IN a series of papers published in the Hahnemannian Monthly of Philadelphia, R.T.Cooper sketched out a system for the better investigation of medicinal substances, and particularly of plant- Arborivital Medicine….


Arborivital Medicine: its meaning. The necessity for investigating action of Single Doses. Remedies act over a long period of time. Special preparation of plant-remedies not absolutely necessary. Medical Education not in accordance with Nature. The Cancers easily acted on; explanation. Illustrative Case. Cancer contrasted with Chronic Deafness and other Chronic Disease. Case of Hodgkin’s Disease: lessons to be learned from


IN a series of papers published in the Hahnemannian Monthly of Philadelphia, I sketched out a system for the better investigation of medicinal substances, and particularly of plant- remedies, to which I gave the name Arborivital Medicine.

The idea underlying the proposal is, that if it is required to discover the actions of plant-remedies and their influence upon chronic forms of disease, it is absolutely necessary that we start de novo, and investigate the actions not alone of single remedies, as Hahnemann had done, but still more of single doses of these remedies; and I further set out that in investigating the effects of these single doses I had found that there existed in plant-remedies a force which Hahnemann had strangely left unacknowledged, and which acted by virtue of a power in all respects similar to a germinating power in the human body.

Hahnemann, it is well known, claimed for his special preparations of remedies, mineral as well as vegetable substances, a property of lingering in the human body and continuing to act for a much longer time than had previously been suspected. Such a power he claimed for his dilutions and triturations, but he did not claim, or if he did, none of his followers have since his time claimed, that substances possess any such power apart from these artificial preparations.

Hahnemann’s own wording on the subject is, I admit, not very clear, and a lengthy discussion on the subject would be undesirable.

My contention, in a word, is this, that in the living plants we get a force which, if applied in accordance with the laws of Life to disease, will arrest its progress, and even cause its dispersal. Further, that while artificial preparations, dilutions, and triturations are required for the better demonstration of such a force in mineral substances, they are not required for proving the existence of a like force in plant- remedies. To this force I gave the name arborivital, and the action that results therefrom Arborivital Action.

I do not hesitate to affirm that the whole state of medical education is in every way unnatural, and that this accounts for the fact that little or nothing is known of the action of our commonest plants by men supposed to be our foremost medical practitioners; and I further state that some of the most easily acted upon forms of chronic disease, such as are the cancers, have for this reason remained, at this enlightened age, upon the list of uncured and incurable diseases. The curriculum of education adopted for the practitioner of medicine is more absurd than the public imagines.

In former days the young student had some chance of familiarising himself at staring with the practical work of his profession, for he became an apprentice of assistant to an experienced practitioner and had an opportunity of seeing what were the every day duties of a working member of the craft.

Now this is all changed; the student is debarred by the Medical Council from doing any kind of work until he is qualified.

In order to be qualified he has to keep studying anatomy and materia medica for two years before he is allowed to feel a pulse, look at a tongue, or give a dose of medicine.

At the end of these two years, and before he has yet looked at a patient, he is examined in what? in materia medica; in other words, in the actions and doses of medicines.

Doses did I say? yes, the doses, i.e., the largest amount of medicine that can be given short of poisoning the patient.

If the diligent youngster dares to suggest anything above or below this standard, he is forthwith relegated to his studies; to the enrichment of the Conjoint Board, and the abolition in himself of all sense of the fitness of things.

A still worse fate, however, attends the aspirant to a knowledge of Homoeopathy. Having devoted five or six years of the best portion of the thirty years of his probable professional life to an indoctrination into the mysteries of allopathy and having been declared by august qualifying bodies to be endowed with knowledge sufficient to deal with the responsibilities necessarily attendant upon the treatment of disease, not a single case of which he has ever treated, he can then, but not till then, avail himself of private judgment and make inquiry into advanced medicine.

Here, however, any little pride he might feel in having successfully acquitted himself, so far, in his professional career, is destined to receive a rude shock.

