So the glutten just risen from his luxurious meal of highly-spiced food is incapable of perceiving the taste of a grain of sugar placed upon his over-stimulated tongue; whereas a person contented with simple fare will, when fasting in the morning, experience an intense sweet taste from a much smaller quantity of the same sugar. Similarly amid the multifarious noises in the most crowded part of a large town we can often not comprehend the loudly spoken words of a friend at the distance of five or six paces, whereas in the dead of night, when all the sounds of day are hushed and perfect stillness prevails, the undisturbed ear distinctly perceives the softest tone of a distant flute, because this gentle sound is now the only one present, and therefore it exercises its full action on the undisturbed organ of hearing.
So certain is it, that when all accessory medicinal influences are withheld from the patient (as should be done in all rational treatment), even the very minute doses of a simple medicinal substance, especially of one chosen according to similarity of symptoms, can and must exercise its adequate and complete action, as a thousand-fold experience will teach any one whom prejudice does not deter from repeating the experiment accurately.
Quite small doses of medicine are all the less likely to fail to exercise their peculiar action, in as much as their very smallness cannot excite the organism to revolutionary evacuations (what is morbid in the organism is altered by the small dose), whereas a large dose, by the antagonism it excites in the system, will often be rapidly expelled and bodily ejected and washed away by vomiting, purging, diuresis, perspiration, &c.
Will the ordinary physicians at last understand that the small and smallest doses of homoeopathically selected medicines can only effect great results in a pure genuine treatment, but are quite unsuitable in routine treatment?) together with appropriate treatment in other respects, by nourishing diet, open air, cheerful surroundings, &c, are as efficacious to effect recovery as larger and repeated doses are to cause secondary and injurious effects, as is the case with every nimium, every excess even of the best thing in the world.
This suitableness of cinchona-bark in diseases of debility from loss of humours led physicians of the ordinary sort, as it were instinctively, to a mode of treatment of many diseases which has been, and still continues to be, the most prevalent of all modes of treatment – the weakening treatment by means of squandering the humours (under pretence of loosening the morbid matter and expelling it from the body) by means of frequently repeated so-called solvents (that is, drugs of various kinds that purge the bowels), by means of exciting an increased flow of urine and copious perspirations (by many tepid and warm drinks and quantities of tepid and warm-bath), by means of blood-letting by venesection and leeches, by means of salivation, by means of drawing off imaginary impure humours by open blisters, issues, setons, &c. If such a treatment, especially that by mild purgatives the use of which is so general, be long enough continued, then, by means of irritation of the intestinal canal, not only is the greater disease of the abdomen that keeps in suspense the acute disease, so long kept up until the natural termination of the acute disease is reached, but also a disease of debility from loss of humours is induced, for which, then, after months of treatment, when the strength and humours are much exhausted, cinchona-bark will assuredly restore the health in the only remaining malady (the artificially produced disease of debility from loss of humours). But none perceived by what a circuitous round-about way such a cure was affected. Thus, inter alia, the spring tertian fevers, and most other diseases of an acute character, having of themselves a duration of only a few weeks, are spun out into (rational?) treatments of many months’ duration; and the ignorent patient is happy in having escaped with his life, whereas a real cure of the original disease ought only to have occupied in a few days.
Hence the everlastingly repeated warnings in so-called practical works, not to administer cinchona-bark in agues, until all the (imaginary)impurities and morbid matters have been energetically and repeatedly evacuated upwards and downwards, or, according to the euphemistic expressions of the moderns (though the same thing is meant), until the solvent treatment (i.e. laxatives and purgatives to produce many liquid stools) has been employed to a sufficient extent and long enough; in reality, until the artificially produced abdominal disease has lasted longer than the normal duration of the ague, and so the disease of debility from loss of humours which alone remains can be transformed into health by cinchona-bark, as of course it will be.
This is what was and is still called methodical and rational treatment, in many, many cases of disease.
With equal justice might we rob widows and orphans in order to establish as asylum for the poor.
As cinchona-bark in its primary action is a powerful laxative (see the symptoms, 497 et seq.) it will be found to be very efficacious as a remedy in some cases of diarrhoea when the other symptoms of china are not inappropriate to the rest of the morbid symptoms.
