Much confusion has arisen among those not conversant with Homoeopathy as to where the latter stands with reference to the branches of medicine. Do Homoeopaths teach and believe in surgery, preventive medicine, diet and so forth?
Briefly stated, Homoeopathy concerns itself only with drugs and their scientific use in the treatment of disease. Otherwise, a graduate of a Homoeopathic college is taught precisely what any other reputable medical institution has in its curriculum leading to the degree of M.D. Certain fundamentals, however, would bear repetition.
Homoeopathy holds, first, that the cause must be removed, if such be known. If endorses surgery and emphasizes the fact that every surgical case has a medical aspect and, as such, may often be a candidate for a Homoeopathic remedy. This applies, particularly, to post-operative convalescence.
The growth and development of bacteriology and immunology shed a great light on the teachings of Homoeopathy. The text of the “Organon,” the original treatise setting forth the principles of Homoeopathy, is quite unintelligible, unless viewed in the light of modern discoveries. Largely, for this reason, it was misunderstood and vilified but, as we shall see, can best be explained when we have a knowledge of these sciences.
Chemistry.- Chemistry, and especially of late years Colloidal Chemistry, has done much to throw light on the principles of Homoeopathic drug action. The attitude is well but by Professor Traube. The action of extremely minute doses of medicine is explained on the theory of surface development and also the opposite action between small and large doses of the same agent. In the past, Chemistry and Pharmacology have been called upon to explain the action of a drug by its chemical, pharmaceutical analysis. A remedy like Podophyllum, for instance, is separated into its resin, glucoside, etc.
The active principles of a drug like ergot have been isolated and distinguished separately. The arbitrary separation of a remedy into its component parts on the assumption that wider and more clear-cut action is to be obtained is not tenable from a biologic point of view. We have no right to say because a drugs contains three alkaloids that there are three different actions when the drug is taken as a whole.
Again, analysis is a destructive process. The plant is literally torn asunder by the chemical agents and what shows up in the ash is no proof that these substances are biologically active in the original state. Even dried plants are frowned upon by Homoeopathic pharmacists who ever seek to get the whole fresh plant and use this as a basis for our tinctures.
Prophylactic and Preventive Medicine – Prophylactic and preventive medicine is practiced by all medical men to a large extent. To this end, knowledge of the causal features is paramount.
A strict interpretation of the symptoms-similarity relationship of Homoeopathy does not admit the use of Homoeopathic remedies for Prophylaxis, for it is obvious that in order to prescribe a Homoeopathic drug we must have symptoms. These do not make their appearance until a disease is established. Thus, a man cannot be seasick until he has been sailing.
A child has no teething difficulty until he starts to cut teeth. It has been found, however, that practically certain Homoeopathic remedies do also exert a prophylactic action. Certain symptoms are anticipated, as it were, and assumed to take a certain course-then a remedy which pictures this syndrome can be given with every chance of benefit.
It should be remarked in passing that undoubtedly Homoeopaths make use of a great deal of inadvertent preventive medicine in their daily round of practice due to the abortive effects of the clearly prescribed remedy. Thus, a cold in the head does not turn into severe Bronchitis. A streptococcic throat is not fraught with long convalescence and possible complications. Influenza, too, runs a relatively mild course.
Medical men are fond of speaking of the ” regular course of a disease ” and discount reports of medical results along any other line other than their orthodox methods. One of the commonest comments which a physicians meets, if he has the timidity to quote a successful Homoeopathic result, is, ” Oh well, he would have gotten well anyway.”
Now there is absolutely no answer to this except by a long series of parallel cases under neutral observation. Such a remark is as old as the hills. It may be true and it is just as likely to be false. A physician must convince himself. He cannot convince the world. Surely Hahnemann’s own words are best. He said, ” Try my methods and fearlessly publish the failures.”
Immunology.- With a praiseworthy desire to afford a comprehensive and modern explanation of the modus operandi of the curative action of our medicines, the theory has been advanced that our drugs act like antigens. Thus, a Homoeopathic medicine taken internally sets up, with the help of the body, a reaction.
This reaction results in the elaboration of an antibody or distinctive principle of specific nature. Specific in the sense that it can nullify a certain group of symptoms, this might be explained as an equation :
Drug plus X (body reaction) equals antibody
Antibody plus Symptoms present equals O
There has been no conclusive experiment work on this subject. Our own opinion is, that, due to the nature of most drugs, this is an improbable explanation.
Ehrlich has pointed out that, ” Antibody production does not occur with Alkaloids which do not enter into firm union with cells but can, as he explains it, be `shaken out.’ Metals do form combinations with protoplasm but there is no definite evidence that antibodies are produced against them. The methods of resistance developed by the tissues against poisonous agents are certainly of more than one kind.” (Solis-Cohen.)
The soundest conception at the present time is simply to regard the Homoeopathic action of our drugs as an aid to body resistance. At the present time, we cannot be more specific. No one knows what the mechanism of body resistance really is. It has its roots in a number of factors : Morphology, Inheritance, Habits, Endocrines, Previous Illnesses, Nourishment, Will to Live, etc. More concretely, we know that, if specific immune bodies are present (artificial or natural), this helps.
Also in certain infections the elaboration of the bacteriophage helps. Again, certain specialized cells for defense purposes are developed and, of course, all are familiar with the protective action of leucocytosis. The body must turn the scale against the disease and agents that best accomplish this without being themselves destructive to some organ or system are the best therapeutic tools.
Homoeopathic medicine fulfills this requirement. Physiologic medicine may do so but often is handicapped from excessive doses that are used and also from possible false grounds of diagnosis (assumed pathology, deficiencies, mal-functions of certain organs). Any system of Therapeutics, except Palliation, which bases its treatment on diagnosis must fail if the diagnosis is incorrect.
Palliation.- This important part of Therapeutics is really one of the three branches of medicine-that is, palliative, preventive, and curative medicine. Palliation in disease becomes necessary in all hopeless disorders and medical emergencies.
Proper palliation is one of the most priceless services of the physician and it must be confessed also one of the most abused.
Homoeopaths make use of two methods of palliation, aside from the accepted physical agents. They use the correctly prescribed Homoeopathic remedy which, if it does not cure, often relieves and they give the customary anodynes if necessary. This high-pressure modern life with its insistence on instantaneous relief has resulted in a great deal more palliation than is permissible.
Thus, the palliative treatment of sore throat with aspirin to stop the pain is apt to hang on and may result in permanent damage to the heart or predispose to arthritic trouble. It may be set down as a rule that all patent medicines are merely palliative at best. The large growth of this evil shows to what extent palliation has usurped intelligent medical treatment.
Homoeopaths look askance on palliation other than some simple physical agent : heat, light, hydrotherapy, etc.
The Homoeopathic attitude toward physiological medication is similar to its attitude regarding palliation. Wherever the physiological use of drugs has proved effective beyond peradventure of doubt, such as the physiological use of Digitalis in fibrillating heart, Homoeopaths make use of them. The same is true of other useful drugs (they are only too few) : Mercury, Quinine, Iron, and Salicyclates.
When an organ or system has been shown to be at – fault and experience points to the proper physiologic drug to counteract this, a Homoeopath would elect to make use of this method. Unfortunately, the great number of diseases are not subject to this form of treatment, but depend for their recovery on a far more delicate reaction.