Recently I had two interesting and rather unusual experiences, which I may be permitted to relate as the basis of a few concurrent remarks upon “modern scientific medicine” and its tendencies. They occurred in the line of my regular work, but in a department of practice which I do not invade as often as I did before the automobile became the almost universal means of locomotion; namely, in veterinary medicine.
Now, I am not and have never pretended to be a veterinarian. But I love animals and birds and always have them around me as pets. I take great joy in them. Since boyhood and up to 1912 I always owned, rode or drove horses. To this day, if walking, I seldom can pass a horse standing at the curb without going over and having a little confab with him. It warms my heart to see his almost invariable response to my cheery “Hello Boy”; to rub his nose and tickle his chin and then have him muzzle me and pretend to bite my hand–but only with his lips; to talk to him, for he vibrates to the tones of the human voice. I have rarely failed to win these little signs of friendliness and appreciation of a caress from even those horses who, at first, lay back their ears and look forbidding. They always sense my love for them and respond in kind, after the first few moments of surprise, irritability or doubt, engendered by neglect, or the rough treatment they generally receive from their cold-blooded owners.
Always, when my own animals–horses, dogs, cats, canary birds, “love-birds,” and even, once, a white rat (whom the children judiciously named “Mr. Davie” so the cat would not know whom they were speaking to)–have been sick, I have treated them with homoeopathic medicines. Not infrequently I have prescribed for the pets of my friends or patients when they were sick. Some of the most remarkable cures I have ever made have been for these “little brothers of the rich.” (Anybody is “rich” who has the qualities that make animals love him.) I could tell some good stories about the treatment and cure by homoeopathic medication of animals; but this will suffice to introduce the first of my recent experiences.
During the past month (January) an epidemic of “distemper” and meningitis in animals broke out suddenly in various parts of the country, including New York City. The malady spread rapidly through the stables of kennels, until all or the greater part of the animals were affected. Few escaped some degree of the affection, even under the strictest regime of prophylaxis. All were seriously ill and many fine animals died, even in the most modern establishments with every resource and appliance of modern science at hand and applied by experts. All the resources of the Government departments and laboratories, as well as the research departments and specialists of the great Universities such as Harvard and Cornell, which deal with such conditions, have been called upon for aid.
All the serums and vaccines developed by these agencies have been used, and all to little or no avail. The epidemic sweeps on, taking its deadly toll, until it comes to an end spontaneously. There are those, candid and open-minded observers, who not only admit that the serums are a failure, but declare that in some instances they actually hastened the death or killed the animals to whom they are administered. Two owners who talked with me told of seeing some of their animals (foxes, in these instances) die within an hour or two after innoculation–animals which did not even appear to be sick but received the innoculation for immunization purposes.
The epidemic broke out in Brooklyn in the largest and finest riding and driving club in the city (of which I am a member). In spite of rigid quarantine and the use of serums, it spread rapidly. At least three (full knowledge is suppressed) prize winners, very famous and valuable animals, are known to have died. Others were seriously ill for many days or weeks before they recovered.
Among the horses in the club was one owned and ridden by my daughter. He was one of the last to succumb to the infection. We had thought he would escape. But the superintendent called me up one morning and informed me that the expected (by him) had occurred.
After having been ridden in the ring for about twenty minutes in the early morning and taken back to his stall, he refused food and drink, and laid down. His temperature was stated to be 104, and I was advised to act quickly and decide what was to be done. The superintendent was considerably disturbed because, by my advice, my daughter had refused to have immunizing injections done, thus subjecting herself (and me) to criticism by the veterinaries, members and officials of the club.
I went myself at once to take the case in hand and demonstrate the reliability and superiority of homoeopathic treatment. I examined the horse at 10 A. M. As he was led from his stall I noticed that he was weak, jerky and unsteady in his movements. His eyes were staring, with widely dilated pupils; conjunctivae and nasal mucous membranes were deeply reddened; a scanty, thin discharge bathed his nostrils; his breath was hot ; he frequently shook or tossed his head as if in pain ; and was easily startled by any movement near his head.
