words, life and death, I could not drive 
the narrative out of my mind. The practice of physic, I am bold to say, admits 
of great reform; yet it is no joke, and is really a subject worthy of the utmost 
attention of the people, and I have often reflected with surprise that it has been 
left at such loose ends in this state, where we scrutinize and find fault with every 
thing, and every profession, excepting that on which our comfort depends; for 
what are riches without health to enjoy them? 

It seems that the Lyceum question was whether the Thomsonian practice 
ought to be encouraged? Now this includes another question, viz: — whether 
regular physicians ought to encourage it, or the people? If I mistake not, more 
than a million people in the United States have already answered the question 
and said — Let it be encouraged. 

There arose a serious question in my mind— a question of honor and con- 
science, namely, ought I be silent on the solemn subject, or to give my opinion. 
I have determined on the latter; and that because I have received a considerable 
number of letters from Maryland, and further south, on the same subject, and as I 
have received some loaded with postage, the writers may receive the trifling value 
of my opinion without a cent's expense to them or me. 

With due submission to that privileged body of physicians denominated 
through courtesy, the faculty, I, should place Samuel Thomson among the reformers 
of the healing art. 

The famous Galen dictated the laws of medicine full fourteen years after his 
death, by his, then, matchless writings. After the revival of letters, Paracelsus, 
who was born, 1493, in Switzerland, appeared as a reformer of the system of 
Galen. He was learned in Latin, Greek, and several other languages, and of 
respectable connexions. He first introduced mercury, (quicksilver,) antimony and 



opium into the Materia Medica; but he was ariogant, vain and profligate, 
and after living the life of a vagabond, died a confirmed sot. He studied mystery, 
and wrapped up his knowledge in terms of his own invention, so as to keep his 
knowledge confined to himself and a few chosen followers. The very reverse of 
Thomson, who performs numberless cures, and makes no secret of the means. The 
cant phrase of "Quack" belongs to the learned Paracelsus; but not to the mystery- 
hating Thomson, who considers mystery and roguery offsprings of the same 
father — ^the man of sin — the old father of lies and deception. If Thomson be a 
quack, he is a quack sui generis, or a cheat of a new and singular class. 


The following letter was written just before Dr. Thomson went to 
Washington to obtain his last patent: 

To Samuel Thomson, Botanic Practitioner of Medicine. 

Cambridge, March 26th, 1836. 

Dear Sir: — In answer to your last letter, I would remark, that I continue to 
receive, from diverse quarters of our country, anxious inquiries with regard to my 
opinion of you, and your practice: to which I have uniformly said, that, as far 
as I know, you were the first person who discovered the remarkable medicinal 
virtues of the Lobelia inflata, even before you knew its systematic name, and called 
it the emetic weed; and that in consequence of the evidence adduced of its value, 
as a medicine, you obtained a patent for it, when the Hon. John Quincy Adams 
was Secretary of State, in which you were aided by the late Dr. Mitchell, and 
Dr. Thornton. Since then you have spread its value through a great part of the 
United States, and in a great degree silenced your opponents. 

I have as little hesitation in saying, that I consider your joining to its exhibi- 
tion the vapor bath, as a matter of no small importance, when carefully conducted 
by persons of sound judgment, and competent experience. I have entire confi- 
dence in the safety of the lobelia, and in the whole process, when conducted by 
the patriarch of the science, Samuel Thomson himself; for the practice is so far 
from being a trifling one, that I consider it in a class of Herculean remedies. 

I wish the regular physician had a better opinion of the Thomsonian dis- 
coveries in the vegetable kingdom, and that the empiric practitioners had a better 
opinion of the regular or scientific physician. The conduct of Hippocrates is a 
bright example for both. Experience must be enlightened by reason and theory 
built upon close and accurate observation. The happy union of the two will form 
the consummate physician; while the desire of gain, and the ambition of celebrity, 
may injure both. You, my benevolent sir, have lived long enough in the world 
to be convinced how slowly beneficial discoveries are received and patronized, by 
the people, when they think that fame and fortune are the predominant motives 
of the discoverer. 

Should it happen, that in your business at Washington, this letter should fall 
under the eye of that great and good m'aa, Hon. John Quincy Adams, he will, 
at once, recognize the hand-writing of his old friend and correspondent. 


The foregoing letters and the friendship of many other talented 
men, neither allayed the antagonism that existed between Thomson and 
the Regular Medical Profession, nor prevented ignorant and ill-advised 



people from abusing therapeutic privileges and opportunities. In the name 
of Thomson, men and women, including statesmen, clergymen and scholars 
throughout America, repelled by the horrors of regular medication, but yet 
ignorant both of diseases and of the action of remedies, proclaimed them- 
selves qualified to practice medicine by Thomson's Patent Right. The 
fanaticism and audacity of inexperience possessed them, but yet, necessity 
demanded that legalized persecution of the sick be circumvented. Among 
these Thomsonian enthusiasts was one whose trial became of National 
consequence; second only was it to that of his leader, Samuel Thomson, 
and as such needs be made a part of this record. From it we produce 
enough of the salient features, to clearly indicate not only its legal phases 
but to supply additional evidence concerning the rebellion of the people 
who had now by reason of the cruelty and viciousness of authoritative 
medicine, become aggressive protesters against the methods of the medical 
profession of America. This trial was celebrated as "The Trial of Dr. 









Containing comments on the testimony, a history of the disgraceful conduct of the med- 
ical faculty during the trial, an affidavit exhibiting the baseness of Dr. Cheeseman; 
affidavits proving that one of the jurors was resolved upon the conviction of 
Dr. Frost, regardless of his oath or the evidence; a list of persons who died 
under treatment by the medical faculty; certificates of cures by the 
Thomsonian Treatment ; letters of the Celebrated Professor 
Waterhouse of the Thomsonian System; and other 
matter of interest and importance. 





In the height of Dr. Samuel Thomson^s fame, came the "Trial of 
Dr. R. K. Frost," of New York, who, in 1837, was arrested for murdering 
Tiberius G. French by means of a Thomsonian course in Lobelia. 

Dr. Frost conducted an infirmary in Howard Street, New York, 
to which French was taken for treatment. His death, the arrest of Dr. 
Frost, and the subsequent trial, made a tremendous sensation in both 
professional and lay circles throughout the entire country. Excitement 
ran high, engendering bitterness and vituperation second only to that 
bred by the celebrated Masonic Morgan incident. This trial occupied 
three full days in which an exceptional array of experts testified for and 
against the accused, among these being the celebrated Dr. Wooster Beach, 
the founder of Eclecticism, and antagonist of Thomson, but yet a strenuous 
opponent of the methods of the "Regulars." 

An account of this trial, reported in full, in 1838, was published in 
pamphlet form by "A Committee of Thomsonians." It is very rare, 
but one copy existing to our knowledge, this being bound in "The Lobelia 
Advocate," a serial publication by Rev, John Rose, Baltimore, 1838 and 
1839, of which also, no other than the Lloyd Library volume is known 
to us. 

The aforesaid pamphlet, "Trial of Dr. Frost," together with com- 
ments, covers 104 pages. (See title-page, page 65.) 

The quaint, almost grotesque indictment against Dr. Frost, is as 
follows : 

City and County of New York, ss. 

The jurors of the people of the state of New York, in and for the city and 
county of New York, on their oaths present that Richard K. Frost of the said 
city, not having the fear of God before his eyes, but moved and instigated by the 
devil, on the tenth day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight 
hundred and thirty-seven, at the city and county aforesaid, with force and arms 
in and upon one Tiberius G. French, in the grace of God and the said people, 
then and there being feloniously and willfully did make an assault and feloniously 
and willfully did then and there administer unto and cause to be received by the 
said Tiberius G. French into the body and bowels of him, the said Tiberius G. 
French, a certain noxious and injurious clyster, which said clyster before that time, 
to wit: on the day and year aforesaid at the city aforesaid, had been prepared 
of various noxious and injurious and dangerous ingredients, that is to say of 
cayenne pepper and lobelia, by the said Richard K. Frost, and that he, the said 
Richard K. Frost did then and there feloniously and willfully administer unto the 



said Tiberius G. French, and did then and there feloniously and willfully apply 
unto and upon the breast, stomach, belly, and back, head, legs and arms of him, 
the said Tiberius G. French, a certain noxious and injurious hot vapor called 
steam, and did then and there feloniously and willfully keep and detain the said 
Tiberius G. French, under the application and action of the noxious and injurious 
hot vapor called steam, for a long space of time, to wit: for the space of three 
hours, and did then and there and whilst the said Tiberius G. French was under 
the application and vapor of the hot vapor aforesaid, feloniously and willfully 
administer unto and did then and there feloniously and willfully cause to be 
swallowed by him, the said Tiberius G. French, a certain noxious and injurious 
drug or herb, to wit: lobelia, and that he, the said Richard K. Frost, by admin- 
istering the clyster aforesaid, the hot vapor aforesaid, called steam, and the injurious 
drug or herb aforesaid, did then and there cause and procure the said Tiberius 
G. French to become mortally sick and diseased in his body, and of which said 
mortal sickness and disease" in his body he, the said Tiberius G. French, then 
and there died. 

And so the jurors aforesaid upon their oaths do say and present that the said 
Richard K. Frost, in manner and form and by the means aforesaid, he the said 
Tiberius G. French, did then and there feloniously and willfully kill, contrary to 
the form of the statute in such case made and provided, and against the peace 
of the people of the state of New York and their dignity. 

And the jurors aforesaid, upon their oaths aforesaid, do further present that 
the said Richard K. Frost, late of the city of New York, not having the fear of 
God before his eyes, but being moved and seduced by the instigation of the Devil, 
on the tenth day of October, in the year one thousand eight hundred and thirty- 
seven, with force and arms at the city aforesaid, in and upon one Tiberius G. 
French, in the peace of God and of the state then and there being, feloniously and 
willfully did make an assault and did then and there feloniously and willfully 
administer unto the said Tiberius G. French, and did then and there feloniously 
and willfully apply unto and upon the breast, stomach, belly, back, head, arms 
and legs of him, the said Tiberius G. French, a certain noxious and injurious hot 
vapor called steam, and then and there did feloniously and willfully keep and 
detain the said Tiberius G. French under the application and action of the noxious 
and injurious hot vapor aforesaid called steam, for a long space of time, to-wit: 
for the space of three hours, and that the said Richard K. Frost by administering 
and applying the aforesaid hot vapor called steam, as aforesaid, did then and there 
feloniously and willfully produce and cause a mortal congestion of the organs of him 
the said Tiberius G. French, of which said congestion of the organs of him the said 
Tiberius G. French, he the said Tiberius G. French then and there died. And so the 
jurors aforesaid, upon their oaths aforesaid, do say and present that the said 
Richard K. Frost in manner and form and by the means aforesaid, him the said 
Tiberius G. French did then and there feloniously and willfully kill contrary to 
the form of the statute in such case made and provided and against the peace, 
government and dignity of the state. 

And the jurors aforesaid, upon their oaths aforesaid, do say and present that 
the said Richard K. Frost of the city of New York aforesaid, not having the fear 
of God before his eyes, but being moved and seduced by the instigation of the 
Devil, on the tenth day of October in the year of our Lord one thousand eight 
hundred and thirty-seven, with force and arms at the said city and county of New 
York aforesaid, in and upon one Tiberius G. French in the peace of God and of 



the said people then and there being feloniously, wickedly and willfully did 
make an assault and did then and there feloniously, wickedly and willfully 
administer unto and cause or procure to be swallowed by him, the said Tiberius 
G. French aforesaid, a certain tincture, infusion, decoction or tea of the poisonous, 
noxious and deleterious drug or herb aforesaid, called lobelia, and did also admin- 
ister or cause and procure to be administered unto the said Tiberius G. French 
aforesaid, and did cause or procure to be swallowed by the said Tiberius G. French, 
certain pills, composed of noxious, deleterious and poisonous ingredients, of which 
said pills the noxious and poisonous herb or drug aforesaid to wit: lobelia, was 
part and parcel, together with other noxious, poisonous and deleterious drugs, herbs 
and ingredients unknown, by means of the taking of which said pills and tincture, 
decoction, infusion or tea aforesaid, into the stomach and bowels of the said 
Tiberius G. French, became mortally sick and then and there died. 

And so the jurors aforesaid upon their oaths aforesaid do say that the said 
Richard K. Frost in manner and form said and by the means aforesaid by him, 
the said Tiberius G. French did then and there feloniously, willfully and wickedly 
kill contrary to the form of the statute in such case made and provided, and against 
the people of the state of New York and their dignity. 

The introduction of the trial and opening for the prosecution was 
as follows: 

This extraordinary trial, in which the medical faculty were arrayed against 
the Thomsonians, commenced before the Court of Sessions, for the city and 
county of New York, on Wednesday, December 13, 1837. 

Present, Recorder Riker, and Aldermen Acker and Taylor. 
Counsel for the prosecution, Mr. Phenix, District Attorney, and Mr. GrifiSn. 
For the accused, John A. Morrill, Esq., of New York, and David Paul Brown, 
Esq., of Philadelphia. 

The Court opened at 12 o'clock, and after the usual preliminaries, (the reading 
of the indictment excepted,) the following jury was empannelled: 

John Jackson, Joseph Wildey, 

John D. Meyers, James E. Wood, 

Smith Dunning, Nathaniel Mead, 

Abel Price, Mahlon Chichester, 

Samuel Van Saun, Charles B. Mease, 
John Roshore, Samuel M'CIintock. 

Mr. Phenix proceeded to open the cause for the prosecution. He spoke of it 
as one of vital importance to the community. He said that the accused stood 
indicted for the crime of manslaughter — that he had been complained of for 
taking away the life of Tiberius G. French, a very promising and valuable young 
man, who was not greatly afflicted with disease — that the accused had no medical 
education, and was entirely ignorant of the nature and operation of remedial 
agents — that he had wofully abused the confidence of the deceased by giving him 
deleterious herbs which no reasonable man would administer to a dog — that he 
had put him into a vapour bath and administered poisonous concoctions of lobelia, 
together with pills and clysters — that the deceased had died in five days after he 
put himself under the treatment of Dr. Frost — that he felt it his duty to urge a 
conviction of manslaughter, in order that an example migh be made of the accused. 



Mr. Phenix read from the Revised Statutes of New York, explaining to the 
jury what was to be understood by the term manslaughter, adding, that it would 
be for them to say in what degree the accused should be found guilty. The exam- 
ination of witnesses commenced. 

The brother of the victim, testified concerning the treatment as 
follows : 

Ulysses D. French, Sworn. The deceased was my brother. He died on the 
loth of October last. He was at my office on Thursday, the 5th of October; he 
had been complaining a day or two previous of a cold, said he felt chilly, and 
had a pain in his head. I am an Attorney at Law, 54. Howard Street; my brother 
was a Student with me, and a Teacher in the Grammar School of Columbia Col- 
lege. He was between eighteen and nineteen years of age. He placed himself 
under R. K. Frost, who is at the head of Thomson Infirmary in Howard Street 
He went to the Infirmary on Thursday, October 5th at seven, P. M. I called on 
my brother the following day, (Friday,) at about seven in the evening; called 
next day, (Saturday) a little before dark; and again at nine o'clock P. M., in 
company with Dr. Davids; my brother was in the room where the vapor bath is 
administered; he complained of pain, had fever, and vomited much during the 
day. Drs. Frost and Davids were present; my brother had taken a course — can't 
say what particular medicine was taken. Dr. Frost said that he had given a 
lobelia emetic, which vomited powerfully. Dr. Frost said the disease was a cold 
which he could break up in a day or two. He told us also that he had given the 
deceased a "course of medicine" of which he had previously given me an explana- 
tion. In a course, composition tea is first given; patient is then put into a steam 
bath; composition tea is administered in the meantime; patient is kept in the bath 
ten or fifteen minutes, after which the shower is administered. Dr. Frost said that 
this was the usual treatment in all diseases. 

Recorder. Dropsy, Consumption and all? 

Witness. I believe so. 

Recorder. What is this lobelia? 

Phenix. We'll come to that by and by. 

I asked my brother if he had taken any nourishment; he said he had taken 
some composition tea — it was nothing but composition tea, composition tea — ^he 
believed he had taken two pails full. On Saturday evening I found my brother 
in the back room slightly delirious. I left at half past seven o'clack. At nine 
o'clock I was called for by Dr. Davids; I found my brother in high fever; he 
was delirious, complained of constipation of the bowels, and spoke of taking physic. 

Dr. Davids urged the propriety of taking a cathartic; Dr. Frost said he never 
gave cathartics; he was fearful if the bowels were once opened that he could 
not stop the operation; another reason against cathartics was that he had given 
injections; lobelia and composition tea were in the injections; he gave four or 
five injections while I was there in another room; didn't see them given; this was 
on Saturday night; the injections were given within four or five hours. I staid 
until four o'clock on Sunday morning; went away and returned same morning 
between eight and nine o'clock. Dr. Frost said that he had given an emetic on 
Sunday and another on Monday, said it was lobelia, said on Monday he had 
given a powerful dose. Tuesday morning my brother was feverish, more delirious 
than on the previous evening, but rational at times. I told Dr. Frost I had no 



confidence in the Thomsonian system; I wished him to say whether he lacked 
confidence himself, and I would call a regular physician. Dr. Frost laughed at 
my tifnidity. My brother was better on Monday morning; on Monday evening 
he was in great agony; Dr. Frost said that he had given a powerful dose of 
lobelia, and ascribed the symptoms to the emetic. I left the patient at about 
three or four in the morning, and saw him again at about nine or ten o'clock; he 
was in fever and delirious; I thought he knew me at times; he wished me to 
keep away from him, and accused me of being the cause of his distress; I 
ordered all medicines to be discontinued; this was on Sunday evening; thought I 
would trust to his constitution to throw off the disease; thought the system was 
depleting; Dr. Frost said it was strenghtening. I went to my office at four o'clock 
and returned at dusk; found deceased had been bleeding at the nose; ice had been 
put around him to prevent the bleeding; we had him put into another bed; bed 
clothes were changed and he was put back; I proposed to send for a regular 
physician; told Frost the patient was dying. Frost said there was no danger; 
went for Dr. Cheeseman about nine o'clock in the evening; Dr. Frost wished me 
to inform Dr. Cheeseman that he was under the influence of lobelia. My brother 
was a remarkably healthy young man, the very picture of health. 

Dr. Frost and Dr. Roleston took turns in giving the medicine; I was in the 
house when he died, not in the sick room; the last thing given by Dr. Frost was 
composition tea, given I think on the morning of his death; he died at ten o'clock 
on Tuesday night. 

Among the witnesses was the aforenamed Dr. Wooster Beach, whose 
testimony, in view of his reputation as a reformer and yet opponent of 
Thomson and his connection with Eclecticism is very important. It is 
as follows: 

Dr. Wooster Beach, sworn. I am a physician, have practised about twenty 
years in New York, on what is termed the reformed system; have studied the 
ordinary practise; have a diploma as a regular physician; have practised on the 
reformed system exclusively; I know lobelia; and have written a work on med- 
icine, in which I have mentioned the plant; there are three species of lobelia; 
lobelia inflata, lobelia syphilitica, and lobelia cardinalis; the lobelia inflata grows 
about two feet high, and bears pale blue flowers; the leaves are small; it does not 
resemble flax, as has been stated by another witness^; don't recollect the flower 
of the lobelia cardinalis, never used it nor the syphilitica; the lobelia inflata is 
the only kind I have used; it acts as an emetic and strong stimulant; I usually 
combine it with other articles; I give from half a drachm to a drachm, with an 
equal quantity of ipecacuanha; have given one hundred and twenty grains in its 
pure state, in the course of an hour, with a very favorable effect; it is a good 
remedy in the incipient stage of fever, and perhaps in the progress of fever, if 
judiciously used; never used it in cholera; it might be used in cholera with 
advantage; internally I administer vegetable remedies almost exclusively; I never 
use minerals; have used lobelia from the commencement of ray practice, and never 
knew it to produce injurious results; have known it to be prostrating when used 
alone, and for that reason combine it with other articles; have no particular 
knowledge of Dr. Frost; have some knowledge of the Thomsonian practise, but 
have never adopted it; cayenne is a pure stimulant, it is used with benefit as a 
gargle in putrid sore throat; beth root is an innocent astringent, a tablespoonful 



would produce, I apprehend, no serious results; valerian is innocent, so is poplar 
bark, which is a tonic; sumach is a safe medicine; these medicines all possess 
more or less medicinal properties; it is difiicult to test vegetable substances after 
they have been introduced into the stomach ; there is no proper test, strictly speaking, 
for lobelia; some tests have been made, but not satisfactory; lobelia is not as 
destructive as mercury in any form or to any constitution; it is not the fact that 
no regular physician declines the use of mercury; a very considerable proportion 
object to its use, and altogether discard it; the most distinguished physicians in 
Europe and America have abandoned it; treatise upon treatise have been written 
against its use, and enough to induce any reasonable person to discard it forever; 
the younger physicians use it more than the older; the system is pretty much a 
new one, and was introduced about fifty years ago; bayberry is alterative, and 
astringent; ginger is stimulating, and may be taken safely in sickness or in health; 
I know of no medicine in the Thomsonian Materia Medica, which is a poison 
within itself; they are all good, if properly used. 

Cross-examined. I know the treatment resorted to by Dr. Frost from the 
testimony adduced; he differs from me as regards lobelia, I have heard of the 
different modes, times and quantities that lobelia was administered to the deceased; 
it does not correspond with my principles, but it is common for physicians to differ; 
it has not been my practise to use lobelia alone ; I have given eighty grains with 
the same amount of ipecacuanha in an infusion of eupatorium, repeated if neces- 
sary every half hour; this combination was to render the lobelia more certain 
in its operation; I have sometimes found lobelia not so certain in its operation as I 
could wish; have known it to act as a laxative; would depend upon the quantity 
given whether it would destroy the action of the stomach or not; if injudiciously 
given it might prove injurious, but how I cannot say. Have been acquainted with 
the Thomsonian Treatment for years; have seen lobelia given unmixed; know 
what a course of medicine is; would consider the treatment in French's case, 
according to my principles, as injudicious; the first course might have been good, 
but a repetition I should consider injudicious; should think it was too stimulating, 
too exciting; it might or it might not have produced death; disease might have 
taken off the deceased; the treatment might have taken him off; no human being 
can say with certainty; after the first course I think the treatment would have 
increased the disease; it is only my opinion; good reasons may be given for an 
opposite opinion; don't administer lobelia in all diseases; think it would be 
destructive in some diseases, if given in sufficient quantities; so with the best of 
medicines we have. Cannot say what would be the effect of a powerful dose of 
lobelia where there was delirium or great prostration. Doubt whether it would 
produce death, but have never seen the operation of lobelia under such circum- 

To Mr. Brown. Checking perspiration, as described to have been done by 
Dr. Cheeseman, would prove injurious; a vast proportion of diseases are imputed 
to checked perspiration; it would be more injurious in a diseased than in a healthy 
condition; it -might produce death, might prove fatal in a short time if the patient 
was very low or prostrate ; with regard to the various grades of fevers I agree with 
the faculty; but I give vegetable instead of mineral remedies. 

In slight attacks the Thomsonians use composition tea; in violent diseases 
they give the courses; I never practised according to their system; my knowledge 
is derived from books. 

To Mr. Phenix. I deem it necessary to understand a disease before I admin- 



ister medicine. It is immaterial how knowledge is acquired, provided it be in 
possession. Sometimes it is difficult to distinguish between diseases in their incipient 
stages; during this time we treat them on general principles. In my own prac- 
tice, I first ascertain the disease before I administer remedies. I formerly bled for 
pleurisy, but have not of late years. My system is the reformed system. The 
indications of cure are the same as with the old faculty; I administer innocent 
remedies in every progress of disease; don't use salts; it enters into one of my 
combinations, but is rarely used ; I make use of the alkalies, carbonate of potash, and 
bicarbonate of potash, usually termed salaeratus; they can scarcely be classed with 
minerals. Saratoga water may be beneficial in some cases; have not been in the 
habit of using them; the principles of the reformed system are similar to those 
of the regular or old school system, except that in the former, all mineral poisons 
are excluded. 

To Mr. Brown. It is difficult to distinguish between fevers at their com- 
mencement; when we don't know what type the fever will assume, we treat it 
on general principles; purgatives and emetics are equally, applicable in the com- 
mencement. I use a vegetable caustic to remove tumors. My remedies are active 
but do not destroy the system. The vegetable kingdom contains all the necessary 
remedial agents; and I only wish mankind would get their eyes open to the dif- 
ference between the vegetable and mineral practice. (Great applause.) 

In the course of the trial, the question of whether Lobelia is a poison 
arose. The evidence of Pardon Lapham is of interest because of the 
heroic dose of lobelia that "did not kill." 

Cross-examined. Have followed the Thomsonian practice about ten years 
for a livelihood. Got my information by buying a book. Have a knowledge of 
diseases as laid down by Dr. Thomson. We give cayenne as a stimulant, and 
lobelia as a stimulant. We give them both together because the action of the 
lobelia is like a fire kindled up with shavings, which soon goes out unless there 
is something to back it up; cayenne is administered for this purpose. 

Recorder. How much lobelia would it take to kill a man? 

Witness. I said that I had given a half a pound, and that it did not kill. 

Then came the charge of the Judge, who closed his lengthy address 
to the jury in the following words: 

You must, gentlemen, do the prisoner justice. Weigh every 
fact that niakes in his favor — weigh also all thai makes against him. 
If you have good and sound doubts that he did not shorten the life 
of young French, you must acquit him. If on the other hand you 
believe that he did, you must find him guilty, whatever be the con- 
sequences to him or to others. 

You owe much to society for the faithful discharge of your high 
and important functions in this cause — you owe much to the pris- 
oner. You owe it to the whole community, your country and your 
God, that you deliberate carefully and decide justly on the guilt or 
innocence of the prisoner. Pursue common sense as your guide, 



gentlemen, and render such a verdict as will justify you to the pris- 
oner, to your own conscience, your country, and your God. 

Give way, gentlemen, to nothing but a love of justice — retire to 
the jury room and interchange your sentiments in an amicable man- 
ner, hear one another with calmness, weigh everything carefully, 
submit everything to a test of common sense, and render such a 
verdict as in your conscience you believe to be just and right ! 

Finally, after four hours' deliberation, the jury returned to the Court 
with a verdict of, — 

GREE, accompanied with a recommenda1;^on of the accused to 

Mr. Morrill moved an arrest of judgment on the ground that the 
accused had never been arraigned, nor the indictment read to him. 

Mr. Phenix said that there was a statute for the cure of all such 
informalities, and that the legality of the proceedings could not be 

Mr. Morrill replied that he had other grounds for his motion of 
arrest, but what he had stated, he deemed sufficient for the present. 

The Court replied that the motion should receive due consider- 
ation at the ensuing term, and, meanwhile, the PRISONER MIGHT 


Thus ended this most famous trial which, together with that of 
Thomson, created more interest in early reform American medicine than 
perhaps all other influences combined. Let us now pass to the Materia 
Medica adopted by Thomson and his followers. 





