From The Journal of the American Institute of homoeopathy.
I AM a firm believer in homoeopathy being the only law of cure. In that valuable little book, Homoeopathy in Medicine and Surgery, Dr. Edmund Carleton says: “The Homoeopathist accomplishes much with medicine where his old school neighbour is helpless. I shall add from my own experience-yes, absolutely helpless. I graduated originally from an allopathic college and know whereof I speak. the following year I attended and graduated from Hahnemann of Philadelphia.
The first case of rheumatism treated was probably the worst I have ever treated, for the poor old lady had ankylosed knee and ankle joints. I could only offer relief from pain and possible stopping of the progress of the disease. In such a serious case I was afraid to depend on homoeopathy, and so gave the salicylates. The only change in the patient that I noticed was a persistent nausea.
Then I studied the case carefully and prescribed the indicated homoeopathic remedy. The prompt improvement in the patient surprised me and I have not treated a case of rheumatism since then with other than homoeopathic medicines. Of course I could not restore the ankylosed joints to usefulness, but I was able to halt the progress of the disease and relieve the pain absolutely.
I shall now attempt to give briefly the indications of the medicines which I have used most frequently in treating rheumatism, although there are many other homoeopathic remedies which are often indicated.
We think of Aconite at the beginning of almost any acute disease, unless some other remedy is markedly indicated. As the Aconite stage is rather short, sometimes that stage has passed before the patient comes to the physician. The Aconite patient has a high fever, sudden onset; skin is hot; when you put your hand on him the skin fairly burns your hand. He is restless, tossing about, and complains a great deal.
He is worse on motion. Aconite is particularly indicated in cases of articular rheumatism and in rheumatic affections of the large muscles of the lower extremity. I use Aconite 3x and at the beginning of an attack give about six doses half an hour apart; then at longer intervals.
Belladonna is a useful remedy in rheumatism. You find the high fever with red shining swelling, and throbbing carotids, probably a throbbing headache, flushes face and the other Belladonna symptoms. Symptoms are worse on motion, even slight motion. A sour sweat which does not relieve. Pains may come on suddenly and disappear as suddenly. May jump from one point to another. My use of Belladonna in rheumatism has largely been confined to frequent doses, say every half-hours for a few doses to relieve the pain.
In such cases I use the 1x, I would not give many doses of that potency, for if it does not relieve the pain promptly there is not use in continuing it indefinitely. I have not used this remedy extensively for the cure of a case of rheumatism, but when I do so use it, I employ the 3x; that is, I select the 3x in the regular treatment of a case, but the 1x when I want to relieve the pain, and it has been very useful in the 1x to give the patient rest. That is my experience. It may not have been yours.
In speaking of relieving the pain of rheumatism, I may say that Passiflora has helped me out frequently. I have never had satisfactory results from any preparation of this remedy excepting Lloyds specific medicine, used in the strength of a dram to the ounce, a teaspoonful of this mixture at a dose repeated every hour if necessary. Now a hint about using Passiflora.
Sometimes I got results and frequently did not, until and old eclectic physician explained to me that this remedy was valueless unless the patient had a clean tongue. That valueless unless the patient had a clean tongue. That is a good point to remember. Since observing that point it has been satisfactory to me.
One of our most useful remedies is Bryonia. I use the 3x. Occasionally, if I am sure that it is the indicated remedy and yet I do not get the desired results promptly, I try the 1x, usually successfully. I heard the late Dr. Joseph Guernsey say that there were two ways to spell Bryonia-Bry and Dry, because everything about Bryonia is dry. That is easy to remember and such a good key note.
Bryonia is worse on motion; the farther he walks or the more he moves the worse he feels. There is not much fever with Bryonia. He has thirst for large quantities of water; a small drink does not satisfy. The muscles are sore to the touch. Patient is constipated with no desire to move the bowels. Pains and swelling do not move from point to point. Patient does not want to move but is so restless that he must move. However, it does not relieve him.
I rely largely on Caulophyllum ex to relieve rheumatism of the small joints. So often patients come with rheumatism of wrists and finger joints from working in water, and how promptly it relieves. The joints often are badly swollen, but this remedy works wonders in such cases. I find it applicable to rheumatism of any of the smaller joints. This remedy seems particularly suited to women with uterine and ovarian troubles. It seems to me that Caulophyllum is rather a womans remedy.
Sometimes China is useful in this disease. With China we have little fever, or it is intermittent, better on alternate days. The case is worse on motion and by contact. China, too, is suitable to rheumatism of the smaller joints. We must not forget that characteristic symptoms of better one day and worse the next.
Pulsatilla has helped me out often where the rheumatic pains shifted from one point to another. The patient feels that he must move although moving does not relieve the pain. We have the characteristic tearfulness of this remedy. Patient cries almost without cause. Patient is chilly, but better in open air. The pain my be on only one side. The rheumatism of Pulsatilla is often caused by getting feet wet.
Now I come to one of our useful remedies in this disease: Rhus tox. How could we treat a large portion of our cases of rheumatism without this truly wonderful remedy? When we have a case of rheumatism where the patient was overheated, sweating or got wet, or sat down on a stone or on cement steps to cool off and rheumatism developed, we immediately think of Rhus tox., especially if he is worse in bed and must move. He is especially if he is worse in bed and must move.