No sooner does he enter as a student at the London Homoeopathic Hospital, than the information is vouchsafed him that within these sacred precincts, no tongue must be looked at, or pulse felt by any other than a Member of the British Homoeopathic Society; belief must come before conviction and must rest upon the evidence of things not seen. And this is the method adopted by a reforming body to secure the enlightenment of the coming generation in the system of Hahnemann. Our special wonder may well be excited at such things as these!

Nothing is more common than to hear old experience medical men verse that they do not believe in the actions of medicines.

Considering that these very men have been filling the systems of suffering human beings all their lives with medicines, it is rather too much of an absurdity.

If these same medical men had been put on to investigate the action of our common plants, and restricted in their prescriptions to single doses and to chronic and non-urgent cases of disease, I do not hesitate to say they would either, and rightly so, have been in the early days of their career stopped from proceeding further, or would have given evidence of their fitness for their profession by making valuable observations. The real fact is that the investigation of our plant-remedies is extremely simple and free from risk, if we but confine ourselves to single doses and to chronic forms of disease.

Moreover, it is also to fact that the most easily acted upon of all forms of chronic diseases are, as just hinted at, the tumours, especially internal ones, whether cancerous or otherwise. It is the object of this pamphlet to support these last two propositions.

Before going further let me illustrate this assertion that the internal cancerous tumours can be easily acted on.

A lady asked me if I would take up the case of a poor woman suffering from cancer, in whom the right kidney had been removed some eighteen months before, and in whom the cancer had broken out again at the site of the operation and around the bladder.

Without seeing the patient, and from my experience in such cases, I replied that in all probability there was a great deal of cancerous growth present, and that if so, the likelihood was in favour of its being easily acted on, and consequently, that the disease would give out almost immediately she took a dose of the indicated remedy. The patient, therefore, I went on to say, will probably be frightened, and discontinue treatment.

The lady’s reply was significant: “There is not the slightest fear of the poor woman being frightened, for she is now under the influence of morphia, and is entirely despaired of by all the doctors who have seen her.” On February, 10, 1899, I sent her a dose of a very simple remedy the saffron crocus and on the 14th her daughter came to met to know what was to be done, as her mother, though constipated previously, had next day after the dose, broken out into the most violent diarrhoea; even her food passed through her at once, and she felt fearfully depressed and low.

Recognising the fact that all this was to be fully explained by the out-pouring of the disease, I simply advised copious draughts of very hot water in sips, and the discontinuance as far as possible of the morphia she had been taking.

It is such evidence as this in numbers of cases that entirely justifies me in saying that the internal cancers admit of more satisfactory proof of being acted upon by internal medication than any forms of chronic disease. Take, for example, a chronic deafness vascular deafness, The terms applied by the Author to the most usual form of Chronic Deafness, the initial lesion of which is a diffused vasculitis and the consequence, the thickening and stiffening of the Mucous Membrane (of Toynbee), or the Proliferous Catarrh (of Roosa). Vide “Vascular Deafness,” Bailliere, Tindall and Cox, London, 1886 or a chronic psoriasis, or long-lasting skin affection, it is not possible in any varieties of these affections to demonstrate so satisfactorily to either patient or doctor that the internal medicine is in operation, as was done in the above instance.

Robert Thomas Cooper
Dr. Robert Thomas Cooper (1844-1903) was an Irish homeopath. In 1866, he "settled in private practice at Southampton," [Obit, 459], moving to London in 1874. He had two busy London medical practices, one at Notting Hill and the other in Hanover Square. He was a key member of the Cooper Club named after him [Blackie, 1976, p.158]. He published Cancer & Cancer Symptoms 1900; and Lectures on Diseases of the Ears, 2nd Edition 1880. Apart from numerous articles in the Homeopathic World, mostly about materia medica, he also published a series of articles in the Dublin Medical Review.