Diseases of the Bones

By common consent diseases of the bones are classed as surgical. This I maintain is a very grave error. In many cases diseases of the bones are perfectly amenable to medical treatment, and only when medicine fails should surgery be allowed to step in….


NOT least among the baneful effects of specialism is the artificial separation of cases into medical and surgical. There is no use crying out against specialism: the enormous development of special departments renders specialism a necessity; but at any rate we may be on our guard against its dangers. There is no hard and fast line to be drawn between medical and surgical cases: most surgical cases are medical to start with. This is particularly true of cases of disease of bones. By common consent diseases of the bones are classed as surgical. This I maintain is a very grave error. In many cases diseases of the bones are perfectly amenable to medical treatment, and only when medicine fails should surgery be allowed to step in. Not long ago I dealt with this subject in an editorial article in the Homoeopathic World (Mar. 1, 1894), entitled “Healing up” versus “Cure,” from which I may quote the following passage:-

There is all the difference in the world between these two ideas, curing a patient constitutionally and making a part heal up quickly.

A true homoeopathic cure of a patient leaves the patient for ever free from his disease; the removal of carious bone by operation, and the consequent healing up of the part, may take only a few weeks, but the “patient” is not by any means cured: he is for ever liable to a renewed outbreak. We have seen patients kept under treatment for years with frequently recurring bone abscesses; and by persistent homoeopathic treatment the patient has been completely relieved of his tendency to the disorder, and has recovered with the perfect use of the limbs affected, and his constitution thoroughly renovated. This requires years of treatment, it is true; but it ends in cure and not in mere “healing up,” which is the thing allopaths aim at. We are not saying that operation is never demanded: the circumstances in every case must decide: but the first thing to be considered is the patient, and not the diseased limb.

One reason why homoeopathy makes no more progress in this country than it does, is the difficulty men have, in the present advanced state of the physical and, so to say, materialistic sciences, of p73 apprehending Hahnemann’s point of view. We constantly talk about “mind,” vitality,” “the organism,” but we are at great pains to explain whenever we do so that we really do not mean anything by the terms. “Mind” is the mere excretion of individual brain cells; “vitality,” “the organism,” are phrases to represent the sum total of the activities of all the cells of the body.

Modern science has excluded the “soul” or the “vital force” from our confessed philosophic creed, although in our common speech it is perpetually cropping up. It was amusing to find in Dr. Burdon Sanderson’s Presidential Address at the 1893 meeting of the British Association the “living soul” re-asserting itself in that very centre of science under the name of “specific energy” which interfered with all calculations. “Heidenhain has proved,” said Dr. Sanderson, “that the process of lymphatic absorption, which before we regarded as dependent on purely mechanical causes, is in great measure due to the specific energy of cells, and that in various processes of secretion the principal part is not, as we were inclined not many years ago to believe, attributable to liquid diffusion, but to the same agency.”

Commenting on this passage, The Times had some very caustic remarks, reflecting on the philosophical acumen of physiologists in that it was possible for them so recently to hold such narrow and inadequate views of living things.

Hahnemann’s clear vision saw in disease not merely an outward alternation of tissues and functions, but a disturbance of the living, “spirit-like” organism which animates the outward frame.

This was to him the seat of all diseases (as distinguished from external injures), and the remedies he employed were of the same “spirit-like” dynamic nature, capable of reaching the essence of the disorder. The cures wrought by Hahnemann’s method are not mere “healings up,” but realise the ideal of John Hunter : “What I call a cure is an alteration of the disposition and the effects of that disposition, and not the destruction of the cancerous parts.” So long as so many homoeopathists are blinded by the visible effects of disease, such as tumours and alterations of solid parts, to the alterations of the organic disposition underlying them, proficiency in the homoeopathic art must necessarily be rare.

I will now proceed to give instances of the medical treatment of diseased bone, and will begin with a tolerably acute case.


In my early homoeopathic days, I was consulted by a lady suffering from an offensive discharge from the gum of the lower p73 jaw. It was in a part where teeth had been extracted, and the probe showed the presence of dead bone. It occurred to me then that the best thing to do would be to take out the dead bone; but the patient was wiser than I, and would not consent. I therefore treated her with medicines – Silica and Phosphorus- and in a few weeks the bone came away of itself, and the patient was soon well.

