A lecture given at the Royal Society of Medicine, London, England, July 26, 1932.
My first duty is to thank the President and Council of the Royal Society of Medicine for their unprecedented courtesy in offering hospitality and thus affording an opportunity of presenting to the profession some knowledge of homoeopathy. They are thus falling into line with the idea expressed in the British Medical Journal of July 9th, 1932, in the History of the Association, where it is stated:.
Before the passing of the Medical Act a Committee on Quackery was appointed, which in 1851 presented a report condemning the practice of homoeopathy. In more recent years a wider view has been taken, and it has been realized that in medicine there is no orthodox doctrine, but that when once a man has obtained a registrable qualification in the usual way he is entitled to hold his own opinions on therapeutics.
I was reminded recently that when a man is legally qualified it is not only his privilege but his duty to practise in any way which he genuinely thinks will be for the benefit of his patients.
This meeting is really the outcome of the expressed desire of several physicians to know more of the principles of homoeopathy than will be possible in a short paper on The History of British Homoeopathy at the British Medical Association on the 29th inst.
One feels keenly the honour, but also the responsibility of having to present the subject of homoeopathy before such an audience as faces me today. And I am minded (because of the widely prevalent mistaken ideas as to what homoeopathy really is) to simply state facts, ab initio.
I am delighted to tell you a little about homoeopathy, because it helps me to do some things that I should have believed impossible; and my ambition is, to so interest you, that you may go away and try it.
It is only the few who are intrigued by cleverly worded arguments; what the many want is more power; and it is to such that my appeal is addressed today. Arguments leave most of us cold. You cannot learn of homoeopathy from arguments as to its possibility. The appeal of homoeopathy has always been to experience. Do the works if you would know the truth.
Homoeopathy could never have been discovered a priori. It is a science, since it is entirely based on experiment. Who was the great chemist who said the only possible way to know how a lump of sugar would behave, when put into a cup of tea, was to try? Or, as Hunter said to Jenner, “Dont think; try.” It is only our experience of homoeopathy that has made us homoeopaths. We have all been sceptics; but facts have been too strong for us.
It may seem strange to you, but the century old message of homoeopathy has a distinct appeal to the men of modern science. Homoeopathy has reversed the old saying, “The science of today is the nonsense of tomorrow”; for here, the nonsense of one hundred years is proving to be the science of today. And, as I said, my ambition in coming here is to help my professional brethren to an appreciation of what appears to me to be vital knowledge in regard to curative drug-action as conductive to a more definite and wider range of usefulness and power. It is a poor creature, who, having found something good, tries to keep it to himself.
For, after all, it is power we need. Knowledge of disease knowledge of drug action. What are they? Nothing! lacking the essential knowledge, how to apply the one for the relief of the other. There must be the co-ordinating principle law if power is to result; i.e., the power to deal curatively, with assurance and foreknowledge, with the sick individual. And, after all, this is our very raison detre, as doctors.
Now, it is legitimate, natural and praiseworthy to question and to strive for something better than that which contents other men. Progress would cease if we were merely to accept that which comes to us by tradition or authority satisfied with what satisfied our predecessors. And does it not seem the height of absurdity to hark back to medical ideas of a hundred years ago for light on our problems of today? Changes are so rapid in our profession that it has been said, “If a doctor who dies today could come back in fifty years from now, and attempt to take up his profession, he would have to graduate all over again”.
And yet there was one great physician of the past who, were he to come back to earth today, could take up his work as he left it. He would find new and exciting developments possibilities confirmations; but the essentials would be absolutely the same, because based on law. Moreover, he would find hundreds no, thousands of doctors in all countries of the world, doing precisely what he did; treating their patients as he treated his; and experiencing, thereby, his astonishing results.
How can this be?.
Because, in the worlds history, there appears from time to time, genius, which instead of moving placidly with the times, leaps far ahead of them. “That man,” we say but we are only able to say it after his death! “that, man was born a hundred years before his time” for it is from posterity alone that such men receive tardy vindication.
One such genius was Samuel Hahnemann. Law was revealed to him in one bright flash of intuition and realization the law of drug action; and to the elucidation and elaboration of that law he devoted his long life. Poverty bitter enemity banishment scorn were his sorry portion; but nothing moved him. His steadfast appeal was to experience, and to posterity.
SIMILIA SIMILIBUS CURENTUR.
