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(Some readers may be startled at this name, applied to a
remedy, but under that name it came before the profession
and the name has stuck. It is the Western Indian's
designation of the waters of what is now known as
"Medical Lake." The following by Dr. W. D. Gentry
appeared in the U. S. Med. Investigator, 1889:)
The water is of a deep amber and almost red in the sunlight. The
following is an analysis of the salts, obtained by evaporation of the
water; the proportion being in grains per U. S. gallon 231 cubic inches:
Sodic chloride, 16.370
Potassic chloride, 9.241
Sodic carbonate, 63.543
Magnesic carbonate, .233
Ferrous carbonate, .526
Calcic carbonate, .186
Aluminic oxide, .175
Sodic silicate, 10.638
Organic matter, .551
Lithic carbonate, }
Potassic sulphate, }Each a trace.
Sodic bi-borate, }
The lake has no outlet, but is fed by two enormous springs. It contains
no living things with the exception of axolotl, a kind of salamander,
such as are found in the lakes of the Mexican Cordilleras.
The medical and curative properties of this remarkable lake was known to
the Indians of the northwest as far back as they have any legends or
tribal history, and it was held in such reverence by them that the
country around this lake was called 'Sahala Lyee Illihe,' or 'Sacred
Grounds,' and no matter how hostile the tribes were to each other no
Indians journeying to or from the 'Skookum Limechen Chuck,' or 'strong
medicine water,' were ever molested.
When the Indians were considering the transfer of their lands to the
government, many years ago, it is recorded as a matter of history, that
old Quetahlguin, father of the present Chief Moses, and 'Old Joseph,'
father of Chief Joseph, lately a prisoner of war, with the broken
remnants of his band, after weeks of deliberation and consideration,
with the 'Sahala Lyee,' or Great Spirit, through their medicine-men, or
prophets, firmly said: 'We have talked with the Great Spirit and we have
slept with his words in our ears. The Great Spirit is our father and the
earth is our mother. We have a good home and it was made for us by the
Great Spirit; it is a part of us; it is our mother. In Wallowa Lake are
an abundance of fish created especially for our tribe. None other of his
red children have such fish. In the 'Skookum Chuck' we have a remedy for
all our ailments. We only have to bathe in and drink its water and we
are made well. If we sign the treaty we will forever offend the Great
Spirit; we will sign away our mother and she will cry. Her tears will
dry up these lakes and we will be hungry and sick. We will go to the
Skookum Chuck only to find that its waters have disappeared.'
The story is told of a Frenchman passing the lake many years ago, before
the properties of the water became known to the whites, with a drove of
sheep afflicted with a skin disease called 'the scab.' As soon as the
sheep saw the water they ran to it, but would not drink. They stood in
the water for some time, and in a few days they were well of the 'scab.'
The Frenchman was suffering with rheumatism. He concluded to try the
water of the lake for his disease. He was speedily cured. The whites
were soon attracted to this lake by the stories of marvellous cures
reported by the Indians, and by seeing Indians return in health and
vigor from the lake, who had been taken there on litters, appearing at
the point of death. It is estimated that over 20,000 people have visited
this lake since 'Joseph's Band' were driven from that section of the
country, and it is fast becoming as popular as any other of our great
My attention was called to Skookum chuck some time since, and I
procured some of the salts and triturated a quantity, making the first,
second, third and sixth potencies. I partially proved the first potency
by taking two grains every two hours. The first effect produced was a
profuse coryza with constant sneezing, as in hay fever. This continued
until the medicine was antidoted by tobacco. My appetite was greatly
increased. Some rheumatic pains in limbs, and heaviness about the
sacrum. The catarrhal effects were so severe I could not continue the
remedy. I have used the third and sixth potency in my practice and have
cured a number of cases of catarrh, and am confident that the remedy
will be curative in hay fever.
(Later investigation, however, demonstrated that the
chief curative action of the salts was in skin diseases.
Dr. D. De Forest Cole, of Albion, N. Y., wrote the
following to the firm from whom he procured the remedy:)
Some time since I received from you one bottle Skookum chuck 3x trit.
I had a very bad case of urticaria which resisted the usual remedies as
Apis, Urtica ur., etc., and I gave her (a girl twelve years old)
four powders of about four grains each of the Skookum chuck,
instructing her to take one powder in one-half glass water, one
teaspoonful every two hours, and she returned in a week free from any
urticaria. I gave her four powders more, and no appearance of urticaria
since. Besides curing the urticaria the patient's health is in every way
improving. I write this thinking you might desire to know of its value
in urticaria, as well as eczema.
(The following cases were contributed by Dr. D. W.
Ingalls, Bridgeport, to N. Y. Med. Times, 1894:)
CASE 1. Mrs. D., aged forty-eight years, suffered four years with eczema
plantaris, fissured, red and painful, which gave forth a viscid
secretion, drying into scales half an inch in thickness. For the past
two years the patient had not been able to wear shoes nor walk any
distance, owing to the excessive soreness of the feet.
