Isopathy


All infectious diseases contain in their infectious matters the remedies capable of curing themselves. The principle upon which these remedial agents act he contends to be aequalia aequalibus, and the system Lux denominates Isopathy….


Antiquity of the doctrine-Met with in the writings of Dioscorides, Xenocrates. Galen, Serapion, Paulus Aegineta, Haly Abbas, Celsus, Nicander, Croll-Van Helmont hints at it Durey’s treatment of hydrophobia-Mead’s cure for vipers’ bites and scorpions’ stings-Isopathy in Hudibras-Hering introduces it into homoeopathic practice-His proposed method of curing contagious diseases-His botanical and entmological isopathy-Anticipated isopathy-Anticipated by Dr. Hornbook-Isopathic propensities of New Zealand cannibals-Hering’s chemical rescue of psorine, which continues still unrescued-Sources of his psorine-His explanation of the mode of action of morbid products-Gross becomes enamoured of isopathy-He pronounces it superior to homoeopathy- His novel blood-globules-Antiquity of blood as a remedy-Lux’s isopathy’s denunciation of it-His denial of isopathic cures-His abuse of Gross-His allusion to psorine-Helbig rejects isopathy-Rau admits the occasional utility of isopathic preparations-His theory of their mode of action-He afterwards regrets their introduction- Thoren, denounces isopathy-Dufresne considers it a brilliant discovery-M. Muller attempts to incorporate it with homoeopathy- Kammerer considers isopathy as true as homoeopathy-Veith only approves of psorine-Kurtz approves of isopathy-Genzke rejects it- Buchner condemns it -The doctrine gradually sinks into neglect-Is revived by Herrmann in a different form- The healthy organs of animals remedies for the corresponding diseased organs in man- The doctrine not new-Nor true, according to Genzke-Brutzer’s recent revival of the original isopathy- His wonderful cures examined-And found wanting-Kasemann’s homoeopathic isopathy-What are isopathic remedies?- Absurdity of Herrmann’s doctrines-Many of Hering’s nosodes must be excluded from the category of remedies-Contagious matters may have remedial powers in their corresponding diseases-A disease may be cured by an agent capable in their corresponding diseases- A disease may be cured by an agent capable of producing it-Examples of isopathic cures – Schnappauf’s Author’s, and Nogueira’s cures of small pox-Auzias and Sperino’s alleged cure of syphilis-Isopathic treatment of sheep-Cures by psorine examined-The truth there is in the doctrine-How should isopathic remedies be administered?-Author’s isopathic (?) cure of pannus-Remedial powers of morbid products- Cure of naevi-Isopathic remedies used by allopathics-Filthy allopathic remedies-Medicinae gloria.


Antiquity of the doctrine-Met with in the writings of Dioscorides, Xenocrates. Galen, Serapion, Paulus Aegineta, Haly Abbas, Celsus, Nicander, Croll-Van Helmont hints at it Durey’s treatment of hydrophobia-Mead’s cure for vipers’ bites and scorpions’ stings-Isopathy in Hudibras-Hering introduces it into homoeopathic practice-His proposed method of curing contagious diseases-His botanical and entmological isopathy-Anticipated isopathy-Anticipated by Dr. Hornbook-Isopathic propensities of New Zealand cannibals-Hering’s chemical rescue of psorine, which continues still unrescued-Sources of his psorine-His explanation of the mode of action of morbid products-Gross becomes enamoured of isopathy-He pronounces it superior to homoeopathy- His novel blood-globules-Antiquity of blood as a remedy-Lux’s isopathy’s denunciation of it-His denial of isopathic cures-His abuse of Gross-His allusion to psorine-Helbig rejects isopathy-Rau admits the occasional utility of isopathic preparations-His theory of their mode of action-He afterwards regrets their introduction- Thoren, denounces isopathy-Dufresne considers it a brilliant discovery-M. Muller attempts to incorporate it with homoeopathy- Kammerer considers isopathy as true as homoeopathy-Veith only approves of psorine-Kurtz approves of isopathy-Genzke rejects it- Buchner condemns it -The doctrine gradually sinks into neglect-Is revived by Herrmann in a different form- The healthy organs of animals remedies for the corresponding diseased organs in man- The doctrine not new-Nor true, according to Genzke-Brutzer’s recent revival of the original isopathy- His wonderful cures examined-And found wanting-Kasemann’s homoeopathic isopathy-What are isopathic remedies?- Absurdity of Herrmann’s doctrines-Many of Hering’s nosodes must be excluded from the category of remedies-Contagious matters may have remedial powers in their corresponding diseases-A disease may be cured by an agent capable in their corresponding diseases- A disease may be cured by an agent capable of producing it-Examples of isopathic cures – Schnappauf’s Author’s, and Nogueira’s cures of small pox-Auzias and Sperino’s alleged cure of syphilis-Isopathic treatment of sheep-Cures by psorine examined-The truth there is in the doctrine-How should isopathic remedies be administered?-Author’s isopathic (?) cure of pannus-Remedial powers of morbid products- Cure of naevi-Isopathic remedies used by allopathics-Filthy allopathic remedies-Medicinae gloria.


