The New Era of Physiognomotracing = Cellphone Cam + Email + *.ppt + Dexterity

Medical Geography and the History and Anthropology of Medicine and Public Health  

This site is focused on information, information sources and discoveries made over the years trying to promote the study of medical geography.  Medical history is my strength (other than a few science- and public health-related specialities readers will pick up on), so most of what I write are essays on discoveries made during the past 30 years researching the history of medicine, in particular New York and Hudson Valley medicine, but also Pacific Northwest medicine.  This information I developed as a part of my work as a specialist in plant chemistry, chemotaxonomy and natural products at Portland State University for nearly 20 years.  The chemical evolution chart I review on some of my pages was developed between 1987 and 1990.

This next series of biographies of local doctors reviewed includes a number of “doctors”, “physicians” or “healers” who have not been not covered by past writers of Hudson River Valley history.  One of these topics actually began the last time I posted on this page, soon after I initiated the biographies of Elisha Perkins of Connecticut, his followers along the Harlem River Valley and later those who promoted his healing faith along the Hudson River Valley in western Dutchess County. 

Until now, this view of Hudson Valley American Medical history has pretty much been tainted by past writers.  Stories like these have been interpreted as examples of how unlicensed, poorly trained practitioners out there are laying claims to their unique philosophies and ways of treating.  The fairly generic and culturally biased term attached to these kinds of practices is “quackery.”  But these practices are no more incorrect than the regular practice of medicine was during this period in Hudson valley history.   

Hudson and Harlem Valleys and Railroad Lines into Dutchess County, 1858.  Perkins’ philosophy came to be prior to the development of any railroad or steamboat lines, back when all of the local roads led to New York City, Newburgh, Poughkeepsie, Troy and Albany.  The 1795-1810 Medical Electricity pop culture movement travelled from Connecticut to New York in a westerly direction, making its way to Troy and Poughkeepsie, but never developing much support in and around New York City.  This was due to the number of licensed and formally educated physicians practicing in this regional commercial center.  Between 1800 and 1850, medical philosophies were first spread by  sailing ships and stage coaches, and later by streamboats and finally trains.  Most of the professions during this time were spread by way of these two earlier commercial routes.  This meant that the two mountain ranges–Taconics and Berkshires–formed important cultural barriers.

The tale of Elisha Perkins and why he became so popular are reflections of the highly multicultural setting the Valley developed due to its Dutch heritage.  The philosophy helped set the stage for alternative philosophies like those practiced by Dr. Osborn (Bordenism, a 1760s vital force theory, covered elsewhere), Jewish Physician Isaac Marks, early Dutch promoters of Christian alchemical thinking (1649, Harvard student George Starkey, not yet covered), and the various Huguenot healers in the Valley who were natural philosophers and faith healers, and the unique believers in Christian Astrology and mysticism (one of whom in 1720 was called a “witch” according to Court records, partially covered).  These faiths were followed by the practices of local Quaker physician Shadrach Ricketson, his associate in the Friends Meeting House Jedediah Tallman, and Medical Electrician Caleb Child.  These events produce the history that set the stage for what would happen to the newest healers to come to the Valley for the remaining first half of the 19th century.  

The general impressions we are given for the past 3 or 4 decades is that there is this schism related to “medicine” versus “quackery”–the true or licensed, regular doctors, versus those who were more interested in nature, the body, mind and soul of medicine, and the healing processes accompanying these belief systems.  For this reason, we traditionally called regular doctors “licensed” and the other healers “quacks” in the worst of cases, be they licensed or not.  This is a social and culturally defined prejudice or biasness that even today many medical history writers express too freely and without any concerns for validity or personal opinions and subjectivity.  It is better to review past doctors for who and what they are–regular MDs who were just as right and correct as their professional adversaries.  At times their adversaries were even better “healers” than regular MDs, due to the human contact incorporated into their profession (much the same being true today as well).

