Therapeutic Nihilism

In pathology and physiology there has been a gradual breaking away from the tyranny of authority that has so long held the medical profession in its grip. But in therapeutic medication this nihilistic tendency has carried them almost to the point of complete negation.


Although it has spread to all parts of the civilized world, numbering practitioners by thousands and its patients by millions, the principles of Homoeopathy have never found open and general acceptance in the so – called regular medical profession. Occasional conversions of individuals from the ranks of the dominant school have apparently made little impression on the profession as a whole, but the influence of Hahnemann principles is increasingly perceptible as time goes on. By long, tedious, circuitous routes medical science appears to be approaching the goal attained over a century ago by Hahnemann.

It is only another illustration of the fact that poets, prophets and philosophers often perceive great truths and announce them to the world long before slow moving scientists succeed in proving them to their own satisfaction.

Intuition, the highest faculty of the human mind, wings its aerial way home, while research and investigation laboriously plod their way along the ground.

The main subjects of controversy in the past have been the idea of a general principle of curative medication; the doctrine of potentisation and the minimum dose; proving medicines on the healthy and the single remedy.

Refusing to submit these questions to the best of competent, systematic investigation and experimentation, and baffled in their efforts to find a successful way of treating the sick by medication, leaders of the dominant school have practically abandoned drugs, and now rely mainly upon hygienic methods, supplemented more recently by the use of sera and vaccines.

In pathology and physiology there has been a gradual breaking away from the tyranny of authority that has so long held the medical profession in its grip. But in therapeutic medication this nihilistic tendency has carried them almost to the point of complete negation.

Osler, writing in 1901, said: “He is the best physician who knows the worthlessness of most medicine.”

Barker, this successor at Johns Hopkin says: “The death blow came first to polypharmacy; to-day with many, pharmacotherapy as a whole is almost moribund.”

Billings in his address as president of the American Medical Association says: “Drugs, with the exception of quinine in malaria, and mercury in syphilis, are valueless as cures.”

Musser, of Philadelphia, two years later, from the same chair said: “One sees less and less of the use of drugs.”

Cabot, of Harvard, in his notable address before the Boston Homoeopathic Medical Society said: “I doubt if you gentlemen realize how large a proportion of our patients are treated without any drugs at all, and how little faith we have to-day in the curative power of drugs.”

These extracts indicated the extremity to which some keen observers, clear thinkers and honest men of the dominant school have been driven, in the absence of a general principle of therapeutic medication. In the meantime, the rank and file have gone on solidly in the same old course of pernicious drugging.

Blinded by professional pride and prejudice, the dominant school as a whole has ignored the principle clearly enunciated by Hahnemann a century ago and demonstrated by him and his successors continuously ever since.

In no, profession, perhaps, has been so little openmindedness, so little of the impersonal, so little of the true scientific spirit, as in medicine. Few indeed have there been, in either school, who could rise above the petty personal and professional jealousies which have hampered them, into the freedom of the higher, impersonal realm of pure science. The controversial spirit, rather than the scientific spirit, has ruled too largely on both sides.

In one respect, as lest, the leaders of the old school a in perfect accord with the followers of Hahnemann, who have always maintained that the use of drugs in the treatment of disease except in minimum doses and in accordance with the law of similars is both useless and injurious.

One of the first and most important truths taught the homoeopathic students is that drugs, in crude form and ordinary so – called physiological doses, have the power to make even well people sick. It is demonstrated by the pathogenetic record of every drug in our materia medica. How much more injurious drugs are to sick persons, with their lower power of resistance and increased irritability, might easily be inferred theoretically, if the comparative mortality rates did not continually furnish proof or their deadly influence and make such inferences superfluous.

There have been signs of a beginning change of base in the ranks of the dominant school of medicine within the last few years. The wide acceptance and practice of serum and vaccine therapy, the hospitality of many of its advocates to the suggestion that the underlying principle of this form of treatment is analogous to, if indeed it be not the actual homoeopathic principle, tends to show a more tolerant spirit toward the acceptance of the idea of a general therapeutic principle governing the curative action of the drugs in all diseases by medication.

