The aim of medicine is to make for comfort and increase the span of life. Hahnemann contributed notably to this end when he brought into the light nature’s own way of healing, from within. In doing so he evolved a new and unique method of dealing with symptoms and at the same time showed that success with the abnormal depends upon fully realising what is normal. Just as the lights and shadows of the mind colour every form and kind of action, so they foreshadow those oncoming storm crises which we call sickness, by changes of mood and disposition.
It is nature’s first signal call for help, and often varies but little from sickness to sickness in the individual, thereby affording a sure point of departure for the study of particular illnesses whose salient features are to be found in a minute examination of their latest developments. All symptoms are reactions, be they general or particular. The mental ones are the most illuminating as well as interacting fully with all the others, hence they deserve the highest rank. General sense reactions to heat, cold, light, noise, touch, posture, motion, etc., are all distinctly related to the comfort of the patient, hence also of great value. Subjective sensations are ideographic expressions, useful for interpretation by the examiner and may have any value whatsoever.
Their true worth is best ascertained by their purity and definiteness, as fully expressed by the patient who invariably gives them a mental slant not otherwise obtainable. This has value in so far as it leads away from the machine methods of the schools. Every symptom picture shows three phases, constitutional, general conformation and the peculiarities. The basic factors with the rules of procedure are the constants, while the symptoms are the variables. All three must be well met before the similimum can be seen. The gist of the case may be featured in any one part thereof. Often it is the common factor of the assembled peculiarities, again it may come down through the anamnesis, hereditary predilection, etc.
Late in February a child of two years developed severe chills at 11 a.m. on every alternate day. His face became very blue, soon intense heat followed, then a slight moisture. One dose of Natrium muriaticum MM was given at the close of the cycle. There never was another chill and he has flourished as never before.
The profuse leucorrhoea a of a young woman suddenly ceased; a left sided salpingitis with local swelling, high fever, restlessness and severe prostration quickly followed. Each paroxysm of pain gradually rose to a certain pitch then suddenly ceased. A dose of Pulsatilla MM restored the discharge over night and a steady and complete recovery followed.
A woman in the seventies with chronic nephritis was operated for a right sided strangulated hernia. In two weeks she developed subacute pneumonia with gastritis. The stomach pains always went to the side upon which she happened to turn. Two doses of Pulsatilla MM quickly stopped all distress and she expectorated much muco-pus, tasting of ether. In a week the gastric pain recurred but another dose of the same remedy completed the cure.
A devotee of Bacchus and Venus with endarteritis of the aorta and broken compensation was suddenly seized with an agonising twisting pain in the left calf along with complete anaesthesia below that point. A swelling in the popliteal space appeared and he rolled about in great pain, tried hot baths and all sorts of applications without relief. A few doses of Nux vomica soon put him to sleep and in two days he was back to his former state.
These case histories emphasize the necessity of discovering the essential peculiarities which crop out from time to time in every sickness. In cases of long standing they are usually deeply rooted and should be used with care, lest we stir up an aggravation that cannot be easily handled. If structural changes have not gone too far and there is an abundance of vitality, we may venture with some confidence into the storm crisis which is almost sure to follow the administration of one of these diggers among remedies. Such cases bring us face to face with the old question of palliation and the use of sedatives; where it goes without saying that the genuine relief obtained will be in strict proportion to our knowledge of materia medica, for the ultimate effects of pain killers are never happy.
A woman well in the seventies had a dangerous abscess of the gallbladder followed in four months by apoplexy and left sided paralysis; then came recurring cerebral congestions with violent head pains which caused her to scream out, pull her hair and roll the eyeballs from side to side. There was some paralysis of deglutition and a heavy dry coat on the tongue. Several doses of Cuprum metallicum MM given at long intervals made her very comfortable, cleared the tongue, removed the throat paralysis and restored the appetite, but did not affect the vascular degeneration.