J.C Burnett did several experiments to know the therapeutic use of the viruses of certain diseases against the diseases themselves. In this paper he did same experiments with the virus of consumptive process , the bacillic virus, and found that it cures promptly the incipient stages of tubercular consumption in all parts– brain, lungs, skin, joints, etc….

It would be over fifteen years since I first occupied myself with the question of the therapeutical use of the viruses of certain diseases against the diseases themselves. And there are but few viruses that are known to science that I have not used as therapeutic agents, notably in hopelessly bad cases of consumption, cancer and the like. I will not enter into the results here more than to say that they are very different, and differing and at times contradictory; some of the cures with them have been very remarkable, and will some day see the light. In this paper I will confine myself to the virus of Consumption.

I had used this here and there tentatively and timidly, but could not make up my mind to test it fairly; I say fairly, because a string of desperate cases do not constitute a fair test of any remedy or principle; that is how people commonly try homoeopathy. I think it must be six years since, that I read the record of a case of consumption cured by the bacillic virus in high dilution; if my memory serves me rightly, it was by Professor Clapp. I think I called attention to it in reviewing a work while I was still editing the “Homoeopathic World.” It made a lasting impression on my mind. The late Dr. Ameke’s (of Berlin) startling paper on the use of certain proximate principles (a sketchy translation whereof I published later on in the “Monthly Homoeopathic Review”) greatly interested me. I tried a few, and at times was much struck with my results, several of which were beyond anything I had ever witnessed before. I may instance the truly wonderful curative effects of Cholestearin in cancer of the liver, and which I have noted for publication.

But consumption is the everpresent enemy, and I presently formulated to my mind the proposition that there must be some means of finding out whether the virus of consumption could cure consumption or not. I determined to try some of it upon myself,-I not being in consumption. I took it in varying doses at various times, the 30, C., C.C., in the form of pilules.


One effect was constant, viz., a severe headache, worse the day after taking the poison, and lasting on till the third day. This headache I felt every time I took it; I fancied the headache from the thirtieth was much worse than from the hundredth. The kind of headache I could only describe as far in, and compelling quiet fixedness. The headaches recurred from time to time for many weeks.

The next constant effect upon me was expectoration of non- viscid, very easily detached, thick phlegm from the air- passages, followed after a day or two by a very clear ring of the voice. The third effect was not quite constant, viz., windy dyspepsia and pinching pains under the ribs of the right side in the mammary line. And, finally, disturbed sleep-distressful. There was a little cough on three occasions, but only very slight, and only just enough to raise the phlegm, which came so easily that one might almost say it came of itself. This done, I began to use the virus with, not more confidence exactly, but with more familiarity. One of my very early cases of bad phthisis, which the virus quite cured, was the daughter of an aged army surgeon then resident in South Wales. The old gentleman has since gone home, but Miss H. is now a fine, stout woman, whom I really failed to recognize when she came to thank me for her cure. She must have gained thirty pounds in weight. But as I cannot lay my hands on the notes of the case I will count it for nothing.

In my little treatise, entitled “Fistula and its Radical Cure by Medicines,” may be found a case of urinary fistula in which the bacillic virus saved the patient’s life, and cured his disease with the help of other remedies, but I will not count that case either as anything, because the virus was not always given by itself. In the cases which I shall now cite the virus was almost invariably given absolutely by itself. When I say that the virus was given by itself, I do not necessarily mean that the case was treated with that as the only remedy used before or after, but that at the time it was so given it was so given alone, and its action carefully noted.

The idea that the remedy of a disease may lie in itself reaches back to the youth of the world. Moses’s lifting up the serpent in the wilderness is a symbolic similitude; “take a hair of the dog that bit you” almost formulates a doctrine. The homoeopathic conception can hardly be separated from the idea of curing the disease by a bit of itself, for the simple reason, that if you alter somewhat two things that are identically the same you reduce identity to similarity.

When I speak of consumption or phthisis, I mean the real tubercular disease, the genuine more or less infectious consumption, whether it is of the lungs, brain or whatsoever other part.