IT is difficult to fix the antiquity of the doctrine of isopathy; (Isopathy properly means the treatment of diseases by their own exciting cause, aequalia aequalibus, but, as will be seen, the term has been applied to a great variety of modes of treatment, distinguished chiefly for their absurdity where the actual isopathic principle is completely lost sight of.) in one form or another it has existed almost as long as medicine has been practiced as an art. If we search in the most ancient records of medicine we shall find traces of this system. Not to speak of the doctrine of signatures–which has already been alluded to when I spoke of the hints respecting homoeopathy previous to Hahnemann, (See Lecture I.) to which indeed more than to isopathy that doctrine more properly belongs–we find numerous passages in the ancient authors countenancing the belief in a so- called isopathic principle of therapeutics.

Thus the lungs of the fox were recommended for asthmatics by Dioscorides, Xenocrates, Galen, Serapion, Paulus Aegineta, and by many other writers, down indeed to the most modern times, for we find them still a favourite remedy for the like affection in the earlier editions of the Pharmacopoeia Londinensis.

Dioscorides and Paulus Aegineta allege that the roasted liver of a mad dog was one of the best remedies for its bite; and Xenocrates and the latter assert wolf’s liver to be a useful hepatic remedy.

The round worm in the human subject was best treated by roasted earth worms, according to Dioscorides; and the same author advised the brains of a cock to be given in hemorrhage from the meninges, whilst Galen says that the brains of a camel are a cure for epilepsy.

The scorpion’s sting was to be treated by the application of the dead scorpion to the wound, according to Haly Abbas, Celsus, and Paulus Aegineta, and this is the method of cure still adopted by the inhabitants of Morocco for the sting of that venomous insect, according to the testimony of recent travellers.

The theriac of Andromachus, which contained the bodies of vipers as a chief ingredient, was almost universally employed by the ancient for the bite of venomous serpents.

In my first lectures I adduced numerous other instances of the isopathic method of treatment, chiefly from the writings of Nicander and Xenocrates. Paracelsus also might be pressed into the service of isopathy, from some portions of his writings isolated from their context; but I showed in my first lecture that the passages which seem to countenance this doctrine have quite a different sense when read in connection with the rest of his writings. I showed, however, that his disciple, Oswald Croll, believed and taught that the sound organs of certain animals were useful in the diseases of those organs in man, a doctrine that is not wanting in defenders among the homoeopathic heretics distinguished for the eccentricity of their aberrations.

Van Helmont hints, in his obscure way, that the morbid products of diseases should be employed for their cure, which we shall find to be exactly the doctrine of a certain class of those who have distinguished themselves of late years in the isopathic field.

About two hundred years ago Dr. Durey (De stupendo et lugendo infortunio exlupo rabiente, narratio verissima. Devoniae, 1671.) revived the treatment of hydrophobia recommended by Dioscorides, of giving the liver of the rabid animal to those bitten by it. Ten persons having been bitten by a mad wolf, and nine of these having died, the wolf was captured and killed, and its liver, after being washed with wine and dried in the oven, was given to the tenth person who had been bitten. He consumed the whole liver in three days, and remained free from the disease. This case of course proves nothing in favour of the prophylactic powers of the rabid creature’s liver.

