General Pathology of Homoeopathy

Idiosyncrasy and Drug Diseases.- *In paragraph 30, Organon, Hahnemann says that medicines appear to have a more powerful influence in affecting the health of the body than the natural morbific agencies which produce disease, inasmuch as suitable medicines overcome and cure disease.

*In paragraph 31, he remarks that natural disease-producing agencies have only a conditional power of action, depending upon the disposition and degree of susceptibility of the organism. They do not act (perceptibly?) on every one at all times. Of a thousand persons exposed to smallpox, for example, perhaps not more than one or two would be infected, and these only if they happened to be in a susceptible condition at the time of exposure. he implies that the remainder are entirely immune by virtue of natural resistance.

*In paragraph 32, he somewhat unguardedly asserts that it is otherwise with drugs; that *they act unconditionally. Every true medicine, he says, acts at all times, in all persons, under all conditions producing distinctly perceptible symptoms “if the dose be large enough.” He here establishes at least one condition. No man in his normal condition is entirely or absolutely immune to a dose of arsenic, or strychnine or quinine, nor to the bacilli of cholera or tuberculosis. *The extent of its action in either case is conditional. The violence, extent and duration of the effects will be proportionate to the size of the dose and the susceptibility of the individual as influenced by constitution and environment, *but it always acts. Strictly speaking, every action in the universe is conditional.

One of the problems that frequently confronts the homoeopathic physician is how to deal practically with those peculiar and puzzling cases which present the phenomena of what is commonly called idiosyncrasy.

By idiosyncrasy we mean a habit or quality of the organism peculiar to the individual. It is a peculiarity of the constitution, inherited or acquired, which makes the individual morbidly susceptible to some agent or influence which would not so affect others.

To the average physician idiosyncrasy ordinarily means merely an oversensitiveness to some drug. He is called upon, for example, to treat a case of intermittent fever. After giving what he regards as a moderate dose of his favorite quinine he sees his patient quickly become violently delirious; or perhaps develop a violent attack of vomiting and go into collapse; or have a haemorrhage from the kidneys, or lungs, or into the retina. All these grave conditions have been reported of quinine and some cases with fatal results; or what is nearly as bad, with permanent loss or impairment of function, as blindness, or deafness.

Again he meets a case which seems to require opium. He administers the usual dose and sees it produce dangerous congestion of brain, lungs or intestines. He explains such experiences as being due to idiosyncrasy, substitutes some other drug and lets it go at that. Such experiences do not teach him much and he goes on in the same old way afterward; but there is much to be learned from such cases, if we view them aright.

Other patients manifest a morbid susceptibility to agents and influences not classified as medicinal. For example, a person can not eat some common article of food without suffering. Apples, peaches, strawberries, fish, shell fish, onions, potatoes, milk, fats or butter, etc. affect certain people unpleasantly in a most peculiar fashion. Then there are the idiosyncrasies of smell. One cannot bear the odor of violets; another of lavender; another of any flowers when he is sick.

One of my patients always gets an attack of hay fever and asthma if he rides behind a horse. The odor and exhalation from a perspiring horse are noxious to him. A woman hay fever victim has a fit of violent trembling and aggravation of all her symptoms if she comes in proximity with a cat. These examples of idiosyncrasy are quite distinct from hysteria and the general oversensitiveness found in neurasthenics and broken-down constitutions, where every little annoyance seems a burden too great to be borne, and every sense is painfully acute.

“The fundamental cause of every idiosyncrasy is morphological unbalance; that is, an organic state in which, through excess and defect in development there results excess and defect in function, with a corresponding degree of hyper-excitability or non-excitability.” (Rice.)

Without pausing to set forth more fully the modern scientific explanation of these phenomena we may say that idiosyncrasy, from the standpoint of the homoeopathic prescriber, is often the key to a difficult case. Viewed as modalities, these peculiarities, which are merely vagaries to the average practitioner, take on a certain degree of importance as indications for a remedy. Properly interpreted and classified, they sometimes rank as “generals,” expressing and representing a peculiarity of the patient himself of the case as a whole. They aid in individualizing the case and differentiate between two or more similar remedies. Thus, in a certain puzzling case the symptom, “aggravation from onions,” discovered only after the case had baffled me for several weeks, led to the selection of Thuja, which cured the case.

