Bronchial asthma continues to be one of the greatest puzzles to modern medical science. Its etiological factors are still obscure and it has been designated by many as a respiratory neurosis. After studying quite a number of cases, Drs. P. De Barsaques and A. Berat, two Frenchmen, stress the presence in all cases of asthma of a neurovegetative instability and arrive at the conclusion that psychic factors are most important, as many patients psychopathic. “Asthma apparently has no single cause; rather three causes are of equal importance in the pathogenesis: (1) respiratory factor, (2) neurovegetative system instability and (3) hepatic factor.”.
A great deal of blame has been put today on allergy, and many of our patients come to us overloaded with the multiple test innoculations from all substances of known sensitivity.
To others, heredity takes an important part as an etiological factor for this distressing condition, and we all have met with families where two or more cases have been treated. Anatomical abnormalities of the nose or preexistence of a chronic rhinitis, sinusitis, bronchitis or a latent tuberculosis are also unquestionable determining causes. In many instances it is a case of suppressed skin disease.
Asthma remains a condition in which the “regular school” of medicine is at a loss, the reason being obvious: it is imperative for them to find the actual cause in order to be able to eradicate it. And here is where the homoeopathic school clearly shows its advantage: we need not know the cause to be able to help Nature get rid of it. The cause unknown,they must rely upon symptomatic treatment to give relief, if only temporary. Ephedrine, epinephrin or adrenalin, oxygen, etc., are only palliative. Such treatment is a mere cause of palliation versus cure, for we all know that the former has to be always at the expenses of the later:
the more we palliate the less we cure. And “The physicians high and only mission is to restore the sick to health, to cure,” the greatest teaching of the great founder of homoeopathy.
We must therefore try to cure all cases of asthma that come to us. They are too complicated, that is true, for they come with a heavy background to remove: heredity, suppression, a preexistent chronic condition. Besides,they present the most variable groups of symptoms, the purely respiratory with its spectacular dyspnoea, the nervous and mental symptoms which are always there and the gastro intestinal disorders as frequent manifestations of dietetic errors, many times acting as the exciting cause for an attack of asthma.
But can we cure asthma cases? Yes, we can. We may not cure asthma, for we never cure diseases; but we cure patients suffering with asthma. We can cure all those cases in which we succeed in removing the underlying condition, whatever it may be. We have the means of doing it by closely following and accurately performing the teachings of Hahnemann.
It is in the interest of bronchial asthma where we confirm time and again the importance of Hahnemanns discovery regarding the nature of chronic diseases. If we take special care to dig out the complete history of the case, marking down all the events, but particularly those referring to past illness, past treatments, vaccinations and hereditary influences, we will surely find at the bottom of every single case the history of a suppression, whether it be a skin eruption by means of topical applications of any imaginable nature, the suppression of a discharge with irrigations or instillations or the suppression of a most important defense symptoms of an acute condition like cough in bronchitis or fever in malaria. We will show these influences more plainly in the cases we will present later on.
It is in this type of cases where we meet more frequently with recurrence of the attacks, irrespective of the fact that the patient has well responded to the previous treatment, and the properly indicated homoeopathic remedy has cut the attacks short and prolonged the intervals of its repetition. Why do the attacks repeat? Because – and let me quote here from Dr.Tyler, of London, when she so well expressed the teaching of the Master:.
The symptoms which a patient is again and again putting up, whenever he gets a chill, or an indigestion, or a strain, mental or physical, are only part of a primitive malady, to cure which you must cover the original latent disease, whether inherited or acquired.
Hahnemann claims that he discovered the nature and treatment of chronic diseases which had remained uncured till his time.
And we are more and more demonstrating this point, viz., the victim of a latent chronic disease will not be cured of even his recurrent, recent troubles, unless the original condition is sought out and brought into the picture, and treated by remedies that should have been given perhaps half a lifetime before.
In no other cases is Hahnemanns miasmatic theory so plainly confirmed as it is in cases of asthma. They are hard to handle because they demand immediate relief and are very hard to hold because they usually come to the Homoeopathic physician after having experienced the apparently gratifying results of palliation, disregarding the injurious after-effects. But the well indicated remedy, that is, the homoeopathic remedy to the particular case, can bring about relief even quicker than any palliative drug.
