Down the Rabbit Hole: The Rise of Western Medicine
It was while I was reading The History, Treatment, and Diseases of the Horse (1880 edition) that I came upon the chapter, “List of the medicines used in the treatment of the diseases of the horse.” Some of the treatments like purging and blood-letting were a bit hard to read, but the medicine of that time was fascinating: lots of homeopathic preparations, and then some “cures” like mercury and lead which were a little frightening, but the one that grabbed my attention was opium.
“It is obtained by making incisions into the unripe capsule of the poppy and scraping the juice which exhales, and drying it in the sun. The best kind of opium is brought to this country in chests from Turkey and India…it is a powerful antispasmodic, sedative, and astringent. As an antispasmodic it enters into the colic drink, and it is the sheet-anchor of the veterinarian in the treatment of locked-jaw and tetanus…it becomes an excellent tonic because it is a sedative.”
It started me thinking…about the opioid problem we have currently in the US, from heroin to morphine, hydrocodone, oxycodone, codeine and fentanyl.
So I did a little research on opium. It was cultivated in lower Mesopotamia around 3400 BC. The Sumerians passed it along to the Assyrians, who then passed it to the Egyptians. The opium trade flourished during the reigns of Thutmose IV, Akhenaton and Tutankhamen. This trade route included the Phoenicians and Minoans, who brought opium to Greece, Carthage and Europe.
Around 460 BC, Hippocrates, the father of medicine, acknowledge its usefulness as a narcotic and styptic in treating internal diseases and diseases of women. Opium from Thebes was introduced to China by Arab traders in 400 AD.
During the 1300s opium disappears from Europe for 200 hundred years because of the taboo put on it by the Holy Inquisition who considered anything from the East as being linked to the Devil.
In 1527 opium is reintroduced into European medical literature as laudanum. It is the Dutch in 1700 that introduce the practice of smoking opium in a pipe to the Chinese. The British East India Company in 1793 establishes a monopoly on the opium trade, and the company’s import of opium into China reaches a staggering 2,000 chests per year.
In 1803 Friedrich Sertuerner of Germany discovers the active ingredient in opium by dissolving it in acid and then neutralizing it with ammonia. The result is morphine. In 1827 E. Merck & Company of Darmstadt, Germany begins the commercial manufacturing of morphine. It would become a dominant manufacturer of morphine, codeine and cocaine. In 1895 Heinrich Dreser working for the Bayer Company of Elberfeld, Germany finds that diluting morphine with acetyls produces a drug without the common morphine side effects. Bayer begins production of diacetylmorphine and coins the name for this new compound: heroin.
Further down the rabbit hole: J.D. Rockefeller
When I think of Bayer I think of aspirin, not heroin. I was curious about the use of acetyls to produce heroin. Where did the acetyls come from in the late 1800s? Well, just like today they come from petrochemicals, which then led me to John D. Rockefeller, the oil baron.
In the late 1800s, Rockefeller came up with an idea to use coal tar, a petroleum derivative, to make substances that affect the body and nervous system. This was not a new idea; his father Old Bill Rockefeller sold bottles of raw petroleum mixed with a little opium as a cure for cancer. Young Rockefeller just needed a vehicle to extend and capitalize on petroleum derivatives as medicines.
The rise of the American Medical Association
In the early 1900’s there were many types of healing practices in the US and Europe: chiropractors, naturopathy, midwives, homeopathy, osteopathy, herbal medicines, diet, and steam baths. Western medicine in the 18th and 19th centuries was called Heroic Medicine and included methods such as blood-letting, purging, leeching, blistering, mercury and lead therapy.
Through much of history, healers were those who worked with herbs and food, and charged little or nothing for their expertise.
The rise of heroic medicine brought about the idea of healing as a job. Heroic medicine practitioners charged more money for treatments than traditional healers. In many places only the wealthy class could afford a doctor of heroic medicine.
Because heroic medicine treatment was so often unpleasant and often lethal, more of the populace chose the milder treatments of the herbalists. Thomas Jefferson called heroic medicine physicians an “inexperienced and presumptuous band of medical tyros let loose upon the world.”
The underpinnings that created the AMA were based on a strategy to enhance the medical profession’s position in society. According to Richard E. Brown, author of Rockefeller Medicine Men: Medicine and Capitalism in America, “Scientific medicine gained the support of the medical profession in the late nineteenth century because it met the economic and social needs of physicians.”
The American Medical Association (AMA) began in 1847, but it was a small, weak organization until John D. Rockefeller and Andrew Carnegie took on a “philanthropic mission” to help the AMA, marking the point when allopathic (Western) medicine took a huge turn. Since there were many types of doctors and healing methods, Rockefeller wanted to eliminate these competitors, thus ensuring that drugs would be the main course of treatment. Capitalists like Rockefeller and Carnegie and others “embraced scientific medicine as an ideological weapon in their struggle to formulate a new culture appropriate to and supportive of industrial capitalism.” (Rockefeller Medicine Men; Richard E Brown, 1979).
