Treatment of smallpox in centuries past documented in new release vaccine science book

Posted: February 19, 2019 in Vaccine Science Revisited
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In VACCINE SCIENCE REVISITED we give readers an insight into early attempts to treat infectious diseases – in particular how the doctors of yesteryear tried to combat the ravages of smallpox, that extremely contagious and deadly virus for which there is no known cure.

Here’s an excerpt from chapter one. (Research paper link numbers retained):

On June 27th, 1833, a 21-year-old man suffered from severe head and back pain. One day later, he was still in great pain and red spots covered his body and face. Smallpox.

By morning, Surgeon Henry George1 had come to see him. The surgeon wrote in his notebook:

“His mind was wandering; his limbs and voice tremulous; his tongue dry, and covered with a brownish-red crust [. . .].” 2

The man’s face was completely swollen from pustules. Surgeon George fed him beef-tea and arrow-root and gave him medication. This helped the young man sleep for a few hours during the night.

The morning after, the swelling was worse and the pustules had merged together and blanketed his face. By July 1st, five days after the illness started, his entire body had turned a bluish-gray color. The pustules covering his body were completely confluent. Calamine, which was often used to reduce smallpox scarring, was applied to his body.

His seizures were so intense that it took five people to hold him down. The seizures continued throughout his illness. By July 9th, nearly two weeks since he became sick, Surgeon George described the young man as:

“[…] the most horrid spectacle that can be imagined; lies, and while lying,

trembles from head to foot; his countenance suspiciously wild, and expressive of the darkest intentions; […].”3

From other accounts of what smallpox does to a person, we can assume the pain was unbearable. Infected skin cells shedding as the virus struggled for survival. With the skin peeling off, the virus escaped to re-enter the body via such means as saliva. Once in the saliva, the germ infected the digestive system, giving it access to all organs.

The pustules grew to the size of boils, and any physical touch excruciating. The slightest movement would have felt like the skin being torn off. Still, through all this, the young man stayed fully alert.

Surgeon George continued to explain how a couple of days later, the outer layer of skin had completely detached itself from the rest of his face. Although the surgeon did not describe his patient being any pain, we cannot help but wonder how painful the separation of skin from his face must have been. The nerves would have been exposed without a layer of protection.

Surgeon George described infections under both big toes and in one of the heels. The infections oozed a rancid bloody discharge. The smell, he described as “dreadful”.

Three weeks later, on August 30th, the surgeon notes that his patient had:

“[…] violent flushing of the face; he is now pale, cold, a degree of stupor hanging over him; very dilated pupil; cannot tell the hour, and seems unconscious of your presence [. . .] he does not now walk erect; in moving, his motions are very hurried, and his body considerably bent.”4

The surgeon continues to treat him with medication and wine. His last notes end on September 2nd with the patient more pleasant and reading the newspaper. The illness had consumed two full months of his life. He had survived the smallpox attack. He would live the rest of his life with major scarring to his face and body.

Stories of severe illnesses are not uncommon throughout our human history. Neither are the stories of humans’ innate desire for survival. We fight to prevent diseases and we fight to heal in the aftermath.

Desperate measures have been the groundwork for development of various techniques to ward off and to treat diseases. Even before our understanding of pathogens, or disease-causing germs, we were hard at work battling them. Often alchemy and superstitious practices became the main focus.

One such technique was described by a Chinese talisman, referred to in the book Chu yu shih-san kho5, on how to exorcize the smallpox out of a child:

“[…] write the magic character on paper with red cinnabar ink, burn it to ashes, and have the child take them in liquid.”6

Later on, these practices became more medicine-oriented. An example of such a source that explains various variolation, or inoculation techniques is I tsung chin chien (The Golden Mirror of Medicine). This is a collection of all available treatises, gathered together in 1739 by the Imperial College of Physicians in Peking. This collection contained four ways to prevent smallpox – as listed here:

“Aqueous inoculum method (shui miao fa). Allow a moistened plug of cotton-wool to imbibe an aqueous extract of a number of pulverised scabs (chia), and insert it into a nostril of the child to be inoculated.

“Dry inoculum method (han miao fa). Use slowly dried scabs, grind them into a fine powder, and blow it into the child’s nostrils by a suitable tube of silver.

“Smallpox-garment method (tou i fa). Wrap the child or the patient in a garment which has been worn by a smallpox sufferer during the illness.

“Smallpox lymph method (tou chiang fa). Impregnate a plug of cotton-wool with lymph from the perfectly matured pustules of a smallpox patient, and insert this into the nostril of the child to be inoculated.”7

The Chinese knew how virulent the virus being used for the inoculum was. This was very important as it dictated its safety and efficacy. A man by the name of Yü Thien-chhih8 explained how inoculates were only collected from patients with mild symptoms. They collected only from patients who had a mild strain of the virus. Any other more virulent or epidemic-type strains were considered too dangerous to use and would kill people, rather than immunize them.

In addition to the potency factor of various strains, Yü Thien-chhih mentions a monetary benefit to inoculation in a collection called Sha tou chi chieh from 1727:

“[. . .] you have to pay two or three pieces of gold for enough to inoculate one person. Physicians who want to make some profit pass it through the children of their own relatives. [. . .] Others eager for money steal away the scabs from [severe] smallpox cases and use the material directly. It is called pai miao (ruined inoculum). In such cases there will be 15 deaths in 100 patients.”9

You have been reading an excerpt from VACCINE SCIENCE REVISITED: Are Childhood Immunizations As Safe As Claimed?

VACCINE SCIENCE REVISITED: Are Childhood Immunizations As Safe As Claimed? (The Underground Knowledge Series Book 8) by [Morcan, James, Morcan, Lance]


The book is available now via Amazon:





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