THE BOX AND THE BOOK


Along with lay and professional cooperation in England may be mentioned the activities of the American Foundation for Homoeopathy in this country, where there has been a growing interest in the lay movement, mention of which will be made a little later on this paper.


I suppose the choice of a title for this paper on the relationship of homoeopathic medical chest and the domestic guide to its use (constituting as they do the armamentarium) of the family in this period of scarcity of medical advisers) might be taken to mean that with a box of Humphrey’s or Hilton’s “specifics” the ordinary family should be encouraged to go ahead and do their own prescribing for any and all ailments that human flesh is heir to, but such, assuredly, is not my intention. But a word or two in respect to the title may not be amiss.

But recently it was my good fortune to hear that eminent commentator and lecturer on Browning, state that the Ring, in the great Victorian’s poem, The Ring and the Book, was to be interpreted as the symbol of the true marriage relation, and the Book, the Bible, as Holy Writ, according to which the spiritual man must live. All this is worked out to its ultimate perfection in what is perhaps Browning’s greatest work.

I am making, therefore, an application of this title to the professional and likewise to the lay prescriber of homoeopathic remedies, as follows: to us, in our philosophy, the Box might be taken to signify the source from which we derive our remedial agents, and the Book, the material medica which contains the indicators upon which we prescribe for the sick–The Box and the Book of homoeopathy.

Good speed the day when homoeopathic first aid will be a recognized part of not only civil military equipment, or as Dr. H. A. Roberts has recently emphasized, in using our remedies of the U. S. Homoeopathic Pharmacopoeia, for which the late Dr. Carmichael and Dr. Lowell labored so long and so faithfully, we are as much within our legal rights as any practician of the regular school, with his latest edition of the U.S. Pharmacopoeia, which unfortunately has recently excluded many a valued preparation of time honored usage, for the much vaunted coal tar products, the sulfa drugs, the barbiturates, and many another modern pharmaceutical, which will undoubtedly be used for a brief time and be relegated to limbo, along with a legion of its much heralded predecessors.

Already Dr. Margaret L. Tyler, whose demise is such a universal misfortune in world homoeopathy, in the final numbers of Homoeopathy, the crowning achievement of her chosen profession, has outlined in succinct and inimitable manner the principal remedies to be employed to advantage in shell-shock, as air raid precautions, and at first aid in the physical and psychic trauma of war. This work alone should place her in the foremost rank as one of the great benefactors of the race. All credit to her forethought in placing homoeopathy in the forefront of true medical science.

Along with lay and professional cooperation in England may be mentioned the activities of the American Foundation for Homoeopathy in this country, where there has been a growing interest in the lay movement, mention of which will be made a little later on this paper.

It must be recalled that in Hahnemann’s own time, lay societies for the promulgation of the knowledge of its principles and the spread of its practice was not only encouraged, but actually undertaken by the founder of homoeopathy himself.

From the early days in which Hahnemann announced that he would accept no one as a pupil who had not previously read the Organon and Boenninghausen’s Homoeopathy, the sale of domestic cases containing the remedies commonly recommended for family use had begun to flourish, and these were obtainable from the homoeopathic chemists, until the ban placed upon dispensing by the apothecaries.

But from this simple means for homoeopathic education to the first aid kit of the ordinary household at the present tie, it is indeed a far cry. There has ever been a minority, however, of lay users of homoeopathic remedies, who, with boxes of attenuated remedies and their treatises on domestic practice, have kept alive the traditions of the founders of homoeopathy.

Jahr,no less indomitable in his industry and advocacy of homoeopathy than Boenninghausen, was the author not only of his massive manuals, but also of epitomies of the materia medica, as exemplified in his famous Therapeutic Guide, and his remarkable little work, entitled Jahr’s Ten Remedies.

Then there was another of these lesser works, which, if we recall correctly, comprised some fifteen or sixteen of the most often indicated remedies. But chief among these family guides was the first edition of Hering’s work, The Homoeopathic, or Domestic Physician (copyrighted in 1838), which it might be well to recall for its exactitude and wide-spread popularity.

