VALUE OF SYMPTOMS IN THE SELECTION OF THE REMEDY


Theoretically, we endeavor to find a remedy whose symptoms correspond exactly as regards both character and intensity to those experienced by the patient. This can rarely, if ever, be done; and in chronic cases, at any rate, we have, as a rule, to make a selection from amongst the mass of symptoms, and to base the selection of the remedy mainly upon these.


It is a common experience to find cases reported in our journals, presenting large and complex masses of symptoms, to which, as a whole, no remedy in the materia medica corresponds, no reason being given why the remedy that proved curative was selected in preference to many other competing ones. We can learn little or nothing from these cases. Even when we study some of the model cases reported by masters in homoeopathic prescribing, we are often utterly at a loss to understand the rules that led them to give a preference to certain symptoms and to relegate others to a very secondary place.

Hahnemann advises us to base the selection of the remedy upon the totality of the symptoms presented by the patient, as they are the outwardly reflected image of the internal and invisible disease, and the means by which we can truly apprehend this internal distunement of the bodily forces.

I do not at this point propose to go into the observations and arguments that led Hahnemann to advise that the choice of the remedy should depend almost entirely upon the symptoms, to the practical exclusion of pathology. If these symptoms are to be our guides, what do we include in this term ?.

Every deviation from perfect health experienced by the patient, or observed by others, including all disturbances of functions and sensations, all alterations in the external appearance of the patient, and also all probable causative conditions.

As rule, in acute disease there is little difficulty in determining the totality of the symptoms, for the deviation from health is usually sharp and well defined. As an acute, supervening disease never forms a complex with a chronic one the latter being suppressed until the former has run its course care must be taken, when ascertaining the symptoms of the acute disease, to exclude from consideration the symptoms of the now latent chronic disease. According to Kent, at times some symptoms of the chronic disease may persist, and be active during the acute disease. Such symptoms are peculiar, because they have not disappeared, and are not often guiding in the choice of the remedy for the acute disease.

But when we come to deal with chronic diseases, the problem is more complicated, for we have to take into account not only the present symptoms, which often show only a very partial picture of the disease, but must also include many former symptoms that are not now active; for even in those patients that have suffered for very long periods, and from many apparently diverse troubles, there always is method and order running through all their illnesses if we can find the clue.

While, theoretically, we should consider all the symptoms experienced by the patient since his birth, excluding those due to acute disease, yet the task is a very difficult one both for patient and physician, and we can only make very cautions use of these bygone symptoms. Even if we could tryst to the accuracy of the memory of our patient, or his friends, these old symptoms can be used only with the greatest care, for so many of them may have arisen from faulty environment, the abuse of drugs, or the acquisition of some other miasm, that they would not truly indicate the course and progress of the disease.

This is also very often the case when no such question of old, bygone symptoms is involved; and those who are guided in the selection of their remedies mainly by the symptoms are in special danger of overlooking such causes, and have to be perpetually on guard lest they fail into the error of ascribing to disease what is really due to other causes.

Dunham, in The Science of Therapeutics gives many instances where such mistakes have been made, and only a wide knowledge of drugs, of the habits of the people, and the special conditions under which many occupations are carried on, will enable us to avoid these errors.

Such, for example, was the case of a young lady who, for a very considerable time presented a perfect picture of the classical symptoms of Sulphur, and upon whom that remedy, in all potencies ( to say nothing of other remedies), failed to produce the slightest effect. It was finally discovered that she was in the habit of using sulphur to cleanse her teeth and upon this being stopped the symptoms at once ceased.

A maker of crucibles for casting steel ignots, who had suffered for seven years with all the symptoms of Graphites gastralgia; for him that remedy did no good, until it dawned upon me that I had somewhere read that plumbago was now being used for making these moulds.

Robert Gibson-Miller
He was born in 1862, and was educated at Blair Lodge and the University of Glasgow, where he graduated in medicine in 1884. Early in his career he was attracted to the study of Homoeopathy, and with the object of testing the claims made for this system of medicine he undertook a visit to America. As a result of his investigations there Dr. Miller was convinced of the soundness of the homoeopathic theory. Dr. Miller did not write much, but we owe him also his Synopsis of Homoeopathic Philosophy and his small book, always at hand for reference, on Relation ship of Remedies.