And it is after the distressing condition of an acute attack when the real treatment must begin, the treatment that will take hold of the underlying condition, the one that will succeed in removing the chronic miasm, and only then a complete cure will be effected. We must, therefore, educate our patients to realize that the really curative treatment will have to be instituted between the attacks; that they must refrain from any dietetic errors and must avoid any physical or mental strains.
Of course we must find out the patients allergic sensitivities and protect him against them. We will have to begin by correcting any anatomical defects whenever present. Mechanical conditions can only be treated mechanically. And then institute the homoeopathic remedy. During an attack it may be one or perhaps more that will fit exactly into the picture at the moment and will give quick relief, yet with just a temporary action, but clarifying the case for the proper selection of the constitutional remedy that will complete the cure, the remedy that will eradicate the condition underneath,.
The following cases will illustrate the foregone statements.
CASE 1. Miss C.M., age 17. Diagnosis: bronchial asthma.
Previous History: Began suffering from asthma since five years of age. Some time before she suffered a skin condition – “the itch” – on the abdomen that was locally treated with ointments. She delicate and predisposed to colds ever since. Other history unimportant.
Family History: Her father suffered bronchial asthma when 15 years of age. Cured some five years later with a change of climate.
Present History: On October 24, 1939, I was called by an allopathic colleague, a very intelligent and honest young man, to see her because he had used in vain all the classic allopathic remedies: adrenalin, ephedrin, ephetonine, etc. It was a desperate case. We saw her that evening at 7 o clock, the eighth day of attack. She started two weeks before with a fluent coryza that later degenerated into an intense asthmatic bronchitis. The patient lay with her head practically buried on several pillows, her eyes closed, apparently in profound sopor. Her face with marked cyanosis, even her lips and tongue were bluish, also the nails of her fingers.
A loud, shallow, difficult respiration that moved her whole body. Her limbs covered with a cold sweat, especially the lower, from the knees down. The entire picture anticipated a near collapse. The room, with three windows and two doors, was almost closed and the air vitiated with the strong odor from a vessel where they were burning some of “Dr. Schiffmans stramonium leaves”, a patent medicine. Out first move of to get rid of such deleterious stuff and open the doors and windows. The intoxicating effects had gone so far that we even had to resort to use of oxygen, although very cautiously applied.
My first prescription was Carbo veg. 200. At 2 a.m. that same night, the patient was worse, there was no change in her respiration and she was beginning to have some convulsive movements. Cuprum met. 200 was given.
October 25, 10 a.m. No more convulsions; cyanosis slightly less; patient began coughing, but unable to raise any expectoration; tongue totally covered with a thick white fur. Cuprum helped in clarifying the case for the next remedy, Antimonium tart. 200. At 7 p.m. the same day the whole picture had changed at the end of the first twenty-four hours. No signs of cyanosis were left, patient was expectorating freely and was even talkative and smiling. Instructions were given for the collection of a specimen from the expectoration in a sterile glass vial for the purpose of preparing an auto-nosode, according to Dr. Duncans method, and following rules of Class V of the Pharmacopoeia. The filtrate was run up to the 30th decimal potency.
October 30. The patient had been doing fine up to this day when she had another spell. A single dose of the Auto nosode 30 was given and the attack subsided.
November 15. Patient developed today a new attack of acute coryza. Another dose of the Auto-nosode, same potency, and symptoms were relieved.
November 19. At 4 a.m. on this day while I was out of town she began with another very acute attack of asthma caused by eating some spicy food (enchiladas) the night before, and for which one more dose of the Auto-nosode 30 was prescribed by Dr. Jose G. Garcia, a very clever young homoeopath who frequently takes care of my patients while I am away.
November 20. Patient still worse, Dr. Garcia gave her a dose of Antimonium crud. 10M., because symptoms corresponded to those of the remedy, especially the typical Antimonium tongue. The attack subsided within a few hours and the patient has been free from any new attacks ever since, and without any further medication.
COMMENT: Antimonium crud. was undoubtedly the deepest acting remedy for this case and if continued to use whenever necessary, it will eventually effect the complete cure. There is a possibility that the Auto-nosode might have acted well if it had been used in higher potencies, but we do not have the means of preparing them.
CASE II. W.M., a young man, 20 years of age, a brother of Case I. Diagnosis: bronchial asthma.