So also in those cases where we have to do with so-called moist gangrene in the external parts, we shall generally notice in the remainder of the patient’s ailments, morbid symptoms similar to the symptoms peculiar to cinchona-bark; hence it is so useful in such cases.
The too easy and too frequent morbid excitation to seminal discharges of the genitals, caused sometimes by slight irritation in the hypogastrium, is very permanently removed by the smallest dose of bark (in conformity with its peculiar symptoms of this character).
Those attacks of pain which can be excited by merely touching (or slightly moving) the part and which then gradually increase to the most frightful degree are to judge by the patient’s expressions, very similar to those caused by china. I have sometimes permanently removed them by a single dose of the diluted tincture, even when the attacks had been frequently repeated. The malady was homoeopathically (see note to 685), as it were, charmed away, and health substituted for it. No other known remedy in the world could have done this, as none other is capable of causing a similar symptom in its primary action.
Bark will hardly ever be found curative when there are not present disturbances of the night’s rest similar to those the medicine causes in the healthy (which will be found recorded below).
There are some, though but few, suppurations of the lungs (especially accompanied by stitches in the chest, almost always only aggravated or excited by external pressure), that may be cured by bark. But in these cases the other symptoms and ailments of the patient must be found similarity among the symptoms of china. In such cases only a few, sometimes but a couple of doses of above minuteness, at long intervals, suffice for the cure.
So also there are a few icteric diseases, of such a character that they resemble the symptoms of china; when this is the case the disease is removed as if by magic by one, or at most two, small doses, and perfect health takes its place.
An intermittent fever must be very similar to that which china can cause in the healthy, if that medicine is to be the suitable, true remedy for it, and then a single dose of the above indicated minuteness relieves – but this it does best when given immediately after the termination of the paroxysm, before the operations of nature are accumulated in the body for the next fit. The usual method of suppressing an ague not curable by cinchona bark, by means of large doses of this powerful substance, is to give it shortly before the paroxysml it is then most certain to produce this act of violence, but its consequence are very injurious.
Cinchona-bark can only permanently cure a patient affected with intermittent fever in marshy districts of his disease resembling the symptoms of china, when the patient is able to be removed from the atmosphere that causes the fever during his treatment, and until his forces are completely restored. For if he remain in such an atmosphere he is constantly liable to the reproduction of his disease from the same source; and the remedy, even though frequently repeated, is unable to do any further good; just as the morbid state induced by over-indulgence is coffee is rapidly relieved by its appropriate remedy, but while the hurtful beverage is continued to be taken, it will recur from time to time.
But how could physicians act so stupidly as to think of substituting other things for cinchona-bark, which in its dynamic action on the human health, and in its power to derange that health in a peculiar manner, differs so immensely from every other medicinal substance in the world? (See the peculiar symptoms it causes, recorded below.) How could they dream of finding a surrogate for china, that is to say, a medicinal substance of identical and precisely the same medicinal power among other extremely different substances? Is not every kind of animal, every species of plant, and every mineral something peculiar, as entity never to be confounded, not even in external appearance, with any other? Could any one be so short-sighted as from their external appearance to mistake a cinchona tree for a willow tree, an ash or a horse- chesnut? And if we find these plants differ so much in their external characters, though nature cannot offer so much difference to a single sense – that of vision – as she can, and actually does, to all the senses of the practised observer in the dynamic action of these various plants on the health of the living healthy human organism, shall no attention be paid to these latter, the multiform peculiar symptoms which each single one of these plants elicits in a manner so different from those of the second and third, and whereon alone depends the specific medicinal power of each medicinal plant with which only we are concerned in curing disease? Shall we fail to perceive their high significance, shall we fail to recognise them as the highest criterion of the difference of drugs among one another? Or shall we consider all things that have a bitter and astringent taste as identical in medicinal effects, as a kind of cinchonabark.(As W. CULLEN amongst others does (See Abh. uber die Matria Medica, ii, p. 110, Leipz., 1790.) and thus constitute the coarse sense of taste in man (which power) the supreme and sole judge for determining the medicinal significance of the various plants? I should think it were possible to act in a more short-sighted and foolish manner in matters of such extreme importance for the welfare of humanity!