VIS MEDICATRIX NATURAE) TO PATHOLOGY AND TO DIAGNOSIS.
HAHNEMANN’S UTTERANCES ON THE HEALING POWERS OF NATURE IN HIS WRITINGS OF 1796-1809.
In 1796 he says in his writings “Essay on a New Principle, etc.”: In acute diseases if we can stave off for a few days the obstacles to recovery Nature will largely conquer by itself.
In 1797 he writes on the question: “Are the obstacles to the attainment of certainty and simplicity in Practical Medicine insurmountable?”
It cannot be a question of dietetic treatment without medicine, the effect of which, when very simple can well be estimated, and from which in special cases a great deal of benefit could be expected.
If great alterations in diet and in the mode of living have to be made, it would be better if the physician first saw how far he could remedy the disease by this change alone, before he prescribed any medicinal remedies.
In 1801 he asserts in his “Fragmentary Observations on Brown’s Elements of Medicine”:
Beneficent Nature and youth will, assisted by such appropriate regimen cure diseases having far more deeply seated causes than deficiency or excess of excitability, which the unprejudiced observer witnesses daily, and which must be explained away, or denied, by Brown in order to support his scholastic system.
In 1801. In “observations on the Three Current Methods of Treatment,” Hahnemann says again about Brown:
Nothing is to be left to the powers of Nature; we must not rest in our application of remedies; we must continually either stimulate or deplete. What a blasphemy against Nature, what a dangerous suggestion for the ordinary, already far too busy, pseudo-physician! What pride is instilled into him as a master over Nature!
In 1805. “AEsculapius in the balance”:
The majority of cases, for the treatment of which a physician is called in, are of acute diseases, that is, aberrations from health which have only a short course to run before they terminate either in recovery or death. If the patient die, the physician follows his remains modesty to the grave; if he recover, then must his natural strength have been sufficient to overcome both the force of the disease, and the usually obstructing action of the drugs he took; and the powers of nature often suffice to overcome both..In epidemic dysentery, just as many of those who follow the indications afforded by Nature, without taking any medicine at all, recover, as of those. (who are treated by anykind of physician-R.H.). What is the inference? Certainly not that the physicians were all correct in their mode of treatment, but perhaps that they were all equally wrong. What presumption for each to claim the credit of curing a disease, which in the milder cases uniformly recovered of itself, if gross errors in diet were not committed.I could run through a number of acute diseases and show that the recovery of those who were treated with such opposite methods were not cures, but spontaneous recoveries….I often say, regretfully, that patient frequently recover from very serious acute diseases as by a miracle, as soon as they put away or secretly discontinue the….medicines prescribed by their physicians. In numerous instances, many a prostrate patient has miraculously cured himself, not only by refusing the physician’s medicine, but by secretly transgressing in his artificial and mischievous system of diet, and freely following his own inclinations, which is in this instance an imperious instinct, impelling him to commit various dietetic paradoxes.
1808. In the essay “On the present want of Foreign Medicines,” the sentence occurs:
Do not the poor, who use no medicine at all, often recover much sooner from a similar kind of disease than the well-to-do patient, who has his shelves filled with large bottles of medicine?
HAHNEMANN’S STATEMENTS ON THE POWERS OF NATURE (VIS MEDICATRIX NATURAE) FROM THE PUBLICATION OF THE “ORGANON” ONWARDS.
“Organon” (Introduction, page 52, annotation 2): It is only the slightest acute diseases that tend when the natural period of their course has expired, to terminate quietly in resolution, as it is called, with or without the employment of not very aggressive allopathic remedies; the vital force, having regained its powers, then gradually substitutes the normal condition for the derangement of the health that has now ceased to exist. But in severe acute and in chronic diseases which constitute by far the greater portion of all human ailments, crude nature and the old school are equally powerless.
And page 68: Diseases were treated by physicians of the old school in such a way that.
Nature herself-by the life-preserving power which, besides the removal of the natural acute disease, had also to combat the effects of improper treatment, and was thus able, in cases unattended by danger, gradually to restore the normal relation of the functions by means of its own energy, though often in a tedious, imperfect and painful manner.
These recognitions of self-recovery can be found in Vol. I. of “Materia Medica Pura” (page 272) of the year 1811 (Ist Edition):
Diseases which have suddenly arisen, disappear with or without medicine; obviously through the vitality of the organism; these acute diseases, if treated with medicines must yield much more quickly and more fully than they would if left alone if we are to call it a cure.