Thus far I have sought to lead up to my thesis proper-my five years of practical experience of the cure of consumption by its own poison. In my small essay, entitled “Diseases of the Skin from the Organismic Standpoint,” p. 7, begins the following case:-


In the early part of the year 1885, I was requested to see the only surviving child of a country clergyman, who had been given up by three medical men, as it had water on the brain. The child’s head was of the usual hydrocephalic type; he was alternately wakeful and delirious at night, and he talked nonsense by day at intervals. Their local doctors had taken a consultant’s opinion, and they agreed that the boy was suffering from tuberculosis of the meninges with effusion, of which a little brother had previously died. The child’s life-history was told to me, and I underlined the facts that he had eczema, and had been twice unsuccessfully vaccinated. After the unsuccessful vaccinations (want of organismic reactionary power) the eczema almost disappeared, and very soon the present disease began. I treated the case thus causally ex-hypothesi; a severe pustular eruption, and then patches of lepra and eczema appeared, and at the end of about six months’ treatment I was able to discharge the little patient, cured of his water on the brain and of his skin diseases. I saw him the other day, and learned that he continues well and has grown a good deal.

When said essay was sent to the proper quarters for the opinions of medical experts, one of the reviewers called attention to the fact that I had not named the remedies which cured the boy, and called upon me to make them known. Well, the remedy of the case was the poison of consumption; after taking this in a high potency and infrequently, the head went smaller; the delirium ceased, as did also the nocturnal hallucinations and fright, and the pyrexia entirely disappeared. I happen to know that the cure holds good to date, now nearly six years, though a certain amount of irritability of temper remains.

I did not mention the remedy then, thinking the world not ripe for it; but now that Professor Koch’s large dose injections of the same substance are the order of the day, my harmless infinitesimals will hardly meet with any objectors, rather shall I expect to incur ridicule. Anyway, it was the virus of consumption that cured the case, and nearly six years testify to its genuineness and lastingness.

Allowing that to count as my first case, I will proceed to my


About two years ago I was called to a boy of 3 years of age in the night, with diarrhoea, furious fever, burning hot skin, great heat in the head, red flushed face, and eyes turned upwards, quivering and rolling. Patient had been ailing a little, and ordinary homoeopathic remedies had been given in vain. Considering the case to be one of incipient tuberculosis, I gave one dose of a high potency to its virus; within an hour patient quieted down, went to sleep, burst into a free perspiration, and awoke in the morning greatly improved, and very soon completely recovered, and is now a very fine boy.


I was called last year, also in the night, to a bairnie of some 20 months of age, who had been ill for days with “something in the head,” high fever, restlessness, and constant screaming. I had seen him from his first ailing, and prescribed our usual remedies, but they took practically no lasting effect. I had seen the child in the evening and prescribed for it, and did not apprehend any mischief, although there had been no sleep for some forty hours, but when called in the night I was- greatly alarmed at the child’s fallen-in and collapsing state, and I feared the worst. There was the peculiarly fetid smell of the child’s body, such as I had noticed in the previous case. Moreover, he was the brother of Case II., and of both very numerous near relations had died of consumption at different periods, and one young cousin had died of tuberculosis of the brain coverings. I gave an infinitesimally minute quantity of the phthisic virus on sugar of milk dry on the tongue…. and the result?

I hardly like to pen so remarkable a result, as it looks so strangely improbable……..Patient fell asleep within ten minutes, and uttered thereafter no further screams. He made a rapid and complete recovery, though his forehead still gives him a rather old-mannie look.


In the early fall of this year, 1890, I was called upon to prescribe for a tall girl of 12 years of age, of a distinctly phthisic habit. She had a tedious little hack of a cough that had lasted for months, and refused to yield to the common homoeopathic remedies. As before stated, she was tall for her age; she had long fingers, almond-shaped nails, a long neck, indurated glands in the neck. Infrequent doses of the phthisic virus in high potency rapidly altered the entire face of the case, the cough went in ten days, and in a few weeks she was reported “perfectly well and getting quite fat.” Many of this young lady’s relatives have died of tuberculosis. It is in just this early stage of consumption that the virus acts with such promptitude and brilliancy. And I will add that the action of Psoricum is often very nearly equal to it in old cases, whereof I could cite some very notable examples, but here they would not be apposite.


In the early spring of 1887 a young lady of 15 years of age was brought to me from the North, for her age she was very big. She had very large tonsils, chronic running from the nose, worse in the early morning on rising; her speech was thick; her thorax, the so-called pigeon-breast; she menstruated freely; she has moist palms, and she perspires across the nose a good deal; she gets chilblains. She feels very chilly, and I find her spleen a good deal swelled. Distinct dullness on percussion at the apex of the right lung.