General medicine has made great advances since the days of Hahnemann; notably in the sciences of biology, physiology, pathology and bacteriology. Research and discovery in these fields have revealed facts which not only tend to confirm, but to elucidate the essential principles of Homoeopathy. This has not escaped the notice of certain of the leaders in the dominant school of medicine, although, for obvious reasons they prefer not to enlarge upon it publicly. Having made and announced an important discovery in medical science, it is not flattering to ones vanity to be shown that the essential points of the discovery were made, announced and put to use more than a century ago, by one who has been help up to obloquy and scorn by a large part of the profession ever since.

Modern biological science has confirmed homoeopathic anew, in their belief that in Homoeopathy, they have not only the basic law of therapeutic medication, but also of all tissue reaction. Study of the reactions of protoplasm to stimuli – chemical (drugs), electrical and mechanical, has led to the formulation of the biological law now universally accepted, that “the same agent which in relatively large quantities damages or destroys vital activity, will in relatively small quantities stimulate it.”

This is substantially a statement of the well known law upon which Homoeopathy is based. It establishes a firm foundation for a practical system of therapeutic medication, formulated by the methods of pure experimental science. It leads naturally and logically to systematic experimental science. It leads naturally and logically to systematic experimentation with drugs upon healthy, living subjects to determine their natural tissue relations and organic affinities and the kind of reactions their administration arouses.

Reactions in the living subject manifest themselves in perceptible functional and tissue changes which, in the case of human beings, may be felt and intelligently observed, described, measured and recorded. In medical parlance, reactions are expressed by symptoms, subjectively and objectively. Under this principle and by this method, have our homoeopathic provings been conducted and from these provings, our materia medica is constructed.

Provings, of course, are conducted with doses only sufficient to arouse characteristic reactions, without endangering or destroying life, since to do otherwise would defeat the end in view.

Knowing, experimentally, the damaging or pathogenetic effects of relatively large doses of a drug upon the healthy living subject; and knowing also that relatively small doses of the same drug exercise a more moderate and stimulating effect, the next logical step is to determine the between drugs and disease.

Reactions to disease producing agents of every kind, tangible or intangible, are observed and studied by the physician under this method in the same manner as the reactions of protoplasm to drugs and other stimuli are studied by the biologist; for the physician is essentially a biologist, as medicine is essentially a biological science.

Reactions to disease producing agents are manifested by perceptible phenomena or symptoms precisely the same as are the phenomena of drugs. In fact, the student of the comparative symptomatology of drugs and disease needs not to progress very far to realize that it is impossible to draw any sharp line of demarcation between them. All diseases are produced by morbific agencies or poisons of some kind, primarily or secondarily generated, and the symptoms of disease are precisely similar to the symptoms of drugs. It is not illogical deduce that the causative agents are identical, and that the differences in effects are merely differences in the size and quantity of the doses.

Modern medical science, in its use of the sera and vaccines, is demonstrating this identity, or at least the similarity of disease producing and curative agents, and in so doing, is demonstrating the truth of Homoeopathy.

Stuart Close
Stuart M. Close (1860-1929)
Dr. Close was born November 24, 1860 and came to study homeopathy after the death of his father in 1879. His mother remarried a homoeopathic physician who turned Close's interests from law to medicine.

His stepfather helped him study the Organon and he attended medical school in California for two years. Finishing his studies at New York Homeopathic College he graduated in 1885. Completing his homeopathic education. Close preceptored with B. Fincke and P. P. Wells.

Setting up practice in Brooklyn, Dr. Close went on to found the Brooklyn Homoeopathic Union in 1897. This group devoted itself to the study of pure Hahnemannian homeopathy.

In 1905 Dr. Close was elected president of the International Hahnemannian Association. He was also the editor of the Department of Homeopathic Philosophy for the Homeopathic Recorder. Dr. Close taught homeopathic philosophy at New York Homeopathic Medical College from 1909-1913.

Dr. Close's lectures at New York Homeopathic were first published in the Homeopathic Recorder and later formed the basis for his masterpiece on homeopathic philosophy, The Genius of Homeopathy.

Dr. Close passed away on June 26, 1929 after a full and productive career in homeopathy.