The unusual doctors I reviewed and wrote about this time, important “healers” missed by past writers, are as follows:

  • Mrs. Smith“, ca. 1805-1820, a female practitioner for women, as well as men, apparently someone who is very religious and used this claim in her advertisements in the Poughkeepsie Journal to promote her healing skills; she was perhaps devoted to prayer and the laying on of hands, but also possibly highly skills herbology, like many older women, midwifery, and the most obvious, the skill of listening to your patient and employing common sense when it came to judging another individual’s lifestyle.
  • Dr. Arkalus Hooper, ca. 1815-20, a Puritan physician from Connecticut and the eastern part of Dutchess County, a descendent of the famous families that settled in Massachusetts during the early 1600s; his special skill was the use of medicines discovered and promoted by Cotton Mather and his unique take on the treatment of the insane and manics, by treating them psychologically instead of as prisoners
  • Part 1 of the story of Thomas Lapham, active 1820-1850, the initiator of Thomsonianism for the Hudson Valley and the major promoted of this healing faith for years to come
  • James Trivett, New Ballstown, and the healthy healing waters of Poughkeepsie, ca. 1800-1815
  • The role the Livingstons played in the establishment of a Merino sheep industry (“Wool Laws and the Merino Sheep . . . “), which became highly popular due to the medical climatology beliefs for 1790 to 1850, but even later perhaps, with several rebirths of this faith following the Civil War and even up into modern day.  [More on this complex topic to follow.]
  • Physiognomotracers, 1800-1825–Hudson Valley individuals who considered themselves artists, philosophers and perhaps even the first psychologists, individuals who could read your mind, define your psyche, and determine your health physiognomonically by tracing your form on a piece of paper.
  • Oregon Trail physician John Kennedy Bristow (1814-1887).   More of the 1993 work that I based my classes upon was also made accessible.  Bristow is  one of the first non-allopathic doctors to take the overland journey, about whom much can be learned and told about alternative medicine as it was practiced along the trail.  Like many early non-allopathic, post-early Thomsonianism physicians, Bristow criticized, botanized and philosophized.  His practice in Illinois, along the Oregon Trail and in Oregon represents how much development, migration and change occured in medicine of all forms, throughout the entire 19th century.  His life story provides us with important insights into the history and application of numerous alternative healing faiths then popular. such as that of the Thomsonianism sanative philosophy practiced by his mentor Dr. and later Rev. Edmund G. Browning (also a trailblazer) in Illinois, Indian Medicine doctor William Dain (covered elsewhere) from Fort Vancouver, Washington, Dr. Wooster Beach of New York and later Ohio, the highly popular domestic medicine book author Dr. Samuel Chase of the Great Plains states, Rev. Dr. Wm. Churchill of Brooklyn, and various local followers of the popular cultural movements related to anti-opium user, trapper medicine, local Pacific Northwest herbalism, gymnastics therapy, physiomedicine–the sequel to botanic medicine started by Alva Curtis, and the practice of this healing faith as it was detailed in the first Oregon medical journal Physiomedical Recorder.  John practiced nearly all of the alternative faiths during his lifetime, excluding homeopathy.  He believed in these philosophies due to his religious and cultural upbringing, and as a result of his own medical experiences (Rheumatic fever and related diseases), the deaths of two of his wives (Emmeline nee Hatch, Illinois, Ship Fever, 1847; Josephine nee Massie, Oregon Trail, Cholera, early April 1852) and his youngest daughter less than two years of age (Suzannah, along the Oregon Trail, due to either milk sickness or infant diarrhea/cholera, late April 1852, western Nebraska). 

In addition, I added several unique takes on the earliest popularity of the physiognomotracers (aka physiognosotracers), reviewing why they were so popular locally, how the military made use of this school of thought, and why it allowed Dr. Gall’s interpretation of the same to lead to the development of phrenology, a belief promoted most by the Fowlers of New York City and Wappingers Falls and which became one of the most important alternative medical philosophies in Hudson Valley history prior to the Civil War. 

A little more confirmation of the links that I propose exist between Cadwallader Colden’s metaphysical philosophy and the development of homeopathy are provided.  Hahnemann’s work is a variation of some of the explanations Colden provided for how and why inoculation worked.   The general philosophy for  the time during the post-Colden era is reviewed as a connector for the philosophies preached by French Luminate and believed in by such European physicians outside the French communities like Hufeland and Hahnemann, between 1796 and 1810.  This page is mostly a biography of Christoph Wilhelm Hufeland and his popularization of once fairly common natural healing traditions still practiced today –“Heilkraft der Natur” or vis medicatrix naturae.   Both Hufeland and Hahnemann played very important roles in the recreation of the popular vital force theory believed in since antiquity, but made popular in America as a medical philosophy by physicians like Dr. Osborn sometime around 1760 by Theophilis Borden (1722-1776).  The influence of the military on these healing trends are demonstrated by the development of early gymnastics (exercise) therapy and specific eating practices (the early diet therapies) (see Anton de Haan, Dutch medical philosopher, popular from 1740 on, but also see more details on the same by the inventor of “Sports Medicine” in the United States according to many–Shadrach Ricketson).