As patient had suffered badly from vaccination, I ordered my favorite arbor vitae. This brought no change for the better; her perspiration of chest, armpits, palms, nose and feet became very bad.

The virus of consumption was here administered; the thirtieth at twelve days interval, and after one month of this the perspirations had greatly diminished; after two months the dullness on percussion at the right apex had gone, the chest took on a much better shape (the depressed right side stood out much better). In another two months of the same medication she was in capital health, and her mother wrote me at the end of October, 1887,-“She is so well.”

And now, two years later, I am able to say that she has never looked back, and is a bonnie person-just a wee bit stout, perhaps. Patient had altogether forty-eight globules of the virus, of the thirtieth potency, spread over four months.


It is nearly four years since, the exact date being February 25, 1887, that a married lady, then 38 years of age, mother of seven children, came to me for a bad cough, that troubled her all the more as she was then enciente. This cough was worse on going to bed and on getting up. She had been four times vaccinated, and three out of the four were unsuccessful. She had suffered from leucorrhoea a good deal, and from coughs. As she had three sisters die successively of consumption (at 28, 32, and 40 years of age respectively), her husband was much concerned about her future. Considering her family history, and the fact that the apex of the right lung was consolidated, though I did my best to cheer him up, I had sad misgivings myself.

She had from me in succession, and with very striking benefit, the following remedies in the order named, Thuja 30, Pulsatilla 3x, Bellis perennis 3x, Sepia 12, Hepar sul. 6, Thuja 30 (a second time), and Nux vomica 3x. We found patient after these remedies, at the end of the month of October, 1888, in a pretty bad way; there was the same dullness on percussion at the apex of the right lung, the same little hacking cough continuing all day, and exacerbating at bedtime and on rising, and patient was very thin. I then determined to try the phthisic virus. After being under it for a month she did not trouble to report herself till March 15, 1889, and then she only came because she had a cold, and therewith some cough again. She had been so well all the winter that she considered herself quite cured. Here I repeated the October prescription of the virus, and I discharged the patient cured in one month and two days therefrom, viz., on April 17, 1889. She has never looked back, and is now a stout woman.


At the beginning of July, 1887, a young woman of about 30 was brought to me, far gone in consumption. She was very, very emaciated, the menses had ceased. Her two sisters had died in the same way, and all hope for her recovery had long since been abandoned; but hearing, or rather having observed, a young lady in the same neighbourhood get well of consumption under my care, her mother accompanied her to me. Having used Thuja (the poor thing had been vaccinated four times, the last three unsuccessfully), Calcarea, Hypophos., and Cardius Mariae, with decidedly good results, I felt encouraged, and thought it almost possible yet to save her if we could only get rid of the fever. With the virus I succeeded in doing this after a few months; patient lost her cough to a very large extent, the expectoration came down to a mere nothing, and she put on a few pounds in flesh, and lived for nearly two years free from consumption, or rather, free from the ordinary symptoms of that disease, such as fever and cough. Her mother said to me one day,–” You seem to have cured the consumption, and yet my daughter gets weaker and weaker every day, and the dropsy goes on getting worse and worse.” And so it was; and of the dropsy she died, nearly two years after the consumptive process seemed cured.

This case in unique in my experience. The phthisic virus cured the phthisis so far as I could tell. I used a good many remedies then to meet the varying symptoms with, at times, very good effects, but the effects did not last. To give some idea how persistently I treated her, I will name the remedies she had from me,–Fragaria vesca 0, Chelidonium majus 0, Ceanothus Americanus 1, Scilla maritima 0, Iodium 3x, Aconite, Baptisia 3x, Pyrogenium 5, Calcarea phos., Rubia tinctoria, Ferrum acet., Cholestearin, Arsenicum, Phosphorus, Iodoform 3x, Pancreatin, and Spirit. glandium quercus. Still in the end I failed, and she died of hepatic dropsy, due to hopelessly far advanced granular atrophy. When I say the phthisis was cured, I, of course, do not mean that to be taken literally; on the contrary, I mean that though the fever, etc., were quite extinguished, and patient’s condition was for some months relatively comfortable, still, the frequently recurring haemorrhages showed that occult processes were still going on within the closed circle of the economy.