The Materia Medica of the early followers of Samuel Thomson 
consisted of botanical products and combinations thereof. The aim was 
to exclude all poisons, in which list lobelia was not by them included. 
Their remedies, therefore, excluded such energetics as podophyllum, san- 
guinaria, rhus, etc., which became important agents with Beach and his 
followers, the Eclectics. Whilst the Thomsonians rejected mineral salts 
and the inorganics, these substances were conservatively employed in Ec- 
lecticism. These facts have not been generally understood, many phy- 
sicians and others, who should know better, maintaining that Eclectics 
used only botanical remedies. 

In order that the Thomsonian Materia Medica may be authorita- 
tively recorded in our Bulletin, we reproduce from The Lobelia Advocate, 
1838, an editorial commenting on this subject, followed by a complete 
list of the plants used by Thomson and his followers, which also is 
reproduced by us in full, in the terms employed in the original. 


Many false and wholly erroneous notions have heretofore existed, and still do, 
to a considerable extent, with regard to the articles used by Thomsonian prac- 
titioners as remedial agents, both as regards their medicinal properties and the 
number used. 

It is believed by many honest, well-meaning individuals, (those, of course, 
who are wholly ignorant of Thorasonianism,) that the articles used in the 
Thomsonian Materia Medica, are of the most deleterious and poisonous nature — 
that Thomsonian practitioners use but one or two articles in all, and that the 
same articles are given in all cases, whatever may be the form of disease; that 
steam, cayenne, and lobelia, constitute the Materia Medica of the Thomsonian 
system of medical practice, and that they are very dangerous, and neither of 
them can be used without great danger to the patient. Now we do not censure 
folks who thus believe and talk, because we believe they do it.ignorantly, yet we 
do most sincerely pity their ignorance and credulity, for believing the vague and 
foolish stories of those who are prejudiced and interested, for we lay it down 
as an indisputable truth, that none but the ignorant, (that is, ignorant of Thom- 
sonism,) interested and prejudiced, ever speak against the Botanic practice, and 
for the especial benefit of such as are in the habit of talking thus ignorantly and 
foolishly, we shall make the three following declarations, viz: ist. Thomsonian 
physicians use in their ordinary practice of medicine a greater number of distinct 



and separate substances, than the mineralites do. 2d. Thomsonian physicians 
make and use in their ordinary course of practice a greater number of mixtures 
from their greater number of simples, than the mineralites do. 3d. There is no 
article or plant ever recommended by Dr. Samuel Thomson as a remedial agent — 
there is none contained in his Materia Medica, or used by those who bear his 
name, or practice upon his system, which contains a particle of narcotine or poison, 
and which does not harmonize with the laws of life, and aid nature in her 
efforts to overcome the disease and restore the patient — the exaggerations, misrep- 
resentations, false reports, and downright lies of the enemies of the system to the 
contrary notwithstanding. And in order that the public may be enabled to judge 
for themselves as to the facts in this matter, and see who is right, we subjoin a 
list of all the principal articles (that is, plants,) used by the Botanic practitioners, 
and we earnestly solicit the public, one and all, to examine for themselves, and 
as soon as any person, ("scientific" M. D.'s not excepted) shall have discovered 
any poison or narcotic in the list, we shall thank them to inform us of their dis- 
covery, for we say decidedly, and without fear of contradiction, that there is no 
article used by Dr. Thomson or his followers, which might not be eaten by spoon 
fulls like food, and produce no other effects than nausea, vomiting, or purging. 
The following is a list of plants: 









Pond Lily 






Witch Hazel 


Sweet Briar 




Squaw Weed 






Peach Kernels 


Bitter Root 


Ohio Kercuma 


Yellow Root 


Cherry Kernels 








Black Pepper 








Spear Mint 


Summer Savory 








Lobelia Infiata 

Capsicum Annum 

Myrica Cerifera 

Nymphia Odorata 


Rhus Glabrum 

Hamamelis Virginica 

Rubus Strigosus 


Erigeron Purpureum 

Chelone Glabra 

Berberis Vulgaris 

Amygdalus Persica 

Apocynum Androsemifolium 

Frasera Verticillata 

Hydrastis Canadensis 

Prunes Virginiana 

Cypripediura Pubescens 


Zingiber Amonum 

Piper Nigrium 



Mentha Peperita 

Mentha Veridis 

Saturciae Hortensis 

Hedeoma Pulegiordes 

Marrubium Vulgare 

Inula Helenium 







Anthemis Cotula 



Artimisea Absymthium 



Tanacetum Vulgare 



Anthemis Nobilis 



Verbascum Thapsus 



Articum Lappa 



Matricaria Vulgaris 


Black Birch 

Betula Lenta 


Bitter Sweet 

Celastrius Scandens 


Skunk Cabbage 

Ictodes Fcetida 


Wake Robbin 

Arum Triphyllum 



Eupuorium Perfoliatura 


Evan Root 

Geum Virginianum 



Galium Verum at Aparine 


Balsam Fir 

Penies Balsamea 


Slippery Elm 

Ulmas Fulva 


Va. Snake Root 

Aristolochia Serpentaria 





Horse Radish 

Cochleria Armoracia 



Juglans Cinerea 


Blue Vervain 

Verbena Hastata 


White Vervain 

Verbena Urticifolia 


Sweet Golden Rod 

Solidago Odora 



Pyrola Umbillata 


Bitter Thistle 

Cnicus dffincinalis 


Yellow Dock 

Rumex Crispus 


Lovely Thistle 

Carduus Benedictus 


Prickley Ash 



Wild Lettuce 

Pyrola Rotundifolia 


Unicorn Root 

Aletris Farinosa 


Gold Thread 

Coptis Trifolia 



Lycopus Virginicus 


Balm of Gilead 

Populus Candicans 



Panax Quinquefolia 


Meadow Fern 

Myrica Gale 


Red Clover 

Trifolium Pratense 

There are a few other unimportant plants used and recommended by Dr. 
Thomson, yet the above are the principal. 

In connection with the foregoing list of remedies comes in proper se- 
quence the opinions and theories Thomson held concerning disease and its 
cure. This includes descriptions of his "steaming" processes and his famous 
patented "Courses of medicine." 



In Thomson's day, directions for treating disease were supplied by 
himself or his authorized agents when a patent right to practice by the 
Thomsonian method was purchased. Directions for making his prepara- 
tions, as well as for gathering plants and purchasing drugs, were given as 
a part of the franchise. 

Throughout America, agents who by authority of Thomson held the 

privilege of selling the patent right to practice, also carried stocks of drugs 

to sell to purchasers of the patent. These stocks were something very 

large, enough to surprise even dealers in drugs of the present day. They 

were also advertised to readers of Thomsonian literature, as is shown by 

the following reproductions of an advertisement in the "Lobelia Advocate," 



Still offers to his friends, the Botanic remedies — such as are used by Botanic Physi- 
cians: Numbers 1, 2, 3, 4, s and 6, with Bayberry, Cloves Composition, &c. &c. &c. 
All genuine, and as responsible as any other establishment. 

_ Westminster, June 30. 

In like manner the "Botanic Medical Recorder," 1844, presents an ad- 
vertisement which is of peculiar value in that it gives the prices then pre- 
vailing for well-known drugs of to-day, many of which were thus intro- 
duced to the trade. 


We have a good stock of first-rate Medicines, which we will sell for cash 
cheaper than they have ever been bought in this city, except of ourselves. Among 
them are. 

Lobelia Seed, per lb., 


Ptelea, an excellent article. 


Lobelia Leaf, 




Cayenne, first quality. 

1. 00, 

Boneset, flowers, 


Cayenne, znd quality, good. 

.62 J4, 

Cohosh, blue and black. 


Bayberry, very best. 


Wild Ginger, ground, excellent. 


Ginger, first rate. 


Beth root. 




Pleurisy root, 


Raspberry, Witch Hazle, 






Golden Seal, 


Bitters, spiced or plain, 






And most other articles used in our Practice. When large orders are sent, a small 
discount will be made on some of the above articles. 


South side third street, one door east of Broadway, 

Cincinnati, O." 



The Thomsonian Treatment and "Courses of Medicine" may perhaps 
be no more authoritatively shown than by a verbatim reproduction of that 
section in "The Thomsonian Materia Medica," by Samuel Thomson, 
thirteenth edition : 


1. At the commencement of an attack of the disease, the first thing to be brought 
to mind should be, what has caused the attack, and how should it be treated, and 
how removed. 

The "ways and means" cause much trouble and speculation with the patient, 
who should ever be alive to the best means for his future welfare. 

2. One of the fundamental principles in the Thomsonian practice is, that all 
diseases originate from the same cause, directly or indirectly — that is, from the de- 
ranged state of the fluids of the body, by the absence of heat, or loss of vitality; 
which produces an over pressure or excess of circulation to the head, and a pro- 
portionate deficiency in the feet. 

This creates derangement in the organs of sense, and a proportionate want of 
action with the digestive apparatus, by which the bowels become constipated, and 
the evacuations of the body are much obstructed, for want of the requisite action 
and equilibrium in the fluids, and the consequent order attendant upon such a state 
of things. 

3. This derangement having been produced by the loss of vitality, or taking 
cold, and the consequent absence of heat at the lower extremities, and an excess at 
the head in the same degree, to bring about an equilibrium properly through the 
system, or to establish order where there is naught but disorder, is what we wish. 
To restore warmth to the feet and reduce the pressure upon the brain, by correcting 
digestion, promoting perspiration, and removing obstructions from the stomach, 
bowels, and their dependencies, is the proper mode to effect this object. 

4. The best method yet discovered is a thorough Thomsonian course of medi- 
cine, when properly administered, which creates a healthy circulating medium in 
the lower extremities, equal with that of the head, and thus produces order and 
regularity both in body and mind. 

5. The first knowledge with a practitioner should be to understand the prin- 
ciples or cause of the derangement, disease, or loss of heat; and secondly the proper 
course of treatment to bring the deranged parts to order by restoring the vitality, 
or heat, by the loss of which the whole man has become diseased. 

6. There is no immediate danger in any case where the veins on the patient's 
hands and feet are full. This is the surest test by which a practitioner may de- 
termine whether or not his patient is doing well. Or a long and regular respira- 
tion will indicate the same state of the body, as well as a regular pulse. 


Through the system, which must be done in all cases of disease, to restore the 

patient to health. 

In the first place, put the feet of the patient into water as hot as can be borne, 
increase the heat by adding water of a higher temperature until a copious perspira- 
tion is started on the forehead and in the palms of the hands; the patient may be 



in the bath if thought necessary; this will afford some relief. Then take brown 
emetic, cayenne, composition, and nerve powder, of each one teaspoonful, put them 
into one pint of boiling water and let them steep for ten minutes ; sweeten with 
molasses, and let half the quantity be given as an injection, as hot as it can be borne, 
and let the patient retain it as long as possible. This will turn the excitement from 
the head downwards and sickness at the stomach will be produced. Then give a 
table' spoonful of the tincture of lobelia and a small quantity of cayenne, in some 
simple tea, and if this does not produce sufficient vomiting repeat the dose. 

The vomiting will be easy, the veins in the hands and feet will be filled, the 
head, in consequence of the equalization of the circulation, will be relieved, and the 
whole system will become quiet and easy. 

Let these directions be strictly followed, and by so doing I hesitate not to say 
that three fourths of the attacks of the disease — such as colic, dysentery, quinsy, croup, 
pleurisy, head-ache, liver complaint, &c. — might immediately find relief. Let every 
practitioner lay up these remarks as valuable truths, to be observed in all cases 
where there is disease or derangement in the system, in attempting to afford relief 
or perform a cure. 

Order must be brought about in the body by an equalization of the fluids, and 
it matters but Httle how that is effected — whether by a course of medicine, steaming, 
bathing the feet in hot water, an emetic, or stimulating with hot liquor, hot medi- 
cines, or any other course which will effect this relief on the system. To accom- 
plish this successfully in the greatest number of cases is what constitutes the eminent 


Steaming is an important part of the Thomsonian practice. Many cases which 
prove too stubborn for the medicine unassisted by the vapor bath, are through its 
agency relieved. In all diseases where the vital heat has become so far exhausted 
as not to be rekindled by the administration of medicine, steaming is indispensably 
necessary. In all cases of suspended animation, a gentle bath and bathing the 
feet in hot water, should be immediately resorted to. In cases of falls and bruises, 
or accidents of the like, this treatment rarely if ever fails of affording relief. It is 
also useful in preventing sickness as well as in curing it. 

When a person has taken a severe cold, and disease is rapidly getting hold of 
the system, a thorough steaming, as hereinafter directed, will frequently throw off 
the disorder. Always remember while giving the vapor bath, to keep up the 
internal heat, to prevent faintness; for which purpfise give a tea of cayenne, or of 
any other warming or stimulating article, with occasionally wetting the patient's 
face and breast in tepid water. 

The most convenient and effectual way to administer the bath is to have a 
box constructed for that purpose. The following plan is perhaps as good as any. 
Let the box be in the form of a closet, two f^et four inches deep, two feet six inches 
wide, and six feet high. It should be elevated from the floor about six inches, 
by the means of blocks or legs. Let the bottom be made tight and in form of a 
sink, with a vessel underneath to receive the condensed water. The door may be 
five feet and a half high, and one foot ten inches wide, with a hole for ventilation 
(before which let a curtain be drawn) six by nine inches, about four feet from the 
bottom. Let the top be boarded tight, and at the bottom, immediately above the 
sink, let a portable floor, or a board eighteen or twenty inches wide, be supported by 



means of cleets fastened to the sides of the box, under which let the steam pass in 
by means of a lead pipe. 

This portable floor will break the volume of the steam, cause it to ascend on 
all sides of the patient, and prevent its burning his feet. But where a box cannot 
be had, the following method may be adopted. 

Have three or four stones or bricks heated, and let the patient sit in a chair, 
undressed, with a blanket around him, to confine the vapor and shield him from 
the air; then place a two gallon kettle with a concave bottom, with about one quart 
of water, between the feet inside of the blanket, put in one of the heated stones, and 
as soon as that begins to cool put in another, which continue to do till the patient 
is sufficiently warm, which' will be in from ten to fifteen minutes. 

The patient may stand during the operation in this way, instead of sitting, if 
able. But when too weak either to stand or sit over the steam, it may be adminis- 
tered in bed, by heating several bricks, wrapping them in wet cloths and placing 
them around him. Or a better plan is, to have a frame made, to place over the 
patient's body to elevate the covering, and then pass the steam into the bed by means 
of a pipe. 

The method of producing the steam, in order to administer the bath in the first 
and last mentioned ways, may be as follows: Have a tin or copper boiler con- 
structed in form of a cylinder, in such a manner as for the heat to pass up through 
the centre, and to be perfectly air tight except one tube by which to put in water 
(to which a tight stopper may be adapted,) and another for the steam to pass out 
at, on which a pipe must be closely fitted, and from thence passed to the place 
where you desire to have it. The boiler may be filled with water, and placed on a 
stove or furnace. As soon as the water commences boiling, the steam will pass 
out of the tube and through the pipe to any place desired. The temperature of the 
steam will be regulated by that of the fire over which the boiler is placed, and 
must be adapted to the patient's strength and ability to bear it. 


In all cases where the patient has little or no appetite, and is declining in health 
and strength for the want of support, simple treatment, such as tonics, stomachics 
and soothing medicines, ought to be used ; but if they fail to answer the purpose, 
it is evident that the system is laboring under serious difficulties, and that the patient 
will not find relief until the obstructions are removed, perspiration made free, and 
digestion regulated. In such cases the articles that afforded nourishment in health 
produce excitement and irritation in the stomach, distress in the head, and a general 
derangement throughout the internal viscera, the arterial and nervous system, and 
a feverish excitement on the surface. To remove this, we point out the following 
plain and simple mode by which all curable forms of disease may be treated suc- 
cessfully, and the patient restored to health. There is no danger attending the 
operation of the medicines, as in the regular practice ; therefore if one course of medi- 
cine is given more than was actually necessary, no injury will result to the patient, 
and the time and medicine is all that is lost. How important, then, that thorough 
treatment should be observed, when so momentous an object as the life and health 
of the patient is concerned. 


In all cases where there is inflammation or a concentration of febrile excite- 
ment to any particular point, for instance a sprained joint, distress in the head, 



inflammation of the stomach and bowels, &c., the course of medicine will remove 
the obstruction by equalizing the fluids throughout the system, by which means the 
patient will find immediate relief, thus confirming the principle of the UNIT of dis- 
ease, li such concentration of excitement be caused by morbid matter being received 
into the system by means of a foetid atmosphere, bad food or putrid water, one 
course may not be sufficient to exclude all the morbid poison from the secretory 
vessels, the evidence of which will be the want of an appetite, sickness at the 
stomach, weakness in the limbs, and a febrile excitement. If so, courses should be 
repeated at suitable intervals of time, until these symptoms pass away, and by the 
circulation through the body being equalized a healthy action is restored; the appe- 
tite becomes good, the digestive organs perform their natural functions, and the 
sleep is quiet. Courses of medicine may be successfully employed to remove dis- 
tress and ease pain, and to make the patient comfortable in all cases of luhitlonus, 
felons, biles, bruises, or any other excessive inflammatory concentration of the fluids 
of the body where relief cannot be found from any other course of treatment. 

First, soak the affected part in lye made of hard wood ashes, then apply a 
poultice made of flax seed, or yellow lily, or made of bread and milk, which 
should be kept moist while under the operation of the course. This will relieve the 
distress and bring the sore to a crisis, and is perhaps the surest way to relieve the 
patient. It is expected that all simple means will be tried before the course is re- 
sorted to. It should be remembered that all diseases are brought on by derangement 
of the fluids of the body, and that all diseases can be cured by restoring order and 
regularity to said fluids. Courses of medicine will effect this, if properly adminis- 
tered and attended to in season. Where there is distress there is disorder and a 
derangement of the fluids, and consequently a restoration of order and an equalization 
in the system, will afford relief. 

In reading this work, do not forget this important principle; that all diseases 
herein mentioned are brought about by a decrease or derangement of the vital fluids 
by taking cold or the loss of animal warmth. And that the name of the complaint 
depends upon what part of the body has become so weak as to be affected. If the 
lungs, it is consumption, or the pleura, pleurisy; if the limbs, it is rheumatism, or 
the bowels, cholic, or cholera morbus. 

But after all, these different diseases are caused by the partial loss of vitality 
or warmth, and all may be removed by a restoration of the vital energy, and re- 
moving the obstructions which the disease has generated. 

It is thought by some that unless the physician know the name which has been 
given to the disease by others, he cannot treat it successfully. If he cannot readily 
call to mind the variety of names so profusely lavished by the regular physicians 
upon the different forms of disease it will not prevent his medicine from having a 
beneficial effect, nor prove that the physician has not valuable practical knowledge, 
which is after all the true philosopher's stone of which the patient is in pursuit. 

Is it right to infer that because a man cannot command all the names that have 
been written by other people, as liable to err and as frail as himself, that he cannot 
by practice, know the use of medicine or the nature of disease: or because he cannot 
give the respective bones, muscles, ligaments and vessels of the body their appro- 
priate names, he cannot cure the colic or dysentery? 

When our pilgrim fathers landed at Plymouth the aborigines brought them 
long golden ears, of a vegetable substance, which they had never seen or heard of 
before, neither had the great or learned men of their father land, and we are told 
that they were kept from starvation, were nourished and rendered comfortable 



through a long dreary winter by the support this vegetable substance afforded, fur- 
nished by illiterate savages. Now shall we deny that these people were nourished 
and supported by this valuable plant, because they did not know that it was Indian 
com, and because it was furnished by those illiterate savages, who knew not the 
meaning of a diploma and had no knowledge of the Greek or Latin languages? 
Impossible ! ! The virtues and nutriment were in the com, and the true science 
in the matter was in having the knowledge of it. In this respect the savages were 
scientific and the pilgrims were the quacks, notwithstanding their boasted knowl- 
edge in other respects. Give us more practical knowledge and less theorizing; 
more of true science and less speculation. To remove the infirmities of our fellow 
men, give us more innocent vegetable substances and less poisons. Then shall we 
be led to rejoice over the bounties of Providence, in filling the soil with innocent 
remedies that the poor suffering sons of humanity may there find an antidote for 
every bodily ill. 


First — ^To prepare for the course, let the patient take a dose of composition, or 
No. 6, in herb tea, hot, then go into the bath and put his feet into hot water; raise 
the heat of the bath to about loo or no deg. Fahrenheit. After a lively perspira- 
tion starts, and the veins have become full upon the feet, hands and temples, and 
the pulse much quickened, say to 95 or loo per minute, take a quart cup of cold 
water and add hot water to it until its temperature is about that of the surrounding 
atmosphere; then open the door of the bath, and have the feet taken out of the 
pail, and pour your water over the head and shoulders, completely drenching the 
whole surface of the body and limbs. Then let the patient step out of the bath 
and be rubbed with a coarse napkin or towel. The indications of a healthy action 
now are, full veins on the extremities and a lively appearance in the flesh through- 
out the system. Now let the patient go into a warm bed, with a hot stone, brick 
or jug of hot water at his feet. 

Secondly — Take two ounces of No. 3, or canker tea, and put it in a quart bowl, 
and pour upon it one pint of boiling water; let it steep about ten minutes, strain 
off three gills, and when hot add two teaspoonsful of brown emetic, one teaspoonful 
of cayenne, one teaspoonful of nerve powder, and if it is a putrid case, one table- 
spoonful of No. 6 ; sweeten it with molasses or sugar. Pour off a wineglass full of 
this compound, and give it to the patient as soon as he is in bed, and then let half 
a pint of the same compound be given as an injection. Let two or three wineglasses 
more be given with about half a teaspoonful of emetic in each, at intervals of fifteen 
minutes, if that given first does not operate sufficiently. While under the operation 
of the course, let the patient drink freely of a tea made of spearmint, peppermint, 
pennyroyal, or summersavory, and also of milk porridge or crust coffee, which will 
nourish and invigorate the body. 

Thirdly — In from three to six hours the patient will generally be through 
with vomiting and the stomach settled: then let him take a second bathing precisely 
similar to the first; let him stay in ten or fifteen minutes, remembering to shower 
with the tempered water on coming out. Let the surface of the body be rubbed 
thoroughly and then apply to it some cold whiskey and water, to completely close 
the pores, and the patient may then dress and wash his hands and face in cold 
water, and if the stomach and bowels have been thoroughly cleansed, he will 
feel completely well. 



Fourthly — Let the patient take of the bitters No. 4, or syrup No. 5, to restore 
the digestive organs, and his health is soon restored. 

This course may be repeated if thought advisable, but it is the most powerful 
one that is usually administered. 

Course No. 2. 

In case of inflammatory sore throat, quinsy, rattles or croup, take a dose of com- 
position, cayenne, or No. 6, then take a bath as in course No. i. Bathing the feet 
alone will answer, if the bath cannot be handily applied : then give one fourth of 
a glass of tincture of lobelia, after which give an injection as prepared in course 
No. I, or the brown emetic may be put into a boiling hot tea of composition, witch 
hazle, or red raspberry leaves. This will change the field of excitement from the 
upper to the lower extremities, and will also turn the pressure of blood in like 
manner from the head, lungs and neck to the bowels and feet. 

In all cases of diflSculties or inflammation about the region of the lungs or 
head, the injection should be made sweet with molasses to loosen the bowels, and 
very stimulating with No. 2, and sufficiently powerful with brown emetic to cause 
the patient to vomit, and should contain also a teaspoonful of nerve powder, or 
instead of two teaspoonsful of the tincture of asafetida, to quiet the nervous system 
while under the operation. Repeat the tincture by the stomach, if the injection does 
not cause sufficient vomiting, and immediate relief will be the result, unless the 
patient is very low, or beyond the reach of medicine. 

After the medicine is done operating, the steam may be applied as in course 
No. I ; the body bathed with whiskey and water, and the feet and legs with stimu- 
lating liniment. Put a stimulating plaster about the neck, with the sides notched, 
so that it may extend to the edge of the chin, and over this put one or two thicknesses 
of flannel to keep the neck warm. The same plasters may also be applied to the 
feet to good advantage. This treatment turns the circulation so completely to the 
lower extremities that relief is almost instantaneous. In the recent state of the dis- 
ease this treatment soon brings the difficulty to a crisis, and the patient recovers 
with very little trouble. In cases of croup or rattles, cloths wet with hot whiskey 
and water wrung out and applied to the bowels as hot as can be borne, and often 
changed, are a great assistant to the other treatment in restoring the lost heat or 
vitality by absorption. 

With such practice we h'ave relieved many cases of violent disease of the 
chest and head, and these directions should be remembered and followed by all 
in similar cases. 

Course No. 3. 

There are various forms in which the emetic may be given. A light course 
may be given a child; by first bathing the feet in hot water and giving freely 
of penny royal, spearmint, pepper mint, or sum.mer savory tea, with the addition 
of a little cayenne and lobelia tincture. Then to a cup of the hot tea and half a 
tea-spoonful of cayenne, the same quantity of brown emetic, and a tea-spoonful of 
the tincture of asafoetida, and give it as an injection. It will produce copious vom- 
iting, take the distress from the head, and produce immediate relief. 

After the operation the body of the child may be bathed thoroughly with 
whiskey and water about blood warm. Put on clean, warm, dry clothes, and place 
the little patient in bed, and it will feel much relieved and refreshed. 

If the stomach is so weak or irritable as to reject the cayenne or emetic, given 



as above directed, let the patient drink herb tea until the system becomes moist with 
perspiration, then give the emetic in form of pills, or in honey, any kind of sweet 
meats, preserves or syrup, or in weak pearlash, or saleratus water; in any of the 
mint teas or simple drink; or it may be given in toddy, sling, beer or cider. It 
may also be taken in lemonade or orange juice and in a great variety of other ways. 

If the patient is determined not to take the emetic, he may be deceived by pre- 
paring it in one of the above forms, and not know that he has taken it until it begins 
to operate. 

Then by giving the herb teas or composition, a thorough course may be had 
without much trouble. But if the child detects the taste of the emetic when mixed 
with these articles, let him taste of some of the drinks made pleasant, just sufficient 
to produce a desire for more, then put in your emetic, unnoticed by the patient, and 
let them hurry to drink it before the taste is detected, or they have a chance to 
know what it is. 

Course No. 4. 

Let the patient take of composition or herb tea till an easy perspiration is started, 
then administer half a dozen emetic pills; they will gradually dissolve, and the 
secretions will take up their emetic properties and nausea will be continued for some 
time before vomiting takes place. If the operation is not sufficient, an injection as 
directed in Course No. i, may be administered, or instead of brown emetic, the 
tincture may be substituted, and if thought advisable a half dozen more pills may 
be taken. This will generally answer the purpose. After the medicine has done 
operating, take a vapor bath as directed in Course No. i, remembering if the circu- 
lation is not good iij the extremities, to bathe the feet in hot water, and then 
apply to the feet and legs the stimulating liniment. 