These symptoms, denoting cerebral congestion and beginning meningitis clearly called for Belladonna. I therefore prepared and administered by the mouth one dose of Bell. 30/ about 10 A. M., left one powder of the same to be given at 4 P.M., if the temperature had not fallen, and ordered him back to his stall.
The superintendent kept a straight face, but several grooms standing around looked at each other significantly, some with incredulous smiles, for the horse and his owner had been the subject of general discussion.
At 4 P. M., six hours after the dose was given, the superintendent called me up and excitedly told me that he had just taken the horses temperature and found it normal!.
“It is the most amazing thing I have ever seen–a temperature drop and result like that,” he said. “If I hadnt taken the temperature myself, I wouldnt have believed it”.
Veterinarians here have been heard to say that if they got the temperature in these cases down to normal in two weeks they considered that they were doing well. And as to immunizing injections, it is commonly said that it takes from two to three months for horses to recover from their effects.
What a beautiful system it is that practically disables a horse for three months for the sake of “immunizing” him against a disease which he may not get! And who knows just what is happening in that horses system while it is going on, or how much his vitality is impaired, his organs damaged, and his life shortened?.
The cure of my daughters horse was complete. The next day he was perfectly well and strong, and has remained so.
The second experience during the same period was a new one for me. The proprietor of several Black Fox Farms in the northern part of the State, for whom personally I had prescribed about a year ago, and who had been impressed by my method of analyzing and studying a difficult case (as well as by the results) called me up from his New York office one day and asked me, first, if I was interested in animals; and then, whether he might come to my office and talk over with me an epidemic which had broken out suddenly at two of his ranches and carried off several of his finest animals.
The epidemic was in full swing, he said, and nothing they had been able to do had been of the least benefit. The foxes were dying rapidly and he was in despair. I assured him that I was very much interested and should be glad to talk with him. He came at once, bringing with him memoranda of observations he and his helpers and veterinarians had made, and reports and letters from the heads of several laboratories to which bodies of dead animals had been sent for examination, diagnosis and suggestions as to treatment.
I spent two hours going over his data, questioning him on points that were not clear, making notes of laboratory findings, and writing out all available symptoms. Then I dismissed him with the promise that I would spend the evening in collating the facts and deciding upon the treatment, and telephone him the next morning.
It was one of the hardest evenings work I have done for a long time. The greatest difficulty was in the paucity and indefiniteness of symptoms upon which to base a prescription.
This arose, first, from the peculiar character of the animals themselves. The fox is a highly nervous, sensitive, timid animal. He is intelligent, resourceful, sly, furtive and secretive. He has great endurance and will keep on his feet when in danger until he drops from complete exhaustion. He is always alert, watchful, always fearful of danger. Consequently, when he is sick, sensing a peculiar danger, he will try to hide every evidence of it and keep going.
He is, therefore, very difficult to observe. Apparently well, he will sometimes suddenly curl up and die; but he will really have been ill for several days, hiding it from ordinary observation.
Secondly, the men who are engaged in the business of raising black foxes for their valuable pelts are not trained in the observation of symptoms. They are ultra modern in their training and methods of dealing with their animals, and modern veterinary science has little use for the symptoms of animals. Consequently little attention is paid to them. The business is new and has been “scientifically” developed. Nevertheless, it is full of difficulties, which breeders strive to overcome by closely following the instructions of “experts,” governmental and institutional. This works out fairly well so far as the general breeding, care and management of the animals are concerned.
But when it comes to observing and treating their diseases it is quite a different matter. “Like master, like man.” Modern veterinarians, like their brethren in human medicine, are obsessed by the spirit of bacteriology. They have eyes and ears for little or nothing but the micro-organism which is assumed to be the cause of the disease under consideration. Symptoms, representing the functional changes in the perverted vital process which we call disease, have little or no meaning or importance for them, except as general warning signals that something is wrong. Thereupon, they head for the laboratory, post-haste.
Treatment is not based upon symptoms,nor even upon ordinary pathological diagnosis, but upon laboratory findings in research directed principally toward the discovery and isolation of the presumably specific micro-organism. Even though the ultimate diagnosis is based upon the gross pathological lesions incidentally found by autopsy, these play little or no part in determining the treatment of the living animals, as they once did. All the emphasis is laid upon bacteriology, and treatment consists mainly in the use of the various serums, vaccines and bacteriology which have been elaborated.
