What George Washington has to do with present day flu deaths

In Australia, we have recently been made aware of a number of tragic deaths related to influenza. In fact, every week we see in the papers or hear in the news heart-breaking stories of hitherto healthy people succumbing to what the media calls “the killer flu”.

Most are aware of the headlines: “Healthy 30 year-old dies within a week from killer flu!”

Is this the full story? Are we to believe that one’s life hangs by a thread, at the whim and mercy of the flu virus which randomly attacks us, sometimes fatally? Are our bodies so defenceless that we all must live in constant fear of the myriad microbes that co-populate the earth, and our bodies, with us, including the flu virus?

I contend there is much more to the story. Moreover, what we hear is the tip of the iceberg. What lies beneath is shockingly simple but huge in its ramifications and implications. And if those reading this are open to new ideas, open to having their pre-conceived ideas and indoctrination challenged, open to learning from intellectual giants whose teachings lie buried with them in history, the lessons learned can be literally life-saving.

This newsletter is not an easy one to write, and a less easy one to finally press “send”. I have been meaning to write it for many years, but procrastinated until now. It follows upon a talk I gave recently at the NHA Conference in Cleveland, Ohio, which garnered much interest and many requests to put the essence of the talk in writing.

Lessons from Dr Russell Trall:

Dr Trall practiced medicine in the USA during the mid-19th century, a time when diseases like cholera, typhoid, typhus, measles, smallpox, scarlet fever, pneumonia and dysentry were epidemic. He practised conventional medicine until 1840, at which point he rebelled against the drugging and suppressive treatments because of their consistently high fatality rate.

From 1846-1862 Trall treated many hundreds of sick patients with not one drug or suppressive measure. Many were severely ill suffering from these “killer diseases”. Trall used Natural Hygiene measures only. These consisted of water-only fasting, no drugs whatsoever, fresh air, complete bed rest and quiet.

He lost NOT ONE patient in those 16 years. They ALL recovered. His success led Trall to give a talk to hundreds of his medical colleagues at The Smithsonian Institute in Washington, DC in 1862, in which he expalined the rationale of his extraordinary success. A transcript of the talk was made into a book which I have read many times, called The True Healing Art. It is without doubt one of the greatest books on the nature of health and disease ever written.

Trall believed that the human body was capable of recovery in the vast majority of cases provided it was NOT interfered with: no food, no drugs, no heat or hydropathic (water) treatments, no excitement, no exercise. Let the fevers run their course, watch the vomiting or diarrhoea expel the noxious toxic load, and allow the skin to eliminate the internal putrescence, were Trall’s directives. Then slowly re-feed the patient on a vegetarian diet back to robust health.

Trall started his own school where such Hygienic principles were taught to other doctors, all of whom went out into their communities and experienced similar success.

Trall stated: ” The effect of drugging is to lock up the causes of disease within the system, and to induce chronic and worse diseases. The remedial struggle, the disease – should be aided so that it may successfully accomplish its work of purification, not subdued or thwarted with poisons which create new drug diseases, and thus embarrass and complicate the vital struggle” (1).

He became one of the Founding Fathers of the Natural Hygiene movement, an intellectual giant, upon whose shoulders stood other great thinkers like Drs John Tilden, Herbert Shelton and William Esser, amongst others.

It is an absolute tragedy that his name is never mentioned, or heard of, in any medical school today, anywhere! Nor, I might add sadly, even in Naturopathic, Osteopathic or Chiropractic Schools.

Lessons From George Washington:

George Washington was the first President of the USA. He was a much revered, healthy and fit 67 year- old two years into retirement when he shockingly died. Reports state that pneumonia or acute epiglottitis killed him.

I don’t think so. Washington had for 48 hours been feeling unwell after spending two days out in the freezing cold and snow, riding around his property in drenched clothes. Feeling unwell, he bled himself of 14 ounces of blood and soldiered-on. Getting worse the third day, his doctors were called, who bled him three more times in 12 hours (that was, in total, 40% of his blood drained), administered emetics and enemas, forcing him to vomit and have violent diarrhoea, blistered his throat, arms and legs and gave him calomel (mercury) and other stimulants. He was fed butter, vinegar and molasses. At 10.30pm on Saturday the 14th of December, 1799 George Washington’s body gave up. This link from a medical historian interestingly details his medical treatment:


How would Dr Trall have managed President Washington?

Trall would have put him to bed, opened the windows slightly (it was snowing) to allow some fresh air in, and asked him to be rested, warm and quiet. No food or any drugs whatsoever would have been given, and only tepid water allowed to be sipped. Of course, there would be no bleedings or throat blisterings.

I contend Trall would have nursed Washington back to vigorous health and the great man would have been back on his horse working his farm within 7-10 days.

Such symptoms, which were and still are reparatory and defensive measures the body employs to cure itself, were never allowed to do their job. His fever was suppressed, he was bled, purged and blistered, fed soup and other slop and administered other stimulants.

