OPINIONS OF HAHNEMANN’S CONTEMPORARIES ON THE NECESSITY FOR VENESECTION.
Hufeland still says in 1830: Who ever neglects to draw blood, when a man is in danger of suffocating in his own blood, has in the event of his patient’s death or incurable disease, resulting from such omission, committed a serious crime of which his conscience must eternally accuse him; he is a murderer by omission quite as much as he who does not draw his brother from the water when he is danger of drowning.
Venesection was considered, first and foremost, in inflammations of the lungs and pleura, as the predominant and frequently the only helpful remedy “thousands and thousands of cases of inflammation of the lungs are quickly and permanently cured by venesection” (Mukisch). “In inflammation of the lungs the patient is irretrievably lost unless copious and even repeated with drawals of blood are made.” (Zeroni), “When an inflammation of the lungs is cured without venesection it is a rara avis, nigro simillima cygno” (a rare bird like a black swan-R.H.). And also in other diseases, for example, strangulated hernia (Augustin), in coughing up blood and haemorrhage from the lungs (Bischoff). “In hereditary tendency to consumption, venesection used occasionally arrests its development, and fights most powerfully against its progress” (Simon, Hamburg). Even in cholera (in 1831 and still in 1854) copious withdrawals of blood were recommended (Hasper), “It must be four to five pounds” (Rieser). Its intention was to avoid too great thickening of the blood, following upon the great loss of water through the frequent evacuations. If insufficient blood was drawn, the patient was still in danger of contracting a serious chronic disease. Therefore it was necessary to repeat venesection,-repeat it, until the patient fainted, ” even if those around him wailed” (Bischoff), because ” are not the most exhausting haemorrhage to be stopped by venesection to the point of fainting” (Heinrotn).
THE EFFECT OF BROUSSAIS’ DOCTRINE ON THE USE OF LEECHES IN FRANCE.
According to official statistics, France introduced and exported leeches: in out.
1820 — 1, 117, 930.
NOw Broussais’ teaching begins to spread: in out 1823 320,000 1,188,825 1827 33,644,494 195, 950 1833 41, 654, 300 869, 650
Dr. Thilenius who gives us these figures in the “Berlin hom. Ztschr.” (1885, Vol. 4. page 67), adds: “We can indeed ask with one of Broussais’ contemporaries, who has shed more French blood, Napoleon or Broussais?”
FURTHER TESTIMONY ON VENESECTION FROM THE SECOND HALF OF THE NINETEENTH CENTURY.
Professor Kussmaul describes in a graphic way the mania for blood- letting in his “Remembrances of Youth of an old Physician” (page 293):
The frequency with which blood-letting was prescribed now seems incredible. A strong woman of Kandern, whom I knew personally, was ordered by her family physician to have seven venesection in six weeks and the application of sixty leeches, because of an alleged inflammation of the brain and a subsequent intestinal inflammation. She was then over fifty and she reached the age of eighty three. Even weakly patients were frequently bled. I once heard the thin wife of a clergyman tell my father- she was then more than forty-that thirty venesections had been performed on her because of a frequent recurrence of blood in the sputum. She died of phthisis at the age of fifty-two years and six months.
In the clinics of Heidelberg the lancet and spring-lancet were in almost daily use. An Assistant Physician of the “Pfeufer Clinic,” I had to revise the apothecaries, accounts in which the yearly amount spent on leeches was heavier than that expended on medicines, although the latter were not sparingly used. We assistants soon became experts in venesection: to-day there are professors who have never performed a venesection or even seen one.
Even in the year 1861, one of the most eminent statesmen of the nineteenth century, Count Cavour, lost his life unexpected in consequence of senseless venesection (three times during twenty-four hours and twice more during the following two days) The venesections had been so thorough that when a further attempt was made, no more blood would flow, and only by compressing the artery could two or three more ounces of coagulated blood be extracted. The reporter of the “Times” in Turin at that time, called this procedure on the part of the eminent Italian physician by the right name when he reported to his paper on the death of this eminent man: The Romans are said to have crowned, on the capital, the physician who liberated them from Pope Adrian VI. The Italians of our day would hang the Physicians of Count Cavour with an easy conscience, if by that they could alleviate their sorrow. The treatment was pure murder. The names of the worthy physicians deserve to be handed down to posterity. They were Dr. Rossi, Mattoni and at the last the physician-in-ordinary to the king, Dr. Riberi, at whose hands the mother, the wife and the brothers of Victor Emmanuel died in succession in the beginning of that unlucky year, 1833.