1. The Autonomy and Hegemony of Organ in the Organism

I am very certain Hahnemann believed in the Doctrine of Signatures, for it is manifest that he drew very numerous indications from it for his remedies. That Constantine Hering also believed in it seems pretty certain….


THE interaction of the human organism with its environment has generally been recognized in every age according to the views current at the time, the relations of the microcosm to the macrocosm used to be a big chapter in medical doctrine.

That man acts upon his environment has been well demonstrated by the changes that have been wrought in physical nature in the United States, Canada and Australia since they have become in habited. The differences in the American, Canadian, and Australian shew clearly that nature reacts back on man who is moulded and formed by his climate. I am personally acquainted with a gentleman, now resident in London, who at twenty years of age left England for Eastern Europe, and there remained till he was thirty years of age when he returned to this country. When he went he had an abundance of light curly hair. On his return his hair was abundant and curly but nearly black, so that his own mother did not know him and his own brother who went on board the steamer by which this gentlemen returned and hunted for him amongst the passengers entirely failed to recognize him though he stood close by him for some time, he was looking for a light- haired man. After ten years further residence in England his hair had almost returned to its original light color.

When the spermatozoon and the ovule meet and marry their interaction comes to a complete organic union resulting in a new organism, thus of dual origin, and finding a suitable habitat in the womb sets up a connection with the mother. Here the maternal organism and the foetus interact with one another: the influence of the foetal organism upon the mother’s organism is very curious; her breasts grow, her back widens, her shoulders broaden, her gait alters. Yet not withstanding the dependence of the foetus upon the mother and the maternal changes upon the foetus the two lead independent lives and may even have certain diseases in dependently of one another.

In this way we come up to what we may conceive to be the nature of the physiological position of the various organs of the body to the organism itself; what the macrocosm is to the microcosm that the microcosm is to the separate organs.

Although the crasis of all the fluids of the body and the stroma of all its organs and parts must in the main be about the same, both physiologically and pathologically, still there is a certain individual life and equality being inherent in each organ and part and I surmise that there are many kinds of blood corpuscles.

For the present, confining ourselves to the organs only, we wish to enquire somewhat into the question of how and how far a given organ is to be considered therapeutically apart from the organism of which it forms a part and without which it has no existence.

This idea has swam more or less before my mind for many years, and I have given expression to it in several of my writings, particularly in my “Diseases of the Spleen” and in the second part of this work, and its importance in my daily clinical work increases with time.

The question of the independent existence of the organ, or rather of the existence of a something in each organ (and I believe in each region and part) deserves the most careful study and consideration because of its bearing upon treatment, and upon the question of the dose, viz: whether to use high, low or medium dilutions, and this quite apart from organotherapy.

On this peculiar something in each organ the Rademacherian practice of medicine is largely based but not withstanding its practical utility it has thus far not been scientifically elucidated so little indeed that but few regard it as of any particular importance; in fact, we may say that it has barely any recognized existence at all. And yet there it is, and for a number of years has been of so much help to me in my clinical work that I feel impelled to dwell upon the subject here a little more at large. Brown Sequard’s work in the later years of his life has physiologically taught us that there is in the very deed a real “self” in each organ and that such organ has a functional importance for its organism to whose entirety it belongs.

The effects of spaying and castrating are well known and really prove the point so far as ovaries and testicles are concerned- this has been recognized all along. The old doctrine of signatures is laughed at by almost all physicians, inclusive of the homoeopaths, and yet it is not without considerable foundation in fact; and, indeed, facts in great numbers may be drawn from homoeopathic literature in support of its real practical value. It has often helped me and I have long since ceased to ridicule it. Of course, it can easily be turned upside down and made to look silly, but still there it is and in the long run will most certainly be justified by science.

I am very certain Hahnemann believed in it for it is manifest that he drew very numerous indications from it for his remedies. That Constantine Hering also believed in it seems pretty certain, and Hering knew his Hohenheim, of whose works he made a splendid collection. Von Grauvogl, too, shows that he was not uninfluenced by it. Rademacher ever made merry over it, and yet many of his remedies came into use through it, Chelidonium to wit. Von Grauvogl years ago recommended Pulmones vulpecularum in asthma and I have followed his recommendation with advantage, he was laughed at a good deal at the time, but now science comes along and puts a stop to the ridicule so long cast upon Paracelsic organ feeding.

There is a peculiar disease consisting in an enlargement of the hands and feet, face, head an extremities, called Marie’s Disease, or Acromegaly, with which and enlargement of the pituitary gland- is commonly associated here it would appear that the nutrition of the extremities is directly influenced by the pituitary gland. The enlargement of the pituitary gland is said to be a true hypertrophy of its substance and not a neoplastic process.

That the influence of the pituitary gland affects development and nutrition is also shewn by the other overgrowth and undergrowth tendencies connected with pituitary disease.

The autonomy and hegemony of the individual organ is even more clearly demonstrated by modern research in regard to the thyroid gland.

As is well known Goitre, or Derbyshire neck, is exceedingly common in Switzerland. Some dozen years ago Dr. Kocher, of Berne, communicated to the German Surgical Congress the results of a hundred extirpations of Goitre and shewed that there arose in some of his observations an affection consecutive to the total ablation of the thyroid gland which he described as cachexia strumipriva. In English medical language struma is synonymous with scrofula while botanists understand by struma the swelling or protruberance of any organ. In Central Europe struma is used as a synonym of Derbyshire neck and of other not necessarily strumous swellings.

The next step was the recognition of the similarity of the artifact cachexia strumipriva with the idiopathic malady known as myxoedema and reasoning that in as much as as the artifact disease arose in consequence of the total ablation of the thyroid it might be that myxoedema was likewise due to a lack of the thyroid organ influence on the organism. Feeding the myxoedematous with animal thyroids soon shewed that the reasoning was sound, and this nutritional therapeutics is now the recognized treatment of myxoedema due to simple thyroid atrophy. And very pretty it all is.

Kocher finding that the total ablation of the thyroid led to myxoedema afterwards modified his mode of operating and adopted the plan of leaving a portion of the gland capable of functional activity instead of totally ablating it And he tells us that he has since operated on 900 cases of Goitre in this manner and in no case has any cachexia strumipriva supervened. Furthermore, Kocher has hunted up a number of his old cases of total ablation in whom the cachexia had appeared and fed them with thyroids with the most satisfactory results.

It has been found that overfeeding with thyroids acts poisonously upon the organism generally and specifically, and this will no doubt be called thyroidism, if it has not already received that name.

Lanz and Trachewski have made experiments with thyroid feeding under the immediate supervision of Kocher himself and produced in dogs “tous les symptomes de la maladie de Basedow,” and what is positively startling “ce mode de traitement peut amener a la longue une atrophic complete des parties saines de;a glande thyroid”.

Now, the fates are distinctly unkind to our allopathic friends who had begun to score one by their cure of myxoedema with thyroid glands added to the food of the sufferers: the place of the atrophied thyroid being supplied by the thyroid food, and here comes experimental science and shews that the thyroid feeding in the long run contingently produces atrophy and not only atrophy, but complete atrophy of the healthy parts of the thyroid gland. So that in future the dose of the thyroid extract must be lessened because this new therapeutic acquisition of allopathy over which we homoeopaths had certainly become not a little jealous, is after all not only pure homoeopathy but its symptomatic and pathologic homoeopathicity is demonstrated all ready for us in their own laboratories.

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.