This work contains the materia medica for forty-six remedies, listed according to their therapeutic uses. It is interesting to note that these are indexed according to numbers; and where may one find a more efficient array of medicines in so small a compass?

So well chosen are they that, were we to enumerate the corresponding complaints amenable to their curative powers, it would be necessary to include no less formidable complaints (to quote merely a few) than abortion, abscess, affections of the mind, apoplexy, asthma, burns and scalds, catarrh, children’s disease, cholera, colic, concussions, convulsions, coughs, croup, diarrhoea, gonorrhoea, dysentery, erysipelas, fainting, fevers, giddiness, haemorrhage, haemorrhoids, hiccough, infections, itch, labor pains, loss of hair, menstrual disorders milk fever, nettle rash, palpitation, pleurisy, poisons (ill effects of), rashes, rheumatism, running ears, scurvy, sleeplessness, small-pox, styes, sun stroke, tape worm, teething, tetanus, thrush, tumors, ulcers, varioloid, vomiting, whitlow, worms, wounds–quite as imposing an array of disorders as complied by an official first aid or army kit, which we read comprises some twenty-six (or is it forty-six?) drugs, including of course the “big five” of the sulfa drugs and blood plasma (not a drug at all, but merely the product of the venesection of Hahnemann’s time in reverse, if we may so express ourselves).

And how the old Master’s campaign for the abolishment of this diabolical procedure won its spurs against the jousters of his time! (And only in his life time did he see its complete demolition.) Had he lived a century later, however, he would have seen, within the past three or four decades at any rate, its recrudescence in such affections as eclampsia, cerebral hyperaemia, hypertension, etc., not to mention the more or less questionable use of the spinal puncture, which, while seemingly palliative, may be result eventually in nervous depletion.

It is interesting to note the following references to Hering’s work, including remarks upon George Newman’s Homoeopathic Family Assistant (British Homoeopathic Journal, vol. III, 1846) in which the reviewer criticizes the latter book, as possessing the “cardinal vice” of “an extreme vagueness and inaccuracy in the description of disease,” and as being not only an “ill-written and mischievous” treatise, but withal a “clumsy compilation,” which would not be noticed at all, “were it not that we know there is such a demand for family guides and domestic assistants” that “any book. . . which assumes such a title, is sure of a sale.” (How great, or alas, how little, is the present demand for domestic treatises since the above was written.).

“It is quite refreshing,” the reviewer continues, “to turn from this clumsy compilation of Mr. Newman to the original and forcible work of Dr. Hering in which there is a certain gossiping manner that may at first sight give the impression of its being superficial; but a little more perusal will convince the reader that… is merely owing to the peculiarity of style which Dr. Hering has adopted; and, in reality, that it is book deserving of attentive study, even by medical practitioners, as it is evidently the result of much patient observation by an independent and accurate mind.

What pleases us most about the book is the sound common sense which pervades the whole of it;” and aside from a few obvious (not flagrant) misconceptions the reviewer concludes that “we heartily recommend this little work as a most useful and innocent family counsellor; and should not be surprised if, in time, it became, both for this country and America, the Homoeopathic Buchanan.” How accurate way this reviewer of a century ago in respect to this domestic book of books!.

Hering’s modest introduction open with the observation that the book …. is designed as a guide to enable persons to effect a cure, in most cases of disease, by the use of homoeopathic medicines, which are never injurious, and which rarely fail in affording the desired relief. It offers itself to those whom experience has convinced of the inestimable advantages of the new of Hahnemannic system of medicine, with the familiarity of an old friend and…is intended as a Domestic Physician, to which parents may refer in most cases of indisposition in their families, and which will obviate the necessity of consulting a physician on every trifling occasion.

