Leprosy is rapidly spreading in India and the unhappy victims of this disease demand the most careful consideration from the Medical World. Lepers are universally dreaded and shunned and they usually receive no attention from the general public or from the medical men of the world. This foolish indifference on the part of the non-infected towards the infected individuals will only invite danger to human society at no distant date.
Lepra is a chronic disease with a malignant character. It is contagious and parasitic in origin. Leprosy is a constitutional disease which invades the entire system and manifests its presence by general as well as local symptoms. It produces hyperaesthesia or anaesthesia of skin, ulceration, necrosis, atrophy and deformity. It belongs to the family of incurable diseases. The usual period of incubation is from three to five years.
The three main varieties of the disease are (1) Tubercular (2) Anaesthetic and (3) Macular. In lepra the affected areas are infiltrated and elevated above the adjacent surface and present various disorders of sensation. The skin of forehead is thickened and thrown into deep folds. Induration and thickening of skin with presence of hyperaesthesia or anaesthesia should be viewed with alarm. Anaesthesia alternates with hyperaesthesia, formerly super-sensitive areas become devoid of all sensations. Patches of the skin become destitute of sensation. Patches of discolouration may appear at different parts of the body.
Lepra has existed in all ages and in all countries. It is found in dry as well as in moist climate, in mountainous as well as in marshy districts, in Artic regions as well as in tropical zone. Leprosy prevails in countries or districts which border upon the sea-coast. It is found in Northern and Eastern Africa, Madagascar, Arabia, Persia, India, China, Japan, Liberia and the islands of the Pacific and Indian Ocean. It also exists in Brazil, Venezuela, Central America, Mexico and West Indies.
The disease is transferred by personal contact. The malady is spread by contagion but the exact manner in which the contagion of lepra is transmitted is still unknown. Hutchinson denies the contagious character of leprosy. According to him the disease is due in all cases to the ingestion of fish, particularly if this is salted or in a state of decomposition. Consumption of salt- fish, shell-fish or sea-fish has been suggested as a cause of leprosy. But the disease has been found to occur in persons who never take animal diet.
The disease is caused by Bacillus of lepra. Mosquitoes serve as carriers of infection. Fish also carries the lepra bacillus or excites the latent bacilli in human body into fresh activity. Sea-air or sea-side residence causes or aggravates the disease. A patient under my observation went to sea-side and returned with severe aggravation. Impure drinking water, foul air and filthy personal habits are influential factors in the production of leprosy. Heredity plays an important part in the causation of the disease.
General malaise, loss of appetite gastric disturbance, nervous prostration, excessive somnolence, irregular attacks of fever which may be mistaken for Malaria, wandering rheumatoid pains in bones and various parts of the body, development of bullous eruption upon skin, occasional occurrence of slight enlargement of the ear lobes, atrophy of the ball of the thumb, desquamation under the ends of the nails, anaesthesia of the tip of the little finger are some of the chief premonitory symptoms.
The disease itself is devoid of Mercy. It is a dreadful foe of human civilisation and it threatens to destroy the whole human race if not checked in time. We must know how to halt the progress of this ugly disease.
Allopaths have met with a lamentable failure and they have been forced to acknowledge that Leprosy is incurable. Their remedies have been found to be of no worth as curative, and at the best are only palliative. The wretched victims of leprosy should be sent to leper asylum or they are to be strictly isolated in leper Hospital. The leper population should not be hated, but on the other hand should be treated with gentleness, mercy and sympathy. The infected should be separated from the uninfected if complete eradication of the disease is desired. Such measures will ensure safety of the community.
Homoeopathic medicines, if carefully employed in the treatment of leprosy, will doubtless perform wonders. I have used Graphites, Calcarea carb, Anacardium, Arsenic Alb and Sulphur in the treatment of this disease with excellent results. As it is a constitutional disease of a chronic character with numerous general and local symptoms it would not be very difficult for a careful observer and a diligent student of Homoeopathy to cure lepra.
Cases marked with irregular attacks of malaria-like fevers will not present any difficulty to a Homoeopath who knows well the instruments of cure. Leprosy has been cured by continued application of mud from the bed of the holy Ganges. Some reports suggest that Homoeopathic medicines have cured leprosy. With these reports of occasional cures of lepra it is foolish to think that leprosy is incurable.
Those Homoeopaths who have cured cases of leprosy should publish full accounts of such cures in Homoeopathic journals. Homoeopaths have powerful weapons to conquer this dreadful disease and they must proceed to their duty with courage and hope. Let us fight this battle and win a laurel for Homoeopathy.