Indispositions and the Second Best Remedy

There is a class of cases which require for their cure, only the correction of faulty habits and the removal of exciting causes. They should be given placebo instead of a remedy….

Not every case which presents itself to the physician requires medicine. It may only require the searching out and correcting of some evil habit, some error in the mode of living, such as faulty diet, unsanitary surroundings, non-observance of ordinary hygienic requirements in regard to breathing, exercise, sleeping, etc.

In Par. 4 of the *Organon Hahnemann says : “He (the physician) is likewise a preserver of health if he knows the things that derange health and cause disease, and how to remove them from persons in health.”

In Par. 5 the physician is enjoined to search out “the most probable exciting cause of the acute disease, as also the most significant points in the whole history of the chronic disease to enable him to discover its *fundamental cause, which is generally due to a chronic miasm.”

In making these investigations he directs our attention to “the *physical constitution of the patient, his moral and intellectual character, his occupation, mode of living and habits, his social and domestic relations, his age, sexual functions, etc.”

But this line of investigation is equally fruitful and necessary in dealing with the indispositions of which I am particularly speaking.

In the note to Par. 7, Hahnemann says: “As a matter of course every sensible physician will remove such causes at first, after which the indisposition will generally cease spontaneously.” By way of illustration he goes on to say: “He will remove from the room strong smelling flowers, which have a tendency to cause syncope and hysterical sufferings;” (and I may add that he will order hysterical and neurotic “lady patients” to abandon the use of the strong perfumes and sachet bags with which they render the air of their rooms unfit to breathe, aggravate their complaints and make themselves a nuisance to everyone who comes near them); “extract from the cornea the foreign body that excites inflammation of the eye; loosen the over-tight bandage on a wounded limb, ligature the wounded artery, promote the expulsion of poisonous ingesta by vomiting, extract foreign substances from the orifices of the body, crush or remove vesical calculi, open the imperforate anus of the new born infant, etc.”

In short, Hahnemann has done his best to make it clear that the use of *common sense is not incompatible with homoeopathic practice, his enemies and some of his overzealous followers to the contrary notwithstanding.

The young homoeopathic doctor, fresh from the halls of materia medica, with his brand new case of medicines, is apt to be like the small boy with his first jack-knife who wants to carve and whittle everything within reach- a simile, by the way, quite as applicable to the young surgeon! Both of them leave a trail which to follow does not require the sagacity of a Sherlock Holmes.

Consider for a few moments, then, that class of cases which require for their use only the correction of faulty habits and the removal of exciting causes. Consider also that it often requires the exhibition of as much wisdom, skill, good judgment and tact to perform this function as it does to prescribe medicine; indeed, it often requires more. It is much easier to deal out medicine and dismiss the patient, than it is to make a careful investigation of the habits and circumstances of a patient who probably does not need medicine at all, but only wise and kindly advice on how to live.

Great is the power and value of Homoeopathic medicine, but, like all other good things, it can be abused. Even high potencies can be abused and cause mischief, as I saw illustrated very strikingly when I was sent for in haste to see a patient for whom I had prescribed a few days before. I relate the case because it not only illustrates the particular point I am discussing now, but also the subject of posology which I shall take up subsequently. The patient was an old gentleman who was in a state of mild senile dementia, with enfeebled power of thought, loss of memory, tendency to involuntary urination and defaecation, rather persistent sleeplessness, and becoming careless in his personal habits.

But he had been perfectly tractable and mild in his demeanor, and had made no trouble for his family. The symptoms led me to prescribe a remedy, which I gave in the two hundredth potency, with directions to take two doses daily. Three days later I was sent for in haste to see him. I found him in a highly excited state of mind, with flushed face, widely dilated pupils, staring expression and suspicious of being poisoned. He excitedly and harshly accused me of giving him “another man’s medicine” which had “filled his bowels up;” he had removed all his clothes, refused to put them on again, and was going about the house nude before the women, without shame, and had tried to go out of doors in that state.

I recognized the symptoms immediately, as I hope you have done. Probably most of you will be able to name the remedy. It was Hyoscyamus, of course.

On making inquires I found that instead of taking the remedy twice a day as directed, owing to a misunderstanding, he had been taking it *every two hours. Of course he was making a proving – of *the two hundredth potency! A single dose of Belladonna, two hundredth, removed the whole trouble in a few hours, and he resumed his ordinary placid course of life.

An experience of that kind has a strong tendency to remove any scepticism one may have as to the power of high potencies. It also conveys an impressive warning against too frequent repetition of doses. Moreover, it upsets the theory that high potencies do not act upon the aged. Incidentally it shows the possibility, sometimes denied, of making provings with highly potentiated medicines and substantiates the claims of those who hold that no remedy can be considered as well proved until it has been proved in the potencies as well as in crude from.

It is well known that the most valuable part of a drug action, the finer shadings of symptomatology, are almost never brought out under the use of the tinctures and low potencies. These appear usually under the action of a medium or high potency, or toward the close of a proving of a low potency, long after the first effects of the drug have passed away; so that it has come to be a maxim among experienced provers that *the last appearing symptoms in a proving are the most valuable and characteristic.In the same way, the *last appearing symptoms in a disease, especially chronic disease, are of the highest rank in selecting the remedy- a practical point it is well to remember. We should never neglect to inquire of a patient *whether any new symptoms have appeared since the last visit or prescription and value any such highly.

Returning to the subject of indisposition: Having discovered such a case and determined that it does not require medication, the question arises, how is such a case to be managed? At first sight it would seem to be a very simple matter; merely to tell the patient bluntly that he does not need medicine, but only to mend his life and correct his habits according to the advice and instruction which you have given or will give.

This view of the matter does not take into consideration the peculiarities of human nature as formed by ages and generations of habit and custom. Only occasionally do we meet a patient to whom we can give ideal advice and treatment. In spite of the rapid growth of the no-drug idea as promulgated by the various modern cults, the average patient *who goes to the doctor, expects to get medicine. If he is so far advanced in his ideas as to believe in the no- drug theory he will probably not go to the doctor at all, but will seek out the osteopath or the Christian science healer.

The patient who believes in drugs and goes to a doctor for treatment will be very likely to listen incredulously to your well-meant advice and will depart to tell his friends in anything but a respectful manner, that he thought you were a doctor, but he found that you were only a half-baked Christian scientist after all, or something to that effect. To direct his attention to his errors of living and order him to correct them is to apparently put the burden of cure upon him, and that is not what he wants at all. He expects us to bear that burden.

That is what he comes to us for. Besides that, he often resents the assertion that his trouble is due to his own ignorance or willfulness. There is a large class of people today – selfish, pleasure – seeking, luxury-loving, dissipating creatures, male and female – who demand of the physician relief from the pains and penalties of their hygienic sins, but are not willing to do their necessary part toward bringing this about. They want to “eat their cake and have it too.”

We cannot afford to antagonize this class, either for their sakes or our own. We owe them a duty as well as ourselves, and few of us can afford to pick our patients. We must take them as they come and adjust ourselves to their individual needs and peculiarities. These in general are some of the cases which require tact in management. “You can catch more flies with molasses than with vinegar.” We can gradually lead some of these people into better ways of life and thought and cure them of both their sickness and their sins, if we are patient and wise and tactful; while at the same time we are increasing the extent and influence of our practice.

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.