DISCUSSIONS OF THE THEORY AND PRINCIPLES OF HOMOEOTHERAPEUTICS AND RELATED MEDICAL TOPICS. “THE MEDICAL FOLLIES”.
Under the above title the editor of the Journal of the American Medical Association has published a volume of critical essays which have attracted much attention for their plain speaking. They are trenchantly written, cutting in their sarcasm and scathing in their ridicule. Superficially they are consistent with the facts of history, and have a seductive appearance of fairness. But in one chapter, at least, with which this review is concerned, there is exhibited a lack of knowledge, a distortion of facts, a mental bias, a spirit of negation, an absence of philosophic insight, and a covert hostility which entirely destroys any value which it might otherwise have.
Hahnemanns place in history as one of the worlds greatest physicians and reformers is secure. Homoeopathy has suffered grievously from misrepresentation and ridicule of outsiders, and the ignorance, incompetence and perversity of many of its own nominal adherents. But when it is classed with such passing delusion “Perkinsism” and “Abramism” and treated as quackery, so rank an injustice is done to the great school of philosophical thought which it represents, and a scientific system of pharmaco- therapeutics which has successfully stood the test of experience for more than a century, it is time to protest and expose such arrogance, ignorance and bigotry as is displayed in the chapter under review.
Hahnemanns Organon, the fountain head of homoeopathy, was published one hundred and fifteen years ago. It was clothed in the language and forms of thought of the period, now difficult to understand; but it dealt with subjects which are of perennial interest and importance. Since that time many changes have occurred in all departments of thought and activity. There has been progress in every branch of science and philosophy. But the fundamental principal common to all sciences have not changed even if they are now expressed differently. Great truths never die, and homoeopathy is a true science and a true philosophy.
Hahnemanns Organon still lives. It is still on sale in the book shops. It has never been “out of print.” Only a few years ago it was included in “Everymans Library,” and had a large sale. It is still read and still readable by intelligent men. When read today, however, for instruction or criticism, it must be in the light of the development of thought which have occurred since it was written if it is to be understood. Its statements must be interpreted and its principles elucidated from the standpoint of modern philosophy and science.
Fundamental principles are not always expressed or clearly stated in such works. They are often implied in the context. When the need for formal or explicit statement arises they must be deduced and brought to light by those who are competent to “read between the lines” and bring out the hidden meaning. No other treatment of such works is fair or honest. When that is done and the underlying principles of Hahnemanns Organon are identified and phrased in the language of today, it will be seen to be in almost perfect accord with modern science.
Hahnemann was a century ahead of his time in many things. He anticipated many of the later discoveries and developments of modern science and exercised a profound influence in bringing them about.
In his researches in cholera, for examples, Hahnemann fore- shadowed the bacteriological discoveries of Koch and Pasteur by three-quarters of a century. He did what Koch and Pasteur were unable to do. He cured cholera. If his suggestions for sanitary control had been adopted at the time, as they were eventually, cholera would have been stamped out much sooner.
Hahnemanns incidental researches and conclusions in physics and chemistry bearing upon the constitution of matter, the correlation of forces and conservation of energy, as implied or set forth in his theory of potentiation and demonstrated by the use of infinitesimal doses in the treatment of disease, have been verified by the results of modern scientific research in many fields.
Science is no longer afraid of the infinitesimal. Chemistry with its theories of ionization and infinite solutions, physics with its reduction of he atom, to mention only two fields, have merely worked out in detail, and verified ideas and principles which were stated or implied in Hahnemanns work more than a century ago.
Even “orthodox medicine,” most erratic, most backward, most bigoted and most perverse of all pseudo sciences, with its vaccines, serums and antitoxins, is stumbling along the therapeutic trail blazed a century ago by the man who is maligned, misrepresented, ridiculed, patronized and “damned with faint praise” by the editor of the Journal of the American Medical Association in his flippant production. “The Medical Follies”-a terrier snapping at the heels of a thoroughbred.
DR. Fishbein on Homoeopathy.
