Hahnemann’s first allusion to it-His first case of aggravation owing to an over-dose-he first taught that it was necessary to the cure-Afterwards that it was only an occasional occurrence-And that it depend on the size of the dose-Duration of aggravation in acute and in chronic diseases-False aggravation by the production of medicinal symptoms- Always indicative of unsuitableness on the part of the medicine-Very slight medicinal symptoms of no importance-Hahnemann’s examples of true aggravation from a too powerful dose-The drosera aggravation examined-Cures with large doses mentioned by Hahnemann without aggravation-Schron denies the reality of the homoeopathic aggravation-Rummel considers it exceptional-Kurtz confounds the true and the false aggravation- Gross considers the quality of the aggravation dependent on the size of the dose-Schmid asserts that it only occurs with too small doses-Kampfer’s critical and non-critical aggravation- Hirschel’s four kinds of aggravation-None of these resemble Hahnemann’s Trinks says true and false aggravations are independent of dose-Schneider says Hahnemann’s aggravation is a phantom, but admits five kinds-Romano’s rule for distinguishing betwixt the homoeopathic aggravation and the natural increase of the disease-Rau’s peculiar aggravation-Griesselich admits and denies the homoeopathic aggravation-Arnold’s definition of it-Is it a reality?-Foundation for the belief in it-Writers have generally confounded the false with the true-General conclusions on the subject- Classes of practitioner who talk most of aggravations-Necessity for examining critically all Hahnemann’s doctrines-A desirable aggravation-Cutaneous diseases.
INTIMATELY connected with Hahnemann’s theory of the mode of action of the homoeopathic medicine is his doctrine of the homoeopathic aggravation, as it is termed, a doctrine that has been very much misunderstood by many of his followers, by whom it has been misstated, and often represented as a terrific bugbear, frightening the timid practitioner and the credulous patient with imaginary dangers and disasters.
This homoeopathic aggravation has played such a great part in the drama of the new medical reform, that it would be unpardonable in me to pass it over cursorily; and I feel it incumbent on me to enter into a thorough examination of the whole subject, whereby we shall see whether, like other phantoms, it does not lose all its terrors when thoroughly examined and exposed to the light.
The first hint we meet with in Hahnemann’s works respecting anything of the kind is in his first Essay on a New Principle. (Lesser Writings, p. 313.)
“If,” say he, “in a case of chronic disease a medicine be given, whose primary action corresponds to the disease, the indirect secondary action is sometimes exactly the state of body sought to be brought about; but sometimes (especially when a wrong dos has been given) there occurs in the secondary action a derangement for some, hours seldom days. Thus a somewhat too large dose of henbane is apt to cause, in its secondary action, great fearfulness” etc.
This, however, it will be observed, does not correspond to his later notions respecting the homoeopathic aggravation, as we shall presently see, but is merely as though he had said when the dose is too strong the remedial agent produces some derangement of the system, over and above its effect upon the disease,’ which, of course, is sufficiently plain and obvious.
In the next page of the essay I have just quoted from he gives the first instance of the actual occurrence of an aggravation. The case was that of a pregnant woman who, in order to cure cramp in her leg, took five drops of the volatile oil of chamomile, whereby the cramp was vastly increased, and a number of other symptoms peculiar to the drug occurred.
But the first very distinct and decided case mentioned by Hahnemann of a real homoeopathic aggravation, followed by a well- marked curative effect, and resulting distinctly from an over- dose, was published by him in the following year, 1797. The case was one which he denominates colicodynia, or spasmodic colic of excessive severity, which had already been treated by himself and others with all imaginable drugs and systems of medication. At length the similarity of the effects of veratrum album on the healthy induced him to try this medicine. He accordingly gave the patient four powders, each containing four grains of veratrum, with orders to take one powder every day. In place of doing so, however, the patient took two powders a day, and when he had finished the whole sixteen grains he was seized with such a dreadful attack of his colic that he seemed almost at the point of death. However, after this he was not again troubled with his complaint; he was perfectly cured of all his morbid symptoms.