Random Thoughts. On the eye of departure for the International Homoeopathic Congress, to be held in London, July 18th to 23d, many thoughts and conjectures arise as to what we shall find during this important meeting of the followers of Hahnemann, who will gather from almost all corners of the civilized world. We have been impressed, often enough, by the evident earnestness of foreign homoeopathic physicians and by their apparent zeal and enthusiasm for the advancement of homoeopathy, as shown by their writings in British, German, French, Spanish, Indian and other homoeopathic medical journals. It is an enthusiasm reminiscent of thirty years ago in the United States, but which has long since passed and is now scarcely known at all among American homoeopaths of any shade of opinion.
Why is this so? Many of us have wandered off after strange gods, Abramism for example; very many others, perhaps the majority, have gone into the numerous specialties and have neglected or forgotten the help which homoeopathy might give them. Quite recently an old-time, veteran homoeopathic physician was obliged to undergo a major operation in one of our newer and modern hospitals; the handling of his case was all that could be desired, from the surgical and nursing standpoints; he received all the technical benefits of modern medicine and, though in the hands of his friends, was amazed to find that homoeopathy was not employed at any stage of his case. He naturally wondered at this omission, and months after his recovery, sadly shakes his head in amazement that such things can be.
Yet we all know that they can be and are. Why is this so? Has modern medicine so absorbed us, that in our worship of its principles we have cast aside the only set of therapeutic methods which is truly curative? Is refined diagnosis of more value and more to be desired than cure? It would often seem so, especially if we are to judge and draw conclusions from clinical cases which come to us after they have been passed through the hands of specialists who form the coteries known as Group Medicine. The brilliant failures of such medical groups are astounding in view of their unquestioned diagnostic skill and technical ability.
Several letters have come to us, taking issue with us upon the question of sectarianism and the proposed dropping of the title “homoeopathic” from the designations of our hospitals and other institutions. Space forbids the publication of all these letters and probably little good would be achieved thereby, since the writers, whose intentions are unquestionably of he highest, show ignorance of the status of Homoeopathy at the present time. In this connection, it may be illuminating to many to know that at the recent annual meeting of the Alumni Association of the New York Homoeopathic Medical College and Flower Hospital, a vote previously taken among the alumni of this institution, showed a large majority in favor of dropping the title “homoeopathic.”
No matter how much some may deplore this decision, the fact that it was made how much some may deplore this decision, the fact that it was made by the graduates of this college, is of immense significance. Whether the trustees will acquiesce, is of course another matter, but is, after all, of little moment. This decisions plainly shows the present-day trend of the homoeopathic school. The sad part of it is that this school is doing so little to compel recognition by the old school, which of itself is gradually discovering the basic truths of homoeopathy and eventually will incorporate them as its own. Homoeopathy is just now more concerned with boosting its societies and their officers, than it is with the development and perpetuation of the cause these societies are supposed to represent.
So far as we have been able to see, at long range, German homoeopaths balk at the use of high potencies, whereas in England their employment excites no opposition or unfavorable comment. In the United States, homoeopaths are no longer ridiculed by their colleagues for using high potencies, thought it must be confessed that the number of those who use the high and highest potencies is not increasing.
The forthcoming congress should serve as a clearing house of ideas and ought to bring about a better understanding and greater uniformity of homoeopathic practice among physicians of all countries. Certainly there is much to be learned by all of us.
The Question of Causation in Its Relation to Homoeopathic Prescribing. This subject may at first sight appear to be a simple one, but in reality presents a problem, the solution of which involves the very life of the homoeopathic profession or school.
Hahnemann long ago emphasized the importance of seeking the cause, his statements upon this point are clear and readily understood, but Hahnemann did not live in an age when bacteriology and pathology exercise a governing policy in diagnosis, prognosis, and therapy. To remove the stone in the bladder, is obviously of importance in the work of curing a patient, whose numerous symptoms included those which are indicative of such a condition. Hahnemann so recognized it. The same observation may with equal force be made of stone in the kidney or of gall-stones.
Probably none of us will, in this age, venture to argue at any length upon this question; it is practically self-evident. We need hardly point to such elementary illustrations as fractured bones, foreign bodies in the tissues, the results, in short, of accidents, trauma, etc. conditions so obviously mechanical in character as to admit of no misunderstanding. Such states may be and usually are considered as ultimates, pathologic resultants or end-products, demanding surgical interference for their correction or relief.
So far as the homoeopathic prescriber is concerned, he under such circumstances, plays a secondary, albeit most important part; unfortunately, however, and this we desire to emphasize, he is today rather seldom called upon to exercise his talents or is relegated to so remote a position in the background, that his talents as a prescriber are unable to penetrate the sacred aura of this sanctified surgical confrere.