He is worse on motion, but better on continuous motion. Worse in wet weather. This remedy seems to me to be deep acting, suitable to rheumatism of the deeper muscles and of the periosteum. Cool, fresh air aggravates the symptoms. He is worse when the storm breaks.
My experience has been that it frequently is hard to differentiate between the rheumatism calling for Rhus tox. and that calling for Rhododendron. They have many symptoms in common, or so nearly so that it is difficult to decide which remedy to prescribe. Rhododendron is better when the storm breaks. The Rhododendron patient can foretell the storm; the Rhus tox. patient cannot, for his suffering does not begin until the storm breaks. Rhus tox. is more suitable to rheumatism in cold weather, while Rhododendron is applicable to rheumatism in warm weather.
Rhododendron has aggravation of pains in the night and toward morning; rhus tox. more toward evening and night and on starting to move in the morning, although better on continued motion. It is said that Rhus tox. acts more on the right side. The Rhododendron patient must move the limb and is relieved thereby, but while the Rhus tox. patient also must move the part it does not relieve but makes it more painful, although continued motion for some time does relieve.
I confess that often I cannot differentiate between these two very useful remedies. In such cases I prescribe Rhus tox. and if, after giving it a fair trial I do not get satisfactory results, I change to Rhododendron and almost invariably am successful. I give Rhododendron in the 2x and occasionally the 3x. I give Rhus tox. 3x as a rule, but have used the 30x successfully where the 3x had failed me.
A remedy which we do not often think of in rheumatism, but which when indicated gives brilliant results, is Ruta. It is indicated where there is puffiness of the instep in cold, damp weather and is suited to the small joints, although not as often indicated in such condition as Caulophyllum. The Ruta patient is better from dry heat, are rest, and when lying down. I use Ruta 3x.
My best bet in any sort of rheumatism is Colchicine, and the most satisfactory preparation I have had I make myself from Mercks Colchicine, but it must be prepared accurately and given cautiously. A number of times I have prescribed it successfully for persons whom I have never seen. Professor Charles Mohr of Hahnemann College, Philadelphia, impressed it on his classes: “We must take the totality of the symptoms in prescribing.” While some of the remedies i have mentioned may not be suited to certain cases which may come to us, I think they will suit most cases, and I think the Colchicine which I have mentioned will suit a major portion of them without taking the totality of the symptoms.
A remedy not generally thought of in the treatment of rheumatism if Hyoscyamus. Where the patient is ill-natured, unreasonable, and complains beyond all reason, in this or any other disease, a few doses of Hyoscyamus 3x will surprise you very pleasantly.
While it is not proper for a really good homoeopath to alternate, most of us do it sometimes. We know the books teach us that Rhus tox. and Bryonia are antidotal. In my early practice, before I knew this, an old fellow whom I treated for rheumatism failed to respond to anything I gave him until I gave him these two medicines in alternation. They worked like a charm on him. Either one alone did not help him, but the two did relieve him, and he took the combination off and on for several years.
Then he became angry at me for an imaginary insult and I heard from time to time of other physicians treating him. Finally he came to me and apologized for his actions and begged me to give him two more bottles of those little pills I had given him before.
Regarding gonorrhoeal rheumatism, where the discharge has been suppressed by the patients getting wet or chilled so that rheumatism follows, the pain will be excruciating, but is promptly relieved by a few doses of Sulphur. I use the 30x, which re-establishes the discharge and promptly relieves. One caution about using Sulphur. Never give it in the afternoon or evening. In the morning this remedy has a curative effect, but afternoon it aggravates.
Thuja is also useful in gonorrhoeal rheumatism, after the discharge has been re-established by the use of Sulphur. The Thuja patient is better from warmth, from moving the affected part, and after midnight.
There seems to be a fad just now to extract the teeth of persons suffering with rheumatism. Possibly it is justifiable in occasional cases. Recently in conversation with one of the best dentists that I have ever known, I stated that I believe that in about one-half of the instances where people had their teeth extracted for relief from rheumatism, the teeth were sacrificed unnecessarily and without benefit to the patient. His reply was: “You are wrong in your estimate, for I believe that more than 90 per cent, of the teeth removed to relieve rheumatism should not be extracted”.
Locally I have never had anything to give relief from the pain of articular rheumatism like the static-induced current does, but it is such a nuisance to keep a static machine in proper running condition that I have finally discarded mine. I did not have enough use for it to justify the annoyance, worry and work of keeping it in order, and then often, just when I needed it, it would refuse to generate.
The positive galvanic current when properly applied has been very satisfactory in my hands in treating articular rheumatism.
I have not used the infra-red lamp long enough to say certainly whether it is to be relief upon or not, but in the few cases I have used it, it had given satisfactory results.
Hot witchhazel locally often relieves rheumatic pains.
My experience with antiphlogistine and antithermoline in rheumatism has certainly been disappointing. In saying this I do not mean to denounce their use in treating pneumonia, as the latter had saved many lives for me.