ITS ORIGIN, HISTORY AND FUTURE OUTLOOK
It has always been our contention that homoeopathy is Hahnemann; and Hahnemann is homoeopath. Granted that this is true, we shall find our confirmation of this assumption in tracing the clinical application of homoeopathy in Hahnemanns early writings, and in tracing briefly its history and future outlook. We are all reasonably familiar with Hahnemanns experiences in the discovery of the Law of Healing, when in despair at the uncertain state of traditional therapeutics, he cried to the wise and beneficent God to show him some sure and certain method for the cure of his sick and suffering children. His answer is to be found in his famous Letter Upon the Necessity of a Regeneration Medicine; and from his reasoning we may infer that he was basing his conclusions upon his Cinchona experiment. In a word, the method of employing medicines similia similibus was the deriving from this mode of treatment, he informs us, he “would not enough for any of the most coveted earthly goods.”.
Yet, of the actual working of this Law of Healing, he tells us very little, in all his writings; and so far as the published records are concerned, we find, in the Lesser Writings, at least, merely the case of the “country girl,” aged 14 years, who, after “sleeping in the sun” was possessed of the “frightful idea that she saw a wolf,” and six days thereafter felt “as if she had received a great blow on the head,” whereupon she “spoke irrationally; became as if mad; wept much; had sometimes difficulty in breathing; spat white mucus, could not tell any of her sensations.” This patient, Julie, M., who had not yet menstruated, got Belladonna 2 in weakened dynamization, in seven tablespoonfuls of water, became “quieter”, would “blow her nose”, was still restless, etc. The remedy was evidently plussed, as some of the moderns now put it; and she became more rational, showed various amorous tendencies, fits of excessive anger; had an apparent aggravation of the wolfish imagination, which was the first manifestation of illness. The remedy was then superseded by Sac. lac.; and finally by “new Sulphur (new dynamization of the smallest portion) one globule in three tumblers,” followed by “the next dynamization in two tumblers”, whereupon she went on with the Sulphur occasionally for the period of about 3 weeks, at which time she had become “a healthy, rational and amiable girl”. Hahnemann does not state whether or not the menstrual period immediately appeared, but this was evidently a case of what the discerning Jahr would consider an amenorrhoea, with accompanying or resultant mental disturbance.
Jahrs superlative description of such mental states is to be found in Hartmanns Special Therapeutics According to Homoeopathic Principles–third volume–Mental diseases, as edited by Jahr. This was a work practically rewritten by this master of psychiatrics. It was written in Paris in 1854. Hahnemann does not go into any details as to the diagnosis (naming of the disease), he merely delineates the symptoms carefully, prescribes the appropriate remedies, and cures the case. He does not even inform us, as I have previously remarked, whether or not the amenorrhoea was relieved, but the patient herself was cured.
Then there is the case of O.T., an actor, 32 years old, married, who, subject to sore throat, suffered from the combination of “a prickling sensation on swallowing, with a prickling sensation and a feeling of contraction and excoriation”; he also had a pressure in the anus, etc., and it was only with difficulty that he could pass his faeces, when his “swollen haemorrhoids would protrude”. He was given Belladonna x., then “the lowest dynamization”, which relieved the throat, but the anal fissure came to tight, and he confessed to having had a chancre eight years previously. He was given Merc. viv., one globule of the lowest new dynamization (which contains vastly smaller amount of matter than the usual kind). This was given in the same manner as the Belladonna (the bottle being shaken each time) with the result that the anus was relieved. This was followed apparently by an aggravation, and an amelioration, and a return of the throat symptoms, Sac. lac. being substituted for the Mercury. Next came “ulcerative pain in the throat, bellyache, but good stools, several in succession, with great thirst”. But the anus is right. His next and final remedy was Acid nitri to smell, and then to have milk-sugar in seven. This olfaction of Acid nitri was performed by opening a small bottle containing an ounce of alcohol or brandy, wherein one globule is dissolved, and smelt for an instant or two. Whereupon the patient, in Hahnemanns words, “remained permanently cured”.