Modern medicine tends to minimize more and more the purely medicinal character of its therapeutic armamentarium; it seeks to prevent disease by the employment of hygienic measures, with all that such measures imply and by the use of bacterial vaccines and sera. In this work of prevention, corrective surgery plays an important part and all such prophylactic measures are highly laudable, however much we may differ as to the wisdom of employing vaccines and sera.
There are, however, many cases of particular interest to the homoeopathic physician which may, in a sense, be called borderline cases; that is to say, that in such cases pathologic changes has advanced far enough to be recognizable by the various diagnostic methods at our command, but has not as yet seriously interfered with function. It is of course axiomatic, that so soon as pathology has completely overwhelmed function, the organ or organs involved are of no further use to the body; so far as they are concerned, they may as well be foreign bodies, to be speedily removed by surgical procedure where and whenever this is possible.
To be sure, such removal is not always possible or even feasible; on the other hand, a physiologically useless or dead organ may be and frequently is, capable in itself or by its very presence of arousing dangerous symptoms demanding the physicians attention. Here, the prescribing of alleged homoeopathically indicated remedies is not only futile, but foolish. It may be granted that such prescribing will at times have a temporary, palliative effect, but one which is of no value to the patient and may lull him, as well as the physician, into a sense of false security. In other words, symptoms which are directly referable to the presence of a physiologically dead organ, are of no value to the prescriber and nothing is to be gained by attempting to base a prescription upon them.
Yet this very thing is often done and suggests the observation that patients presenting such conditions are literally cured into their graves. Now, the animal body is so constituted that it does not die all at once, it dies gradually, and when in later life the process of gradual ageing or dying becomes greater than that of tissue regeneration, the descent to Avernus is usually not far off and ultimate, complete, final death may be looked for. It is for this reason, that in older people, especially those in whom cardiovascular or real changes are evident, prescribing of remedies is so frequently unsatisfactory. Here we have an advancing pathology, a cause of symptoms directly attributable to this pathology and one which is usually incapable of removal.
From what has been said it is evident that the homoeopathic prescriber must or should exercise a keen judgment and a nice discrimination, which, unfortunately, he cannot or does not always do. It is, however, incumbent upon him that he differentiate carefully between the symptoms of the patient and those of the patients disease. Now, this is precisely what we so many times fail to do. Instead, we think in terms of pathology and diagnosis, we prescribe with this conception in mind and get nowhere.
What we should do, or ought to do, is to forget diagnosis, remember, pathology only so far as it coincides with the known, positive effects of remedies upon the healthy, and proceed to evaluate, as it were, the case before us, by individualizing the patient in the light of his ocular personal reactions to stimuli of various kinds. In short, we must aim to know and study his constitution with all that this term implies. In this study, the modalities of the patient are of the greatest importance and correspond to the Kentian idea of “Generals.” The so-called “Particulars” will avail us little or nothing, but may, on the other hand, lead us into a morass of doubt and bewilderment.
Through such a study of the case and by means of the evaluation of the patients condition herewith implied, it is perfectly possible to recognize irremovable or irremediable causes, hence to determine with reasonable certainty whether a given case is incurable or not.
The balance between the curable and the incurable is at times very nicely adjusted, depending upon the amount of functional disturbance and tissue destruction involved, yet a knowledge of the natural history of disease and of drug action, together with a respectful familiarity with Hahnemannian principles, will enable us to achieve really remarkable curative results, and also to avoid attempts at the impossible, for even homoeopathy, with all its marvelous possibilities, does have its legitimate limitations, which we as sensible physicians are bound to recognize.
So far as homoeopathy as an organized profession or school is concerned, there is, in the United States at least, a marked decadence in evidence; much of this is due to a praiseworthy endeavor to burst the bounds of narrow sectarianism, manifested just now by the abolition of the title “homoeopathic”; but much more is due to inadequate teaching of fundamental principles. The masters of homoeopathic philosophy are unfortunately not in our colleges, and if they were, would for the most part have little influence or command slight attention.
The reason lies in the immature mentality of the average undergraduate medical student, who is rarely endowed with sufficient comprehension or patience, to study, understand, and accept the great fundamental truths of homoeopathy. It is our firm belief that, with the present-day crowded medical curriculum, the teaching of homoeopathy in the undergraduate medical college is not and cannot be successful; this decided opinion is based upon a long experience in medical teaching.
Furthermore, we believe that the future of homoeopathy lies in the hands of the dominant profession, which is slowly but surely coming to the recognition and acceptance of the principles of Hahnemann. In this acceptance it is quite likely that scant recognition will be accorded out time-honored, though often archaic nomenclature. If humanity be the gainer, this matters little in the long run. What we as homoeopaths must do, is to set our own house in order, to guide the spirit of homoeopathic research and instruction along proper channels, and by precept and example to live up to our protestations.