The proper application of these courses of medicine, in the various forms of 
disease to which man is subject, we consider the key-stone in the grand arch and 
superstructure of the Thomsonian system of practice ; for without the lobelia, 
cayenne and the vapor bath, the grand bulwark of the system would be wanting. 
These valuable articles stand in the front and foremost rank to oppose all attacks, 
stages and forms of disease to which frail humanity is subject. 

Having given the history of Samuel Thomson, close linked w^ith the 
record of Lobelia, and his method of treating diseases, it remains to close 
the chapter with the ending of the life of the most picturesque of all men 
connected with the evolution of American medicine and the American 
Materia Medica. Comes now as the final word the death of Samuel 



"See, when the patient's taken sick, 

Coldness has gained the day; 
And fever comes as nature's friend, 
To drive the cold away." 

Some men advocate one thing and practice another. It is said of a 
renowned prohibition orator, who had been criticised for using alcoholic 
liquids: "Do as I say, not as I do." Such as this can not be charged 
against Samuel Thomson. Fanatically zealous in his cause, an advocate 
of the Thomsonian Course of Medication in all that the course implied, 
he passed from life heroically partaking of lobelia, enemas, and the recog- 
nized Thomsonian syrups, teas, etc. Indeed, September 22, 1843, he 
ordered a full "course of medicine," although he knew full well that his 
earthly end was near. Heroically he fought death until, at last, on the 
morning of October 4, 1843, came the ending of it all. 

This Bulletin would be incomplete without a description of the last 
days of this interesting personage. We accordingly reproduce from the 
Botanico-Medical Recorder, November, 1843, the report of Mr. Nathaniel 
S. Magoon, of Boston, who cared for Thomson in his last illness. 

[From the Thomsonian Manual.] 

Mr. Editor: Having been requested by the friends and relatives of Dr. Samuel 
Thomson to give an account of his last sickness and the medical treatment he re- 
ceived during that sickness, and thinking the public who are favorable to his system, 
may also feel interested in the subject, I have written the following report which I 
sent you for publication in the Manual: 


For the last three of four years Doctor Thomson had been in the enjoyment of 
tolerable health for a man of his age; and although subject to attacks of diarrhoea, 
still, by a careful attention to himself, he soon checked its progress and restored his 
health; and by his own medicines, and always by his own directions. His health 
for the last year had not materially varied from what it had been for the period 
above stated, until the first of August last, when the relax set in and continued 
until the 36th of September; as he had been so accustomed to being up in the night, 
and of having his own way of treating himself when this complaint was on him, 
nothing serious was thought of it, until he expressed his fears that he could not hold 
out much longer, without a more thorough resort to medicine. Medicines of an 
astringent nature were then prepared by his directions, which relieved him in two 



days — during which time he had administered to him six enemas. On Friday, Sep- 
tember 22, he observed that he must have a course of medicine. — My vyife observed 
that it was near night, he had better take some canlcer tea, then, and take the 
emetic in the morning, to which he assented; the tea when taken vomited him. 

Saturday morning, Sept. 23, he got up and dressed himself as usual, went into 
the yard; he was told that he ought not to go out; he replied that the air was 
clear and bracing, and would not hurt him. He soon returned to his room, and 
ordered an emetic of tincture of lobelia, in vegetable jelly; which was got, and 
in the absence of the nurse he took part of it, sitting by the fire, which made him 
sick — when the nurse returned she told him that he had done that which he had 
cautioned others against doing, by taking the emetic when exposed to the air, and 
advised him to go to bed; he replied he would if someone would help him un- 
dress — he was never known to ask to be helped in undressing hefore. He had a 
stimulating enema — and was assisted to bed, and had steaming stones put to his 
back and feet, and he then ordered more emetic mixed, but when offered him he 
delayed ^ of an hour before taking it. His emetic was prepared of tincture of 
lobelia in vegetable jelly, and a tumbler of canker tea; he drank pretty freely of 
pennyroyal tea, porridge, &c., and threw up a larger quantity of cold phleghi, than 
was usual for him to when taking a course. His course operated well, and he was 
washed with spirit and rubbed with flannel, and put into a clean bed. He appeared 
cheerful and joked freely; through the night he drank often of composition tea and 

Sunday morning, Sept. 24, he got up and eat a light breakfast, sat by the fire, 
and as he appeared dull, he was asked how he felt, after his course? He replied 
he felt as much refreshed as a boy who had been whipped; he then laid down, 
and on being asked if he thought the emetic did not operate well the day before; 
he said, no, the lobelia did not do justice, that it seemed to raise a load from the 
stomach part way, which fell back heavy like a lump of lead. He was asked if 
he would have another emetic on Monday. He said that he did not wish for any- 
thing stronger than the cough syrup, with a little lobelia to raise the phlegm grad- 
ually. He then ordered enemas of slippery elm, nerve powder, a small quantity 
of cayenne and milk, all scalded together. He was asked why he ordered them 
in that way, and replied that they were to strengthen him, for his throat was so 
sore that he could not swallow; this to be continued until he was restored; seeming 
to express some doubt that he should ever recover. Soon fell asleep, and then slept 
an hour, when he awoke, took some chicken broth and appeared more comfortable. 
He said that his bowels felt much relieved, and that his disease was principally 
in the gland of his throat. He then took a short ride, the weather being clear, and 
returned in good spirits and sat up until after tea; he was watched with, and 
during the night he drank freely of composition tea, and porridge, but rested 
quietly, and in the morning we thought him recovering. He got up and took some 
breakfast, and wished to go out, but on being advised not to, he concluded it was 
not best, and took an enema prepared as before, he soon went to bed, had steaming 
stones to his feet, and as he complained of severe pain at the stomach, No. 6, with 
hot water, and sweetened, were given, which soon relieved him. He was again 
urged to take an emetic, but refused, and when asked what would relieve him if 
he did not take an emetic, he replied, time and simple medicines, if anything. In 
the afternoon, he wished to get up and be shaved, which was done — and on at- 
tempting to go to bed again, he could not without help; he was asked why he 
could not walk better? and replied that his rupture — which he had been troubled 



with for a number of years, and considerably so for three years past — had fell again. 
The man who shaved him, said the doctor had considerable of a high fever, when 
the nurse repeated the following lines in his poems — 

"See, when the patient's taken sick, 

Coldness has gained the day; 
And fever comes as nature's friend, 
To drive the cold away." 

When this verse was repeated, he smiled and said that is right. 

He then asked for No. 5 syrup, which was given, and had flannel wet in 
brandy applied hot to his body — and his head, feet, legs and hands, were rubbed 
with essence of pennyroyal — the flannels would be quite dry in an hour, and re- 
quired to be renewed often. At 6 o'clock, P. M., got him up, and administered an 
enema, soaked his feet in hot water, bathed him with spirit, and put in bed again, 
and through the night he rested comfortably. 

Tuesday 26, he took porridge for breakfast, and followed a similar treatment 
as on Monday, sat up only to have his bed made; next day he took a spoonful of 
lobelia herb steeped and strained, which vomited him and raised a large quantity 
of phlegm, and he appeared relieved — he was rubbed again with warm spirit and 
rested well at night. 

Thursday 28, treated him much the same as the two preceding days, until 
about twelve o'clock, when his right leg from the knee down to the foot became 
cold, and it was with great exertions by rubbing and applying steaming stones 
that the natural warmth was restored, the left leg grew cold in about an hour, and 
the same means restored it that had been applied to the other. He said but little 
during the day, being much inclined to sleep ; occasionally wandering in mind on 
waking. Fears were expressed to him, that unless he took more hot medicines he 
would die, to which he replied that he did not wish to live; through the night, he 
occasionally revived and then failed again, and appeared gradually losing strength, 
and during the next day remained about the same. 

During this time, all of the prescriptions were of his own ordering, and all 
made known to him; when he got up, put his feet into warm water and he had 
a steaming stone before him and a blanket thrown over his head, as he said it 
relieved the distress in his throat. His medicines were now simple and soothing 
preparations to ease his throat and help expectoration, and nourishing food and 
enemas to sustain nature; but age and infirmities were unable to bear up under such 
complicated and severe sickness, and he gradually failed until the morning of the 
4th of October, when he dropped away like going to sleep. He died highly ^respected 
and deeply lamented. 

N. B. Last year about Thanksgiving time, the Doctor expressed a belief that 
he should die before spring; stated that his father was found dead in his bed 
and that he thought that he should die very sudden, and was often unwilling to 
be left alone on that account. Several times during the summer, said that he 
should die in the fall, expressed his firm belief that he should not see seventy-five 
years, which would have been his age in February, 1844. In November and De- 
cember last, he frequently mentioned that he believed that he should die before 
spring, and arranged some of his business with me, at his own suggestion. Last 
summer he had an appoinlment to visit Baltimore, or gave his friends encourage- 
ment that he should go in September or October, but a few weeks before his death. 


On being asked if he was going, he said, No; he had rather die at home. About 
three weeks before his death he had some disappointment in settling some business, 
he was apprehensive that he had lost a considerable sum of money, which was a 
source of great perplexity and worriment to him, and no doubt tended to fatigue 
and weaken him. Respectfully yours, 

Boston, October 26, 1843. NATH'L S. MAGOON. 

The End. 


Drugs and Medicines of North America 

This publication was instituted as a Quarterly, in 1884, by 
J. U. and G. G. Lloyd. It considered the medicinal plants of 
North America, until June, 1887, when, for want of time, the 
editors were forced to discontinue it. Among the drugs pre- 
sented therein, Hydrastis Canadensis (1884), was reproduced 
as the Bulletin of The Lloyd Library, No. 10, whilst Lobelia 
becomes a feature of the present Bulletin, (No. 11). This 
portion is paged (64 to 106), according to the folios of the orig- 
inal publication. 


[From "The New ( luide to Health," 1S35.] 

This pi-irtrait was taken when Thom-ion was younger 
than that shown in our fruntispiece. It is characteristic 
in the prominence given the wart on the side of the nose. 
—J. U. L 


- 0^ 

- to 



Lobelia. Our work would be but partly accomplished did we not 
present soinething concerning the drug lobelia, with which the name of 
Thomson is so intimately connected. We therefore, from Drugs and 
Medicines of North America, by J. U. and C. G. Lloyd, September and 
December, 1886, present ve'rbatim selections from the article on lobelia. 
This article carries, in foot notes, many references and much valuable in- 
formation concerning Thomson, the Thomsonian remedies, and the his- 
tory of lobelia outside of its use by Thomson and his disciples. Whilst 
no effort is made in any wise to revise the statements contained therein, 
or to review the subject from 1886 to the present time, the editor feels 
that he may, with propriety, make a few general remarks concerning the 

Lobelia, as shown by the article to follow, was employed in medicine 
before the date of Samuel Thomson, but not in amount sufficient to de- 
tract from the reputation of Thomson as the man who discovered and 
introduced the drug. (See page 88, Drugs and Medicines of North Amer- 
ica, December, 1886, same page, this Bulletin.) 

The alkaloid lobeline, described by us (pages 73-78) and physiologic- 
ally investigate_d by Professor Roberts Bartholow, M. D. (pages 89-92), 
proved to us a subsequent disappointment in that the solution of whatso- 
ever salt might be employed, or the alkaloid itself in substance, failed to 
give to physicians the value of representative galenical preparations of the 
whole drug. Consequently, within a moderate period from the time of its 
study and introduction in Drugs and Medicines, by reason of these facts, 
the use of either the alkaloid oi" of any of its salts was discontinued. 

Inflatin, pages 76-78, Drugs and Medicines, needs, in our opinion, 
to" be further investigated. Its position has not, to our knowledge, been 
determined, and whether it be a fatty acid, a stearoptene, or a concrete 
wax, is yet problematical. 

The medical history of lobelia has, in our opinion, been but super- 
ficially touched, even to the present day. The recent investigations of Dr. 
E. Jentzsch, of Chicago, and of others of the Eclectic school in medicine, 
in a hypodermic direction, leaves the subject of lobelia, in a therapeutic 
sense, no less graphically before the profession at this date than, nearly a 
century ago, it was in the days of Samuel Thomson. Lobelia is one 
of the most promising and most fruitful of the American drugs, and, 
in the hands of physicians who know how to use it in disease, it is one 
of the most useful. John Uri Lloyd. 




(natural size.) 


Parts Used.— 

Natural Order 

Fig. 126. 

A small flowering plant of Lobelia 
inflatz, (natural size.) 


-The dried flowering plant and the seeds of Lobelia inflata, 

Campanulaceae, Tribe Lobelieae. 

Botanical Description. — Lobelia is an annual herb 
growing in dry fields and pasture grounds and wood- 
land pastures. In dry sunny places it attains a height 
of a few inches to a foot or two, the usual height in 
pasture lands being about a foot. In shady, rich soil, 
however, it is more luxuriant, growing two or three 
feet and becoming more slender and fewer branched. 
The plant flowers in August continuing until frost into 
September. When the time to flower arrives, each 
plant begins to bloom, no matter what its height or 
size. Often plants will be found in bloom only an inch 
or two high, and only bearing three or four small leaves 
and as many terminal flowers. Our figure 126 repre- 
sents such a plant. 

The roots of Lobelia are few and fibrous. The stem 
is erect, green, round, 
striate and covered 
with sparse white 
hairs, that are beauti- 
ful objects under a mi- 
croscope. Each stem 
that attains the usual 
size is branched about 
the middle with sev- 
eral ascending branch- 
es, axillary from the 
leaves, and ending 
each in a spike of 
flowers. The branch- 
es are always much shorter than the main stem. 

The leaves are alternate, mostly sessile, or the lower 
short stalked, and slightly decurrent down the stem; 
they are obvate or oblong, usually an inch to two long 
and half as wide, varying smaller till they merge on the 
upper part of the stem into flower bracts ; they are of a 

Fig. 127 

Magnified portion of the stem showing 
branched hairs. 

* The paging from this (63) conforms to that of the original article in " Drugs and Medicines of North America." 
—J. U. L. 

7 63 



light green color, downy on both sides and soft to the touch. The veins are 
numerous, projecting below the leaf and impressed in the upper side of it. 
The margin is erosely blunt-toothed, the teeth tipped with small glandular 
white tips. 

The flowers appear in August) the first to open axillary to the upper leaves 
which become successively smaller, passing into the bracts of a terminal ra- 
ceme. The flowers themselves are rather 
inconspicuous being only about a quarter 
of an inch long. They are bourne on 
short, erect peduncles about the length of 
the calyx lobes. 

The calyx is adherent, with a globular 
ribbed tube and five slender, linear, ^ub- 
equal, erect teeth, which are nearly as 
long as the corolla. The corolla is small, 
bilabiate, and of a light blue color ; the 
tube of the coralla is split the entire 
length on the upper side, a characteristic 
the upper lip consists of two erect, 
three sub-equal, broad re- 
are five and cohering to- 
gether, both filament and anther, around the pistil, form a 
column the length of the corolla tube and slightly projecting from 
the split in this tube. The pistil consists of a two-celled, inferior 
ovary, containing numerous minute ovules attached to the large 
central spongy placentas, and completely filling the ovary when in 
flower. The style is enclosed in the tube formed by the stamens, 
and ends in a small two-lobed stigma. 

The fruit-pod is a peculiar shape, as shown in our figure 1 29. 
It is about a quarter of an inch long, inflated, sub-globular, com- 
pressed laterally, and unequal at the base, 
the cell opposite the stem being longer at 
the base than the inside cell. This is ^ J5od?f'Lo- 
characteristic of the fruit.* The pod is beiiainflata, 
prominently ten veined lengthwise with " Id'f ' ^ °° "^' 
numerous, intermediate, net veins. It is crowned with 
the five persistent linear calyx segments, which on the 
unripe pods are nearly erect and slightly more than 
half the length of the pod ; the sides are very thin and easily compressed. 
The pod is very much inflated, (whence the name of the plant,) and is divided 
lengthwise into two cells by a thin partition ; it contains an axial two-lobed, 

Fig. 128. 
A flower of Lobelia inflata, (enlarged.) 

of all the species of" Lobelia ; 
narrow lobes, the lower of 
flexed segments. The stamens 

Fig. 130. 

Transverse section of a pod of 
Lobelia inflata. 

*Bentley & Trimen's illustration of the pod {fig. 6, plate 162, also of the pods on the stem) is inaccurate, as it 
represents the pod equal at the base, and large at the apex tapering to the base, (club shapej which is not the case. 


comparatively large, spongy placenta, which is densely covered with the numer- 
ous minute seeds. The description and illustration of the seeds are given in 
our description of the drug. 

Common Names. — The drug is now known to the drug trade as Lobelia or 
Indian Tobacco. 

A number of names have been applied to the plant, mostly in old works. 
The earliest botanists did not use a common name for it. Aiton, (1810,) calls 
it Bladder Pod, and this name with Inflated Lobelia and Bladder Pod Lobelia, 
are the natural translations of the specific name, hence, the ones used at first 
by botanists. 

From its taste which resembles tobacco the plant began to be known as 
Wild Tobacco to the people, and this name was used in Eaton's first Manual of 
Botany, and carried through all the successive editions. From Wild Tobacco it 
is quite natural that it should acquire the name Indian Tobacco, as it would be 
presumed a tobacco that was wild would be used by the Indians. As a matter 
of fact, however, we have no record that the Indians ever made use of the 
plant in the manner of a tobacco. Dr. Carver, who spent a greater part of his 
life among Indian tribes, and, who wrote a list of the various economic plants 
used by them, does not mention the plant. Indian tobacco began to be applied 
about 1 8 14, (Biglow,) but did not come into general use, outside of medicine, 
until adopted in the botanical class books; first, by Beck, 1833 ; then Wood, 
1845, and Gray, 1848. At the present time it is the only common name ap- 
plied to the plant, either in medicine or botany. 

On the introduction of the plant to medicine a new series of common names, 
denoting its properties were originated. 

Thomson and Cutler, who first brought the plant to general attention, called 
it Emetic weed, and from this name Puke weed. Vomit weed, and Gag root, 
have been suggested and used. 

We find the name Asthina weed applied by a few writers, and in very old 
works. Eye-bright. In our article on the medical history will be found further 
remarks in connection with this subject. 

Botanical History. — Generic The genus Lobelia is a very large family of plants, dis- 
tributed mostly in tropical and sub-tropical countries, and a few found in temperate and even frigid 

They are characterized by a uniformity in the structure of the flowers and fruit, but differ 
widely in general habits, which has given rise to a number of sections, considered distinct genera by 
various authors. 

Plants of this genus have all milky juice, a. five-lobed calyx, an irregular two-lipped corolla 
with the tube slit along the upper side, and five anthers united around the style. To a mere novice 
in botany, plants of this family can be recognized by the very peculiar split corolla and the united 

The position of the genus in the natural system is obviously near the great family Compositse, 
and has so been placed in all systems of classification. The genus agrees with the family in the 
trifid style, the anthers united around the stigma and the adherent ovary; with the tribe Cichoracese 
in having milky juice and the corolla split, the segments cohering together in one piece; with the 


tribe Mutisiaceas in having labiate flowers:* it differs in having the flowers not collected in an in- 
volucrate head, which at first makes them appear very different, and in the character of the ovary. 

The genus Lobelia has always been considered a type of a natural order, Lobeliacese, estab- 
lished by Jussieu, i8ii,t and maintained by Endlicher, De Candolle, and most systematists, includ- 
ing all writers on American botany, even Dr. Gray in his very recent work, 18784 By Bentham 
and Hooker, however, 1876,? these plants are included as a tribe Lobeliese, of the natural order 
Campanulaceae and we have followed these authors to give uniformity to our work, theirs being the 
last general work on plant classification that has been published. || 

In old times plants of this genus were described in common with widely different ones under 
the family name of Rapunculus. It was Tournefort, who first clearly defined the genus in 1719,! 
giving it the name Rapuntium and as his genus is very natural and most of the species are still re- 
tained, it is unfortunate that the name has been replaced. The history of the present name of 
Lobelia is as follows: In 1703 Charles Plumier** in his work on plants of the West Indies, ft dedi- 
cated to his friend Matthias de Lobel,tt a genus founded on a plant collected in the West Indies. 
Linnseus referred this plant to Tournefort's genus, Rapuntium, and adopted the name Lobelia fo»- 
the genus, probably because it was the prior name. Afterwards, when his attention was directed 
to the fact, that under the name Lobelia, a large number of plants were included entirely distinct 
from the original plant described by Plumier, Linnaeus deemed it best to retain the name for the 
plants to which it had become most generally known and to originate a new name for the genus of 
Plumier. g§ 

'^It is a fact, not generally known to our botanists, because their attention is not directed to it by any common 
native plants, that a large section of the Compositse, consisting of over fifty genera of South American and African 
plants, are chiefly characterized by having bilabiate corollas. We have in our Southern States a single species 
(Chaptalia tomentosa, Vent^ that belongs to this section. 

fMemoire sur les Lobeliac^es et les Stylidiees, nouvelles families des plantes, A. L. de Jussieu, Annals des 
Sciences Naturales, Paris, vol. xviii, zSiz. 

^Synoptical Flora of North America, Asa Gray, New York, 1878, vol. ii., part z, page 2. 

Dr. Gray says on this subject: '*Toonear the Campanulaceae and nearly passing into them, therefore united by 
recent authors ; but as there are two dozen genera, agreeing in the tndciinite inflorescence, irregular corolla and 
mostly in the syngenesious anthers, it seems best to retain the order." 

gGenera Plantarum, Bentham and Hooker, vol. iL, (part 2, X876,) p. 551. 

I We will state in this connection that we think the family a perfectly natural one, and distinct from the Campa- 
aulacese. Indeed, any one will have more trouble in finding points of resemblance than points of difi^erence between 
the two sections. 

While we would like to follow all American authority, the Pharmacopceia, all our medical works and our own 
views in considering the family distinct still, we think it better to adopt the classification of Bentham and Hooker, 
acknowledging them as the present botanical authority on the classification of the plants of the world. 

f Institutiones Rei Herbarioe, J, P. Tournefort, Paris, X7i9> p. 163, plate 51. 

•^■"See note *, p. 21. Plumier was the first to honor living persons by introducing their name into scientific 
nomenclature. The plan met with much opposition at first because it was liable to be abused, and names of persons 
•elected, who's scientific labors do not entitle them to this distinction. It has been adopted by many of the most 
eminent botanists. 

tfNova Plantarum Americanarum Genera, P. Carolo Plumier, Paris, 1703, p. 21 and plate 31. 

{{Matthias de Lobet (Matthias de I'Obet as the name is originally spelled) should be classed among the early- 
English botanists. He was born in 1538 at Lisle in the north of France and was educated at Montpelier in the south, 
of France, and traveled over Italy, France, Germany, finally settling near London. By profession he was a physi- 
cian, and at one time he was physician to William, Prince of Orange. His chief reputation, however, is as a botanist 
this study seeming to occupy most of his time. In 1570 he published at London a small work entitled "Stirpium 
Adversaria" which professed to investigate the botany and materia medica of the ancie|its, especially of Dioscorides. 

A second edition of this work in 1605 contained an addition on new remedies, rare plants, etc., and in this work 
the first glimpse of a natural system of classification can be seen. It was necessarily very crude and imperfect and 
consisted merely in grouping together such plants as seemed to accord in appearances or habits, without however de- 
fining the groups, or making any allusion whatever to the system. Some of the groups such as leguminous, grasses 
etc., are quite natural and have continued to the present day, others, as could be expected, are very incongruous. 

The work was printed in Latin and on this account was little known to the common people. 

For the times in which he lived, Lobel was a most learned man in botany and the leader in this science. He 
ityled himself (on one of his title pages) "botanist to king James I.," which has no doubt been the source of the 
erroneous statement published in several encyclopoedias that he was "physician to king James I." 

Lobel died in x6z6, aged 78 years. 

ggThis genus is Scacvola, established by Linnaeus, and referred to the natural order Goodenovieae. The genus 
has a cleft corolla tube, similar to Lobelia, which no doubt led Linnaeus to originally place them together but the 


Botanical History.— Specific— The original collector of Lobelia inflata is not known, but 
it was evidently sent to Europe early in the last century. The first authentic mention we can find 
of it is by Linnaeus (1737)* in his catalogue of the plants in the garden of George ClifTordjt hence, 
it was evidently in cultivation at that time. It is probable that Tournefort also refers to this plant, 
(I7l9,)t l"!' we can not say with certainty. 

Previous to the appearance of Linnaeus'g "Species Plantarum" (1753,) the plant was specified by 
a number of descriptive adjectives. || Linnasus named it Lobelia inflata from the inflated seed-pods 
which name it has retained to the present day with the single synonym of Rapuntium inflatum 
given to it by Miller, but used by no one else. 

Description of the Drug. — In commerce two products of the plant are 
found, the entire dried herb and the dried seed. The former only is officinal, 
but the seed is a distinct article of trade, and very largely used.^ 

Lobelia Herb. — As found in commerce this drug consists of the stems, leaves, 
and inflated capsules of Lobelia inflata. Usually the plant is gathered after the 
lower leaves have changed to brown and often the seeds have fallen from the 
lower capsules, which are then also brown. The plant is cut off just above the 
ground and the lower portion of the stem is generally devoid of leaves even in 
the carefully selected recent drug. Sometimes the plant has been known to ap- 
pear so abundantly over an old field as to permit of its being mown with a 
scythe,** then the drug consists of straight, few branched stalks, from six to 
twenty-four inches long. If culled from moist situations along the banks of 
streams, the plants are more robust, branched and bushy. 

Farmers often gather little lots of lobelia and then the entire plant is sold. 
Root and herb collectors on the contrary understand that the seed commands a 

fruit is very different, being in Scaevola a fleshy drupe containing a single large seed. Plumier's plate shows quite 
plainly the nature of the fruit which would exclude his plant from the present genus Lobelia. 

In thus transferring a generic name from the original species to which it was given, to a family to which it had 
become attached we find an analagous case in the name Magnolia. (See note,f page 21.) 

"^Lobelia caule erecto brachiato. foliis ovato-lanceolatis obsolete incisis, capsulis inflatis, — Linnaeus. Hortus Clif- 
fortianus, 1737, page 500. 

It is not stated whether the plant was growing in Clifford's garden at that time, or whether it was merely pre- 
served in his herbarium, as the Hortus Cliffortianus describes both plants of his garden and dried collection. 

fGeorge Clifford was a wealthy banker, who resided in Amsterdam in Holland at the time of Linnaeus. He 
was not a close student of natural science, but having a liking in this direction and abundance of means he estab- 
lished an extensive private garden, obtaining the most rare and expensive exotics. 

Becoming acquainted with Linnaeus, who was at that time in straitened circumstances, and recognizing his 
talents, Clifford employed him to study and superintend his garden, giving him a liberal salary. 

For the first time in his life, Linnaeus had now leisure and means to pursue his studies, unembarrassed with the 
necessity of struggling for a living and the result was the great systematic works that have made his name famous. 

For three years Linnaeus remained at Amsterdam and published the Hortus Cliffortianus, ^ magnificent work, 
enumerating all the plants that were in the garden or collection of his patron. Some idea of the wealth and liberality 
of George Clifford may be obtained from the fact that this expensive work, of over 500 folio pages and numerous 
plates, was only distributed gratuitously to his friends and correspondents. 

A genus of shrubs, Cliffortia, of the Cape of Good Hope, commemorates his name. 

