I NOW come to the last and most important means we possess of counteracting diseases of the heart, or, for that matter, diseases of any kind-I mean the powers of medicines. The popular belief in the power of drugs to cure sick people is ineradicable; and all the efforts of a sceptical Medical Faculty to prove that drugs cannot “cure,” and that all the Faculty can do is to “treat” patients, has had no other effect than to cause the lay mind to look to those who have something more encouraging to offer. The popular belief is well founded: the scepticism of th Faculty is the result of a one-sided education which has had the effect of closing its mental vision to all the possibilities that are not dreamed of in the philosophy of the schools.
That drugs will cure has been proved over and over again by millions of experiences, some accidental, some under the guidance of science. The point to be remembered is that drugs do not cure diseases, but patients. I am sometimes asked “Is there any cure for cancer?” To which I reply “There is no drug which will cure everybody’s cancer; but many cases of cancer have been cured by one or more drugs. Every patient must be treated according to the characteristic features of his particular case, and it is just here that the science and art of medicine come in.”
The reason why nearly all the new “cures” that are introduced into old school practice vanish from the old school armamentarium after a very brief career, is not that they are of no curative value, but because those who introduce them regard them as “specifics” for certain “diseases” and have no idea of defining the precise indications for their use. By some lucky chance the first series of patients on whom they try the drug happen to present the proper indications for its use-their cases are in homoeopathic relationship to it, in short,-and they are cured. The allopath knows nothing about this and proceeds to give the same drug to a number of other patients who have the disease called by the same name as that the first patients had, but not presenting the same characteristic indications, and the drug fails to do good. Henceforth it is thrown aside as “unreliable” or “useless,” until some despised homoeopathist takes it up and “proves” it, thus finding out what are its characteristic symptoms. Thenceforth it takes its place in the homoeopathic Materia Medica as a valued and trusted implement of the art and science of Healing.
What is curative action? Disease, according to the Hahnemannic conception (and I have not yet found a better), is a dynamic or spirit-like change in the left principle of the organism or of any particular organ or tissue.
When the animating principle is in any way hurt, nutrition is not properly carried on. The microscopic elements of the tissues do not undergo their proper transformations, and the whole organ or the whole body is enfeebled. Unless some new agency is brought to bear on the suffering organism, the tendency is for the disease-action to progress from bad to worse. It is here that the specific medication of Hahnemann steps in, and by neutralising the dynamic change in the life-principle, brings back proper nutrition. Then the feeling of well-being and strength comes back. The amount of repair possible depends in each case on the degree to which the degenerative change has gone in the first instance. Where the tissue elements have been destroyed they cannot be restored; but no one can tell in any case how many elements of undeveloped tissue may lie dormant in a damaged organ, ready to be called into life by proper remedial measures, so that it is always the right course to pursue to aim at cure.
The same explanation applies in the case of the cure of tumours. The vital principle, through some change in its operation, produces instead of normal tissues, tissues more lowly organised, with a different life-history from that of the tissues from which they spring. The nutritional changes are different from those of surrounding tissues, and the appearance of new growths or tumours is the result.
But the agency which produce tumours can also remove them, if only the proper specific medicines are administered by which the perverted action will be reversed.
Much of the disputing that has taken place over the proper method of selecting specifics might have been avoided if only the disputants has perceived that in adjusting the sights different focuses may be made use of. One practitioner, for instance, will use the fine adjustment, taking a minute observation of the symptoms of a patient in great detail and will find a simillimum to cover the picture. Another, working with a lower power, will take a more general view of the case, and select a medicine which he thinks corresponds to this. Both methods have given admirable results, and both have their place in homoeopathy; and it is not at all my intention to dogmatize as to which is the better plan. I have succeeded with each one where the other has failed me.
It has been very truly said that any medicine may be required in any disease, and the case I have recorded in which Crocus played such a brilliant part is an illustration in point. If therefore I am asked,”What medicines are good in cases of heart disease?” I must reply,”All the medicines in the Materia Medica.”
At the same time it is a very useful work to single out those medicines which have such characteristic action on the heart that they reproduce the features of the majority of the cases met with, and this I now propose to do. It must always be borne in mind, however, that for successful practice it is necessary to take into consideration the whole of a patient’s symptoms, more especially the characteristic mental and moral symptoms, in selecting a medicine, and unless the correspondence is good all round only a partial result must be looked for.
The following list may be taken as the selection I should make for my own use if I were limited to a definite number of drugs. Aconite, Ammonium carbonicum, Apocynum, Arnica, Arsenicum album, Arsenicum iodatum, Aurum, Baryta carbonica, Baryta muriatica, Belladonna, Bryonia, Cactus, Calcarea carbonica, Camphora, Carbo animalis, Carbo vegetabilis, Causticum, Cimicifuga, Coffea, Crocus, Crot., Digitalis, Gelsemium, Glonoin, Iberis, Ignatia, Iodium, Kali carbonicum, Kali iodidum, Kali muriaticum, Kalmia latifolia, Lachesis, Lilium tigrinum, Lithium carbonicum, Lycopodium, Lycopus virginicus, Mercurius, Moschus, Naja, Natrum muriaticum, Nux vomica, Phosphorus, Plumbum, Psorinum, Pulsatilla, Rhus toxicodendron, Spongia, Sulphur, Tabacum, Thyroidin, Vanadium, Veratrum album, Veratrum viride. To these may be added three which have been largely used of late in old school practice, Adonis vernalis, Convallaria majalis (the Lily of the Valley), and Strophanthus.
I will now briefly sketch the leading indications for the use of each. Symptoms taken direct from the Materia Medica are in inverted commas.
Aconite is likely to be called for in all inflammatory affections of the heart (especially those accompanying rheumatic fever), in hypertrophy of the heart, fainting, palpitation and angina pectoris. In all heart disturbances caused by fear, or fright, or anger, Aconite is the first medicine to be thought of. With the Aconite heart there is anxiety and pallor; faintness on sitting up. In the cases where fever is present there in intense restlessness and mental tension; in other cases there is coldness and collapse. In all cases where the characteristic fear of death is present, and especially when the patient is clairvoyant and predicts the time of death, Aconite will do all that is required.
The pulse of Aconite is rather hard, strong and contracted, or else it is feeble.
There are shooting and pricking pains in the chest; great oppression of breathing; sense of anguish in the chest; intense pains in all directions, especially down the left arm, with numbness and tingling.
“Tingling of the fingers of left hand as if going to sleep, with anxiety” is very characteristic of Aconite heart affections. There is relief from lying on the back with the shoulders raised. Suited to plethoric individuals.
A leading feature of this drug is somnolence, with rattling of large bubbles in the lungs, purplish hue of lips from imperfect oxygenation. Dilatation of heart; crushing weight on sternum when attempting to ascend a height (like Aurum, but the latter has not the somnolence); intense intolerance of a warm room; cough with bloody sputum; palpitation with dyspnoea and retractation of epigastrium; cyanosis. Ammonium carbonicum is a venous medicine and corresponds more to the right heart than the left.
This drug has been called the “vegetable trochar,” on account of its powerful action in removing dropsies by diuresis. The best account of it is to be found in the “Homoeopathic Recorder” for November, 1892, in a lecture by Dr. S.A. Jones.
The chief indications are :-Oppression at the chest; this may be so profound as to make speaking difficult. The most characteristic pulse is a very slow pulse: this is the effect of large doses, but small doses have caused an exceedingly rapid pulse, so either may indicate the drug.