Reasons



XVI.

You remember my case of hiccough cured by Natrum muriaticum? Well, while my mind is still dwelling on this very wonderful remedy, I will adduce another cure by it as my sixteenth reason for being a homoeopath. In it you may again note the expansiveness of the conception of similitudes, for this case grew out of the hiccough case :

John H., aged 29, seaman, came to me on April 21st, 1878, telling me that he had fever and ague two or three times a day, with watery vomiting, in Calcutta, in September, 1877. Was in the Calcutta Hospital three weeks for it, and took emetics, quinine, and tonic. Left at the end of the three weeks cured; but before he was out of port the ague returned, or he got another, and he had a five-month voyage home to the port of Liverpool. During the first three months of this homeward voyage he had two, three, four and five attacks a week, and took a good deal of a power from the captain, which, from his description, was probably Cinchona bark; then the fever left him, and the following conditions supervened, viz: “Pain in right side under the ribs; cannot lie on right side; both calves very painful to touch, they are hard and stiff; left leg semiflexed, he cannot stretch it.” In this condition he was two months at sea and two weeks ashore; and in this condition be comes to me hobbling with the aid of a stick, and in great pain from the moving.

Urine muddy and red; bowels regular; skin tawny; conjunctivae yellow.

Drinks about three pints of beer daily. I recommended him not to alter his mode of life till he is cured, and then to drink less beer. The former part of the recommendation he followed, as I learned from his brother; of the latter part I have no information.

The hiccough case bears directly on this one, as we have evidently to do with an ague suppressed with Cinchona. Therefore ordered Nat. mur., 6 trit, six grains in water every four hours.

April 27th.-Pain in side and leg went away entirely in three days, and the water cleared at once; but the pain returned on the fourth day in the left calf only, which to day is red, painful, swelled, and pits. He walks without a stick.

Continue medicine.

May 4th.-Almost well; feels only a very little pain in left calf when walking. Looks and feels quite well, and walked into room with perfect ease without any stick.

He thinks he had a cold shake a few nights ago, He continues to perspire every night; ever since he got the ague the sheets have to be changed every night.

Continue medicine.

May 11th.-Quite well.

I will here urge you to make a profound study of salt in all its bearings; but its being such a grand calorifacient in refracted dose, and during this deadlock of ague and cinchona, will surely entitle it to be considered a very good reason for being a homoeopath, since it cannot be so used on any other than homoeopathic ground.

XVII

Not many years ago the daughter of a London alderman was suffering from fearful neuralgia of the face; at intervals she had had it for years, and no trouble or expense had been spared in endeavouring to cure it. Their ordinary family adviser was a homoeopath, but he had not managed to cure this neuralgia, notwithstanding several consultations with colleagues; and other men of eminence had been consulted, but to no avail.

I found that the pain was worse in cold weather; worse at the seaside; better away from the sea-inland, i.e. not so frequent or severe, and when the pain came on the eyes watered. A pinch of the sixth trituration of Natrum muriaticum in water three times a day cured my young patient in about three weeks; and this anti-neuralgic action of Nat mur, must be my seventeenth reason for being a homoeopath.

XVIII

You ask how it then is that with all the merits which I claim for Homoeopathy, its practitioners should be in “such a contemptible minority in the profession”? I presume, being in the minority does not necessarily mean to be in the wrong.

I suppose your hold that the world moves? There was a time when those who said so were in the the minority, and not very far from the stake if they dared to aver their belief!

You personally, have devoted a good deal of attention to “diseases of the organs of circulation”, and you plume yourself rather (so I gathered in conversation with you) on knowing just a little more than most people on the “forces that carry on the circulation of the blood”-eh? Was not, once upon a time, the nickname “circulator”- one who believed in Harvey’s discovery-a very opprobrious epithet indeed in our “liberal profession”? quite as bad as “homoeopath” not; and did I one day not hear a great orator bring down the house by exclaiming “They are slaves who dare not be in the right with two or three”? Your “minority” argument is worn out.

Well I wrote you the last time but one about the calorifacient power of Natrum muriaticum, and you would like to know whether it acts upon a certain centre. I do not know its seat of action exactly, but I do know that it can often make a cold, chilly person feel warm; and that is no small thing.

