(From The Homoeopathic Bulletin)
To a homoeopath, it is a very old subject, it has been written upon many times or lectured upon in the classroom times without number, and so may seem stale, even threadbare and incapable of a new presentation or creating a new interest, but, as Dr. Miller tells us of a Methodist preacher who said that “Unless salvation was preached twice on Sundays and prayed for on Wednesdays, people would forget all about it,” myself, on the same principle, venture to present this ancient subject before you once more.
In domestic practice, medicines are prescribed for a wonderful variety of reasons besides the true one. You may hear of a gentleman eagerly consuming a dozen bottles of some liver regulator, because it has been said to have helped somebodys friend with a trouble that he guesses to have been similar to his, or because the label says that it is a good spring medicine, and spring is soon going to be here, or because the advertisement says that it is a good blood or nerve regenerator and he is sure that all his troubles arise from impoverished blood or bad nerve.
Professional prescribing in the old school is not a bit better than domestic, although it is attended with a quantity of scientific flummery. The great majority of the allopathic profession are much influenced by the manufacturers of so-called patent medicines – the shrewd manufacturers of these proprietary preparations do much of the thinking of the doctors, and by means of travelling canvassers and free sample distributions urge their goods upon the profession and force them upon the druggists, so that very little trouble of individual thinking is done by the physicians. T
he irregular and unscientific method followed by the old school is clearly shown by the fact that prescribing mainly depends upon the routine and habit of thinking of the individual doctor, rather than upon the requirement of the individual patient.
It may be said that up till the time of Samuel Hahnemann, no principle of medicine was recognized, and even at this day in the writings and actions of the old school there is a complete acknowledgment that no principle exists. The old school declares that the practice of medicine depends entirely upon experience, upon what can be found out by giving medicines to the sick. Their shifting methods and theories, and rapid discoveries and abandonment of same, fully attest the sincerity of their acknowledgment and declarations. Homoeopathy leaves allopathy at this point, and so in this manner the great division between the two schools is effected.
It is very nicely put in the following lines by Sir John Weir, K.C.V.O., M.B., etc. “Homoeopathy has reversed the old saying, The science of to-day is the nonsense of tomorrow, for here, the nonsense of one hundred years ago is proving to be the science of to-day.” He again writes that changes are so rapid in our profession that it has been said, “If a doctor who dies to-day would come back fifty years from now and attempt to take up his profession, he would have to graduate all over again!” “And yet there was one great physician in the past who, were he to come back to earth to-day, could take up his work as he left it.
He would find new and exciting developments, possibilities and confirmations; but the essentials would be absolutely the same, because based on law. He would find thousands of doctors all over the globe treating their patients as he treated his, and experiencing thereby his astonishing results.” – And this is Homoeopathy. But this is by the way, and let me come back to the original article.
Samuel Hahnemann made a discovery and founded a school of medicine, the principles of which are very easily stated and understood. The tense formula, “Like is cured by like,” ad its corollaries – first, that the “totality of symptoms” is the only basis of prescription, and second that the smallest dose of a remedy required to effect a cure is all that is to be given, cover the principles.
Like many other things in Philosophy, however, the law of cure is much easier to state than to follow, and it is only the difficulties that beset its applications that have prevented its spread and universal adoption. Mens minds move in the direction of least resistance: it is only when the best methods are difficult that they adopt some other way.
The application of Homoeopathy involves: first, a physicians knowledge of the symptoms of the patient; and second, a knowledge of Homoeopathic Materia Medica, a subject that requires much study and reflection.
There are many ways of evading these simple requirements, and the tendency of human nature to take the easier rather than the correct way is one reason for much slovenly prescribing. Another reason is that until recently the teachings of Homoeopathy in the medical colleges, especially in our country, has been of a very poor quality, and one reason for this is the mushroom-like growth of Homoeopathic colleges that are daily seen all over the country.
Many physicians depend too much upon their memory; some are apt to run too much to keynotes; some depend upon diagnosis and pathology for their prescription and are thus insensibly led to prescribing for the disease rather than for the patient. Others, again, fall into habits of routine prescribing, never getting beyond their dozen or so favourite remedies.
The cure for all these imperfect, slovenly and wrong methods of homoeopathic prescribing is to remember that “the totality of symptoms is the only true and correct guide to the remedy needed.” But that means a discriminated totality in which all the symptoms are considered and their relative values determined, in the case, which is often overlooked when the phrase is used.
One should always keep in mind that in making the comparison between the morbid conditions existing and that to be induced for its removal, a similarity contemplates display of drug symptoms parallel and, as far as possible, co-extensive with that presented in the patient. No arbitrary limits can be set to the scope, order or character of the comparisons to be made.
The similarity is not to be in general appearance, colour of skin, pulse rate or temperature alone, but in each case must embrace all the symptoms or exponents of the disease presented for treatment. The totality of symptoms does not mean simply a numerical totality; if that were the case, any intelligent and industrious layman, with the knowledge of how to consult the books, could pick out the remedy as well as a trained physician, which is, however, not the case.