Chapter 16: The Diphtheria Antitoxin 

A Reply to My Critics
Nature Cure in Germany
Nature Cure in America

IN 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 destructive after-effects.

  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:

  1. 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 illness.

  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 magazine:

  " . . . 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 higher light."

  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.

 Nature 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 practice.

  Since Dr. E. so strongly questions the efficacy of our methods, I may be permitted to say something about my own professional experience. 

Nature 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 adoption.

  There is a popular saying: "The proof of the pudding is in the eating." The following letter will explain itself:

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.

Sincerely yours,

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 died!

  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?