Hahnemanns simple and concise instructions for patients are nowhere better shown than in his letter concerning “Little August”, of which (meaning the medicine-W.).
He will take a grain every seventh morning and one moistened; and of No. 1 in vial S.; he will abstain somewhat from the use of fruit and eat but little of it daily, preferably with rolls, bread or buttered bread. Plums he must eat least of all. He must chew everything well, eat slowly and swallow nothing that is not masticated well.
Furthermore, he must avoid acids, coffee, tea and also everything of which he knows it does not agree with him as a rule. He must never want for plenty of exercise in the open air– in short, the “homoeopathic diet” and regimen.
The above is taken from a letter from Hahnemann translated by the late Dr. F. H. Lutze, now in the possession of the Stuart Close Library of the Hahnemann Hospital in Boston.
Hahnemanns comparison of Puls., Ign., Nux and China is found in an autographed letter given to Dr. M. I. Boger-Shattuck by the late Dr. Parkhurst of Ogunquit, Maine, and more recently presented to the Hospital by Dr. Shattuck.
So much for Hahnemann and his published case records. We have the promise of the late Dr. Richard Haehl of Stuttgart that these histories which were obtained from the Boenninghausen heirs a short time before Dr. Haehls death, may some day be published and given to the world.
Then there is the report of Sch–, a washer-woman, somewhere about 40 years old, who had the “shoot in the scrobiculus cordis, was better lying, could not sleep after three oclock in the morning, felt sick after eating, had waterbrash, and empty eructations after her meals, and was of a passionate temper– disposed to anger”–a case cured by “a full drop of the pure juice of Bryonia root.” This patient, who, like the leper whom Jesus healed, did not return; and on being asked why she did not come back, gave as the reason that, “while extremely obliged to the doctor, the like of us have no time to leave off our work”, and for three weeks previously, her illness had prevented her from earning anything.
And the case of “–e, a weakly, pale man of 42 years, with indigestion, who was cured by half-a-drop of the quadrillionth of a strong drop of Pulsatilla”, although in a footnote he states that “according to our present knowledge and experience, the same object would have been attained by taking one of the smallest globules of Pulsatilla x. (decillionth potency, and with equal certainty a single olfaction of a globule the size of the same potency of Pulsatilla).”.
Boenninghausen has reported some cases in his Lesser Writings, and the comparison of a case calling for Valerian, in the preface to the Therapeutics Pocket Book.
Jahrs Forty Years Practice contains much of clinical value, although not a great number of actual case histories.
Similarly may be it said of the works of Hartmann in his Acute and Chronic Diseases.
Ruckerts Therapeutics of Homoeopathy, or Outlines of Successful Homoeopathic Cures, is collected mainly from early homoeopathic periodicals, and was translated by Hempel and published by William Radde, in New York, in 1846. This work contains many valuable case reports, from which we select the following from Stapfs Archiv. XV, 1, pp. 103, 104. Archiv. was edited by Ernst Stapf from the year 1832 to 1836; thereafter Gross became the co-publisher. The first seven volumes are included in the Stuart Close collection in the Hahnemann Hospital Library.
Arsenicum x., in six ounces of water, one tablespoonful a day; afterwards, during a relapse, three doses of Ars.x., at intervals of eight days. Spasm in the chest.
Symptoms: In stormy weather, or when walking fast, when putting on warm or tight clothes, when laughing violently, he feels an oppression or an exhaustion of the lungs, anxiety, which makes him alternately cold and warm. The symptoms gradually abate, while a white viscid saliva is rising in the form of small vesicles. Oppression and anxiety increase as soon as he enters a warm room. After the attack, weakness and sick feeling.
Among the earliest works on therapeutics, was Jacob Jeanes Homoeopathic Practice of Medicine, published in Philadelphia, 1838. Here the wisdom of the fathers of our homoeopathic art is seen in the authors observation that,.