. . . from the page “Divine Psychiatric Truth”

I have also reviewed the unique story of a gifted girl, Rachel Baker, who came to Poughkeepsie ca. 1815.  She had a disease that we would today consider “culturally bound”, but only during her lifetime.  To have a culturally bound syndrome means that those of your culture believe this is the condition you have and so you manifest it.  Even the physicians believed in Rachel Baker’s problems, and were an important part of the culture defining the possible  existence of such a medical condition. The philosophy and interpretation of  psychological, psychiatric and psychosomatic states today might classify this disease differently, perhaps as some form of epilepsy and/or hyperreligiosity.   The contemporary interpretation of the scientific findings for the time (1812-1820 medical philosophy) defined this type of disease she had based on the contemporary professional interpretation of such events as  suspended animation, somnambulism, and “mania”.  

Rachel’s case of “divine somnambulism” is an example of how so often we based our supposed scientific diagnosis on contemporary scientific philosophy, not necessarily scientific proof.  More importantly this diagnosis is based on a review of one of the most important New York and Hudson Valley physicians for this time, Dr. Samuel Mitchell, a natural philosopher and a believer in evolution and phlogiston–that undiscovered element of nature that may be responsible for disease, an editor of Medical Repository.   Mitchell was so highly favored and respected as a physician due to his position as a New York State representative, and his influences internationally as one of the key political forces for his time, someone we rarely ever hear about.  

Regarding the old history of the valley that I grew up with, and now appears to be nearly lost or forgotten  I reviewed an important historical site I came upon while searching for some old Indian graves.  This house offers us a unique look into the past, but unfortunately it was riddled with antiques left to decay.  Some of these pieces from the past are more than 100 years in age.   This site (noted at the very top of the list along the right margin), represents four periods of local Hudson Valley history followed by a period of what appears to be its final ownership:

  • 1790/1800-1840–original settlement by the true “last of the Mahicans” ,
  • 1840 to about 1890–development into a local hotel and boarding house continuously owned and operated
  • 1890-1930–development into a motel for tourists to stay in after a carriage or stage coach trip, and decades later, the first long drive by overlander and Model T Fords from New York City,
  • 1930 to about 1960/1970–a period of development into a unique motel with coal-heated water and a traditional horse and plow farm,  as a part of FDR’s “New Deal” and “Farm Act” of 1933; FDR accompanied these changes with plans (first developed 1917-1925) to reconstruct the old roads in the vicinity into a more direct tourist route (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taconic_State_Parkway).   [This tale to be continued – – I have  a diary of a local resident one or two hamlets over from this place for this time frame as well for further insights.]
  • 1960-1980–final ownership(s), ending ca. 1980, including by a private land and home owner (d. ca. 1980-2) from the New Jersey area.  (I have not yet reviewed the current plans for development or use of this land.)

Quite recently, writer Judith Curry posted an article citing my coverage on “Global Warming – Part 1“, posted in winter 2010/2011 along with a more detailed essay on “Deforestation and Global Cooling . . . ” and how this resulted in Noah Webster’s claims for local cooling which in turn led to the development of the local merino sheep industry in the Hudson Valley.  Ms. Curry provides us with a very nice synopsis on this important piece of American history, which she posted in turn as a response to a Smithsonian brief on this topic published separately in just a couple of weeks ago in mid July 2011.   Since the most recent author failed to mention the sources for this work, just to set the record straight, it should be noted that this notion of climate change and global warming defined as early as 1790/1800 was previously published in 2009.  

As usual, my hexagonal grid analysis methodology and related excel worksheet download, and my various historical maps, are my most frequented sets of pages.  The most common topics perused by visitors of this site remain those which were previously noted, with the addition of GIS related Risk Management pages, which have doubled in attendence in recent days and weeks. 

As an aside, for those into GIS, as part of my population health risk management work, there is this method I created (and posted, except for the formulas) for performing exceptionally large population analyses by applying a raster GIS/RS moving windows formula.  One can analyze two very different population sizes, previously considered unmatchable due to variance and standard deviations, to determine where statistically significant differences exist.   Once I integrate this into other GIS applications, the overall GIS risk management and population age-gender health analysis processes  will be improved.


