Great American Quacks Bar

Dinshah P. Ghadiali and Spectro-Chrome Therapy

Spectro-Chrome Therapy
"The Latest Effort in the Healing Art"
by the AMA Bureau of Investigation

Now comes into the field Colonel Dinshah P. Ghadiali, exponent of "Spectro-Chrome Therapy" and founder of the "Spectro-Chrome Institute." Ghadiali has an appalling list of titles. The leading one, for his present purpose at least, is that of "M.D." So far as the records of the American Medical Association show, and they are the most complete extant and based on official data, no man by the name of Dinshah P. Ghadiali has ever been graduated by any reputable medical college nor licensed to practice medicine in any state in the Union...

He tells us that "among other honors" he holds the following degrees: "Doctor of Chiropractic," Doctor of Philosophy," "Doctor of Legal Law" (sic!). He is

Portrait of Dinshah Ghadiali

  • "Fellow and Ex-Vice-President, Allied Medical Associations of America."
  • "Member and Ex-Vice-President, National Association of Drugless Practitioners."
  • "President, All Cults Medical Association."
  • "President, American Association of Spectro-Chrome Therapists"
  • "President, American Anti-Vivisection Society."
  • "Member Anti-Vaccination League of London."
  • "Member American Association of Orificial Surgeons"

During the war Ghadiali [pictured above]seems to have received a commission in the New York Police Reserve. Most of his advertising bears a picture of him in full regalia.


Here is the thesis developed and commercialized by Ghadiali: Every element exhibits a preponderance of one or more of the seven prismatic colors; 97 per cent of our body is composed of the four elements, oxygen, hydrogen, nitrogen and carbon; the preponderating color Dinshah Specto-Chrome Systemwave of these four elements are blue, red, green and yellow, respectively; the human body is responsive to these four "color wave potencies." In health our four colors are properly balanced; when they get out of balance we are diseased; ergo, to cure disease administer the lacking colors or reduce the colors that have become too brilliant.

Part of Ghadiali's paraphernalia is a chart describing the "Spectro-Chrome Therapeutic System." From this we learn that Green light is a pituitary stimulant, a germicide and a muscle tissue builder. Yellow light is a digestant, and anthelmintic and a nerve builder. Red is a liver energizer, a caustic and a haemoglobin builder. Violet is a cardiac depressant; Blue is a vitality builder; Indigo is a hemostatic; Turquoise, a tonic; Lemon, a bone builder; Orange, an emetic; Scarlet, a genital excitant; Magenta, a suprarenal stimulant, and Purple an anti-malarial...

The disciple is told that the "attuned color waves" should be applied to the bare skin as clothing will intercept them. In giving the "systemic treatment" which from the testimonials, seem an important feature, the "color wave" is applied to the entire nude body, both front and back. For local treatment, the "color wave" is applied to the area that is designated by the number given in the chart.

The Specto-Chrome Institute, Malaga NJ
The Spectro-Chrome Institute, Malaga N.J.

The later history of Dinshah P. Ghadiali is interesting. In May 1925 newspapers reported that Ghadiali was arrested after a pistol battle in Portland, Ore., charged by the federal authorities with violation of the Mann Act in having transported a 19-year-old girl from that city to Malaga, N. J., and back for immoral purposes. He was indicted on six counts and was found guilty on all of them. At the time of the trial the Portland Oregonian reported that the girl in question was engaged as a secretary by Ghadiali while he was delivering so-called lectures in Portland on Spectro-Chrome Therapy. The paper went on to state:

Illicit relations, the girl testified, started while at Wildwood, N. J., on a vacation and continued until she was taken from his control at the Portland hotel upon her return to this city in April of this year. Two illegal operations were said to have been performed while the young woman was at Malaga."

On Dec. 4, 1925, Ghadiali was sentenced to five years' imprisonment in the Atlanta penitentiary. Spectro-Chrome, aluminum modelDuring his incarceration there was an outbreak among the prisoners in the penitentiary, and because of Ghadiali's services at that time, his sentence was commuted and he was released March 1, 1929. Since his release he has gone back to his Spectro-Chrome quackery and has claimed in his advertising that he was pardoned by the President. He wasn't. The Department of Justice at Washington D. C., under date of Oct. 18, 1934, reported that "while Dinshah P. Ghadiali was released from the Atlanta penitentiary by commutation of sentence, granted by the President, he has never, in fact, been pardoned for the offense of which he was convicted."

In 1931 Ghadiali was arrested in Cleveland, Ohio, and found guilty in the local court and fined $25 and costs. But he still finds an ample supply of dupes and issues elaborate colored advertising booklets. He sells a "Spectro-Chrome Cabinet" for home use, ranging in price from $75 to $150, and a very elaborate contraption that he calls the Graduate Spectro-Chrome for professional use, which sells for $750. The latter reminds one of some of the marvelous gadgets illustrated by cartoonist Goldberg and appears to be a cross between a stereopticon and an automobile heater. Excerpted from "Spectro-Chrome Therapy," prepared and issued by the Bureau of Investigation of the American Medical Association, November 1935. Photo: Spectro-Chrome Cabinet for home use, aluminum model .

The Rest of the Story

  • 1940 Ghadiali had made over $1,000,000 selling Spectro-Chromes.
  • 1944 US FDA seized a Spectro-Chrome device.
  • 1947 Ghadiali found guilty of 12 criminal counts; he was fined $24,000, given 5 years probation, and appealed the decision.
  • 1948 Ghadiali's appeals failed. Ghadiali starts probation.
  • 1953 Ghadiali completed probation and took charge of the Visible Spectrum Institute, successor to Spectro-Chrome Institute.
  • 1959 Permanent injunction issued against Ghadiali and Spectro-Chrome.
  • 1966 Dinshah P. Ghadiali died.

Chronology prepared from "Spectrochrome: A Case Study in FDA Control of Pseudoscientific Medical Devices" by Thomas L. Creed, Ph.D., Department of Psychology, St. John's University. Available from the Museum of Questionable Medical Devices. Graphics are from the Spectro-Chrome Home Guide, 3rd Ed., by Dinshah P. Ghadiali, Malaga, NJ: The Spectro-Chrome Institute, 1935.

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updated 4/13/2013