Asiatic Cholera





It will surprise some modern scientists to be told that the microbic theories which they now advance to explain any and every disease are by no means of recent date, and that Hahnemann was before them all in claiming for microbes the chief share in the causation of cholera.

In a pamphlet published in Leipzic in 1831 Lesser Writings, translated by Dudgeon p.489 he vigorously attacked Hufeland, who advocated the atmospheric and telluric theory. In the following passage he anticipates modern views of immunity as well as of infection. “On board ships-in whose confined spaces, filled with mouldy, watery vapours, the cholera miasm finds a favourable element for its multiplication, and grows into an enormously increased brood of those excessively minute, invisible, living creatures so inimical to human life, of which the contagious matter of the cholera most probably consists-on board these ships,

I say, this concentrated aggravated miasm kills several of the crew; the others, however, being frequently exposed to the danger of infection and thus gradually habituated to it, at length become fortified against it and no longer liable to be infected. These individuals, apparently in good health. go ashore, and are received by the inhabitants without hesitation into their cottages and here they have time to give an account of those who have died of the pestilence on board the ship, those who have approached nearest to them are suddenly carried off by the cholera. The cause of this is undoubtedly the invisible cloud that hovers is undoubtedly the invisible cloud that hovers closely around the sailors who have remained free from the disease, and which is composed of probably millions of these miasmatic animated beings, which at first developed on the broad marshy banks of the tepid Ganges, always searching out in preference the human being to his destruction” [he means, I suppose, having little or no effect on animals-J.H.C.], “and, attaching themselves closely to him, when transferred to distant and colder regions become habituated to these also, without any diminution of their unhappy fertility or of their fatal destructiveness.”

With all our microscopes and experiments on living animals (which possess a natural immunity against cholera, and are thus peculiarly unfitted for the study of this disease) we have got little further than this. That there is an infective principle there is no doubt, and that it is of an infinitesimal organised nature need not be disputed. Whether it is a comma-shaped bacil- lus or a straight bacillus, or a variety of bacilli, may safely be left to the microbiologists to fight over.

The thing of vital importance to know. is, the conditions under which the infection takes place, how infection may be guarded against, and how the disease may be cured when once the infection has “taken”. Happily each of these points is pretty fully understood. HABITS OF CHOLERA INFECTION.

Though Hahnemann was doubtless right in attributing cholera to a specific infection, he was perhaps unnecessarily severe on the upholders of the “atmospheric-telluric” theory. In all epidemics there are a number of factors at work; and it is in proportion as the accessory conditions are favourable that the infection spreads.

It would be bold top deny that atmospheric and electric conditions have nothing to do with it. Though no quarantine may be observed, one town will escape whilst another is smitten, and that though both may be fed by the same water-supply. In India, where the disease is endemic, an outbreak in troops may be suddenly determined by the occurrence of a thunderstorm. Or the disease may take one side of a street and spare the other, the fortunate side being the side exposed to the sun. In the out- break at an asylum of Halle in Germany, the inmates of one wing only were affected, that wing having been built over the site of an old pond. Professor von Pettenkofer’s experiments on him self at Munich go to show the same thing.

He swallowed an enormous number of bacilli, but remained free from cholera; his contention being that the condition of locality was one of the determining factors, and that in Munich, which had remained free from the disease, although in frequent communication with Hamburg, this condition was wanting.

For my part, I should define cholera as a specific fever, due to epidemic influences not well understood, and more allied to intermittent than to the eruptive fevers; the chill stage of the fever being so intense that it overshadows all its other features; the external chill being accompanied by internal congestion, which generally finds relief in copious evacuation by the stomach in vomiting, and by the bowels in diarrhoea.


But there is no need to wait until the nature of cholera is thoroughly understood before undertaking to cure it. If there is one thing certain in this word, it is that thousands of lives have been saved by homoeopathic treatment in cholera epidemics that would infallibly have been lost under allopathy.

It is a matter of the first importance to public safety that this fact should be made thoroughly well known wherever cholera may reach. The fact is attested not by homoeopathists merely from their experience in every epidemic in which it has been put to the test, but by allopaths themselves who have watched the treatment and its results, many having been converted to homoeo- pathy in consequence of the cures they have witnessed. Here is an extract from a letter written by Dr. Macloughlin, the Medical Inspector of Stepney, Poplar, St Andrews, St Giles, and St. George’s, Bloomsbury, who undertook to watch the practice at the London Homoeopathic Hospital during the epidemic 1854.

The letter was addressed to Mr. Hugh Cameron, one of the surgeons to the Hospital at that time. Dr Macloughlin said:- “You are aware that I went into your hospital prepossessed against the homoeopathic system; that you had in me, in your camp, an enemy rather than a friend, and that I must therefore have seen some cogent reason there, the first day I went, to come away so favourably disposed as to advise a friend to send a subscription to your charitable fund. And I need not tell you that I have taken some pains to make myself acquainted with the rise, progress, and medical treatment of cholera, and that I claim for myself some right to be able to recognise the disease, and to know something of what the treatment ought to be; and that there may be therefore no misapprehension about the cases I saw in your hospital, I will add that all I saw were true cases of cholera in the various stages of disease; and that I saw several cases which did well under your treatment, which I have no hesitation in saying would have sunk under any other.

“In conclusion, I must repeat to you what I have already told you, and what I have told every one with whom I have conversed, that, although an allopath by education, principle, and practice, yet, were it the will of Providence to afflict me with cholera, and to deprive me of the power of prescribing for my- self, I would rather be in the hands of a homoeopathic than an allopathic adviser”- (British Journal of Homoeopathy, vol. Xiii. The efficacy of homoeopathic treatment in cholera needs no stronger testimony than this. If more were needed, the experience of the Hamburg epidemic of last year would supply all that was lacking.