Idiosyncrasies are inherited and acquired. They represent a morbid susceptibility to some particular agent or influence. Of their causes there is little more to say, except that the drug idiosyncrasies, both inherited and acquired, appear sometimes to be due to the previous *abuse of the drug, to which a morbid susceptibility now exists, and that the remainder have their origin in what Hahnemann called the *psoric constitution. Many persons who have been poisoned by a drug are afterward hypersensitive to that drug – a condition known as anaphylaxis. A familiar example is the susceptibility to Rhus or ivy poisoning of those who have once been poisoned, especially if their initial attack was treated topically, by external remedies. Such persons are poisoned by the slightest contact with the plant, or even by passing in its vicinity without contact. In such cases the disappearance of the original external manifestations of the disease is followed by the setting up of a constitutional susceptibility which renders them peculiarly vulnerable, not only to the particular drug concerned, *but to the diseases to which that drug corresponds homoeopathically.They are illustrations of metastasis, which is regarded by some as being due to a suppression of the primary from of the disease by injudicious topical or palliative treatment. This view is based upon direct observation, and is sustained by analogy with the well-known serious results of the accidental or incidental disappearance or repercussion of external symptoms in the acute eruptive diseases, such as measles and scarlet fever.

Where the initial attack is perfectly cured homoeopathically by internal medicines such results never follow. Investigation shows that some cases of inherited idiosyncrasy and morbid susceptibility to drugs are traceable to the abuse of those drugs by parents or ancestors. This relation has been observed particularly in the case of two drugs, sulphur and mercury. A case occurred in my practice in which such a violent and sudden aggravation followed the administration of a high potency of Mercury that the patient’s life was endangered. He afterward asked if he had been given mercury, and said that he had never been able to take mercury in any form. He had been salivated by mercury, in youth, and his father and mother before him had been heavy users of the drug. Cases occur in which even amalgam fillings in teeth cause symptoms of mercurial poisoning, from absorption of infinitesimal quantities of mercury.

It has been held that the homoeopathic correspondence of sulphur to such a vast number of symptoms and diseases is partly due to the widespread abuse of sulphur by preceding generations; in other words that the commonly found sulphur symptoms which make it curative in so many conditions, represent a vast *proving of sulphur upon the human race, pursued for several generations, which has created a general morbid susceptibility to the drug. The same might be said of many other drugs, but such an idea, interesting because novel and practically suggestive, should not be given too much weight lest it lead us astray into the realm of speculation.

In the closely related subject of “drug diseases,” we are on safer ground. The subject of drug diseases has a particular and perennial interest for the homoeopathician, because his professional life is devoted largely to the observation and study of the phenomena produces or cured in the human organism by drugs.It comes before him at every point in his career and he, more clearly than any other, realizes its importance. The homoeopathic materia medica, from which he derives his knowledge of the remedies used for the cure of disease, is made up principally of collections of symptoms derived from healthy persons who have intentionally taken small doses of drugs and carefully observed and recorded their effects under the direction of trained observers.

Stuart Close
Stuart M. Close (1860-1929)
Dr. Close was born November 24, 1860 and came to study homeopathy after the death of his father in 1879. His mother remarried a homoeopathic physician who turned Close's interests from law to medicine.

His stepfather helped him study the Organon and he attended medical school in California for two years. Finishing his studies at New York Homeopathic College he graduated in 1885. Completing his homeopathic education. Close preceptored with B. Fincke and P. P. Wells.

Setting up practice in Brooklyn, Dr. Close went on to found the Brooklyn Homoeopathic Union in 1897. This group devoted itself to the study of pure Hahnemannian homeopathy.

In 1905 Dr. Close was elected president of the International Hahnemannian Association. He was also the editor of the Department of Homeopathic Philosophy for the Homeopathic Recorder. Dr. Close taught homeopathic philosophy at New York Homeopathic Medical College from 1909-1913.

Dr. Close's lectures at New York Homeopathic were first published in the Homeopathic Recorder and later formed the basis for his masterpiece on homeopathic philosophy, The Genius of Homeopathy.

Dr. Close passed away on June 26, 1929 after a full and productive career in homeopathy.