Many attempts were made to create medical societies. There is strength in numbers. Most fell by the wayside as competition ate away at their structure, and even forbidding members to consult with, cohort with, purchase from, or even befriend an “irregular” didn’t stop a huge wave of physicians from going over to the other side.
The main purpose of a medical society/association is to provide political pressure to adopt laws that would kill the competition. They also provide entertainment, fellowship, and a safe place to whine about the midwife down the block who makes more money in a week than your average physician in two months.
Another purpose of the American Medical Association was to raise the standards of medical education in the land. Dr Nathan Smith Davis, a graduate of the Rush Medical College in Chicago, became a driving force in the creation of the American Medical Association. His regard for the general educational standards of the day is clear in the following statement:
All the young man has to do is gain admittance in the office of some physician, where he can have access to a series of ordinary medical text-books, and see a patient perhaps once a month, with perhaps a hasty post-mortem examination once a year; and in the course of three years thus spent, one or two courses of lectures in the medical colleges, where the whole science of medicine, including anatomy, physiology, chemistry, materia medica, pathology, practice of medicine, medical jurisprudence, surgery, and midwivery are all crowded upon his mind in the short space of sixteen weeks...and his education, both primary and medical, is deemed complete. [New York Journal of Medicine, V, 1845, 418]
All in all, the main reasons underpinning the formation of the AMA was that doctors simply could not compete in a free market, and they made little money. A report submitted to the 1847 convention that kicked off the formation of the AMA, stated:
The very large number of physicians in the United States has frequently been the subject of remark.... No wonder that the merest pittance in the way of remuneration is scantily doled out even to the most industrious in our ranks. [Healing the Health-Care System]
The AMA’s first course of action was to lobby the government for strict licensing laws that would limit the number of doctors practicing medicine. Banning any form of medicine not practiced by the regulars was one sure way to limit the number of practicing physicians.
Historically, all laws pertaining to the practice of medicine have been enacted out of intense pressure by the medical lobbyists, not the public.
But as hard as they tried, their efforts often blew up in their face. This young country was not about to give up the freedoms they’d fought to attain. And when given free choice, most Americans in mid century chose the least toxic options of the Eclectics or homeopaths.
The Sad State of the Art
When the AMA got established, the form of medicine practiced by its members had not yet cured a single disorder, and most of the time sent patients to an early death. Surgery showed promise, but sepsis was not yet understood and doctors with a 50% success rate or higher were rare, in deed.
Scurvy had been cured, but by nutrition, not by medicine. Iodine cured goiters, but again, iodine is an essential nutritional factor.
By 1850, the jury on inoculations is still out, for there were safer homeopathic inoculations being developed, and plagues had a life cycle of their own. They came in spite of everything we did to avoid them, and the usually petered out and went away on their own in spite of heroic medicine claiming victory.
In France, a study on cancer, begun in 1843, had just been published. A physician of the French Academy of Science, Dr Leroy d’Etoilles, gathered together as many statistics as possible at that time from some 170 practitioners who had treated cancer. The reason for the study was to compare survival rates of those who elected to undergo the standard treatments for cancer against those who refused these treatments. According to Dr Naiman in her book Cancer Salves, the standard treatments consisted of surgery, caustics “such as nitric acid; sulfuric acid mixed with saffron; poisonous minerals such as lead, mercury, or arsenic nitrate; or alkaline caustics such as sulfate of zinc. Copper sulfate [mixed with borax], quicklime, or potassium permanganate were also used, evidently with mixed success.”
The conclusion of the study showed that those who avoided traditional cancer therapies outlived those who underwent them. Did this stop anyone from practicing these therapies? Perhaps, but for the most part, these treatment protocols continued on till the advent of Radium therapy that proved to be even more deadly than any previous protocol, but was highly recommended because it was a great money maker.
History, we are told, often repeats itself. A study presented to the American Cancer Society in the nineteen-eighties, concluded much the same as that study in France over a century earlier. Ellen Brown’s book, Forbidden Medicine gives us the following:
One of the few studies ... was conducted by Dr. Hardin Jones, professor of medical physics and physiology at the University of California, Berkeley. He told an ACS panel, "My studies have proven conclusively that untreated cancer victims actually live up to four times longer than treated individuals. For a typical type of cancer, people who refused treatment lived for an average of 12-1/2 years. Those who accepted surgery or other kinds of treatment [chemotherapy, radiation, cobalt] lived an average of only three years. . . . I attribute this to the traumatic effect of surgery on the body's natural defense mechanism. The body has a natural defense against every type of cancer.
Ulrich Able, a German epidemiologist and biostatistician, concluded the same in what can be considered the largest statistical analysis ever conducted on cancer. Irwin Bross, biostatistician for the National Cancer Institute, would have to agree. In a paper on Radiation we already published one of his famous quotations: “Radiation therapy does not improve the survival of patients with breast cancer. Did you know that the mortality rate for breast cancer in women over 55 was about 20% higher in 1995 than in 1970 (so much for mammograms)?”
Sadly, the one lesson we have all learned from history is that we do not learn anything from history. We are condemned to make the same mistakes again and again. As long as the primary focus of medicine is on profits, real healing will always take a back seat.