I will now briefly narrate the successful case through which Case VII. came under my observation :-

The patient was 17 years of age, and her sister had just died of consumption of the lungs.

Patient was very anaemic, sickish, pale almost to whiteness, profound debility, dyspnoea, cannot mount or hurry, menses very irregular.” She is going just like her poor dear sister, she has the same fever every evening.”

Of the diagnosis there could be no doubt, and the sister’s fate determined me to use the virus 30. This was on the 4th of October; on the 1st of November then next following, I find in the case a record : “Certainly better, the evening feverishness has gone.”

I then used the virus in higher potency (and at all times and in all cases at certain intervals). She got quite well of all the consumptive symptoms, but remained neuralgic and anaemic; but these ailings having been righted by Mangan. acet. I, Zincumacet. I, Ferrum acet. I, I discharged her cured. She is a fine, bonnie woman now, and anything but consumptive looking.

Here I conclude that the phthisic virus acted, and acted adequately, curatively–its stop-spot being on the offside of the disease as expressed in this damsel.

As to the use of the other remedies, I would specially insist upon the fact that the phthisic virus only acts within its own sphere, and that this sphere is very sharply defined as to time, and what it does not do soon Second Edition: When I say soon, I mean that its action begins at once-only, of course, as phthisic processes are generally chronic, the treatment thereof must also be the same, i.e., chronic. and promptly it does not do at all. Its action is, if I may so express myself, acute: its chronic equivalent is Psoricum.


“I have come to town again for the purpose of preparing to go abroad. You will remember that you advised me to go south last year, and that I spent the winter and spring at Cannes. You sent the powders to me there. Those white powders did me a great deal of good-almost set me free from bronchitis. Since I last saw you I have had but very little bronchitis. I look well, and people tell me I am looking very much better than I did last year.” The complaint was dependent upon a phthisical taint in the constitution, and it was the phthisic virus that cured the case. At first it was given over two months, and later on for six weeks. The one-hundredth potency in very infrequent dose. Patient’s brother had died of consumption.


A city merchant, married, and father of a family, came under my observation in the spring of 1888 for phthisis and fistula, or, I would rather say, for fistular anaemia and “consumptiveness,” for the consumption was not declared, though the experienced eye was not to be misled. The whole circumanal surface was red; glands of the left side of the neck very much indurated. The gentleman’s poitrinary constitution may be accounted for, seeing that his father was dying of consumption when patient was born.

I treated him with much success with Kali carb. 30, Nux vomica I, Hepar sul. 3, Silicea 6, and Hydrastis canadensis 0, with two intercurrent courses of, each one month of the phthisic virus, and in seven months–end of 1888–discharged him quite cured, and, so far as I could tell, sound, in all respects. I have never seen him since, and I believe he has never looked back.


The following case is striking. On April 23, 1888, a lady and gentleman brought their only boy, 2 years and 8 months of age; he was their only child, because their other two had died of tuberculosis of the brain, and this one was going the same way, and with the same symptoms, and at about the same age. The parents told me nought of all this till I had given my diagnosis; these were the symptoms. He is fretty and ailing, whines and complains, feelably indurated glands everywhere, hottish, drowsy, urine red and sandy, much given to be frightened, particularly by dogs. Has been vaccinated, and had thereafter a dreadful arm for four months. He would not smile for or at any one or any thing, and when spoken to forthwith began to whimper. His skin was dingy, his skull hydrocephalic.

Diagnosis : Tuberculosis.

When I had fenced awhile with the anxious mother’s questions, she broke down and begged me to be candid, and then told me of their sad troubles and loss of their two previous children. I then stated the diagnosis, but stated that I hoped I should cure it. Of course the parents tried to believe the welcome prognosis, but could not, and went home in terrible distress of mind.

James Compton Burnett
James Compton Burnett was born on July 10, 1840 and died April 2, 1901. Dr. Burnett attended medical school in Vienna, Austria in 1865. Alfred Hawkes converted him to homeopathy in 1872 (in Glasgow). In 1876 he took his MD degree.
Burnett was one of the first to speak about vaccination triggering illness. This was discussed in his book, Vaccinosis, published in 1884. He introduced the remedy Bacillinum. He authored twenty books, including the much loved "Fifty Reason for Being a Homeopath." He was the editor of The Homoeopathic World.