Ellen G. White and Her Critics


Chapter 11—“No Antidote” for Strychnine

Charge: “On page 138 of Spiritual Gifts, Vol. 4, Mrs. White says: ‘A branch was presented before me bearing large flat seeds. Upon it was written, Nux Vomica, strychnine. Beneath was written, No antidote.’ This was written in 1864.... EGWC 133.1

“In ‘The Journal of the American Medical Association’ for Feb. 25, 1933, is a record of no less than ‘eleven cases of strychnine poisoning’ which were restored by the use of sodium amytal and kindred combinations. EGWC 133.2

“The medical world knew no antidote for strychnine poisoning in 1864, so Mrs. White saw in vision just what the doctors were teaching at that time. However, the doctors were more wise than Mrs. White, for they were teaching that there was no known antidote.... Was that vision from the Lord? or was it from her reading current medical works? Was God ignorant of the fact that sodium amytal was an effective antidote for strychnine poisoning in 1864?” EGWC 133.3

Certain questions, which are not raised in this charge, almost clamor for answer. And, we think, the answer to them will suggest the answer to the whole charge. EGWC 133.4

1. If Mrs. White was beholden to the medical profession in 1864 for her views, as is implied in the charge that she borrowed her “no antidote” statement from them, then why did she take such militant issue with them in so many other matters? In our discussion of her health teachings in chapter 27 we shall discover that they are marked by a high disdain for currently held medical views. Yet in this matter of strychnine she is supposed to have looked into one of the books of the medical men of that day, picked out a lone statement from it, published it, and staked her reputation, at least in part, upon it. Here, indeed, is a most singular situation. Every presumption is against it. EGWC 133.5

2. Why would Mrs. White be soberly announcing, as a revelation that there was “no antidote” for strychnine if she had secured the information from a published medical work, and intended her words to be understood in the same sense? Not only doctors and nurses but any intelligent layman knew that no antidote was known for an obvious case of strychnine poisoning. EGWC 133.6

3. “The medical world knew no antidote for strychnine poisoning in 1864.” But the physicians, following their Materia Medica, regularly administered strychnine to their patients in certain diseases. Did they willfully set out to murder their patients? Why did not the law place its hand upon them, for it was no secret that they administered strychnine? EGWC 134.1