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?

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.