In giving this little book (it has been greatly amplified, and its last printing edited by the late Richard Haehl of Stuttgart,-W.) through the result of much labor, the author is influenced only be a desire to introduce a more judicious and rational system of domestic practice, and to put the community on their guard against the glaring absurdities of the old system of physic, as at present practiced, and, in too many cases, obstinately persevered in.

As to domestic world in general, we might mention Ruddock’s Family Guide, and that of Laurie, which has gone through something like forty-two editions. Then there is also Guernsey’s Domestic Practice, Johnson’s Therapeutic Key, and a work published a good many years ago by Dr. Anna T. Lovering, librarian of Boston University School of Medicine. And these various works had, a predicted by our British reviewer so long ago, very extensive sales, and were widely read everywhere. As for example, Hering, according to Dr. Calvin B. Knerr, in his recent work, The Life of Hering, states that there has been already seven American, two English, fourteen German editions; and it has been translated into French, Italian, Danish, Hungarian, Russian and Spanish; and finally the latest printing edited by Haehl as above mentioned.

Contrast with these time honored treatises of domestic homoeopathic practice the legion of orthodox domestic works, most noteworthy in recent years being that of the late Dr. Richard Cabot, entitled A Layman’s Handbook of Medicine. There is a recent textbook by Dr. Morris Fishbein, editor of the Journal of the American Medical Association, for the elucidation of modern medicine for the laity Modern Home Medical Adviser.; then there are the syndicated columns in current newspapers; radio and health center talks, that the public may not fail to be enlightened on current medical topics, and adequately informed upon the latest facts or fiction of so- called medical science, not forgetting such illuminating works as Glendenning’s The Human Body; and that most amazing of foreign translations, Dr. Kurtz Kahn’s Man in Structure and Function (recently reviewed in Life Magazine for April 19, 1943). Qui bono?

Is it that the lay mind thus educated will be the more interested in the intricacies of the now popularly out-moded Hahnemannic method? In truth it is traditional in our annals that this same (enlightened?) public was so unfamiliar with the Hahnemannian method in therapeutics that it was commonly spoken of by the unlearned as “home-pathy.” Acting upon this popular misconception the late Dr. Charles F. Nichols, for a number of years associated with Dr. William P. Wesselhoeft, both of Boston, compiled a small monograph entitled Home Made Treatment, dealing with fifteen of the most commonly used remedies; and he prefaces his little work with cautions as to dosage, avoidance of “strong acids, tea, coffee, spices, all stimulants, saleratus, perfumery, strong smelling disinfectants, plasters, ointments, gargles, and all other medicines must be avoided”.

Dr. Nichols in his naive manner relates, in defense of Hahnemann’s discoveries, that:.

It is related, in the Chinese Empire, that a burden was often carried suspended from a stick, by two men; until a certain individual discovered that one man could carry two baskets, suspended from either end of one stick, with comparative ease. He was instantly put to death, not being of the caste of the Inventors; but this invention is now generally adopted by the less conservative in that country.

What, be it recalled, is that reference–“and certain vermin killed Socrates”? This much for an almost vanished period in our medical history.

But what with the coming of the antiseptic and aseptic eras, the use of sera, antitoxins and bacterial antigens (which many believe to be but a crude application of the Hippocratic- Hallerian principle of like by / to like, and the development of modern chemotherapy, we are confronted with entirely new conditions under which to promulgate and foster our gentle art of healing.

With the founding of the American Red Cross and similar humanitarian movements, especially fostered in the American Civil War, the Crimean War, and the first great World War, there came about a system of almost universal training in first aid work; and the present global conflict, all the young and active of the nation (not already inducted into selective service) have taken courses in Red Cross First Aid, air-plane spotting, as bomb fighters, air and wardens, etc., etc.; and it would be the exception rather than the rule, not to encounter such signally placed placards as the following (posted in the New York Interurban subway cars):.

Learn to keep your family well. One-third of our doctors and nurses are off to war. Learn to watch for the first signs of illness and to care for the patient. Red cross will teach you home nursing. Home Nursing American Red Cross.