It was a matter of surprise to many homoeopaths that during the height of the cholera epidemic at Hamburg last summer nothing was heard of the treatment of the disease by the method of Hahnemann It was felt that some of the representatives of our Art on the spot must have been busily engaged to the public advantage; and it now turns out that such was indeed the case, but the work was done so quietly and unostentatiously that the caterers for the public press passed it by in their eagerness to give full details of the gruesome horrors of the cholera hospitals.

Dr Hesse, of Hamburg, has communicated his experiences to the Allgemeine Homoeopatische Zeitung, a translation of which, by Dr Lambrights Fils, of Antwerp, appears in the February number of the Revue Homoeopathique Belge.

Dr Hesse is of opinion that the greater part of the population of Hamburg were more or less affected by the epidemic, the larger number only in a slight degree. At any rate, morning diarrhoea was a very common occurrence, and this was controlled by Sulphur. Fear of cholera was also very common, reminding us of the old story of the plague and the philosopher at Damascus. As the plague was entering the city he met a philosopher, and informed him that he had 3000 victims to carry off. As it happened, 6000 died, whereupon the sage expostulated with the demon of the epidemic:

“You said you had only three thousand victims, and you have taken six.” “Oh! no,” was the reply, “I only killed 3000; fear killed the rest.” Perhaps if he had wished to be quite exact he might have credited a few of the victims to the Damascus doctors.

There is not the slightest doubt that fear is a potent factor in the causation of disease. ‘It is the most depressing of all emotions, and greatly lessens the resisting-power of the organism. In the Hamburg cases Dr Hesse found Arsenicum a specific when the fear of cholera was the leading element in the case. Arsenic was also the most useful medicine in the cases reported by Mr A. Paasch, a lay homoeopathist who, in the dearth of medical aid, volunteered his services, which were accepted by the authorities, who assigned him a district. Excluding the lightest cases, his death rate only amounted to 5 per cent. An account of his work is published in the Leipzinger Populare Zeitschrift fur Homoeopathic, and a translation in the Hahnemann Monthly and the Homoeopathic Envoy for March last.



Recent observations by Professor Charcot, of Paris, and earlier ones by Dr Burq, have proved the correctness of Hahnemann’s observations with respect to the medicinal powers of metallic substances in their insoluble, uncombined state. The mere application of gold, silver, copper, and other metals to the skin in sensitive subjects will produce powerful and characteristic effects; and all persons, whether sensitive or not, who wear these metals next to the skin will be brought more or less under the influence of them, although no symptoms may be produced.

In the last volume of the Homoeopathic World, December 1892, p.536. I published an extract from one of the medical journals in which a practitioner related a case of copper poisoning which was almost indistinguishable from a case of Asiatic cholera. This property of copper to produce symptoms exceedingly like those of cholera renders it one of the most valuable medicines in the treatment of the disease. But, more than that, it has also proved the very best preventive.

In some of the epidemics it had been noticed, and especially 1878, Dr Burq referred to his researches, twenty-five years previously, which proved to him the immunity from cholera possessed by workers in copper, and said that where the question had been investigated by other observers, the same result had been arrived at. He also traced the preservation of Augbagne, between Toulon and Marseilles, through every epidemic of cholera, to the fact that the large quantity of copper employed in the potteries surrounding the city produced, as it were, a rampart of copper-laden dust.” Homoeopathic League Tract, 42.] that workers in copper mines and in copper foundries were exempt from the disease, whilst all round them were being attacked.

It was this circumstance which led to the practice of wearing copper plates next the skin, a practice first adopted in Hungary, according to Hahnemann. The custom of wearing rings of copper on the toes followed by some of the natives of India may have some (conscious or unconscious) connection with its power of affording protection against this disease.

Europeans in India wear round the waist a double band of flannel, which they call a cholera belt; and doubtless the magnetic properties of flannel may increase the bodily resisting power. But these belts have been improved upon, and the protection rendered much more certain by the addition to the flannel of a plate of copper, two to four inches in diameter.

Such belts are to be procured of all homoeopathic chemists; or they may be improvised by procuring pieces of thin copper plate, cutting in them slits at opposite borders, to which straps or tapes may be attached, which may be passed and fastened round the body. The cholera belt should be worn night and day. It may be cleansed from time to time by rubbing with a little vinegar. If copper in this form is objected to, the homoeopathic preparation of Cuprum aceticum 3 may be taken internally, one drop or two pilules three times a day.

As matters of general precaution it will be well to have drinking-water cisterns and filters cleansed periodically.

Saluteris water and other table-waters of repute, natural and manufactured, should be used when there is any doubt about the ordinary service water. Care must be taken to avoid all excesses in eating and drinking, and especially eating fruit that is not perfectly sound and good. Clothing should be sufficient and warm. special caution should be observed in leaving off garments in warm weather, and in avoiding getting the feet wet. Those who take these precautions and provide themselves with the protection of copper need have no fear of cholera, however badly it may be about.

During the epidemic at Hamburg Dr. Hesse advised the use of Sulphur as a prophylactic. He recommended his patients to dust sulphur inside their stockings every morning when they put them on. In that particular epidemic sulphur corresponded to the symptoms of many of the cases, and would thus be specially appropriate; but in a general way copper is much to be preferred to all other prophylactics.

John Henry Clarke
John Henry Clarke MD (1853 – November 24, 1931 was a prominent English classical homeopath. Dr. Clarke was a busy practitioner. As a physician he not only had his own clinic in Piccadilly, London, but he also was a consultant at the London Homeopathic Hospital and researched into new remedies — nosodes. For many years, he was the editor of The Homeopathic World. He wrote many books, his best known were Dictionary of Practical Materia Medica and Repertory of Materia Medica