DO MEDICINES MAKE FUNCTIONAL CHANGES


Hahnemann says, the internal changes we cannot determine. But their effects, which appear normally in conscious sensation and motion, and abnormally in symptoms, are determinable. …


At a regular monthly meeting of the Society held on May 11th, 1876, A.R. Thomas, M.D., President, being in the Chair, the following, interesting Papers were read by E.A.Farrington, M.D.: “Do medicines make functional changes”? being a reply to an Article of Dr. Lippe in the May number of the Medical Advance, entitled, “The Last Departure of Homoeopathy in the Physiological Livery”, and by Pemberton Dudley, MD., On the Cimex Question”.

In the May number of the Medical Advance, Dr. Lippe contributed an article entitled, “The Last Departure of Homoeopathy in the Physiological Livery”.

So far as the charges preferred in this article apply to me personally, they demand no reply. But so far as they compromise the integrity of the College in which I hold my professorship, I am bound to enter the contest in her defence.

In the early part of the winter, I issued a syllabus see page 161. containing some questions, arranged in sections. These questions comprised a goodly portion of the Materia Medica, certainly such portions as the beginning practitioner ought to thoroughly understand before he commences the practice of medicine.

To this syllabus Dr. Lippe raises several objections, viz.:- First, he considers that it reaches Schusslerism; Secondly, that it is contrary to the teachings of Hahnemann; Thirdly, that it is false, because the answers to many of the proposed questions are impossible cannot be true.

The words which seem especially obnoxious to him are these: “The intelligent application of Materia Medica requires a knowledge of the changes medicines make in functions and nutrition”. For example, I asked, “What changes does Lachesis make in the blood? This Dr. Lippe terms Schusslerism. He asserts, and misapplies Hahnemann to confirm his argument, that it is impossible to know what change medicines make in function and nutrition.

The reply to his argument comprises three questions:

First, what is Schusslerism?

Secondly, can we learn what changes medicines make in function and nutrition?

Thirdly, if he can of what use is such information in the application of drugs?

First, if Schusslerism means the law which Dr. Hering discovered some thirty years ago, then I plead guilty to the charge. If it means floundering about with untried remedies, basing their symptomatology on their supposed physiological action, making a cure all of twelve substances-then I most emphatically deny the charge. Every question propounded in the syllabus is answered either from provings or from clinical experience. If Schusslerism means that medical substances act on tissues producing changes in function and nutrition, then again must I plead guilty.

And this brings us to the second question, upon the solution of which depends the maintenance of my position. A function is, literally, an act, a performance, and applied to Physiology, “is the action of an organ or set of organs”- (Dunglison). If I take a drug and symptoms result, are not these the expression of altered functions-altered in degree of quality? If, for instance, Lachesis causes haemorrhages with a settling like charred straw (Guernsey), or if it causes profuse bleeding, the blood will not coagulate (Lippe); is this not a nutritive change? And will this altered blood perform its normal functions? Let the answer be found in the Gangrene, the Erysipelas, or the impending Typhoid state.

Were Dr. Lippe to ask how are the changes made, I would be compelled to answer, I know not. The secret workings of vital force are under infinite surveillance. Just how it works, mortal man may never know. We live in a world of effects, and it is only of these we can become cognizant.

E. A. Farrington
E. A. Farrington (1847-1885) was born in Williamsburg, NY, on January 1, 1847. He began his study of medicine under the preceptorship of his brother, Harvey W. Farrington, MD. In 1866 he graduated from the Homoeopathic Medical College of Pennsylvania. In 1867 he entered the Hahnemann Medical College, graduating in 1868. He entered practice immediately after his graduation, establishing himself on Mount Vernon Street. Books by Ernest Farrington: Clinical Materia Medica, Comparative Materia Medica, Lesser Writings With Therapeutic Hints.