Just because the thing is impossible. And why impossible? Simply because the organism GROWS tumours vitally, and anything that is to cure, really cure, must bring back the perverted VITALITY of the part to the normal, and, fortunately, the semeiology and symptomatology of the sufferers, when read in the light of homoeopathy, give us a good stout hand-rope to guide us in our search for the right remedies.

If we reflect upon the subject, we shall readily come to the conclusion that to attempt to cure tumours by locally-applied absorbents or by operation is like trying to cure an apple-tree of its apples by painting the apples with iodine, or performing an operation on the apple-tree for “apples”.

The only difference between the two processes of apple-growing by apple-trees, and tumour-growing by human organisms, lies merely in the fact that the apple-growing is a part of the normal biology of the apple plant, whereas the growth of tumours by the human body is morbid. This difference is, of course, a very great one, but what I am driving at is to show that tumour-growing is, though certainly morbid, yet nevertheless quite as much a vital process as if it were purely a biological process within the four corners of the normal physiological life of the individual.

Gardeners tell me also that the real seat of the growth of apples is the roots of the tree, and that in the small lateral roots. Of that I have no personal knowledge, but I affirm, as the outcome of my own thought, observation, and experience, that the growth of most tumours in the female breasts has its rootings in the ovaries and womb. Of that I have no manner of doubt. This naturally does not apply to traumatic tumours of the breasts arising from direct blows on the breasts, but to a vast majority of all the others which are idiopathic or autochthonous.


An unmarried lady of 32 came under my observation on February 24th, 1885, for a number of hard tumours in both her breasts, which were otherwise of enormous size, yet shapely. She had also prolapsus uteri, leucorrhoea, an enormous liver, the left lobe of which reached down almost to the navel.

Carduus mariae O restored the liver to the normal, and so made more room for the dislocated womb, which soon took advantage of the altered topography of the abdominal contents; in fact, the prolapsus was gone. Quite a number of nosodes followed in high dilutions, and then Cundurango 1, Chionanthus virgin. O, Helonias dioica O, Hydrastis canadensis O, Bellis perennis, Acidum fluoris 6, Fluoride of Ammonium 5, Secale cornutum 6, Sarza O, Solanum tub. 6, Scrofularia nodosa 6; and, under date January 17th, 1888, I find noted in my Case book – the breasts are quite normal, with the peculiar resilient elastic feel of that organ when healthy.

I attribute the original cause (or at least one of the causes) to numerous cauterizations of the os uteri to which the unfortunate lady had been subjected by a fashionable ladys doctor of repute. I do not mean that the cauterizations of the womb alone produced the tumours of the breast, but rather that what was the cause of the ulcers, being denied an outlet at the os uteri, became vitally concreted in tumid masses in the breast, aided by the reflected mammary irritation from the os uteri.

I feel it is not fair to my subject to give a string of remedies that were here used to cure this case, without at the same time giving their diagnosis and indications, but space fails me. I might just add that the most striking, prompt, and permanent amelioration wrought in this case was by the Solanum tuberosum and by the Scrofularia nodosa, both in daily dose of five drops of the tincture of the sixth centesimal dilution, though the last prescription was the former remedy in the twelfth centesimal.


At the beginning of the year 1887, a lady friend and patient was consulting me on account of her health, and as she was very depressed, and frequently burst into tears, I pressed her to tell me the cause of her grief. “Oh,” said she, “I have a sister who is coming home from Germany to be operated on for cancer of the right breast. We are all very fond of dogs, and one of my sisters dogs jumped up to her and hurt her right breast very much, and now it has turned to cancer. She has been using ice compresses for over a year, and been under the Crown Princes physician, and under Dr. —–, who is sending her home for the opinion of Dr. —–“.

“Is there nothing in the world that can cure cancer?” said she.

My reply was – what I here solemnly restate – that most cases of cancer are quite curable by remedies IF TAKEN EARLY, AND TREATED LONG AND CONTINUOUSLY BY INTERNAL REMEDIES, and that in this way I had myself cured many cases of cancer.

“Then,” said she, “I suppose it is too late for my sister, for she has had it for more than a year and a half, and the doctors say that the operation is her only chance”.

April 2nd. I went to see the lady at her sisters house soon after her arrival from the Continent, and found them all, very naturally, in a sad state of mind. The patient had received a letter from Dr. —- urging an immediate operation, as otherwise the cancer-juice in the milk ducts would infallibly poison her blood. Subsequently the other gentleman, Dr. —–, saw the lady and concurred, and went so far as to say that delay, even till the next day, was most dangerous for fear of constitutional infection.

