Russell Thacher Trall

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Russell Thacher Trall
Russell Trall 1860s.png
BornAugust 5, 1812
DiedSeptember 23, 1877
OccupationHydropathic physician, writer

Russell Thacher Trall (August 5, 1812 – September 23, 1877)[1] was an American physician and proponent of hydrotherapy, natural hygiene and vegetarianism. Trall authored the first American vegan cookbook in 1874.


Trall was born in Vernon, Connecticut. He trained in medicine and obtained his M.D. in 1835 from Albany Medical College but broke away from conventional medical methods.[2] Trall practiced alternative medicine in New York City from 1840. He was influenced by the water cure movement and established his own water-cure institution in New York in 1844.[3][2] In 1849, Trall founded the American Hydropathic Society with Joel Shew and Samuel R. Wells.[4][5] Trall and Wells also established the American Anti-Tobacco Society in 1849.[4][6] In 1850, he organized a convention for the American Hydropathic Society in New York City and during this year the Society became the American Hygienic and Hydropathic Association of Physicians and Surgeons.[6]

Trall authored the two volume Hydropathic Encyclopedia in 1851.[7] He recommended daily bathing and using cool or cold water.[7] In 1853, Trall founded the New York Hydropathic and Physiological School that issued diplomas. It became known as the New York Hygeio-Therapeutic College in 1857.[8] He transferred operations to New Jersey in 1867, with his Hygeian Home. He edited The Water-Cure journal, which he later renamed The Herald of Health.[2] Trall was an advocate of a system known as "hygeiotherapy", a mixture of hydrotherapy with diet and exercise treatment regimes that included fresh air, hygiene and massage.[9] It almost disappeared by his death in 1877 but was revived by Sebastian Kneipp in the 1890s.[9]


He was an influential promoter of vegetarianism and was Vice-President of the American Vegetarian Society.[10] Trall's The Hygeian Home Cook-Book published in 1874 is the first known vegan cookbook in America.[11] The book contains recipes "without the employment of milk, sugar, salt, yeast, acids, alkalies, grease, or condiments of any kind."[11] Trall opposed the consumption of alcohol, coffee, meat, tea and the use of salt, sugar, pepper and vinegar.[7] He believed that spices were dangerous to health.[7]

In 1910, physician David Allyn Gorton noted that Trall's diet was "most simple and abstemious, consisting chiefly of Graham bread, hard Graham crackers, fruits, and nuts—two meals a day, without salt."[12]

Selected publications[edit]



  1. ^ Donegan, J. (2000, February). "Trall, Russell Thacher (1812-1877), hydropathic physician and health reformer". American National Biography. Ed. Retrieved 5 Feb. 2019.
  2. ^ a b c Whorton, James C. (2002). Nature Cures: The History of Alternative Medicine in America. Oxford University Press. pp. 90-91. ISBN 0-19-514071-0
  3. ^ Engs, Ruth Clifford. (2000). Clean Living Movements: American Cycles of Health Reform. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 96. ISBN 0-275-97541-X
  4. ^ a b Nissenbaum, Stephen. (1980). Sex, Diet, and Debility in Jacksonian America: Sylvester Graham and Health Reform. Greenwood Press. pp. 149-150. ISBN 978-0313214158
  5. ^ Green, Harvey. (1986). Fit For America: Health, Fitness Sport and American Society. Doubleday. p. 63
  6. ^ a b Brodie, Janet Farrell. (1994). Contraception and Abortion in Nineteenth-century America. Cornell University Press. pp. 147-148. ISBN 0-8014-8433-2
  7. ^ a b c d Agnew, Jeremy. (2019). Healing Waters: A History of Victorian Spas. McFarland. pp. 71-72. ISBN 978-1-4766-7459-9
  8. ^ Weiss, Harry Bischoff; Kemble, Howard R. (1967). The Great American Water-Cure Craze: A History of Hydropathy in the United States. The Past Times Press. p. 37
  9. ^ a b Baer, Hans A. (2001). Biomedicine and Alternative Healing Systems in America: Issues of Class, Race, Ethnicity and Gender. University of Wisconsin Press. p. 86. ISBN 0-299-16694-5
  10. ^ Puskar-Pasewicz, Margaret. (2010). Cultural Encyclopedia of Vegetarianism. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 22. ISBN 978-0-313-37556-9
  11. ^ a b Smith, Andrew F. (2015). Savoring Gotham: A Food Lover's Companion to New York City. Oxford University Press. p. 617. ISBN 978-0-19-939702-0
  12. ^ Gorton, David Allyn. (1910). The History of Medicine: Philosophical and Critical, From Its Origin to the Twentieth Century, Volume 2. G. P. Putnam's Sons. p. 192

External links[edit]