In these days I think we all allow that the medicine of Hahnemanns day (he was born in 1755) was crude and cruel; worse than that, it was harmful and futile. The establishment of issues with venesections salivations to a terrific extent, coupled with purgings and depletions, were wrecking the health, or costing the lives alike of the monarch on his throne, or the humble toiler for bread. So hopelessly wrong did all these things appear to Hahnemann (and here time has justified him) that he threw up a flourishing practice, and plunged himself and his family into dire poverty, that he might not, as he says, “any longer incur the risk of doing injury”; and he “engaged exclusively in chemistry and in literary occupations, supporting his family by his pen, and by his translations from many languages”.
Then one of his children fell ill, and the sight of her suffering sent the born physician back to his life-work, determined to investigate the whole question of medicine in all languages. He set his soul to discover as he puts it “if God had not given some certain law, whereby the diseases of mankind could be cured”.
And while he was diligently seeking the light suddenly it flamed before his eyes. He was translating Cullens Materia Medica; and in one of his characteristic annotations he criticized Cullens opinions in regard to the action of Peruvian bark, and the idea came to him to test the effect of the drug, as to its sick-making properties, on himself, when lo and behold! they took the form of ague. There could be no doubt about it: quinine both caused and cured ague. Hahnemann has denounced the abuse of quinine, but it was quinine that revealed to him homoeopathy. Observations (accidental) on the prophylactic and curative properties of Belladonna in scarlet fever, were also suggestive; for are not their symptoms identical? How did other drugs act? He set to work to discover.
(It has been observed in confirmation of Hahnemanns findings in regard to cinchona, that workers in quinine factories suffer with a cinchona poisoning resembling ague).
His eyes opened by that initial experiment with cinchona, Hahnemann began to realize (and all his subsequent experiments conducted during some fifty years confirmed this) that “It is only by their power to make sick, that drugs can cure sickness; and that a medicine can only cure such morbid conditions as it can produce, when tested on healthy persons”.
Hahnemann had one of the attributes of genius, “an infinite capacity for taking pains”; but he had more than this. He was pre-eminent in intuition in deduction in industry in research in absolute self-devotion to truth and to humanity. He was not only great as a scholar linguist chemist sanitarian physician, but he takes special rank as one of those to whom law reveals itself. For as Newton discovered the law of gravitation, so Hahnemann discovered the law of similars dimly guessed at, but never realized never understood never demonstrated before his day.
Hahnemann found the enunciation of the law in the “remarkable words Similia Similibus Curentur” (let likes be treated by likes) “in one of the books attributed to Hippocrates,” and he also found its foreshadowings in solitary remarks (which he quotes) in works by half a dozen authors (viz., Boulduc, Detharding, Bertholon, Thiury, Von Stoerck and Stahl). “But,” as he says, “no one had taught this manner of cure; no one had put it into practice”.
THE PROVINGS PROVINGS ONLY ON THE HEALTHY.
The tendency of medicine has always been to experiment on the sick. Hahnemann experimented only on the healthy, in order to have an exact materia medica, ready and proved, for administration in sickness. He soon gathered round him an enthusiastic band of disciples (some fifty of them were medical men) and he and they “proved” (i.e., tested) drug after drug, with all possible precautions to eliminate error; and these original provings, careful and faithfully recorded, formed the nucleus of the homoeopathic materia medica. They are embodied in his wonderful work his Materia Medica Pura which is as alive and up to date today as on the day when it was published and in his subsequent work, Chronic Diseases. These two, with his Organon on the Art of Healing, are the best known among his numerous works, and embody the essentials of his teaching.
The purely scientific bent of Hahnemanns mind, and the reason why his medical works have survived those of his contemporaries, to be as illuminating and useful today as on the day when they were penned, is seen by the following:.
“A true materia medica,” he says, “will consist of the genuine, pure, and undeceptive effects of simple drugs”; and again, “Every such materia medica should exclude every supposition every mere assertion and fiction and its entire contents should be the language of nature, uttered in response to careful and faithful inquiry”.
Many remedies, since Hahnemanns day, have been added to our armoury against disease; but all subsequent work has been done on his lines. It has never been found necessary to eliminate, or to alter. Recorded in the simple language of nature, free from theory, safe from the transient language of succeeding generations, they stand for all time, complete and true; while science, in discovering new truths, has never been able to touch Hahnemanns premises except to confirm since they are based on law.
It is interesting that, in Austria, many years ago, when doubt was thrown on some of the original provings, they started to re- prove certain of the drugs. But, finding their results identical with those of Hahnemann, they concluded to accept the rest.