Dr. Fishbein briefly outlines the medical theories of he eighteenth century preliminary to introducing Hahnemann, of whom he gives a few brief, fragmentary and misleading biographical notes. The article purports to trace the genesis of homoeopathy, critically estimate the work of its founder and chronicle the “rise and fall”.
Homoeopathy, according to Dr.Fishbein. is dead, and it is his happy privilege to write its obituary. This task he performs with gusto and despatch.
Hahnemann, Dr. Fishbein says, did not originate the system of which he was the founder. He appropriated it from Stahl. Paracelsus and Hoffman, and from other predecessors who prepared the stage upon which “there stepped a remarkable figure, Samuel Christian Friedrich Hahnemann”.
From Cullen, we are told, came his first inspiration with the idea of similars. “Hahnemann read in a book by Cullen that Peruvian bark, the source of quinine, would cure malaria. This was true; Quinine does cure malaria. But what did Hahnemann do with the observation? Unfortunately he did not know that malaria is caused by a plasmodium which gets into the blood through the agency of a mosquito”.
“Unfortunately,” Dr.Fishbein does not know that quinine does not cure malaria. Quinine will kill the plasmodium of malaria in a test tube, and it will kill some of the plasmodia in the living subject by nearly killing the patient, who is never cured of his malaria by quinine unless it happens to be homoeopathic to his individual symptoms and is administered in sub-physiological doses. Otherwise the malaria is suppressed and the patient becomes the victim of the quinine cachexia.
“So Hahnemann evolved the theory that perhaps quinine cured malaria because it produced symptoms like those of malaria if given to a healthy man. He tried it on himself and it did.” (Sic.).
Hahnemann did not have or use quinine. He used small doses of the tincture of Peruvian bark, and cured such cases as required it under the principle of similia. Of what value, then, is the plasmodium theory?.
“His remarkable hypothesis became the basis of the system called homoeopathy, expressed in the phrase similia similibus curantur, like cures like”.
Dr. Fishbein then says: “This idea was not original; it was essentially a revival of the old Paracelsian doctrine of signatures-like cures like-except that Paracelsus directed his attack against the cause of the disease rather than at the symptoms.” (Exit Hahnemann as an originator.).
Notwithstanding the fact that Hahnemann was one of the most learned men in Europe, master of eleven languages, widely read in the entire literature of medicine, a chemist and physicist of high attainments, a student in the universities of Leipzig and Vienna and a graduate in medicine of Erlangen, a highly respected practitioner of medicine and author of many important original articles on medical and chemical topics, as well as the translator and annotator of a long list of medical books, all before he wrote and published the “Organon,” Dr. Fishbein has the effrontery to say :
“Hahnemann seems to have known practically nothing of, or to have been unwilling to recognize the existence of those definite changes in the human body that are associated with disease and that are now included under the science of pathology”.
On the contrary, Hahnemanns works are “all compact” with references to and descriptions of those “definite changes in the human body that are associated with disease” (a phrase strikingly Hahnemann in itself) which, together with the “definite changes: associated with drugs, as brought out in his numerous “provings” upon healthy subjects, are the very materials of which the edifice of homoeopathy is constructed. In like manner, Hahnemanns magnificent original generalization from data gathered by many years of research, of the protean, well -nigh universal scourge of humanity now known as tuberculosis-“The great White Plague”-but named by him Psora, is contemptuously dismissed by Dr.Fishbein in the following paragraph :
“Hahnemanns theory of psora or itch, was essentially so preposterous the it began to be deserted even by confirmed homoeopathists pervaded the body and which ultimately manifested itself on the surface in the form of an eruption, or as a nodular growth, or as some other form of skin disturbance”.
Dr. Fishbein should have read Hahnemanns elaborate, systematic and marvellously clear description of Psora in the light of modern pathology before he thus delivered himself. As it stands, he is not one step in advance of Hahnemanns ignorant and prejudiced contemporaries, who rejected and ridiculed Hahnemanns great contribution of medical science precisely as Dr. Fishbein does, and n almost identical terms.
