No sooner had medicine begun to free itself from the deadly incubus of superstition than it fell headlong into the clutches of an all-embracing materialism. Orthodox medicine has reached its present unhappy state along purely materialistic lines. It treats symptoms, not causes.
Hahnemann first diluted drugs to lessen their violent action and in doing so incidentally hit upon the principle of potentization. He thereby opened a door into the supersensible world of matter. He took a step leading into the realm of intangible forces which govern our state of being and keep our living house swept clean from within.
If we mean to cure we must take our first observation in the temple of the mind from whence flow the influences which affect the physical state. If the prescription eases the body, but leaves the mentality untouched, the sufferer is headed toward incurability. For this reason above all others the practitioner should obtain the completest possible account of what seems wrong before he attempts to fit a drug thereto. Fragmentary symptoms are the easiest to obtain, but also the quickest to mislead us into partial and perhaps actually harmful prescribing.
Symptoms are reactions and as such show an inter-relationship that may not be denied. The coarser ones usually portray the common acute diseases while the finer ones are less obvious. The latter are particularly important in the treatment of chronic affections for they point toward the more deeply acting remedies.
Acute diseases are sharp outbursts of dynamic activity and picture, in their essence, some phase of a deep lying abnormality. They are, therefore, best studied in the finer and deeper symptoms which call for a fundamentally acting remedy, which displays them in a greater degree than it does the more obvious ones. These deeper symptoms also have a much longer ancestry than the acute ones.
The question as to which class of symptoms should take precedence must not be answered without due reflection. It is certain that the urgency of apparent indications sometimes amounts to a command, but not as often as is frequently supposed because the remedy indicated by the basic constitutional state is capable of arousing a general reaction powerful enough to sweep all before it if a sufficient reserve force is available.
The difference amounts to deciding whether we will be satisfied with a palliating similar remedy or a curative simillimum. Here time and the reactive power available count heavily and may well be the deciding factor. In very acute dangerous diseases the gravity of the situation may decide for the former method, but this view always grows rarer and rarer as experience accumulates.
A child of seven showed a patch of diphtheria of the mixed type on each tonsil but more on the right. The face had a puffy, doughy pallor, both glands below the jaw were swollen and there was considerable fever, prostration and evil smell, with mental dullness and craving for cold water. The leading remedies for right-sided diphtheria, better from cold water, are Apis, Mercurius-dulcis, Mercurius-iodatus flavus and Phytolacca.
The general appearance of the patient was decisive and he received a single dose of Mercurius-dulcis DMM of Swann at 5 p.m. In ten hours the crisis came with profuse sweat and great relief; by the third day he was out of danger. This looks like an easy success and perhaps it was for it had behind it the old allopathic practice of giving Calomel for mixed diphtheritic infection, with the added and more definite homoeopathic indications and the result was all that could be reasonably expected.
A student aged 20 had an attack of flu with sleepiness, backache and pain in left shoulder. His history showed pneumonia of right lung with empyema at the age of five. Rapid emaciation with weight dropping 30 lb. to 162 followed this influenza. He did not do well under regular treatment and was referred to me. He brought with him an X-ray picture which showed a small cavity toward the inner side of the left apex of the lungs, with infiltrated areas spreading downward along the bronchus.
The morning temperature averaged about 97.6, the afternoon 98.8. There was a loud systolic swish in the left carotid artery just above the clavico-sternal junction (anaemia). The cough was excited by a slight choking, with grey-green expectoration in the morning until noon, but it was dry in afternoon. There was stiffness below the left collar-bone, then sore spots and a tired weak feeling in back; he could not sit upright. There were easy night sweats on the trunk. The face was pale, except for red cheeks; water blisters were present.
The mouth was dry in the morning and there was thirst. He craved bread, meat, milk and eggs. He was averse to company and talking, was sleepy on damp of rainy days and in cool air. Always tired out by evening. Was always worse when lying on left side or back and better from warmth. On 16th April he received Arsenicum Jenichen. Now, 26th November, he weighs 210 lb. and seems normal in all respects. He has had no other medicine, having spent the intervening months in the open air.
The diphtheria case shows how the force of circumstances may restrict our choice to the nearest similar as the most available remedy. The basis for the Arsenicum prescription in the case of tuberculosis lies, as you will see, in the constitutional trend exhibited by the outstanding symptoms which point strongly toward the remedy which cured.