Previous History: Has been suffering attacks of asthma since the age of 9. Very predisposed to colds which usually end in an asthmatic bronchitis. Parents cannot recall whether he h ad a skin trouble or any other disease every suppressed, except chicken-pox when he was eight years old, and his pustules were treated locally with some yellow ointment. He is subject to furuncles, having been operated on for one in back of his neck a year and a half ago.
Present History: Four days with a head cold that developed into an attack of asthma on October 26, 1939, while his sister was still in bed recovering from that very serious attack for which we began treating her. He received several injections for his cold from the hands of an allopathic physician. He complains of an itching sensation over the entire body every time he perspires after exercising. By noon the dyspnoea is very intense, he can only sit on a chair, loud coarse rales all over his chest and , although coughing,. he cannot raise any expectoration. Tongue white. Antimonium tart 200 failed to relieve. The next morning at 2 a.m., face swollen, cyanotic, respiration still more difficult. Apis 200 gave some relief. Another aggravation at 6:30 p.m. for which another dose of Apis failed to help and was changed to Sambucus 30 in fractional doses.
October 28. Slight better.
October 29. Another, still more intense aggravation at 4 a.m. Ammonium carb. 1M. with no relief. At midnight a change was made to Kali carb.200 which produced a free and easy expectoration and a decided amelioration of all symptoms. A specimen was collected for the preparation of an auto-nosode.
November 8. After a hot bath he went out last night and a decided amelioration of all symptoms. A specimen was collected for the preparation of an auto-nosode.
November 8. After a hot bath he went out last night and ate some enchiladas (corn meal tortillas with red pepper sauce and cheese) with hot chocolate. Another attack at 3 a.m. with much gas in the stomach. Auto-nosode 30, a single dose.
November 9. Not much relief. Went back to Kali carb. 200.
November 10. After some amelioration, another strong aggravation at 6 p.m. that Kali carb. failed to help, when repeated. Another dose of Auto-nosode 30 given.
November 12. At 5:30 p.m. another intense attack that the Auto-nosode failed to relieve. A very distressing sensation of fullness over the whole abdomen; expectoration difficult to heavy stringy mucus. Kali bi. 200.
November 13. Respiration still rapid and shallow; rales all over chest but expectoration even more difficult. Sulphur 200.
November 15. Patient still complaining of his inability to raise any mucus. “If I can only get rid of this phlegm,” he said, “I know I will feel better.” Antimonium tart. 200.
November 27. Had been much better for the last nine days, but after an exposure to cold air last night, he began this morning with an aching pain in the head, vertex and occiput, which signs of an acute coryza. Senega 10M.
November 28. Much better.
November 29. Another very intense attack of asthma today at 4 p.m. A repetition of Senega 10M. without results, followed again by kali carb.200 which seemed to have ended the attack.
December 3. Because of the use of heavy wool underwear and too much perspiration, patient developed an intense irritation, rather extensive, on the skin of the perineum and scrotum, with a profuse exudate and an itching and burning sensation. He had had it for three days before he mentioned it. A dose of Sulphur 200 cleared it quickly.
December 18. After being somewhat better for about a week, apparently entirely free of his symptoms, another marked aggravation this afternoon with no response to a new dose of Antimonium tart. 10M. Patient had to sit straight up in bed, throwing his shoulders back with the help of his hands pressing hard on the bed; tightness of chest; drinking milk would make the oppression of breathing worse; instead of milk he wants eggs which he has always craved.
The symptoms pointed clearly to Calcarea carb. and I gave him a single dose of the 10M. This was the end of this attack and the patient was able to enjoy Christmas time a few days later, something for which he was earnestly hoping.
January 13, 1940. Patient reported today, entirely free from all symptoms. A continuation of Calcarea carb. 10M. January 17. Still coughing. A continuation.
January 18. Today symptoms of an acute coryza. Merc. viv. 200.
February 4. Another head cold this morning. Another dose of Merc. viv. 200.
February 6. He began this morning with a new attack of asthma. Went back to Calcarea carb. 10M.
February 8. Respiration slightly better, but cough worse and with difficult expectoration. Antimonium tart. 200 was given, but patient continued to aggravate and that same night I changed again to Calcarea carb., but this time in the 200th potency to use in fractional doses.
February 10. Another aggravation about 2 a.m. this morning. A single dose of Calcarea carb. 10M. after which patient continued to improve.