This result was very much preferable to that of an operation, for many reasons :- (1.) An operation to remove carious bone necessitates the removal of a certain amount of healthy bone, whereas Nature makes a clean division between the living and the dead. (2.) The shock of an operation was avoided. (3.) The treatment of the patient improved her general health, and left her constitutionally better than before, whereas an operation leaves a patient constitutionally worse.

At the risk of being tedious I will give this case at considerable length, as it gives a good picture of the evolution of the disease, and shows how the disease of the bone was merely one symptom of a depraved constitutional state. Surgical removal of the dead bone would not have touched the constitutional condition, though it might have accelerated the healing of the sores.


Frank C., 12, schoolboy, was brought to my clinic at the Hospital Nov. 22, 1884. Five years before, he began to suffer from scrofulous disease. Wherever he receives a blow ulceration takes place, and if a bone is struck the bone ulcerates. He has an open wound on the back, along which a probe passes for 2 inches, coming then upon dead bone (the sacrum). The face and right hand also affected. One of his brothers has rickets.

Rx Silica 3, gtt. ii. ter die.

Jan. 5, 1885.- Better; less discharge and less pain. General health better. Sometimes is ravenously hungry.

Jan. 24.- Has irritating pains at anus after stools.

Repeat Silica. Teucrium 1x, three pilules at bedtime.

Feb. 14.- Irritation better. A piece of bone the size of an almond has come out of the wound on the face. The back looks better.

Repeat. Add a lotion of Silicea 6 (3ij.- z3 viij.)

March 14.- Has passed many thread – worms. Now irritation gone. Has a cold.

Rx. Arsen 3 three times a day alternately with silic.

April II.- Has had hurt to thumb. Has a painful swelling under left malleolus. Repeat.

April 25.- Back better; face better. Thumb swelling has broken. p73 Rx Calendula ointment. Silica 3 and Teucrium 1x as before.

May 23.- Has felt worse a little. Rx Cina 1, three pilules at bedtime. Silica 3.

Aug. 29. – Side has healed up. Some pieces of bone have come out of thumb. Has cough; worst in morning.

Rx Bryonia 3 every three hours. Silicea as before. Calendula ointment.

Sept. 12.- Cough better; better generally. Repeat. Sept. 26.- Rx Cod Liver Oil, in addition to silica.

Oct. 10.- A piece of bone has come away from thumb. Face healing. Back remains healed.

Jan. 23, 1886.- Another bit of bone came away from thumb. Often sees coloured lights, especially before right eye.

Rx Calcarea phos. 3, gr. iii. ter die. Calendula ointment.

Feb. 13.- Ferrum phos. 3, gr. ii., alternated with Calcarea phos.

March 12, 1887.- Still improving. Repeat.

Sept. 5.- Hand much better. Pieces of bone have come out from time to time. Had a cold in June. Has had another, with sneezing and cough in morning.

Rx Allium cep. 6, one drop four times a day.

Sept. 22.- Cold still continues. Has been troubled with worms lately, and has passed many.

Rx Teucrium 1x, one drop four times a day.

Dec. 13.- Cold persists. Worm symptoms no better.

Rx Natrum mur. 6, one drop four times a day. Jan. 14, 1888.- Cold not yet gone. Worms less troublesome. Repeat.

Feb. 18.- Throat nearly well. No worm symptoms. has fresh cold.

Rx Cepa 12, one drop four times a day.

Mar. 17.- Gland in front of ear swelling, and behind neck. Still has cold.

Rx Calcarea c. 30, one pilule three times a day.

April 28.- Fresh cold. Headache. Hand inflamed.

Rx Mercurius bin. with kali iod. 3x, gtt. i. ter die.

May 12.- Cold better. Glands going down. Hand is better. Has bad taste in – mouth.

June 16.- Cold better. Glands swollen about face. Still a little discharge from throat. Glands at times painful.

John Henry Clarke
John Henry Clarke MD (1853 – November 24, 1931 was a prominent English classical homeopath. Dr. Clarke was a busy practitioner. As a physician he not only had his own clinic in Piccadilly, London, but he also was a consultant at the London Homeopathic Hospital and researched into new remedies — nosodes. For many years, he was the editor of The Homeopathic World. He wrote many books, his best known were Dictionary of Practical Materia Medica and Repertory of Materia Medica