Relative Prevalence, StatSig and LogSig rates for various ICDs based on a 2004/5 Population Study

Medical Geography and the History and Anthropology of Medicine and Public Health

This site is focused on information, information sources and discoveries that I have made over the years trying to promote the study of medical geography. Since medical history is my strength (other than a few science- and public health-related specialities some readers will pick up on), much of what I am writing are essays on my findings during the past 30 years researching the history of medicine, in particular New York and Hudson Valley medicine, and especially irregular, alternative or complementary medicine. (I save the term integrative medicine to refer to something else, not yet fully existing.) I researched and taught this information at Portland State University for nearly 20 years.

And so what have I recently covered and/or published at this blogsite?

The following are some of the new topics just posted or about to be posted:

  • Open Letter to New York State Commissioner of Parks [the need for a Fishkill Revolutionary War Visitor’s Site]
  • A few more historical disease maps.
  • The brilliant ceramic artwork of Huguenot Naturalist and Natural Philosopher Bernard Pallisy (late 1500s)
  • Dr. Robert Todd, Fishkill, and his “Metalic Points”, 1797
  • New York’s Dr. Samuel Mitchell, naturalist and phlogistian (ca. 1800)
  • The James Way“–the public health and sequent occupance for a local 1940s-1950s Turkey Farm recently revisited (many pictures)
  • From “New Eclectics” (1878) to the modern day practice of Naturopathy (Portland, Oregon)

Speaking of complementary or “non-allopathic” medicine, the following is the basis for a traditional citation often referred to by writers discussing this pop culture topic–the various forms of medicine out there today . . .

And Moses stretched forth his rod over the land of Egypt, and the east wind brought the locust. And the locust went up over all the land of Egypt; before it there was no such locust, and it did eat every herb of the field, and afterwards Moses stretched forth his rod, and the locust was cast into the Red Sea (Exod. 10:12).

I am trying to make sense of a commonly cited reference posed by recent writers about regular and alternative medicine. They probably do not realize that they are referring to the above quote from the Bible whenever they quote an attractive line penned by the famous writer of American Colonial history William Smith in THE HISTORY Of the PROVINCE of N E W-Y O R K, FROM THE First Discovery to the Year MDCCXXXII. To which is annexed, A Description of the Country, with a short Account of the Inhabitants, their Trade, Religious and Political State, and the Constitution of the Courts of Justice in that Colony (Printed for Thomas Wilcox, Bookseller at Virgil’s Head, opposite the New Church in the Strand, in London. M.DCC.LVII (1757)). I am referring to the following phrase that appears in Smith’s writings about the physicians practicing in the colony of New York around 1750.

“Quacks abound like Locusts in Egypt”

This commonly cited phrase comes from the following paragraph in Smith’s text:

There are some phrases or lines we are can be drawn to as writers, like a fly to flypaper one might say, or in the case of writers, a lonely sheep returning to its flock. After several days of constantly finding references to this particular phrase about two months ago, I decided it was time to research the various applications, and misapplications, of this phrase over the years. I was wondering, ‘are these writers citing each other, with little knowledge of what it is that they are citing?’

Samuel Bard

This phrase was originally used by Smith to refer to “doctors” who were for the most part trained or apprenticed in the Colonies, versus what he considered to be “better doctors”–those who were trained either as an apprentice in some office, by a school, and/or by a teaching hospital setting in England. At the time Smith wrote this claim, he failed to mention any of the activities engaged in by one of the most famous physicians for this time in New York–Dr. Samuel Bard of the City of New York. Loyalism had not yet come to bear as an important part of American culture and history, but the Stamp Tax act that resulted in the separation of loyalists from patriots was just a couple of years away once Smith’s book got published. Smith’s comments referred to the superiority of English-trained doctors (and perhap Scottish-trained or even other Western European trained physicians) over American-trained physicians. Apparently, most of the writers citing Smith’s famous line were unaware of this important piece of American medical history, generalizing it to refer to non-allopathic practices in the early US in general, not necessarily “quackery” since allopathy was often at fault just as much as its competitors.