And in 1826, in Vol. II of “Materia Medica Pura” (p. 395 ff), Hahnemann says about the typhus epidemic which devastated the countries of Mid-Europe in the summer of 1813, after the Russian retreat:
No treatment of this typhus, that is based upon inferences derived from ordinary therapeutics, as also no other mode of treatment whatever, could anything for the worst cases (the slighter cases would in any case have recovered by the power of beneficent nature, though but slowly and with difficulty).
And on a small undated sheet of paper, which we have before us, Hahnemann writes:
In chronic affections it is much safer to use no kind of medicines and rely entirely upon the vital forces, than to be treated by the harmful and destroying allopathic treatment.
We further read in a letter of Hahnemann giving advice to Dr. Schreter of Lemberg dated January Ist, 1829:
His (the important patient-R.H.) very difficulty recovery lies much deeper, that is, in organic crippling and material effects which the powers of Nature have gradually been forced to produce internally, in the most delicate parts of the organism, essential to movement and sensation, for the sake of protecting and preserving it against the violent attacks of allopathic remedies; in the same way as the stone-layer, or workman who uses dyes containing sulphuric acid, develops a horn-like skin in order to protect the blood-vessels and nerves of the hand from the attacks of these hurtful substances.-These internal organic and material changes, produced by the vital power to save and to preserve life from protracted treatments and wrong and harmful remedies, impede the free and easy movements of the limbs for a long time afterwards until the vital forces become able to dissolve and remove them, in the same way as the stone layer would stiff fingers for years even is he discontinued this rough occupation in order to undertake finer work-The physician cannot remove the horny skin of his hands for him, only nature can gradually accomplish this.
And he writes to Dr. Aegidi, on April 24th, 1831, in connection with the condition of the Princess Friedrich of Dusseldorf:
Now we see almost only the artificial chronic symptoms produced by medicines, the removal of which is left to nature’s powers.
In 1834, Dr. Kammerer of Ulm-on-the Danube, published a small book: “Homoeopathy cures without venesection.” In this little book the powers of Nature are much and frequently mentioned.
Page I: Venesections are a degradation and a slight to the great powers of nature.
On Page 7: Venesection depletes the organism and disturbs the natural forces.
On Page 17: The powers of Nature frequently accomplish wonderful, quick and beautiful cures…. Serious illnesses very often get better of themselves also in chronic affections this marvellous power of healing asserts itself.
On Page 18: No other power, no other effective remedy can be a better friend to the organism than its own internal power of healing.
On page 21: Diseases are as rapidly and often more rapidly removed by the power of Nature than by the most excellent remedies, etc.
Hahnemann wrote an introduction recommending this little book which closes with sentence: Our friend Kammerer of Ulm, whose sensible essay I herewith present to the public with pleasure.
And still in year 1838 the old man of eighty-three wrote in the preface to the fourth volume of the second and much revised and improved edition of “Chronic Diseases,” on page 4:
The vital powers are not even capable of healing the chronic, miasmatic diseases, and of substituting health in their stead, without inflicting a loss upon the organism. But it is certain that although the vital forces may achieve a victory over acute as well as miasmatic diseases without inflicting such losses upon the organism, provided they are assisted and directed in their action by a properly selected homoeopathic agent, it is nevertheless those forces that conquer, in the same sense as the native army is said to have beaten the enemy, although it may have been assisted by auxiliary troops.
ON THE INJUDICIOUS, BLIND AND INSUFFICIENT MANAGEMENT OF THE VITAL FORCE.
Hahnemann writes in the Introduction to the “Organon,” 5th edition, pages 18 to 20:
They (the old School-R.H.) merely followed the example of crude instinctive nature in her efforts, which are barely successful even in the slighter cases of acute disease; they merely imitated the unreasoning life-preserving power when left to itself in diseases, which entirely dependent as it is upon the organic laws of the body, is only capable of acting in conformity with those laws, and is not guided by reason and reflection-they copied nature, which cannot, like an intelligent surgeon, bring together the gaping lips of a wound, and by their union, effects a cure; which knows not how to straighten and adjust the broken ends of a bone lying far apart and exuding much (often an excess of) news osseous matter. Neither can Nature put a ligature on a wounded artery; in her energy she causes the patient to bleed to death; which does not understand how to replace a dislocated shoulder, but by the swelling it occasions round about it, soon presents an obstacle to reduction; which, in order to remove a foreign body from the cornea, destroys the whole eye by suppuration; which, with all its efforts, can only liberate a strangulated hernia by gangrene of the bowel and death; and which, by the metaschematisms it produces in dynamic diseases, often renders them much worse than they were originally. But more, this irrational vital force receives into our body, without hesitation, the greatest plagues of our terrestrial existence, the spark that kindles the countless diseases beneath which tortured mankind has groaned for hundreds and thousands of years, the chronic miasms-psora, syphilis, sycosis-not one of which can it diminish in the slightest degree, far less expel single- handed from the organism; on the contrary, ir allows them to rankle therein, until often after a long life of misery, death at last closes the eyes of the sufferer.