Some years since I was attending one of the children of a widow in the neighborhood of London, and having made a pretty good therapeutic hit-homoeopathically, my friend- she said she should like to consult me on her own account for her nerves; and when we had gone into that matter, she said, “Ah, I suppose it is no use to consult you about my cold shivering fits; no one can do them any good.” They were in this wise, on going to bed at night she began to shudder and shiver, and on getting into bed and lying down, she would shiver to such a degree that her teeth chattered, and the movements of her body shook the bed.

She had suffered this for years, and had been under a number of physicians for these cold shivers, but no one had ever touched them. She named five well-known homoeopathic practitioners who had in vain tried their hand at it; one of these has since renounced Homoeopathy and all its ways, and previously he had tacitly given up the use of dynamized remedies, and loves now to ridicule them. Still for all that, and all that, dynamized Natrum muriaticum cured these cold shakes promptly and permanently. Long afterwards this lady wrote that she kept a bottle of the medicine on her bedroom mantelpiece au besoin, or as we physicians so neatly put it, pro re nata, but never needed it.

I call Natrum muriaticum my calorifacient. Try it!

XIX

Yes, you are quite right in saying that our Natrum muriaticum is your Sodium chloride, the common salt of our tables, and I am not at all surprised to learn that you cannot believe that it is in any sense a medicine. Many homoeopathic practitioners are of the same opinion-but bah! what have your and their beliefs to do with hard clinical facts? I have cured no inconsiderable number of cases of disease with Natrum muriaticum-chilliness, swelled spleens, gout, constipation, and, above all neuralgias; so what does it matter to me what you or they think about it? I know.

Now I would like to cite one more experience of mine with Natrum muriaticum, which, besides being very curious, is also practically important, and then I will not trouble you further with my attic salt!.

I can give it you in a very few words. A lady, wife of an officer, came over from India, to be under my care. The difficulty in her case lay in this, that she was to stop with her husband’s friends. who have a lovely place near the sea, in Sussex, but it usually upset her so much that she could not stay there. “And you know”, said she, “it is so very unfortunate for I can stay there for nothing, and have the use of a carriage and everything is so very nice; and yet I am obliged to decline going there, and have to go to nasty lodgings by myself, which of course I have to pay for.” Why can you not live at your husband’s place? Oh! it is the sea; I am just the same on board ship, dreadfully ill.”

Well, the burden of my song is just this-Natrum muriaticum, 6 trit, so modified this lady’s state that she was not only able to stay at said place, but actually thereat enjoyed being and sitting by sea.

This is my nineteenth reason for being a homoeopath, and if you will accept it, I will promise you not to trouble you with anything more about the Chloride of Sodium, or Natrum muriaticum, as it is called by the homoeopaths.

XX

If I had not promised to say no more about Natrum muriaticum, I should have liked to narrate to you a very interesting case cured by it-a case of very severe headache but I must keep my promise. I may, however, just say that the lady is the patient of a medical man, both living near one another at the seaside, said gentleman having given himself some trouble to ridicule my published observations on the effects of Natrum muriaticum- for all that Nat, mur, cured the lady.

Telle est la vie-medicale.

The young wife of a country squire came to me, at the beginning of the summer of 1887, with severe headache at the back, that had made her life sour for a good twelve month, she always woke with it; it was throbbing; and during the menses she also had a frontal headache. Left ovary a little swelled and tender. Thuja occidentalis in a rather high dilution and in infrequent dose cured her right off. She waited three months to see it the cure was real and then wrote me a grateful letter of thanks.

Please let this cephalalgia, cured by Thuja 30, be my twentieth reason for being a homoeopath.

XXI

You say, “your letters lately would seem to be intended to show how very superior your Homoeopathy is to that of your Co- practitioners”.

Well, that was certainly not my intention, but rather to show that people’s beliefs have often nothing to do with facts; for instance, you allopaths ridicule Homoeopathy, but that system of medicine is true all the same. Many practitioners of Homoeopathy ridicule some of the most brilliant clinical triumphs of the very system they belong to. In both cases the error is the same; they both childishly suppose that their powers are the limits of the possible. I was merely trying to show the fallaciousness of their judgment; and this is important, as the greatest enemies of Homoeopathy are often its own weak-kneed or incompetent practitioners. To explain what I mean more fully, let me give you as my twenty-first reason a case of

MENORRHAGIA OF FIFTEEN YEARS’ STANDING CURED BY Phosphorus

The lady was 51 years, old, and so you may call it metrorrhagia if you so prefer, but there had been no break in the menses, which were still regular. She came to me in October, 1882, and told me of her trouble, and that it dated from a miscarriage fifteen years before. She had often flooded at her confinements. Phosphorus 200 cured her. She went much smaller in the waist, and told me she “felt like a young girl”. She had other intercurrent remedies-Lachesis, Ferrum, Thuja and Arnica, but it was the Phosphorus that cured the haemorrhage, I having to return to it three separate times, with months between, and the last time I used Phos, 100th potency.