[see http://civilwarmed.blogspot.com/2009/05/medical-department-25-civil-war-snake.html]

By far the most popular time for Smith to be quoted in the medical journals was the early 1900s, and came in reference to the problems of “quackery” stirring around the turn of the 20th century due to Patent Medicines. The most common year that this statement was cited was 1905/1906, the year the Pure Food and Drug act was discussed and passed. The Food and Drug Act was succeeded by the Food, Drug and Cosmetics act in 1915. The purpose for each of these laws was to manage the mislabeling going on since the early 1800s. These acts outlawed the sales of medicines that had certain drugs in them like the various forms of opium (with one or two exceptions, for example “heroin” was still available OTC and not excluded by this bill). It required the labelling of a remedy’s mysterious ingredients, and was an attempt to control the types of claims made on these labels regarding the many diseases a product was claimed to treat. This is like the problem we see today with certain medications claiming they help reduce the risk of heart disease when there is absolutely no statistically proof that taking these medications accomplishes that (i.e. the recent FDA statement about this regarding certain lipid and blood pressure lowering drugs)–it is just something some doctors want to beleive in and pass on down to their patient.

These applications of Smith’s statement had nothing to do with non-allopathic medicine. They had everything to do with regulating over-the-counter pharmacy. Although a controversy concerning non-allopathic training was once again taking main stage around this time, this was never the main attempt of the 1906 law and so William Smith’s 1757 claims had nothing to do with it, even though the writers wanted to think that it did.

In addition to the above finding, my study of the misapplication of Smith’s line also revealed that a number of times that Smith’s phrase was used as a result of a writer “borrowing” or plagiarizing this statement from another writer. They did not necessarily plagiarize Smith’s words. They pulled the statement from the writings of another author, citing neither Smith nor the later authors. To the novice reader, this can make it appear as though these writers were the creators of such a phrase along with its attached meaning and discovery, suggesting as well to these readers that this author deserved some sort of pat on the back for his or her discovery, and for daring to make such an opinionated and political statement about this controversial issue. This serious misuse of another writer’s discoveries begs the questions ‘Can we believe any of the other findings made by the writer?’ and ‘Is everything else this author writes about based on unreviewed resources?’


Of course, the writing profession does have certain cases where citations are not appropriate or necessary for the particular article they were asked to produce. Setting this matter of “borrowing” and potential plagiarism aside, the reference to “Quacks” still made today in terms of non-allopathic medicine is really old hat. This kind of authorship is a sign of outdated intelligence. Unknowingly, the writer who uses this citation is telling us that he/she is probably not familiar with the non-allopathic profession, but more definitely that he is not read in the classics as much as he should be. This only results in more mis-citations as time passes, which the author is now a new example of. For example, in one such case we can find a citation originally made in 1757 for the first reason (British vs. American), becoming information that is applied by another person in 1906 for a second reason (reference to the over-the-counter drug patents), which several citations later, has lost its original meaning and is misconstrued or misappropriated (herbal medicine is bad). This new application does not at all match the original author’s intent, nor can it even be related truly to the current situations at hand. Today, Smith’s phrase is now being cited in reference to the development of complementary or integrative medicine, a far cry from the original quacksalvers, mountebanks and, oh yeah, American physicians whom Smith was referring to in 1757. True, it is closer to the original intent of 1757 than the popular 1905/6 use was, but do these writers really want their judgments made on non-allopathic medicine to be linked to some Bible quote about Moses? Do they want us readers to think of them as the next Moses, Smith, Young or Fishbein strongly rebelling against “irregular” medicine? (The next P.T. Barnum?)

This continued use of the word “Quacks”, with reference to Smith’s famous line, is something that modern society has outgrown. The words “quack” and “quackery” valid 50 or 75 years ago are very much outdated today. Society has become more mature one might say about this issue. The original cultural constructs for which this this word and cultural statement were intended are long gone. So today, when this historical statement is used, it is most often wrongfully applied to refer anything that is non-allopathic medicine, be it truthful or not. This is particularly the case when the critics don’t have an inkling of an idea about the contents of the philosophy they are talking about. I have to question the intellect of someone who denounces something like the theory that EMF could be a cause for fibromyalgia and acupuncture a possible treatment but cannot tell me whether the energy being produced by his scanner is discrete or sampled, or based on ‘nup’ or ‘sup’ (north up coils or south up coils).

