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.

In all varieties of chronic disease the same force may be thrown into the system, and may begin working from the first, yet the evidence of its activity is t once apparent in the cancers, and it may be demonstrable in the others for weeks, or even months. And is this unreasonable? In such a condition as cancerous tumours we get myriads of germs accumulated in one part of the body, the inference being that Nature, always conservative, protects and prolongs the life of the individual by causing these germs to collect in one region, rather than allow the poisonous dissemination throughout the various structures of the human body.

If this be the case, the effect of the indicated remedy will be proportionate to the size of the accumulated mass and the ease with which it can be acted on.

If, then, the ignorant and superstitious idea obtains that there must be some proportion between the amount of disease material and the size and virulence of the dispersing agent, any attempt at curing the disease is simply hopeless. For is it not evident that if a large quantity of such a substance is necessarily associated with a proportionate amount of force, such force, if in relationship with the disease, will be so great as to cause a rapid giving way of diseased tissue and will thus tend to poison the patient?

While if, in such a case as the above, the doses, though small are too frequently repeated, the effect will be the same, and the too rapid dispersal of the diseased material will act as a poison not alone to the life of the adjoining tissues but to that of the patient thus rapidly infected?

That medicines simple plant-remedies can thus influence these forms of disease is not a matter of mere theory; my knowledge of it is evolved from deliberate clinical observation extending over more than thirty years. The matter is simply one of relationship, it is not a matter of quantity of material.

The seed of a globe turnip (Brassica Rapa) is said to multiply its bulk in the ground seventeen million of times, the resulting effect being in no way due to the size of the original seed but to relationship that exists between the soil and the germ or seed placed there.

In the case of cancer referred to, the evidence is almost as strong in favour of an action resulting from the dose, as it is that the turnip resulted from the originating seed. The power is manifest, it is strong, and science having obtained such a power ought to find means to make it efficient efficient, that is, for curative purposes.

Were there no evidence forthcoming but that furnished the above case, it alone would prove the preliminary statement that the cancers, and especially the internal ones, can easily be acted on.

But can this Force, so powerful in disturbing a disease mass, be utilised for curative purposes? In the case referred to, an immense carcinomatous mass extended from close below the liver down to the pelvis of the right side, and at the site of operation this pointed and threatened to ulcerate. A patient whose body is so full of cancerous material, and with but a single kidney left after the operator has done his work, is not under any circumstances likely to recover; but that she is being acted upon, and acted upon beneficially, is evident from the pains having changed in character and severity from stabbing, shooting pains to dull and dragging ones and from the fact that the patient no longer requires morphia for her pains, and is having sufficient sleep. Though, as I write, a fortnight has elapsed since this patient took a dose of a very simple remedy, Juniper comm., given in consequences of the Polyuria that existed before the cancer was detected, her entreaty is not to be given another yet awhile; and she is perfectly right. The action started is a beneficial one, but it is attended with greater changed than the poor patient can comfortably endure. Its violence must be allowed to tone down before a repetition of such effects can be safely endured.

The subsequent course of the disease was characteristic. The patient went on very well and free from pain until on 3rd September I gave her a dose of silphium perfoliatum. At the time of taking it she had been getting on very fairly, the swelling, which had threatened to press up dangerously against the chest, had lessened; and the condition might have been regarded as one of remarkable quiescence, no change taking place either way.

Immediately after the dose a gnawing pain in the swelling set in and the bowels became confined, and the scar left by the eviscerated kidney began irritating and in four or five days discharge was noticed. This discharge continued to increase till a large opening formed, from which a profuse clear fluid went on pouring away night and day, from the end of September to 11th December following. on the night of 10th December she was so free from pain and suffering that her daughter, who had attended her assiduously all through, left with every expectoration that her mother’s rest would be undisturbed. However, in the early morning (about 2 a.m.) sinking set in, and in about an hour she passed away peaceably and happily and without a particle of pain.