It is perhaps possible that a case of disease may be peculiar, and never have its fellow; but as a general rule, when we find a form of disease in one person, it is most likely that it will be found in some others.
This is the basic principle involved in all works on therapeutics, which differs in a measure from that followed by those of the Kentian school of our own time, in that the remedy is the thing that is stressed first, last and all the time, regardless of the name of the disease. This does not preclude individualization in any given case, but works on practice were intended to be general guides, and not of necessity arbitrary ones. The practical value of Hahnemanns statement is here apparent that there are, after all, no diseases, but there are sick persons.
As an example of Jeanes method, may be cited in the following case:.
To a woman of tender and irritable constitution, one who has had repeatedly miscarried before the third month, Sabin gtt. 1. 12. was given as soon as she found herself pregnant, and every month until the eighth the Sabin. was repeated. On the fourth month, after violent mental emotion, labor pains without haemorrhage, appeared, but were speedily removed by Sabin. gtt. 1.9. At the proper period, she gave birth to a perfect and healthy child.
Also, in a case of profuse haemorrhage after an abortion, where the patient appeared almost ex-sanguine and excessively debilitated, Secale in a low dilution promptly arrested this discharge. The patient fell into a tranquil sleep, from which she awoke after some hours, much refreshed.
Innumerable cases showing the prompt acting of the indicated remedy abound in Jeanes work on homoeopathic medicines.
Illustrations of the various methods of prescribing appear in the writings of all the earliest masters. Then we come to another period when these cases were arranged in book form, e.g. in such masterly computations as Raues Records, which were published in six volumes, beginning in the year 1870. In this work, the author was assisted by no less than twenty-two co- editors in different parts of the United States.
Opening the first volume, at p. 187, we come upon the following case of pneumonia. You find the patient sitting up in bed gasping for breath, with his shoulders elevated to his ears in the effort, his face is the picture of despair. You watch the walls of the chest, but find no motion there. You tap with the fingers over the region of the lungs and there is no resonance. The sound elicited is like that obtained by thumping on a board. You take note of the abdominal muscles, and you find them hard at work, carrying on the process of breathing. You place your ear to the chest, and no air seems to enter the lungs at all. The case looks desperate, the patient expects to die. Tartar emetic in water every fifteen minutes, will see you through in just such desperate cases. And who, may we be interested to ask, is the authority for this clinical verification ? The answer is, no less a prescriber than Dr. C. Carleton Smith, and the reference is to Med. Jour. vol. 5, p. 357. Dr. Temple S. Hoyne of Chicago, one of the co-editors of the Raues Records, was evidently so much intrigued with this method of presentation that he later authored a volume entitled Clinical Therapeutics, and herein are many references to Raues Records. Hoynes work was illustrative of the plan used in his lectures at the Hahnemann Medical College in Chicago and contains examples of clinical cures by both high and low potencies; and it is all in all a most excellent book. I chose from the second volume, a cure reported under Opium (Vol. 11, p. 159).
CASE 345. Have recently corroborated an old symptom of this drug in case of typhus abdominalis. Many slight indications for Op. and most prominent among them the peculiar sopor. Give Op. 23 in water every hour. Found at the next visit that the pulse and temperature had both been much reduced and the symptoms for which I prescribed the medicines also better, but in their place, a well known symptom which I accepted as a confirmation of this drug, viz., a constant complaining that the bed was so hard, I at once stopped the medicine and under sac. lac. had a rapid recovery. The author of this brilliant cure was none other than Dr. William Jefferson Guernsey.
Herings Guiding Symptoms, one of the most exhaustive repositories of clinical data the school has yet possessed, is derived from case reports to be found in early homoeopathic literature and these references are most painstakingly tabulated.
All our homoeopathic periodicals of those early days, which numbered among their contributors the most brilliant writers of their time, are complete with data which are the very backbone of our therapeutics. The transactions of the British Homoeopathic Society, the American Institute Journal, and the files of French, German, Spanish and Italian magazines also bear witness to similar testimony. Then there are incomparable Transactions of the International Hahnemannian Association, which could scarcely be excelled. Likewise the papers and case reports published in the journal Organon, as edited by Skinner, Lippe, and Berridge; likewise the Journal of Homoeopathics.
