THE so-called Abrams box for the diagnosis and treatment of disease has received the derision and contempt of many practitioners, but the votaries of the cult are full of enthusiasm and worship Abrams as the greatest medical genius of modern times or of all times. Among the greatest enthusiasts is Dr. Guyon Richards, who has written a volume expressing the faith that is within him and he has given it the unilluminating title The Chain of Life.
The subject matter of the book should be interesting to those who are tired of the beaten paths of medicine, and especially to those who pin their faith in the wonderful reactions ultra-fine electrical reactions which practitioners endeavour to measure with the appliances produced by Abrams and his pupils and successors. The volume is highly technical. It is published by Messrs. John Bale, Sons & Danielsson, Ltd., at the price of 6x., and I would give a few extracts which will undoubtedly interest many readers.
THE TREATMENT OF DISEASE
There are five principles in the treatment of a sick person which are most important to keep in mind. The first is that we treat the whose individual as a living unit. The homoeopaths lay stress on this point: they seek to find the similimum for the whole patient and lay considerable stress on mental symptoms. Ordinary medical text-books give but little hint of such an idea. They discuss how to treat particular conditions under named diseases, but rarely suggest that there is an all-embracing whole which needs attention.
I sometimes find that patient have been treated by a series of specialists with no physician to co-ordinate the line of treatment. It ought not to need saying that if one important organ is out of order the whole body suffers. A conscientious lady said to me that as she was away from her own doctor I might treat her ear, but I must not treat herself, as that would not be loyal to her London doctor.
Owing to the attitude of the bulk of the profession, a large number of the public imagine that one organ can be treated by itself. I have no hesitation in saying that that is always wrong. Even if glasses are needed, the whole body should be treated as well. Eye-strain may be a very important item, and may call for the oculists aid, but it is often a great saving of time and expense to treat the whole condition first. Some children need glasses very early in life, but even here there is probably some condition which needs correcting in the whole body.
Does a fracture of a bone need medical treatment? Undoubtedly, for you cannot break a bone without shock to the whole system, and the bone will heal quicker if Symphytum or Arnica is given. We are but slowly learning that the body politics is one, and no nation can suffer without all suffering; no wonder we are slow to realize that no one part of the body can suffer without the whole of the body suffering.
Abrams genius has enabled us to see this clearly. For if, as he has shown, it is possible to find out what is happening in various parts of the body by examining a little blood or serum, it becomes evident that the whole body is affected by what happens to the part. For example, a drop of blood from a person with a fracture will give an altered reaction for bone and usually a reaction for Symphytum. I obtained such a reaction from a colleague and this led to his having an X-ray taken, which showed a fractured fibula, which he had not realized had been fractured.
All my work makes me agree with the followers of Hahnemann that we must try to treat the patient as a whole. I do not wish to suggest that the larger part of the profession never does this. I believe a number do, but I feel sure that this first principle in healing is not sufficiently attended to.
I believe that this treatment of the individual was really better attended to when people went year after year to the same family doctor; when folk moved about less, and were attended by a man who had known them from childhood. The young practitioner is inclined to sneer at the old-fashioned man, who the patients say understands their constitution and who has stuck in one place all his professional life; but many of these older folk had some sound ideas, not learnt at the hospital school but in the school of life.
(1) I have mentioned mental symptoms and have dealt in detail elsewhere with the importance of the psyche. Let us consider why mental symptoms are so important in deciding what remedies to give. Even if it is not conceded that man is a spiritual being, it is generally admitted that mind determines much of our physical make-up and makes us differ so much from one another. We are all of us made of the same compounds from a chemical point of view. In matter, we are practically, for it is the ego that actuates the whole unit, we are very different.
(2) The second principle in treatment is to pay attention to detail and know the root-cause of the trouble before deciding on what is the best treatment for the whole individual.
(3) We can hardly lay too much stress on elimination. How often is an attack of catarrh cured by the family physician (who may be the experienced mother of a family) by a hot bath and a warm stimulating drink which acts on skin and kidneys, and a brisk purge. The benefit of many of the spas is due to this eliminatory action.
Every physician of experience who works carefully, could give cases where he had slipped up by too great eagerness in giving drugs that act as vaccines and paying too little attention to elimination.
Elimination means drainage: where there is pus let it out; if a tooth is stopping drainage have it out, but make certain that it really has to go. Dead teeth are thoroughly bad teeth, life cannot be put into them and they have no real place in a persons economy except as a source of trouble and expense later on, much better have a place which can be cleaned. There is some hope for live teeth.
(4) The fourth important point in treatment is dosage. This is nearly as important as giving the right drug. Not quite, for if you give too low a potency it does something; it may not be much use, but Nature uses it in a beneficial way.
(5) The fifth principle to be observed is attention to “function.” The use of concomitant drugs or drainage remedies, or whatever one choose to call them, in part secures this end. But drug treatment is only a part of medical treatment. There is a much wider application of the term function. I am only thinking of stimulating organs by drugs or securing drainage in a surgical sense. I am thinking here of the use of the whole body, limbs, guts, sense organs, sex organs and mind.
I have a hatred for splints, whether they are physical or mental. Of course there are times when you must wear splints, there are conditions when complete rest is needed. A cut tendon must be given an opportunity to heal before it can be used; some injuries do require absolute rest. Life, however, means activity. Every thought produces chemical change. Thought causes the ebb and flow of life-forces as measured by the biomorphic frequencies. Immobility is absolutely an unnatural condition for a live body.
A good many doctors become for one reason or another fearful old women in this matter. I know one man who put all his vaccination cases into slings. This kind of coddling is all wrong. It may pay the doctor in s.d. but it hurts the patients morale. While I was out in India I saw a number of old fractures which certainly looked very ugly, but the limbs were perfectly useful.
One man passed the recruiting officer who made him do physical jerks with his coat on. I rejected him on aesthetic grounds, as being an unpleasant sight on parade for physical drill, but he could have made a perfectly good soldier in every other way. We could afford to be particular then.
During the war I had every case I possibly could under the X-ray screen. One patient had one arm and both legs in splints. After viewing these I told him to put the other arm under the screen; he objected. As there was a healed wound I insisted, and found a fractured radius; this had joined up quite well without the use of a splint at all. The patient said he had not mentioned this wound as he was not going to lose the use of his cigarette hand. The arm in use was free of adhesions and useful. The arm in a splint took some time to function properly.
As I had charge of the Kitchener Hospital, Orthopaedic Department and two surgical blocks, I had the opportunity of seeing how different methods worked. All my own fracture cases were taken down frequently and massaged. No one was permitted to lose the use of a limb from want of attention to function. As soon as the bone was sufficiently united to keep straight, splints were taken off and electrical treatment given.
I used to tell my colleagues that the splint was more terrible than the shell. In all the Orthopaedic department we spent months trying to undo the trouble caused by prolonged splinting without movement. There are perhaps some cases where absolute rest is needed, where nerves are damaged, as in a badly dislocated elbow: then it should be absolute. Mr. H.G. Buckingham, who is keen on ju-jitsu, tells me that the Japanese instructors only allowed ten minutes off the mat for a dislocation. Immediate use after replacement and massage was a success.