ACID AND ALKALINE REMEDIES.
We have seen that the indications for food are according to contraria, but, judging from the experience of years, the selection of the curative remedy is according to similia. Nothing that has come to the notice of the author has so strongly confirmed the truth of Homoeopathy as the practical test of remedies selected on this acid and alkaline basis. It is not intended that this classification will in any way supersede the symptomatic selection according to the law, but may aid in showing that there is a physiological or pathological basis for the law of cure. It may also point the way for a more rapid individualization of the remedy from this objective outline. In general we might may lay down the rule that :
(1) Acid children are cured by acid remedies.
(2) Alkaline remedies are indicated and curative for the excessively alkaline children.
In this connection of the general action of acids and alkalies on the digestive organs and blood, we quote from Prof. White, of Guy’s Hospital, whose views serve to confirm the position taken. He says :
“All acids have a peculiar taste, and give rise to a feeling of roughness of the teeth. As the saliva is alkaline, they increase the amount secreted, consequently by keeping the mouth moist they allay thirst.” It is believed that if given during a meal, acids will check the flow of gastric juice, as that is an acid secretion. When the amount of acid secreted by the gastric mucous membrane is deficient, acids taken, after a meal, when all that the stomach can secrete has been secreted, aid digestion.
Acids quickly become converted into neutral salts, and are probably absorbed as such. Some, especially diluted sulphuric, preserve in the intestines their astringent action. Acids increase the amount of bile poured into the intestine.
“Acids may render the blood less alkaline, but never acid. They do this by combining with some of the alkali of the plasma. Phosphoric acid is believed to increase the amount of phosphates in the red blood corpuscles. It is probable that all of the acids check the formation in the liver of men, and (except citric, acetic, tartaric and lactic) are excreted as ammoniacal salts. Acetic, citric and tartaric acids are decomposed in the blood, alkaline carbonates being formed, and the alkalinity of the urine is increased. Lactic acid is either converted into a carbonate (alkaline) or passed out as carbon dioxide in solution in the urine.” (Mat. Medorrhinum and Therap., p. 251.)
“As alkalies check alkaline secretions, they momentarily check the secretion of saliva. Because alkalies stimulate stimulate acid secretions, the flow of gastric juice is excited if alkalies are given before a meal, but if at the end of or after a meal the gastric juice already secreted is neutralized. Being readily diffusable, alkalies are quickly absorbed. The blood is rendered more alkaline. Probably all alkalies circulate in the blood as carbonates, but their action as alkalizers of the blood is very transitory, for they are quickly excreted. The amount of haemoglobin, if it is deficient, is said to be increased.” [White’s Materia Medica and Therapeutics, p. 117.)
From a study of the action of these two classes of remedies in diseases we can summarize their general action, being guided by similia, as follows :
In brain diseases the special classification of the remedies on the acid and alkaline basis would be about as follows :
Alkaline children with inflammation of the brain, effusion and coma would suggest such remedies as Gelsemium, Belladonna, Veratrum viride, Arnica, Opium, Apis.
Acid children, who are nervous, restless and anaemic, would suggest Aconite, Arsenicum, Rhus toxicodendron, Sulphur.
In throat and chest diseases the remedies indicated would be:-
For the alkaline children, Kali Hepar sulphuris, Belladonna, Tartar emeticus.
For the acid children the remedies might be Aconite, Spongia, Iodine, Bryonia, Phosphorus, Sulphur.
In bowel diseases in both diarrhoea and constipation the indicated remedies would be :-
For alkaline children select from Nux vomica, Mercurius, Kali, Calcarea, Chamomilla, Dulcamara, Alumina.
For acid children the selection would be from among such remedies as Arsenicum, Podophyllum, Pulsatilla, Rhus.
In diseases of the skin the moist eruptions or pustules of the alkaline children need such alkaline remedies as Calcarea, Baryta, Mercurius, Dulcamara. I would place in this list Graphites, although Hering places it in the acid list.
For the acid children with their dry, scaly, chafed skin such remedies might be called for as Sulphur, Arsenicum, Silicea, Rhus.
When the child bias is not extreme and such remedies as Hepar sulphuris, Calcarea iodium, Mercurius iodatus, Calcarea phosphorus, etc., are indicated by the symptoms we would expect, as we doubtless get, a more marked action of the element in the remedy that corresponds to the constitution of the child. For example, the action of Sulphur, Iodine and Phosphorus would be moore marked in the acid than in the alkaline one. We see here a possible explanation why Baryta carb. is such an efficient one in the chronic enlarged glands in excessively fleshy subjects.
The special indications for the various remedies will enable us to trace out the subdivision of the classification very much farther. A wide and practical field is open before us, and the author hopes that there will be many volunteers. It would be interesting and valuable if we could classify the whole materia medica on this therapeutic basis, but that would require more time than it has yet received. It is very gratifying that so able a man as Father Hering made such a valuable beginning.