Our celebrated countryman, Dr. Richard Mead, recommended about one hundred years ago the axungia viperina, which seems to have been prepared with viper’s flesh, for the bites of these reptiles. He also speaks highly of the volatile salts of vipers as a remedy for their bites; this seems to have been merely some ammoniacal salt obtained from the viper, and was very likely not more efficacious than the eau de luce and other ammoniacal preparations that are still found to be very useful in the bites of venomous animals. Mead also advises scorpion’s oil, that is oil in which scorpions have been infused, for the sting of that insect. Butter, who wrote fifty years before Mead, alludes to this and another pretended isopathic remedy in these lines:-

“Tis true, a scorpion’s oil is said

To cure the wounds the vermin made;

And weapons dressed with salve restore

And head the hurts they gave before. (Hudibras, Part iii. Cant. ii., l.1029.)

From these few examples, and many more might be adduced had I thought it necessary to extend my researches relatives to this subject, it will be evident that the doctrine of the cure of diseases of certain organs by the corresponding organs in other animals, and that of the cure of diseases by their own morbid products or supposed exciting causes, are, far from being a novelty, on the contrary of very ancient date.

There is no doubt to whom belongs the honour of having introduced isopathic heresies into the homoeopathic school. It was our transatlantic friend Dr. Constantine Hering who gave the first impulse to isopathy, for we find him in 1830 (Arch., x.2.) proposing as a remedy for hydrophobia the saliva of a rabid dog, as Xenocrates had done before him; for small-pox the matter from variolous pustules; for psora the matter of itch. Nay, he asks, may we not expect, if this doctrine be true, that we shall find the specific remedy for every epidemic pestilence in the first case of it that breaks out, and that the matter obtained from this one will serve to check the disease in all the rest? and this plan he actually proposes in a later paper. He recommends us to potentize the watery excrements of cholera, the black vomit of yellow fever, the desquamated skin of malignant scarlet fever, and to bind bags of milk-sugar in contact with the skin of typhus patients, and all these extraordinary medicines will serve as the remedies for these several diseases. In 1833 Dr. Hering wrote a long paper, (Arch., xiii.3.) wherein he extols the efficacy of the prepared itch-matter, which he now calls psorine. He there declares this psorine to be equal to our very strongest medicines in power; that it has a great power of producing eruptions; that it is one of the most efficacious means for restoring the loss or weakened action of the skin; that it is the most important remedy in every from of scabies, and that it is a prophylactic against infection with itch. He found that a globule of the 30th dilution the best dose to give, and that it is most expedient in every case, where possible, to give the patient psorine prepared from his own body, in other words what he calls auto-psorine; of course this is only possible if the patient has the psoric eruption upon his person at the time. Under the head of psora, be it remembered, Dr. Hering included many varieties of cutaneous diseases. In his experiments and observations he discovered that the psorine, from whatever form of cutaneous eruption he obtained it, was always equally efficacious.

He suggests that the seeds of plants potentized may possibly be the means of eradicating and destroying such plants, and that insects potentized may be capable of destroying the life of their own species; and then he exclaims what a blessing this discovery will prove to farmers in getting rid of weeds, and to house wives in freeing their houses and children from vermin. He does not mention how he supposes the potentized nettle-seeds are to be administered to those plants, and I must confess I would be sorely puzzled to give a dose of pediculus 30 to a louse, or cimex 30 to a bug. “First catch your hare,” writes Mrs. Glass, and “first catch your louse” would doubtless be Dr. Hering’s advice; but having caught our louse, I think it would be as superfluous an operation to give him the dose of his potentized relative, as it would be to put the salt on our sparrow’s tail after having ensnared him. Dr. Hering, rather hopelessly I imagine, begs all farmers and housewives who are inclined to try his method of extirpating weeds and killing vermin (which he generously refuses to take out a patent for), to record the results of their experience in the journal wherein he makes these revelations.(Arch., xiii, 3, 37.)

He takes the opportunity to mention that a bug potentized up to the 30th dilution will cure bug-bites (which I do not in the least doubt, as I have observed them to be cured by much more insignificant means, viz., by nothing at all); he has moreover found that the bites of other insects are cured by similar means. We may from this discovery of Dr. Hering’s be now enabled to guess at the uses of some of those wonderful substances in Dr. Hornbook’s laboratory, inventoried by the poet Burns, such as–

“Mite-born savings, filings, scrapings, Distilled per se, Sal-alkali o’ midge-tail clippings And mony mae.”

