On Neuralgia, Its Causes and its Remedies

This disease, while not directly destructive of life, is sometimes co-exceedingly severe and obstinate as to threaten to wear out the constitution of the patient, by undermining the general health, rendering the mind feeble, and the nervous system extremely sensitive and irritable. The chances of cure, in any case, depend upon whether the cause is, or is not removable. In the former case, as when the disease arises from cold, malarious influences, bad habits, or nervous debility, it will generally yield to the rightly selected remedy; but when the affection depends upon organic changes, such as tumours, exostoses, and other structural alternations, it is very likely to prove permanent. At best, the patient is apt to suffer more or less from the complaint as long as he lives.

On the subject of treatment the author *(Practice of Medicine, p. 96.)* has elsewhere said : “It follows from the purely subjective character and limited range of the symptoms, that the treatment of prosopalgia needs to be conducted with special reference to the cause. Hence it becomes necessary, first of all to institute a careful scrutiny into the general state of the patient’s health, his habits and surroundings, travelling, as it were, beyond the boundaries of the symptomatic indications, in order to ascertain, if possible, the true cause of the malady.

In this way the prescriber is enabled to make his anatomical. physiological, and pathological knowledge contribute, not only to the diagnosis, but, in a large proportion of cases, to the cure of this obscure, obstinate, and very painful disease. Even with all the light which can be thrown upon it in this manner. the practitioner will often have great difficulty in selecting a suitable remedy, and will as frequently be disappointed; but it is evident that in no other way, in many cases, can there be any reasonable hope of success. Thus directed, however, the symptomatic indications, are generally sufficiently definite to suggest the proper remedy; and, as a consequence, homoeopathy has produced many brilliant cures in the domain of this opprobrium medicorum of the old school.”


Our friends, the enemy, can never rise to the height of our simple therapeutic law, and yet the crumbs that fall from our table the greatest of them do not disdain. The greatest and most enlightened physician of modern France was. I think, the late Prof. Gubler, and he it is that disputes with de Fromentel the priority in regard to associated pains or synalgias.

And this is what Gubler says of Aconitia, the active principle of our Aconite. He says that Aconitia is indicated in every variety of trigeminal neuralgia, and that he has never known a neuralgia of the fifth pair, even tic-douloureux, to resist it.

Some years ago, a patient who had long been the victim of obstinate trifacial neuralgia had all the affected nerves excised by Ne’laton. The operation only gave temporary relief, and the patient declared she would commit suicide. By the advice of Debout Aconitia was tried, and after five milligrammes had been taken, she was permanently relieved. In another patient, who had suffered agonies night and day, six milligrammes completely dissipated the disease.

I have thus set forth what I conceive to be the right treatment of neuralgia, and though I were to adduce more proofs of my proposition, I should hardly prove it more conclusively than has, I submit, been already done. Therefore-punctum.


There is an able and learned faddist, and there are also a certain number of not very learned therapeutists, who maintain that the principle underlying the scientific practice of homoeopathy should be properly designated a therapeutic “rule” and not the “law” of similars.”

At first sight it might, and indeed does, appear that the question of whether we say law or rule is really only a matter of tweedledum and tweedledee. Examined, however, more closely. We shall find that is makes all the difference, for therapeutic rules are alterable and arbitrary, and often entirely unreliable. Thus it is a therapeutic rule with the vast majority of the medical profession to treat neuralgia either arbitrarily with quinine and iron, or with nerve-slaying electricity, or with the mind-killing morphia by means of the pretty little hypodermic syringes.

But this therapeutic rule is fraught with grave disadvantages and danger. But homoeopathy in its essential principle is not alterable, arbitrary, or unreliable. If it had been, it would not have withstood the storms and attacks of the past fifty years and more. The practitioners of homoeopathy may alter; their policy (if they had any) might alter; they may be greater or fewer in number; they may be honest or dishonest, learned or unlearned, clever or dull, many or few, and even disappear altogether de facto or politically, and STILL homoeopathy is its essential principle remains purely and simply as a low of Nature.

If no one ever took remedial substances, which we call remedies, at all, the low of similars would still exist, though it would be out of operation. The law exists quite independently of its operativeness. America is not more existent since discovered than it was before : the existence of that grand continent did not begin when it was discovered. So the law of homoeopathy did not come into existence when it was discovered. It was always there, and always will remain in the sense in which we can make this same statement of the law of gravitation. The law of gravitation brought down the apples off the trees before Newton was born. A law of Nature exists in Nature independently of man’s discoveries, or even of his very presence on the globe.

But man has the power to make rules of procedure either based upon law or not, just as he pleases, within the limits of his power. A law of Nature is immortal; rules are very mortal indeed. You can render the law of similars inoperative, but so you can the law of gravitation or any other law of Nature. Jaborandi did not acquire its power to produce diaphoresis when that action was discovered in Paris a few years ago; Jaborandi did not acquire its power to reduce and check a diaphoresis when the French physicians first administered it for night sweats; Jaborandi did not acquire its diaphoretic power when it was found out and utilized by man.

Of course, physicians can formulate any therapeutic rules the please; the practitioners of homoeopathy can constitute for themselves modes of procedure and practice, and the laws of the land do not forbid.

Those gentlemen who parade the term therapeutic rule of similars have, of course, a perfect right so to do, just as they would have the right to any other therapeutic rule, as, for instance, the therapeutic rule of thumb. But their frantic efforts to persuade the medical world that rule is the correct designation for the principle of homoeopathy are beneath contempt.

God made the law of similars; many physicians all through the ages have had faint glimpses and inklings of this therapeutic law. Hahnemann saw it in the full light of pharmic knowledge, and scientifically and practically demonstrated it, and around this law of similars a considerable number of rules have been placed by medical practitioners, some of which I will mention.

The rule of the schools is that homoeopaths (men who found their practice on applied pharmic knowledge based on the law of similars) are to be destroyed, by fair means if possible; if not, then by foul.

The rule of the allopaths is to refuse all dealings with the homoeopaths, except to solicit their alms.

The rule of the Ringerites is to practise the homoeopathy of the books, but not in accordance with the law of similars, but according to the therapeutic rule of thumb; and in this way they can so far satisfy their longings for a better than allopathic therapeusis, and yet keep their share of the loaves and fishes, with the contingent possibility of an odd baronetcy in the dim and distant future. Moreover, Mrs. Dr. Grundy visits with the Ringerites.

Finally, there are a few homoeopathic professional who feel that the one thing that debars them from complete happiness is the law of similars. It is just a rule, say they, and not a law at all! Like the Ringerites, they are nothing but rule of thumbers, and FOR THEM there is indeed no law of similars, for the very sufficient reason that they have not discovered it. And if any proof were needed that there is absolutely no law of therapeutics for these greatly distended rule of thumbers, their own therapeutic barrenness would afford it. Wherever the rule of thumbers rule, there rule also the surgeon’s knife and the hypodermic syringe.



I HAD intended adding very largely to the second edition of this little treatise on Neuralgia, as I have ample material for the purpose, but the time at my disposal being very limited, I have been compelled to content myself with the following.

The special chapter on Angina Pectoris is not long, but very important, and I trust suggestive.

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.