To Cure or Not To Cure

The American Medical Association and the Hijacking of the Healthcare Market

“The physician’s highest and only calling is to restore the sick to health, to cure, as it is termed.”[1]

The reader could be forgiven for thinking that such an aphorism should be self-evident, but when the German physician Samuel Hahnemann wrote these words in 1810, he was asserting a radical departure from the medical practices of his day.

So radical, in fact, that his work would ultimately lead to a revolution in medical care that threatened the livelihoods (and intellectual sinecures) of the established conventional doctors, and a vituperative counter-assault that led to the founding of the American Medical Association (AMA). The Liver Cure: Natura... Blaylock MD, Russell L. Best Price: $13.98 Buy New $17.99 (as of 08:30 UTC - Details)

When there was a free market for medicine in the United States, patients overwhelmingly chose homeopathy, a complete and principled form system of care, for themselves and their families. The disease, destruction, and death, that marks the state of so-called “public health” in the US now is a sad testament to the suppression of the medical marketplace.

This is not an article about homeopathy, but this debate contains the seeds of today’s crisis. The long-buried story is elucidated by Harris L. Coulter in his scholarly 1973 book, “Divided Legacy: The Conflict Between Homoeopathy and the American Medical Association.”[2]

American medicine was hijacked long before the infamous “Flexner Report” of 1910; without what happened in medicine in the 19th century, the AMA would never have succeeded in monopolizing the industry in the 20th.

Hahnemann attacked the allopaths for abusing and killing patients with ego-driven theorizing and speculative hackwork, and he proposed a alternative system of medicine based on empirical observation and rigorous principles.

The dominant medical view of the 18th and 19th centuries was that disease could be understood mechanistically and reasoned out inductively. George Washington’s famous death is a standard example of these views in practice. His doctors drained over a quart of blood, burned his skin with caustic plasters, induced vomiting, and who knows what else, before he finally succumbed.

The problem for the allopaths, (which was a term they adopted), was that the homeopaths were also highly-trained and respected physicians. The homeopaths were quick to criticize, publicly, the practices (and practitioners) of the day, and to speak directly to the consumer regarding the superiority of their own techniques.

The combination of household adoption of homeopathic treatments by mothers who were loathe to see their children brutalized with mercury (and elated to discover that such diseases as scarlet fever and pneumonia would readily submit to homeopathic approaches), and the unparalleled results of homeopathic physicians in the epidemic of Asiatic Cholera that swept through the country in the middle of the 19th century, led to its widespread adoption.[3] Allopathic physicians began to struggle financially as a result of the competition.

In 1847, they founded the AMA after several decades of attempting to suppress the competition locally; with the establishment of the national organization, the anti-homeopathy faction created a means of forcing the local societies to marginalize non-allopaths by prohibiting membership or even consultation with homeopaths under penalty of fines and expulsion.[4]

One of their main tools for reducing the competition, later supported by the Flexner Report, was to pressure the medical schools not to teach or acknowledge homeopaths, under the threat that their graduates would not be admitted into the society (or licensed). That their primary complaint was financial can be seen in the passage below:

“The dean of the University of Michigan medical department commented [that]…the real issue…was whether the education of homeopaths …was not ‘throwing discouragement in the path of the graduates in scientific medicine, and rendering the struggle for existence more arduous and unremunerative’”[5] (emphasis mine).

The story continues; there is more to be said about the rise of the role of the pharmaceutical companies, the successful influencing of legislatures, and the final concretizing of control that took place with the publication of the Flexner Report, as well as the later effects of government intrusion into medical care through direct finances and manipulation of the insurance market.

However, it is critical to understand that there has never been a time when the purveyors of “conventional, western” medicine were willing simply to allow the best form of medicine to take precedence. In fact, it was the express intention of the agents of the AMA that, “Medical education must function such that [alternatives] will vanish before the meridian sun of allopathy.’”[6]

(The allopaths were explicit; it was always about the money. In 1911, Dr. McCormack, of the AMA, said, “ we must admit that we have never fought the homeopath on matter of principle; we fought him because he came into the community and got the business.”)[7]

They decided they were “The Science,” and then it was just a question of acquiring and maintaining the power to force that onto the populace, regardless of the desires of the patients themselves. The market did decide, and the allopaths didn’t like the decision, so they fought it through politics. It’s a tale as old as time.

As Coulter points out in the introduction, “It is a truism that the practice of medicine is not a purely scientific endeavor. While scientific considerations play their role at all times, the physician is an economic unit competing with other economic units.”[8]

Understanding that the state-sanctioned institutions of medicine were always corrupted is the first step in taking back autonomy over your care. In what ways have we allowed ourselves to internalize the self-serving propaganda of this machine until it becomes our own? We must not be passive consumers. The Fourth Quarter of ... Allen R. Hunt Best Price: $11.99 Buy New $14.66 (as of 11:07 UTC - Details)

We must be educated customers of the highest order. Peer-to-peer discussion and review, as well as insistence on access to information and honest debate, are how we begin to determine out what are choices truly are, and how we might heal, in a world where healthcare is governed by institutions with an incentive to keep us sick, as long as it keeps them rich.

The next time you hear a “respectable” professional refuse to debate, or to respond with only derision, because to do otherwise would be to “platform quackery,” ask yourself, “what are the incentives here? And do they line up with my goals?”

There is potential for a spectacularly bright and hope-filled future in healthcare, but we must discard our illusions and our prejudices, and our beliefs that medicine only went bad in 2020.

Our lives depend on it.

[1] Hahnemann, Samuel. 1893. Organon of Medicine, 5th and 6th edition, p.53.

[2] Coulter, Harris. 1973. Divided Legacy, The Conflict Between Homoeopathy and the American Medical Association. North Atlantic Books.


[4] Coulter, ibid, p.181

[5] Coulter, ibid, p.120

[6] Coulter, ibid, p. 192

[7] Coulter, ibid, p. 435

[8] Coulter, ibid, p. ix