{"Rapuntium Americanum, Virgae aureae foliis, parvo flore subcaeruleo."— Tournefort, Institutiones Rei Her- 
bariae, Paris, 1719, p. 163. 

gSpecies Plantarum, ist edition, 1753, page 931. 

[Lobelia caule erecto, foliis cvatis subserratis, pedunculo longioribus, capsulis inflata.— Linnaeus, Hortus 
Upsaliensis, 1745, p. 276. 

See also note * above. 

IfThe powdered herb was known to Thomsonians as green lobelia. The powdered seed as brown lobelia. 

**Prof. A. J. Howe relates to us an instance in which several tons were cut at one time from an old wheat field 
about a mile from Worcester, Mass., on the road to New Worcester. 


better price than the herb) and they thresh out the seed, break or chop up the 
stalk, and sell the seed separately. Thus it happens that the larger part of the 
lobelia herb of commerce is devoid of seeds, and is in a broken condition. As 
a rule, the leaves and capsules are of a green color, the upper capsules being 
especially verdant. 

No substitution for Lobelia inflata herb or adulterant is gathered, of which 
we are aware, nor is any probable. Lobelia cardinalis and Lobelia syphilitica 
are such different appearing plants they would be easily detected, and the other 
native and more closely allied species are so small and mostly rare that it would 
not be profitable to collect them. 

According to the Pharmacographia the drug used in England is mostly im- 
ported packed in ounces. * 

Some writers assert that the root of Lobelia inflata is employed. This is a 
mistake, and first made by confusing Lobelia syphilitica with this plant. The 
root of Lobelia syphilitica was employed before Lobelia inflata was known to 
medicine, but the root of Lobelia inflata has never been used. 

All parts of Lobelia inflata contain an acrid alkaloid (see Constituents, page 
73,) which produces a painful irritation upon inhaling the dust of any portion 
of the plant. All parts of the herb, and the seed, produce an acrid biting 
sensation on the tongue, and a sharp tobacco-like impression in the throat and 
fauces. The milky juice of the green plant is intensely acrid, owing perhaps to 
the more soluble condition of the alkaloid. This juice is so violent that an 
amount so small as to refuse to affect a balance sensible to the one-thousandth 
part of a grain, produces a sharp tingling sensation upon the tip of the tongue. 
Upon drying, this juice becomes very much modified, but not by the escape of 
a volatile alkaloid. 

The first published description of Lobelia inflataf states that the leaves if 
chewed ' 'produce giddiness and pain of the head, with a trembling agitation of 
the whole body," and this sentence with little variation has passed through a 
multitude of works on materia medica.J It has not been our experience to note 
a giddiness of the head, the sensation with us is simply a tobacco-like irritation 
until nausea, headache and vomiting occur, and this is the report of others, who 
we know to be familiar with the drug. 

Lobelia Seed. — This drug presents a deep brown color in mass. It consists 
of. minute, almost microscopic seed. Their actual size is about 1-60 of an inch 
in length by 1-240 of an inch in diameter. The typical seed is oblong, round- 
ing at the ends, and cylindrical. Sometimes they are nearly round, however. 

*"The herb found in commerce is in tlie form of rectangular cakes, i to r% inches thick, consisting of the yel- 
lowish green chopped herb, compressed as it would seem while still moist, and afterwards neatly trimmed. The 
cakes arrive wrapped in paper, sealed up and bearing the label of some American druggist or herb-grower." — Pharma- 
cographia, 1879, p. 399. 

fAccount of Indigenous Vegetables. — Cutler, 1783. 

{The original description of a drug seems to be authority with many writers who neglect to give proper credi 
to the real author, and, who seem not to display much personal knowledge of the subject, 

LOBELIA. . 69 

The average number of seeds in a capsule is between 450 and 500. It requires 
2500 seed to make one grain in weight.* Upon microscopic examination, each 
seed is shown to be a beautiful object, bright and glistening, 
the surface being a corrugated ridge-like network, of which 
figure 131 is a representation. 

Lobelia seeds are odorless, but upon handling them a fine 
dust rises that is very irritating when inhaled. They possess 
the acridity of the plant in an intensified degree, and were 
considered by the Thomsonians to possess one-half more 
strength (emetic) than the powdered leaves. 

Lobelia seed have never been officinal, but are in good 
demand in the American drug market, and, extensively em- 
ployed by Eclectic physicians who consider that the prepara- 
tions of the seed are more uniform and reliable than those of 
the herb. Our experience is to the same effect. 

No adulterations or sophistications are known to us, al- g^^^ ^^ Lobelia inflau. 
though often fragments of the leaves and capsules are (Magnified.) 

present, not being separated by sifting through fine enough selves. The com- 
mercial term for the drug free from this chaff" is " clean lobelia seed." 

The corrugated surface of the seed is a characteristic of the species of 
Lobelia, and would serve to individualize them. It would be possible to sub- 
stitute the seed of other species. Lobelia syphilitica, and perhaps Lobelia cardi- 
nalis. We made a careful comparison under a microscope of the seed of Lobelia 
syphilitica and Lobelia inflata and were unable to note any difference either of 
size or marking. 

We are not aware that the substitution is ever made by collectors, but it 
could be done with profit to them as the Lobelia syphilitica produces seed in 
abundance and is a common plant and easily collected. 

Fortunately, however, the plants are so different in all appearances that ig- 
norant collectors have no idea that they are at all similar and the substitution is 
not suggested to them. 

Microscopic Structure of Xobelia Inflata. — (Written for this publication 
by Robt. C. Heflebower, M. D.) — ^Transverse and longitudinal sections of the 
stem of the plant show first the epidermis. (See fig. 1 32, plate xxxv. and fig. 1 36 
following page.) This consists of a single layer of cells, and supports the hairs 
found upon the surface of the stem. Beneath this layer are several other layers 
of cells, («. figures 132 and 136,) mostly oval upon transverse, and elongated 
upon longitudinal section. The cells of this layer are not all closely approx- 
imated, but there is a small space existing between some of them, whilst others 
are intimately joined. The latter is usually the case. 

*Thus, a pound will contain 17,500,000 seed. The business firm with which the writers are connected, pur* 
chased recently in one lot 2000 pounds of lobelia seed. By our calculation this amount contains the enormous number 
of 35,000,000,000 individual seed. 


Fig. 132. Fig. 135. 

•transverse section of the stem of Lobelia inflata.-*, epidermis;/. TransTerse section of a leaf of Lobelia inflata:-*, cuticle-/ . 
parenchyma; h, woody portion, containing medullary rays; c. d„„,l cells; ^•, parenchyma. (Magnified 300 diameters.) ' 

trachea: and lactiferous tubes; d, pith. (Magnified loS diameters.) 

Fig. 133. Fig. 134. 

Upper surface of a leaf of Lobelia inflata: — A, unicellular hair; j. Lower surface of a leaf of Lobelia infiata: — A, epidermal cells; j, 
subsidiary cells at base of hair; ?', chlorophyll granules; «, epider- stomata; h, hair;y, subsidiary cells at base of hair, (Magnified 300 
ma) cells. (Magnified 108 diameters.) diameters.) 




The epidermes of both surfaces of the leaf present cells bounded by ir- 
regular 'outlines and hair structures. The cells of the upper surface (see figure 
133) are larger, and their walls thicker, than those of the under surface. The 
same is also true of the hairs of this surface.* The under surface (see fig. 134) 
presents in connection with the simple epidermal hairs and cells, numerous 
stomata, (see s. fig. 134.) Each stoma is widely elliptical in shape, and con- 
sists of a pore or longitudinal slit, and the guard or stomatal cells which bound 
the pore. Outside of the 
guard cells are several epid- 
ermal cells surrounding the 
stoma, the subsidiary cells of 
the stoma. The base of the hair 
is likewise surrounded by a 
similar cluster of cells, the sub- 
sidiary cells of the hair. 

A transverse section of a 
leaf of Lobelia inflata (see fig. 
135) presents the epidermis of 
each surface beneath the cuticle, 
and the parenchymatous struc- 
ture between the two epidermal 
layers. The cells of the paren- 
chyma are filled to a greater or 
less extent by chlorophyll 
granules. Fig. 137. 

The pollen grains are OVOidal PoUen of Lobelia inflata, (magnified 650 diameters.) 

in form and resemble a wheat grain, having a longitudinal slit on one side divid- 
ing the grain into lateral halves. 

.Constituents. — Lobeline. — The characteristic principle of Lobelia inflata is 
an acrid, irritating alkaloid, that pervades all parts of the plant; most easily ob- 
tained from the seed. It is known as lobeline. 

It exists in combination with an unimportant vegetable acid. If freed while 
in contact with other constituents of the plant the alkaloid decomposes in a 
short time. If heat is applied to an aqueous solution of the natural constitu- 
ents, this decomposition occurs rapidly and the alkaloid soon disappears, f 
Heat applied even to an alcoholic tincture accomplishes the rapid destruction 
of the alkaloid. 

In a recent experiment whereby we evaporated in a close still the alcoholic 
tincture of fifty pounds of Lobelia seed, and extracted the residue with acid- 

^The apparent contradiction to this statement of our figures, number 133 and 134, is from the latter being more 
highly magnified. 

fXhis fact was well known to the Thomsonians. They used but little heat, and throughout their literature we 
find constant reference to the loss of strength by boiling. Indeed, they wisely prefered to give both the herb and seed 
In substance. Empiricism, demonstrated what chemistry supports. 


ulated water, having . neglected to add the acid to the alcohol, most of the 
lobeline perished. In another experiment, by an oversight, heat was applied to 
an aqueous solution of the alkaloid, while it was associated with other con- 
stituents of the plant and the alkaloid entirely disappeared.* 

History of Lobeline. — Prof. S. Cohoun, i834,t made the first examination of Lobelia inflata. He 
obtained by means of acidulated alcohol, a colored liquid that he took to be the characteristic 
principle, which however was simply a crude extract containing a salt of the alkaloid. He described 
it as follows : "The active principle of this plant is a brown, molasses-like fluid." 

Prof. Wm. Procter, jr., 1838,! made Lobelia inflata the subject of his thesis. This was the 
first creditable chemical investigation of the plant. By a number of experiments he fairly demonstrat- 
ed the presence of a volatile oil destitute of acrimony (exp. 4,) an alkaline body, soluble in ether, 
(exp. 10 and 11, )§ which is capable of forming salts with acids, (exp. I2.)|| 

Again, i84l,1f Prof. Procter reconsidered the subject and obtained the alkaloid lobeline as a yel- 
low, oily liquid, but he states, "if the process of purification were repeated, there is little doubt but 
that the lobeline would be obtained perfectly colorless." 

Reinsch, 1843,** obtained a substance that he called lobeliin, but which was not a definite body. 

W. Bastick, i85i,tt attempted to clear up the lobeline record, but was far from being success- 
ful, and added little if anything thereto. He obtained Mr. Procter's impure alkaloid by employing 
Liebig's process for making hyoscyamine. 

Mayer, i865,tt in considering the "Principal Reactions of the Medicinal Volatile Bases" records 
the action of lobeline, classing it with the volatile alkaloids known at that day. In our opinion 
lobeline is not a member of the class (volatile) he investigated. 

In i87l,§? Enders extracted lobelia with alcohol and distilled the liquid in presence of charcoal, 
washed the charcoal with water and extracted it with alcohol which yielded warty tufts, slightly 
soluble in water, brown, acrid, and uncrystallized. Soluble in chloroform and ether. He gave it 
the name Ij>belacrin, but we find it to contain the substance we designate as inflatin and a little of 
the alkaloid lobeline. 

W. D. Richardson, l872,|||| found that upon exposure, lobeline underwent a change whereby it 
became insoluble in water and refused to form salts, but the nature of the alteration was undecided. 

Mr. Vi?. H. D. Lewis, 1878, fl[ reviewed the literature on the lobeline subject, and suggested a 
modification of preceeding processes, whereby he obtained lobeline of a honey-like consistence and 
light yellow color, but evidently impure, as it had "a somewhat aromatic odor." He decided that 
lobeline exists in the plant in combination with lobelicacid, and aflixed to this salt the name lobeliate 
of lobeline, but, this substance, (whatever it may be,) had previously been obtained by Procter. 

Dr. H. Rosen, 1886,*** obtained lobeline by making a benzin solution from the acrid infusion, 
and another alkaloid as he thought by after treatment of this liquid with chloroform. He decided 

*Here again the Thomsonians learned from experience. They used acetic acid to make their most stable 

■fProf. S. Calhoun, M.D., was Professor of Materia Medica in Jefferson Medical College, Philadelphia, at the 
time he -wrote this paper. 

^Am. Journ. Fharm., 1838, p. 98, illustrated. 

gHe erroneously gives to this a strong odor. The odor was due to impurities. 

||In 1840, (Am. Journ. Pharm., p. 280,) Prof. Procter examined Lobelia cardinalis, obtaining an impure alkaloid, 
of a bitter taste. It formed salts with acids. 

1[Am. Journ. Pharm., 1841, p. i. 

**Pharmacographia, p. 400. 

■fj-Pharmaceutical Journ. and Trans., 1851, p. 270. 

JJProceedings of the American Pharmaceutical Association, 1865, p. 211. 

ggPharmaceutisher Central-Blatt, No. 31, July 5, 1843. 

Illnaugural Address, Am. Journ. Pharm., 1872, p. 292. 

UTTPharm, Journ. and Trans., London, 1878, p. 561. Mr. Lewis was a member of the Pharmacy class of the 
University of Michigan at the time he wrote the paper. 

***An Inaugural Dissertation, University of Dorpat, 1886, communicated to the Am. Journ. Pharm., 1886, p. 
392. His paper was on X^helia mcotiantB/blia, but he states, "the same two alkaloids were also obtained from Lobelia 
inflata. "~ 


that the latter alkaloid presented striated prisms. His investigations were evidently performed 
with small quantities from which possibly he failed to separate impurities. 

R^sumS. — Thus it is that, although much time and attention have been given to the lobelia 
constituents, the result is far from satisfactory. In our opinion, the chemistry of the subject is yet 
obscure. We have followed the various processes and obtained the acrid alkaloid, amorphous, 
colorless, intensely active, one drop of its solution immediately vomiting a strong man, but we have 
not crystallized either the pure alkaloid or a salt of it. We obtained crystals from the impure alka- 
loid lobeline, as others had and for some time accepted that they were the corresponding salts, but 
further (recent) examinations enabled us to eliminate the crystalline material entirely, leaving the 
alkaloid as an amorphous product.* That we were for a while deceived is evident, that others may 
also have been misled is possible. For the present we shall simply call this crystalline substance 
injlatin,\ and are led to make this introduction before referring to the preparation of lobeline. 

Pteparation of Lobeline. — Extract the oil from powdered lobelia seed, by means of benzine, and 
dry the residue. Then acidulate the dry powder with a mixture of acetic acid one part, alcohol 
nine parts, and pack firmly in a glass percolator. Exhaust with a menstruum made of acetic acid 
one part, alcohol twenty parts. Evaporate the liquid, and when cold, add water enough to make a 
thin syrup, and extract the alkaloid from it by means of ether, adding cautiously ammoniaj to slight 
alkaline reaction. The ethereal liquid is then to be decanted, evaporated in presence of water that 
has been previously acidulated with acetic acid to excess. The watery layer is cooled, separated 
from overlying oil, filtered, and again extracted with ether to which ammonia is again cautioiisly 
added to slight excess. This ethereal liquid will be colorless (if not so repeat the operation) and it 
contains the alkaloid lobeline. It has been supposed to contain only the alkaloid, but, in addition 
there is a volatile oil and inflatin. 

If this ethereal solution is evaporated, a colorless glassy layer remains, of a strong odor, and 
which turns yellow and even brown upon exposure. It is partly soluble in acidulated water,g yield- 
ing the alkaloid, mixed with various amounts of the associated impurities. It dissolves in alcohol, 
ether and chloroform, but only incompletely in benzol and carbon disulphlde. 

If the ethereal solution is evaporated in contact with acids (excepting acetic acid) an amor- 
phous layer usually interspersed with crystalline formations remains. These crystals we formerly 
took to be salts of lobeline, even drawing fig. 138 under the impression that it was a sulphate. If this 
crystalline layer be extracted with carbon disulphide, |j the crystals disappear^ and the acrid material 
remains. If now, the residue (a salt of lobeline) be exposed to the dry atmosphere for a few days, 
it becomes odorless from escape of the volatile oil. Then, it will dissolve in water, especially if 
slightly acid, and after filtration can be extracted colorless and as we now believe pure, by sulphuric 
ether in connection with a slight excess of ammonia.** 

Properties of Lobeline. — Lobeline is alkaline in reaction, colorless, odorless, soluble in alcohol, 
chloroform, ether, tt benzol, carbon disulphide, and somewhat soluble in water. We have not suc- 

^■We simply state that we were misled. The crystals that we obtained were not of lobeline, but an impurity that 
intimately accompanies it and crystallizes more easily under the influence of acid liquids. Our crystals compare too, 
with Procter's description. 

fWe dislike to affix a name to a body that is so obscure in its classification as this now is. We find also that the 
various forms of the word lobelia is entirely monopolized. Hence, we reluctantly select infiatin for want of a better 

|Some use magnesia, thinking that ammonia decomposes the alkaloid. Any alkali and heat will do so, but dilute 
ammonia in presence of ether does not alter it in appreciable amounts. Magnesia does not entirely decompose the 
salt (acetate) and a free alkali is necessary. 

git does not necessarily follow that because this body was once entirely dissolved in acidulated water, it will 
completely redissolve after being dried. 

||We think that former investigators failed to brake up this mixture by using ether and alcohol only as solvents. 
These liquids dissolve the entire associated products, and acid water will also do so to an extent, although pure inflatin 
is insoluble' in water. 

^See inflatin, p. 76. 

wWo make no claim to originality in the method of making lobeline. Our process diff'ers somewhat from others 
it is true, but, perhaps not materially. The aim is to divest the seeds of their oil, extract the alkaloid in stable con- 
dition and eliminate impurities without the application of more chemistry than is necessary. 

ttWittstem la bis Organic Constituents of Plants states that lobeline is insoluble in ether. This is a mistake. 


ceeded in crystallizing it. It is not hydroscopic (Wittstein contra.) In pure condition lobeline can 
be exposed to the air for days, and is probably permanent. We evaporated by exposure, a solution 
in water rendered strongly alkaline by ammonia,* which changed to yellow, showing some decom- 
position, but which retained all the sensible properties of the alkaloid, remaining very acrid and 
being a violent emetic. 

Lobeline turns red with sulphuric acid, yellow with nitric acid and dissolves colorless in hydro- 
chloric acid. Heated with sulphuric acid it turns black ; with nitric acid evolves the usual vapors 
of nitric oxide, with formation of a yellow liquid; and hydrochloric acid evaporates from it un- 

Salts of lobeline are very soluble in water and those we have examined dissolve in alcohol and 
ether, but very slightly (excepting the acetate) in carbon disulphide.t 

From moderately strong aqueous solutions of the salts of lobeline, alkali precipitates the alka- 
loid, white, flocculant, amorphous and odorless. This precipitate dries to a. glassy layer that will 
powder white,! t)"' tliis must be cautiously performed as minute amounts of the dust excite violent 
irritation of the nostrils, air passages and lungs, equal to, if not more intense than veratrine. 

All the alkaloidal reagents precipitate lobeline from aqueous solution of its salts. 

We have as yet failed to crystallize salts of pure lobeline, but we think that such a positive 
alkaloid will furnish crystals under proper conditions. § 

Lobeline and its salts are among the most powerful of emetics, and extremely small amounts of 
the solution of the colorless alkaloid, (one drop being placed on the tongue) immediately vomited 
those to whom we administered it. There was no unpleasant after effect (see medical properties.) 
In the crude condition, as former investigators have obtained it from ethereal solution (even color" 
less as we made it) decomposition occurs and it rapidly darkens. 

R6sum6. — The alkaloid lobeline has evidently been impure as heretofore described, and may 
not be pure as we obtain it. Others state that it is yellow and has an odor; this certainly is errone- 
ous for we produced it colorless and odorless. Others have obtained what was considered crystal- 
line salts ; we also formerly thought this easy, but found the crystalline material to be an impurity, 
to which we can find no previous reference. It has never been analyzed, but, if our present line of 
manipulation is successful, further remarks will follow, and a combustion made by recognized 

Having considered the most prominent constituent of lobelia, we shall now pass to the most 
characteristic principle which as before stated we have for descriptive purposes designated as 

Inflatin. — This substance exists ready formed in lobelia herb and seed, and may be extracted 
together with the fixed oil and chlorophyll by means of carbon disulphide. Since the oil passes with 
the inflatin through most solvents and holds it in solution when the other solvents are evaporated, 
it is not feasible to separate inflatin from the extracted oil, although, we have obtained it by saponi- 
fying the oil and separating the soap. 

Inflatin has certainly been obtained by the investigators who produced crude lobeline, begin- 
ning with Prof. Procter, but owing to its intimate association with that alkaloid, and with the vola- 
tile oil of the plant, and to its refusal to crystallize while associated in this manner it has been over- 
looked. || 

The glassy layer first obtained in the evaporation of lobeline from the ethereal liquid, if moist- 
ened with acid solutions will upon drying assume a partly crystalline condition. This led us 

*It is stated that alkalies destroy lobeline at once. This is incorrect. 

f This solvent which seems to have been overlooked by others enabled us to purify the crude lobeline as already 
stated and as further explained under inflatin. 

JThis differs from statements of others, who describe it as an oily liquid. 

gSulphate of lobeline is quoted in commerce. We see no reason for presuming that if demanded in quantities it 
should not be crystallized. We also think that manufacturers who have a demand for the alkaloid should have been 
able to exclude the crystalline substance that we have found to accompany it. 

llEven if it has crystallized, the solvents formerly employed redissolve both it and the associated principles* 



(see page 75) to conclude that the salt 
of lobeline had crystallized, and figure 
138, as before stated was drawn under 
the supposition that it was a sulphate of 
lobeline. These crystals with varying 
conditions assume different forms, and 
hence, we were more easily misled when 
we used the several acids. 

Preparation of Inflatin. — Evaporate 
in thin layers the ethereal solution of 
crude lobeline (obtained by process on 
P^ge 75) adding hydrochloric acid to 
slight excess. To the sticky product be- 
fore completely dry, add a few drops of 
carbon disulphide,* and after flowing it 
about decant the solution into a shallow 
vessel. Repeat the operation with suc- 
cessive portions of carbon disulphide, 
and mix the liquids. It is best, if work- 
ing small amounts, to allow the preceed- 
ing portion to evaporate each time be- 
fore adding the other. 
Fig. 138. The final product will resolve itself 

Inflatin (at first supposed to be sulphate of lobeline) crystallized from in a few hours into small white warty 
et erea iquid. aggregations, perhaps (if very impure) 

imbedded in a viscid, tenacious, more or less yellow semi-liquid. These globules are inflatin, 
destitute often of crystalline form because of the pressure of the surrounding mediunS. Occasion- 
ally an isolated globule like a. fig. 139 will resolve itself into a fragment like b. fig. 139, and we have 
seen these globules under the microscope become crystalline strata withoiit 
change of shape. 

Carefully drop carbon disulphide f 
on this layer and decant it at once into I 
a clean glass as soon as it has taken up I 
the globules, which will be before the 
yellow substance dissolves. As the car- 
bon disulphide evaporates crystalline 
nodules will form. The crystals do not 
form as distinct, however, as if the pro- 
duct is redissolved in pure benzol and ! 

Thus purified the crystals may ap- 
pear like figures I40, 141, 142 and 143, | 
dependent on the rapidity of the evap- 
oration and depth oi the liquid. 
Where the liquid is very thin, we ob- 
serve a display like figure 140 ; if deep they will appear like 
figure 141 ; if deep enough to permit the typical crystal to 

Fig. 139. 

Globules of inflatin; a, 
the ordinary crude 
form^ hf same, partly 


Crystals of inflatin from a thin layer of 
benzol solution. 

form, they will mostly be diamond shapedf as shown in figure 142. 

Since we have discovered the characteristics of this material, we have obtained it easily as fol- 
lows : Abstract the greenish oil from powdered lobelia seed by benzine, stopping the percolation 

*This leaves the hydrochlorate of lobeline. 

fThe goniometer must be used to determine their exact crystalline form. They appear to us as our artist re- 
presents them. 



when the percolate ceases to pass of a 
green color, (this abstracts much inflatin 
also.) Dry the magma and extract it by 
means of carbon disulphide. Evaporate 
the carbon disulphide and cool the re- 
sidue. It will crystallize to a magma of 
inflatin and a fixed oil. Place on bibu- 
lous paper and warm it, the oil is ab- 
sorbed and the inflatin can be purified 
by crystallization. 

Ptoperties of Inflatin. — Inflatin is 
pure white and from carbon disulphide 
tends to form nodules of a crystalline 
structure or in great crystalline plates. 
The various modifications of the crystals 
are shown by figures 140, 141, 142 and 
143. The typical crystal is diamond 
shaped and perfectly transparent. 

Inflatin is odorless, tasteless and re- 
fases to unite with acids or alkalis. It 
is insoluble in water or glycerin, but 
soluble in carbon disulphide, benzol. 
Fig. 141. chloroform, ether and alcohol in the 

CrTstals of inSatin from benzol solution. order we have given. Sulphuric acid 

does not affect it, even the smallest crystals remaining sharp and distinct. Hot sulphuric acid de- 
composes it with formation of a black liquid. 

Cold nitric acid has no action upon it, but developes the forms and angles of a crystalline layer 
under the microscope in magnificent distinctness, the centers of each crystal being pure white, and 
the ends jet black as shown by figure 143 a, developed from a slide of which 143. i is a part with- 
out the nitric acid. Upon heating with nitric acid inflatin melts without change of color, and upon 
evaporation of the acid, and resolution in benzol, 
crystallizes as before. 

Upon boiling inflatin with Fehling's solution 
it turns brown, then black, but does not reduce the 
copper and does not dissolve. 

Inflatin melts at 225° F., and at a lower tem- 
perature cools to a mass of crystalline structure. 

R6sum6. — From the preliminary examination 
that we have given this substance, we conclude 
that it is either a stearoptene or a vegetable wax, probably the former. Perhaps in mechanical 
suspension it produces the milky juice of the plant, but we did not discover it in time to examine 
the juice of the herb during its season. It is evidently of no medicinal importance, and, is of inter- 
est we think simply because of its association with the other constituents of lobelia. 

Volatile Oil of Lobelia. — Lobelianin. — All parts of the herb of fresh lobelia are pervaded by a 
volatile oil of a strong pungent odor, but with little taste and no acridity. It was described by 
Procter, (see p. 74,) 1838, who found that the tincture of lobelia, or the herb, distilled with water 
gave a distillate of a peculiar odor. Pareira, 1840, gave it the name Lobelianin, and stated that 
it had an acrid taste, but, Procter, 1842, decided that he was mistaken on this point, and, our in- 
vestigations support Prof. Procter.* 

Fig. 142. 

Crystal of inflatin, typical form. 

