Doppler on the great and the small in nature- He accounts for the increased power of triturated drugs by the increase of the superficies of the medicine-Fallacy in Doppler’s calculations- Chemical explanations-Physiological analogies-Spallanzani’s experiments with frog’s spawn-Arnold’s experiments with frog’s spawn-Arnold’s experiments with frog’s spawn-His experiments with cow-pock lymph- D’ Amador on the action of imperceptible agents-Rau asserts the possibility of dynamizing certain point- Otherwise attention causes loss of power-He believes in the transference of medicinal power-Schron denies the truth of the dynamization theory- Kretschmar also denies its truth-So also Trinks-Werber, Wolf, Fielitz, Schmid, Lietzau, Strecker, Schneider, AEgidi, oppose the theory-Curious theories of two dilettanti-Gross’s contradictory oracular utterances- Rummel’s attempt to explain dynamization-Terrific effect of too much shaking / Rummel’s recantation-Kampfer admits and denies the dynamization theory-Hartmann opposes it-Veith says it is a revival of Zoroaster’s philosophy -Schubert thinks the medicine becomes spirit-Griesselich ridicules the notion of a transference of medicinal power-His explanation of dynamization-Joslin attributes the increase of power to the comminution of the drug- Foundation of the dynamization theory-By the small dose the specific effects of the medicine are more certainly produced- Improbability of a separation of the medicinal power-Does trituration render insoluble soluble? Doubtful correctness of some of Mayrhofer’s observations-Facts that have encouraged the notion of dynamization-Smaller doses often relatively stronger than larger.
At the conclusion of the last lecture I gave you an account of Dr. Mayrhofer’s microscopic investigations relative to the homoeopathic attenuations, and described the appearances of several of these attenuations when subjected to a high magnifying power. Those investigations and the representations he gives of the microscopic appearance of the dilutions bring the infinitesimal quantities of our preparations within the cognizance of our senses, and severe to realize the imperfect conceptions we are apt to form of the actual nature of a Homoeopathic attenuation.
Mayrhofer having thus, as it were, rescued homoeopathic preparations from the region of the vague and the spiritual, to which they had latterly been consigned by Hahnemann and so many of his followers, and brought them back to the domain of the physical and material, prepares us, as it were, for the views of Professor Doppler of Prague, which I shall next lay before you.
Doppler, professor of natural philosophy in the University of Prague, a distinguished cultivator of the exact sciences, was from the character of his habits and mode of thinking, to likely to take a hyperdynamical or transcendental view of the effects produced by minute subdivision. Professor Doppler’s essay, to which I am alluding, is entitled On the Great and the Small in Nature, and was published in Baumagartner and Holger’s Magazine of Physics and the Allied Sciences, in 1837. In the essay itself there is no mention made of homoeopathy, but from its whole tenor it is evident that homoeopathy is what the learned professor alludes to. He starts by saying that we are not justified in attempting to estimate the effects of substances by the size of their mass, but that their effects are proportionate to the extent of their active superficies. Precisely Hahnemann’s original idea, viz., that his remedies were rendered more efficacious by thorough admixture with an unmedicinal substance, in consequence of their then presenting more points of contact to the living organism.
Doppler shows that the physical superficies of a medicament is increased in a fixed mathematical progression by its being rubbed up with a non-medicinal vehicle; but that this is not the case if it be rubbed up without such vehicle, in that case the increase of the superficial extent soon ceases. I may here give some of Professor Doppler’s calculations. A cubic inch of sulphur broken into a million of equal pieces, each no bigger than a grain of sand, has its surface increased by the subdivision to more than six square feet. Again, if a grain of this sulphur be mixed thoroughly, by prolonged trituration, with ninety-nine grains of non-medicinal matter, this grain, in what corresponds to our third trituration, will offer a surface of two square miles in extent; at the fifth trituration it will be equal to the whole of Austria; at the sixth equal to the united continents of Asia and Africa; and at the ninth to the whole surface of the sun, with all its planets and their attendant satellites. Doppler contends that with this enormous increase of surface there is a proportionate increase of free electricity. This free electricity, Doppler conceives, acts particularly upon the living nerve, which he believes to be a good conductor of electricity in this form.
He further believes that in derangement of health the power of conducting is altered, and that medicines in this peculiar electrical state have, somehow or other, the power of restoring the conducting power of the nerves to the normal condition. Doppler does not, however, assign the curative power of the medicines solely to their electrical properties, but he considers that by their electrical condition they are put in a position to be conducted by the nerves to the parts where they are needed. It is through the nerves alone that Doppler, like Hahnemann, conceives the medicines to act. Hahnemann was more cautious in his expressions at first. Originally he said the medicines acted through the living fibres, the word he used, ” Faser,” signifying both fibres and vessels; and this perhaps was nearer the truth than the idea he latterly broached.