We are not, except in a limited way, doing so now. In this endeavor we must adopt, if only for purposes of policy, a workable rule or platform of applied homoeopathy, to which we can all subscribe, and lastly, we must exhibit a spirit of tolerance and of charity and a willingness to give and take. In this way only can we hope to persuade the scientific world to our way of thinking.
Chilblains, Colds and Cough. “Steimann treats chilblains by ethyl chloride spray applied until the snow begins to appear on the skin. The treatment may be repeated. He confirms Biers report on the favorable influence of one drop of tincture of iodine taken in a glass of water or beer when the premonitory symptoms of coryza appear”.
The above is a Jamalian abstract of an article taken from the Munchener Medizinische Wochenschrift, and arrests our attention, more especially because of Steimanns agreement with Biers observation of the favorable influence of one drop of tincture of iodine in a glass of water or of beer, when drunk for the arrest of the premonitory symptoms of coryza. Why spoil a perfectly good glass of beer, however, especially when it happens to be Munchener Hofbrau? But, suppose the coryza calls for Allium cepa or Arsenicum album, or even our old friend Nux vomica? Will iodine do the trick then? We opine not.
Here lies the danger to homoeopathy, of such broad generalizations as that of Prof. Bier; similarly, his use of Sulphur iodide in the treatment of furunculosis is open to the same objection. Suppose the case calls for Hepar sulphur or for Calcarea sulphurica? These remedies do differ in their pathogenesis, and since individualization is of the utmost importance in homoeopathic prescribing, ought we not to be careful in making ex cathedral pronouncements?.
Action of Colchicin on Sensitization and Shock. “The effect of Colchicin on sensitization and shock was studied by Arlong and Langeron in guinea-pigs. Colchicin injected three days before sensitization with Ovalbumin averted or attenuated shock. It was without effect given just before sensitizations. It appeared slightly to aggravate shock, when it was given two weeks before or two weeks after sensitization. The experimental results agree with clinical observations, which teach that colchicum should not be administered close to the time of occurrence of an acute attack of gout. Given sufficiently long before an attack, Colchicum is able to avert it, since the attack probably represents a protein shock. This also explains the favorable action of Colchicum on urticaria”.
Interesting from several angels; but let us not forget that other remedies than Colchicum or Colchicin are frequently called for in gout as well as urticaria.
Treatment of Anaemia. “Goldbloom cites a case of anaemia in an infant, which did not respond to iron. When placed on a diet containing liver, beef juice, egg yolk, spinach, cereal, milk, orange juice and cod liver oil, the child got well. The importance of the addition of substance other tan iron, notably leafy vegetables and cereals, is emphasized.” J.A.M.A.
Many cases of anaemia will not respond to iron therapy; Calcarea carb., Arsenicum album, Natrum muriaticum, Pulsatilla, may be called fro. The dietary suggestions of Goldbloom are of the highest importance in any case, quite aside from the question of drug therapy.
Carbon Tetrachloride Produces Liver Cirrhosis. “Lamson and Wing assert that the continued administration of carbon tetrachloride alone, in small or large doses, or given together with alcohol, produces lesions, all of which are of the same type and of approximately the same severity. The lesions found are those of early cirrhosis of the liver, and it is drug will produce a true Laennec cirrhosis with circulatory obstruction.” J.A.M.A.
This may be a most valuable observation and homoeopaths will do well to bear it in mind in their treatment of hepatic cirrhosis when the indications for our usual remedies are lacking.
Treatment of Chilblains. “Mitchell resorts to elastic pressure in treating chilblains. A specially made rubber band, three- fourths to one inch wide, is stretched over the affected part at its greatest thickness. The relief from the itching and throbbing is said to be instantaneous, and after a few days the part is normal in appearance save for a little desquamation. The pressure must be firm, but not painful.” J.A.M.A.
Perhaps Mitchells treatment is all that is claimed for it; but let us not forget Agaricus muscarius, Petroleum, Pulsatilla and other. Many a case of chilblains has been cured by one or the other of these three remedies alone.
Experimental Immunity to Ivy Poisoning. “Spain and Cooke have succeeded in developing a satisfactory degree of clinical immunity to ivy poisoning by the oral or hypodermic administration, in proper amounts, of the active principle of Toxicodendron radicans. The injection method of treatment is preferable, since the conditions surrounding it can be kept more fully under control than in the case of oral administration”.
Truly, “the hair of the dog that bit you” is here exemplified by this abstract from the Baltimore, Md., journal of Immunology.