My kind professional brethren impatiently scouted my views as mere senseless, not to say wicked, talk.

On examining the right breast and comparing it with the left, one was struck with the diminution in the size of the right one. The nipple was deeply retracted, and from the little funnel- shaped opening in the nipple-region there oozed an ill-smelling fluid. The breast itself was puckered, and one raised ridge on its outer aspect was inflamed, swelled, and bluish at one part, – an unmistakable picture of cancer. I therefore agreed as to the diagnosis.

We had a very long conversation about it, and it was a terrible position for me to take up in the face of almost all the experience of the world, in the face of the eminent authorities arrayed against me, in the teeth of the sneering, jeering opposition of connections, belongings, and their medical and surgical friends.

Nor was it easy for the responsible friends or the patient herself to decide finally either for my treatment by medicines or for the operation.

To see the unfortunate lady looking at her sisters, them at me, then at her poor breast, and then reading her own doctors letter urging the imperativeness of immediate operative interference, and then bursting into a flood tears, and saying she did not know what to do, is a scene similar to others I have often seen; but it remains ever with me all the same. I concluded the deliberations by saying, “Mrs. —-, the breast is yours, mark that; not your sisters, not your doctors, not mine, but yours; and if I were you I would keep it. I promise you nothing, but I tell you that, in my experience, and speaking humanly, medicines can cure you, though the course of the cure will be slow; for that I find is almost invariably the case in the treatment of tumours, whether malignant or benign, the mending the help of medicines is slow”.

“Well,” said she, “I refuse the operation, and will do as you tell me”.

The breast being painful, red, and of traumatic origin (the weight of a heavy dog by its paws), I ordered Bellis per. I, ten drops in water every four hours. This was April 2nd, 1887. Nothing locally at all, now, or hereafter.

14th. Vast improvement.

Rx. Arnica montana 1x. Five drops three times a day.

21st. Better on the whole.

Rx. Repeat, and also give Chelidonium majus 1x.

May 5th. Not quite so well, and the skin of the diseased breast is red; more painful; has just menstruated.

Rx. Bellis per. O. Five drops in water three times a day.

12th. Better a good deal; the covering skin is less red, and the nipple is not quite so much retracted.

18th. Mending beautifully; the breast is softer; nipple less drawn in; a portion of the cutaneous covering is still red.

Rx Repeat.

26th Mending.

Rx. Repeat.

June 2nd. The mammae is less retracted, and the breast begins to be slightly movable. Heretofore it was so retracted and held down by bridles of tissue behind it that it could not be moved as a whole at all. Is menstruating.

Rx. Repeat four times a day.

9th. Still improving; nipple less retracted.

Rx. Repeat.

16th. The breast is getting bigger (i.e., returning towards its previous natural size) and less immovable.

Rx Repeat five times a day.

23rd. The breast is much less drawn in; the top of the nipple is now sunk only about half an inch from the level; all the discoloration has gone from the mammary surface; and patient is getting stouter.

Rx. Repeat.

July 2nd. Much running from the nose; runs like water ever since she took the Bellis (pathogenetic ?). There is a little more tenderness of the breast; to-day is the last day of the menses.

Rx Repeat

9th. some redness around the areola mammillae.

Rx Repeat

14th. The coryza is very bad, for which patient comes; bad cough; much green expectoration tinged with blood. The cold is like others she has had.

Rx Repeat

28th. The breast not quite so well. (Is menstruating.)

Rx Repeat gtt. x.

August 6th. I learn to-day from the patient, for the first time, that this right nipple has peeled at times for years with offensive discharge. In this state it is now.

Rx Repeat

16th. No change in the nipple, which is still peeling.

Rx Repeat

August 25th. th breast is slowly returning to the normal as to appearance, but there is still much discharge from the nipple.

Rx Repeat

September 8th. There is a little redness of the areola.

Rx. sul.30., 3ij., gtt. v. ter die.

27th. Much improved, but the redness is still there.

To take Belladonna 30 with the Sul., and thereafter return to the Bellis as before.

October 11th. Mending; the breast is slowly resuming its former proportions, though it is still hard.

Rx Bellis O.

November 12th. Not so well.

Hydrastis can. O.

19th. Slight improvement, there being less redness in the areola.


29th. The Hydrastis seems to be causing diarrhoea.

Arnica montana 3x.

December 8th. Has a cold.

To alternate Aconite 3x with the Arnica.