Of course the first mentioned must have been employed on this isopathic principle of Drs. Hering and Dioscorides for the cure of the bites of the acarus tribe, one of which at least is said to be endemic in Scotland; and the last was beyond all question the isopathic specific for the deadly bite of the sanguinary midge or gnat.

But greater discoveries are revealed in this wonder-disclosing essay of Dr. Hering’s. He states that he has ascertained that the fluids, and solids of healthy individuals (of course duly potentized) have a very powerful medicinal action on the human subject. No doubt the cannibalistic propensities of sundry aboriginal tribes is the instinctive perception of these medicinal properties of the human solids and fluids; and the “cold missionary on the side board,” prefigured by Sidney Smith as forming an essential part of a New Zealand banquet, doubtless, served the guests the same purposes as our fashionable dinner- pill.

In a subsequent communication, dated 1833, (Arch., xiv.2, 99.) Dr. Hering reiterates his assertion of the wonderful powers of potentized portions of the human body, and further states that these preparations act chiefly on the corresponding organs of the living human being.

He again asserts that all morbid products, of whatever kind, exert a powerful influence on the diseases that produce them. He mentions leucorrhoeal matter as being curative of leucorrhoea, gleet-matter of gleet, phthisine of phthisis, ascaridine of children’s vermicular diseases. Still he admits that all these isopathic preparations cannot be regarded as absolute specifics, but only as chronic intermediate remedies, which serve, as it were, to stir up the disease, and render the reaction to the homoeopathic remedy subsequently administered more permanent and effectual. This assertion he repeats in 1836, (Arch., xiv.3, 146.) and states that he has never succeeded in curing but only in ameliorating diseases with their own morbid products (with the exception of psora). Thus in a case of occult syphilis, that would not come properly out, after having tried in vain mercury and other antivenereal remedies, he gave syphiline, whereupon a cutaneous eruption appeared, and afterwards a regular chancre, which was perfectly cured by mercury and lachesis.

In the North American Homoeopathic Journal for November, 1852, Dr. Hering again writes at considerable length in defence of the so-called isopathic preparations. He entitles his paper “the chemical rescue of psorinum.” I hoped to have found something in this paper justifying on chemical principles the employment of psorine, but was disappointed to find that the only decided thing on the subject is this: he states, namely, that when the alcoholic solution of the pus out of itch pustules is placed on a watchglass and allowed to evaporate, small needle-shaped transparent crystals of a cooling pungent taste are left. This salt he believes to be the cause of the morbific effects of psorine; and though he did not analyse it, he believes that it is some combination of sulpho-cyanogen, and he states his intention on some future occasion to ascertain exactly its chemical composition, to manufacture it in the laboratory, and then prove it, when he expects to get similar results to those obtained from the provings of the natural morbid product. (Twenty years previously (Arch., xiii.3, 65) he informed us that the chemical analysis of psorine was a desideratum, and that he had not then succeeded in ascertaining its precise composition; so that it does not appear that “the chemical rescue” of this curious medicine is much further advanced now than it was then.)

This is all very vague and unsatisfactory, but what makes it worse is, that we are not satisfied from Dr. Hering’s statement that the morbid product he obtained was actually what he asserts it to be, viz., the secretion from scabies. He got the matter, he tells us, from some full large yellow pustules, on the fingers, hands, and forearms of a young and otherwise healthy negro, in whom these pustules had been produced by handling some stuff from Germany. He is unable to state whether the characteristic acari were present or no. Now, it is very improbable from this account that the disease of this negro was true itch, for, as far as we know, itch is always propagated by contact with an itchy person, and its eruption, when not altered by art, is a small vesicular not a large pustular one. The circumstance of having obtained a salt as here described proves nothing, for all animal secretions contain salt of some kind or other; and even had Dr. Hering demonstrated that the salt was a compound of sulpho-cyanogen, that again would have proved nothing, as we know that a similar compound exists in several healthy as well as some morbid secretions.