Now I cite this case because it is purely and exquisitely homoeopathic, and yet the bulk of the homoeopathic practitioners in the world do not believe in what are called high dilutions, and for all that this case was cured by such dilutions. It follows that either they or I must be mistaken; the lady who was thus cured would laugh in your face if you were to ask her to believe that she received from me other than very powerful remedies. And, indeed, they were very powerful. And just think of the gallons of Steel Drops and tonics that she had had in vain during those fifteen years of bleeding!

XXII

You tell me you are much mistaken in me, for you had always thought I was, “for a homoeopath a very big doser?” and that the Phosphorus I once mixed in a tumbler for your aunt actually “smoked!”

Perfectly true; I cannot discuss homoeopathic (or, if you will, my) posology with you, but I will give you my rule, viz.: The dose depends upon the degree of similitude; the greater the similitude the higher the dilution and the less frequent the administration; the smaller the degree of similitude the lower the dose and the more frequent the repetitions of the dose. My own range of dose is from a few globules of the two-hundredth dilution at eight day intervals, down to ten drops of the mother tincture (of weak drugs, of course) four times a day.

The dose is quite often as important as the remedy, and your exclusively low, as well as the exclusively high dilutionists, are only one-eyed practitioners, though of course kings among the blind, i.e. the allopaths.

It is your fault that I have touched upon the vexed question of the dose, that is to Homoeopathy what the everlasting Irish question is in British politics.

My twenty-second reason for being a homoeopath is one I published some years ago under the heading.

CASE OF EXOSTOSIS OF RIGHT OS CALCIS CURED BY Heclae lava

Dr. Garth Wilkinson went once to Iceland for a holiday, and observed that the animals which fed in the pastured where the finer ashes of Mount Heclae fall, suffered from immense maxillary and other exostoses. Being an adherent of the scientific system of medicine founded for us by Samuel Hahnemann, he brought some Heclae lava home with him, and it has been already successfully used to cure affections similar to those which it is capable of causing.

On July 3rd, 1880, a young lady, aged 15, came under my observation with an exostosis on her right os calcis, somewhat smaller and a little flatter than half a walnut-shell. It was at times painful. Patient was in other respects in good health and well nourished, but her teeth were not very sound. She goes blue in winter, and suffers also very badly from chilblains both on hands and feet, worse on hands.

RX. Trit,2 Heclae Montis lavae, 5 iv.

S.-Six grains three times a day.

17th, The exostosis is decidedly smaller; it never pains now. Pergat.

September 25th. The exostosis has entirely disappeared; the two heels being compared, no difference between them can now be discovered.

Heclae lava has been shown to consist of silica, alumina, calcium and magnesia, with some ferric oxide. We are, therefore, not astonished that it can cause and cure exostosis.

Brother allopath, this is science in therapeutics; what have you to take its place? Give absorbents and paint the part with iodine? What guarantee can you give me that your absorbents will not absorb a bit of the pancreas or some small glands in lieu of the exostosis?

Or are you, also true to your principle: Contraria contrariis curantur? Then pray tell me what is the contrary of an exostosis?

XXIII

Referring to my remarks in my last letter but one, that so many of the practitioners of Homoeopathy do not believe in the so- called high dilutions, I should like to add a word or two, as I see by your reply (only just to hand) that you have mistaken my meaning. I do not means that none of the homoeopathic physicians believe in said dilutions, but that only a small minority of them, perhaps about one-fourth in this country. Furthermore, my cure of haemorrhage with Phosphorus is not only “an isolated case of the kind”, but only one of a large number, in fact, scores of such cases were published in homoeopathic literature long years before I knew anything about the subject. You evidently forget that I am precluded from getting my reasons from our literature.