''We made a careful examination, distilling water from quantities of the herb, both fresh and dry, and we used 
the utmost care to avoid the passing over of spray with the vapor. The product gave simply- (from the green herb) a 
volatile oil that could be separated by sulphuric ether, but it does not accumulate in amount sufficient to separate 
from the distillate unless the temperature be very low. 



If a small amount of water be de- 
stilled from a large quantity of the 
dry herb, (Pereira and Procter used 
the dry,) and the destillate be reduced 
to about the freezing point of water, 
it deposits groups of transparent cry- 
stals, which do not redissolve when 
the water is warmed. Upon dissolv- 
ing them in appropriate solvents (any 
of the usual solvents for volatile oils) 
and evaporating the menstruum, this 
oil crystallizes in large groups of flat, 
transparent plates that do not often 
radiate from a common center. They 
cover the slide and are nearly parallel 
connected by oblique plates, but not 
often in stellar groups, (see fig. 144.) 
• Upon heating crystals of lobelia- 
nin* suspended in water it melts at a 
temperature of 160° F., and if melted 
on a glass surface it quickly evapor- 
ates without residue, evolving the 
Fig lA'i pungency familiar to those who know 

Crystals of inflatin, t, before; a, after action of nitric acid. the recent distillate. 

It slowly evaporates upon exposure to the air and disappears. 
Sulphuric and nitric acids dis- 
solve it and upon heating a slide of 

crystals to which a drop of nitric or 

sulphuric acids had been respectively 

added, the nitric acid evaporated 

without apparent change, while the 

sulphuric acid blackened and evolved 

empyrematic vapors. It retains its 

crystalline form in ammonia water 

and liquor potassa. 

We could not determine if more 

than one oil is obtained by the act of 

distillation, but, it is probable that 

such is the case. 

We endeavored to obtain the 

substance we have called inflatin, by 

oxidation of this oil, but failed, al- 
though it is apparent that some con- 
stitutional difference exists in the 

volatile oil of fresh lobelia and that 

of dry. The oil of fresh lobelia did 

not crystallize in our hands. 

Has Lobelia a Volatile Alkaloid? — _ 

S IG. 144. 
Prof. Procter, 1838,! found that both Crystals of concrete volatile oil of lobelia, from benzol solution. 

tincture of lobelia and the herb, with water, upon distillation gave a distillate of a peculiar odor, 

'^Ferbaps this name is inappropriate and should not be applied to a concrete volatile oil. However, it was first 
giv6n by an authority we all respect and it has precedence. 

fAmerican Journal of Pharmacy, 1838, p. 104, experiments 4, 5 and 6. 



but destitute of acrimony. Pereira, 1840,* stated that it had in addition an acrid taste, which 
Procter, 1842,! decided was a mistake. Bastick, 1851,}; states that "lobeline is volatile." 

We made a careful examination, distilling water from quantities of the fresh herb. We used 
the utmost care to avoid the passing of undistilled liquid with the vapor, and failed to obtain either 
an alkaloid or an acrid distillate.? The product was of strong odor, from it sulphuric ether dis- 
solved the oil, but there was no trace of acridity or of an alkaloid. Then we used dry fresh lobelia 
in ten pound lots, with water, aftd with water that was made alkaline with caustic potash. In both 
cases the distillate was free from acridity and refused to affect any alkaloidal reagent. 

We made a solution of pure sulphate of lobeline, rendered it alkaline with caustic potash, and 
distilled it to one-third. The distillate gave evidence of decomposition products, but no lobeline 
came over.|| 

We therefore conclude that lobelia does not contain a volatile alkaloid, and that lobeline is not 
volatile. There is no reason that we can see to suppose that the alkaloid lobeline is chemically re- 
lated to the alkaloid nicotine. That they have been associated is probably from the unfortunate 
name for lobelia, Indian tobacco, and the fact that the plants and alkaloids resemble in taste, and 
that both are emetic. 

LoBELACRiN, {So CALLED.) — Eaders, iSyijlf obtained a substance that he named lobelacrin. It was produced 
by exhausting lobelia with alcohol, adding charcoal and distilling. The charcoal was washed with water, treated 
with boiling alcohol, the alcohol evaporated and the residue extracted with chloroform. Upon evaporation of the 
chloroform ''warty tufts" of a brown color were obtained. This, Enders named lobelacrin. Lewis considered it per- 
haps a lobeliate of lobeline. We consider it a mixture of the oil (fixed) of lobelia, the substance that we have called in- 
flatin, a brown resin, some lobeline and coloring matter. According to our examination, it is really a mixture of such 
substances as are extracted from lobelia by alcohol, and having refused to dissolve in water are soluble in chloroform. 
It will be evident to the reader that this process certainly cannot separate the oils, wax and like bodies. That an or- 
ganic acid is present is also probable. 

Fixed Oil of Lobelia. — Lobelia seed contains thirty per cent, of non-volatile oily matters. The true 
fixed oil of lobelia is bland and non-acrid. As usually obtained, even by expression, it is acrid from 
contaminations. Menstruums that dissolve the oil also dissolve the chlorophyll, hence it has a green 
color as extracted from powdered seed. Pure fixed oil of lobelia has never been used in medicine 
and would be of little value. 

An impure oil is a favorite with Eclectic physicians, who use it alone and associated with other 
substances. It is a constituent of Compound Stillingia liniment,** an excellent remedy, which in 
our opinion depends mainly upon this impure oil, which is simply a syrupy extract of lobelia seed, 
made with stronger alcohol acidulated with acetic acid. 

Other Constituents of Lobelia. — There is a characteristic brown resin, coloring matters, and the 
usual constituents of plants. If the resin in alcoholic solution be precipitated by water even in 
presence of acid water, it carries with it a large amount of lobeline. This we thought to be a dis- 
tinct alkaloid, but became assured after purification, that it was simply lobeline. tt 

Commercial History of Lobelia. JJ — Since the day of Thomson, lobelia 
herb has been an important American drug. Growing abundantly in the East- 
ern States the first supply came from that section, but collectors in other parts 
subsequently gave it attention, and in domestic use and otherwise it is now a 

'^Elements of Materia Medica, vol. ii., 1846, p. 385, (and preceding edition.) 

f American Journal of Pharmacy, 1842, p. 4. 

JPhar. Journ. and Trans., 1851, p. 270. 

gThe herb for these experiments was gathered to order and selected plant by plant. There was no foreign sub- 
stance present and the lobelia was prime. 

yThe neck of the retort was plugged near the retort with a strainer of linen to retain the spray. The neck was 
inclined to throw the condensed liquid back into the retort. Thus only the vapor passed to the condenser. In the 
large still with the herb, the exit for vapor extended upward 25 feet to the condenser and a spray could not pass over. 

^Pharmacographia, p. 400. 

'^See unofficinal pharmaceutical preparations of lobelia, to follow. 

ff Many resins have strong affinities for alkaloids and other constituents of plants. They act somewhat like 
animal charcoal, carrying them from solution and holding them tenaciously. 

tIThis article should properly follow our description of the drug, p. 67. 


drug collected over most of the country in which it abounds. The mountainous 
part of North Carolina furnishes large amounts. 

During its early record when Thomsonism made unexpected demands, and 
collectors were few, the drug occasionally became scarce, or entirely out of 
market. Thomson was accustomed to warn his followers of this fact and advise 
them to secure a supply of "No. i,"* the first opportunity. He states that in 
1 807 an offer of one thousand dollars per pound would have failed to procure 
the drug, and that at another season, two dollars an ounce could not pur- 
chase it. t However, at present, it is plentiful and the steady demand is easily 
supplied. X 

Lobelia seed, however, often becomes exhausted and occasionally out of 
market. After an unusually dry season it is scarce. Two years ago it could 
not be collected. This year (1886) the market is glutted. The demand is 
small, and, few dealers care to procure more than is necessary for use in one 
year. Besides, the general drug trade consumes but little, the demand being 
almost exclusively from a limited number of specialists, who as a rule obtain 
their stocks from the collectors and do not depend upon the dealer in drugs. 

The "Herbalists, "§ of England, now regard lobelia with much favor, as is 
evidenced by their action in consequence of an endeavor, recently made by the 
Law and Parliament Committee of the Pharmaceutical Society, to have lobelia 
placed on the "English Poison Schedule. "|| They state that they use the herb 
freely, probably some hundreds of pounds yearly. 

Pharmacopceial History. — The Pharmacopoeia of the Massachusetts Medi- 
cal Society, 1808, under the name lobelia, recognized "the root" of Lobelia 
syphilitica. The first edition of the U. S. Pharmacopoeia, 1820, as lobelia intro- 
duced "the herb" of Lobelia inflata, using as a synonym the common name 
Indian tobacco. This was accepted by the New York, (1830,) and the Phila- 
delphia, (1830) editions. In 1840 the term Indian tobacco was dropped and 
has not since been recorded, although lobelia has been officinal in each success- 
ive revision. 

The fact that the Massachusetts Pharmacopoeia recognized the root of Lobe- 
lia syphilitica, doubtless aided in perpetuating the mistake of so many medical 
writers who have stated that the root and top of Lobelia inflata is employed in 

Every revision of the U. S. Pharmacopoeia has recognized the herb of Lobe- 
lia inflata as "lobelia" and in no instance has Lobelia syphilitica been accepted 
or the root of any species of Lobelia recognized. 

*See note f page 8$. 

fThomson's Guide and Narrative. 

{Thomson asserts that an abundant crop one season is followed by failure the next. We have also observed 
this, but, we find that it is often scarce for a series of seasons, owing to climatic influence probably, and occa- 
sionally is unusually plentiful. 

gin the "Year Book and Transactions of the Society of United Medical Herbalists of Great Britain," 1885, wo 
find 111 members recorded. 

lEnglish Poison Schedule, see note g p. 88. 


Pharmacopceial Preparations. ^The first (1820) edition of the U- S. 
Pharmacopceia gave a process for making tincture of lobelia, two ounces of the 
herb to sixteen fluid ounces of diluted alcohol. This proportion was continued 
through each succeeding revision to 1880, at which time the strength was made 
two parts of lobelia to ten parts of tincture. 

Acetum Lobeliae, introduced in i860, was made two parts of lobelia to di- 
luted acetic acid, enough to produce sixteen fluid ounces, and in 1 880 it was 
changed, one part of lobelia producing ten parts of the finished vinegar. 

It will be observed that the strength of the tincture was increased about 
one-half in 1880, while the strength of the vinegar was decreased nearly forty 
per cent. We think that they should have been made identical in strength. 

In 1880 the fluid es^tract of lobelia herb was introduced, diluted alcohol be- 
ing employed in making it after the usual' process for fluid extracts. 

Unofficinal Pharmaceutical Preparations. — Scattered throughout medical and pharma- 
ceutical literature we find many formulas for lobelia preparations. These preparations are still in 
more or less demand, and occasionally in considerable local use. We reproduce them with as little 
alteration as possible. The uses and doses are as we find them recorded, and in many cases would be 
considered inordinate at present. 

Cataplasma (Poultice) of Lobelia. — Powdered lobelia herb, two ounces; powdered slippery elm, one ounce. Wet 
with whiskey; apply to rheumatic part. — (Sick Man's Guide, Lukens, p. X15.) This original compound was evidently 
followed by Prof. King in the following : 

Cataplasma of Lobelia, — To equal parts by weight of powdered lobelia and elm bark add a sufficient quantity of 
weak lye to form a cataplasm. Used for painful swellings, inflammation of the breast, stings of insects, etc. — Am. Bisp, 

Enema of Lobelia. — Take of compound tincture of lobelia and capsicum, half a fluid drachm; water, half a, 
fluid ounce; mix them together. A relaxant and antispasmodic clyster. Used in convulsions of infants. — Am, Disp. 

Aqueous Extract of Lobelia inflata. — Lobelia seed, powdered, eight ounces ; diluted alcohol, four pints ; acetic 
acid, one ounce. Mix the acid and diluted alcohol and percolate the lobelia seed. Then evaporate to a soft extract. 
— (Prof. W. Procter,) American Journal of Pharmacy, 1842, p. 108, 

Fluid Extract of Lobelia, Compound. — Blood root, skunk cabbage root, lobelia herb, of each four ounces. Make 
a fluid extract in the usual manner. An emetic, expectorant and antispasmodic. Used as a substitute for acetated 
tincture of blood root. Dose, from 10 to 60 minims. — Am. Disp, 

Lotion of Lobelia, Compound. — Bayberry bark, lobelia herb, yellow dock, of each two drachms; vinegar, one 
pint; macerate for seven days and filter. Used for local applications in cutaneous diseases, such as erysipelas, in- 
flammation, etc. — Am. Disp. 

Liniment of Lobelia. — Stew the seeds of Lobelia inflata in animal oil. This is used to relax rigid muscles and 
contracted limbs by rubbing it in the skin. — Western Medical Reformer, 1837, p. 206. 

Liniment of Stillingia, Compound. — Oil of stilUngia, one fluid ounce ; Oil of cajuput, half a fluid ounce ; Oil of 
lobelia, two fluid drachms; alcohol, two fluid ounces; mix them together. Used in chronic asthma, croup, spasmodic 
diseases of the throat and lungs. Apply to the parts affected and take a few drops internally on a lump of sugar.— 
(Am. Disp.) The Lobelia we think is the chief constituent. — L, 

Lobelia Seed with Sugar. — Powdered lobelia seed, powdered white sugar, of each four parts; rub well together 
and add one part of nerve powder; two parts of capsicum, and add the mixture to thirty-two parts of number six. — 
Thomsonian, Materia Medica, 1841, p. 699. 

Syrup of Lobelia — Vinegar of Lobelia, six fluid ounces; sugar, twelve troy ounces. Dissolve by heat, skim, add 
a little acetic acid, and strain. — Prof. W. Procter, American Journal of Pharmacy, 1842, p. 109. 

Oxymel of Lobelia. — Add one part of strained honey to two parts of sour tincture; heat to boiling point, skim, 
and bottle. — Kost's Domestic Medicine, p. 309. , 

Syrup of Lobelia, Compound. — Lobelia, four parts; blood root, two parts; macerate in thirty-two parts of vine- 
gar for one week ; strain with pressure. Pleurisy root, four parts ; Solomon's seal, two parts ; cover with boiling 
water and keep hot one day, adding water to produce thirty-two parts of infusion. Mix the two liquids, brin^ to a 
boil and add forty-eight parts of sugar. Relieves cough ; efficient in croup ; used in all cases where it is desirable to 
increase secretion from the air passages. An excellent diaphoretic, used in all cases of cold*— Domestic Medicine, 
(Scudder,) p. 230. 

Syrup, Well's Vegetable.— Onions, sixteen parts; Spikenard, eight parts; Horehound, four parts; Lobelia, two 
parts; Pleurisy, two parts; Skunk Cabbage, two parts; Water, forty parts. Mix, boil, strain ; evaporate to eight 
parts. Add thirty-two parts of honey; sixteen parts vinegar, and sixteen parts gin. Dose, one tablespoonfuL — Im- 
proved System Botanic Medicine, 1832, p. 386. 


Pills of Aloes and Lobelia, Compound.-- Extract of boneset, mandrake, ginseng, of each two drachms; aloes, 
«ight drachms; gamboge, castile soap, of each four drachms; capsicum and lobelia seed, of each one drachm; oil of 
cloves, two minims; make into a pill mass, and divide into four grain pills. Cathartic. Useful in dyspepsia, consti- 
pation, jaundice, etc. Dose, from two to four. — Am. Disp. 

Pills, Emetic. — Extract of peach leaves, poplar or butternut bark, one ounce; capsicum, one teaspoonful; pow- 
dered lobelia seed, half an ounce; nerve powder, two teaspoonful, and a few drops of oil of peppermint. Mix and 
make into pills. — (Thomsonian, Materia Medica, 1841, p. 699.) (Very indefinite. — L.) 

Pills of Lobelia. — Lobelia seeds, capsicum, and scuUcap, each, equal amounts. Make two grain pills. Dose, one to 
two, every two hours. Three to five at bed time, with composition tea. Uses: coughs, hoarseness, croup, asthma, 
etc. — Botanic Physician, (Elisha Smith). 

Powder, Expectorant. — Powdered skunk cabbage root, four ounces; powdered unicorn root, two ounces; pow- 
dered lobelia seeds, one-half ounce; mix. Dose, half to a teaspoonful. — Improved System Botanic Medicine, 183a, 

p. 385. 

Powder of Lobelia, Compound. — Lobelia, six drachms; blood root, and skunk cabbage, of each, three drachms; 
ipecac, four drachms; capsicum in powder, one drachm; mix them together. Used in all cases where an emetic is in- 
dicated. It vomits easily and- promptly without causing cramps or excessive prostration. Dose, half a drachm every 
fifteen minutes in an infusion of boneset, until two drachms have been taken, or the patient vomits. — Am. Disp. 

Third Preparation. — One ounce of powdered lobelia seed; one ounce of capsicum; one tablespoonful of nerve 
powder; mix; add to half a pint of Number Six, (No. 6). This is Thomson's great remedy, known also as Rheuma- 
tism drops and Hot drops. 

Antispasmodic Tincture.— Tincture lobelia, tincture capsicum, of each, sixteen fluidounces; tincture nervine, 
twelve fluid ounces. Dose, from half a teaspoonful to a tablespoonful. Used as an antispasmodic, and in large doses 
as an emetic. — (Improved System of Botanic Medicine, Howard, 1832, p. 379,) This is the original formula from 
which Prof. King devised: 

Tincture of Lobelia and Capsicum, Compound. (King's Expectorant.)— Lobelia, capsicum and skunk cabbage, 
of each, two ounces; diluted alcohol, a sufficient quantity to make two pints of tincture by percolation. This tinc- 
ture is a powerful antispasmodic and relaxant. Used in cramps, spasms, convulsions, tetanus, etc. Dose, half a tea^ 
spoonful as the case may require, — Am. Disp. 

Tincture Lobelia herb. — Bruise fresh lobelia, press firmly into a jar, cover with alcohol, after a few days strain 
and press. To each quart add one ounce of essence of sassafras. Used as an emetic, and for external application to 
wounds, bruises, inflammations, ulcers, eruptions, etc. Dose, one to ten tea5poonfuls.^(Improved System Botanic 
Medicine, 1832, p. 384,) The original tincture of lobelia. Dose, now heroic. 

Tincture Lobelia seeds, — Digest four and one-half ounces of powdered lobelia seed in a pint of alcohol. — Im- 
proved System Botanic Medicine, Howard, 1832, p. 379. 

Tincture of Lobelia, Compound. (King's Expectorant.) — Lobelia, blood root, skunk cabbage, wild ginger and 
pleurisy root, each in moderately fine powder one part; water, sixteen parts; alcohol, forty-eight parts; make a tinc- 
ture in the usual manner. An excellent remedy for children and infants. Used as an expectorant, as a nauseant in 
coughs, asthma and where expectorants are indicated.— Am. Disp, 

Tincture of Lobelia, Ethereal.— Lobelia herb, five ounces; spirits of sulphuric ether, two pints. Make a tinc- 
ture by percolation. — Edinburgh Dispensatory, 1848. 

Tincture of Lobelia and Hydrastis. — Hydrastis, lobelia seed, of each, two parts; diluted alcohol, sixteen parts. 
Make a tincture by percolation. A valuable local application. — Am. Disp. 

Tincture of Sanguinaria, Compound. — Blood root, lobelia, skunk cabbage, of each, two parts; distilled vinegar, 
thirty-two parts; alcohol, two parts. Make two pints of tincture by percolation. Used as an emetic and expectorant. 
Dose, twenty to sixty drops. — Am. Disp, 

Tincture of Viburnum Opulus, Compound.— Lobelia seed, skunk cabbage, stramonium seed, capsicum, blood 
root, of each, one part; diluted alcohol, one hundred and twenty-eight parts. Make a tincture by percolation. 
Stimulant and antispasmodic. Used in asthma, hysterics and nervous diseases. Dose, twenty to sixty drops. — Am. Disp. 

Well's Cough Drops. — Tincture lobelia, one ounce; anodyne drops, two ounces; antispasmodic tincture, oad 
ounce. Dose, half to a teaspoonful. — Improved System Botanic Medicine, 1832, p, 38?. 

Sour (Acid) Tincture of Lobelia. — Made the same as the ordinary tincture, vinegar being used instead of th« 
alcoholic menstruum.— (Kost's Domestic Medicine, p. 309.) This is the original of the officinal Vinegar of Lobelia. 

Medical History. — Several annoying features in connection with the history 
of this plant are considered by us, and an endeavor is made to study them in 
chronological order. 

The first printed record of the emetic properties is by Rev. Manasseh Cut- 
ler,* who named it emetic weed. 

^Account of Indigenous Vegetables.— Am. Acad. Sciences, 1785, p. 484. 

Manasseh Cutler, LL.D., was born in Killingly, Conn., May 3, 1742. First he engaged in the whaling business, 
then in merchandise in Edgertown; studied law and was admitted to the bar in 1767; removed to Dedham, studied 
theology, was licensed in 1770 and ordained minister of Hamilton, September, 1771. He became chaplain of Cou 
Francis' regiment, September, 1776, fought in the action in Rhode Island, and for his bravery received a present of n 


Schoepf, 1787,* next incorrectly ascribed astringent properties to Lobelia 
inflata and stated that it was used in ophthalmia. He had confused the two 
species and affixed the properties of Lobelia inflata to Lobelia syphilitica. 

Then came Samuel Thomson, f who introduced the plant into medicine 

fine horse. He also studied medicine and other branches of science. He became a member of the Americftn 
Academy in 1781, contributing a series of scientific papers to its memoirs in 1785; his botanical paper being the first 
attempt at a scientific description of the plants of New England. In this paper we have the reference to the emetic 
properties of lobelia, which is the first printed notice of the nature of the plant, but he did not use it in medicine. 

' With Dr. Beck he prepared the chapter on trees in Belknap's history of New Hampshire; became a member of 
the Philosophical Society of Philadelphia, 1784; as agent for the Ohio Company he purchased 1,500,000 acres of land, 
northwest of the Ohio river, 1787, and started the first emigrants to that section, who settled at Marietta, Ohio, April 
7, 1788. He acompanied them in a sulky, returning to New England in 1790. Gen. Washington appointed him Judge 
of the Supreme Court of Ohio Territory, 1795, which honor he declined. He was member of Congress from 1800 to 1S04. 

In the prosecution of Samuel Thomson, 1809, Cutler was called as an expert to identify the remedies Thomson 
used. It was about this time that he (Cutler) became interested in the use of lobelia as a remedy for asthma, (see 
Thacher's Dispensatory, x8xo,) and there is reason to believe that his attention was drawn to it by Thomson and his 
followers, as before this Thomson had used the herb in that disease and his followers were numerous throughout 
all of New England. Cutler died in Hamilton, Mass., July 28, 1823. 

^Materia Medica Americana, 1787, p. 128. 

fSamuel Thomson was born in the town of Alstead, State of New Hampshire, February 9, 1769. His early life 
was spent in hard labor upon a farm, and his education was limited. He commenced medical experiments when about 
ten years of age by vomiting his playmates with lobelia, and afterward became as is known, the champion of this herb. 
He married Susanna Allen, of Surrey, New Hampshire, July 7, X790. His medical investigations commenced in the 
treatment of his own family, and then he began to gather roots, herbs and barks and to practice empirically in the 
families of his neighbors. That he also studied the medical literature of his day is evident from his publications, al- 
though he delighted in believing himself entirely independent, and was very caustic and aggressive towards the 
Regular Medical Profession. 

In due course of time, Thomson became known outside his immediate neighborhood. Thus, in 1805, he made a 
professional trip to Richmond, in z8o6 was called to New York City to use his "treatment" on Yellow Fever, and in 
1807 to Vermont. After this he traveled considerably over the New England States, and eventually through the 
West in the practice of his peculiar theory. 

During these trips his combative nature led him continually into heated arrangements of members of the 
Regular Medical Profession, who bitterly denounced his treatment, resulting finally in an open charge of murder 
against him in x8o8, for ''sweating (see note ^, p. 85} two children to death," and again, in 1809 for killing a certain 
Captain Trickey, who Thomson declared that he had not treated at all. Finally, in X809, a Dr. French, between whom 
and Thomson there had long existed an intense animosity, preferred charges, and Thomson was arrested for the wil- 
ful murder of a young man named Lovel, who had died under his attention. Dr. French charged that he "did kill 
and murder the said Lovel with lobelia, a deadly poison." 

Thomson was thrown into prison at Newburyport, Massachussets, November xo, 1809, where he remained suf- 
fering the severe cold of that country without fire or comfort until December loth, when he was taken to Salem, 
Mass., for trial, his friends having succeeded in inducing Judge Theophilus Parsons to hold a special session of the 
court. However, owing to sickness of the Judge, his trial did not occur until December soth. The prosecution 
seemed to base their charges on the fact that the powder given Lovel was lobelia, a Dr. Howe testifying to that effect. 
The defense showed, however, that Howe was not acquainted with lobelia, and also that the powder Drs. Howe and 
French thought to be lobelia was marsh rosemary root. (Thomson asserts that this was what he administered)* 
Finally the court acquitted Thomson, without, as he claims, an examination of his witnesses. However, Tyng's Re- 
ports, vol. vi., states that on the claim of ignorance only did the Judge instruct the jury to acquit Thomson, and our 
viewof the treatment as shown by the report is to the effect that both lobelia and the marsh rosemary were ad- 

This was the memorable "Trial of Thomson," but it did not end the assaults of his adverseries. Thomson tn- 
tered suit for damages against Dr, French, March, 18x0, and failed in his prosecution, loosing much time and more 
than six hundred dollars of costs. 

In i8xx a doctor in Eastport, Me., while Thomson was passing his office door, tried to kill him with a scythe, 
and it seems that even Thomson now became discouraged, for he writes: "I found I had enemies on every hand, and 
was in danger of falling by some of them. Everything seemed to conspire against me.'' 

In March, 18x3, he obtained a patent to protect on his system of medicine, known thereafter as "Thom- 
son's Patent." 

We find that although Thomson was very bitter regarding the Regular Profession generally, he spoke in the 
highest terms of Drs. Rush and W. P. C. Barton, of Philadelphia, with whom he had several interviews. 

Dr, Thomson died in Boston, Mass., X843, after a tedious application of his own medicine, known as Thomson's 
Course, (see note | p. 85]. 

We have consumed considerable space in recording the principal points in the life of an exceedingly, energetic 


about 1793 under a peculiar system of practice or theory,* in which he used 
classesf of crude drugs in a system of courses, J lobelia being the first class and 

and zealous man, who boasted of his illiteracy, never attended a college, or received a lecture in medicine, but who 
created a lasting excitement in the medical world of America, and who still has many earnest followers under the 
name Thomsonians, although his methods of treatment are very much modified. 

