Relationship Of Pathology And Symptomatology To Homoeopathic Prescription

In this discussion I attack a somewhat broader meaning to the word “pathology” than is given it by the student of disease alone. I include within the meaning of this term, in addition it its ordinarily accepted meaning, the various mechanisms involved in the production of symptoms, be they due to drug action or to disease. These mechanisms may be of many kinds.

In the development of this subject I desire to start with two propositions which are so apparent that their truths cannot be questioned. One of these is that every substance which we call a drug or a medicine produces a reaction when taken by the human being similar to at least some definite disease, regardless of its cause. The other fact is it was ordained by the Omnipotent Power which gives the forces and laws of nature that whenever one of these drugs is given to treat some functional abnormality which presents symptoms similar to that particular medicine the disease disappears.

The homoeopathist makes use of this principle in the treatment and cure of the sick; a principle so dependable and that has received such an abundant amount of clinical and experimental verification that if may rightly be called a law of nature.

Since the homoeopathist makes use of this symptom similarity existing between drug action and disease, he has frequent opportunity and occasion to use the words “symptom” and “similarity.” We employ these words, especially the former, far more frequently than does any one else. A “symptom” may be defined as the reaction of an organism to an irritant. If the irritation has progressed sufficiently far a definite abnormality in cell structure and function results, which is termed “pathology.” This is the standard definition of the latter term, and is another word of which we make frequent use.

In this discussion I attack a somewhat broader meaning to the word “pathology” than is given it by the student of disease alone. I include within the meaning of this term, in addition it its ordinarily accepted meaning, the various mechanisms involved in the production of symptoms, be they due to drug action or to disease. These mechanisms may be of many kinds. They usually consist of processes of stimulation or depression acting directly upon a given organ or through its nerve supply.

They may also be due to an inflammatory state terminating in real tissue change, a definite pathological condition, s the term is ordinarily understood. These mechanisms may be excited or called into action by absorbed drugs circulating in the blood stream, by toxins of disease, by anaphylactic antigens, psychic influences or by idiopathic factors. In addition to symptoms and their cause, pathology, as I am using the word for the purposes of this discussion, also includes the determination of the exact seat or origin of these symptoms. This I like to term “symptom localization.”

Homoeopathic physician have, as a result of their adherence to their principle of treatment, developed by means of their drug provings a vast amount of information concerning drugs and their effects or symptoms. Their knowledge of drugs has been developed to a high degree of perfection. In other words, we have fairly completed lists of the reactions of the human organism to medicinal irritants; while our information concerning many of other drugs in this regard is incomplete and even fragmentary yet it may safely be said we have ample and accurate information concerning at least fifty of them.

Our materia medica, as now developed is, not to any great degree deficient in this particular and, while considerable improvement might be obtained by reprovings and other forms of experimentation, it is so deficient in another direction that we can temporarily lay aside our search for symptoms and develop the other field, which is that of determining the pathology of drugs.

Two factors enter into a correct or scientific homoeopathic prescription. One of them is that a very close similarity between the symptoms of a medicine and a particular disease must exist in order that the abnormality may be corrected. The greater the degree of symptom similarity the more rapid and certain is the subsequent recovery. The founders of homoeopathy laid great stress upon this point and they have very properly emphasized its importance. Those who have given materia medica and homoeopathic philosophy special study realize that very frequently something else must be taken into consideration in prescribing if the anticipated results are to be obtained.

The other factor is equal in importance to mere symptom similarity and consists of a pathological similarity, “Pathological” as meant by the foregoing paragraph. I should define a remedy as being homoeopathic to a certain condition when it is known to have produced symptoms and pathological changes similar to that condition. Unless these two elements are taken into consideration, no benefit will result from the administered remedy in about fifty per cent. of cases.

The latter point, or element, in prescribing has never received its proper mention or emphasis. For some reason or other, we have been content with mere symptomatic similarity between therapeutic agents and diseases and have never given the other factor its proper place or consideration. Several of the earlier homoeopaths hinted at it and occasional mention of it is to be found in the periodical literature.

However, the word “pathology” has been used in these references in its narrow sense. It did not convey the broader meaning suggested. The prescription should include within its pathogenesis the symptoms of the disease and the pathology in either the restricted or broader meaning of the term, as each particular case permits. When the pathological similarity is that of the “restricted” type, it is a rare occurrence for a cure to result for it is outside the province homoeopathy to transform an abnormal cell structure into one of histological make – up. The result may be palliative, arrestive, but it is not curative.

Dr.Thos. H, Carmichael says that “the fact that Phosphorus met. causes fatty change in the heart and liver does not enable you to use it successfully in cases of fatty heart, but if you are a sufficient diagnostician, both of the diseases and the remedy, as to recognize a condition which, if not arrested, will develop a fatty heat, then Phosphorus may prevent the development of changes in the heart, and that arrest the disease.”Journal A.I.H. Sep., 1919. If we will bear this in mind, there will be no danger of riding the “pathological jackass” to death.

When we are prescribing for a disease which presents symptoms due to a pathological change in our broadest understanding of that term, cure can, and ought to be accomplished. Professor W.A. Dewey says, speaking of the indications for Hyoscyamus in typhoid fever, that “this fact should be borne in mind in the treatment of typhoid fever, and drugs selected according to the totality of symptoms; but the pathological condition should be taken into consideration in making up that totality.”

It is not incompatible with the Hahnemannian hypothesis to consider “pathology” in our prescribing. Hahnemann tells us in the Organon that the complete expression of every symptom is that of sensation, location and modality. I have previously state that the location of symptoms is an element in “pathology,” and many times it is the sole element within my meaning of that word.

Now why should pathology, in any of its meanings, be considered in the homoeopathic prescription? My answer is that the “pathology” is one of the symptoms of the disease, as well as any other of its manifestations, and if we do not consider it we are not prescribing in accord with the totality of symptoms. Neither do we individualize the case if we do not properly consider pathology. The doctrine of individualization is the greatest medical maximum, and is the most important and sublime statement ever made regarding therapeutic measures to be employed in the treatment of the sick.

We must beat in mind the important, self – evident and daily occurring fact that it is quite possible for two or more persons to be suffering each with a different pathological condition or localization of symptoms, and for each of these persons or present a group symptom identical to the other groups, but resulting from different causes. Now, it these causes, the pathology – are not given consideration, and if we rely merely upon the symptomatic similarity to that of a given drug, it will happen that sometimes the remedy will effective and sometimes of no avail.

That remedy will be effective in that case when it produces similar pathology and symptomatology; it will be ineffective when it is only symptomatically similar or pathologically similar, but not both. If only one of these similarities is covered by our prescription, we will not be treating the organs affected. It is the purpose of a remedy to act homoeopathically upon diseased tissues and cause them to return to a normal degree of functional activity, a process which cannot take place when the prescription does not cover or include both forms of similarity.

We have asked the question, “Why should pathology be considered in the homoeopathic prescription?” Another answer is, “Because homoeopathy is intimately related to all the sciences regardless of their nature. Especially it is connected with and related to anatomy, chemistry, biology, bacteriology and pathology. If these sciences are not related to homoeopathy and its practical application, the prescription, why are they taught in homoeopathic schools?

A. E. Hinsdale