A COMPEND OF THE PRINCIPLES OF HOMOEOPATHY FOR STUDENTS IN MEDICINE BY Garth Boericke, M.D.
Homoeopathy may be defined as the Therapeutic Method of Symptom-Similarity. In the medical field, then, Homoeopathy deals only with Therapeutics or treatment of disease. Moreover, this Homoeopathic treatment of disease is further limited to the use of pharmacologic preparations according to certain well defined principles.
The relation above referred to is two-fold : On the one hand, we have a group of symptoms expressing the disease and, on the other hand, we have a group of symptoms caused by the effect of some drug on the healthy human body. Given these two separate but similar phenomena, and it is spoken of as Homoeopathic relationship.
The existence of a Homoeopathic relationship makes possible a cure by Homoeopathic medicine provided the disease is curable and the medication is given in conformity with the Homoeopathic rules of practice.
It will be seen, then, that Homoeopathy is a special form of using drugs. The practice of Homoeopathy is in conflict with nothing in the great field of modern medicine. It is purely additional and supplemental. There are a great many sincere and successful gentlemen of the medical profession who know nothing about Homoeopathy, but it is also true that, had they this special knowledge, it would certainly have added something to their appreciation of medicine and vitally more satisfaction from the practice of their art. The word ” art ” here is used advisedly. Certain branches of medicine might be called sciences, especially diagnosis, preventive medicine and immunology. Therapeutics however is still an art-and cannot be dignified by calling it a science except in certain narrow fields.
Homoeopathy itself is not a science, but in its application pursues a scientific method. The art of Therapeutics depends too much upon the personal equation of the physician and, at best, any method which has a basic principle is much to be desired. The physician in his practice of the art of healing had little to guide him until the advent of three great advances in medicine. Homoeopathy came first, elevating and precisionizing the use of drugs. Surgery came next with its manifold advances. And lastly came the great development of immunology and preventive medicine.
The relationship of the last is very close to the concept of Homoeopathy and will be fully discussed in a later chapter.
We ought clearly to understand that Homoeopathy has to do only with Pharmaco-Therapy otherwise surgery, preventive medicine, immunology, and diagnosis and its beliefs coincide with the beliefs of other physicians who hold a degree of M.D.
Our reason for existence as a separate school of medicine is only on account of our different attitude regarding the scope and usefulness of drugs in the treatment of disease. Signs are not wanting in recent years that regular medicine is rapidly coming to the Homoeopathic viewpoint, but there can be no compromise until medical colleges include a Homoeopathic curriculum in their course of Materia Medica.
It is a fact that the study of drugs has but a poor place in a modern medical college. This state of affairs is an eloquent answer to the efficiency of drug therapeutics as exemplified by the ordinary Materia Medica of medicine. Is this Materia Medica really as barren as would seem? Surely clinicians would not so unanimously condemn it unless there were some good reason. It seems strange to the Homoeopath who makes use of the same drugs (and many others) that such can be the case, for according to our method we have made successful and consistent use of the Materia Medica for over a century. There must be some reason for this lukewarm attitude toward drug therapeutics on the one hand and the Homoeopath’s vital interest on the other. The answer is simple: It is because to an ordinary medical man, drugs are useful in a very narrow curative field, if any.
Secondly, there is no law for their administration and, lastly, there is the possibility of danger to the patient.
Homoeopathic medicine, on the other hand, offers an unlimited application (depending on the knowledge of the physician). A definite law for their administration and absolutely no danger whatever. It is easy to see from this (and we will try to justify these claims in a succeeding chapter) what the place of Homoeopathy is in the field of medicine.
Briefly, it is a practical method of using drugs backed up by the only worthwhile criterion-time. What Homoeopathy has shown to be true a century ago is true today, for symptoms of disease and symptoms of drugs do not change and that is the rock on which the basis of Homoeopathy rests.
It has been said by learned critics of this school that Homoeopathy does not progress and further that Homoeopathy fails to avail itself of the advances in the medical field and has been negligent of research work. This is a very inaccurate statement and the Homoeopathic attitude toward medical “progress” is simply this : ” Advances,” ” new discoveries” are too often shown to be but the fad of the hour. This is not confined to drug Therapeutics, although most frequently seen in this field.
Homoeopaths resent being told their business by salesmen from Pharmaceutical houses. Any man in the active medical practice knows that hardly a day goes by but that he has been urged to try a new combinations, a new serum, and a new ” sure shot.”
It is unfortunately true in most cases, as far as regular medicine is concerned, that these new preparations are largely the research of professional pharmaceutical houses. Interest in drug therapeutics is at such low ebb among high-class physicians and internists that the majority of them are frankly therapeutic nihilists. Homoeopathy takes the stand that a rapidly changing Materia Medica is prima facie evidence of an inefficient Materia Medica and further insists that the newest is no evidence per se that it is the best.
A remedy to be efficient must stand the test of time. It must have a good clinical record before adoption. One need only remember our changed views regarding Tuberculin and our changing views in regard to the Arsenicals to realize this. Given this clear bill-of-health, however, Homoeopathic physicians welcome any addition to our armamentarium. Thus, Homoeopaths use Insulin, Adrenalin, and Anti-toxin, whenever proper cases appear.
What is then the difference between the two schools of medicine? Briefly stated, it is our opinion that the main difference at present is that a Homoeopath, due to his particular- knowledge and training, is enabled to use drugs as curative agents for a host of diseases that mankind is heir to. The opposite school, according to their knowledge and training, have but a scant half-dozen curative drugs and the rest of their Materia Medica is largely palliative.
Research, of course, takes the promising path. And so we find research at medical centers is almost exclusively devoted to immunology and bacteriology in the broadest sense and research in Homoeopathy has taken the form of drug experimentation so called ” proving ” and deductive clinical applications. In drug work, neither is complete without the other.
The question arises if Homoeopathy has been reliable and successful for a hundred years certainly its tenets and principles should have made some impression on medical practice and education.
That this is true is a matter of history. Gone are the nauseous and witless poly-pharmacy of fifty years ago. Gone are the excessive doses, the purging, drugging, and blistering so common then.
The founder of Homoeopathy, Dr. Hahnemann, advocates careful histories and written records of each case. Such is the universal practice now-a-days. He paid much attention to personal hygiene, correct food, fresh air-all of which are the A B C’s of medical practice today.
The great stumbling block to the universal acceptance of Homoeopathic practice today is that the rank and file of people- the medical field leading – cannot, or will not, see further than the mass, or of physiologic action of drugs. To them the drug must depress or stimulate or sweat or purge. It must slow a heart or relax a muscle. Its action must be capable of moving the lever on a smoked drum – if it is incapable of these effects then, like Macbeth and his cathartic, ” It is thrown to the dogs.”
Homoeopathy, on the other hand, while recognizing such action and making use of such action in its proper place holds that there is another method of using these same drugs. It has established laws or principles of its own in order to accomplish this. These are taken up in Chapter four.