Sue Young Histories

William Tod Helmuth 1833 - 1902

September 27, 2007

william tod helmuth William Tod Helmuth 1833 - 1902 wrote one of the first two American Homeopathic surgical textbooks, Surgery and its Adaption to Homeopathic Practice, published in 1855, and several other medical treatise and papers on surgical techniques and quite a bit of poetry and editing.

Nineteenth-Century American society was particularly prone to the establishment of numerous unorthodox medical practices and their alternative therapies. The most influential of the unorthodox medical groups were the homeopathic and eclectic sects. From within the ranks of homeopathy and eclecticism, William Tod Helmuth and Andrew Jackson Howe, respectively, emerged to become the best-known sectarian surgeons of their era. Through a review of their lives this forgotten chapter in the history of American surgery is recollected.

Helmuth also wrote A Treatise on Diptheria; its nature, pathology and Homeopathic treatment and Suprapubic Lithotomy; the high operation for stone epicystostomy-hypogastric lithotomy (the high aparatus).

Helmuth was the founder of the Homeopathic Medical College of Missouri and President of the American Institute of Homeopathy, a ’vigorous defender of antiseptic and aseptic surgical procedures‘. In 1867 he performed one of the first antiseptic operations (ovariotomy) in America. He was Professor of Surgery at the New York Homeopathic Medical College and Editor of the New York Journal of HomÅ“opathy and the HomÅ“opathic Times, which eventually became the New York Medical Times, which was eventually absorbed into the New York Journal of Medicine.

Helmuth was present at the unveiling of the statue of Samuel Hahnemann in Washington.

After his death, his wife became President of Sorisis, a professional Women’s Association formed because often women were shut out of membership of other professional organisations. Mrs. William Tod Helmuth was one of the leaders of the Suffragette’s movement in America.

The word sorosis comes from the botanical name for a fruit formed from the ovaries or receptacles of many flowers merged together. An example is the pineapple. It may also have been intended as a term related to “sorority,” which is derived from the Latin word soror or sister. The term “sororize” has sometimes been used as a parallel to “fraternize.”