It was different back in 1906 because then the critics were referring to the misuse and mishandling of chemicals, and only in some cases fraudulent claims regarding a physiological or pathological change that could not be made to happen, such as the instant curing of a cancer. When writers today use the terms “quack” or “quackery”, they are also telling us that practicing some form of medicine based on philosophical beliefs such as Vitalism, the balance of the four humors, Chi, Yin and Yang, Vata, Pitta and Kapha, Homeopathy, herb- or crystal-related energies, garden angels, dowsing and channeling with nature for the benefits of our innermost being are wrong. They forget that this also pertains to all non-American, non-allopathic traditions as well, like those practiced by Jewish, African, Carribean, Hoodoo, Hispanic, Hindu, Ayurvedic, Unanic, Chinese, Buddhist, Kampo, Celtic, Aesculapian, Phillipine, Hawaiian, Inuit, Metis, Navajo, Mayan, Scandinavian, or even Viking cultures. Does this mean that since these people are also practicing some sort of medicine which the writers don’t believe in, that it is quackery and shouldn’t be allowed?

James Harvey Young (1915-2006).

In my first days in medical school, I happened to meet the second historian to make the term “quackery” what it still is today for many people–James Harvey Young (for a biography see http://www.historians.org/perspectives/issues/2007/0702/0702mem3.cfm). One of the first readings for the special interest group I was in at medical school was his book on quackery–The Toadstool Millionaires. A Social History of Patent Medicines in America before Federal Regulation.

James Harvey Young’s writings about quackery and their effects on Americans and medicine were preceded and surpassed only by the works of an even more prolific speaker and writer of this field of the early 1900s, someone who represented the AMA and was the original editor of the pop culture trade magazine Hygeia. He was the infamous Morris Fishbein (similarly, see http://educate-yourself.org/cn/morrisfishbein05feb02.shtml). When I first began my work in the field as a student of medicine during the early 1980s, Fishbein’s books were the rage I was told and his books could still be found in nearly every used book store. Of course their presence in the used book world probably meant thay they had outgrown their original owners’ needs and interests of 30 or 40 years ago. But due to Fishbein’s writing style they were still pleasurable waiting room readings during the 1980s, much like they were to the “millions of readers” who decades before me perused Fishbein’s popular magazine Hygeia in much the same way, and in much the same type of physician’s office setting as well as at home.

Morris Fishbein (1889-1976)

The regularly distributed magazine Hygeia was kind of like the Weekly Readers or Highlights magazine one always found hanging around the waiting rooms at doctors’ and dentists’ offices. It was sent to as many people as possible, for free on many occasions. It focused on the importance of preventive medicine, hygienic practices, the value of immunizing, how to engage in the most appropriate exercise programs, developing good dietary behaviors, and all the other skills or lessons a doctor was said to be professed in, the knowledge base for those skills he or she was suppoed to provide to unsuspecting patients. But it is also important to keep in mind that an equal number of articles in Hygeia pertained to the numerous “fallacies” out there about health and hygiene. There was a special topic of this sort covered in each and every number produced, along with a matching editorial section Fishbein was in charge of. In this part of the magazine, the writer provided his reader with a unique and highly opinionated reports on some form of malpractice or “quackery” out there, reviewing such controversial topics as electrotherapy, herbal medicine, astrology and health, hypnotism, religion and medicine, and one of the worst “evils” known to man–homeopathy.

[Published from 1924 on, the current version of this journal can be accessed at http://www.hygeiajournal.com/. For origins and culturally-defined meaning in relationship to this journal title, see http://www.sciencemuseum.org.uk/broughttolife/people/hygeia.aspx.]

At the time Hygeia was first published, the popular practices like homeopathy and eclectics were in their final years, at least for their generation of medical schools branded as “alternative”. The new schools of naturopathy had just been born and were about to blossom (this is reviewed extensively and posted near the end of my lengthy list of topics). Were it not for the hygienic movement taking place in the 1920s and 1930s, naturopathy could have been well on its way to becoming its own self-sustaining practice by the 1950s. Instead, unfortunately, due to lack of financial input and political support, this profession was forced to take the stage alongside chiropractics for a while, terming itself “drugless medicine” while it taught its philosophy at the same schools that taught chiropractic medicine. This “mixed” schooling, as politicians called it, persisted for just a decade or two, and was forced to cease its operations once the problem of defining immunizations as a form of drug delivery came to court. [See Utah studies posted for more on this]. This led various government agencies in charge of overseeing accreditation processes to threaten the chiropractic profession with shutting its doors if this mixed form of schooling and licensure process continued.