29th. Breast continues hard, but there is less areolar redness.

Chelidonium O and Aconite 3x.

But I need not go on with these wearisome details; some more remedies were needed, patient got better and better, and returned early in 1888 to Germany, and I have not since seen her; but in a letter to me, under date of May 8th, 1888, patient says, “the hard lump is slowly decreasing”. Perhaps before this goes to press I may be able to give the end of the treatment, but this will not much matter, as patient was practically well before she left for the Continent.

I may add that the two English doctors who were so sure that it was cancer, and who insisted upon immediate operation, and whose letters I myself read, when asked by me through the patient (just before she left for the Continent) whether they would allow me to have their original letters containing their diagnosis, prognosis, and recommendation of operation; well-they refused! And now they deny that they ever said positively that it was cancer; thy only recommended the operation in case it should be cancer.

The frankness and honesty of ones allopathic colleagues are wonderful articles. However, they have, as usual, had to munch the leek. The great pity is that so much energy should be used up by us medical reformers merely to keep on our feet. We boast a good deal of our advanced state of culture and civilization, but will someone explain to me how it is that many of even the most wonderfully-cultured and most highly educated people of the day seem absolutely incapable of differentiating between self- denying, not to say heroic, medical reformers and persons who sell nostrums. In practical medicine this is a crux indeed. But the world was ever thus.

At the end of the month of November of the year 1886, a married lady of 40 odd years of age came to consult me in respect of a hard tumour of the size of a hens egg in the lower third of her left breast, painful at times, and due originally, it was stated, to a hurt. I find no note of the date of the hurt. Patient was the mother of a large family and she had also flooded and miscarried, and her menses had always been very profuse and long lasting, so that for years she had been barely ever able to completely recover from one period before she was overtaken by another, and hence she had acquired a weak heart from the chronic anaemia.

She had suffered also for many years badly from leucorrhoea, and latterly her feet swelled. She was stated to have had scarlatina, measles, and mumps, each twice, and besides having had smallpox, she had been four times vaccinated, the last three times unsuccessfully. There were many little wartiness here and there on the cutaneous surface, such as I have become accustomed to regard as pointing to cancer.

Rx. Thuja occidentalis 30.

December 18th. Very great improvement was reported and patient was well of the tumour and of herself by the spring of 1887.

Besides the Thuja occid, given repeatedly and over a number of weeks, Magnesia sul. 3x was given for some little time. Over a year later the patient was reported to me as being well.

Here the medicinal and curative action was not only very remarkable, but also very remarkably prompt, which I attribute to the fact that the swelling was merely a dyscratic organismic reaction to the trauma of such recent date that the swelling was not yet neoplastic. When the causal dyscrasia was extinguished the predisposing cause of the swelling was gone too, and hence the swelled tissue constituting the tumour had to shrink and shrivel. I thought it would have taken much longer to cure the tumour than it actually did, because it seemed to me probable that neoplasia had set in to a greater extent than was evidently the case.


At the beginning of 1888 I was consulted in regard to a tumour of the left breast of a healthy young lady of about 20 years of age, and which had not been noticed very long. It was in its upper and outer aspects, but deep in the body of the breast. Of course, the young ladys mother and friends were greatly alarmed, and an operation was thought to be the only thing to do. It stands described in my account of the case as of the size of a large orange, but I do not think it was quite so large.

In four months the tumour had quite disappeared, the remedies having been Thuja occidentalis 30, Bellis perennis O, Ceanothus Americanus I, and Cundurango Ix, and the last named being apparently the remedial force, and which was given because of the browny look of patients skin.

The rapid cure of the tumour was evidently due to the fact that it was from reflected ovarian irritation, and not a neoplasm. Nevertheless it was only “an operation” that the faculty and family representatives discussed together. Indeed, the ready way in which the operative carpenters, commonly called surgeons, recommend the removal of ladies breasts in whole or in part is truly staggering.


Although tumours of the breast are much more common in women than in men, still they do also occur in the breasts of males, more particularly in later life. Such a one is the following:

On April 23rd, 1881, there came to me a rather tall, spare, cachectic-looking gentleman, a London professional man, of about 70 years of age, telling me that ever since the previous February he had been greatly worried, and this was followed by a sensitiveness in his left nipple, which soon passed off and went to the right nipple, wherein it still was. On examining the part I found it the seat of a hard tumid mass of the size of a pigeons egg. Patient first noticed it was swelled a month previously. It is not actually painful, but there is a sensation of fulness and uneasiness, and he cannot lie on it, hence it arrests his attention.

