Chapter 3 – Mycology

The role played by the fungi in this world of ours almost baffles any adequate conception; to them we owe beer, wine, vinegar, our very bread (in the form we use it), and- ringworm….


Alder Smith I have quoted from largely, and his work, Ringworm: Its Diagnosis and Treatment, third edition, London, 1885, is classic.

Then there is Cooke’s Fungi: Their Nature, Influence, and Uses, which is a masterly production.

Besides these I have also consulted the following from my own library, viz.:-

1. Mushroom-Culture for Amateurs, by W.J.May.

2. British fungi, by E.M.Holmes, F.L.S., f.R.M.S. London, 1886.

3. Parasitic Diseases of the Skin, Vegetoid and Animal, by James Startin. London, 1881.

4. A Synopsis of the Bacteria and Yeast Fungi, by W.B. Grove, B.A. London, 1884.

5. Micro-fungi, by Thomas Britain. Manchester, 1882.

6. The Plant-World: Its Past, Present, and Future, by George Massee. London, 1891.

7. Rust, Smut, Mildew, and Mould: An Introduction to the Study of Microscopic Fungi, by M.C. Cooke, M.A., LL.D., A.L.S. London, 1886. – 8. An Essay on Ringworm, by Andrew Paul, surgeon, Oxford, 1849.

9. Les Microbes Pathogenes, par Ch. Bouchard, Membre del’Institut, Paris, 1892.

10. On Ringworm: An Inquiry into the Pathology, Causes, and Treatment, by William J. Smith, M.B. Lond. London, 1847.

11. On Ringworm: Its Causes, Pathology, and Treatment, by Erasmus Wilson, F.R.S. London, 1847.

But I had not by any means the wish to write the history of my subject; I merely desired to get a look round in the literature of the subject generally: only an all-round idea leading up to the study of pathogenous fungi.

Ringworm Regarded from the Standpoint of General Mycology.

The botany of most medical men can be at best only a of very elementary nature, and when we come to a consideration of the physiology of the fungi this is especially so. To have independent views of mycological questions from the standpoint of botanic science I should need a vast deal more knowledge of fungi than I can claim; but at the same time I am anxious to see whether my clinical standpoint is at variance or in consonance with the views of acknowledged my cologists. For it must be manifest that we might expect to find certain fixed data in the physiology of fungi generally that should help us somewhat in arriving at a just conclusion. Cooke * (Fungi: Their Nature, Influence, and Uses, by M.C. Cooke, M.A., LL.D., etc. London, 1875.) almost doubts the possibility of excluding the germs of common fungi, so numerous are they, and no air can be found but what contains multitudes of them.

According to Pasteur the spores of Pasteur the spores of fungi are more numerous near human habitations.

A very common form of mould is Penicillium, its spores being everywhere present in large numbers.

Neumann * (Text book of Skin Diseases, by Dr. Isidor Neumann, Lecturer on Dermatology in the Imperial University of Vienna. Translated by Dr. Pullar. London, 1871.) says that the results of his experiments confirm the clinical observation of Hebra as to the origin of Herpes tonsurans (ringworm) and favus from one organism, viz., Penicillium.

Hallier regards Trichophyton as a development of the conidia chains of Penicillium. It must, therefore, be manifest that any one may have ringworm without ever coming into contact with ringworm as such at all, inasmuch as the conidia of Penicillium are the germs of Trichophyton, and the conidia of Penicillium are always present in large quantities in the atmospheric air wherein we live, and move, and have our being. And hence it would appear that the presence or absence of ringwormy boys in a school is not a mater of capital importance, inasmuch as the ringworm mould is only another and higher form of the Penicillium.

There is so much evidence on record illustrating the polymorphism of fungi, that it cannot be regarded as a very far cry from Penicillium to Trichophyton.

Grove * ( A Synopsis of the Bacteria and Yeast Fungi and Allied species (Schizomycetes and Saccharomycetes), by W. B. Grove, B.A. London, 1884.) speaks with small respect of the reliability of the data given by medical mycologists. His division of fungi into chromogenous, zymogenous, and pathogenous seems fairly natural.

Speaking of fungi, Holmes * (British Fungi, Lichens and Mosses, including Scaled Mosses and Liverworts, by E.M. Holmes, F.L.S., etc. London, 1886.) says:- “Mushrooms, toadstools, the mildew on walls, the mould on bread, the rust on wheat, and the potato disease, are familiar objects to most of us; but few who are not botanists are aware that they all belong to the large and varied group of plants comprised under the name of fungi. It might be still more surprising to some to learn that the yeast with which bread is made and beer fermented, the vinegar plant which is used to turn sugar and water into vinegar, and the disagreeable skin disease called ringworm, all belong to the same class of plants.”

He also tells us that many species which in this country are despised as loathsome toadstools, form regular articles of diet in Italy, Russia, and other countries: while in China and Japan several kinds of fungi are cultivated on decaying trunks of trees, in the same way that mushrooms are grown in the catacombs of Parisian cafe to suddenly remember that the dish before him were perhaps grown in the catacombs.

The role played by the fungi in this world of ours almost baffles any adequate conception; to them we owe beer, wine, vinegar, our very bread (in the form we use it), and- ringworm.

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.