Some years ago in a small brochure entitled Home Made Treatment, Dr. C. F. Nichols, who was formerly associated in his offices with Dr. Wm. P. Wesselhoeft, cites the following :.
A disciple of Hahnemann was called to a lad who had bled for some days from the nose, in spite of the efforts of his medical attendant. The former administered a powder of Carbo vegetabilis (charcoal) remarking, “I think charcoal will relieve the bleedings,” which it did almost immediately. “But it is white,” said the Irish doctor who had been in attendance. “Yes, it is homoeopathic preparation, a trituration,” “I think,” said the learner, regarding its action with astonishment, “I think white charcoal is better than black.”.
The domestic treatises of such writers as Hering, Freligh, P. Curie, Laurie, along with Jahr and others have done much to publicize homoeopathy in the past and now comes a small laymans volume, by Dr. William Gutman of New York City, which is published by Boericke and Tafel of Philadelphia which should prove of great value to the mothers of families who are seeking a small book on homoeopathy as first aid treatment in the various domestic ailments to which they themselves and their offspring may be subject. It is entitled The Little Homoeopathic Physician and the method followed is that of adding at the end of the discussion of every remedy a brief case illustrative of the therapeutic action of the drug in question. How much better is this method and its simplicity than the usual first aid treatment in vogue through the wide-spread use of aspirin, sulfanilamide, sleeping tablets, physic, etc., which is usually contained in the family or travelling medicine chest or handed out over the counter in every corner drug store.
In closing this altogether too lengthy paper, may I mention my appreciation, albeit my admiration for the series, so aptly denominated Little Cases by Dr. Margaret Tyler, which as the editor of Homoeopathy, the organ of the British Homoeopathic Association over a good many years, Dr. Tyler has published in its columns.
In the April number of this excellent journal there is cited a cure of epilepsy by Natrum muriaticum in various potencies from the 12th to the 50M., which should make glad the heart of the most seasoned veteran of Hahnemannian homoeopathy.
In concluding her remarks upon this instructive case, Dr. Tyler says :.
Epilepsy in a middle-aged man with such a history is not a very hopeful case to treat. Most carefully symptoms were recorded, but the prescribing was on the aetiology of the case. His response to treatment, after the first Thuja prescription, was evidenced by temporary aggravation and return of old symptoms. This meant reaction and was a warning to await its unfolding before interfering. Natrum mur. later, only repeated when the great and manifest improvement waned and symptoms returned to demand attention. And since he always responded to these potencies, they were not changed.
As to the three doses in rising potencies, Hahnemann tells us in the last edition of his Organon, that we may get speedier results in chronic diseases by repeating, provided that we raise the potency with every dose.
Looking back, one wonders, could one have done better by a different exhibition of the remedies ? But there was always response, and after all, this severe case of epilepsy with so many factors making for trouble–well! He was very happy, as his condition improved, and is very, very grateful to have lost his terrible disability.
In reading this remarkable case, which is reported in the Journal at length, one might well exclaim, for it is seldom that the most doughty follower of Hahnemann meets with such unqualified response in such a chronic and well extended disorder.
In conclusion, may I say that the future outlook for homoeopathy is not in the least a pessimistic one, despite the lessening in our ranks by the loss of many of our veteran prescribers. For strangely enough, brilliant minds trained in physiological methods are finding in the Hahnemannian way the open sesame to truly scientific medicine. Yea, verily, a great heritage is that bequeathed to us by this greatest of all masters of medicine.
It is true that the present is not an age of proving, but we have in our pathogenetic records a means of verification for many years to come; and there is no reason why we may not avail ourselves of the approach to illness through all that pertains to the examination of the patient himself in our search for the curative regime; and at long last, we shall one day return to the Hahnemannian way as the best way that even scientific medicine can follow.