Given the question: Is Artemisia abrotanum a true medicine? What, in the light of homoeopathy, should the answer be? Or one might say: What, in the light of common sense, should the answer be – assuming that the general level of common sense rises with the general increase and diffusion of knowledge. (Unfortunately for this argument, “science” as apprehended and ex-emplified by the average “scientist,” does not recognize common sense as a criterion.).

Obviously, from anyone acquainted with homoeopathy, the answer would be: “Prove it in the regular way and find out”.

Proving drugs on healthy human beings is a cardinal principle of Homoeopathy. It has a very definite, characteristic, thoroughly tested and well proven method of ascertaining the medicinal powers and qualities of drugs in their action upon human beings. That method, when competently used, is safe, simple, direct and reliable. It consists of administering the drug to be tested to healthy, susceptible, intelligent individuals in graduated doses, small, but sufficient to excite reaction and produce symptoms within a reasonable time.

It is not only traditional, but essential to the success of this method that the drug shall be administered in minimum doses by the mouth and no lethal, destructive, or permanently injurious dose shall ever be given. It is never pushed to the extent of creating actual pathology.

This rule is not founded in sentiment, but arises logically from the nature of the phenomena required for the purpose in view – symptoms of functional and systemic disturbance similar to the symptoms which represent and express the natural processes of disease before it has reached the incurable stage.

These may tend toward death, but when they reach the stage or degree where death impends by reason of profound intoxication, damage of tissues and organs, or exhaustion of the vital forces; or when a lethal dose has been given, they are of no value for therapeutic purposes. They then represent a terminal condition which is beyond the reach of medicine. All essential characteristic symptoms of value appear earlier and under minimum, sub-lethal doses. It is the duty of the proving director to make sure in advance that a proving never reaches the lethal stage or degree.

The primary and sole purpose of homoeopathic therapeutics and, therefore, of its proving of drugs, is the medicinal cure and amelioration of disease by symptom-similarity, not the production of pathology or death in man or beast. To do otherwise is to violate both the spirit and principles of homoeopathy and defeat its benign purpose.

It will be noted that after observing and recording the death of one group of guinea pigs from four 5-cc. doses, while another group took twelve such doses “without any apparent effect” but died after a single dose of 10 cc., the author “concluded that the drug is only slightly active in rabbits and guinea pigs.” a strange conclusion! It is perchance a non-sequitur?

It would be interesting to have Dr. Boyds definition of the word “active” as used in this connection. If he means that lethal doses of a drug are not active in producing useful symptoms – symptoms that are of value as therapeutic indications – we entirely agree with him. (Dr. Boyd is quite welcome to his suggestion of a way to clear himself of the suspicion that he is illogical.) They never are active in that sense. They suppress and destroy functional activity too quickly for that.

Useful symptoms must have time to develop. They do not and cannot appear when the organism is shocked into insensibility and death. The organism must have time to react naturally and manifest the character, degree and location of its disturbance. It can do this only under relatively small, sub-lethal doses, and then only when the drug is introduced through the natural channels and not forced into the circulation through the hypodermic needle. The finer, smaller and more assimilable the efficient dose, the finer, more definite, more individually characteristic and reliable are the symptoms produced from the standpoint of both the homoeopathic prover and prescriber.

The purpose is not to demonstrate that a substance or drug is capable of killing or disabling a subject, nor to push a proving to the point of organic obstruction, impairment or breakdown with the production of pathological lesions; but to gently-one might say, politely-observe the prover and interrogate him, in the name and for the sake of science and humanity, about the changes in his or her feelings and functions while under the influence of a drug, willingly and voluntarily taken and intelligently observed.

Why should rabbits and guinea pigs – the childrens little pets and playmates, curiously friendly and confiding, but pathetically dumb and submissive – be poisoned, mangled and killed by dozens, hundreds, thousands in the medical laboratories of the world in carrying out experiments like those described in the article under review (discreetly leaving some unspeakable things to the imagination), merely to reach a conclusion that a given drug is not “active” – that is, not capable of killing them?.

And why, for that matter, should the children themselves be “experimented” on (God save the mark!) by inoculating them with pathological serums and vaccines (every one of which has been shown to have the potentiality and possibility of serious injury and even death in it) when the desired result (immunity or cure) may be obtained by homoeopathic means and methods which are efficacious, humane, harmless and safe?.

Why, indeed, unless the medical profession has gone mad, or has been carried away with its inordinate egotism, vanity, love of display and predilection for power?.

Why do homoeopathists with all the therapeutic riches garnered from a century and a quarter of enlightened experience; with all their glorious records of triumphs over disease in which all other methods fail; with all their opportunities for improvement and progress in their art, turn to ape the manners and methods of the devotees of a glittering pseudo-science, miscalled “Modern Medical Science,” or else sit supinely, basking in the reflected glory of their ancestors?.

Homoeopathy has nothing to do with intoxicating or killing. It deals gently with Life and its processes. The knowledge upon which it is based is not derived primarily from the studies of dead or dying subjects, but from living, willing, healthy subjects. On occasion the homoeopathic observer may and does study the lethal phenomena of poisons accidentally given or otherwise, but he never induces them in provings. He knows he would gain nothing essential or valuable if he did; for there is no drug that does not, when properly tested in susceptible subjects, clearly manifest its sphere and scope of action and its characteristic symptoms (or lack of them) from doses far, very far short of lethal.

Many of the oldest, greatest and most useful homoeopathic medicines are incapable of causing death, or even serious injury. In their natural, simple, crude form they are almost totally inert – Charcoal, Lycopodium, Silicea, Sulphur and the metals, for example. Others, like salt and lime, are elements of nutrition, native to the organism, foods. Only as they are submitted to the physico-chemical processes of trituration, solution, dilution and ionization are their latent pathopoetic and curative powers developed; but even in this state they are non-toxic.

Yet these preparations, when prescribed in full accordance with homoeopathic principles and methods, prove to be true medicines, capable of curing many of the gravest forms of disease. Administered to individuals in health who are constitutionally and normally sensitive to the action of drugs in general, or peculiarly so to the particular substance being tested by reason of what, for want of a better name, we call “idiosyncrasy,” they excite symptoms which represent sensory and functional disturbances that are clearly perceptible both to the prover and the competent observer. And that is all that is necessary.

Some delicately organized individuals make “involuntary provings.” They frequently suffer from the effects of contact by ingestion, inhalation or absorption of substances which are harmless to others – pollens, dust, hair, feathers, exhalations from animals, plants, etc. – to which they are susceptible naturally and peculiarly, if not morbidly. The quantity of such irritating substances necessary to excite these peculiar reactions is extremely small, almost infinitesimal.

It is quite possible by penetrating the protective envelopes or blood vessels of the living body with the hypodermic needle and forcing into the circulation foreign substances even of an otherwise harmless nature, such as air, water, milk, not to mention poisons, to injure or even kill. But this is not legitimate therapeutic art.

The needle is incompatible with “safe and sane” medical experimentation, with a true therapeutics and, beyond all, with homoeopathy. It belongs to “the gentle art of medical man’s laughter.” This will be regarded by many as a mere prejudice or personal opinion, but the writer does not feel lonesome.

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.