As a matter of fact, (and this is a singular and suggestive fact) the foxes in this epidemic were found to have been affected by several different diseases. The reports show that besides the ordinary catarrhal “distemper,” foxes which died presented variously the lesions of pneumonia, laryngitis, enteritis and gastritis (with ulceration), hepatitis, meningitis, and an indeterminate disorder, characterized by the presence of colon bacilli, called by some “typhoid”.
The spleen was congested or inflamed in many cases. In some cases the liver was found to be so friable that it would fall apart when the attempt was made to lift it.
The coexistence of so many grave pathological lesions, all occurring at the same time, springing suddenly into existence as an epidemic of such seeming malignancy suggests, of course, the existence of a common cause, which might (also of course), be a germ. The idea is intriguing, but elusive. No new or unknown micro-organism or toxin has been found, or identified as present in all cases. Several investigators thought they had found such, but failed to prove it. Each of the serums derived from unknown specific organisms has seemed to benefit some individuals, but not all; and several of the more candid of the specialists have admitted that they were stumped.
And still the search goes on; for undoubtedly there is a common cause; or should we say, a common factor or element. Here, possibly, is a new idea. Let me try to work it out, but only suggestively. The subject is too large and two complicated for anything more than that here.
May not all these suddenly appearing epidemics be brought about by the operation of certain unusual environmental agencies or conditions, which, by lowering or destroying natural immunity or general resistance, render the subjects vulnerable to any or every specific organism which comes along? (Several foxes presented the lesions of two or more pathological entities.) In the crisis one yields to the pneumococcus, another to the colon bacillus, and so on. But all succumb in a mysterious way, and many die from what is regarded as the virulence or “malignancy” of the infecting organism, whatever it may be.
Does anyone know what virulence or malignancy really is?.
May not that which has been regarded as a positive entity be merely at least, in part, a negative condition or state?.
May not that in a disease or epidemic which seems so malignant be merely the absence or loss of the power of the victims to react or resist–the pre-existence of a strong tendency to dissolution in an organism which has become weakened and impaired by abuse of one kind or another, knowingly or unknowingly?.
If this be true, it is time we should know it and institute research along entirely different lines. It is time to again call attention to and emphasize a phase of the subject that has been persistently ignored by the bacteriologists, with tragical consequences to the people.
Certainly, bacteriological research in the field of therapeutics, as now conducted, is getting us nowhere but deeper and deeper into mystery, confusion and trouble. If it were demonstrated that the micro-organism which are regarded as the sole of efficient causes of disease are merely accidental, incidental or conditional factors in its production, more attention would be paid to the preceding constitutional and systemic states of the victims and their causes, and a broader view taken of the whole subject. Emphasis would be transferred from the “germ” to the patient and his environment, which would be wholly in accord with the scientific principle of “conditional action”.
The dean of Cornell University Medical College has recently said that “any case of disease which recovers under serum treatment would have got well anyhow.” The leading pathologist of the United States, Professor James Ewing, has repeatedly called it in question and criticized it. Professor Ewing says: “There are limitations to the significance of the purely bacteriological knowledge of disease.
The old morphologists believed that bacteriology could never give a complete explanation of disease, a view which receives increasing support in modern times. Modern bacteriology is getting away from the study of bacteria themselves, and turning more and more to the questions of predisposing and contributing causes of disease. In other words, it is reverting to the field of general pathology. “The acute interest in immunology is not quite so intense as it was five years ago. When bacteriology takes refuge in almost invisible filterable viruses, it comes to a dead standstill, as in influenza and poliomyelitis.
“Much more can be accomplished by careful study of the clinical conditions under which disease develops”.
Reviewing the symptoms of the cases which I have studied, and taking into consideration the character of the lesions discovered by the pathologists, one word seems to me to characterize all the phenomena presented–septic, or septicemic.
But what is sepsis but a depraved, devitalized, negative, non-resistant state of the organism, plus the presence of an infecting agent?.