In an annotation to this paragraph, which has always been made the target for attacks from his opponents on account of the severity with which Hahnemann expresses himself against the insufficiency of the vital forces, he adds (pages 18 to 20): The pitiable and highly imperfect efforts of the vital force to relieve itself in acute diseases is a spectacle that should excite our compassion, and command the and of all the powers of our rational mind, to terminate the self-inflicted torture by a real cure. Hence, even in these evacuations termed crises, which nature generally products at the termination of diseases which run a rapid course, there is frequently more of suffering than of efficacious relief. What the vital force does in these so-called crises, and how it does it, remains a mystery to us, like all the internal operations of the organic vital economy. One thing, however, is certain that in all these efforts more or less of the affected parts are sacrificed in order to save the rest. In the “Organon,” page 23:
No one ever saw a chronic patient recover his health permanently by such efforts of crude nature, nor any chronic disease cured by such evacuations effected by the organism. On the contrary in such cases the original dyscrasia is always perceptibly aggravated.in spite of the continuation of the evacuations when nature, left to her own resources, cannot help herself in any other way than by the production of external local symptoms (metastasis). these operations of the energetic but unintelligent, unreasoning and improvident vital force, conduce to anything but genuine relief or recovery. And also before in an annotation on page 19: If the task is left to the organism alone to overcome, by its own forces and without external aid, a disease newly contracted (in cases of chronic miasms its power of resistance is quite inefficacious), we then witness only painful, often dangerous, efforts of nature to save the individual at whatever cost, which often terminate in extinction of earthly existence, in death.
ALLOPATHY ERRONEOUSLY COPIES NATURE.
“Organon” Introduction, pages 16 and 17:
They (the allopaths-R.H.) allege that their multifarious evacuant processes are a mode of treatment by derivation, wherein they follow the example of nature which in her efforts to assist the diseased organism, resolves fever by perspiration and diuresis, pleurisy by epistaxis, sweat and mucous expectoration- other disease by vomiting, diarrhoea and bleeding from the anus, articular pains by suppurating ulcers on the legs, cynanche tonsillaris by salivation, etc., or removes them by metastases and abscesses which she develops in parts at a distance from the seat of the disease.
Hence they thought the best thing to do was to imitate Nature, by also going to work in the treatment of most diseases in a circuitous manner, like the diseased vital force when left to itself, and thus in an indirect manner, by means of stronger heterogeneous irritants applied to organs remote from the seat of the disease, and totally dissimilar to the affected tissues, they produce evacuations and generally kept them up, in order to draw, as it were, the disease, thither.
MEDICINAL (HOMOEOPATHIC) SUPPORT OF NATURE’S POWER OF HEALING IN INTERNAL DISEASES.
In third edition of “Materia Medica Pura,” Vol. I, page 272 (1830), Hahnemann says: Only chronic diseases are the touchstone of the true art of healing, because they cannot be cured by themselves.
This is the “true healing art” (from the “Organon,” pages 28 and 29), that reflective work, the attribute of the higher powers of human intellect, of unfettered judgment and of reason, selecting and determining on principle, in order to effect an alteration in the instinctive irrational and unintelligent but energetic automatic vital force, when it has been diverted by disease into abnormal action, and has by means of a similar affection developed by a homoeopathically chosen remedy, excited in it a medicinal disease somewhat greater in degree, so that the natural morbid affection can no longer act upon the vital force.
In the proclamation “to my true pupils” at the time of the fight against the pseudo-homoeopaths, ” he says. (See Supplement 133, page 288): Homoeopathy alone knows and teaches that the cure is to be effected only by means of the entire force still existing in the patient, when a medicine perfectly homoeopathic to the present case of disease, and administered in the proper dose, causes this force to exert its curative activity, One of the most inestimable advantages of homoeopathy is to husband as much as possible this vital force, which is indispensable to the cure in the course of treatment. It is this which places it above all the allopathic methods. It alone then avoids all those means ruinous to life, which are never necessary and constantly adverse to the end aimed at.
In the fourth part of “Chronic Diseases,” second edition 1838 we read:
It is the organic life force of our body which cures all kinds of natural diseases directly, and which without such sacrifice, and by means of the correct (homoeopathic) remedy it is enabled to overcome; this, of course, it could never have accomplished without this help and support because our organic life force by itself suffices only to maintain life in a normal state, as long as the individual has not rendered it morbid through inimical influences of disease-producing elements. Alone it is not powerful enough to fight these.Only homoeopathic remedies can give the supremacy to the vital principle in disease.
