At the last meeting of this Society, Dr. Lynn J. Boyd told us of the investigation of the potency of our remedies now being carried out in Europe by Bier and others. He did not mention the fact that he himself is untiring in the same work. However, he made the point that Bier does not individualize his cases (of furuncle, for example) but that they all receive the same potency of Sulphur iodide. That is not homoeopathy, and Bier must be disappointed in a goodly percentage of his cases. Again, animal experimentation is not the way to reach conclusions as to the value of our remedies, since the animal cannot give us his reaction to the drug in words. We shall have to depend upon the old method of drug proving upon healthy human beings for results.
Anyone specializing in a particular subject is supposed to maintain a discreet silence upon all subjects foreign to his particular line of effort, lest it be thought that he does at times see something outside of his province, and thereby tread upon the toes of others, with consequent loss of referred patients. While my own major interest is in obstetrics and gynaecology, the study and application of homoeopathic therapeutics has always had its appeal.
When I entered medical college (how many years ago I shall not disclose) after the initial shower of amputated fingers had descended from the dissecting room gallery, where the sophomores were laboring, there began an intensive series of lectures on homoeopathic materia medica and therapeutics, which ceased not until we received our diplomas. And in every subject connected with the treatment of a human being, homoeopathy was stressed. I remember that we were impressed with the sincerity of the teachers, and we believed that they practised what they taught. The teaching was mainly by didactic lectures, which are obsolete, instruction being now given by bedside clinics.
Why, if didactic lectures are a failure, do I after many years of practice, believe more fully in homoeopathic principles, and use my remedies more freely as the years go by, and why do the products of homoeopathic colleges over the last fifteen years know or care nothing for the particular mode of practice which they were presumably taught in medical college? This is not an assumption of fact on my part, but is based on daily bedside rounds with interns who graduated from my own alma mater.
Is this because the student no longer has to pass a State Board examination in materia medica and therapeutics? Is it because, in the present shortage of medical educational facilities in New York City the student does not care from what college he graduates, so long as he gets a diploma? Is it because the present teachers of materia medica are impractical, uninteresting, have not the gift of putting across to the student the real personality of a remedy, and creating in him an enthusiasm for the principles of our school? I leave the answer with you.
The great reason why homoeopathy fails to make rapid converts is that one has to study drug therapy and symptomatology instead of reading the advertisements in the medical journals. I wish I had all the money I have spent on brightly colored tablets which were to reduce the tension of my arterio-sclerotic patients to normal within two weeks. Now I have gone back where I should have begun, to our own remedies, notably Aurum muriaticum natronatum (Sodium chloroaurate), with better results.
If the statement of science, that matter becomes more active in proportion as it is more finely subdivided, is true, then must the homoeopathic theory of the attenuation of drug potencies be true, and we have a stable, unchanging basis upon which to work. How many old school books on materia medica are of any value five years after they are printed? A system of medicine based on pathology is not sufficient. Take an old school man away from the bacillus to which he fondly clings, leave him without any tangible object which can be measured, seen or evoked in a test tube, and he is more or less helpless. Homoeopathy treats the patient, and not the name of a disease. This does not imply that we are to neglect diagnosis, which was a fault of out pioneers, but it does mean that we are able to treat an individual without waiting to establish a definite diagnosis.
When I used to see contagious diseases, I was impressed by the fact that complications and sequelae were relatively infrequent under our school of practice. Belladonna I regard as a true prophylactic to scarlet fever, since I have had no case develop in any person to whom I gave it soon after exposure to the disease. If you want to avoid nephritis in a scarlet case, give a few daily doses of Apis as an intercurrent remedy together with the indicated remedy.
Acute adenoma of the thyroid gland, not toxic, not exophthalmic, may be cured by our remedies. Iodine will not do it, and in my limited experience the patient with goitre is not often of the iodine type, but associated remedies which contain iodine will help, especially Spongia and Fucus vesiculosus. Spongia is made from the burned sponge, and contains iodine, is indicated by the hardness of the gland, in light complexioned people, with shooting pains around the neck aggravated by motion. Fucus (sea kelp) is indicated in stout patients, who are greatly troubled with flatulence. Another remedy which has served me well is Lycopus, with its hot flushes, palpitation, and apprehension. In valvular disease, it has haemoptysis, forcible, tumultuous heart action, and sense of cardiac oppression. This leads me to speak of digitalis, a much over used remedy.
I can see no rational basis for its routine use by some surgeons after operation, and I remember twenty years ago that I had to stand by and watch the wife of my best friend practically killed by her well-meaning father, who was a medical director in the navy, and by another eminent allopath, when she developed scarlet fever and a complicating pneumonia, after taking care of her small daughter, who was ill with scarlet. Day after day, she was given digitalis in material doses, with a temperature of 104, and a heart which was already driven to the limit, when all her symptoms cried aloud for Belladonna to the eye of the homoeopath.
There is a remedy with no cumulative or poisonous action, which is especially indicated in cardiacs when there is great insomnia present, and that is Crataegus. There is another remedy from Russian sources, Adonis vernalis, which is indicated in the failing compensation of old cardiacs: which does increase the power of contraction of the heart muscle and causes increased elimination of urine, relieving the oedema.
I recall the uncle of one of the Manhattan physicians, whom we found early one morning almost pulseless, oedematous, cyanosed, and with subnormal temperature. Dr. Foote had been called in emergency, and had very properly given a quarter of morphine. We called an ambulance, and it was a question whether the patient would live to reach the hospital, but he did, and under ten drop doses of Adonis he regained his compensation to a fair degree, and was moved to Manhattan after three weeks, and lived some time in a fairly good state of health.
You are familiar with the respiratory picture of Bryonia- dyspnoea, lying on the painful side, thirst for large quantities of water frequently, and the sharp, shooting pains through the lung on the least motion. Asclepias tuberosa has the same picture, and is infinitely superior in relieving the pains. I have personal knowledge of pneumonia, having had a right sided lobar pneumonia fifteen years ago, followed by left diaphragmatic pleurisy with effusion. Should I ever another attack of pneumonia, I hope to have the same good homoeopathic which I had then. I remember that the late Dr. Walter S. Rink gave me the first dilution of Amyl nitrite on sugar, to relieve the sharp pain that came on upon the slightest motion of my head. If you can find a druggist patient enough to break ampoules of amyl nitrite until he has ten minims, and shake this up one hundred times with ninety minims of alcohol, it will prove more effective than the coal tar derivatives, and better for the patient.
If one is called to an elderly patient, usually at the close of a blustery winter day, and finds him with his head over the side of the bed vomiting copious mouthfuls of frothy mucus tinged with blood, with a high temperature, mucous rales, and dyspnoea, that patient is all set for pneumonia, and Aconite is not indicated, for he is entirely too busy to have any apprehension of impending death. Give him Veratrum viride, and the next day he will be in his usual state of health. Remember Sanguinaria nitrate in frontal sinusitis, after the thick mucus begins to drain, particularly in right-sided sinusitis, with atrocious pains over the frontal eminence. It is also useful in acute pharyngitis, with rough, scrapy throat, oppression behind the sternum, and short, hacking cough.
Eucalyptus and Sabadilla are two remedies to be thought of also in his connection.