The “violence” of the inflammation of the various organs affected in different individuals; the “fulminating” character of the invasion, obscuring most of the early usual signs; the rapid invasion, in some cases, of a series of organs in the same animal; the destructiveness of the process and the rapid disintegration of tissues may all–do all–represent, not the inherent lethal character of a micro-organism so much as the inability of the individual, by reason of prior debilitation, to resist its invasion or the invasion of any pathogenic agent.
Such a state might have a gradual development from prolonged depressing influences, of it might arise from some sudden shock, as from fright, or fear, or great excitement. (Both the epidemics of which I am speaking followed by three weeks the annual public exhibitions, with all their attendant excitement and strain of training, preparation, travel, noise, bright lights, crowds, etc., profoundly disturbing and depressing to animals.).
Something akin to these conditions precedes the development of all human epidemics–cholera, influenza, typhus, typhoid, small-pox, bubonic plague, malaria, yellow fever, diphtheria, these diseases have certain general characteristics in common. A powerful psychological factor is always present in excitement and fear. All are adynamic; all tend to become malignant; all are destructive or disorganizing; all are infectious; all involve, to a greater or lesser degree, every vital organ and tissue of the body through the blood stream; all are essentially septic.
Epidemics, like sporadic diseases, do not attack all individuals, nor affect all individuals alike. They attack only those who are morbidly susceptible to infection by reason of some peculiarity or defect of function, structure of environment, natural or acquired, which lowers their resistance and increases the tendency to organic dissolution. Measurable morphological differences of organic development in individuals play an important part in epidemics as well as in sporadic cases.
During the past century, but more especially during the last half century, science has succeeded in limiting, suppressing or greatly modifying most of the acute infectious diseases, some of which tend to become epidemic.
This has been done in part by applying certain theories based upon the knowledge gained by the study of bacteriology, and in part–really the larger part– by a better knowledge of the principles of rational sanitation which is an engineering problem, not necessarily dependent solely upon bacteriology.
In its legitimate field of environmental prevention, or prophylaxis by mechanical and chemical means, sanitary science is deeply indebted to bacteriology for its knowledge of where to seek and how to destroy many hidden enemies. But after sanitary science wedded itself to bacterial therapeutics, with its blood- polluting vaccine virus, animal serums, antitoxins and vaccines, she began to bring forth a mongrel brood of hideous mien for those who have eyes to see through the masks they wear.
The acute, infectious and epidemic diseases are in Vain gloriously said to have been “conquered.” But do we not still have so-called “epidemics” and innumerable cases of acute disease? Did we not have the terrible pandemic of influenza which raged a few years ago, causing in one year approximately as many deaths as occurred during the same period of the World War? Before that visitation even the most enthusiastic believers in “modern medicine” confessed themselves helpless and ashamed? And have we not had annual recurrences of influenza somewhat milder in form, ever since?.
Granting that acute diseases may be somewhat less prevalent, have we not in their place an alarming increase in the great chronic diseases–cancer, tuberculosis, (this latter now being suppressed, modified and gradually changed into other forms of chronic disease) and other chronic degenerative diseases?.
Are not many strange, anomalous, baffling, mysterious phases and forms of well-known diseases constantly appearing?.
Careful observers have noticed and commented upon these facts without being able satisfactorily to explain and account for them.
May it not be that, in the long run, “the treatment is worse than the disease”?.
Acute diseases in primitive human beings and animals living in a state of nature are comparatively simple, definite, clear- cut and typical. True chronic diseases, as we know them, do not exist among them.
But with the advance of civilization and the development pari passu of drug and bacteriological immunization and treatment diseases become more and more complex, indefinite and atypical. Not only do the acute diseases tend more and more to become chronic, but more or less definite new forms of chronic disease appear. Cancer, for example, is almost unknown among primitive peoples.
Wild animals have almost no diseases, acute or chronic. It is only in domestication or captivity that animals become victims of disease, and then not because of any inherent organic defect, but because they are poisoned–by unnatural food and drink and the body-poisons produced thereby; by poisons introduced under the guise of medicines (drugs); by serums, so- called “antitoxins” and vaccines; by psychological pathogenic agencies.
It is the same with man. Artificial conditions of living, and medical treatment unguided by the Law of Cure are largely responsible not only for epidemics and “malignancy,” but for the great majority of all the diseases which afflict alike us human beings and our animal friends.