(From vol. I, 3rd edit., 1830.)
(The dried milky juice of the green, half-ripe heads of the Papaver somniferum, especially of the large-headed white poppy, Papaver officinale, Gm.)
In recent times many chemists have given themselves unspeakable trouble to analyze opium, and to dissociate its several sontituent parts; morphium (morphia), narcotin (opian), meconic acid, extractive matter, caoutchuc, opium-balsam, fatty substance, gluten, resin, gum, volatile matter. They generally differ so much among one another, both in respect to the methods used to separate them, consisting of a number of dissimilar and complicated processes, and in respect to the chemical nature of their component parts, as also in their opinions about the relative efficacy of these constituents, that, all things considered, very little of a trustworthy or useful characted seems to have resulted, either for the medical art in general, or for the benefit of the sick in particular.
But as homoeopathy concerns itself only with whole, undivided medicial substances, as they exist in the natural state, and aims at the simplest mode of preparing them, in which all their constituents shall be uniformly dissolved and develop their medicinal powers, and as it looks only to healing and not to injuring human beings consequently it does not, like the new pharmacy, consider it an honour to prepare from opium the most painlessly and quickly killing substance (Mohpium aceticum); hence the homoeopathic art, which is only intended for beneficent ends, willingly dispenses with all these dangerous manoeuvres.
It will therefore – as has hitherto been the custom – macerate one grain of finely pulverised opium in 100 drops of alcohol in the temperature of the room for a week, in order to make a tincture, and mix one drop of this with another 100 drops of alcohol by two succussions, and so proceed to the higher developments of power; or, better:
One grain of selected good opium is treated like other dry medicinal substances, is first brought to the million-fold trituration in three hours, by triturating with three times 100 grains of milk-sugar (in the manner taught at the commencement of the second part of the book on Chronic Diseases); of this one grain is then dissolved in 100 drops of diluted alcohol, and potentized by two succussions. This gives a fluid, one drop of which, diluted in a similar way with 100 drops of alcohol, and through 25 more dilution-phials. One or two globules of the smallest size moistened with this last potency will do all the good that is capable of being effected homoeopathically in the treatment of human ailments for which it suitable.
It is much more difficult to estimate the action of opium than of almost any other drug.
In the primary action of small and moderate doses, in which the organism, passively as it were, lets itself be affected by the medicine; it appears to exalt the irritability and activity of the voluntary muscles for a longer time, but to diminish those of the involuntary muscles for a longer period; and while it exalts the fancy and courage in its primary action, it appears at the same time to dull and stupefy (the external senses) the general sensibility and consciousness. Thereafter the living organism in its active counter-action produces the opposite of this in the secondary action: diminished irritability and inactivity of the voluntary, and morbidly exalted excitability of the involuntary muscles, and loss of ideas and obtuseness of the fancy, with faint-heartedness along with over sensitiveness of the general sensibility.
In large doses the symptoms of the primary action not only rise to a far more dangerous height, but they pass from one to another with impetuous rapidity, often mingled with secondary actions or quickly passing into the latter. In some persons certain symptoms are more conspicious, in others other symptoms.
No medicine in the world suppresses the complaining of patients more rapidly than opium and misled by this, physicians have made immense use (abuse) of it, and have done enormous and wide-spread mischief with it.
Were the results of the employment of opium in diseases as beneficial as its employment is common, there would be no medicine by which patients would be so often cured as by opium. But exactly the opposite of this is universally the case.
Its enormous power and rapid action imply that an uncommon amount of knowledge of its actions and an uncommonly accurate judgement and appreciation of it must be required in order to employ it medicinally, if we would use it in a really benificial manner, which is impossible without making a homoeopathic application of it.
Hitherto opium has been almost exclusively employed antipathically or palliatively, and hardly any but its primary actions have been opposed to the contrary morbid states, contraries curentur – except when the physician prescribed (by mistake? Or numinis afflatu?) in a sense exactly opposite to this antiquity hallowed therapeutic rule of Galen’s, and so effected miraculous cures. No medicine in the world has affected more illusory relief, more deceptive concealment and suppression of the morbid symptoms, with consequence more disastrous than the original disease. No medicine in the world has done more harm (with preliminary apparent relief) than this opium.
Opium has been employed as the supposed chief remedy against all kinds of coughs, diarrhoeas, vomiting, sleeplessness, melancholy, spasms and nervous ailments – and more especially against all kinds of pains without distinction.
But all these innumerable affections are not contained in the primary action of opium, but just the opposite. Hence we can easily understand how far from permanent, how far from benificial must be the result of such an employment of this drug in the majority of diseases of body and mind! And daily experience teaches this.
If in some few cases opium removes cough, diarrhoea, vomiting, sleeplessness, trembling and so forth, this only happens when these ailments are of recent date or have arisen suddenly in a previously healthy body, and when they are of a slight character, Thus, for example, a cough brought on by a chill, a trembling caused by recent fright, (Smelling at a globule the size of a mustard-seed, moistened with a potentized dilution of opium, gives almost immediate relief to one how has undergone a violent fright, but only on the condition that he performs the olfaction immediately after trifling cause the fright has been received, If employed later, it not only brings no relief, it rather doe harm.) a diarrhoea suddenly excited by fear, a chill or other trifling case, vomiting and other symptoms produced by mental excitement, loathing, 7c., are sometimes quickly removed by opium, because it is only necessary that it should suppress these ailments in a superficial and temporary manner, in order to restore to the previously healthy body its freedom to ward off spontaneously all further tendency to these affections, and to continue its former condition of health by its own powers (vide Organon of Medicine, 4th edition, § 63, note).
Though opium succeeds in the palliative suppression of these rapid trivial ailments in the few instances indicated above, it by no means follows that it possesses a true curative power of permanently removing such affections in every case and under all conditions even when they are of a persistent character. It cannot remove them and restore health when they are symptoms of another disease to which opium does not correspond as a homoeopathic remedy in its primary effects, or if they have already lasted a considerable time, because these ailments are not contained in the primary actions of opium. (They are only to be found in its secondary action (and in the preliminary, momentary reaction – their reflexion – described below).
Hence it has hitherto been universally employed in medical practice throughout the whole, almost always with injurious and disasterous results, in old coughs, persistent diarrhoeas, long-continued sleeplessness, chronic vomiting, habitual spasms, anxiety and trembling. But when these affectiexisted for some time in the system and depended on totally different diseases for which opium is not the homoeopathic remedy, they could never, not in one single instance, be cured by opium, so that permanent health was restored by its use.
In employing opium in the above-mentioned chronic maladies we learn that it effects only at first an illusory alleviation, a transient suppression of the affection for a few hours; that it then ceases to alleviate without increasing the size of the dose, that on further increasing the dose it only allays the symptoms for a short time, and even when it does this it creates on the other hand new affections and a much more serious and a worse artificial disease. Verily this is an injurious, though hitherto universally practised misuse of this gift of God which was created for the removal of quite opposite morbid states. (For where shall we find a remedy equal to opium for the most obstinate constipation and for acute fevers, with umcomplaining stupefied sopor, with snoring from a half opened mouth, and twitching of the limbs, with burning heat of the perspiring body, and in several other morbid states corresponding in similarity to the primary effects of opium.)