Samuel Thomson (1769–1843) grew up in Alstead New Hampshire to a poor farmer John Thomson and mother Hannah Cobb There where no Doctors for 10 miles and the family was attended by Mrs. Benton, a local lay herbalist, for any sickness. Samuel assisted his father working in the fields on their property from age 3 and would assist Mrs. Benton gather wild herbs from age 4.  At age 4 he discovered Lobelia and by tasting it discovered it to be emetic. (J.U.Lloyd 1909:10-14)

At age 8 he became very ill with Canker-Rash and was attended by Mrs. Benton and given herbs to improve in days.  Through his association with Mrs. Benton he gained a very practical understanding of Herbs (J.U.Lloyd 1909:13)

At 19 his father purchased a piece of land and they went to clear it and build a house.  In December of that year Samuel cut his ankle badly and used comfrey root to assist the healing (J.U.Lloyd 1909:14) Samuel was taken by his father back to Walpole and attended by Dr Kitteridge who used herbs to dress his wounds. (J.U.Lloyd 1909:16)

Samuel then became moved to learn the medical properties of “vegetables”. (J.U.Lloyd 1909:16)

He would taste herbs as he had as a child, he believed he had as much instinct as an animal and thus could work out what an herb was to be used for (J.U.Lloyd 1909:17)

“First Overdose of Lobelia and Its Results.”

One day Samuel gave a man a large piece of Lobelia to eat and witnessed the man have symptoms of profuse perspiration, trembling, pale, weak and vomit severely which in about 2 hours passed after which the man would comment that he had never been so well. (J.U.Lloyd 1909:17)

“FIRST Use of “Steaming” by Thomson”

When his second daughter was 2 she became very ill with Canker-Rash and the Doctors could not seem to help her.  She could barely breathe and was badly affected with canker sores particularly on her eyes.  Samuel was afraid she would be left blind or die, he decided to try what he could and sat with her in a chair with a blanket around them both, his wife held a hot shovel at his feet and he poured vinegar to produce steam, after about 20 minutes she could comfortably breathe again and after about a week in which time he had also been bathing her eyes with water and cool clothes.  Her eyes started to improve so he washed them with rosemary and saved the sight in one eye.  After this he would use a hot stone partially submerged in a tub of water and pour vinegar over it to produce steam.  He would then put a cold wet cloth over the stomach so as to keep them cool.  At the same time he would give hot herbs to raise the internal heat.   (J.U.Lloyd 1909:18)

“Beginnings of Thomson’s theory “Food the Fuel that continues the Fire or Life of Man.  Maintaining the Internal Heat and restore perspiration”

During the next 7 years a Doctor lived on his property and would be sent for any time anyone was ill with Cold, the Doctor would bleed them and give physic, Samuel observed that bleeding would reduce the heat of the body and thus would worsen the conditions of Cold.

“The physic drives all the determining powers from the surface inwardly, and scatters the canker through the stomach and bowels, which holds the cold inside, and drives the heat on the outside. The consequence is, that perspiration ceases, because internal heat is the sole cause of this important evacuation, and a settled fever takes place, which will continue as long as the cold keeps the upper hand.”  (J.U.Lloyd 1909:19)


Samuel Thomson through a lifetime of observation and necessity became a much practiced Herbalist.  He went on to write books and information papers which he took to the people.  He educated people in his methods and laid good foundations for Naturopathy.  There are many papers and books which have been written about Samuel Thomson.

In the early 180Os, Samuel Thomson, a New Hampshire doctor, rebelled against the medical practices then current of bleeding, violent laxatives, and the use of mercury. He and his followers, the Eclectics, developed a popular healing system based on the use of herbs and hot baths. Their practice laid the foundation for contemporary naturopathy.9 Their major reference, King’s American Dispensatory, covers more than 600 herbs. The complete edition (1898), enhanced with color photographs, is online through the Web site with the same title maintained by Henrietta Kress, a Finnish herbalist.”   Julia Whelan 2004:2