Photographer Doug Beghtel/The Oregonian. Article’s author: Andy Dworkin. “New Clinic Opens at Portland College of Natural Medicine.” Published: Wednesday, September 30, 2009. Subtext for photo: “Students Tim Rudowsky (left) and Matt Elliott weigh and mix kun bu, or medicinal kelp, and other Chinese healing herbs in the medicinary of the new clinic at Portland’s National College of Natural Medicine.” Accessed on 3-25-2011 at http://www.oregonlive.com/health/index.ssf/2009/09/new_clinic_opens_at.html.

Time has of course allowed for a total reversal of this age old controversy. Today’s naturopaths have several licensed and accredited schools out there, with federal student loans available for those engaged in this particular form of medical education. This is all due to just the one school that persisted its operations throughout the 1960s and 1970s. Due to the passage of time, and changes in public perception and attitude, naturopathic doctors who earned an official ND status from an accredited school could once again engage in certain clinical practices that they were previously excluded from more than 50 to 60 years ago. (I underscore this because there are many learn at home NDs also out there who learned via mail from a non-accredited institution. For more on this accredited school and its licensed profession see http://www.ncnm.edu/.)

Suffice it to say, the “drugless medicine” of NDs is once again very popular, be it in the form of Chinese medicine, Ayurvedics, some 19th century form of herbal medicine, movement therapy, or even at times practices akin to the most modern products of allopathic pharmacology. Were it not for the invention of bioengineered drugs by allopaths, medicines designed to target specific parts of the body, today’s practice of allopathic care might appear at times to be something more and more like the “pharmacy” of its complementary medical field at times–naturopathic medicine. A number of MDs practice according to their own philosophies on the nature of health, which they either rediscovered or discovered for the first time, a knowledge of the past brought back into the modern era of “reformed” medicine. At times it seems the only differences between some of the more esoteric preachers of allopathy (those “certified” as homeopaths, nutraceuticalists, acupuncturists, environmental medicine specialists, nutrition doctors, sports medicine physicians, physical fitness doctors, some new age psychologists or psychiatrists), and the most traditional forms of naturopathy, are the “religions” or philosophies each of these classes of new physicians base their practices upon. When it comes to health maintenance and helping a patient find his/her best treatment plan, the knowledge of one practitioner can sometimes complement the preachings of the other. It’s funny how they never seem to effectively teach this in regular medical school.

To me this means that relating “quackery” to most of America’s modern alternative medicine is a vision of the past. Of course there is still true “quackery” out there . . . the poorly supported, misaligned claims made by “doctors” of any shape or form. For example, there are still people out there trying to claim they have found the magical cure to remove your skin’s blemishes as well as treat cancer, or claim they can change your appearances into someone who is 20 years younger, and of course there are the healers out there who claim they can manage to tell you all about your medical fate based on some test of the crystallization of your saliva, an analysis of your sweat to determine what substance your body is lacking, a review of your allergy-antigen history by means of a simple muscle test, or use a scan of your entire body’s physical and energy state or “forces” using nuclear magnetic resonance to interpret the “vibrations” produced by its water content (not Kirlian photography, but MRI, the nobel prize winning discovery of one of my chemical teachers at Stony Brook, Paul Lauterbur-see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paul_Lauterbur). Note: none of these claims are really promoted by any of my writings at this blogsite. So ‘rest in peace’ those of you who are trying to figure out whether or not I am someone who is willing to throw away the baton in the race to medical, political supremacy, or engage in my own form of unique form of the popular health culture. My work is focused on the philosophy of medicine in general, not just alternative, complementary or integrative medicine, but medicine in general.

Perception and prejudice are everything when it comes to formulating and acting upon one’s own opinion about “facts.” I once had this survey I always handed out at the end of the chemotaxonomy/ethnobotany classes I taught at Stony Brook and Portland State Universities. One of these questions asks students to define what side of the field I appear to be on regarding non-allopathic medicine. In other words, ‘Am I for or against these different forms of medicine I am teaching?’ The response options for this question ranged from strongly pro-alternative to strongly pro-allopathic, with the choice of a neutral score placed in the middle of the Likert response scale I provided them with. It always felt good to see that no one really knew where I stood in this matter. All of the possible perspectives of my work were out there.

Note:  If you are entering my blogs on this page, click on any of the topical links above to get to my work.

For most of the other pages, the equivalent to the Table of Contents for this site appears under the Pages heading located a little further down on the right side margin.