Similar placards are posted elsewhere. The public is not only instructed in this type of home nursing, but is encouraged, through wide-spread dissemination of the use of blood transfusions, blood plasma, etc., to give and to give generously of their precious life blood, which in Hahnemann’s time was considered so injurious to the patient in most types of inflammation, that blood-letting was not only encouraged, but physicians who failed to make use of this method of treatment (and this was particularly noted in the case of the maligned followers of Hahnemann) were not only discredited but persecuted.

What are the means at our immediate disposal to combat this rapidly growing paternalism, state medicine, or by whatever name the panel system may be designated? In simple language, we must return to a campaign of re-education of the public, in so far as possible, and of our homoeopathic patients in particular, in the simple and abiding tenets of homoeopathy. It might be well to mention at this point that for long homoeopathic pharmacies were accustomed to issue small booklets, giving an index of the usual disorders of childhood and adults as well, with rules for the use of their indicated remedies.

Of late, however, this has become impossible, and remedies can be sold only on a physician’s prescription or under his directions. In order to overcome this difficulty the firm of Boericke & Tafel, for example, has issued a very illuminating monograph entitled The Little Homoeopathic Physician, which has been carefully edited by Dr. William Gutman of New York, which amply meets not only the remedial indications for ordinary complaints, but includes careful directions for first aid, with hints as to diet and general household regime.

Some years ago it was suggested to me that it might be in order to write a small but comprehensive work on materia medica for nurses; and this book was first published in 1917, under the imprint of Woodside Publishing Co.; and it was gotten out under the direction of the late Dr. Frank W. Patch of Woodside Cottages, Framingham, Massachusetts. Curiously enough, Dr. Patch, schooled as he was in the sanitarium idea and the problems of nursing, was not convinced of the wisdom or utility of such a book, until the success of the venture won him over to the need of the education of nurses along this particular line.

Then he was enthusiastic in his praise of the idea. The first edition was followed by a second issue in revised form, published by Ehrhart & Karl of Chicago, who now list it as a work for students and laymen as well. In respect to the education of the lay public, nowhere in the world is more being done than in England, through the activities of the British Homoeopathic Association; and this chiefly through the activities of their Missionary School of Medicine, which has sent its emissaries to all parts of the Empire. No pretense is made by these graduates to practice medicine in the ordinary sense, they merely render such first aid as can be successfully carried out by no other known means.

In this connection it is well to call attention to the fact that, with the completion of the editorship of Dr. Margaret Tyler’s Homoeopathy, that splendid journal has lately been superseded by a combined lay-professional magazine, entitled Health Through Homoeopathy, and published under the auspices of the B. H. A. Among other interesting papers is a recent contribution by Dr. H. Fergie Woods, Homoeopathy in the Home, This number also contains an excellent paper by Dr. J. W. Waffensmith of New Haven, U. S. A., first president of the Pan – American Homoeopathic Union, on the lay movement in America. giving the indication for some commonly used remedies in household complaints; and as an interesting sequel is the report by a lay mother entitled I Brought My Child up on Homoeopathy. (August number of the journal.)

The Homoeopathic Recorder, and Ellis Barker’s journal, Heal Thyself, which succeeded The Homoeopathic World, formerly edited for many years by Dr. John H. Clarke, and other journals have published lay departments from time to time.

In connection with more comprehensive instruction in the principles of homoeopathy, Dr. Elizabeth Wright Hubbard of New York a few years ago wrote an admirable series of papers for the Homoeopathic Recorder on the fundamental elements of homoeopathy, which I have always felt should be published in book form as an aid to the beginner in homoeopathic art.