His life was marred by sufferings and quarrels. He was in a constant turmoil and fearlessly attacked his op- 
ponents, however high their positions. Defeat did not dishearten him, success nerved him to greater aggressments. 
Enemies arose within his camp towards his latter days and he met them as fearlessly as he did the ''Regulars." We 
cannot, but admire the tenacity with which he adhered to his views and practice. If he had been permitted to re- 
ceive a thorough education, and had been led to systematize his labors, his indomitable spirit and tenacity of purpose 
would have doubtless made him conspicuous among the pioneers of America, either within the medical profession or 
otherwise. It will yet be our duty to review Thomson's Theory in the practice of which it was claimed (1834) that 
thirty thousand persons were enrolled. They were then generally known as "Lobelia Doctors" "Heaters," 
"Steamers," and "Sweaters." 

^'Samuel Thomson believed, "that all diseases are the effect of one general cause and may be removed by one 
general remedy, is the foundation upon which I have erected my fabric." This is a positive statement, showing the 
views he held of the various disease expressions. The reader must not however, infer (as antagonists to Thomson 
misstated) that by the term "one general medicine" he meant a single drug. Upon the contrary, he used many drugs 
and he states, "all diseases might be cured by one general remedy or principle, applied in a great many forms as med- 

Origin of Disease.— "I found that all diseases to which the human family were subject, were, however various 
the symptoms and different the names by which they were called, produced directly from obstructed peripiration." 

Cause of Obstructed Perspiration. — "If there is a natural heat, there must be a natural perspiration." Ob- 
structed perspiration "is always produced by cold or the absence of a suitable degree of natural vitality." 

Heat is Life. — Arguing from the foregoing, Thomson announced the axiom that has since become attached to 
his followers: "Heat is life and cold is death." He did not perhaps mean this in a literal sense, but, he believed that 
a low temperature (cold] caused disease, and that fever a friend was an efl'ect of cold. "The cold causes an ob- 
struction and fever arises to remove it." This view is not peculiar. Perhaps, the religious of the Sun worshipers 
may be considered about the same. "Coffinism" of England was similar. 

Canker.— In all Thomsonian works the name is conspicuous. Dr. Thomson believed that a "white feverish 
coat" was caused by cold and attached itself to the mucous membranes of the stomach and bowels. This he called 
canker. **Canker and putrefaction are caused by cold. If this growth of canker is not checked and removed, it will 
communicate with the blood, when death will end the contest between heat and cold." Dysentery is caused by 
canker in the bowels. The piles is canker below the reach of medicine in the usual way. What is called bearing 
down pains in women is from the same cause. 

Object of Medication. — According to Thomson should be to produce a great internal and external heat to pre- 
vent the formation of canker and throw it to the stomach, and then to remove it from the stomach by emetics. 
Astringent in Thomson's opinion, combined with this secretion (bayberry and other like bodies); stimulants promote 
perspiration (capsicum, steam, etc.); emetics remove the canker from the stomach, 

f Thomson arranged his remedies into classes and numbered them, often individualizing a drug by making it the 
conspicuous member of a class. Thus, Emetics made Class No. 1, and lobelia being his great emetic was simply 
called "No. i." He would say, "then administer No. i." 

The classes were as follows:— Class No. i, "Emetics, to cleanse the stomach, remove obstructions and pro- 
mote perspiration," lobelia being typical,— Class No. 2, "Stimulants, to raise and retain the vital heat of the body, 
and promote free perspiration," capsicum being typical. — Class No. 3, "Astringents, to scour the stomach and 
bowels and remove the canker," bayberry and composition being typical. — Class No. 4, "Bitters, to restore diges- 
tion, and correct the morbid secretions of the blood and bile," kydrastis, populus, etc., being typical.— Class No, 5, 
"Restorative Tonic, compounded to correct digestion, and strengthen the stomach and bowels," wild cherry be- 
ing typical.— Class No. 6, "Antiseptics, to give tone to the stomach and bowels, and prevent mortification," myrrh 
and a compound tincture of myrrh being his favorite. The familiar No. 6 of the present day, is modified from Thom- 
son's formula. 

The enemies of Thomson have asserted that he first administered No. *, if that failed, used No. 2, and so on 
until through with the list if the patient still lived. 

JThe following condensed accounts of the system of Thomson's Courses is taken from the American Vegetable 
Practice, by Mattson. In Thomson's works the directions are not so explicit as herein given, as it seems that he 
depended to an extent upon the personal instruction of himself or his agents. 

Thomson's Course of Medicines.— ist. Give the patient a teacupful of hot bayberry tea, (No. 3,) then an injec- 
tion of a cup and a half of an infusion of bayberry and a teaspoonful of lobelia. Sometimes the lobelia of this inject- 
ing fluid is increased and a teaspoonful of capsicum added. 

and. When the injection has operated, a steam bath is to be applied to the patient and a second teacupful of bay- 
berry tea. If he does not perspire freely, in ten minutes, give a third teacupful of tea, and add to this last a tea. 
spoonful of capsicum. In about twenty minutes, remove the patient from the bath, and, into a warm bed (sometimes 
a cup of ice water was dashed over the person upon removal of sweat bath) with a hot stone to his feet. 


his principal remedy. He met the opposition of most Regular physicians, who 
bitterly decried the indiscriminate use he made of drugs, and he eventually was 
arrested (1809) and tried for killing a patient with lobelia. This trial brought 
lobelia before the public, and from that time to the present, lobelia has been in 
more or less demand and has come into use by all schools of medicine. Ac- 
counts of its uses and accepted medical properties in the different schools have 
been written for this work by authorities of these schools. 

In studying the history of the introduction of lobelia into medicine the 
following questions have at various times arisen and attracted more or less at- 
tention and discussion by our medical writers. 

1st. Did the North American Indians use Lobelia inflatdf — In our next article on Lobelia syphili- 
tica it will be seen that Sir William Johnson, preceding 1800, bought a cure for syphilis from the 
Indians, which turned out to be the root of Lobelia syphilitica. It is asserted in most medical 
works that the American Indians used Lobelia inflata, but this assertion is not supported by the 
testimony of any writer we can find who was acquainted with the medicines employed by the In- 
dians, and the pioneer travelers of America (Shoepf excepted, see p. 84,) failed to refer to the 
plant. We, therefore, conclude that these writers have confused the Lobelia syphilitica of Johnson 
with Lobelia inflata. 

Carver, who spent many years of his life among the Indians, and described the plants, trees and 
medicines of the tribes among whom he traveled, does not mention it. 

Lewis and Clark speak of the use of the vapor bath, but do not mention that Lobelia inflata 
was used by the Indians of the Upper Missouri. Speaking of syphilis among the Indians they 
say:* "When once a patient is seized, the disorder ends with his life only.'' They state of the 
Chippewa Indians, (p. 136,) that, "their specifics are the root of the lobelia and that of a species 
of sumach." It is evident that this is not from observation, as the Chippewas, (also known as the 
Ojibwas,) were not the Western Indians. They embraced many formidable tribes about the great 
lakes. Into their country Sir William Johnson extended his treaties, and his statement regarding 
Lobelia syphilitica, is evidently the source of the statements by Lewis and Clark. 

The book of the Indians, 1837,! gives no instance of its use by the Indians, or of any other 

The paper on "Indian Medicine,"t by Browne, does not refer to any substance that can be 
identical with lobelia. 

Major Long, 1819, in his account of the medicines and practice of the Indians of the West, 
evidently knew nothing of Lobelia inflata. 

Professor Nuttall informed Dr. Mattson that in his excursions among the Indians he had never 
known them to use Lobelia inflata. 

3rd. Add a heaping teaspoonful of powdered lobelia herb to a cupful of the capsicum and bayberry tea, give at 
one dose, or, infuse five teaspoonfuls of lobelia in a cup and a half of hot water and take in three doses even if each 
dose vomits. 

4th. After the vomiting ceases, a second steaming is administered, giving the patient a cup of hot ginger or 
composition tea while in the bath. Then if the patient "has sufficient strength" he may dress, and if not he must be 
put into a warm bed. This concludes the "course." 

5th. Bitters and tonics are then administered. If the malady is not cured the course must be repeated. "Miss 

B , of Lynn, Mass., took twenty-seven courses for a malignant disease of the stomach." "I knew a gentleman 

with dropsy to whom a course was administered once a week for nine months," etc. 
* This severe method of treatment gave rise to the dogeral once applied to Thomsonians: — 

"1 puke, I purge, I sweat 'em. 
And if they die, I let 'em." 

'('The Expedition to the Sources of the Missouri, Lewis &, Clarke, vol. ii., pp. 135 and 136. 

IBook of the Indians, Boston, S. G. Drake, 1837, A very interesting and unique publication.'-.-Z, 

^Indian Medicine, J. M. Browne, in Indian Miscellany, p. 74. (Edited by W. W. Beach, li-jj). 


The interesting narratives in "Indian Captivities," contain no record of Lobelia inflata, al- 
though rich in the experiences of persons, who passed many years among the Indian tribes east of 
the Mississippi. 

Samuel Steams, M.D., 1772, in his American Herbal, mentions other species of lobelia, but not 
Lobelia infiata, and he makes no reference to the Indians using an emetic. Dr. Stearns was a native 
of Massachusetts and traveled among the Indians of that State with intent to study their remedies, 
and would not have omitted this plant if it had come under his observation. Neither Schoepf, Barton, 
nor Rafinesque mentions Lobelia inflata as an Indian remedy from personal experience, and none of 
these authors would have neglected it, if aware of its being in use. 

Catlin,* in his explicit descriptions of Indian customs omits it. 

However, Mattson, 1841, t states that, "There is abundant traditionary evidence that it was 
used by the Penobscot Indians long before the time of Dr. Samuel Thomson, its reputed discoverer, 
but with the exception of that tribe, I have not been able to discover by any researches I have 
made, that the American aborigines had any knowledge of its properties or virtues. "| Mattson, 
however, neglects to give any positive testimony, or refer to any authority. 

Dr. G. A. Stockwell, in a very recent article^ omits it, and thus helps to confirm the fact that 
lobelia was not used by the Indians. 

Therefore, from authorities quoted, and numbers of other works searched without avail, we 
conclude that the evidence is altogether against the reiterated assertion that Lobelia infiata is a drug 
handed down to us from the American Indians. We cannot find proof of a single instance where it 
was employed by them. If the Penobscot Indians used the plant, as Dr. Mattson believed, (from 
tradition) it is possible that the adjacent settlers learned of its properties from them, but we would 
more rationally accept that the early use of Lobelia inflata in domestic medicine was an accidental 
discovery of the whites. Those were days of heroic remedies ; bleeding, emetics and blisters were 
the methods of treatment, and it is not to be presumed that so remarkable and common an emetic 
as lobelia could remain unknown. That Thomson and Cutler learned of its emetic properties by in- 
dependent personal experience is undeniable we think, Thomson especially insisting that he stumbled 
upon it. 

It is a common belief with some persons that the Indians used the lobelia in connection with 
their "Sweat Baths" to clear their minds, and remove their ailments, but our endeavors to find the 
authority for such statements have resulted in failure. The "Medicine Men," it is true, pretended 
sometimes to vomit bones, by which the future was foretold, but, this if not a deception had no con- 
nection with the medical uses of lobelia, and there is no evidence at our command to support the 
supposition that the whites learned of its properties from the Indians, or that the Indians used it in 

2nd. Did Samuel Thomson disco/ver the Properties of Lobelia indepently of others? — Thomson asserts 
that,|| sometime in early life (1773) I discovered a plant which had a singular branch and pods. 
The taste and operation produced were so remarkable that I never forgot it. I afterwards used to in- 
duce other boys to chew it, merely for sport to see them vomit. I tried this herb in this way for 
nearly twenty years without knowing anything of its medical virtues. This plant is what I have 
called the emetic herb.\ 

^Manners, Customs and Condition of the North American Indians, Catlin, vol. i., p. 186. 

fMattson's American Vegetable Practice. 

JThomson believed that the reference to the use of lobelia by the Indians was an intentional mistatemcnt in 
order to rob him of the discovery, he writes : 

"It is said by Thacher, that it was employed by the aborigines, and by those who deal in Indian remedies ; and 
Others, who are attempting to rob me of my discovery, affect to believe the same thing ; but this is founded altogether 
upon conjecture, for they cannot produce a single instance of its having been employed as medicine, until I made use 
of it. The fact is, it was a new article, wholly unknown to the medical faculty, till I introduced it into use ; and the 
best evidence of this is, that they are now ignorant of its powers, and all the knowledge they have of it has been ob- 
tained from my practice. — Thomson's "New Guide to Health," 1822, p. 52. 

gPopular Science Monthly, "Indian Medicine," G. A. Stockwell, M.D., Sept., 1886, p. 649. 

INew Guide to Health, p. i6. 

ITlbid, p. 27. We must not forget that this was written after the trial of Thomson, and then it seems, there was 
an intense feeling between Thomson and Cutler. 


Thus it seems that Thomson understood the emetic nature of Lobelia inflata before 1793, but, 
he asserts that, "I tried this herb in this way for nearly twenty years without knowing anything of 
its medical virtues." He further admits this by saying, "It had never occured to me that it was of 
any value in medicine until about this time (1793). I have since found by twenty year's experience 
in which time, I have made use of it in every disease I have met with, to great advantage, that it 
is a discovery of the greatest importance." 

Thus Thomson admits that he knew nothing of the use of lobelia in medicine preceding 1793, 
and the first record we have of his making use of it in asthma is in 1807, to wit: "In the fall of 
1807, I introduced lobelia, tinctured in spirit, as a remedy in asthma." 

Mattson, 1841,* states however, that "it was used as a remedy by many people in New Eng- 
land, long before his (Thomson's) time." He recounts as follows:! 

"Mr. Phillip Owen, now eighty years old, relates that when a boy he was sent into the field by 
his mother to collect some lobelia for a child, sick with the quinsy, and that the herb, administered 
in the usual manner, afforded speedy and entire relief." This would show a use pf it at about 1770. 

"Mr. William Cobum, who also reached his eightieth year, says that lobelia has been used as a 
medicine in the state of Maine, both by the people, and the Penobscot Indians, ever since he can 
remember, which is a period of not less than seventy years." This also carries us back to 1770. 

Dr. John A. Hyde, of Freeport, Maine, a very old physician states that, the people in that 
vicinity were in the habit of using lobelia under the name colic weed, when he first settled in the 
town, which was about fifty years ago. He says they employed it in various complaints, but parti- 
cularly in colic, and considered it perfectly safe and harmless.'' This carries the use back to 1790, 
and antedates Thomson again. 

Dr. E. Harlow, of New Lebanon, Conn., writes under date of May 15, 1835, to a gentleman in 
Boston: "I commenced the vegetable or botanic practice of medicine about 1796, under the in- 
struction of Dr. Root, of Canaan, Conn., who was esteemed as an able botanic physician. He made 
use of lobelia under the name Indian tobacco, and taught me the use of it ; and from that period to 
the present, I have continued to employ it in my practice. I may also state that Dr. Forbes, of 
Lebanon, used it when I was a boy, and from that circumstance it received the name of "Forbes 
weed." And lastly, "Doctress Charity Shaw Long, of Albany, N. Y., secured a patent for the use 
of Lobelia inflata, in 1812, which was one year in advance of Thomson's patent." 

Thus from evidence that is entitled to credence it seems that lobelia was somewhat known as 
a domestic medicine, when Thomson was one year old, and there is little doubt that its use in house- 
hold practice long antedated any positive information that can be found in print at this late day. 
Nevertheless, Thomson introduced it to medicine, and none will dispute that Samuel Thomson 
made lobelia a familiar name to hundreds of thousands of Americans ; that he made it notorious 
none can deny. Whether the domestic uses of lobelia (by a few persons) could have served to give 
Thomson a start with his "Practice" is a question of little moment. He distinctly asserts that such 
was not the case, and that he discovered and introduced lobelia independently of all others. In our 
opinion his statement is entitled to credence. He was intensely enthusiastic on the lobelia subject, 
and when writers on medicine ignored his claims, to give credit to Cutler and Drury, he considered 
it an act of injustice, and he expresses himself on the subject as follows : "They cannot produce a 
single instance of its having been employed as a medicine till I made use of it." 

This tendency to neglect him, and, as he believed to persecute him for opinions sake, finally in- 
duced Thomson to seek Government protection, both for legal and monetary considerations, result- 
ing in "Thomson's Patent." 

Is Lobelia a Poison ?—A recent endeavor has been made in England to place lobelia on the 
"Poison Schedule",? and in studying the record we find that in several instances legal steps have 

*The American VegetEible Practice, Mattson, vol. i. 

f Mattson and Thomson were at first friends, but afterward were enemies. It seems to us that Mattson makes 
it a point to show that Thomson was not first to use lobelia. 

^Thomson's Mat. Med. and Anat., X3th edition, p. 585. 

JEnglish Poison Schedule, (1868). This is an English law, designed to protect the public against intentional 
and accidental poisoning. Among the omissions are such energetic bodies as sulphuric, nitric and hydrochloric acids. 


been taken to punish persons, who, it was claimed had destroyed life by the injudicious use of this 
drug. The trials of Dr. Thomson* and Dr. Frostt have attracted the most attention. 

In reviewing the cases we find few convictions resulted, and, even then the sentences were 
light. It seems to us that the prosecution failed because as a rule the evidence did not show that 
lobelia was really a poison. The members of the Regular Medical Profession were usually the ag- 
gressors and seemed anxious to convict, but evidently had at that time but little personal acquaint- 
ance with the drug. Their statements in court were usually based upon the papers in Thacher's 
and Cox's Dispensatories, whereas, the Thomsonians would produce abundance of testimony to show 
that lobelia in immense doses, far beyond the amounts named as poisonous by the prosecution was 
continually taken without fatal effects. They would bring as witnesses those who had taken the 
drug, and they evidently impressed the court with the fact that the Thomsonians were more familiar 
with lobelia, than were the members of the Regular Medical Profession. 

There was another factor in this case, that we cannot underestimate. The cry of oppression 
and persecutions was raised and the sympathies of many people enlisted in behalf of the Thom- 
sonians from this stand. The Thomsonians of that day were not altogether uneducated as some now 
suppose. Upon the contrary, we find that many highly cultivated persons adopted their methods 
and bought the "right." Prof. Benj. Watterhouse, (Professor of Theory and Practice of Medicine 
in Harvard,) was zealous, also Prof. TuUy, of Yale, and throughout New England Thomson num- 
bered his followers by thousands, from among the best informed families. Thus it is, that Thom- 
sonism did not meet the popular disfavor that it held with the Medical profession. To sum up we may 
be pardoned for observing. 

We believe that lobelia is not an active poison, but that injudicious use might result fatally, as 
is true of other moderately energetic remedies. No doubt more fatal effects would result from its 
use if it were not so violently emetic that the effect of a poisonous dose of the drug is first to expel 
it from the stomach. 

The physiological investigations of Prof. Roberts Bartholow following, show conclusively that the 
alkaloid lobeline is poisonous and will produce death in animals. 

The Actions and Uses of Hydrobromate of Lobeline. — (Written for this 
publication by Prof. Roberts Bartholow, M. D., LL. D., Professor of Materia 
Medica, General Therapeutics and Hygiene, in the Jefferson Medical College, 
of Philadelphia.) — Preliminary, — ^This research consists, for the most part, of 
my own experiments and observations. Facts obtained from other sources 
have been adopted when my own experiences were in harmony with them. The 
preparations used were furnished me by Prof. J. U. Lloyd, whose name is a 

(the English Journals often give records of death by them). We presume that the commerce of that country would 
render it useless to attempt to control these substances. Ergot and oil of savin are listed, and it seems that to these 
should be added oil of cedar, oil of tanzy, oil of pennyroyal, and perhaps gossypium bark, if the unborn are to be 
considered. Oxalic acid is named, but binoxalate of potassium (a common drug here) omitted. These and other fea- 
tures seem to us to indicate that the list should be revised, and certainly twenty years in our country would demand 
a revision. 

In the recent excitement in England over a death after taking lobelia, many writers urged that lobelia be placed 
on the poison schedule. In our opinion, this could not be consistantly accomplished without adding ipecac, turpeths 
mineral, and perhaps other like substances. Doubtless, English pharmacists generally agree that a careful revision 
of their poison schedule is desirable, but, we doubt if it will ever be possible to include all moderately energetic 
drugs that by abuse may produce death, as is perhaps true of lobelia. In our country lobelia is not considered to our 
knowledge in any list of poisons. Our hillsides are covered with the herb, its properties are well known, and it is 
never used as a poison by those inclined to produce death, but is freely employed as an emetic by country people. 

*See note f p. 84. 

fDr. R. K. Frost, of New York City, was arrested and tried December 13, 1837, for killing Mr. T. G. French by 
putting "him into a vapor bath" and administering "poisonous concoctions of lobelia" and "giving deleterious herbs 
which no reasonable man would administer to a dog." This trial, next to that of Thomson, exhibited the in- 
tensity of feeling that existed at that time, and from over the entire country it attracted the attention of persons who 
were the least interested in medicine. It lasted ten days and the jury returned a verdict of "guilty of manslaughter in 
the fourth degree," and recommended the accused to the mercy of the court. He was sentenced to three months 
imprisonment. The history of this trial was issued in pamphlet form (104 pp.) and used by the Thomsonians over the 
country to show that they were persecuted. 


sufficient guarantee of their genuineness. They consisted of one per cent., and 
one-tenth per cent, solutions of the hydrobromate of lobeline. The investiga- 
tion includes the physiological and clinical actions of this remedy. 

General Result of the Action in Cold and Warm-blooded Animals. — Given in 
sufficient quantity, an increasing failure of muscular power, staggering and in- 
coordination, retching and salivation, are observed in from five to fifteen or 
twenty minutes after it is administered. First occurring in the hind extremities 
the evidences of muscular paresis, then extend to the fore members. The frog be- 
comes less and less able to jump and to turn over from a position on the back, and 
the rabbit yields in the hind legs, reels, and at length can no longer control these 
members, and the forearms and arms soon after are disabled in the same manner; 
sensibility and the brain functions remain unimpaired. Before the paralysis has 
become complete, if the amount given has not been too large, the receptivity 
and response to peripheral impressions is for a short period somewhat more 
ready, and this is, more especially true of frogs. The respiratory function is 
embarrassed in proportion to the general paralyzing action. After a period of 
rather slower respiration it becomes quicker and increasingly shallow and labor- 
ious. With the lessening supply of oxygen, carbonic acid narcosis comes on, 
and death ensues with complete muscular resolution and without convulsions in 
frogs, and usually with clonic convulsions in rabbits the failure of respiration 
being the immediate cause. 

Action on Nerve and Muscle. — When the sciatic nerve is isolated, the limb 
ligatured, and a merely paralyzing dose is administered, the nerve when excited 
by a faradic current at the earliest period of the action responds feebly, for the 
muscles of the limb below the ligature contract but slightly. When the paraly- 
sis is complete at length the strongest excitation of the nerve causes no response 
in any degree of muscular contraction. When this occurs the muscles are 
found to be readily excitable on direct electrical stimulation. It follows hence 
that lobeline destroys the excitability ot the motor nerve endings, and does not 
impair the contractility of muscle. 

There is a stage in the action of small doses, however, when the irritability 
of motor nerve and muscle is actually heightened: when the paralyzing effect is 
just begininning to manifest itself after the administration of one minim of the 
one per cent, solution, a slight tap on the skin of the back causes an immediate 
response in general muscular movement of a tetanic character. From this it 
must be concluded that when the first impression of lobeline is making, the ner- 
vous tissue is irritated by the medicament, but as the action continues and in- 
creases, the irritation is succeeded by loss of function. Furthermore, when the 
effect of lobeline in small quantity is such as to cause general muscular contrac- 
tions on irritation of the skin (heightened cutaneous reflex) it is obvious that 
the physiological effect is not limited to the motor-nerve endings, but includes 
the spinal cord as well. It may be suggested, that the paralyzers, whose action 
is first felt by the intra-muscular nerve elements really act through the spinal 


cord and not as is now supposed on the nerve endings only at the be- 

Sensibility remains unimpaired, certainly, up to the period of the cessation 
of all muscular contractility, for the corneal and other reflexes are preserved un- 
til then. When the action of lobeline has attained its maximum, the paralysis 
is complete, and there is no response to any form of irritation. 

Effects on the Circulation and Respiration. — When the fullest effect of lobeline 
is attained in the frog, if the chest be opened the heart will be found still in 
action at about 28 per minute, but the contractions are not energetic, although 
rhythmical. If the medulla be previously divided, the heart will be found at a 
standstill, its cavities distended. If in action, electrical stimulation increases it; 
if at rest, a strong faradic current will start the auricle in active movement, 
and the ventricle in feeble and irregular contractions chiefly of the basic por- 

The most important of the effects of lobeline on the heart, is its action on 
the vagus. At first, and with a small dose, the vagus is briefly stimulated, then 
depressed in function, but, it is completely paralyzed at the period of maximum 
effect, and no strength of current will then stop the heart. With a minute dose, 
the effect first produced is irritation of the vagus, with slowing of the heart, but 
as the effect deepens, the heart grows more rapid with lessening of the inhibi- 
tion. It is probable that every first dose given, causes some slowing of the 
heart's movements, but this effect is so transient and slight that it escapes de- 
tection. With the decline in the inhibition there ensues increased action of the 
heart and lowering of the vascular tension. The body temperature rises some- 
what pari passu with the increased rapidity of the circulation. As the re- 
spiratory muscles fail in power, the breathing becomes more and more labored, 
panting and shallow. The oxygenation of the blood is progressively diminished 
carbonic acid accumulates, the lips are cyanosed, and stupor is succeeded 
ultimately by coma. Up to this point the mental processes are not disord- 
ered, and the sensibility remains unimpaired. 

Therapeutical Applications of Lobeline. — ^To avoid all subjects of controversy, 
I confine my observations to facts personally ascertained, and give the results of 
my own therapeutical uses of this remedy: 

Having ascertained that lobeline possesses the power to lessen the reflex 
action of the spinal centres, I have administered it in those maladies character- 
ized by irritability or exaltation of this function. In epilepsy it appears to be a 
most promising remedy if right conditions exist. It is the less useful, the more 
decidedly the convulsive seizures approach the epileptiform character ; and it is 
more effective, the nearer the cases are to the true or essential type. The 
bromides may be quite successful in arresting convulsions due to coarse lesions 
of the brain, although not acting on the structural changes in any way. Now 
lobeline does not act favorably in such conditions. 

In nocturnal epilepsy, which, as is now well known, does not usually yield 


to the bromides, and in the cases not arising from an obvious peripheral irritation 
or accompanied by a defined aura, in the pale-anaemic and lymphathic type of 
subject, the best results obtafnable from this remedy may be expected. As, 
however, definite conclusions can be formed only after sufficient length of ob- 
servations the real value of the hydrobromate of lobeline must be ascertained by 
comparative trials through several years. Now, it can be asserted merely that 
this remedy promises well. 

More definite results can be given from the administration of lobeline in cer- 
tain neuroses of the respiratory organs, as asthma, whooping-cough, pseudo- 
angina pectoris, in the spasmodic cough of emphysema, the cough of habit, 
renal and other reflex asthmas. Somewhat more specific statements can be 
made as respects its utility in all these cases. 