Doppler’s observations bear out the notion we usually entertain of the almost infinite extensibility of matter, and also the doctrine that by the process of trituration matters are not annihilated, but, on the contrary, expanded or opened up. Still, a fallacy pervades all his calculation; at least the excessive increase of superficies he claims for the grain of medicine by the repeated triturations is true in theory only and not in fact, for with the proportion of one to ninety-nine it is evidently impossible ever to triturate the whole original grain; for, to make the whole of the first trituration into the second trituration, we should require to triturate one hundred separate portions, containing in all 10,000 grains of sugar of milk, and to bring all up to the third trituration we should require to use 1,000,000 grains of the vehicle, and to triturate 10,000 separate portions.
By our ordinary method of preparing the attenuations, the whole mass of the second trituration only contains the hundredth part of the grain, the third only the ten-thousandth part, and the fourth only the millionth part, so that though the portion triturated may be opened up and greatly subdivided with each successive trituration, it must always be diminishing, and its superficies, even supposing each successive trituration to be thoroughly penetrated by the medicine, can never exceed what was presented by the first trituration. The only thing that this repeated trituration can effect is probably to make the medicine more assimilable by the organism, or more adapted to its irritability, an advantage that more than counterbalances the loss of material substance. In no other way does homoeopathy drive any advantage from the curious and ingenious speculations of the learned Bohemian professor.
Chemistry has by many been brought to elucidate the doctrine of the dynamization of medicines, but as yet nothing more than some remarkable analogies have been obtained from that purely physical science; nor is it easy to conceive how anything more than analogies could be obtained from it, as, spite of the ideas of the iatro-chemists, ancient and modern, the living organism is not a chemical retort or test-tube, and the operations that take place within it are referrible to quite other laws than those that obtain in the decomposition and recomposition of chemical bodies. All that the most refined chemical analysis can effect is to demonstrate the existence of certain medicinal substances in some of the lower homoeopathic preparations; but when it comes to be a question of billionths;or trillionths of a grain, the subtlest chemical analysis is completely at fault, as such infinitesimal fractions completely elude its research.
All that could be said on the chemical side of the question has said, much better than I could impart it to you, in that remarkable essay by Dr. Samuel Brown, entitled Theory of Small Dose, which you will find in the first volume of the British Journal of Homoeopathy, and in that selection of masterly essays contained in the little volume entitled Introduction to the Study of Homoeopathy.
Physiology has been consulted with somewhat better success, if not to furnish a corroboration of the dynamization-theory, at all events to countenance the opinion of the positive effects of very minute and even infinitesimal doses. The experiments of the Abbe Spallanzani, with reference to the fructifying power of very minute quantities of the semen of the frog, are a very favourite illustration with most writers on the powers of small quantities. This Italian physiologist mixed three grains of frog’s of the mixture possessed the power of fructifying a large number of the eggs. The same quantity of semen mixed with four times the amount of water still possessed the same power. With a pound of water the power was not much impaired. A drop from a mixture of three grains of semen with eighteen ounces of water showed undiminished fructifying power. Mixed with pounds of water, the power was somewhat diminished; and a drop taken from a mixture of three grains with so large a quantity of water as twenty-two pounds still impregnated a few eggs. The smallest quantity of a drop, taken on the point of a needle from a mixture of three grains of semen with eighteen ounces of water, often impregnated the eggs as rapidly as pure semen. He found that the semen preserved its fecundating powers much longer when diluted with water than when undiluted.
The eminent physiologist Dr.J.W. Arnold, (Hyg., 489.) whose name homoeopathy is proud to enrol among the list of its most able and intelligent supporters, carried out Spallanzani’s experiments to a still greater extent. He prepared three dilutions of frog’s semen, according to the centesimal scale. In each bottle he put from four to ten unimpregnated frog’s eggs, and allowed to remain twelve days undisturbed. In the bottle containing the first dilution, the eggs were all decomposed by the putrefactive process. In that where was the second dilution, three of the eggs were fecundated; and in that containing the third dilution, one egg was fecundated. From these experiments it appears that the millionth part of a drop of frog’s semen was capable of causing fecundation, a result superior to that obtained by Spallanzani, who had proved that the 42,240th part of a grain was capable of fecundating the eggs. These experiments, however, only show that frog’s semen had still the power of fecundating the egg in a very great state of dilution, and that the diluted semen was better adapted for this purpose than the concentrated, probably because it was not so apt to pass into a state putrefaction as the latter, but it is evident they do not help the dynamization-theory in the least. As an analogy, however, these experiments are interesting, for, as far at least as the living organism is concerned, they refute the vulgar notion that large quantities produce the greatest effects; an idea that has its origin in the known facts of physical science, and not in the actual occurrences of organic life.