Dr. Rudolph Arndt’s leaflets, Homoeopathy: What It Is, and Homoeopathy: What It Is Not, was another valued, though brief, outline at one time distributed by the American Institute of Homoeopathy. Larger works, as for example Sharp’s Tracts on Homoeopathy; some of Burnett’s works; Dr. John H. Clarke’s Homoeopathy Explained; Dr. Dishington’s The Patient’s Dilemma, and Mr. Arthur Green’s outstanding Atlantic Monthly essay entitled An Engineer Talks on Medicine, which was reprinted in The Homoeopathic Survey a few years ago; The Bulletin, published weekly by the American Foundation for Homoeopathy, and the courses of instruction given by the British Homoeopathic Association, in the form of the Post-Graduate Correspondence School; and the courses given under the direction of the Missionary School of Medicine, represent some of the most up-to date instruction in lay homoeopathy now obtainable.

I am told by Lieut. Esther Creighton, of the WAC, now of Fort Sill, Okla., that during her twelve years’ sojourn in the Belgian Congo, she frequently came in contact with this type of “medical missionaries,” who were very competent in this direction of service, using with great precision their boxes and their books in prescribing for a multiplicity of complaints that yielded so readily to homoeopathic measures that they drew the attention of large groups of similar workers hitherto unaccustomed to or unacquainted with the efficacy of homoeopathic treatment. Furthermore it most be recalled that it is my humble opinion that its renaissance lies exactly along this same line in our present era.

In connection with the programs of laymen’s groups in this country, we may call to mind a series of lectures prepared for the members of the Laymen’s League of New York, under the auspices of Dr. Gustave A. Almfelt, on The Basic Principles of Homoeopathy, These papers are now being published in the Journal of the American Institute of Homoeopathy. Dr. Almfelt writers of these lectures:.

My object in presenting the subject in the manner I have was largely that of teaching the lay people a scientific base or foundation for homoeopathy …. If homoeopathy is going to survive …. it must be sold to the laity mostly by other lay people; but a subject like homoeopathy cannot be sold by the basis of a certain remedy being curative in certain disease. It is a science and must be presented …. on a scientific basis.

When we come to the armamentarium of the lay prescriber, we may assume that we have arrived at the relative place of “the box,” or “the box of homoeopathic remedies,” as these domestic chests were commonly called. It is a regrettable fact that, while homoeopathic remedies such as Humphrey’s and Hilton’s “specifics” have for a good many years been before the public, these remedies can scarcely be recommended to thoughtfully minded individuals, owing to the fact that they are, for the most part, compound prescriptions, thereby violating one of the first principles of homoeopathy, that of the single remedy.

However, such medicines are to be preferred to the usual first aid such as laxatives, purgatives, aspirin, luminal, codeine, phenobarbital, etc., not to mention the modern use of the sulfa drugs. But a good deal of this laxity in the use of crude drugs and compound prescriptions has come about through lack of education of our own patients in the basic principles of homoeopathy, the Law of Similars, the single remedy, and the minimum dose. Herein lies the value of properly written lay treatises on homoeopathy.

Benjamin Woodbury
Dr Benjamin Collins WOODBURY (1882-1948)
Benjamin Collins Woodbury was born August 13, 1882, at Patten, Maine. He was the son of Dr. Benjamin Collins, a homeopathic physician, and Matidle Albina (Knowles). He attended Patten Academy and received his M.D. from Boston University Medical School in 1906. Following graduation Dr. Woodbury began his practice in Lewiston and Winthrop, Maine, and in 1907 moved to Portsmouth, New Hampshire, where he practiced for the next nine years. Dr. Woodbury married Miss Gertrude Fancis O'Neill of Boston at Eliot, Maine on June 18, 1915.
In March, 1919, Dr. Woodbury left the Islands and located in San Francisco where he practiced for two years and then returned to the East and established a practice in Boston. He was a trustee and a member of the staff of the Hahnemann Hospital, Boston, and in 1947 was elected president if the International Hahnemann Institute, Washington, D.C. He also gave many lectures on homeopathy at Boston University and at postgraduate sessions of the American foundation of Homeopathy.
Dr. Woodbury died on January 22, 1948, in Boston at the age of 65.
The doctor was the author of "Materia Medica for Nurses", published in 1922 and of many articles in medical journals in England, India, and the United States. Dr. Woodbury was also a writer of plays and poetry.