Introduction to Botanical Medicine

1827 – Horton Howard reluctantly accepted agency for Thomson’s New Method of Curing Diseases. Horton and his sons were granted exclusive rights for selling books and the rights to use the methods and formulas for treating the purchaser’s family. This was the beginning of the American Herbalist movement. Practitioners were also called Steam Doctors due to their belief that cold caused disease, and restoring natural body heat (through medicine and through providing steam in the stick room) would cure disease.

Some of the herbalist’s treatments were effective. Thomson was inspired to promote these methods by their success in curing his seriously ill daughter, after conventional medical doctors declared her near the point of death. Some of the methods were not so successful, using herbs such as lobelia that could be fatal with overuse. Traditional medicine of the day was little better – relying on such treatments as bloodletting and cupping.

Given this state of medical affairs, it is little wonder that so many of Horton’s letters are filled with details of death, illness, physical complaints, or reports of well-being.