The Diphtheria Antitoxin
this country the antitoxin treatment for diplitheria is still
in high favor, while in Germany, where it originated, many of
the best medical authorities are abandoning its use on account
of its doubtful curative results and certain
According to the enthusiastic advocates
of this treatment among the "regular" physicians in
this country, the antitoxin is a "certain cure" for
diphtheria; but how is this claim borne out by actual facts?
The Health Bulletins sent regularly to
every physician in the City of Chicago by the City Health Department
show an average of from fifteen to twenty deaths every week from
diphtheria treated with antitoxin.
I do not deny that the antitoxin treatment may have reduced somewhat
the mortality percentage of this disease, allowing even for the
great uncertainty of medical statistics. But we of the Nature
Cure school claim and can prove that the hydropathic treatment
of diphtheria shows a much lower percentage of mortality than
the antitoxin treatment.
The crucial point to be considered in
this connection is: What are the after-effects of the different
methods of treatment?
This is a very important matter. I make
the following claims:
that the antitoxin, being itself a most powerful poison,
may be and often is the direct cause of paralysis, or of death
due to heart-failure.
2. That diphtheria treated with antitoxin may
be and often is followed by paralysis, heart-failure, or lifelong
invalidism of some kind after the patient has apparently recovered
from the disease.
3. That these undesirable after-effects of diphtheria
do not occur when the disease is treated by natural methods, but
that they are the result of the antitoxin treatment and of its
suppressive effect upon. the disease.
To prove my claims, I submit the following facts: I have in my
possession clippings from newspapers from different parts of the
country stating that death had followed the administration of
the diphtheria antitoxin for prevention or "immunization,"
that is, where the individual had been in good health at the time
the antitoxin was given.
Several cases of this kind created quite
a sensation in Germany about fifteen years ago. Dr. Robert Langerhans,
superintendent of the Moabit Hospital in Berlin, a strong advocate
of the antitoxin treatment and also of vaccination, had been one
of a committee of three appointed by the municipal government
of the German metropolis to investigate the efficiency of the
diphtheria antitoxin. As a result of his findings, he had recommended
its free distribution to the poor of the City of Berlin.
Not long thereafter the doctor's cook
was suddenly taken ill with severe pains in the throat and sent
to the hospital. It was thought to be a case of diphtheria, and
the doctor, to protect his little son, one and one-half years
old, against possible infection, administered an injection of
antitoxin. Shortly afterward the child developed symptoms of blood-poisoning
and died of heart-failure within twenty-four hours.
It is customary in Germany to insert a
death-notice in one of the local newspapers and to invite the
friends of the family to the funeral. In his announcement in the
columns of the "Lokalanzeiger," Dr. Langerhans stated
explicitly that his little son had died after an injection of
diphtheria antitoxin for immunization.
Another similar case is that of Dr. Pistor,
a prominent Berlin physician, whose little daughter contracted
a slight inflammation of the throat. The child was given an injection
of antitoxin, and this was followed by a severe and protracted
Very significant, in this connection,
are certain utterances of Dr. William Osler in his "Practice
of Medicine. " He says, on page 150:
" Of the sequelae of diphtheria,
paralysis is by far the most important. This can be experimentally
produced in animals by the inoculation of the toxic material produced
by the bacilli. [This is the active principle in the antitoxin.
Author's note] The paralysis occurs in a variable proportion of
the cases, ranging from 10 to 15 and even to 20 per cent. It is
strictly a sequel of the disease [of the disease treated with
antitoxin?--Author's note], coming on usually in the second or
third week of convalescence. . . . It may follow very mild cases;
indeed, the local lesion may be so trifling that the onset of
the paralysis alone calls attention to the true nature of the
disease. . . .
"The disease is a toxic neuritis,
due to the absorption of the poison. . . .
"Of the local paralysis the most
common is that which affects the palate. . . . Of other local
forms perhaps the most common are paralysis of the eye muscles.
. . . Heart symptoms are not uncommon. . . . Heart-failure and
fatal syncope (death) may occur at the height of the disease or
during convalescence, even as late as the sixth or seventh week
after apparent recovery."
It appears to me that the mystery of these
" sequelae" can easily be explained. It is certain that
a mere "sore throat, " not serious enough to be diagnosed
as diphtheria, cannot produce paralysis or heart-failure; but
we know positively that the antitoxin can do it and does do it.
The cases that Dr. Osler refers to undoubtedly received the antitoxin
treatment, because it is administered on the slightest suspicion
of diphtheria, nay, even to perfectly healthy persons "for
purposes of immunization."
Then is it not most likely that these
"mysterious after-effects" are caused rather by the
highly poisonous antitoxin than by the "sore throat?"
In my own practice, I am frequently consulted
by chronic patients whose troubles date back to diphtheria "cured"
by antitoxin. Among these I have met with several cases of idiocy
and insanity, with many cases of partial paralysis, infantile
paralysis, and nervous disorders of a most serious nature, also
with various other forms of chronic destructive diseases.