Rockefeller and Carnegie hired Abraham Flexner, an American educator, to write a report, published and given to Congress in 1910, that concluded there were too many doctors and medical schools in the US and that all natural healing modalities which had existed for hundreds of years were unscientific quackery. Flexner’s report called for standardization of medical education, whereby only allopathic AMA medicine institutions would be granted medical school licenses. Congress acted on the conclusions and made them law.
Carnegie and Rockefeller used their tax-exempt foundations to offer huge grants to medical schools on the proviso that only an allopathic curriculum be taught. Curricula in these schools was dismantled to remove herbs and plants, and the importance of diet. On the positive side, Flexner’s influence did heighten the importance of laboratory-based research and education.
The rise of science: Allopathic medicine
From heroic medicine arose scientific medicine, so called because it replaced healing as art, and represented a method of practice “not based on dogma but on verifiable truths” (JAMA, 36 (1901), 1599-1606). Scientific medicine focused on disease as an engineering problem. “The technical expertise associated with scientific medicine helps to mystify the role and work of the physician more effectively…thereby support[ing] the claims of the profession for a monopoly of control over all healing methods.” (Rockefeller Medicine Men, Richard E Brown, 1979).
Scientific medicine made physicians more dependent on capital-intensive commodities, especially drugs, which were the essential base of their practices. Prescription drugs gave doctors new power by forcing the public to see a physician in order to obtain the benefits of medical research.
Allopathy and homeopathy
The term allopathy refers to the practice of healing through opposites. If the patient is retaining water, then a drug that promotes urination is the answer. Homeopathy is derived from the Greek homoios, which means similar and pathos, which means suffering. Homeopathatic means “like cures like.”
The Rockefellers and their pharmaceutical empire
With the AMA and allopathic medical schools firmly in place, the abolition of other medicinal therapies, and the enforcement of regulated licensing of doctors, the Rockefeller empire continued to expand. Sterling Drug Inc., the largest holding company in the Rockefeller drug empire and its 68 subsidiaries were maintained under an umbrella with the Rockefeller-owned bank Chase Manhattan (now known as JP Morgan Chase Bank) and called the Drug Trust.
We cannot forget that the pharmaceutical empire of the Rockefellers includes vaccines, sedatives, analgesics, antibiotics, heart drugs, and hypnotics.
Under the directive of the Rockefeller Foundation, funds to medical colleges in 1948 alone swelled to $32 million, which in today’s money would amount to $323 million. This ensured that the medical schools would teach and indoctrinate the names and uses of thousands of drugs.
In the 1930’s John D. Rockefeller, Jr. campaigned for the prohibition of hemp and cannabis through generous political and Baptist church donations. Hemp could produce ethanol, which competed with petroleum, and cannabis was a competitor with opium and with the Rockefeller-owned member of an opium cartel: Bayer, creators of heroin.
Rockefeller investment in chemicals and drugs
John D. Rockefeller purchased shares in what was to become a massive German chemical and pharmaceutical cartel: I.G. Farben, a conglomerate of several big chemical manufacturers including Bayer, Hoechst, and BASF. This conglomerate would invent, produce and distribute the Zyklon B used in Nazi concentration camps, producing enough of the gas to kill 200 million humans. In 1939, I.G. Farben purchased $20 million worth of high-grade aviation gasoline from…Standard Oil of New Jersey, owned by Rockefeller. That same year a new company was formed with Standard Oil taking 15% of the stock to protect Germany’s holdings in chemicals and drugs. This new company was called The American IG Farben.
Side note: Auschwitz was actually built by IG Farben. Before it became an extermination camp, it was the largest industrial complex known in Europe. Farber executives were among those found guilty of war crimes and served prison terms after the war.
Before the attack on Pearl Harbor, American IG Farben purchased an undisclosed number of shares in Schering, Monsanto Chemical, Dow Chemical, and DuPont. It also took over the privately owned Hoffman-Laroche Company (who would become one of the largest producers of coal tar vitamins in the world).
Morris A. Bealle and the Rockefeller Drug Trust
In the 1930s, Morris Bealle, a former city editor of the Washington Times and Herald started his own paper in one of the local Maryland counties. The local power company bought a large ad every week, but when Bealle wrote an editorial about the poor service the power company had given some of the paper’s readers, Bealle was hauled in front of the advertising agency and told that if he stepped out of line again, it would result in the immediate cancellation of the advertising contract as well as contracts with the gas and telephone companies.
To Bealle this was not the meaning of a free press. He closed the newspaper, and started investigating incidents of infringement of the free press, which led him to the Rockefellers. Unable to get his exposés printed, he established his own publishing company, The Columbia Publishing House, in 1949. His book, The Drug Story; A Factological History of America’s Drug Cartel published in 1949, is one of the definitive accounts of the wealth, power, and control wielded by the Rockefeller Drug Trust.
In his book, Bealle illuminates the links between Rockefeller power and government. “This Bureau—now known as the Food and Drug Administration—is used primarily for the perversion of justice by cracking down on all who endanger the profits of the Drug Trust.”