And in case you might also think the same limitedness applies to the use of Heclae lava in exostosis, I may say that you can find other cases in our literature more striking than this one of mine, and-lest you should say faith did it- a Dublin physician cured his horse of a large exostosis with the same remedy! As my twenty-third reason for being a homoeopath let me cite a

CASE OF CRANIAL EXOSTOSIS CURED BY Aurum met.

The case we published long ago, and so I will not trouble you with details: suffice it to say, that the man who had the bony growth in his skull was completely and permanently cured by me with Metallic Gold in homoeopathic preparation. Nor is this a isolated case of the kind: the thing has been done oft before, any time during the last fifty years, and even before that.

XXIV.

I am very anxious to show the difference between curing a case empirically and doing so scientifically-that is to say, homoeopathically; and a paper I once published on Aralia will do this, and also be my twenty-fourth reason for being a homoeopath. I choose this because you seem to think my singly given cases “isolated”

THE COUGH OF Aralia

Aralia racemosa is not an accepted homoeopathic remedy, and Dr. Allen did not insert Dr. Jones’s little proving in his Encyclopaedia, but he has put it into the Appendix.

Dr. Hughes has also now added it to the list in his well- known Pharmacodynamics, but only as a supplementary remedy. So it seems to be just timidly peeping into our big drug-house. I know of no clinical experience with it beyond what we find in Hale’s Therapeutics.

It appears that the plant has a great reputation in the United States as a cough medicine, and Professor E.M. Hale very properly says that this warrants us in expecting that it has at least some specific affinity for the respiratory organs. The common people have in some way found out that the “spikenard” is good for coughs; Hale comes and makes a note of it. A step farther is made by Dr. S.A. Jones, who made a proving of it in 1870, and this lifted the popular cough medicine out of useful empiricism on to the scientific basis of Hahnemann’s induction.

I happened to read Jones’s proving in Hale’s New Remedies some six or seven years ago, and I was much struck with the character of the cough. I fancy the thing that helped to impress it upon my mind was the fact that I had had just at that period a lady under my care who was suffering from a cough that came on after lying down at night. I had been tinkering away at this cough, and could not cure it; so I blamed the damp house in which the lady resided, and its proximity to a brook prettily hidden among the willows close by.

Hyoscyamus, Digitalis, and a number of other remedies came into play, but the cough would not budge a bit. Need I tell the heart rending tale that the patient lost faith in her doctor (the writer) and in his much-vaunted pathy, and set about healing herself with quack medicines and orthodox sedative cough mixtures? Of course, I felt humiliated, and I therefore made up my mind to read my Materia Medica a little diligently. It was quite evident that the cough was a curable one, for the most careful physical examination failed to detect anything besides a few moist rales that tallied with the moderate amount of expectoration.

Failures are very instructive at times.

Just after having received my conge from this lady, I was reading Hale’s New Remedies, and came across Dr. S.A. Jones’s 3 proving of Aralia racemosa, where he says: “At 3 p.m. I took ten drops of the mother tincture in two ounces of water. An interesting book caused me to forget my ‘dose’ The events of the night jogged my memory very effectually.”

He goes on to say that he retired to rest at midnight, feeling as well as ever, but he “had no sooner lain down than he was seized with a fit of asthma”

I put down the book-Hale’s New Remedies was not quite so thick then as it is now-and said to myself, “That’s Mrs. N.’s cough, that is just how she goes. She lies down and forthwith begins to cough, to get laboured breathing, and to make her poor hard-toiling husband wish he were a bachelor”. at least he might have wished it, for ought I know to the contrary.

A little time elapsed, and the writer was sent for to see one of this coughing lady’s children with eczema. The bairn’s common integument having been prescribed for, I timidly inquired about the cough. “Oh,” said Mrs. N., “it is as bad as ever; I have tried everything, and do not know what to do” I sat down and wrote.

James Compton Burnett
James Compton Burnett was born on July 10, 1840 and died April 2, 1901. Dr. Burnett attended medical school in Vienna, Austria in 1865. Alfred Hawkes converted him to homeopathy in 1872 (in Glasgow). In 1876 he took his MD degree.
Burnett was one of the first to speak about vaccination triggering illness. This was discussed in his book, Vaccinosis, published in 1884. He introduced the remedy Bacillinum. He authored twenty books, including the much loved "Fifty Reason for Being a Homeopath." He was the editor of The Homoeopathic World.