In that form of asthma, which is merely a functional disorder, the best re- 
sults may be expected from it. The dose at the outset should be about 1-60 
grain, and this can be repeated in a half hour when the attack is acute and 
severe, and afterwards /n> re nata. When the attacks are recurring and persist- 
ent, the lobeline should be given three times a day from i-6oth to i-30th grain, 
in persons having the ordinary susceptibility to its action, and i-20th grain in 
those with less. When desirable or circumstances require, it may be combined 
with morphine, or cocaine, or both. The asthmatic seizures which attend em- 
physema are often quite promptly relieved by it. When in the course of chronic 
bronchitis, the mucous membrane furnishes but little secretion and the 
cough is dry and harrassing, lobeline acts very efficiently. It has also ap- 
peared to do great good in cases of pseudo-angina pectoris, with weak action 
of the heart and embarrassed respiration. By lowering the vascular tension 
and lessening the work of the heart by relaxing the inhibition, the pulmonary 
circulation is carried on with greater ease, and hence the distress of breathing 
subsides. There is here, as I conceive, a most important sphere of usefulness — 
for this morbid complexus is by no means uncommon, and we have not many 
agents capable of affording the direct relief given by lobeline. 

The Homceopathic Uses of Lobelia Inflata. — (Written for this publica- 
tion by Prof. Edwin M. Hale, M. D. , Emeritus Professor Materia Medica and 
Therapeutics in the Chicago Homceopathic College). — I consider that the 
sphere of action of this species lies midway between tobacco and veratrum 
album, or their active principles, nicotine and veratrine. It acts upon the motor- 
nervous system and upon the respiratory centre in the medulla. 

The nauseous effects of this drug are far more intense then tobacco, and this 
is the principal reason why it is not used for the same purpose as tobacco. An- 
other reason is that the system does not tolerate the drug, as it does tobacco. 
I have, however, seen habitues of lobelia, who, from taking it for asthma and 
dyspepsia, came to tolerate it to a degree which seemed surprising. 

Lobelia inflata was first introduced into our school in this country at the same 
time and in the same manner as the Lobelia syphilitica, (1838). In 1841 it was in- 


troduced into homoeopathic practice in Europe by Dr. A. Arac, of Leipsic, in the 
15th volume of "Hygiea." Since that time it has been used to a considerable 
extent in our practice, but although a powerful drug, its curative sphere is 

We find it useful principally in asthmatic affections. It is useful in two 
varieties, namely, the nervous, which arises from paresis of the respiratory 
centre, and the catarrhal or "humid asthma." In the first, it is strictly homoeo- 
pathic, and has been found curative in very minute doses. In the latter, when 
the mucus rales are loud, and the sense of suffocation is due to a mechanical 
obstruction by the mucus, and the coincident spasm of the bronchi, larger 
doses must be used, for this condition is similar to the secondary effects of the 
drug. I have seen almost magical relief follow doses of 3i repeated every hour, 
without nausea or vomiting follow its use. 

Permanent cures of asthma of many years, have been made by larger doses. 
Sometimes these large doses (half an ounce) have not caused vomiting. At 
other times smaller doses vomit violently, leaving the patient much prostrated, 
but with disappearance of the asthma. I have cured asthmatic attacks by small 
doses of veratrum, when lobelia seemed indicated but had failed. 

In some cases of asthma, the patient complains of a "dreadful sinking 
sensation" in the epigastrum with violent distreping efforts at inspiration. This 
is a clear indication for the use of lobelia, and it will promptly relieve such cases 
in doses of l-io or i-ioo of a drop frequently repeated. 

In cough, lobelia is very useful. The cough, may be caused by accumulation 
of mucus in the pharynx or bronchi, or a tickling in the larynx, or it may be 
"croupy," or attended by dyspnoea. In purely nervous coughs, like whooping 
cough, or from irritation of the laryngeal nerves, motor and sensory. In spas- 
modic croup, it is a prompt and excellent specific, and I have found it useful in 
carpo-pedal spasms, attended by laryngismus. 

In some gastric disorders, lobelia does excellent service. In the so-called 
nervous dyspepsia, when the patient complains that nausea, oppression of the 
stomach, and dyspnoea follow each meal, when there is constant "faintness" at 
the stomach, as bad after meals as before eating, lobelia in doses of a drop of the 
one-tenth dilution before and after eating has a very happy effect. 

This "faintness" at the pit of the stomach is an unfailing guide to its use. 
It is caused by a paresis of the sympathetic nerve; other drugs cause this symp- 
tom; ignatia, cimicifuga, digitatis, and veratrum, all cause it by their depres- 
sing action on the same system of nerves. The primary effect of lobelia on the 
heart is to paralize its motor nerves, like tobacco or aconite, hence it is a prom- 
inent remedy in primary cardiac weakness and irritation. The "sinking faint- 
ness" at the epigastrum is here the symptom most complained of. Small doses 
must be used to combat this condition. Some patients will bear doses of one 
or two drops of the tincture, others are made worse by it, and only find relief 
from the second or third dilutions. 


The secondary or reactionary effects of lobelia, is to cause violent 
spasmodic palpitations, or symptoms closely resembling angina pectoris. In 
such cases I have found quick and good results from J to lo drops of the 

Primarily, lobelia paralyzes the various sphincter muscles, and can be used 
in physiological doses, for spasmodic retention of urine, or faeces, or rigidity of 
the OS and perineum. Its use in labor in facilitating the expulsion of the 
foetus is as old as the aborigines. It has been adopted by midwives and many 
physicians. I have seen a rigid and undilatable os rapidly give way after a sin- 
gle dose of 20 drops. It will allay and regulate those violent pains in the loins 
during labor, which seem to arise from the rigidity of the genital passages. In 
dysmenorhoea, due to this same cause, small doses give prompt relief. In this 
respect it resembles gelsemium and belladonna. 

In hysteria, lobelia is frequently indicated. The case of spasm of the larynx 
reported by Dr. Knowles, of Avoca, Iowa, in my "Therapeutics of New Reme- 
dies," is an apt example of a manifestion of hysteria, rapidly cured by this re- 
medy. I have controlled the most violent hysterical convulsions by injecting 
into the rectum a teaspoonful of the tincture. 

In gall stone or renal colic, in incarcerated hernia and in spasmodic gastralgia, 
lobelia often relieves promptly. This may be said to be antipathic, but I do not 
believe it. The secondary effect of all paralyzants is spasm and convulsions. 
Lobelia is as homoeopathic to spasm, as to paralysis. 

Medical Uses of Lobelia in the Eclectic School. — (Written for this 
publication by Prof John M. Scudder, M. D., Professor of the Practice of 
Medicine in the Eclectic Medical Institute, Cincinnati). — We use lobelia for its 
emetic, its relaxant and its stimulant influence. It is 3 fair example of the com- 
mon fact that the action of a drug depends upon its dose. Emesis may be 
called its poisonous action, and stimulation its medicinal action. In poisonous 
doses the drug would prove fatal to life were it not that it is expelled from the 
stomach and exhausts itself in the act of emesis. 

Without discussing the advantages of thorough emesis, as compared with 
other treatment, it may be remarked that the indications and contra-indications 
for emetics are as distinct as for other remedies. If the patient has full tissues, 
full pulse, full tongue, heavily coated at base, with sense of fullness and oppres- 
sion in the epigastrium, lobeUa will act kindly. Conversely if the the tissues are 
contracted, the pulse small or hard, and the tongue contracted and red, an 
emetic should not be used. 

In the early part of the century lobelia in substance (usually the powdered 
seed) was given as an emetic. From this use came the extreme prostration, 
with cold clammy perspiration and enfeebled respiration and circulation, a con. 
dition known as the "alarming symptoms." There is no doubt, but that lobelia 
has occasionally caused death, but this result has been rare as compared with 
the large number of cases in which the drug has been used. 


It was not long before it was determined that an acid preparation of lobelia 
acted more kindly than the crude article, or indeed any other preparation. The 
acetous tincture was easily and cheaply prepared by simply macerating the herb 
and seed with vinegar, and whether as an emetic or a nauseant expectorant its 
influence was certain and kindly. 

The relaxant influence of lobelia was twofold, as it was exerted on the 
voluntary and involuntary muscles. For the first, it was the result of more or 
less profound nausea, induced by large doses just short of emesis. This effect 
was frequently called "antispasmodic," and was that desired in infantile convul- 
sions, puerperal convulsions, hysteria, tetanus and some cases of asthma. This 
protracted nausea was also thought necessary to the establishment of mucous 
secretion from bronchial tubes, the so-called expectorant action. 

Its action on the involuntary muscular fiber was not dependant upon nausea. 
Probably its best and most certain action was in cases of difficult labor from 
rigidity of the os uteri. In this case an alcoholic tincture from the seed was 
employed, twenty drops being added to two ounces of water, a teaspoonful was 
given every fifteen minutes until dilatation was accomplished. 

With a full and oppressed pulse and a sense of oppression in the chest 
lobelia is one of our most certain remedies. The small doses (tincture of the 
seed) not nauseant, gives relief and a better circulation of blood. 

In neuralgia of the heart, and in angina pectoris, no remedy that I have 
used gives such prompt relief. Frequently a single dose of ten or fifteen drops 
of a tincture of the seed will give almost immediate relief. 

Before the use of belladonna to remove congestion of the brain (patient being 
comatose) nothing was deemed so certain as a lobelia emetic. In the eruptive 
fevers with tardy appearance or retrocession of the eruption, nothing was so ef- 
fective in relieving the nervous system and bringing the eruption to the surface 
as a lobelia emetic properly given. 

When remedies are used in combination it is almost impossible to determine 
the action of a single agent. Thus many compounds containing lobelia have 
been highly commended, and have done good service, but what part should 
properly be credited to this agent we cannot say. Among these combinations 
none has acquired a greater reputation than the compound stillingia liniment, 
composed of oils of lobelia, stillingia and cajuput, with alcohol. * This has cer- 
tainly a wonderful action in croup, and I have satisfied myself by experiment 
that a principal action is from the oil of lobelia. 

Pharmaceutical and Medical References to Lobelia. 

1785. — Indigfcnous Vegetables, Cutler, p. 484, from Am. 
Journal Science and Arts. 

1787. — Materia Medica Americana, David Schoepf, Er- 
langer, (Germany,) p. 128. 

179s.— Medical Botany, Woodville, Vol. II., p. 249. (Lo- 
belia syphilitica). 

1793. — Domestic Medicine, William Buchan, Edinburgh, 

p. 513- 
1798. — Collections for a Materia Medica of the United 

States, B, S. Barton, part first, (3rd edition, xSlo) 

p. 36. 

*See formulu, p. 82.— i. 



i8d8. — The Pharmacopoeia of the Massachusetts Medical 

Society, Boston^ 1808. 
1810. — The American New Dispensatory, Thacher, p. 146, 

(and other editions). 
i8n. — The American Lexicon, (Author not named) New 

York. This is simply an imitation of Quincy; 

this paper being: copied verbatum. 
1817. — Therapeutics and Materia Medica, Chapman, p. 

272, (and other editions). 
18 17.— Vegetable Materia Medica, W, P. C, Barton, Vol. 

I., p. 181. 
1818. — The American Dispensatory, Coxe, p. 329, (and 

other editions). 
1820. — The House Surgeon and Physician, Hand. 
1820. — Pharmacopoeia of the United States, p. 40. 
1820, — Medical Dictionary, Hooper, (and other editions), 
i&cz. — A Supplement to the Pharmacopoeia, London, 

P- 73- 

1822. — Materia Medica and Therapeutics, Eberle, Vol, L, 
p. 63. 

1826. — A Materia Medica of the United States, Zollickof- 
fer, pp. 155, 167, 194, 198, 209, 2i4. 

1828. — Materia Medica and Pharmacy, Murray, p. 183, 
(and other editions). 

1829. — Manual of Materia Medica and Pharmacy, Ed- 
wards & Vavasseur, pp. 262, 362. 

1830, — The Botanic Physician, Smith, p. 475, 

1830. — Introduction to the Natural System of Botany, 
Lindley, p. 187. 

1830. — Pharmacoposia of the United States, Philadelphia, 

P- 15- 
1830. — Pharmacopoeia of the United States, New York, 

p. 43- 
1832. — An Improved System, of Botanic Medicine, How- 
ard, Vol. II., p. 337, (and other editions). 
1833. — A Narrative of the Life and Medical Discoveries 

of Samuel Thomson, (various references). 
1833. — Prodome of a work to aid the teaching of the 

Vegetable Materia Medica, W. P. C. Barton, 
p. 60. 
1833. — New Guide to Health, Samuel Thomson, p. 46, 

(various other references). This is the tenth 

edition. The copyright was obtained in 1822. 
1833, — American Journal of Pharmacy, p. 282. 
1833. — United States Dispensatory, (and subsequent 

1833. — The American Practice of Medicine, Beach, Vol. 

III., p. 120. 
1833. — The Eclectic and Medical Botanist, (a Journal 

printed in Columbus, Ohio,) p. 340. 
1833. — The Thomsonian Recorder, Vol. I., pp. 254, 516. 
1834- — American Journal of Pharmacy, p.'30o. 
1834, — The Thomsonian Recorder, Vol. II., pp. 119, 199, 

1834. — Medical Botany, Sanborn, p. 105. 
1835. — The Thomsonian Recorder, pp. 3, 4, 91, 150, 155, 

177, 209, 253, 283, 284, 288, 318, 380, 412, 414. 
1836. — General Therapeutics, Dunglison, pp. 229, 230, (and 

other editions). 
1836. — The Thomsonian Recorder, pp. 145, 205, 247, 283, 

359» 405. 
1836. — The Western Medical Reformer, pp. 104, 207, 374. 

1837. — The Thomsonian Recorder, pp. 192, 199, 252, 392, 

315, 330* 334# 384* 388, 402- 

1837 The Western Medical Reformer, pp. 126, 189. 

1838. — American Journal of Pharmacy, p. 98. 

1838.— The Botanico-Medical Reformer, pp. 26, 61, 72, 80, 

100, 102, iiS, 128, 134, 138, 142, 163, 189, 2o6, 211, 

227, 234, 236, 238, 299, 305, 400. 
1838. — The Southern Botanic Journal, pp. 36, 77, 153, 248, 

z53» 354- 

1839.— Lobelia Advocate and Thomsonian Medical Re- 
corder, by Rev. John Rose.* 

1840.— Pharmacopoeia of the United States, pp. 25, 214. 

1840.— American Journal of Pharmacy, p. 280. 

1840.— Pharmacopee Uuiverselle, Jourdan, p. 802. 

1840, Elements of Materia Medica, Pereira, Vol. II., p. 

1841.— The Thomsonian Materia Medica, Thomson, p. 581. 
1841. — American Journal of Pharmacy, p. i. 

1841 The Botanico-Medical Reformer, p. 168. 

1841. — New Remedies, Dunglison. 

1841.— American Vegetable Practice, Mattson, Vol. I., 
pp. 160 to 174, 312, 317, 404. 
The Botanico-Medical Reformer, pp. 47, 
198, 203. 



1842. — American Journal of Pharmacy, p. 4. 

1842. — A Treatise of the Materia Medica and Therapeu- 
tics, Eberle, pp. 67. 

1842.— Botanic Theory and Practice of Medicine, Worthy, 
p. 594, 611, 620, 627, 

1843.— Pharmaceutisher Central-Blatt, No. 31, July sth. 

1843.— General Therapeutics and Materia Medica, 
Dunglison, Vol. I., p. 121 ; Vol, II., p. 197. 

1843. — American Journal of Pharmacy, p. 108, 

1844. — The Sick Man's Friend, Sanborn, pp. 96, 243. 

1844. — Medicines, Their Uses and Mode of Administra- 
tion, Neligan, p. 215. 

1844. — Botanico-Medical Recorder, pp. 252, 237, 372. 

1845.— Botanico-Medical Recorder, p. 162. 

1845. — The Practice of Medicine on Thomsonian Princi- 
ples, Comfort, p. 441. 

1845. — Elements of Materia Medica and Therapeutics, 
Harrison, Vol. II., p. 447. 

1846. — The Medical Formulary, Ellis, p. 46. 

1S46. — Botanico-Medical Recorder, p. 74, 77, 259. 

1847, — Materia Medica and Therapeutics, Royle, (by Car- 
son,) p. 456. 

1847. — Family Flora and Materia Medica Botanica, Good, 
plate 27. 

1847. — Botanico-Medical Reference Book, Biggs, pp. 500, 
586, 588. 

1847. — The American Practice, Beach, (and other edi- 
tions,) p. 661. 

1847 — .Medical Botany, Griffith, p. 418. 

1848. — Medicinal Plants of New York, Lee, p. 35. 

1848. — Mayne's Dispensatory and Formulary, pp. 56, 159, 

1848. — Medicinal Plants of South Carolina, p. 785. 

1849. — Elements of Materia Medica and Therapeutics, 
Kost, pp. 78 to 86, 198, 227, 487. 

1850. — Pharmacopoeia of the United States, pp. 29, 250. 

1850. — Pharmaceutical Journal and Transactions, (VoL 
X.) p. 270. 

*This unique publication was issued monthly in the interest of the lobelia practice, during the year 1839. It 
was not supported, and only one volume appeared. We are indebted to Dr. Charles Rose for the volume complete, 
probably the only copy in existence. In its front is bound the, "Trial of Dr. Frost." We do not refer to pages in this 
work, its title showing that the entire subject is connected with lobelia. 



1850.— The Physio-MedicRl Recorder and Surgical Jour- 
nal, p. 183. 

1850. — Medicinal Plants of the United States, Clapp, (Am. 
Med. Report,) pp. 807 to 809. 

1851. — Pharmaceutical Journal and Transactions, pp. 270, 

1852. — The Eclectic Dispensatory, King and Newton, p. 

1853. — Principles of Scientific Botany, Bickley, p. 175. 

1854, — Eclectic Medical Journal, Cincinnati, p. 312. 

1854, — An Improved System of Botanic Medicine, How- 
ard, pp. 328 to 338. 

1854. — The Elements of Materia Medica or Therapeutics, 
Pereira, (Carson's edition,) Vol. 11., p. 583 to 587, 

1855.— The Middle States Medical Reformer, pp. i to 4, 44. 

1857. — Druggist's Circular, p. 158. 

1857, — Materia Medica and Therapeutics,Mitchell, p. 567, 

1859. — Domestic Medicine, Kost, pp. 307, 362, 366, 380, 383, 

i860.— Pharmacopoeia of the United States, pp. 34, 331, 

1861.— Book of Formulae, Tilden & Co., p. 73. 

1864. — Therapeutics and Materia Medica, Stille, p. 280. 

1864. — Eclectic Medical Journal, Cincinnati, p. 14X. 

1865. — American Journal of Pharmacy, p. 211. 

1865. — Proceedings American Pharmaceutical Associa- 
tion, p. 211, 

1866.— American Eclectic Materia Medica and Therapeu- 
tics, Jones & Scudder, pp. 13, 112, 113, 235, 675. 

1867. — Eclectic Medical Journal, Cincinnati, p. 269, 

1869. — Eclectic Medical Journal, Cincinnati, p. 237. 

1870. — Pharmacopoeia of the United States, pp. 36, 63, 313. 

1870. — Eclectic Medical Journal, Cincinnati, pp. 206, 400, 
44S» 476. 

1871. — Botanical Survey of Louisiana, Featherman, p. 96. 

1871.— Eclectic Medical Journal, Cincinnati, pp. 10, 145. 

1872. — American Journal of Pharmacy, p. 293. 

1872. — Pharmacopoea Homoeopathica Polyglottica, pp. 
106, 190. 

1872, — Druggist's Circular, p. 160. 

1873. — Dictionary of Pharmaceutical Science, Swenngen, 

p. 253- 
1873.— Druggist's Circular, p. 56, 












-Eclectic Medical Journal, Cincinnati, p. 46. 

-Hale's New Remedies, Vol, II,, p. 416. 

-On Poisons, Taylor, p. 735. 

-American Journal of Pharmacy, p. 127. 

-Boston Medical and Surgical Journal, Feb. 4th. 

■Druggists Circular, p. tt. 

■New Remedies, Wm. Wood & Co, 

•Eclectic Medical Journal, p. 125. 

■Journal of Materia Medica, Bates & Tilden, p. 103. 

■Encyclopaedia of Pure Materia Medica, Allen, VoL 

V. p. 6ii. 
■American Journal of Pharmacy, p. 588. 
-The Pocket Formulary, Beasley, p. 237. 
■Pharmaceutical Journal and Transactions, p. 958, 
■New Remedies, "Wm. Wood & Co., p. 366, 
■The New Materia Medica and Therapeutics, Goss, 

pp. 17, 31. 
■Eclectic Medical Journal, Cincinnati, pp. 290, 578, 


-American Journal of Pharmacy, p. 254. 

-Eclectic Medical Journal, Cincinnati, p. 78, 

-Pharmaceutical Journal and Transactions, Lon- 
don, p. 561. 

-Organic Constituents of Plants, Wittstein, p. 122. 

-Dispensatory and Pharmacopceia of North America 
and Great Britain, Buchanan & Siggins, pp. 194, 
196. 574* 

-New Remedies, Wm. Wood & Co., pp. 21, 84. 

-Pharmacographia, Fluckiger & Hanbury, p. 400. 

-National Dispensatory, (and subsequent editions,) 
p. 859. 

-Pharmacopoea Homoeopathica, Polyglotta, p. 222. 

-Pharmacopoeia of the United States, pp. 8, 131, 311, 

■Therapeutic Gazette, pp. 34, 94. 

-New Remedies, Wm. Wood & Co., p. 240. 

-Druggist's Circular, p. 158. 

-Plant Analysis, Dragendorff, (Greenish's Transla- 
tion,) pp. 50, 202. 

■Materia Medica and Therapeutics, Bartholow, p. 


■American Journal of Pharmacy, p. 392. 

We do not consider it necessary to mention all the works that refer to this plant and its compounds. Since 
1809 medical publications of every description have continually mentioned the plant, and medical references are in- 
numerable. In order to arrive at a correct understanding of the subject, we made comparative studies of the record 
as found in the preceding works, and have found other publications to present no additional facts. We may safely 
say that the lobelia history can be as intelligently studied in these as by the aid of additional numberless works tiiat 
mention the plant. 




Fig. 138. 

A flower of Lobelia syphilitic^, 
(Natural size]. 

have the same general 


Part Used. — ^The entire flowering plant* Lobelia syphilitica, Linnaus. 
Natural Order, Campanulacese, Tribe Lobelieae. 

Botanical Description. — Blue Lobelia is generally found in damp, low 
grounds, wet meadows, and especially near streams. The stem is usually un- 
branched and grows erect from one to two feet high. It is angular below and 
smooth for the most part, or with a few scattered hairs. It has numerous 
horizontal leaves and late in summer a terminal showy 
sptke-like raceme of large blue flowers. 

The leaves are ovate-lanceolate, tapering to both 
ends, sessile or the lower with a margined petiole, 
and are three to five inches long, veiny, soft, dark 
green above, and lighter beneath. The margins are 
irregularly, erosely serrate. The leaves are very 
numerous, and as they are gradually shorter from the 

bottom up they give the 
plant a pyramidal aspect. 
The flowers appear 
the later part of August, 
lasting till frost. They 

structures as those of Lobelia inflata, the same 
characteristic corolla tube, but are much larger, 
being about one inch long. They are borne on 
short thick hairy peduncles in a terminal raceme. 
The flowers are subtended at their base with 
leafy bracts which are large and leaf-like below 
and smaller above. The bracts have margins 
ciliate with white hairs, and when the plant is just 
beginning to develope its inflorescence, these bracts 
form a dense, roseate, terminal cluster, the numer- 
ous marginal hairs giving it a glandular appearance. 
The calyx segments are five and are triangular, 
and have recurved margins which are prolonged at 
of Lobelia syphilitica; a, front thc basc forming an ear-Ukc appendage at each 
(under) view of a column; 3 side J^„ jg betwecn the Segments. f The segments are 

View of same; r, pistil, stamens being *-' o r o 

removed. (Enlarged). about threc-quartcrs the length of the corolla tube. 

The corolla tube is from one-half to three-quarters of an inch long, split to the 
base on the upper side, and prominently five pliate beneath, the interior angles 

*The Homoeopaths who are the only school of medicine that use the plant employ a tincture of the entire plant. 
When introduced into medicine the root was the part employed. 

j-These ear-like appendages are not found on all species of Lobelia and form an artificial means of dividing the 


A B 

Fig. 139. 

The stamenate and pistillate columns 





being of a brigMer (almost white) color. The three lobes forming the lower lip 
of the corolla are reflexed, broadly triangular and subequal. 

The five stamens are united together around the pistil, forming a column 
about the length of the corolla and protruding through its slit. This column is 
three-sided at the base and curved downward at the summit as shown in figure 
139, p. 98. The five united anthers are not equal, the lower two being slightly- 
shorter and tipped with a cottony tuft ; they are of deep purple color and open 
with shallow slits down the back. 

The pistil is enclosed in the tube formed by the stamens. This is a provision 
of nature that insures cross-fertilization. When the flower first opens and the 
stamens shed their pollen, ^the stigma is completely enclosed by the anthers and 
thus is prevented from receiving any of the pollen ; afterwards when the pollen 
has been scattered, the style elongates, pushing the stigma a line or two beyond 
the tube, and is then fertilized by pollen from other flowers, mostly through the 
agency of bees and other insects. 

Blue Lobelia is a very showy plant when in bloom, the deep blue color of 
the large flowers making it conspicuous. This color is well preserved when the 
plant is pressed carefully with frequent change to dry papers, but fades out in 
course of several months from the dried specimens. Sometimes, very rarely 
however, albinos are found with pure white flowers.* 

After blooming the corollas do not fall off", but turn brown, wither up, and 
remain attached to the ripening seed-pods. 

Common Names. — ^The most common name and the one most generally used 
for this plant is Blue Lobelia. While there are other species of Lobelia with 
blue flowers, (in fact all but a few have this color), still, the flowers of this plant 
are so much larger, conspicuous and brighter blue than any other, the name 
properly belongs to it. In most books it is called Blue Cardinal flower, some- 
times incorrectly abbreviated to Blue Cardinal, but in our opinion the name is 
not appropriate. Cardinal flower is a name applied to Lobelia cardinalis, not 
from any resemblance of form to a Cardinal's cap, but from the bright scarlet 
color of its flowers. Lobelia cardinalis, the first species introduced into Europe 
was very properly called Cardinal flower ("Cardinale couleur de feu" — Tour- 
nefort, 17 19), and when a second species, but with blue flowers was introduced, 
it was quite naturally called Blue Cardinal flower. We think that this is con- 
tradictory, the name Cardinal as applied to the flower refers exclusively to the 
color, and it is manifestly wrong to speak of Blue Cardinal in the same sense. 

It is said that among the more ignorant classes who used this plant in do- 
mestic practice, it was known as High Belia, the supposition being that as the 
other kind {Lobelia inflatd) was called Low Belia this must be the High Belia. 