Dr. Arnold (Ibid. xiv. 531.) likewise instituted a series of experiments with diluted cowpock-lymph. One part of vaccine matter mixed with twenty parts of water and ten parts of spirit produced no effect when inoculated on a child, probably because the spirit destroyed the vaccine matter, as it is well know to produce a great alteration in many organic substances. One part of vaccine matter was mixed with 100 parts of pure spring water, and inoculated on the right arms of three children, while at the same time their left arms were inoculated with pure vaccine matter with another lancet. In two of the children, only the left arms, where the pure lymph had been inoculated, showed the pustules; in the third child there appeared on the eighth day four pustules on the left and two on the right arm, both equally large and genuine. A mixture of one part of vaccine lymph with 100 parts of spring water was kept for twelve days in a moderate temperature; at the end of that time both arms of a child were inoculated with it, and both exhibited in due course of time a pock of the genuine character. These experiments, like those with the frog’s semen, only show the power of small quantities to act on the organism, and in that way only are they serviceable to us, as analogous to the action of small doses of medicine; they do not, however, throw any light or afford any countenance to the dynamization-theory, and they are of the same character as those familiar instances of the great effects of small quantities, which have long constituted the defensive armoury with which the homoeopathist has successfully repelled the attacks of the allopathic sneerer at his infinitesimals.
Similar in character to the paper of Professor Arnold, of which I have just given you an account, is an elegant essay by the late Professor D’ Amador, who occupied for so many years with the greatest eclat the chair of pathology in the ancient and justly celebrated University of Montpellier, the Edinburgh of France in point of reputation as a medical school, and also, in possessing an avowed homoeopath as its professor of pathology. Professor D’ Amador was forbidden by a decree of the Faculty of Medicine to mention the word homoeopathy from his professorial chair, an infringement of his liberty of action that must have been very galling to a man of his enlarged liberal mind. The essay to which I am about to call your attention, however, shows unmistakably the bias of his mind towards towards the doctrines of Hahnemann, and every now and then he contrived to inculcate the the rational views of our great Master, in spite of the embargo laid upon his words. The essay is entitled On the Action of Imperceptible Agents on the Living Body, and you will fond an abstract of it in the fourth volume of the British Journal of Homoeopathy.
A great array of accredited facts is brought forward to illustrate the power of small and even undiscernible quantities in different departments of nature. The subject of fecundation furnishes him with a fruitful source of illustration. Besides the experiments of Spallanzani, he refers to the occurrence of the impregnation of women where the hymen was still perfect, and the observations of Harvey with respect to the fecundation of bitches and rabbits, in whose wombs not a trace of semen could be discovered. The germination of plants; the terrific powers of certain well-known poisons, in the most minute quantities; the effects of the most infinitesimal quantities of morbific viruses; the apparent purity of the atmosphere, where ague, the plague, the cholera, or epidemic diseases are committing their ravages; our inability to detect any peculiar principle in the poison of the viper, the pus of the plague-bubo, the lymph of the vaccine pustule, etc., etc., are successively brought forward to illustrate his arguments; but these and similar instances have, as you must perceive, more reference to analogies with the infinitesimal doses than they serve as explanations of Hahnemann’s dynamization-theory.
Dr.Rau,(Werth. der Hom. Heilv., 134.) to whom I have frequently referred as one of the most learned and scientific of Hahnemann’s followers, treats the subject of the dynamization of medicines, as he dose every other point of Hahnemann’s doctrines, with much ability and capacity. He says it has been on the one hand maintained -1, that, by the processes of trituration and succussion, powers, that were completely latent or only partially developed are set free, and transferred to other bodies placed in intimate contact with the medicine; and these processes have accordingly been denominated a developing of power, of potentizing. On the other hand, 2, the act of dilution of attenuation has been rather regarded as a mere subdivision of the matter and of the powers united to that matter. He thinks that there is truth in both these views, but hat neither contains the whole truth of the matter.