Rx. Psor. 30, mvj.; s. l. q. s., ft. pulv., tales xij., j. nocte.

May 7th. There is still a sensation of fulness in it; patient thinks it is softer, in which opinion I share. It is a little smaller. Since taking the powders he has had some bilious attacks.

Rx. Repeat.

21st. It is much smaller; there is much less sensitiveness, and patient can now sleep lying on his right side, which was previously not possible.

Rx. Repeat.

May 28th. The sensitiveness is now confined to the nipple alone, still he can sleep lying on it. He is constipated, and his tongue is thickly furred.

Rx. Hydrastis canadensis 3x, 3iv.

S. gtt. v., nocte maneque.

June 14th. The sensitiveness still continues, but it has very much decreased.

Rx. Repeat.

July 2nd. Less sensitiveness; tumour still decreasing in size; on the sternum, on a level with the nipple, there is a scabby eruption of the size of a three penny piece, having a red ground, the rest being yellowish. He is still constipated.

Rx Tc. Hydrastis canad. 6, 3iv., gtt. v., n. m.

July 23rd. He has scabs on the scalp; a yellow scab at the middle of the sternum; also on his hands. The nipple is no longer sensitive at all.

Rx Tc. Thuja occid. 30, in infrequent doses.

August 13th. The tumour has disappeared, with the exception of one of the size of a hazel-nut. There is still some scaly eruption on the sternum.

Rx Psor. 30 (two to a month).

September 16th. No trace of the tumour to be found. There is still a patch of reddish scaly eruption on the skin of the chest.

Rx Tc. Chelidonium. maj. 3x, gtt. nocte.

October 13th. No trace of tumour; still a circular patch at midsternum. Bowels a little relaxed.

Rx Trit. 6, Nat. sul.

27th. Well; and has a healthy complexion, whereas it was, at the beginning of the treatment, quite earthy.

Six years have elapsed since then, during all which time the patient has remained well of the tumour, i.e., it has never returned. Two or three times or more in every year the gentleman is in the habit of coming to see me, “To be kept in repair.” Before I began the treatment I was importuned by his friends as to whether I was quite sure it was safe to forego an operation, “which, you know, Sir J.– says is the only chance !”.

What did the friends say after the tumour was cured by remedies? Were they grateful ? Perhaps; they have so scrupulously avoided the subject ever since that I have no means of knowing.

Nevertheless the tumour remains cured, and that is the main point.

If any care to know my opinion of the pathology of this tumour, I wish to say I think it was scirrhus. That it was a very hard lump is quite sure.

Speaking biopathologically, more meo, the basis of the thing was PSORA- VACCINOSIS.


Under this heading I desire to make a few cursory yet practical remarks on the causation of mammary tumours in women. To begin with, the tumours in the female breast are very rarely primary to the breasts, but are most commonly produced in the breasts much in the same way that the organ is enabled to perform its natural function of suckling the human offspring, i.e., the part is rendered physiologically active from the utero-ovarian sphere. Whether this view of the origin of mammary tumours has ever been promulgated before I do not know, in any case I have it from my own observations in practical life.

Usually there is some disease or irritation in the lower part of the body, either arising primarily there, or else expressed there homoeopathically. I will not enter into the details of these causes here, as the subject is too large for my present purpose, which will be sufficiently served if I say that wearing pessaries, making intra-vaginal injections for the purposes of cleanliness or otherwise, or for the cure of ulcerations and discharges, and other mechanical hurts and injuries to the parts, the cautery, genetic frauds and surrogates,all these may severely result in the formation of tumours in the ovaries, uterus, or breasts.

The one point I here insist upon is that mammary tumours do not usually arise from a cause existing primarily in the breasts themselves, but the cause is usually in some other more or less remote part of the organism, most frequently in the ovaries. Or the cause is organismic, and the tumour is the mammary expression of the constitutional condition of the individual.

James Compton Burnett
James Compton Burnett was born on July 10, 1840 and died April 2, 1901. Dr. Burnett attended medical school in Vienna, Austria in 1865. Alfred Hawkes converted him to homeopathy in 1872 (in Glasgow). In 1876 he took his MD degree.
Burnett was one of the first to speak about vaccination triggering illness. This was discussed in his book, Vaccinosis, published in 1884. He introduced the remedy Bacillinum. He authored twenty books, including the much loved "Fifty Reason for Being a Homeopath." He was the editor of The Homoeopathic World.