What is the meaning of all this? The meaning of it is, that the vital powers had become exhausted by the draining away of the disease, an out-pouring having been effected by the unit dose of silphium given 3rd September. This out-pouring would have been curative had the amount of cancerous material been less in quantity; that it was undoubtedly natural, is proved by the absence of pain, the shrinkage of the cancerous mass, which was very obvious, and the general improvement in the patient’s condition during its continuance. In other words, the evidence in favour of there being in operation a form of activity other than the activity of the cancer force itself, subsequently to the exhibition of the indicated remedy, is as conclusive as anything can be in such matters.

That heaped up disease, in the form of cancerous mass, can be set free by the action of remedies, is placed, in my opinion, almost beyond dispute by the case of a lady, aged 54, the left side of whose neck was one great mass of cancerous glands a truly malignant form of Hodgkin’s disease. Three months before seeing me this patient had presented herself at Charing Cross Hospital, where he case was very properly declared hopeless, and an operation refused. In the meantime the disease had much extended, and when I saw her, masses of cancerous material existed on the right side of nape of neck, as well as those on the side and below the collar bone on the left. On january 5, I prescribed a unit dose and an ointment of scrophularia nodosa, and on the 19th following had in a report that a diffused rash, looking like that of measles, had spread over the body and face immediately after taking my medicine, and that otherwise she had improved; the phlegm coming up in the throat was less and the bowels were more regular. Ruta graveolens in unit dose and ointment was then given, and on February 2 following, she was reported as feeling much better and could swallow better. The swellings, though the same in size, had become tender to the touch.

Now, my inference from all this was that the patient had been strongly acted upon, as shown in the first interval by this “measles” eruption, and in the second interval by the tenderness of the swellings, and throughout both intervals by the general improvement in the patient’s feelings. My advice, therefore, was to absolutely discontinue all medicines, as I felt sure a force was acting upon the swellings, and that she ran the risk of having the disease set free too quickly. This was proved to my mind most unmistakably by the subsequent progress.

On February 14 report came in that for three days there had been great difficulty in breathing and in swallowing, and to this my reply was that I could not sanction the giving of ordinary remedies, and that the patient was simply to sip constantly of lemon juice and hot water.

In about three weeks afterwards I was forwarded, by two messengers well acquainted with the deceased, a flurried letter, written by her daughter, to the effect that they had left the patient only too long without medicine, and that by the time a doctor was called in mortification had set in, and that the poor patient had died that morning. It was obvious from the tone of the letter that a rival practitioner had been making disparaging remarks, as sometimes happens. But this did not prevent my putting some questions to the bearers of this unhappy intelligence.

Firstly I asked, “Did the patient die in pain?” Reply,”Oh no! not in the least.” ” And where, may I ask was the mortification?” Reply, ” Across the loins; the parts turned quite black she died.” ” And what became of the swellings?” Reply, ” Oh, they went entirely away; there was not a vestige to be seen of them before she died.” ” Well, then,” I said, ” can you not see what took place? The medicines acted on the disease and acted beneficially, but the diseased material being in such large quantity, and discharging itself as it did through the system, an undue amount of poison was thrown upon the chief emunctories, the kidneys, and these, unable to bear the strain, mortified, together with the adjoining structures, hence the blackened appearance of the loins. This only shows the extreme naturalness of the process in operation, the patient going out of the world in a condition perfectly painless and in her senses, not in terrific agony, only subduable by obliteration of sensation by morphia.”

Let, then, there be no mistake about the pronouncement made. Cancer-tissue, when accumulated in any one part of the body, can, generally speaking, be easily acted upon, much more easily then even a fatty tumour or a tuberculous mass; the effect of remedies ought to be carefully watched, so as to prevent a too rapid dislodgment of the disease; under any circumstances there is great danger to the patient’s life if the cancer mass be large, by the too rapid outpouring of the cancer poison; nothing contributes to this rapidity of flow so much as the constant repetition of remedies; and, therefore, by far the safest plan is to allow a single dose to expend itself upon the disease, and to be careful not to interpose even such apparently harmless things as ointments, lest the effect upon the disease should be too great.

Of course, these remarks apply to remedies indicated by reason of their symptomatic relationship to the disease, and to forms of the disease that are in a fairly plastic condition, and not like some osteoid cancers inactive and unyielding.

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.