In the iris of the eye, the effect of
the antitoxin on the system shows as a darkening of the color.
In many instances, the formerly blue or light-brown iris assumes
an ashy-gray or brownish-gray hue.
My secretary who is taking this dictation
and who has brown eyes, tells me that her mother informed her
that up to her tenth year her eyes had been of a clear blue. About
that time she had several attacks of diphtheria and a severe "second"
attack of scarlet fever, which were treated and "cured"
under the care of an allopathic physician. She does not remember
whether she was given antitoxin, but recalls that her throat was
painted and her body rubbed with oil, and that she had to take
a great deal of medicine. Since that time her eyes have turned
brown. They show plainly the rust-brown spots of iodine in the
areas of the brain, the throat, and other parts of the body.
The effect upon the iris of the eye would
be very much the same whether the attacks of diphtheria had been
suppressed by antitoxin or by the old-time drug treatment. A significant
fact in this connection is that, since Mrs. C. is with us, following
natural methods of living and under the effects of the treatments
which she has been taking regularly for several months, her eyes
have become much lighter and in places the original blue is visible
under the brown. The nerve rings in the region of the brain, which
were very marked when she came to us, have become less defined.
There is a corresponding improvement in her general health, and
especially in the condition of her nerves.
In regard to my claim that undesirable
after-effects do not occur under treatment by natural methods,
I wish again to call attention to the fact that for fifty years
the Nature Cure physicians in Germany have proved that hydropathic
treatment of diphtheria is not followed by paralysis, heart-failure,
or the different forms of chronic, destructive diseases.
This has been confirmed by my own experience
in the treatment of diphtheria and other serious acute ailments.
A Reply to My Critics
My discussions of the germ-theory of disease
and of the vaccine, serum, and antitoxin treatment in a series
of articles entitled: "Harmonies of the Physical" and
published in "Life and Action" called forth a great
deal of adverse criticism from physicians of the regular school
of medicine. The following paragraphs are extracts from a letter
sent by one of these critics to the editor of the above-named
" . . . I am convinced that some
statements have been published in this particular issue [October-Decemher,
1912] which have no proper place in this magazine, the earnest
champion of the cause of Truth and the official organ of expression
of the U. S. headquarters of the movement which you evidently
have at heart."
Dr. E. then refers to certain passages
in my article in the October-December, 1912, number of "Life
and Action," and comments upon them by quoting Drs. Osler
and Andrews in favor of the antitoxin treatment in diphtheria
and by giving his own opinion on the subject. He concludes his
arguments as follows:
"I am a subscriber to this magazine
and have also had my sister's name put on the mailing list. She
has a little boy about two years old. Now, suppose she should
read that article of Dr. Lindlahr's, and as a result, refuse to
permit the use of antitoxin, and if the boy should get diphtheria,
with a fatal issue as a result, I could hardly feel gratified
over the fact that I had placed that reading-matter at her disposal.
I fully appreciate the fact that such an unhappy result might
easily ensue in some one or more of the families who read 'Life
and Action' and look upon its columns as a source of the truly
Perhaps Dr. E. has not read one of Dr.
Osler's latest and strongest utterances, his unqualified endorsement
of natural methods of healing in the Encyclopedia Americana, quoted
on page 154 of this volume.
Cure in Germany
That it is possible to cure all kinds
of serious acute diseases by drugless methods of healing, has
been proved by the Nature Cure practitioners in Germany, nearly
all of whom were laymen who had never visited a medical school.
For over half a century, many thousands of them have been practicing
the art of healing in all parts of Germany. With hydrotherapy
and the other natural methods they have treated successfully typhoid
fever. diphtheria, smallpox, appendicitis, cerebro-spinal meningitis
and all other acute diseases.
It is a significant fact that, in spite
of the most strenuous opposition and appeal to the law-making
powers on the part of the regular school of medicine, the lay
doctors could not be prevented from practicing the natural methods
of treatment in law-and police-ridden Germany.
On the contrary, during the last few generations
there have been practicing in Germany at all times an ever increasing
number of Nature Cure physicians, most of them laymen.
This freedom of Nature Cure practice in
Germany is entirely due to the success of its methods.
And this success has been demonstrated
in spite of all kinds of opposition and attempted restriction.
While the Nature Cure practitioner is permitted to treat those
who come to him for relief, he does not have the right to cover
his mistakes with six feet of earth. If one of his patients dies,
a doctor of the regular school of medicine has to be called in
to testify to the fact and issue the death-certificate.
Thus the "lay doctors," the
"Nature Cure physicians," were and are at present constantly
exposed to the strictest critical supervision by the "regulars,"
and if the latter can prove that a patient has died because the
natural methods were inefficient or harmful, the lay practitioner
can be prosecuted for and convicted of malpractice or man-slaughter.