In spite of the fact that the greatest triumphs and prestige of homoeopathy (contributing largely to its phenomenal spread) were gained in the treatment and cure, with unprecedented success, of such malignant diseased as cholera, smallpox, yellow fever, typhus, typhoid, diphtheria, pneumonia and epidemic influenza, Dr.Fishbein characterizes Homoeopathic pharmacology as “inadequate,” “futile” and “unavailing in the face of serious illness. Carefully complied statistics, official and accessible to all (see Bradford, “The Logic of Figures”) show a mortality in cholera throughout the world under homoeopathic treatment as low as 3 per cent. and upward to about 25 per cent. as against a mortality under “regular” treatment ranging from about 30 per cent. to 84 per cent. Broadly speaking, the mortality of cholera under homoeopathic treatment was only about one-third that of “regular” treatment.
Space forbids further quotation of statistics here, but the statement can be substantiated that about the same ratio of difference in favor of homoeopathy exists in the other diseases mentioned above, as well as in minor diseases.
The Scientific Basis of Homoeopathy.
Hahnemann was one of the first, if not the first, among physicians to apprehend the modern conception of the universality of law. He was the first to introduce into medicine the idea of a definite, general principal governing the relation between drugs and disease, and the first to formulate a practical system for the application of that principle which others had dimly seen before him but failed to make practical. He was the first to put pharmacology and pathology upon a broad, scientific basis, where they could be correlated with other sciences and be explained and illustrated by references to and comparison with their basic principles.
This was made possible for Hahnemann by his discovery that the principle of reciprocal action, formulated by Sir Isaac Newton in his third law of motion, “To every action there is an equal and possible reaction,” is as true and applicable in the animate as in the inanimate world; is as true of the action of drugs in the living organism as it is in any other department of nature.
This is the scientific foundation upon which Hahnemann proceed to build the only system of pharmacotherapeutics governed by definite general principle. The formula “Like cures like” is merely a paraphrase of the Newtonian formula, adding but one word, “To every drug action there is an equal and opposite reaction”.
The Latin form, Similia Similibus Curantur, from which the expression, “the law of similars,” is taken, expresses exactly the same idea. Action and reaction, regarded as forms of motion or processes, are exactly similar, differing only in direction. Theoretically they reciprocally balance or neutralize each other and result in equilibrium, balance, or, in the living organism, health.
Since every disease or pathological disturbance, according to biochemical science, is an intoxication or poisoning, resulting from the biochemical science, is an intoxication or poisoning, resulting from the introduction or internal formation of toxins or other deleterious substances; since drugs are also poisons, giving rise to actions and reactions in the living organism precisely as the so-called causes of disease do and similar forces moving in opposite directions (action and reaction are equal and opposite) mutually neutralize and annul each other; and since the similarity or equivalence between drugs and diseases may be learned by comparing their symptoms; it follows that in the law of reciprocal action, as applied in the homoeopathic system, we have a true and (humanly speaking) infallible guide for the rational treatment and cure of disease.
From Newtons wonderful generalization almost innumerable inferences, deductions and conclusions flow. All sciences are based upon it. The law of Reciprocal Action-balance, rhythm, vibration, compensation, polarity, equivalence-is the one absolutely universal law known to man.
It is easy, when the subject is opened up, to see how this law is applicable medicine. It is easy to trace it in the work of Hahnemann and his competent followers. It is visible and easy to observe in the action of every dose of medicine given. It matters not how many other explanations of the action of a drug may be given, it can always be explained fundamentally by reference to the Law of Reciprocal Action and its corollaries.
Inspired by his conception of the law of similars as the basic principle of cure by medication, Hahnemann proceeded to demonstrate it. Starting with the remarkable and epoch-making experiment with Peruvian bark so flippantly described by Dr.Fishbein, he continued his experimental search for many years, building up, literally creating a materia medica which should contain the symptoms produced by the action of drugs upon healthy human beings; since without such a record of the pure effects of drugs upon the healthy it would be impossible to compare them with the symptoms of the diseased for purpose of finding the similar curative medicine.