Patient consulted me March 1st, and the following treatment was given:
Two-grain powders of the 2x trituration of Skookum chuck every two
hours, and an ointment applied nightly consisting of Skookum salt, one
drachm to the ounce of Vaseline. In the morning the feet were washed
with Skookum chuck soap. April 1st the patient walked to the
dispensary in felt shoes. The fissures and greenish tinge of the crusts
had nearly disappeared. The two-grain powders were then given every four
hours and the former treatment continued. On May 1st, patient walked to
the dispensary wearing leather shoes for the first time, the ointment
was stopped, the fissures and crevices being hardly perceptible. The
patient was advised to wash the feet night and morning with the Skookum
June 1st patient presented herself, stating that she had very little
trouble with her feet, except some tenderness upon a misstep. Appearance
A powder of the 3x was given every night, together with the continued
washing of the feet night and morning. July 1st the patient was
CASE 2. Mrs. B., aged twenty-eight, eczema of the nose of one year's
standing. The usual ointments were given, but without result. March 15th
the following treatment was given: Five-grain powder of the 2x
trituration Skookum chuck four times a day, together with the
Skookum ointment applied nightly. This case was entirely cured in six
CASE 3. Mrs. H., aged twenty-three, benign growth in left breast about
the size of a walnut; first noticed about eight months previously. Upon
strict inquiry, no history of cancer or tuberculosis was given.
One-grain powders of the 1x were given, the first week every four hours.
Two-grain powders of the 2x were given every four hours the second week.
Five-grain powders of the 3x were given the third week and continued
seven weeks, when the patient was discharged cured.
CASE 4. Mr. S. was afflicted with eczema of the scalp, which spread from
back of the ears to the eyebrows, covering the entire scalp with a
squamous or scabby eczema, accompanied with a constant itching and
shedding of scales. On March 18th the following treatment was given:
Head to be washed four times a day with Skookum chuck soap. A
five-grain powder 2x trituration was given every hour during the first
week, when Sulphur, third decimal, was given for three days, and
Skookum chuck, second decimal, was continued for one week. One-grain
powder of the 1x was given in water four times a day for two weeks; then
the third decimal trituration was used until June 1st, when patient was
CASE 5. Mr. J., nasal catarrh, of years' standing. A greenish-yellow
discharge having the odor of a slight ozoena. The patient had been so
much relieved that he is at present writing very comfortable, and
believes that he will be permanently cured.
CASE 6. Mrs. D., aged thirty-six, prolonged suppuration due to abscess
of the axilla; nine months' standing. June 20th the following treatment
was given: The abscess was washed four times a day with the solution of
Skookum salts, five grains to one quart of water, and the 2x given
internally every two hours until July 10th, when the abscess was healed.
A two-grain powder was then continued, night and morning for one month,
with no return of the abscess. To sum up, I have simply verified what
Dr. Gentry and others have given us about the remedy. I have used it
with gratifying success in all suppurating wounds. It evidently has a
great sphere of action, and I hope some day to see a good proving.
(The following was contributed by Dr. B. F. Bailey,
We have many remedies brought to our notice in an empirical way, which
soon lose their prominence, first because we have no provings, and
second, having no provings, clinical study is not close enough. When
Skookum chuck was first written up, I began to use it and watch its
effects, that it might be possible to find its proper niche in practice.
The following two cases will, I think, give an idea of the cases in
which it may always be depended upon:
Case No. 1.--A married woman of 40 years of age. History and present
condition show a lithaemic diathesis. For years has never been free from
eczematous troubles. At times suffers much from rheumatism, not
infrequently, rheumatism disappears to be immediately followed by
hordeoli upon eyelids. Has been treated long and faithfully by
Allopaths, and now for some years by our own school. Prescribed
Skookum 3x--one powder every 4 hours. Improvement was soon evident.
Persisted in this treatment for three months, and now for two years
patient has been perfectly well.
Case No. 2.--Patient, married woman of about 26 years, comes to me with
urine, sp. grav. 1.030, marked uric acid deposits, flushed face upon a
yellowish background--so often seen in lithaemic cases. Much difficulty
of digestion. Great dryness of skin, especially of scalp, with great
trouble from falling out of hair--in short a thoroughly lithaemic case.
Skookum chuck 3x every four hours. Satisfactory improvement. Has
feared head will become entirely bald. Now no loss of hair, and a loss
of the heated, congested feeling of face and head. In fact, a
satisfactory recovery now of some weeks standing. These cases briefly
stated ought to be of interest, in that they show it to be probable that
we will find the sphere of action of Skookum to be in lithaemic cases,
and for the treatment of these cases we have but a few clearly defined
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