Russell Trall

From Health Facts
Jump to: navigation, search

Russell Trall, MD (1812-1877)

Russell Trall was instrumental in promoting the hydropathic and hygienic movement in the mid 1800s, he was also a leading advocate of vegetarianism. He was considered an activist and a health reformer. He was opposed to drug therapist which was how many classified the current allopathic physicians of those days. His contribution had a significant impact on the later growth of naturopathy.

Trall was influenced by Sylvester Graham and Isaac Jennings, M.D., who taught that the body is governed by natural laws originating from God and verified by observation. Trall contended that when these laws were broken, sickness and death could result. When illness developed, rather than suppressing symptoms the drugless doctors sought to remove the causes. Once the causes were removed, the body tended to heal itself. Trall maintained that drugs harmed the body; they did not act upon the body but the body acted upon the drugs. Trained as an allopath, Trall had observed patients who had become well without drug intervention and those who had been made sicker by drugs. He noticed how the body was helped when patients were prescribed rest, vegetable diets, treatments such as massage and hydrotherapy (the "water cure"), and direction to fill the mind with higher thoughts.

Trall opened the second water cure establishment in America, in New York City in 1844. The first Kneipp Sanitarium was opened in New Jersey by Chas. Lauterwasser, a “hydropathic Physician and Natural Scientist.” In Trall’s sanitarium he combined the full Preissnitzian armamentarium of water-baths with regulation of food, air, heat, exercise and sleep. He opened and directed a number of other hydropathic institutions around the country. Trall also founded the first school of natural healing arts in this country to have a 4-year curriculum and the authorization to confer the degree of MD. It was founded in 1852 as a hydropathic and physiological school and was chartered by the New York State Legislature in 1857 under the name New York Hygieo-Therapeutic College. This college was the first medical school to admit women on equal terms with men.

For most than 15 years, Trall was editor of the Water Cure Journal, the Hydropathic Review, and a temperance journal. During this period, the Water-Cure journal went through several name changes including the Hygienic Teacher and The Herald of Health. He also authored over 25 books on the subject of physiology, hydropathy, hygiene, vegetarianism, and temperance, among many others. The most valuable and enduring of these was his Hydropathic Encyclopedia, a volume of nearly 10,000 pages that covered the theory and practice of hydropathy and the philosophy and treatment of disease advanced by other schools of medicine.


Lloyd Iva (2009) The History of Naturopathic Medicine, a Canadian perspective McArthur & Company, Toronto.