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JAMA 100 Years Ago
August 17, 2011

PHYSIOMEDICALISM

Author Affiliations
 

JAMA 100 Years Ago Section Editor: Jennifer Reiling, Assistant Editor.

JAMA. 2011;306(7):773. doi:10.1001/jama.2011.1084

As will be noticed elsewhere in this issue, the last of the colleges which represented the physiomedical sect has gone out of existence. This sect has endured for three-quarters of a century and was one of the “schools” of medicine which have existed only in this country.

According to its adherents, physiomedicalism was founded in New England early in the last century by Samuel Thomson (1769-1843), a native of New Hampshire. Thomson was a self-educated man, a student of nature, who strongly advocated care of the stomach, good food and proper elimination together with vapor baths and sweating and also employment of certain botanic drugs such as lobelia, marigold and yellowroot. Many of his principles and methods are matters of common sense and, in fact, were not uncommonly employed by other successful physicians. The emphasis which was laid on them in a special book circulated by Thomson, however, no doubt led to the formation of this particular school of medicine and also drew into it a number of very able men, some of whom, from the educational standpoint at least, were destined to have a wider influence than Thomson himself.

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