Most unfortunately the patient was tired of getting the attacks so frequently, although milder every time. His father took him to another doctor in town who, after having x-rayed the patient, advised diathermy. The father tells me that he has not had any other severe attack, but that every time he feels one coming, he goes for his diathermic treatment which seems to stop it.
COMMENT: This is a typical case for erring. The acuteness of the attacks and the cry for immediate relief made me change remedies more frequently than I should, muddling ;up the case to a greater extent. First, I shouldnt have used the Auto-nosode instead of Kali carb., when this remedy had so beautifully ended the first attack.
A repetition of the latter would have been the reasonable thing to do, paving the road, perhaps, to the truly homoeopathic remedy, Calcarea carb., which I believe is the constitutional remedy for this particular case, as proven later on when at the climax of the attack, on December 18, the symptoms began to subside within the first half hour after the remedy was given, and kept the patient free from all suffering for almost a month. and then came the second mistake: to repeat the 10M. potency of the remedy, when he came back of complaining of a dry cough on January 16.
A repetition of such a deep and long acting remedy, and at a such a high potency when it should have been but a continuation! Then the interfering with Merc.viv., because of a fluent coryza only to make the case more confused. Fortunately the unnecessary detour came to and, and I found the way back to Calcarea carb. to a successful termination of the attack, but finding a pretty well tired out patient, ready to desert.
The presentation of this case will be a very short one, but very interesting because of the fact of the patient being a third member of the same family, treated while the other two were still under our care.
Miss A.M., age 22. While a child, she suffered several attacks of bronchitis of an asthmatic type. Four years ago she had a “touch” of malaria for which she was given arsiquinine, a preparation very widely used in our midst, malaria being a prevalent disease here.
On January 18, 1940, she began complaining of back ache and some digestive disorders, fullness in the stomach p.c., lack of appetite, etc. Carbo veg. 200 was prescribed.
On January 22. Patient developed today a dry cough although rales could be heard all over her chest, with difficult respiration. kali carb.200.
January 23. Condition unimproved; on the contrary, patient very nervous, desperate, with great anxiety and fear, had not been able to sleep the night before. I sent Arsenicum iod.200 which she took only to make her worse; her father called on me that evening to tell me that her condition was decidedly aggravated since the dose of Arsenicum. knowing the nervous temperament of the patient and thinking that she was exaggerating her condition, I was fixing up a powder of Chamomilla to send with her father, when her mother called on the phone begging of me to come and see her personally, which I did.
The patient was extremely restless, with great anxiety, tossing about, her temperature had gone up and she was very thirsty, but drinking little at a time. In one word, she asked the parents if she had ever been given arsenicum in massive doses, and it was then that I was informed of her having been sick with malaria for which had received arsiquinine four years before. “I have never been well since that time,” the patient said, “everything that I eat seems to disagree and I have not been able to regain my lost weight.”.
The whole thing was clarified in my mind: it was a true Arsenicum aggravation that the patient had immediately after taking Arsenicum iod., because her system was still intoxicated with the drug taken four years previously. I proceeded to give her an antidote to Arsenicum, trying to select one that could also cover some of the respiratory symptoms now present. The remedy was Hepar sulph. 200 and the results were amazing. She took it about midnight and two hours later the patient was so much better, her respiration much easier and she was resting more quietly, that I left her house convinced that she was going to sleep the rest of the night. Next morning the symptoms were practically gone and the patient continued under the action of that prescription for four weeks, when I had to give her another dose of the 200th potency because of a slight cold that soon yielded to it. The young lady was married last month.
COMMENT: I will make the comment on this case by quoting from the great homoeopath, a personal friend and disciple of Hahnemann, Boenninghausen, when he says:.
Every beginner will probably at times have seen, what in the case of experienced and observant homoeopaths is recurring more and more rarely, that even with very careful selection and apparent adaptability of the remedies, success does not always come up to the expectations, and at times no action at all or even an aggravation of the patients troubles ensues. In such cases we may safely depend upon it, either that the remedy given has been formerly misused in allopathic doses and on that account its symptoms have become habitual and very manifest, or that, on account of the oversight of one or more symptoms of the disease which would contraindicate the remedy, its choice was a mistake and therefore without effect. in the former case there will be, as a rule, an increase in the patients sufferings, in the latter no noticeable change will be observed; in the former case there must then be made an attempt…..