For the more exact purposes of homoeopathy, experiments in drug- action on animals are useless, as Hahnemann pointed out; and that for two reasons. The proverb, “One mans meat is another mans poison,” applies with ten-fold force when it comes to animals. Substances poisonous to man are innocuous to many animals. “Ailments and poisons are convertible, according to the specific nature of different animals, so that ailments become poisons, and poisons alimentary”.
Opium, with us a medicine, is to some eastern nations an alimentary substance.
Hedgehogs feed on Cantharides, and take no hurt.
Rabbits eat Belladonna with impunity.
Morphia makes dogs drowsy and vomit, but excites cats.
Styrian mountaineers take doses of Arsenic sufficient to kill ordinary persons; and horses are given large doses of Arsenic to improve their wind and to make their coats glossy.
Rats are immune to diphtheria.
Cats are said to be immune to tubercle, whereas guinea-pigs and monkeys are highly susceptible to that infection.
By experiments on animals it may be found that certain drugs affect certain tissues of certain animals. That is all.
But more than this, homoeopathic provings have to be very fine, very delicate, and very definite, and the subjective and mental symptoms (all important for our purpose) can only be obtained from humans.
It is only men and women who, in provings, could have given us the mental symptoms, which have led to so many brilliant cures such as the depression to the verge of suicide of Aurum; the insane jealousy of Lachesis; the terror of insanity of Mancinella; the frantic irritability and intolerance of pain of Chamomilla; the suspicion and restlessness of Arsenicum; the terrors of anticipation of Argentum nitricum; the fear of death of Aconite and Arsenic; the sensation of tallness and superiority of Platina; the sensation of unreality of Medorrhinum; the sensation of two wills of Anacardium; the indifference to loved ones of Phosphorus and Sepia all straight cuts to the curative remedy, and they can only be got by provings on human beings.
Even provings on the sick are not accepted, since sickness modifies the response of the organism to drugs, and from the sick no true drug-picture can be obtained. Remedies also need to be proved on women as well as on men, in order to get their whole range of usefulness. The provings of Lilium tigrinum, for instance, entailed intense sufferings on the heroic women who undertook them; but they have given us a most useful remedy for the peculiar suffering of women, in uterine displacements, after miscarriages, etc.
As we said, the experiments of homoeopathy have always been on healthy human beings. They have always been voluntary experiments. And they have never proved detrimental to health (whatever the immediate sufferings may have been), but on the contrary they tend as Hahnemann pointed out, to raise the resistance of the prover. And Hahnemann should know, who, having spent the greater part of his life in proving drugs, lived on, in full possession of health and senses, till only one year short of ninety.
The outcome of his experiments is this “To cure mildly, rapidly and permanently, choose for every case of disease a medicine which can itself produce a similar affection”.
Homoeopathy is no invention; no theory. It has been hammered out of hard facts. It is simply a scientific way of discovering what drugs can do in the way of perverting the health, mental and physical, of healthy human beings, and then applying them for the relief of just such conditions in the sick.
“Homoeopathy appeals,” says Hahnemann, “solely to the verdict of experience. Repeat the experiment, carefully and accurately, and you will find the doctrine confirmed at every step. Homoeopathic insists on being judged by results”.
DOCTRINES OF HAHNEMANN.
But it was not enough for Hahnemann to have merely discovered power; he devoted a long life to its investigation, and to showing under what conditions it best works. And he has bequeathed to us, not only the law, Similia Similibus Curentur, but also what he called his “Doctrines,” which not to obey is to render much of our work inferior, if not futile.
May I here point out that these doctrines of Hahnemann apply equally to such homoeopathic measures as vaccines; and that, had Hahnemanns laws been known and observed in regard to vaccine, x- ray and radium therapies, better and more reliable results might, from the first, have been obtained; since those who use them have had perforce to approximate to the methods of Hahnemann.
For Hahnemann teaches, not only
The like remedy, but also
The single drug,
The small dose,
The infrequent dose,
Non-interference with vital reaction,
Initial aggravation, and
I think we all recognize, in these days, what Hahnemann insisted on, that cure comes by the reaction of what he calls vital force against disease. We know a little more about the complicated mechanism of such reaction; but it is no longer absurd to teach, as he taught, that vital reactions are evoked by disease, and that such reactions are curative; and that the utmost we can do, curatively, is to stimulate such reaction.
