NORMAL healthy life manifests its functional activity with pleasure to the subject if he is conscious of it at all. The sense of pleasure accompanying the performance of every function is one of the best evidences of perfect health, and so discomfort or pain is one of the most common, one of the earliest and most persistent evidences of disease. Pain may be looked upon as the physical conscience of the bodily life, the monitor of wrong done or endured.
Pain is a symptom always; true, at times, one of much dignity with imperious demands for immediate consideration, but nevertheless a mere symptom of mischief somewhere, and it behoves the wise physician to discover, whenever possible, its pathological basis, as it does the careful prescriber to analyse its character and conditions. Since its aid in diagnosis is frequently of higher value than that of any other single symptoms, it becomes evident how important the recognition and study of pain as a symptom in every case of disease becomes.
How futile, too, to cover it up by some painkiller and thus not only deprive ourselves of much valuable information as to the disease, but moreover load the system with some foreign intruder and possibly lay the foundation for some drug habit, but no means an imaginary fear.
We are told that pain is the cry of hungry nerves for healthy food and, unquestionably, impoverished conditions of the general system on account of deficient supply of nourishment to the part may give rise to pain which nothing will relieve until this cause is met. Here belongs the dull vertical pain with sense of weight and depression of cerebral anaemia, very common with women. Phosphor. acid produces and helps to cure such a condition.
Malaria is a prolific cause of persistent pain. Browague is its common expression. Periodicity, of course, is another of its manifestations. Arsenic, Cedron, Nat. sulph. and Chin. ars. are our remedies to be considered. Then comes syphilis as a very frequent cause of violent, crushing, persistent pains. These are often due to the pressure of thickened periosteum and may yield only to Iodide of Potash. It must be remembered that the prognosis of neuralgia depending on both malaria and syphilis is quite favourable.
It is too late in the day to deny the efficacy of the anti-kamnic properties of Syphilinum given in the highest potencies. Many pains are due to the diathetic power of gout, rheumatism, and diabetes, which states must receive attention before a cure is possible. Here the influence of uric acid as an etiological factor is of paramount importance, and before homoeopathic remedies can act satisfactorily suitable regimen and hygienic habits must be enforced.
The same holds good of those undoubted cases of auto-intoxic conditions where long neglect of the state of the bowels has brought these on. Rational cleansing process of the tract primarily with all other extra homoeopathic aids may be necessary before the chosen similar remedy can effect a cure.
With us in California, a very prolific cause of pain of all kinds in certain patients is the north wind. This insidious, dry, irritating atmospheric factor is responsible for many a manifestation of “nerves” among our patients. I know no remedy that possesses much modifying influence over it, although, theoretically, Aconite ought to be of benefit, and whatever good results I have seen from its use have been with the higher attenuations.
The successful treatment of pain unquestionably includes its reference to the pathological basis. The pathology and symptoms expressing this must form part, and a most valuable part, of the totality of symptoms that must guide us to our remedy. For instance, it is not immaterial, therapeutically, whether pain is caused by impoverishment of blood, or by encroachment of new growths, or by ulceration of tissues giving rise to exposure of nerve fibres, or to malaria or syphilis or some other toxic influence.
In order to prescribe successfully for pain, the homoeopathic physician must bear in mind that pain is but one symptoms whose peculiarity he must study; and its relation to all the morbid states of the patient must be considered. In short, it is the patient always and his totality of symptoms that must form the basis of the prescribers art. Practical application of our therapeutic method has long ago taught us that every complete prescription has as its elements consideration of symptoms pertaining :.
1. To the locality involved.
2. To the kind of sensory disturbances, i.e. character of pain or altered sensation.
3. To the modalities, 01 accompanying modifying factors, i.e. conditions of weather, times of day, rest and exercise, warmth and cold, etc.
Every complete symptom is made up of these three elements and whenever possible ought to be so analysed in order to utilize it for a homoeopathic prescription. In the treatment of pain another factor is of importance in determining the curative remedy and that is the immediate etiological factor, if known.
Whenever we can cover with our medicine these conditions, a speedy curative response is certain; quicker perhaps with the higher attenuations higher in proportion to the great similarity, although this is not an absolute rule. But even if only one condition is well marked experience teaches that often the remedy so indicated is capable of helpful curative service of a high order.
The Materia Medica is full of valuable suggestions, but my object is to call to mind such as I have personally verified in practice or seen so verified by others.
Taking the first division, locality. Our Materia Medica furnishes us with many well-tried and frequently verified remedies, adapted to and acting especially upon certain parts of the body.
In certain cases this is so pronounced and the elective affinity of certain drugs for certain organs so plainly evident from the provings and from ultimate lesions as testified by pathological anatomy as to be truly wonderful.
While the seat of pain may have comparatively little relation to the true location of the disease excepting gastric pain which usually locates it, yet for homoeopathic therapeutic purposes the seat of pain as experienced by the patient is always important and often leads to the right remedy.
The reason, of course, is evident. Our provings are simple records of symptoms produced independent of their pathological interpretation, and in passing we see how wisely the builders of the homoeopathic Materia Medica worked by keeping the record pure of all pathological speculation and making the outward expression of the morbid condition produced, namely the subjective and objective symptoms, the only legitimate basis for recording drug action and for guidance in drug selection.
What homoeopath does not associate Cactus with the heart, Podophyllum with the duodenum, Argentum with the joints, Oxalic acid with the spine, Belladonna with the brain, Aloes with the rectum, Ceanothus with the spleen, etc. ? But aside from this general organopathy, our remedies seek certain parts of organs and tissues by preference and the careful prescriber will seek to utilize this more minute affinity.
Thus we all think of Chelidon. for pain under right shoulder blade and Cedron for supra-orbital pain; Gelsem. and picric acid for occipital pain; Spigelia, when pain centres around left eye; Coffea, pain in the parietal bone as if a nail were driven in ; Bellis per. for pain in the coccyx; Mezereum, when it seats itself especially in the malar bones, etc. Every practitioner soon gains from his own observations knowledge of some of these localities, which become always suggestive, and offer certain guides to curative remedies.
So Myrtus became associated with the upper left chest about the third rib, and Illicium with the corresponding place on the right side. Kalmia for all sorts of flying pain in region of the heart; Ulmus for pains in the wrists; Zinc, aching in the last lumbar vertebra; China, for sensitiveness of scalp; Mel cum sale, hypogastric pain, and so on indefinitely. In this category belong sensory hyperaesthesias, which are characteristic of certain drugs: for instance, the olfactory hyperaesthesia of Carbolic acid and of Phosphorus; the acoustic hyperaesthesia of Belladonna and Acid salicylic; the ophthalmic of Oxalic acid and Conium; the cutaneous of Ergot, etc.
In the treatment of pain such changes in the functional integrity of the senses, whether increased or decreased or perverted, become helpful indications.
In regard to the second leg of our therapeutic stool, upon which our prescription must stand, the kind of pain, this, also furnished decisive aid. My own experience corroborates that of the whole homoeopathic school as to the value of, for instance, the burning pain of Phos., Arsen., and Carbo., and we know that burning pains are usually associated with morbid condition of the mucous membranes and skin and these tissues determine the form of pain more certainly than does the character of the morbid process, although as a rule burning pains are effects of passive states or incipient decomposition. So pain in bones, is of a gnawing, boring character, is worse at night and influenced by changes in the weather.