The purpose of this site is to pull together most of my research projects engaged in since 1976. A large number of these projects pertain to the the Dutchess County, Orange County, the Hudson Valley and the New York area.  Due to my history as an adjunct professor, most of this work is focused on medicine, public health, medical history, and medical botany.

My work on Dutchess County medical history is perhaps my longest, most ongoing project. This work was initiated in 1982 and continues into today, with most of my focus paid on Colonial and early post-colonial physicians and their teachings, and the history of traditional and alternative medicine in the Hudson Valley area from about 1500 to 1850.

Considerable effort and time have also been spent on projects pertaining to a 20 year project focused on Plant-based Natural products chemistry. The purpose of this research was to demonstrate the taxonomic-classification relationship that exists between many important plant chemicals and classes of chemicals and their placement in the plant evolutionary tree. The more evolved a plant is for the most part, the more toxic and selective in the nature of its toxicity it becomes. Likewise, the more evolved a particular class of chemicals are within the plant Kingdom, the more specialized their uses are both ecologically and as medicines.

I also spent a considerable amount of time (15 years about) focused on the ecology and history of the Oregon Trail, including its medical practices from 1845 to 1860 , and a little bit on its ecology and plant medicines. A major part of this work related to the history of endemic and epidemic diseases on the Trail and the history of Cholera as a geographically defined disease that made its way from the heavily populated parts of the Midwest to the Oregon Trail. This work enabled me to spatially different “cholera” in the true Asiatic Cholera form, located in the eastern half of this trail, from the non-vibrio forms of severe diarrhea, or dysentery referred to as “cholera”, that impacted people as they passed through Wyoming, Idaho, Washington and Oregon. The main biological cause for this “cholera” could also be determined based on the spatial relationships between the disease ecology, animal deaths and disease, and the resulting human cases.

Aside from the West Nile work (detailed extensively as a disease ecology topic utilizing GIS), my most recent long term research project that was primarily GIS based was focused on mapping and quantifying the release of toxic or carcinogenic chemicals at chemical release sites in the State of Oregon.  These sites were related to several types of cancer that were spatially mapped.  This spatial relationship was reviewed in various ways, ranging from length, type and amount of release to specific chemical information provided for each of these sites such as the types and amounts of chemicals released.  Due to a review of about 60,ooo chemical reports over a fairly long period of time, certain chemical fingerprints could be related to the Standard Industrial Classification identifier for each industry at a given site.  Certain SICs it ends up are indicators of high cancer risk.  The most important products of this work include my research on how to spatially analyze toxic release sites using several common spatial review methods and a grid method of analysis I developed using hexagonal grids instead of the common square grids.  To date I am still making use of this data to experiment with different methods of chemical release and exposure analysis. [Added note, 1-10-2011: To GIS students, this is my most popular site visited, by about one-third of my visitors; if you are a student and want the formulas, drop me a line via one of the grid analysis pages.]

My most recent and also ongoing research is the West Nile study, for which my emphasis is on disease ecology and the various ways in which west nile ecology can be analyzed using GIS and Remote Sensing tools. In October of 2006, a exceptionally small portion of this work was presented at the ESRI Medical GIS conference held in Denver, Colorado., resulting in my receiving an award for this work, long after my work as a field researcher in this topic was completed. Due to the amounts and complexity of the data I gathered during my fieldwork years, I am still in the process of performing spatial analysis and ecological studies of the disease and its spatio-temporal behaviors.

I have plans to add GIS section on phytochemistry and remote sensing (RS).  My interest in RS was almost instant when in one of the classes I took as a student I was given a print out of an AVHRR spectrum sheet and like other students was required to write an essay on how I interpret the spectral pattern.  These were of various soils in Antarctica, with one of these soil very different than the others.  The purpose of this review was to define a way to perform and experiment in order identify that substance.  Well, I could see immediately the peaks indicative of carotenoids in the soil, leading me to pick up on some other identifiable peaks with recognizable nanometrics–all due to photosynthetic materials.   But the soils supposedly had no algae in it.  It ended up the carotenoid peaks were due to xanthophylls, the remnants of an algae growing due to nearby glacial melt water.  The AVHRR Reflection Spectrum was essentially a mirror image of spectra I obtained from plant products extracted in my chemistry lab across campus.   That is when I drew up all of the phytochemical pathways onto a single 2′ x 3′ chart and worked out the effects of stresses upon plants and how these stresses impact remotely sensed imagery, NIR readings, and radiographics.