(From vol. iii, 2nd edit., 1825.)
(The alcoholic tincture of the thin tubular as well as the royal bark, Cinchona officinalis.)
Excepting opium I know no medicine that has been more and oftener misused in diseases, and employed to the injury of mankind, than cinchona bark. It was regarded not only as perfectly innocuous, but as a wholesome and universally beneficial medicine in almost all morbid states particularly where debility was observed, and was often prescribed in large doses several times a day for many weeks, and even months, together.
In so acting the ordinary physicians were guided by an utterly false principle, and they confirmed the reproach I have already frequently made against them to the more sensible portion of the public, that they have hitherto sought in traditional opinions, in guesses prompted by false lights in theoretical maxims and chance ideas what they could and should find only by impartial observation, clear experience, and pure experiment, in a pure science of experience such as medicine from its nature must only be.
Setting aside all guess-work and all traditional unproved opinions, I adopted the latter method, and I found, as with the other medicines, so especially with cinchona bark, by testing its dynamical powers on the healthy human being, that has certainly as it extremely curative in some cases of disease, so surely can it also develop the most morbid symptoms of a special kind in the healthy human body; symptoms often of great intensity and long duration, as shown by the following true observations and experiments.
Thereby, first of all, the prevailing delusion as to the harmlessness, the child-like mildness and the all-wholesome character of cinchona bark is refuted. (As long ago as the year 1790 (See W. CULLEN’s Materia Medica, Leipzig, bei Schwickert, ii, p. 109, note) I made the first pure trial with cinchona bark upon myself, in reference to its power of exciting intermittent fever. With this first trial broke upon me the dawn that has since brightened into the most brilliant day of the medical art; that it is only in virtue of their power to make the healthy human being ill that medicines can cure morbid states, and indeed, only such morbid states are composed of symptoms which the drug to be selected for them can itself produce in similarity on the healthy. This is a truth so incontrovertible, so absolutely without exception, that all the venom poured out on it by the members of the medical guild, blinded by their thousand-years old prejudices, is powerless to extinguish it; as powerless as were the vituperations launched against HARVEY’s immortal discovery of the greater circulation in the human body by RIOLAN and his crew to destroy the truth revealed by HARVEY. These opponents of an inextinguishable truth fought with the same despicable weapons as do to-day the adversaries of the homoeopathic medical doctrine. Like their modern congeners they also refrained from repeating his experiments in a true, careful manner, (for fear lest they might be confused by facts), and confined themselves to abuse, appealing to the great antiquity of their error (for GALEN’s predecessors and GALEN himself had arbitrarily decided that the arteries contained only spiritual air, and that the source of the blood was not in the heart but in the liver), and they cried out: Malo cum Galeno errare cum Harveyo esse circulator! This blindness, this obstinate appeal to the extreme antiquity of their delusion (it was only after thirty years and more that HARVEY had the satisfaction of seeing his true doctrine universally adopted), was in those days not more stupid than the blindness of to-day, and the present aimless rancour against homoeopathy which exposes the pernicious rubbish talked about ancient and modern arbitrary maxims and unjustifiable practices, and teaches that it is only by the responses given by nature when questioned that we can with sure perscience change diseases into health rapidly, gently, and permanently. )
But equally evident is it, from the symptoms of disease produced by cinchona bark in healthy observers recorded below, that the numerous unhappy results of the treatment by this bark occurring in the practice of ordinary physicians, and the frequently incurable aggravations of disease developed where bark in long continued and large doses was the main remedy in the prescriptions were owing solely to the noxious character of this drug when employed in unsuitable cases, and in too frequent and too large doses. This noxious character is demonstrated by the medicinal symptoms recorded below, which physicians till now were not aware of, and which they made no effort to ascertain. On the contrary, they innocently ascribed these aggravations to the natural course of the disease itself.
But I refrain from blaming these physicians, whose judgement is biassed by the prejudices of their schools, on this account, (their conscience will doubtless reproach them for it) I will content myself with expressing my own convictions in a few remarks.
1.Cinchona bark is one of the most powerful vegetable medicines. When it is accurately indicated as a remedy, and when the patient is seriously and intensely affected by a disease that china is capable of removing, I find that one drop of a diluted tincture of cinchona bark, which contains a quadrillionth (1/ 1000000,000000,000000,000000, th) of a grain of china-power, is a strong (often a too strong) dose, (Compare this with the large doses of this drug given in ordinary practice!) , which can accomplish and cure all alone all that china is capable of doing in the case before us; generally without it being necessary to repeat this dose in order to effect a cure; a second dose being rarely, very rarely, required. In the case neither of this nor of any other medicine did a preconcieved opinion or an eccentric fancy lead me to this minuteness of dose. No, multiplied experience and faithful observation led me to reduce the dose to such an extent. Led by experience and observations I clearly saw that larger doses, even where they did good, acted much more powerfully than was needed for the cure. Hence the smaller doses; and as I repeatedly observed from these the same effects though in a less degree, I gave still smaller, and the very smallest doses. These proved sufficient to effect a complete cure, and they did not display the violence of larger doses, which tends to delay the cure.
2. A very small dose of china acts for but a short time, hardly a couple of days, but a large dose, such as is employed in the practice of every day, often acts for several weeks if it be not got rid of by vomiting or diarrhoea, and thus ejected from the organism. From this we may judge how excellent the ordinary practice is of giving every day several and moreover large doses of bark!
3. If the homoeopathic law be right – as it incontestably is right without any exception, and its derived from a pure observation of nature – that medicines can easily rapidly, and permanently cure cases of disease only when the latter are made up of symptoms similar to the medicinal symptoms observed from the administration of the former to healthy persons; then we find, on a consideration of the symptoms of china, that this medicine is adapted for but few diseases, but that where it is accurately indicated, owing to the immense power of its action, one single very small dose will often effect a marvellous its action, one single very small dose will often effect a marvellous cure.
I say cure, and by this I mean a “recovery undisturbed by after-sufferings”. Or have practitioners of this ordinary stamp another, to me unknown, idea of what constitutes a cure? Will they, for instance, call cures the suppression by this drug of agues for which bark is unsuited? I know full well that almost all periodic diseases, and almost all agus, even such as are not suited for china, must be suppressed and lose their periodic character by this powerful drug, administered as it usually is in enormous and oft-repeated doses; but are the poor sufferers thereby really cured? Has nottheir pervious disease only undergone a transformation into another and worse disease, though it may no longer manifest itself in intermittent attacks recurring periodically, but has become a continued and, we may say, a more insidious disease by this very powerful and, in this case, insuitable medicine? True, they can no longer complain that the paroxysm of their original disease reappears on certain days and at certain hours; but note the earthy complexion of their puffy faces, the dulness of their eyes! See how oppressed is their breathing, how hard and distented is their epigastrium, how tensely swollen their loins, how miserable their appetite, how perverted their taste, how oppressed and painful their stomachs by all food, how indigested and abnormal their faecal evacuations, how anxious, dreamful, and unrefreshing their sleep! Look how weary, how joyless, how dejected, how irritably sensitive or stupid they are as they drag themselves about, tormented by a much greater number of ailments than afflicted them in their ague! And how long does not such a china-cachexy often last, in comparison with which death itself were often preferable!