Dr. John Wyckoff, professor in medicine at the New York University, and director of the third medical division of Bellevue Hospital, in an address before the recent congress of physicians at Yale University, has issued a warning against the use of digitalis in the treatment of labor pneumonia. He stated that digitalis was widely used in the treatment of this disease in the belief that it aided the heart action. With this in mind, Dr. Wyckoff analyzed 735 cases of lobar pneumonia, and he reached the decision that the use of digitalis tended to increase the morality.
The committee, under Dr. Wyckoffs direction, divided these 735 cases into two groups. To one group digitalis was administered, while the drug was withheld from the other. The group which was digitalized was found to have a mortality rate of 40.06 percent, against 32.9 percent for those who did not receive digitalis.
Dr. Wyckoff summarized by saying that even in cases with heart complications digitalis proved of no value, and that it was his observation that digitalis may produce a toxin in pneumonia which causes death without warning.
Dr. Wyckoffs findings bear out the record of Camp Stuart during the war. At first all cases were given aspirin, then digitalis, with a mortality rate of 25.8 percent. Later aspirin and digitalis were withheld and the mortality rate fell to 15 percent.
There is nothing in the field of physiological medicine that brings to light so emphatically the Hahnemannian teaching, that it is not one organ alone that is sick, but the whole man. In pneumonia, as in the provings, digitalis affects the unstriated muscle fibre, and what affects the heart affects the smaller arterials and cells of the whole unstriated structure. It is only when the whole condition of the man who is sick is considered, and a remedy exhibited in a dynamic form to meet the conditions of the whole man, that we can except a remedy to be curative in a disease that is dynamic in its manifestations.
It is refreshing to see that some of the leaders in the ordinary school of medicine are beginning to see the actual harm that is done by physiological therapy in this dread disease of pneumonia, which shows such a tremendous morality as 40 percent under the use of digitalis. It is a terrible contrast to the showing of the dynamic form of treatment, which seldom has a mortality of over 4 percent in these conditions.
If these men who are honestly seeking for better things in therapy could only be brought to see the light, so that they could see clearly the great fundamental law of cure, and the philosophy and development of the art of healing according to that law, how much needless sorrow and suffering might be saved, and how much would be added to the sum total of the value of life that is needlessly sacrificed!.