He says that thousands of substances, subversive to health, simulate disease conditions, and can be employed to evoke enhanced curative reaction, where such is the case.
For instance who will diagnose belladonna poisoning from scarlet fever? They have often been mistaken; or diagnose between dysentery and poisoning by corrosive sublimate? Or between ptomaine and arsenical poisonings? Hahnemann contends and demonstrates that substances which stimulate natural diseases can be used, in fine dosage, for their cure. And the most striking homoeopathic curative results can be seen when using Arsenic (in infinite subdivision) for ptomaine poisoning, Merc. cor. (corrosive sublimate) for dysentery, or Belladonna for scarlet fever. Anyone who desires to put homoeopathy to the test, cannot do better than start with one of these.
Homoeopathy never contemplates curing disease by drugs in massive and repeated doses. Its object is to stimulate the patient to cure himself. Therefore, it is never a question of quantity, where the vital stimulus is employed, but always of precise selection and quality, in the drug employed for the purpose.
As to the single drug that goes without saying. For what can be learnt, in provings, or in practice, from mixed prescriptions? If work is to be exact and scientific, drugs, as Hahnemann contended, must be proved separately, and can only then be used with foreknowledge and confidence, for the cure of sicknesses of like symptoms.
THE SMALL DOSE.
And then the small dose that ancient bugbear as Hahnemann foresaw, even for his own followers; and for others, a subject for endless witticisms. No need to apologize for the small dose now! Radium vitamins ferments ions colloids even mineral waters have done that, and have demonstrated, to some extent, the immense potentiality of the infinitely little. Even chemistry teaches that chemical affinity comes into play only on surface, which are enormously increased when mass is reduced to impalpable powder. A lump of antimony plunged in chlorine gas shows nothing spectacular; but powder the antimony and throw it into chlorine, and the violence of the reaction will be almost explosive.
By minutest subdivision, energy is liberated from inert mass bulk weight; from things palpable and manifest to our grosser senses. We are at last beginning to realize the potentialities of the intangible and the imponderable. But the most sensitive thing in the world is the diseased cell or tissue for the remedy of like symptoms, in infinitesimal subdivision. And it is with this that we have to deal.
Science is bearing Hahnemann out in this, and his small doses present no difficulty to modern biology.
Recent research on enzyme action, and the standardization of such agents as Thyroxin and Pituitrin has emphasized the action of minute quantities of all kinds of agents, from minerals to complex organic substances.
Romeis states that Thyroxin influences growth and development of tadpoles in dilutions of 1 in 5,000,000,000.
Jakoby shows that Potassium cyanide activities the ferment urease in a dilution of 1 in 1,000,000.
Reid Hunt has demonstrated that Acetyl chlorine in the strength of a milligram in half a million gallons of blood causes a distinct fall in the blood pressure”.
Macht has shown that the uterus of a virgin guinea-pig responds to such a dilute concentration of Histamine as could not be demonstrated by the most refined micro-chemical methods.4.
Cobra venom has been shown to haemolyse red blood corpuscles in a dilution of 1 in 10,000,000.5.
The addition of 4 parts in 10,000 of copper doubles the rate of toxin production from a culture of diphtheria bacilli. (Locke and Main.)6.
These are merely random selections exemplifying the action of micro-doses in living cells bacterial amphibian and mammalian.
But why this ultra-refinement in the dosage of homoeopathic remedies? Why, when all medicine is concerned with the maximum dose, should homoeopathy teach the minimal dose? And indeed such minimal doses as we shall speak of later, when we come to describe potentization.
The reason is plain. Medicine, hitherto, has been mainly concerned, if one may so put it, with doing violence to the organism. It has been directed to cause sweating vomiting purging, or sometimes to paralyze the action of the bowels. It has been used to deaden pain to induce a drugged sleep to modify the action of the heart to depress fever to excite appetite. In all these cases, the dose must be material. We are doing something subversive to the patient, or to his parts. Therefore, the dose must be a poisonous, but not a lethal one. It is for this reason that the dosage of official medicine is apt to be the largest one dare give, to ensure the desired effect.
But when a remedy is used, in exactly the opposite manner croton oil for diarrhoea apomorphine to control vomiting opium for the coma of cerebral haemorrhage lead for constipation rattlesnake poison to control bleeding and so on, it is only common sense to give it in the smallest dose that will evoke the desired reaction. Anything more than this will, pro tem. increase suffering even where the ultimate result is good. And this is why, in the first instance, experience compelled Hahnemann to reduce his doses.