THIS is a nervous age, and scores of thousands of people complain about inability to sleep. This position has been shamelessly exploited by the great drug houses which supply the doctors with a large number of dangerous, benumbing drugs which, of course, poison the unfortunate patients in course of time.
The modern doctors goes about like a mediaeval poisoner. His case contains a large number of extremely dangerous substances to kill pain and give sleep, and if the doctors case is lost or stolen there are frantic appeals by wireless and in the press to find the parcel which contains sufficient poison to kill a large number of people.
It is a well-known fact that orthodox medicine gives maximum doses. If a dose for pain or sleeplessness is considerably increased, it may kill the patient. Every year numerous patients die from these deadly drugs. Sir William Wilcox, the eminent poison expert at the Home Office, has protested time after time against the misuse of veronal, and other benumbing drugs of the barbituric group, which has killed hundreds, and sent thousands of people into the lunatic asylums.
The ordinary doctor, if confronted with a case of insomnia, readily prescribes veronal, luminal, or whatever his favourite medicine may be, and interpolates a few doses of bromide as a sedative, and he increases the quantities of these drugs, which in due course lose their potency, until the patient gets a serious bromide rash, or some other eruption, or until his mind obviously gives way to the alarm of his relatives.
A wise doctor once told me that the most dangerous thing about sleeplessness consists in sleep-producing medicines. Very frequently insomnia can be cured by homely, non-medicinal remedies, such as a sharp walk before going to bed, a hot foot bath, to draw the blood from the head, by rubbing the spine downward with a hot flannel, by a dish of raw or boiled onions taken last thing at night, by massaging the feet in bed, a thing which is practised in the countries of the East, by reading to the patient a dull book in a monotonous voice, or by several of these things combined. Only if these commonsense and unobjectionable methods should fail, should the doctor resort to medicine, and he should never give the terrible poisonous substances favoured by the unorthodox doctor.
There is in homoeopathy no single remedy for sleeplessness. Each case has to be investigated on its merits. If the constitutional symptoms of the patient call for Sulphur, or Nux vomica. The Sulphur patient cannot stand heat, feels a sinking at 11 oclock in the morning, dislikes washing, is prone to skin eruptions. The Nux vomica patient is usually black-eyed, with dark hair, irritable, likes highly spiced foods, alcohol, strong tobacco, etc.
I would illustrate the way in which homoeopathic medicines are used specifically with one or two examples.
The fact that individuals suffer from sleeplessness is of no particular importance. It is all-important to know what form the sleeplessness takes. For instance, if the patient is physically restless, tosses and tumbles about in bed, is ultra tidy, loves hot food, and hot drink, and hot applications, Arsenic is called for, and a dose of a millionth or a billionth of a grain would probably give him sleep. If on the other hand the insomnia is due to nervousness without any further explanation, the patient being affected by depression, Ignatia will probably prove the right remedy.
A cup of strong black coffee taken before going to bed is apt to keep people wide awake. They cannot sleep because the coffee has increased the activity of their brain, and they feel more wide awake than they did before they went to bed. In accordance with the principle of similarity, such people are given Coffea cruda or Coffea tosta in infinitely small doses, which will usually cure this most aggravating form of sleeplessness.
A good repertory, and an adequate Materia Medica must, of course, be studied in every individual ease, with the necessary care.