Botanical History. — This plant was in cultivation in England as early as 1665, as it was 
mentioned in Rea's Flora published in London in that year, and it was cultivated in France no doubt 
a number of years earlier, it being mentioned by Lobelius in iS9i-t 

*Thes= were noticed and described as a distinct species as early as 1680 by Morrison. Tournefort, 1719, calls 
them by the common name "Cardinale blanche." They are according to our observation of a rare occurrence. Al- 
though the plant is a common one around Cincinnati, we have seen but a single albino. This was growing in a 
patch of the ordinary blue flowers, and it -va^ipnre while without a trace of coloring. 

tLobelius Icones Stirpium, Antwerp, 1591, mentioned under the name Trachflium Americanum, flore ca- 


In most early works it was described under the generic name Rapunculus.* When Linnaeus 
was preparing his Species Plantarum, Peter Kalmf had just returned (1751) from America with won- 
derful accounts of the virtues of tliis plant as a. certain cure for syphilis, J (see Medical History,) 
and Linnaeus gave the name syphilitica as the specific name for the plant.? 

Although its reputation as a cure for this disease has long been disproved, still the name re- 
mains, and probably always will, a monument of an early error. It has never had but one synonym, 
Rapuntium syphiliticum, by Miller. 

Description OF THE Drug. — All parts of Lobelia syphilitica are devoid of 
prominent characteristics. The plant is insipid and herb-like, the fresh root has 
simply a turnip-like taste. The root is the portion that was directed to be used 
when the plant was introduced, but at present no portion of the plant is an 
article of commerce. 

According to Rafinesque|| it was once analyzed in France, but the result 
did not show it to contain a characteristic constituent. We did not consider it 
necessary to make any investigation. 

Lobelia syphilitica has never been officinal, but was recognized by the Phar- 
macopoeia of the Massachusetts Medical Society, 1808. It is not found in com- 
merce and is not used in domestic medicine. 

Medical History. — We have stated above that Peter Kalm in his travels through North 
America was informed by Sir William Johnson1[ that the Indians used this plant to cure 

ruleo. (Linnseus' citation to this in Species Plantarum, and and later editions, [not ist,] is "Rob. ic.*' and Barton 
copies the error). 

*Rapunculus Americanus, flore dilute casruleo. — Dodart, Memoires pour servir a I'Histoire des Plantes, Paris, 
1676, p. 297. 

Same — Tournefort, Institutiones Rei Herbari^e, Paris, 1719, p. 163. 

Rapunculus galeatus Virginianus, flore violaceo majore. — Morison, Plantarum Historia universalis, Oxoniensis, 
1680, vol. ii., p. 466. 

f Peter Kalm was a Swedish naturalist who traveled three years in the northeastern portion of this country 
from the fall of 1747 to the spring of 1751. He was a pupil of Linnaeus, and it was at his advice that the journey was 
made. On return to Sweden he wrote a detailed account of his travels, which was published in three volumes in 1753, 
1756 and 1761, and was translated into German, French and English, the latter translation by J. R. Forster was printed 
in London in 1770-71. 

It was Kalm who furnished the most of the specimens of North American plants described in the Species 
Plantarum of Linnaeus. These plants are marked with the letter K, in the Linnaean herbarium, and constitute the 
greater part of the plants from this country that are in the collection. 

When Kalm was in this country he learned from Sir William Johnson of the reputation of Lobelia syphilitica 
among the Indians for the cure of syphilis, and on his return wrote an account which was published in Latin. 

IKalm published his account in the Act. Acad. Scient. Holmen, under the title ''Lobelia ut efficax remedium 
contra luem venereum, a Petro Kalmio descripta." 

And another account in Latin was written in 1756, by Peter Engstroem, a pupil of Linnaeus, and published in 
the Amcenitates Academicas, vol. iv., p. 524. 

gSpecies Plantarum, Linnaeus. 1753, page 931. Described in the Class "Syngenesia Monogamia" and with the 
following specific description. 

"Lobelia caule erecto, foliis ovato-lanceolatis crenatis, calycum sinubus reflexis." 

IIMedical Flora of the United States, vol. ii., p. 25. 

1[Sir William Johnson was born in Smithtown, Ireland, 1715. In 1738 he came to America and located in the 
south side of Mohawk Valley, about twenty-four miles from Schenectady, N. Y., and embarked in traffic with the 
Indians whose friendship he managed to secure. He learned their language, studied their customs and won their 
confidence. He possessed greater influence over them than any other white man, and was adopted into the Mohawk 
tribe and chosen sachem. In the French war, 1743 to 1748, he was the sole superintendent of the Indians of the 
frontier; occupied positions of trust in Colonial affairs and embarked with the Indian allies in the wars between Eng- 
land and France. He engaged in the capture of Fort Niagara, 1759, where he had command after Prideaux was 
killed, and he assisted in the capture of Montreal, 1760. For his service he was awarded a good salary by George 
II., a baronetcy and $25,000 by Parliament, and a tract of 100,000 acres of land, north of the Mohawk, known as 
"Kingsland" or the "Royal Grant." This tract of land is now in Herkimer Co., N. Y. 

He published a paper on "Customs, Manners and Languages of the Indians, (Phil. Trans. Nov. 1772, p. 141). 
In 1774 he died. 

At some period of his life, (date unknown to us, but before 1751 as he communicated it to Kalm) he purchased 
from the Indians (or a trader) an asserted remedy for syphilis, which proved to be a species of Lobalia, and the plant 
was exported to Europe to cure that disease. From thil nason the plant received its name Lobelia syphilitica. In this 


syphilis,* and upon his return to Europe, published an account of it. This introduced the drug to 
Europe, and it came into immediate demand, and it was illustrated in Woodville's Medical Botany, 
which was published in the beginning of this century. We cannot find that Johnson made any 
written reference to the drug, and we have searched his manuscripts upon file in Albany, which 
comprise a voluminous correspondence on all matters connected with Indian life on the frontier.t 
We cannot find a reference in European literature to any statement beside that of Kalm and we 
therefore conclude that this information derived personally by Kalm, introduced the plant. 

Schoepf, 1787, t mentioned Lobelia syphilitica, but erroneously described to it, nauseating, ca- 
thartic and emetic properties, stating that it is acrid, milky, and used in syphilis. He confused the 
sensible properties of Lobelia inflata, with which he was evidently familiar, with the reputed medi- 
cal properties of Lobelia syphilitica. Thus, his statements regarding the uses of Lobelia syphi- 
litica agreed with Kalm, but there is no evidence to show that he did not derive his information 
from Kalm's writings. 

From the return of Kalm (1751) to Europe, until the introduction of Lobelia inflata by Thom- 
son,? the drug known as lobelia was the root of Lobelia syphilitica. This is shown by the ft,ct 
that the decoctions were freely administered, which could not have been the case with a violent 
emetic like Lobelia inflata. Thus, we quote from Buchan, 1793. || "The patient takes a. large 
draught of the decoction early in the morning and continues to use it for his ordinary drink through 
the day." This name lobelia, led subsequent writers (after Lobelia inflata appeared) to confuse the 
two plants, and the result is sometimes evidenced at present. 

Statements have been made to the effect that Lobelia syphilitica has diuretic properties, but 
Prof. W. P. C. Barton, 1802,^ found that the plant then used by the settlers under the name lobelia 
was Liatris spicata. 

Thatcher, 1810,** states on Pearson's word that Lobelia syphilitica has cathartic properties, 
but it is questionable as to the drug employed. 

Rafinesque, 1830, tt accepts that Lobelia syphilitica is a potent drug, but his views were 
framed from previous statements. Investigations in Europe demonstrated that Lobelia syphilitica 
was of no value in the treatment of syphilis and it eventually became obsolete. Neither, the 
Regular, nor the Eclectic sections of American practitioners of medicine employ it at all, and 
that it is but little employed in Homoeopathy is evident from the following article : 

The Homceopathic Uses of Lobelia Syphilitica. — (Written for this pub- 
lication by Edwin M. Hale, M.D., Emeritus Professor of Materia Medica and 
Therapeutics in the Chicago Homceopathic College.) — This plant was intro- 
duced into our practice by the late Dr. Hering. His provings and observations 
were published in the Trans. Amer. Horn. Institute. 

Drs. Jeanes, Williamson and Neidhard, only the latter now living, con- 
tributed their experience with this drug. Dr. Jeanes reports a cure of "melan- 
cholia" in a woman. He supposed the spleen was affected, for she had "pains 
under the short ribs of the left side, from front to back." These symptoms are 

connection we are led to say upon information received from a gentleman, familiar in the neighborhood of "Johnson's 
Castle," New York, that by tradition the moral standing of Sir William Johnson was not of the highest, and that 
possibly he may have had use for the plant himself. 

*Johnson purchased the information from the Indians and its announcement was considered of the greatest 
importance by the medical world. He was imposed upon, however, and it seems strange that a man so versed in In- 
dian customs should have been thus deceived. 

fThese manuscripts in the State's Dep't Albany show the interest and influence Johnson possessed in early 
Colonial affairs. His aid was solicited by those high in power and he must have had the unbounded confidence of 
the Indians. 

^Materia Medica Americana, p. 128. 

gSee medical history of Lobelia inflata, p. 83. 

IDomestic Medicine, William Buchan, Edinburgh, p. 513. 

f Collections for a Vegetable Materia Medica, part and, p. 37. 

**American New Dispensatory, p. 149. 

ttMedical Flora of the United States, vol. ii., p. =5. 


in its provings, and nearly identical symptoms have often been cured by cimi- 
cifuga. Dr. Neidhard reported a cough of four weeks duration, day and night, 
with "dryness of the back part of the throat." He also cured cases appearing 
to be a species of spinal irritation with sciatica. 

Many of its symptoms remind one strongly of cimicifuga, but its chief 
sphere of action seems to be upon the mucous surfaces of the upper respiratory 
tract. It causes catarrhal headache, acute nasal catarrh, and much irritation 
with dryness of the throat. The posterior nares, palate, eyes, nose and mouth 
are all irritated, much as in hay fever. I would advise it in such cases, and in 
epidemic influenza, especially in the young. Catarrhal conditions caused by 
this species, it continued, would readily run into humid asthma. 

Rafinesque asserts that its properties are similar to Lobelia inflata, but 
milder. It resembles arsenious iodide, sticta, hepar sulphur, cistus and cimi- 
cifuga. Our tincture is made from the leaves. 



Parts Used. — The entire plant. Lobelia cardinalis, LinncBus. 
Natural Order, Campanulaceae, Tribe Lobelieae. 

Botanical Description. — There is no difficulty in recognizing this plant 
without a detailed botanical description. Having the peculiar flower structure 
of the Lobelia genus (described on page 64) it is at once known by its bright 
scarlet flowers, so brilliant indeed as to attract immediate attention from anyone 
who sees it in bloom. 

In this country we have but two red flowered species of this genus. Lobelia 
cardinalis, which is common over most of the territory east of the Mississippi, 
and Lobelia splendens, very similar in appearances, but confined to the extreme 
southwest near the Mexican border, and hence, not liable to be confused. 
In size, habit and general appearances, the plant resembles Lobelia syphili- 
tica, (described and illustrated on page 98,) but 
strongly distinguished from it by the color. The 
flowers of the Lobelia cardinalis are more slender, 
the column longer, and the calyx destitute of 
the reflexed auricles between the segments. 
Over the greater portion of this country, the 
two species Lobelia cardinalis and Lobelia 
syphilitica are all of the genus that have large 
^"^- '4°- enough flowers, (over an inch long) to attract 

Flower of Lobelia cardinalis. *^ ^ , tii i_i 

(Natural size.) attention; the former havmg red, the latter blue 

flowers, they are readily distinguished from each other and from all other 

The peculiar bright red color of the large flowers of Lobelia cardinalis is so 
bright as to pale almost any comparison we can make. No colored illustra- 


tion we have ever seen of the plant does it justice, and the usual fault of colored 
work is the over-coloring of plants. When the plant is dried carefully the color is 
preserved as bright as when fresh, and it is very permanent, remaining a beau- 
tiful herbarium specimen for a number of years. 

As so much space haa been given in this work describing the botanical 
characters of Lobelia inflata and Lobelia syphilitica, we do not deem it neces- 
sary to give a further description of this plant. ' 

Botanical History. — The richness of coloring of the bright scarlet flbwers of this plant at- 
tracted the attention of early settlers and travelei's, and it was sent to Europe very soon after the 
discovery of this country. It was first sent to France by the French settlers in America. 

Over 250 years ago, (1629,) Parkinson* described and figured it from plants in cultivation in his 
garden at London and informs us that he received it from France.f He states, "it groweth neere 
the river of Canada, where the French plantation in America is seated." It soon became common 
in cultivation in Europe, especially in botanical gardens, and is mentioned in most of the earliest 
works on American plants.J 

In the very early works it was described under the generic name Trachelium or later Rapuncu- 
lus, (see generic history of lobelia, p. 66,) and it was called "Planta Cardinalis," Cardinal plant, by 
the earliest French. 

Parkinson, the first to describe it, calls it, "the rich, crimson Cardinal's flower," stating, "this 
hath his name in the title, as it is called in France from whence I received plants for my garden 
with the Latin name; but I have given it in English." 

Toumefort (17 19) says, "Cardinale, couleur de feu" (Cardinal flower, color of fire). The name 
is in allusion to the bright, scarlet color of the flowers, which are the same hue as the scarlet hat 
worn by a cardinal, and not from the shape of the flower. Linnseus adopted this for the specific 
name of the plant, calling it Lobelia cardinalis by which name it has always been described with the 
single synonym of Rapuntium cardinalis by Miller. 

Medical History and Properties. — Schcepf, 1785,2 first referred to this plant, describing it 
as milky and acrid, and posessing properties similar to those of Lobelia syphilitica. It is evident 
that he knew but little of it. 

Barton, 1802, || refers to the Cherokee Indians using an infusion 01 Lobelia cardinalis, and the 
powder of the plant, for worms. This is agreed to by Rafinesque, 1830, 1[ who also makes very brief 
mention of the drug. These statements have furnished the foundation for subsequent writers to 
class the plant with anthelmintics, as is usually done. However, the Indians made but little use of 
it, if any, prefering spigelia, and even Prof. Barton gives but little attention to the drug. The 
plain facts are that absolutely nothing is known regarding the medical action of the plant. 

*John Parkinson was an apothecary of London in the sixteenth century when botany was in its infancy. He 
wrote two very extensive works, which remain to this day as monuments of his preseverance and labor ; the first, 
Paradisi in Sole Paradisus Terrestris, a description of the different species and varieties of plants in cultivation in 
English gardens and the first work describing and figuring these plants ; the second, Theatrum Botanicum> a de- 
scription of all the then known plants of the world, about 3S00. 

fParadisi in sole Paradisus terrestris, John Parkinson, London, 1629, page 356 and plate 355. 

Described under the name ''Trachelium Americarum, fiore ruberrimo, sive Planta Cardinalis." 

11629. — Parkinson Paradisi, p. 356. — Trachelium Americarum flore ruberrimo, sive Planta Cardinalis. 

1718. — Ruppius, Flora Jenensis, p. 201. — Cardinalis rivini. 

1644. — Columna, Notis et Additionibus ad Rerum Medicarum, Recho. — Rapuntium maximum coccineo spicato 

1719.— Toumefort, Institutiones Rei Herbariae, p. 163. — Same. 

1680. — Morison, Historia Plantarum, part i, page 466.— Rapuntium galeatum, virginianum seu americanum, 
coccines flore majore. 

i-jyj, — Linnseus, Hortus Cliffortianus, p. 426. — Lobelia caule erecto, foliis lanceolatis obsolete serratis, racemn 

1739. — Gronovius, Flora Virginica, p. 134. — Same. 

1740. — Royen, Flora Leydensis, p. 241.— Lobelia caule erecto, foliis lanceolatis serratis, spica terminate. 

1748. — Linnseus, Hortus Upsaliensis, p. 276. — Same. 

gMateria Medica Americana, p. 128. 

llCoUections for a Materia Medica, part jst, p. 40, and part 2nd, p. xiv. 

f Medical Flora of the United States, vol. ii., p. 26. 


Constituents. — Prof. William Procter, Jr., 1839,* made an analysis of Lobelia cardinalis, ob- 
taining an alkaloidal-like body as follows. The herb was dried, macerated with water that had 
been acidulated with acetic acid, the watery product neutralized with magnesia and then exhausted 
with sulphuric ether. The ethereal solution was evaporated, yielding an aromatic-like oily thick 
liquid of a brown color. It was soluble in turpentine, ether, and alcohol; was of alkaline reaction, 
neutralized acids, and formed crystalline salts with acids. Its taste was bitter and acrid. This body 
was doubtless a mixture of an alkaloid with impurities dissolved by the ether. There has been no 
subsequent analysis. 

Lobelia cardinalis is not a commercial drug and is not used in medicine. 


(Discovery of Dr. E. Jentzsch, of Chicago, Illinois. J 
History. — At the meeting of the Illinois Eclectic Association, 1908, Dr. E. Jentzsch 
of Chicago, read a paper entitled, ' ' Lobelia ; A Vegetable Antitoxin. ' ' This was of such 
exceptional importance, by reason of the history of Lobelia, as well as the statement of the 
physician, as to have led Dr. Jentzsch, before the Society, to fortify his paper by a personal 
injection of the Specific Medicine Lobelia, into his own circulation, in order to illustrate that 
it is safe hypodermically. 

Following this, at the meeting of the National Eclectic Medical Association, in Kansas 
City, June, 1908, Dr. Jentzsch again contributed a paper on the subject of Lobelia, a Vege- 
table Antitoxin, and again, before the Society, he injected the remedy into his own veins, in 
order to quiet apprehensions concerning its possible energetic nature, when used subcutane- 

The original paper of Dr. Jentzsch is of interest in connection with this subject, as mark- 
ing the introduction of a new epoch in the use of Lobelia. Our Bulletin would not be com- 
plete without the original article of Dr. Jentzsch, which we therefore present, verbatim. 



A paper read at the Chicago meeting of the Illinois State Eclectic Medical Society, igoS. 

The title of this paper reveals to some extent my intention, which is a desire to inform 
you of my experience with Lobelia as a vegetable antitoxin in diphtheria. I will confine my- 
self entirely to the therapeutic discussion of the disease mentioned, basing my contentions on 
personal experience and observations, which extend over a period of nearly four years in 
about 150 cases of diphtheria, with not a single death. 

Right here let me tell you that I have no longing for notoriety nor a desire to reap finan- 
cial benefit from this. It is merely an effort to reduce, nay, even to abolish, the high death- 
rate which regularly prevails from this disease. The remedy has proven itself so universally 
reliable in my hands that I have no doubt that what I claim can be accomplished by you as 


You may be interested to know how I came to use it. There are two vital points which are 
responsible. First, my studying eclectic therapeutics ; second, J:he desperate condition of my 
own child who was then about three years old, due to diphtheria. 

*The preparation used by Dr. Jentzsch was an alcoholic preparation of Lobelia Seed, 240 grains 
to the fluid ounce. 


To save time and trusting that you will credit me with sufficient competency in my voca- 
tion, I will say that my boy was stricken with a fulminating case of naso-pharyngeal diphtheria. 
The serum antitoxin was exhibited promptly in sufficiently large doses and repeated, but with 
no other result except that the child passed from an active sthenic condition, with dyspnea, 
into a passive collapse, with apnea. This I had witnessed before and knew it to be fatal 
with certainty. Instantly I recalled the writings of the great Scudder, where he extols Lo- 
belia as a life-saver. 

Thereupon I filled full my hypodermic syringe with the Lobelia and gave the child the 
entire dose subcutaneously. Strange to say, I gave it with a confidence altogether out of pro- 
portion to the circumstances. However, the result proved this to be justified, for the patient 
responded immediately in a marvelous manner. 

All the fatal symptoms gave way to those of returning health, the patient passing from a 
death-struggle into a peaceful slumber, from which he awoke after three hours, somewhat 
weak. Another dose was given, which was followed by a still more pronounced reaction for 
the better. The patient from that time continued to convalesce and, with the exception of a 
postdiphtheria pharyngeal paralysis, made a rapid recovery, the paralysis yielding to another 
dose of the same remedy. 


This happened nearly four years ago, and since then I have repeated in many cases the 
phenomenal experience with this remedy. At first I used the serum and the vegetable anti- 
toxin in conjunction. But gradually I realized that the latter was entirely reliable, doing 
even better without the serum, so that now I can tell you with absolute certainty that the 
vegetable antitoxin is in every respect far superior to the serum for the reason that it is more 
reliable because it acts quicker and with a much greater certainty than the serum and, secondly, 
it prevents, arrests and cures the disease promptly, irrespective of what other treatment is 

It makes no difference whether it is the first or the sixth day of the existence of the dis- 
ease, with the exception that in the longer-standing cases the treatment must be repeated 
more often — every two to three hours, until the desired result is obtained. 

I note that Dr. Walls of our City Health Department recommends a repetition of the 
serum every twelve hours in very bad cases, but it has been my experience that this is a slow 
and unsatisfactory method and usually of no avail. 

The vegetable antitoxin (Lobelia^ produces no symptoms whatever except those of 
returning health. It is therefore preferable to the serum when we consider the unpleasant 
symptoms which are often produced by the latter and which Dr. Walls takes great pains to 
pronounce harmless, although he aptly describes them as distressing (and which are known 
as the serum disease). 


The use of the vegetable antitoxin is consistent with our motto, " Vires Vitales Sustinan- 
dae." It strengthens all the vital functions, notably the circulation. It does not dispel the 
symptoms of the disease at the expense of the patient' s strength. It creates no other disease 
but simply cures the patient, all of which can not be claimed for the serum. 

Another feature of the Lobelia is that it is so cheap that the cost need not be considered ; 
besides it is more uniform in quality, does not readily decompose, is easily carried around, 
and may be given by the doctor with as little ado as a hypodermic injection of morphine. It 
is safe as well as harmless on account of its nature and origin. 



What I have told you, Fellow Members, is true. I have found it to be so not in a few 
instances, but in many. However, I want you to convince yourselves and for that reason 
have given you a demonstration of the benignness of the drug. 

I have preached of this before to societies and individual doctors and have found two 
principal arguments against its use : first, that it is a highly dangerous drug. How well 
founded this is you may judge by the demonstration I have given. The drug when so given 
is absolutely harmless. 1 have given in this manner a half-dram dose to an iufant but a few 
minutes old as a means of resuscitation, with success. Let there be no more fear of this 

The second assertion is that the serum antitoxin gives satisfactory results. Let me quote 
here the official statistics of the 1906 report published by the Chicago Health Department, 
which gives 547 deaths out of a little over 5,000 reported cases of diphtheria. This is an aver- 
age throughout the year of 10 per cent — ten fatal cases out of every one hundred reported. 

The vegetable antitoxin, in my hands, has transformed diphtheria, an otherwise danger- 
ous and malignant disease, into a benign and harmless affection, the proof of which I have 
been and am willing to demonstrate to any doctor anywhere and on any case of diphtheria. 


In conlusion, let me give you a concise description of my method of treating diph- 
theria. In any case where there is the least suspicion of diphtheria I give a half-dram dose of 
the Lobelia hypodermically, and repeat in from two to twelve hours, once or oftener, as indi- 
cated, until reaction sets in, which means a return to health. 

The drug may be used as it is or it may be filtered through ordinary filtering paper ; the 
latter method I have adopted. For those who can gargle I give a half-dram of argyrol in six 
ounces of water. This I have found to be most effectual from a bacteriological standpoint, as 
well as the most soothing to a sore throat. 

Systematic remedies I give according to specific indications. A prescription most often 
used by me is : 

Aconite,* gtt. 1-4; Belladonna, gtt. 1-6; Phytolacca, gtt. 10 ; Sarracenia, drs. 2; water, 
q. s. ad. ozs. 4. 

Directions: One teaspoonful'every two or three hours. 

By experience I have found the hypodermic injection best borne by the patient when in- 
jected anywhere on the trunk, abdominal parietes, the back and thighs. 

As to my theory about the action of this remedy it is briefly stated. I consider it fully 
the peer of all stimulants of the vascular system, not only in diphtheria, but in any infectious 
disease, equalizing, so to speak, disturbed circulation. If there is high pressure it acts as a 
sedative, and if there is low blood-pressure it stimulates, but in any case its secondary action 
is that of a cardiac tonic. 

When used as here described Lobelia is a prompt and most reliable remedy in apoplexy, 
epilepsy or any condition where the cerebral circulation is disturbed. In collapse due to 
anesthesia it is unsurpassed ; likewise in pneumonia. In diphtheria I believe it has a specific 
antitoxin property. 

This, Fellow Members, is my case. I hope I have made my purpose clear, and I thank 
you sincerely for your kind attention. 

* These were alcoholic preparations representing one grain of the drug to each minim. 



Portrait of Samuel Thomson Frontispiece 

Editor's Introduction i-iv 

Fac-Simile of Title Page to Thomson's Guide to Health i 

Original Preface to First Edition of Guide to Health , 2 

Thomson's "Narrative and Life," embracing the following subjects: 

Early Life of Thomson, and Discovery of " Emetic Herb," 3-S 

Medical Practice in 1788. A Wound and its Results 6-7 

First Overdose of Lobelia and its Results 8 

First Use of ' ' Steaming," by Thomson 8 

Beginning of Thomson's Neighborhood Practice lo 

Typical Cases of Thomsonian Treatment I I-I2 

Thomson decides to make Medicine a Business, and to Teach his "System" to 

Others 13-14 

" Thomsonian Remedies," by Numbers, I to VI 15-16 

Methods of Regular Physicians of That Date 17-18 

Thomson Studies Yellow Fever, and Contracts Disease 18-19 

Controversies with Dr. French 20-24 

Thomson charged with " Witchcraft," by Profession 25 

Cases Illustrating Thomson' s Method of Treatment 27 

Arrested and Fined Through Influence of Dr. French 28 

Treatment and Death of Ixjvett. Beginning of Thomson' s Persecution 29-30 

Arrest, Trial and Acquittal of Thomson 31—38 

Dungeon in Newburyport Jail, and Treatment of Prisoners 32-34 

Suit for Damages against Dr. French 38-41 

Beginning of American " Patent " Medicines 37 and 43 

Interviews "with Drs. Barton and Rush 44-4S 

Financial Difficulties of Thomson 4S-46 

Formation of " Friendly Botanic Societies," 46 

Disputes between Thomson and his Agents 47-53 

Reproduction of Official Appointment of One of Thomson's Agents 54 

Professor Benjamin Waterhouse's Letters on — Who Discovered and Introduced Lobe- 
lia ; The Thomsonian Crusade ; Definition of Quackery, etc 56-64 

"Trial of Dr. Frost," with original title page 65-74 

The Thomsonian Remedies and Courses of Medication 7S-8S 

Official Account of the Illness and Death of Samuel Thomson 86-89 

Fac-Simile of Thomson's "Patent," facing page 90 

Introduction by John Uri Lloyd of the general subject of Lobelia, its History, Con- 
stituents, Pharmaceutical Preparations, etc 91 

Illustration of Lobelia Inflata, natural size 92 

Fac-Simile Reproduction (with original paging), of Article (44 pages) on Lobelia in 

Drugs and Medicines of North America, 1886 63-106 

Hypodermic Lobelia, as Introduced by Dr. P^. Jentzsch '37—139 

Table of Contents 140