In the Introduction to the “Organon,” page 39: In all ages, the patients who have been really, rapidly, permanently and obviously cured by medicines, and who did not merely recover by some fortuitous circumstance, or by the acute disease having run its allotted course, or by the powers of the system having, in the course of time, gradually attained the preponderance under allopathic and antagonistic treatment- for being cured in a direct manner differs vastly from recovering in an indirect manner,-such patients have been cured solely (although without the knowledge of the physician) by means of a (homoeopathic) medicine which possessed the power of producing a similar morbid state.
OPINIONS ON THE DYNAMIC PRINCIPLE.
Hufeland’s opinion of Hahnemann’s Homoeopathy in his Essay on “Physiatrik” (“Journal der Praktischen Heilkunde,” 1838, Vol. 75, page 24):
Even Hahnemann’s homoeopathy has in spite of all apparent neglect of the healing powers of nature, actually contributed to the support of Physiatrik. Does not the whole of its principles rest upon the action and stimulation of the vital force, for the purpose of altering the abnormal condition into a normal one through the use of a specific, that is of such a remedy which stands in a peculiar relationship to the diseased organ or to the morbid condition affecting life? Is it not frequently a nature cure effected by time and strict diet? It is indeed in this that the value of homoeopathy is to be found; it brings into play the vital force to assist the diseased organs, and finds and makes use of those remedies which stand in the closest relationship to this organ or to its diseased state.
The following statements show how we are gradually approaching again Hahnemann’s conception of the dynamic principle.
Dr. Karl Erhard-Weiss of Stuttgart, writes in an essay on the dynamic principle (“Deutsche Zeitschrift fur Homoopathie,” 1922):
Vitalistic trends of thought are asserting themselves more and more in modern science, which has recognised that the cells is not a simple mass of protoplasm, but with its nucleus and chromosomes it become a complicated system of forces, and can be compared to a solar system and planets. In the same way, modern science in the formation of molecules finds analogies with the cosmic system, and it can generally speaking, no longer maintain the strict differentiation between energy and matter, but is force to come gradually to the adoption of the views held for a long time by natural science and philosophy, which is that movement in the ether modifies primordial matter, and in its vibrations produces the illusions of matter in the physical sense. It is at this point that the ethereal principle of dynamics previously scoffed at once again appears. The spiral of scientific development has again completed a revolution and stands one coil higher exactly at the same point from which Hahnemann tried to find his explanations of disease and curative effects.
And in another passage: We recognise how far in advance of his time was Hahnemann, the exact and unprejudiced researcher, not only by the discovery of the Law of Similars, as a fact of experience, but also by establishing that the effects of disease as well as those of remedies are related to the living organism, not in a chemical, but in a dynamic and an ethereal way. If many an explanation of the details has become obsolete and incorrect, as for example the assumption of a medicinal disease where we no speak of stimulation to produce specific protecting substances, the fundamental principle is correct and will undoubtedly gradually b e recognised by science after the final conquest of crude materialism has ceased to affect elemental substance: the effect of disease on the human body is dynamic as is the effect of homoeopathic medicines.
In the same periodical (1922, page 50), Dr. Meng of Stuttgart, also gives his point of view of this question:
We begin to replace the purely chemico-mechanical or physical explanations of life by one which is related to the vitalistic conception. In the modern dynamic cosmic conception all natural phenomena are “explained” by the action of forces, matter is conditioned by the power -centres of the elements of matter. Modern vitalism has not revived altogether the old theory of the life force in its somewhat crude conception, but fundamentally it has only re-constructed it in a more scientific form.
Not only contemporary homoeopathic physicians but also prominent representatives of the old School medicine express similar views, for instance Professor L. Krehl, of Heidelberg upholds this point of view in his latest (IIth edition) of his “Pathological Physiology” (1921, page 691) in the following words: Biology cannot altogether clearly explain the life processes by its adoption of the theory of mechanico-causal continuity. This requires further consideration, especially in the theory of disease. I know how many distinguished researchers have shunned such considerations because they believe them to be a retrograde step to a period which has already been conquered. But here everyone is compelled to delicate his own convictions, and it is my conviction that we shall only regain a uniform conception of man, nature and God, when we again observe and investigate the super-mechanical processes which are at the back of, and a guide to phenomena, and give them due consideration in our computations This does not appear to me as being a rejection of the prevailing view of nature held at present, but its necessary complement and re-setting.