On Neuralgia, Its Causes and its Remedies

As I have before stated, neuralgias offer a very good test of the opposing school of Medicine, and in the treatment of the after-pain of shingles we see the incomparable advantages of homoeopathy. By curing this variety of neuralgia I have, over and over again, made notable converts to homoeopathy,- and by curing I do not mean merely lulling the pain temporarily, but its radical and definite extinguishment.

It is in the middle-aged and elderly that the after-pain of shingles is so distressing.-often, in fact, little less than terrible. Let us take a very high- perhaps the very highest – allopathic authority on the subject, and his most recent utterances. I refer to Mr. Jonathan Hutchinson, late President of the Royal College of Surgeons. It will be observed that Mr. Hutchinson does not for one moment entertain the idea that what he fails to cure could possibly be cured by anyone else.

In Mr. Hutchinson’s Archives, vol. iv., No. 13 (July 1892), pp. 51, 52, may be found the following :-


“All will agree, I think, in the opinion that the severity and duration of herpes after-pains are usually in ratio with the age of the patient. Young persons do not suffer from after-pain from shingles. In old people the pain may last for years. Of this the following case is, amongst many others, a good example.

” Mrs. S -, an old lady of 70, suffered from herpes zoster a year ago. She averse that she is still never free night or day from a distressing aching pain in the parts which were affected (ear, neck, and shoulder). The pain does not now shoot and sting as it used to at first, but is rather an unbearable ache. Her nerve pains did not begin with any severity till the herpes spots were healing. This statement applies only to her skin, for the first symptom which drew her attention to the eruption was a severe pain in the ear.

She asserts that she has had earache ever since I saw her in the first instance on June 16, 1889, at her own house, when she was just recovering from influenza. She was then in bed, and suffering so much from the herpes after-pain, that she could not bear to be examined, and could scarcely speak to me. Since then she has visited me several times. She is a cheerful person, inclined to make the best of things, inclined to make the best of things, and she has now regained very fair health, but her complaints about the pain are incessant, and she will sit and weep during her visit to me. She says that it entirely prevents sleep at nights, and compares it to a gimlet boring into the ear. From the ear it passes down to the clavicle and tip of shoulder.

” This is perhaps the most severe case that I have seen, but I have observed not a few which closely approach it. I have known several in which herpetic after-pains made the remainder of the patient’s life a state of misery. They were all in old persons. Quinine and Aconite are the most useful-remedies, but I have had no triumphs.

MR. Hutchinson says that Quinine and Aconite are the most useful remedies, but that he has had no triumphs. Now, what I would point out to Mr. Hutchinson is this : If he has had no triumphs, how does he know which are the most useful remedies? It is not correct to say that Quinine and Aconite are the most useful remedies in the treatment of the after-pains of shingles. As a matter of fact, it is only a common occurrence for either Quinine or Aconite to be called for in this affection. How two remedies that only occasionally cure, because only occasionally indicated, can be the best remedies, is a little beyond my simple understanding.

Rhus tox. is a much more frequently efficacious remedy for the shingles after-pain then either Quinine or Aconite; and of ordinary everyday remedies, Phosphorus is, in my experience, the best, – and by best I mean the most frequently curative. Of course the best must ever be that remedy which is pathogenetically most similar to the case in point. And why best? Because it cures.

I think rather too much is made of “age” in referring to shingles. No doubt the after-pains are most troublesome in the old, but the bulk of the cases which have come under my observation have been in the middle-aged, and not in the aged, and I believe shingles is most common in the middle-aged. In the quite young I believe shingles to be relatively infrequent.

It would appear that herpes zoster is in reality the peripheral expression of an inflammation of the corresponding spinal ganglion of the nerve traversing it. But, of course, when we speak of inflammation we say but very little unless we know something definite of the pathological quality thereof. So many things are….inflammation! But its quality?

Now the homoeopathic treatment of the shingles after-pains is one of the prettiest bits of therapeutic sharp-shooting imaginable, and we can honestly claim to have had very many triumphs without, as a rule either Quinine or Aconite. I have myself had the greatest number of cures with Phosphorus, but Rhus tox., Thuja occid, Vaccinin., and Variolin constitute a very reliable rearguard,- the last-named being far and away the most certain, prompt, and radical. I use it always in high or very high dilutions, and do not readily repeat. If Mr. Hutchinson will follow these lines he will be able to claim many triumphs.