I contend the treatment killed him.

Lessons From The Spanish Flu:

The 1918-19 Spanish Flu pandemic resulted in between 20 and 100 million deaths worldwide, and to this day is invoked by health officials to instill fear into the community that the killer flu is lethal, has history and we are powerless without drug intervention.

The context of the pandemic is important. It was just after the the most deadly war man had engaged in, WW1, with more than 4 years of intense privations, massive loss of life and terrible socio-economic conditions. The Chinese have a saying: “After War, comes Plague!”

Be that as it may, the commencement of the pandemic got off to a very disadvantageous start when in 1918 President Woodrow Wilson recited a jingle which was widely publicised:

“I had a little bird,

Its name was Enza,

I opened the window,

And in-flu-enza”.

Thus commenced an aversion to fresh air right around America, and indeed the world. Fresh air and sunlight were viewed as alien elements. Doors and windows, even keyholes, were blockaded and filled, and things only got worse.

Were people really powerless against such a formidable foe?

A close look at history teaches us that the answer is no, and that Trall was correct.

In October, 1918, at the Spanish Flu’s height, in Brookline, Massachusetts, all hospital beds were occupied and stocks of most drugs had run out. As a stopgap measure, on Corey Hill, tents were erected the sick were allowed:

“sunshine, fresh air and a fruit and water diet, which daily produced miraculous results. From the first, results were startling. Many were severe pneumonia cases, and for the first time since the epidemic began there was hope that the unknown virus might yet be defeated with nature’s own weapons” (2).

Tragically, the health authorities learned nothing from this and proceeded to place the sick back in hospitals and put them on drugs immediately beds and drugs became available.

It is not widely known that many drugs were liberallly used at this time around the world. Quinine, strychnine, alcohol, aspirin, morphine, phenacetin, phenol, tobacco, plus fumigation, hot/cold bed-sheet wraps and overcowding all compounded the problem.

Dr James Herrick of Chicago’s Prebyterian Hospital, seeing the adverse consequences of these drugs and treatments, fulminated: “This is poly-pharmacy run riot”. (3)

Rethinking Flu (and other acute disease) Management:

In every heart-breaking case of flu death I read about , it states that the person died after 1 or 2 weeks of increasing sickness. Sometimes the treatments and drugs are mentioned, but most often not. The exact treatment, including food given, would be very telling. One thing is sure: these tragic cases were never fasted and treated as Trall would have recommended.

For decades now I have seen people recover well from acute illnesses like influenza, bronchitis, pneumonia and other acute illnesses sans medication, provided they listen to their bodies and fully rest in bed, fast until symptoms subside, sip water when thirsty or dry, keep warm, especially the feet, and secure fresh air and quiet. No complications ensue when Hygienic measures sush as these are adopted, as Dr Trall states in his book repeatedly.

Dr Herbert Shelton wrote an entire article titled Influenza in 1944. He states:

“Physicians and patients rarely realise how much the treatment is responsible for increased and prolonged suffereing and death. Physicians are unaware of their fallacy to ‘eat plenty of nourishing food to keep up your stength’. …Delirium, spasm, peritonitis, pneumonia, pleurisy, heart trouble, sleeping sickness etc are listed among the complications of influenza. These develop in those who are fed and drugged.

“Whether the condition is severe cold, influenza, or pneumonia, the first thing is to stop eating. Absolutely no food, but water, should be allowed until the acute symptoms have subsided. No drugs of any kind should be resorted to.

” Go to bed and rest. Keep warm. Rest, fasting, warmth-these are the needs. Have plenty of fresh air in your room. Under these conditions you may lie in bed and get well in a short time with no complications and no sequels.

” You don’t need treatment. The fever, inflammation, coughing etc constitute the healing process. Just get out of their way and permit them to complete their work. Don’t try to aid nature- she doesn’t need your puny aid- she only asks that you cease interfering” (4).

A Final Message:

When implimenting Hygienic measures early on in an illness, as suggested by Dr Trall and Herbert Shelton, before any severe symptoms have evolved, the illness invariably devolves, that is, it does NOT develop. Recovery is rapid and complete. The longer and more severe the symptoms, the greater the time needed for recovery. This is common sense but not commonly understood.

Remember- the power that created you and grew you is the same power that can heal you.

Note: it is incumbent on me to advise you to seek out an understanding doctor if ill with any serious, acute illness, ideally one who has a good knowledge of the body’s ability to heal itself.


1) The True Healing Art: Hygienic vs Drug Medication: An Address, p 45;

2) The Plague of the Spanish Lady; Richard Collier; 1974; pp 78-79;

3) Ibid p 106;

4) Dr Shelton’s Hygienic Review with William Esser and Chris Gian-Cursio; Vol 5, February, 1944.