Dr. Hering goes on in this paper to give an explanation of the supposed mode of action of morbid products, which he calls nosodes. For fear of mutilation, by attempting to abridge it, I shall quote it entire. “Every disorder,” he says, “is necessarily accompanied by chemical change in the body. We see that it is so at least, in all those cases which we can investigate, and we think it reasonable to conclude that it is always so. The same phenomenon now appears as when a bar of steel is magnetised, or electricity is excited by friction or otherwise; when one end of the bar is magnetised, the other is found so too, but opposite in quality; if one end is north the other will be south, and vice versa. Positive electricity excites the negative, etc. I have always observed the same thing in disease. If the external skin is alkaline, the mucous membranes will be found acid, and vice versa.

If this is not the case with these surfaces it will be found so with other organs; and if the affection does not appear in the shape of acidity and alkalinity, it takes some other form. But the products of the separate poles mutually neutralize each other. When a disease arises in one organ, the opposite or neutralizing state is excited in another. Up to this time these nosodes have only been so far employed as they were soluble in alcohol, that is, only the soluble parts, the salts; they have also been always administered internally, although they appear externally. When the external product acts to neutralize the internal, it may in many cases be the chemical antidote. One follows the other. The existence of both constitutes the disease; the removal of one removes the other, and may also remove the disease. The jars are discharged by the connecting rod, the external is admitted into the interior, and the equilibrium is restored.”

This is all the promised explanation, or law of the action of the nosodes in curing diseases. It is, as must be plain to you all, merely a vague conjecture, and by no means a happy one; for in the chemical and electrical phenomena he has put forward as analogies, there is always some proportion between the amount of the acid and the alkali, of the positive and the negative electricity; there is, however, none betwixt the 30th dilution (that usually administered by Dr. Hering) and the deranged secretion it is to restore. The remark as to the opposite character of the secretions of different parts in disease is certainly of importance if confirmed, but we should like to know the facts that have led Dr. Hering to this conclusion.

Gross, whose homoeopathic career has been distinguished by a marked propensity for novelty-hunting, seems to have become at once deeply enamoured of the isopathic theory. He says (Allg.h.Ztg., 2, No.9.) the simile is not exactly the right thing, and that for some time he has been convinced that aequalia aequalibus or the isopathic principle is the correct one, and that similia similibus or the homoeopathic principle is only a makeshift or indifferent apology for the other. Gross’s isopathy consists mainly in giving vaccinine in natural small-pox, and in recommending it as a prophylactic against the small-pox in place of cow-pox inoculation. He also recounts how that one day, having inflicted on himself a small wound, the idea occurred to him to potentize his blood. He accordingly proceeded to do this in the following manner. He moistened a globule with his blood, and put it into a bottle with 10,000 other globules, and shook all together for a quarter of an hour. One of these globules he then added to 10,000 fresh globules, and likewise shook them together energetically for a quarter of an hour. A globule of this second bottle he administered to a lady who suffered from congestion to the head and chest, and it had the effect of curing her. The same curative result he obtained from this medicine in the case of a young man troubled with haemoptysis, with similar symptoms of congestion to the head and chest.

R.E. Dudgeon
Robert Ellis Dudgeon 1820 – 1904 Licentiate of the Royal College of Surgeons in Edinburgh in 1839, Robert Ellis Dudgeon studied in Paris and Vienna before graduating as a doctor. Robert Ellis Dudgeon then became the editor of the British Journal of Homeopathy and he held this post for forty years.
Robert Ellis Dudgeon practiced at the London Homeopathic Hospital and specialised in Optics.
Robert Ellis Dudgeon wrote Pathogenetic Cyclopaedia 1839, Cure of Pannus by Innoculation, London and Edinburgh Journal of Medical Science 1844, Hahnemann’s Organon, 1849, Lectures on the Theory & Practice of Homeopathy, 1853, Homeopathic Treatment and Prevention of Asiatic Cholera 1847, Hahnemann’s Therapeutic Hints 1847, On Subaqueous Vision, Philosophical Magazine, 1871, The Influence of Homeopathy on General Medical Practice Since the Death of Hahnemann 1874, Repertory of the Homeopathic Materia Medica, 2 vols 1878-81, The Human Eye Its Optical Construction, 1878, Hahnemann’s Materia Medica Pura, 1880, The Sphygmograph, 1882, Materia Medica: Physiological and Applied 1884, Hahnemann the Founder of Scientific Therapeutics 1882, Hahnemann’s Organon 1893 5th Edition, Prolongation of Life 1900, Hahnemann’s Lesser Writing.