In casting about for the best method of carrying out these clinical experiments various plans suggested themselves, but no very satisfactory one.
In the first place, we cannot accept most acute diseases as appropriate for experimentation, because of the many objections that may reasonably be offered to the results of any treatment of them. It is said that almost all acute affections tend to recovery of themselves.
If an experiment result in apparently shortening the course of any such affection, it is objected that the vis medicatrix nature did it; or, the disease being one that runs a definite course if treated expectantly, the diagnosis is called in question.
Apropos of the expectant or do-nothing method. If one of our learned fraternity declare his non-belief in medicine and give only a placebo without prayer, we think him very scientific, a great pathologist, and a fine kenner of the natural course of disease; he watches natures ways purely and simply, desiring to be neither her minister nor her master, but only her observer, and the law protects him and the faculty honour him.
But let one of the unlettered Shaker community do the same thing with prayer, and the law and the faculty unite to punish him. So if there be not one law for the poor and another for the rich, there are one for the doctor and another for the Shaker-and all the worse for the Shaker.
But to return, the writer believes that he sometimes succeeds in breaking up measles with the aid of Gelsemium and Sulphur, but it might be a very difficult matter to satisfy another that he really does.
Hence, acute affections of fixed nosology are mostly eliminated as offering too many difficulties, in private practice especially.
Of chronic affections a great number are also not appropriate; thus a chronic ulcer of the leg may suddenly take on a healing action independently of the treatment a chronic bronchitis or other congestion may be suddenly made better by change of temperature or the veering round of the wind. Still there remain some chronic complaints that are eminently fitted for experimentation more particularly certain symptoms or groups of symptoms.
Of course no alterations are to be made either in diet or hygiene, or place of abode.
Having determined on the kind of case best adapted for proving or disproving the doctrine of drug dynamization, another serious difficult presents itself, viz.: whether the drug that supposedly proved itself curative of a given ailment, for instance, in the billionth dilution, did so simply because it contained some of the right medicine.
Thus if a headache disappear in three days,under the use of Gelsemium 6, and granted that it disappeared proper hoc, how are we to know that there was any dynamic effect there since probably it may have yielded to five drops of the fresh juice of the plant perhaps even more promptly. Therefore it should be shown that the crude substance in various quantities and in a soluble condition failed to effect the cure.
Here, again, another difficulty crops up. You must give the remedy in substance first, for the dilution might cure, and whether it did or not the experiment would fail; if the dilution cured there would be no opportunity of trying the crude substance, and if it failed to cure the experiment would of curse fail altogether in the present sense.
Therefore you give the drug in substance first of all. Then comes this other question: how long does the substance given continue to influence the economy or the disease in it? Suppose we were to assume a fortnight as the duration of its action, say of Bryonia O, might not the objection for three weeks, and therefore the cure supposedly effected by Bryonia 6 in the third week might in reality have been due to the Bryonia O.
Again, this would have to be determined for every single drug, since the duration of their action is held to be different.
So the thing bristles with almost insuperable difficulties. Still the matter calls for elucidation and, if possible, settlement.
For it has been affirmed by many able practitioners, by Hahnemann himself, and it is being daily and hourly re-affirmed by men of sound science that drugs do act differently and better when dynamized. In fact, many affirm, as did Hahnemann, that the doctrine is of transcendental importance, as many serious diseases can only be cured with dynamized drugs, being entirely incurable with the same drug in substantial doses, and so often altogether incurable unless with a highly potentized remedy.
Yet we cannot accept any mans dictum, and faith can have no place in science. In verba magistri jurare does not advance science on whit, but neither does mere sceptical negation.
Any experiments on the subjection, to be satisfactory, must be of such a nature that they may be repeated by others, proper circumstances and material being given.
It seems to the writer that there is one drug above all others in the materia medica which may greatly help in the elucidation of this important subject, viz. Natrum muriaticum. He has not the pretention to settle the question one way or the other, except for himself, but he thinks his ideas on the subject, together with a few clinical experiments, may prove suggestive to his professional brethren, and possibly advance the cause of truth a little.
He will advance it historically, that is as the thing arose and grew in his own mind stimulated by observation.