Medical writers from the time of Hippocrates have prated of dysentery, and the variety of opinions they have entertained is but little less than the number of writers by whom the subject has been discussed. Three thousand years have not sufficed to settle the question for all, whether it be really a disease of independent existence, or whether it be only an adjunct of some other more general form of evil.

Medical writers from the time of Hippocrates have prated of dysentery, and the variety of opinions they have entertained is but little less than the number of writers by whom the subject has been discussed. Three thousand years have not sufficed to settle the question for all, whether it be really a disease of independent existence, or whether it be only an adjunct of some other more general form of evil.

Those who have regarded it as an independent disease have had no agreement of views as to its true nature, while those who have contended for its derived status have failed equally to agree as to the origin to be assigned to it, and the nosological relations in which it ought to be placed. From Hippocrates and Celsus, Aretaeus and Galen, through the long list of those of the ancients and middle ages, as well as through that of the moderns down to the latest and best of the writers of our own day, nothing is established but a great diversity of opinion, though nearly all have tried their best to remove difficulties and differences….

Though the modern medical laboratory has given us the answer to a part of the question relative to dysentery, we find that modern medicine is faced today with the old, old problem of cure

of the condition, regardless of the possible bacteriological background. Because of this ever recurrent problem, and because the problem is bound to appear ever more frequently under world wide war conditions, it is worthwhile considering the manuscript left by one of our major homoeopathic philosophers and prescribers. The allopathic school has been able to pin down much in the way of causes since Wells’ day, as related to the transmission of bacteria, but the other and more subtle elements of the problem of personality and cure are as far from being solved by the allopathic school today as they were in the past.

Homoeopathy is ageless; the individual suffers, and to him is the promise of homoeopathy today, as it has always been.–H.A.R. historical interest to commend them to our attention. They are confidently presented as the strongest witnesses to the erroneous ideas if the nature of the disease in general, which have prevailed with a uniform continuance, in the antique school of the profession from its origin to this day. However diverse these opinions, there is no one of them which has not something of fact on which the great variety of opinions which have prevailed on this subject with the best minds of the profession have more than an it has been based.

The second difficulty has been that observers have each confined their attention chiefly to such facts as favored their individual opinions, having no eyes for others, or giving them no place in the view from which their judgment was made up. With this partial view of the facts, any philosophy of the disease was possible, and all were about equally plausible, and worthless.

It is only when disease is recognized as a state, affecting the vital condition of the whole man, and not as a thing, localized in some isolated spot or organ, that a philosophy of individual forms of it, which will bear scrutiny in the light of the facts, and be found equally applicable to all its examples, can be possible. In this matter of the nature of disease in general, the whole has been ordered and fixed by a Power above all appeal, and nothing has been left to the disposal of those who make its cure their business, but to see things as they are, and deal with them accordingly. Dogmatism here is of no importance, no matter how high the authority from which it comes. It is ever a cheap method in science. Here it is worthless and contemptible.

To this failure to recognize the actual and fixed nature of disease in general, and to this partial observation of facts, by those who have been the successive teachers of successive generations, is to be ascribed the ever shifting and multitudinous theories which constitute so large a proportion of the history of practical medicine, for three thousand years. Teachers and writers before the time of Hahnemann failed to recognize the truth that Almighty Power had established all the facts and relations of the case before their day, and they have neither the power nor the calling to change them in the least particular.

That their whole duty was first to see what God had done; and second, to accept this and deal with it according to the requirements of the law He had enacted for the government and necessities of the case. That in this is comprised the whole scene of the physician’s practical duties. In this view, let us see what are the facts and the duties, so established, in the matter of dysentery.

And the first fact which was recognized is, that this, like all other diseases, is a general fact, pervading the whole

individual man, reaching to and affecting all the functions of his bodily organs, no one of them being left untouched.

There is no vital action in the organism which is not changed. In this we only meet the fact equally true of all other diseases, and which, ever in it and them, declares in language from the Divine Power, the language of facts, that there is in the world no such thing as a merely local disease. Hence the views… of all who… have limited the action of the disease to the localized affection of the great intestine are completely negatived at the very outset. They never have shown, and it never can be shown, that the inflammation and ulceration of this part is more an essential part of dysentery than is the loss of muscular force, the changed morale of the patient, of the universal change in the functions of the various secreting glands.

Bacillary dysentery has always rightfully been looked upon as a major hazard of military life. If…invasion of the bowel by the bacilli of dysentery is considered to be the first stage of what is approximately a year’s time becomes the fully established disease of chronic ulcerative colitis or regional ileitis, the early recognition of the organism in all cases of diarrhoea assume even greater importance.–JOSEPH FELSON, M.D., Recent Advances in Bacillary Dysentery, N. Y. State J. Med., April 15, 1942, excerpted in Modern Medicine, August 1942, p. 40.

The second fact which arrests our attention is that as a central point in this general affection there is a group of phenomena which gives character to it among diseases, and without which no one of them is ever called dysentery. This is the group which characterizes the genus, and gives it its place in the circle of those families of morbid processes which constitute the sum total of human diseases. In the practical relations of facts, this group has shown its chief significance and importance, when it has decided that it is dysentery with which we have to do. Hence it is only the defining or generic, group of facts or symptoms of the case.

We say facts or symptoms, because all facts are symptoms, and all the symptoms are facts; the terms are strictly interchangeable. So that when we, as a school of medical practice, are accused in our practical consideration of disease of dealing only with its symptoms, we accept the accusation as a truth. We deal, as we profess, with its facts, and with nothing else. This has been by ignorance cast at us as a reproach. We accept it as an honor. In return we only inquire of the opposer what it may be with which he deals, seeing he is so dissatisfied with facts.

This central group has its origin in a localization, not of the disease, but of one of its elements, or of one of the processes of which it is composed. The localization is in the large intestine. The process is an inflammation of that organ. The group of symptoms as there originating is made up of frequent, and for the most part, small discharges of blood, or of bloody mucus, from the rectum, with pain, tenesmus, and fever. This has often been regarded as expressing the whole of the disease. It is only its generic or defining groups of symptoms. In our practical endeavors to cure, this group has a much less important place than other and far less obtrusive facts. It simply determines the diagnosis and then leaves the prescriber where he was before, as to all knowledge of means for a cure.

In his comments on bacillary dysentery, and the necessity for prompt diagnosis, as quoted above, Dr. Felsen outlines the chronic tendency in uncured cases. But here, as elsewhere,the allopathic physician rests his whole hope of assistance upon the diagnosis–in this case as in many present-day medical problems through serum therapy–without considering of the treatment of the patient upon the facts of the case, as Dr. Wells has pointed out, and certainly without consideration for the facts of the individual case and his own constitutional and individual reaction, either in the acute or chronic stages.–H.A.R.

These (means for a cure) are discovered chiefly by a careful consideration of the.

Third fact, which is present to our observation, viz., That there is a peripheral group of symptoms gathered around this central and localized one, which declares, not that we are dealing with dysentery, which has already been decided, but which goes beyond this, and declares the kind of dysentery, which is before us. The importance of this peripheral group does not cease here. It extends far beyond, it being the group which contains the indices which point to the curative agencies, through the Law of Similars, on which, we have learned, we can safely depend.

P P Wells