There are, he says, substances which in the crude state display few or no medicinal powers; the powers they inherently possess are only to be liberated by methodical attenuation. Thus magnesia, chalk, and alumina are in their cured state only useful as absorbent remedies for combining with the fee acid present in the stomach. Silica, baryta, strontia, vegetable charcoal, lycopodium, several metals, and various other bodies, likewise manifest no medicinal action on their crude state. The potentizing of development of the powers of these substances does, he says, unquestionably take place by their attenuation, and in the case of some of them, their medicinal powers attain such a degree of intensity by this attenuation that further attenuation is requisite in order to moderate the violence of their action.
Many other medicinal substances, however, have in their crude from such a violent action that they can only be used in that state in allopathic practice, where a violent contrary effect is sought to be produced, and then only in very small doses. But in this state they cannot be used for homoeopathic purposes, as they would excite too violently the more than usually susceptible nerves of the diseased part with which they have relation, and consequently induce dangerous aggravation of the morbid state. Were the processes of trituration and succussion attended by an actual increase of potency, it is evident that the remedy would be rendered more and more unserviceable for homoeopathic uses, by being subjected to these processes. But as we know the reverse to be the case, we must look on these processes as producing a diminution in place of an increase of power. This is the only way in which the most violent poisons can be used as remedies. But besides poisons, says Rau, there are other substances whose powers are already quite developed in their crude state, so that any further development of them is impossible; such are some of the more easily oxydizable metals, several combustible bodies, such as camphor, phosphorus, sulphur, petroleum, and all ethereal and spirituous substances. With respect to such substances, the attenuations are not to be looked upon as potentizing but as depotentizings.
He further remarks that the cause of the better medicinal effect of dilutions lies in this circumstance, that the medicine is capable of developing two different sets of action- a violent irritation of the parts to which it is applied, if given in crude doses, and a more dynamic action on the nervous system, if given in quantities less than what will produce the irritant action. Thus a large dose of calomel rouses the organisms to endeavour to free itself from the foreign substance, by means of vomiting and purging, and by these violent actions the more specific effects of the drug upon the lymphatic and glandular systems are altogether lost. The more these violent reactions are avoided the more freely can those actions dependent on dynamic excitation display themselves. It is therefore only in reference to these two different effects by medicines that dilutions of substances, whose powers are quite developed in the crude state, can be said to be dynamizations.
Dr. Rau believes that the medicinal powers can be transferred to other non-medicinal substances, but he give us no proofs that such a transference takes place, and only a few vague analogies from other departments of nature, which, in my opinion, are not at all to the purpose.
Some years later (Hyg., iv. 299.) Dr. Rau again recurred to this subject. He then referred the whole mystery of the dynamization- theory back to the old and well-known fact that substances become more efficacious by minute subdivision, because they than offer a greater number of points of contact. He regards as purely imaginary the doctrine of the progressive development of slumbering powers by means of continued attenuation.
Dr. Schron, (Hauptsatze der Hahn. Lehre, 66.) in his work upon the chief maxims of Hahnemann’s system, has given some attention to the dynamization-theory. Potentizing or dynamizing means, he contends, increase of power; dilution or attenuation diminution of power: the two are mutually incompatible. The first, or increase of power, is contrary to the object desired in homoeopathic practice, which, in consequence of the increase of the susceptibility of the diseased part for its specific stimulus, requires a smaller in place of a greater power to act upon it. It is only in appearance he says, that dynamization- theory is true, not in fact. Many things speak against its truth, and nothing for the idea that trituration and diminution can produce an alteration of qualities in a substance He refers the whole doctrine of dynamization to the following two circumstances: a, to the necessity for diminishing a substance that is hurtful in large doses; b, to the fact that not all medicinal substances, as they exist in nature, are in the proper state for acting beneficially upon the organism. The great susceptibility of the organism for even very minute quantities he believes to the contributed greatly to the notion of an increase of power from the homoeopathic therapeutic processes. Some years later (Die Heilpr, und die Heilm, ii. 236.) he expresses himself in similar language in another work, and he there asks the following pertinent questions, in allusion to the allegation that the homoeopathic processes developed new and undreamt-of powers in the medicine: “How can the quale of a thing be altered (i.e., how can it become something else) by rubbing or shaking it with an indifferent substance? How can the remedies detailed by Hahnemann in the six volumes of the Pure Materia Medica cure, in small doses, those cases to which they correspond when proved in the large doses used in allopathic practice? With what dilution does a substance commence to become another substance, and does it become something else with every new dilution? How is it possible that one homoeopathic practitioner can avail himself of the observations of another practitioner, seeing that no two practitioners can expect to have medicaments identical in quality; for either one movement must cause a change in the quality of the substance,-or else all movements must cause none.