Nothing of the kind had ever been done before, although one or two others had suggested it. Hahnemanns labors were Herculean, unprecedented. Although many have followed his example, no man has ever equalled him in the extent, number and value of his “provings.” He was the pioneer, originator and founder of the truest and most scientific system of pharmacotherapeutics ever known to man.
Modern Conceptions of Disease.
Modern science (using the phrase in the all-inclusive sense, not the petty, pseudo-science of “modern medicine”) requires that we shall define all disease and every disease, irrespective of its existing cause, as primarily and essentially a state of physiological imbalance, a dysfunctioning; a loss or perversion of the normal, harmonious action of the living organism; a morbid process; a problem in vital dynamics; hence, a disturbance or perversion of the motive power of dynamic principle of the organism which we call Life-the vital principle. And this is a fundamental principle of homoeopathy.
The exciting cause of disease may be a drug, a toxin, a pathogenic micro-organism, a parasite, a physical or physical traumatism, or any other disturbing agent introduced from without or arising from within the organism. But the morbid process (for disease, strictly speaking, is nothing else) which may or may not ultimate in tangible, structural or tissue changes, is always the result of dynamical or functional changes. This is what Hahnemann, far ahead of his contemporaries and still far ahead of all but a very few of the most advanced physicians of today, always insisted upon as the sum and substance of his pathology. In this he was in perfect harmony with modern dynamical science.
The medical profession, quick to seize upon and utilize many of the results of physics and chemistry, has been singularly dull and tragically slow to grasp the higher fundamental laws and generalizations which are common to all true sciences. With only partial or fragmentary scientific knowledge they then fallen into many errors. Appropriating many of the discoveries of the chemist, the physicist, the biologist or the engineer, often without acknowledgment, sometimes arrogating to themselves the credit of discovery, they use them empirically, without knowledge or comprehension of the relations or of the general laws and principles involved, and very often with serious consequences. to the patient.
Medical men are singularly prone to jump at conclusions. They rush madly off after every new therapeutic agent, device or expedient, and proceed to “try it out” on their patients on the mere ipse dixit of somebody whose qualifications are probably no greater than their own. Presently the new toy is cast aside and something else substituted. And this they call being “modern” and “up-to-date”!.
Even when new measures or means are the product of elaborate and painstaking research, as in the modern laboratory, too often the underlying principles are wrong, the interpretation of the findings erroneous, the object (from the highest standpoint) undesirable, the result pernicious, and the means dangerous. What a series of disasters and tragedies have followed and accompanied the introduction of innoculations and injection of salvarsan, diphtheria antitoxin, 606, anti-rabic and tetanus sera, and many other modern “remedies,” to say nothing of the ghastly aftermath of the older “vaccination” and the ruin wrought by the host of deadly drugs with which physicians have experimented! No wonder that many modern physicians have abandoned drugs altogether.
Even insulin, the latest generally accepted product of the biological laboratory already has its list of fatalities and disasters, and the profession is being warned of its dangers and instructed how to avert them or overcome them. Its virtues are lauded to the skies, yet by its use no cure is accomplished, but only palliation of the symptoms of the disease for which it is administered. So it is with nearly all the drugs employed by “scientific medicine.” Not cure, but mere palliation alone is within scope. They do not conform to the requirements of natures law of cure. When those requirements are met, cure follows. They are met only by homoeopathy. Working Principles of Homoeopathy.
1. Systematic, individualizing, analytical investigation of each and every case by observation, interrogation, physical, psychical and laboratory methods, and making a complete record of the findings.
2. The totality of the symptoms of the patient-case as a whole-as the basis of prescription and treatment.
3. The use of single, pure medicines, the symptoms and sphere of action of which have been predetermined by accurate, controlled experiments upon healthy persons, verified by clinical use.
4. Application of the principle of symptom-similarity in the choice of the remedy.
5. The minimum dose of the indicated medicine capable of producing a dynamical or functional reaction in the living organism.
Similia Similibus Curantur; Simplex; Simile, Minimum.