But in point of fact, while a number of
these lay physicians were brought before the courts, in no instance
could the actual harmfulness of the methods employed by them be
proven. The natural methods of treatment became so popular that,
as a matter of self-preservation, the younger generation of physicians
in Germany had to fall in line with the Nature Cure idea in their
Since Dr. E. so strongly questions the
efficacy of our methods, I may be permitted to say something about
my own professional experience.
Cure in America
During the last ten years, I have treated
and cured all kinds of serious acute diseases without resorting
to allopathic drugs. In a very extensive practice, I have not
in all these years lost a single case of appendicitis (and not
one of them was operated upon), of typhoid fever, diphtheria,
smallpox, scarlet fever, etc., and only one case of cerebro-spinal
meningitis and of lobar pneumonia. These facts may be verified
from the records of the Health Department of the City of Chicago.
After the foregoing statements, I leave
it to my readers to judge whether the Nature Cure philosophy is
inspired by blind fanaticism and based upon ignorance and inexperience,
or whether it is justified in the light of scientific facts advanced
by the Regular School of Medicine itself and demonstrated by the
wonderful success of the Nature Cure movement in Germany, which
in its different forms has attained world-wide recognition and
There is a popular saying: "The proof
of the pudding is in the eating." The following letter will
January 20, 1913.
Dear Dr. Lindlahr:--
You may remember that last winter, Mrs.
White and I attended your Sunday afternoon lectures in the Schiller
Building. Those lectures were an education--I might better say
a revelation and an inspiration.
On the 11th of November last, our boy,
aged thirteen years, was taken ill with diphtheria. I called at
your office and asked your advice. You replied: "You know
what to do--wet packs, no food except fruit juices, osteopathic
treatment and no antitoxin. "
We called an osteopathic physician, who
at once sent a specimen from the boy's throat to the city laboratory,
where it was pronounced diphtheria. A physician from the Board
of Health came and quarantined us and inquired if we had used
the antitoxin treatment. When Mrs. White replied "No,"
he said: "I suppose you know that the percentage of deaths
of those who do not have it is very high." She said: "Yes,
I know, but we do not intend to use it."
The boy had all the acute symptoms, was
drowsy, with headache, and on the second day his temperature went
to 105 degrees. We applied the wet body pack and by night had
reduced his temperature to 100 degrees. With the aid of the osteopathic
treatment, which he had each night, the boy slept well all through
big illness. On the fifth day, the membrane spread from his throat
to his nose, and his temperature rose again; but the wet body
packs again reduced it so that it was never again over 100 degrees.
The boy was bright, his mind was clear,
he was able to read, and after the first week was able to play
chess with his mother. The only unfavorable symptom he had at
all was an irregular pulse. He took no medicine and no food except
fruit juices. We used occasionally the warm water enema. On the
tenth day he took a little lamb broth, but refused it the next
day, and again asked for fruit juices. It was not until two weeks
had passed that his appetite returned and he began to eat. He
lost flesh, but did not lose strength in the same degree--he was
able to go to the bathroom each day unaided.
On the 21st day, the osteopathic physician
sent a specimen to the city laboratory which they pronounced "positive,"
and the city physician found it necessary to take as many as four
or five additional specimens before he pronounced him free from
the diphtheria germ. The boy was not released from quarantine
until five weeks had passed.
During all this time his only attendant
was his mother and the osteopathic physician who came daily. The
boy has fully recovered and has suffered no bad results that often
follow such diseases.
In contrast to this experience of ours,
I would like to cite the case of a neighbor of ours whose little
girl died of the disease under the antitoxin treatment. She recovered
from the diphtheria, but her heart failed and she died suddenly.
They had a regular M. D. and a trained nurse. Her mother took
ill, but recovered. The father told me that their drug bill alone
amounted to $75.
We want to express to you our gratitude
for the knowledge and confidence that you have so freely given
to us, and you are at liberty to make whatever use of this letter
that you desire.
1443 Cuyler Ave., Chicago, Ill.
This letter proves that my claims and
assertions regarding the curability of diphtheria by natural methods
are not extravagant or untrue. In this case, as in many others,
I gave directions for treatment verbally and over the telephone
without having seen the patient personally.
I am convinced, furthermore, that this
patient would have made just as good a recovery without the osteopathic
treatment. I recommended the attendance of an osteopathic physician
in order to ease the burden of responsibility on the part of the
parents. If the child had died, they would have been blamed by
friends and relatives for their seeming foolhardiness.
The experience of Mr. White's neighbor
is another proof of the fatal effect of the antitoxin treatment.
The antitoxin "cured" the diphtheria, but-the child
Once more I repeat: The hydropathic treatment
will give equally good results in appendicitis, meningitis, scarlet
fever, and all other forms of acute diseases. If this be a fact,
why should not my colleagues of the Regular School of Medicine
give the hydropathic method a fair trial, the more so since in
Germany, even among the physicians of the Regular School, hydropathy
as a remedy is fast superseding antitoxin! Is it not worth while
when the "mysterious sequelae" referred to by Dr. Osler,
and the many cases of chronic invalidism which he does not connect
with the disease or its treatment, might thus be avoided?