Introduction to the scanned version.

Materia Medica


Clinical Therapeutics



F. J. Petersen, M. D.

Published by
F. J. Petersen, M. D.,
Los Olivos, California,
U. S. A.

Entered according to Act of Congress,
in the year of 1905, by
Fred J. Petersen,

In the Office of the Librarian of Congress,
at Washington, D. C.

Scanned version copyright © 2002–2019 Michael Moore. Used with permission.
This is the .html version. You'll find the .pdf version on Michael's site.

Biographical note: Fred J. Petersen, M.D.

This enigmatic Eclectic physician wrote a few papers for the Los Angeles Eclectic Journal and later the California Eclectic and the Eclectic Journal (all between 1904 and 1908)...and this one textbook. It is a peculiar and rather exciting approach to Eclecticism, gleefully mixing botanicals, electricity and low-potency homeopathics. He took the approach that most herbs were best employed for their "secondary actions", that is, not for their toxic or heroic effects, but the subtler constitutional and multi-systemic effects that were crucial to the Eclectic Medical model. He then used low-potency homeopathics for their usual echoes of toxicity, their "primary actions". And then he mixed them all up, along with baths, faradic, and even light therapy. He presumed, as a sensible rural physician (the typical Eclectic), that such a doctor should be able to make most of his or her supplies, medicines and even diagnostic tools. This book is as close to a basic workbook for low-tech physicianing as I have seen, and it contains many rather unique observations that coincide with what I have experienced and observed but have not seen mentioned elsewhere. A peculiar and refreshing mixture of different schools that in many ways is more "Eclectic" than many better known works.

Although all alternative physicians were united against the "Regular School", Homeopaths aligned together in glinty fanatacism, digging and delving into their version of pharmaceutical alchemy, the Physiomedicalists were Cleansing the Body of vitiating influences, and the sturdy Eclectics were practicing medicine (using drugs but especially botanicals) and surgery in a vitalist make-over of Standard Practice. Homeopaths and Eclectics generally traveled in alternative universes, with a common foe but little or no mingling, and the Physiomedicalists or Neo-Thomsonians, a rather anarchic bunch, were in a rather reduced state, consisting largely of semi-professional practitioners, ageing and grumpy. Thus it was at the beginning of the 20th century.

Bear in mind, of course, that these medical divisions were most staunchly upheld by the various schools, national and local organizations, publishers, allied pharmaceutical manufacturers and periodicals...Medical Politics. At the turn of the 20th century, a licensed physician...trained in whatever sect...often, in the course of a practice of a few decades, began using methods and remedies from other medical sects. A rural country doc might, in time, end up using botanicals from Cincinnati, drugs from New York, homeopathics from Philadelphia, and some osteopathy picked up at a Still symposium. THESE docs didn't write books, however...except for Dr. Petersen.

Petersen, born in 1864, graduated in 1900 from the California Eclectic Medical College in Los Angeles, was in practice in Los Olivos, California (NW of Santa Barbara), later moved to Lompoc, California, and finally ended up further north in Camp Meeker, a small village in the rolling hills south of the Russian River and Guerneville. There, in 1913, age 50, suffering from ill health, he took his own life with a gun. His death was noted in the Journal of the American Medical Association, but apparently ignored by the California Eclectic Medical Association. Peculiar.

Thanks to Kathleen Connick (Director of the Lloyd Library) and David Winston (of Herbalist and Alchemist) for digging out some of this info on Dr. Petersen.

--Michael Moore.

Thank you, Michael, for this book!

Michael sent me the spellchecked text to put online as .html files; you'll find OCR'd .pdf files on his site. He likes all in one, I like one file per plant, preferably crosslinked to similar files across this site. Like he said, "...this way everybody is happy." Choose whichever you like better.

Petersen is cool. Part I concentrates on extensive use of the famous Lloyd Specific Remedies, in almost homeopathic doses (a few drops in 4 ounces of water, take a teaspoon of that every few hours... wow.) He gives very good descriptions of indications, and throws in things like tongue and pulse diagnosis, too. Part II is more or less homeopathic, complete with a detailed repertory.

You have to know your plants before you use the info in part I. And you have to know a bit of homeopathics before you use the info in part II. That being said, enjoy!


The Materia Medica and Clinical Therapeutics, 1905, was written by Fred J. Petersen, M.D.