On the 28th June 1892, a London clergyman, fifty-five years of age of rufous constitution, came to consult me in regard to certain pains in the left foot and left thigh. These pains were irrespective of period, had existed for ” a long time,” i.e., months, and were getting worse. While sitting before me in my consulting-room he repeatedly twitched with his leg, and writhed with the pain, his face at the same time becoming contorted. These pains he described as ” awful agony ” and ” like lightning.” Otherwise patient was fairly well; a patch of erythema of left thigh.

Bacill. 30.

July 15th.- There was at first furious exacerbations of the pains, and now they have gone altogether.

August 9th.- No return of the lightning pains.

January 5th, 1893.- Coming on this date in regard to his son… “Oh, no! thank God, these pains have never returned.”

What led me to such a prescription as Bacill. for foudroyant pains? Well, not tradition at any rate. My reasons were these:- 1st, Total absence of any venereal historic datum. 2nd, Patient is of rufous constitution. 3rd, Collaterals of patient have died of phthisis. 4th, His descendants have been treated by me for phthisis. 5th, Patient had already had the advantage of our usual remedies from his own homoeopathic physician, and hence it was desirable to go out of the beaten track.


A lady, sixty-two years of age, came under my observation on November 26, 1890, for a terrible neuralgia of the left side of the trunk, just behind the spleen and the base of the left lung. The pain was most severe, and described as of a screwing character. During the past seven years patient has been going from one doctor to another, and finally on this day came to me most unwillingly and in sheer despair, driven hither by a severe attack then on.

These attacks were not well defined as to time, but they were distinctly intermittent, and started as a small pain, going on crescendo, and eventually passing off decrescendo. Patient had been three times vaccinated; and, moreover, she tells me she once had true cow-pox, caught from a cow. Patient has been about a great deal in the world, and though very strong she has had a great many diseases, she enumerating to me measles, whooping-cough, chicken-pox, scarlet fever, South American fever (ague cured by Quinine), yellow fever, jaundice, and rheumatic fever. All things considered, I was of opinion that it was a malarial splenalgia, and so prescribed Urtica urens 0, 10 drops in water three times a day. This was November 26.

December 16th.- Only one attack of pain; appetite much better. ” The medicine roused me and made me tremble.” The patient looks quite a different woman.

January 16th, 1891.- No attack; considers herself quite cured. ” I am also not so cold, and do not feel the cold so much as I did.”

There was no further attack of neuralgia till the month of November 1891, which was, however, not very severe, and the same remedy in half the dose was quickly efficacious, Then in July 1892 there was a threatening again but it came to nothing, and there has been no further return of the neuralgia whatever.

I name this in the headline Inter costal Neuralgia, because that was what her numerous other physicians had treated her for. My own conception of the nature of the case is expressed in the name Malarial Splenalgia. CASE OF SPLENALGIA OF TEN YEARS’ DURATION. An army man, retired, fifty-three years of age, came to consult me in August 1891 for a pain at the same place as in the last-named case. The spleen was very slightly enlarged.

There was a very slight endocardial bruit, best heard at apex-best during the diastole; sensation of pins and needles down the left arm. Cold water drunk caused fearful pains across the chest (angina pectoris-neuralgia cordis), Patient suffered from ague for years. The same remedy as in the previous case quite cured him, and he was discharged cured on October 21, 1891. There were two small relapses several months apart, but the Urtica promptly cured them, and patient continues well. The endocardial murmur, however, remains.

On Angina Pectoris.

THIS affection as found in one’s patients differs so much from is descriptions by the authors as found in the text-books, that one is led to think that certain varieties of it prevail in one part which are very infrequent in another. The fact is, it is not a little difficult to isolate one even quasi-individual morbid entity, or symptom-group, that shall cover the clinical phenomena which we most of us call angina pectoris. The authors get over the difficulty, more or less, by defining the disease and then writing up to their definition, but that does not work in practical life, however sufficient it may serve examinational ends,

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.