Bealle further points out that the FDA is “very assiduous in putting out of business any and all vendors of therapeutic devices which increase the health incidence of the public and thus decrease the profit incidence of the Drug Trust.”
Dr. Adolphus Hohensee
This doctor was known as one of America’s leading vitaminologists (a term I have only found in use in the 1930s-1940s). He gave advice on diet and sold vitamin supplements such as B complex, lecithin, and wheat germ oil, stating that the soil was depleted of nutrients and that foods were over-processed. In 1945, the FDA prosecuted him for misbranding based on the testimony of ten AMA experts who claimed that “vitamins are not necessary to the human body” and that dietary deficiency diseases did not exist, as they had been eradicated in America with fortified foods. Dr. Hohensee was found guilty and fined $1,800 (approximately $23,000 today).
In 1940, a new drug called sulfathiazole was created by Winthrop Drug Company, a subsidiary of the Drug Trust, and approved by J.J. Durrett, a Rockefeller appointee to the FDA.
That December, four hundred thousand sulfathiazole tablets were released on the market. These tablets were a mixture of sulfa drug and phenobarbital. Although the standard safe dosage for phenobarbital in 1940 was one grain, many of the sulfathiazole tablets released contained as much as five grains. Three hundred deaths were directly linked to sulfathiazole. No one from Winthrop Drug was held accountable.
Allopathic medicine today
There is no question that there are medicines which are life-saving for both humans and animals. There are important drug therapies that are important in human and animal medicine. Advances in the treatment of various diseases have been enormous. Thirty years ago, many veterinarians viewed chiropractics, massage, herbs, traditional Chinese medicine, and acupuncture as akin to “selling snake oil.” How that has changed! Now those complementary medicines and therapies are widely accepted and recommended. Many veterinarian and allopathic doctors have embraced a more open mind, a more whole approach to healing.
But the dark side of allopathic medicine remains: the constant bombardment of practitioners and consumers with drugs and vaccines, some of which function mainly to increase the pharmaceutical cartel’s profits.
According to an article published by the Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics at Harvard University, “prescription drugs [are] a major health risk, ranking 4th with stroke as a leading cause of death.” (Donald W. Light, 2014)
A study funded by the National Institute on Aging and published online in the journal Mayo Clinic Proceedings (2013) claimed that nearly 70% of Americans are on at least one prescription drug and more than 50% take two. Antibiotics, antidepressants, and opioids are the most commonly prescribed.
According to a report by the Federal Trade Commission (2015) companion animal medication sales (including prescription and over-the-counter) reached $7.6 billion dollars in 2013 and is expected to grow to $10.2 billion by 2018. Unfortunately, I could find no similar data on equine medications.
Full circle: Back to opioids and the Rockefellers
I started down this rabbit hole to learn more about opium based on its use as a sedative in 19th-century veterinary medicine. It is still in veterinary use today, although in a synthetic form called butorphanol tartrate (trade name Torbugesic). Morphine is also used in veterinary practice.
Torbugesic is owned by Wyeth, who is owned by Pfizer. On the board of Pfizer are two directors from Exxon Mobil. Exxon is the former Standard Oil Company, which split into different companies such as Standard Oil of New Jersey and Standard Oil Company of New York, once called Socony and in 1920 renamed Mobil. Exxon and Mobil have always been a part of the Rockefeller dynasty. Two other members of the Pfizer board are directors of JP Morgan Chase Bank—the original home of the Rockefeller Drug Trust.
Of course, most opioid use is by humans, specifically Americans. A 2012 study showed that US residents consumed 80% of the opioid drugs produced in the world, and 99% of the world’s hydrocodone.
Vitamins and petroleum
Most processed foods, feeds, and supplements are fortified with coal-tar and petroleum-derived nutrients. When it comes to these synthetic vitamins and nutraceuticals, we are led once again to the petroleum industry, the Rockefellers, and the drug trust; In 2002, Hoffman Larouche, one of the largest producers of vitamins and part of the drug trust owned by the Rockefellers, was sold to Dutch conglomerate DSM for $2.24 billion.
Healing in the 21st century
With the skyrocketing costs of important drugs and the obscene greed that has been exhibited by companies like Mylan Pharmaceuticals with their EpiPen price increase, and Turing Pharmaceuticals’ mind-blowing increase on their AIDS drug from $13.50 per pill to $750, it’s no wonder many of us are pondering what the future of pharmaceuticals is going to look like. Human cancer treatment drugs have gone from $10,000 in 2000 to $100,000 or more in 2015. Even generic drug prices have doubled, tripled. A good example is the antibiotic doxyclycline (100 miligrams), which soared from $20 for 500 capsules in 2013 to $1,849 in 2014.
The foundation of health is food, water, and environment. The choices we make on what to eat, and what to feed our horses and dogs are among the most vital and critical health choices we can make. We have available so many complimentary medicines and therapies: traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), Ayurveda, western herbalism, homeopathy, massage, acupuncture, chiropractics, and the newer modalities such as ultrasound therapy, vibration therapy, laser therapy, magnetic and ceramic therapy.
Therefore we can approach healing as a dynamic, fluid whole rather than a single paradigm.