The ipse dixit of some over-enthusiastic homoeopath has too frequently led to disappointment when another physician has tried to follow his example. What homoeopathy needs most of all, is properly conducted drug proving; controlled, clinical research and post-graduate instruction in its basic philosophy. Undergraduate instruction, in this age of alleged scientific advance, has definitely shown itself to be a failure.


The following case is worthy of reporting not because it is at all unusual, but more for the reason that it illustrates certain problems of diagnosis and also, the just limitations of the law of similars. Hence its publication in the Journal.

Mr.C.W.J., age 67, first came for treatment on June 29, 1942. He complained of “indigestion” stating that he had a sensation of a heavy lump in the stomach and that for some time, his bowels had been costive, with hard, lumpy stools requiring pressure of the fingers on the perineum to facilitate their passage. His tongue was rather heavily coated, grayish-white; he had always been a small eater and was rather thin, wiry and tall; he was accustomed to smoke four or five pipefuls a day, but had fifteen years ago given up the chewing of tobacco, a habit which he had acquired as a railroad trainman.

He urinated freely, without difficulty any kind. An occasional aperient had apparently relieved the constipation. He slept well, though at times talked in his sleep, as reported by his wife. His face was thin and his complexion florid. He was fond of sweets but had no special cravings. With the exception of the lump sensation in the epigastrium, he had no outstanding symptoms. The past history was negative, though he spoke of an attack of quinsy sore throat during his forty fifth year.

Physical examination revealed normal heart sounds, with somewhat rapid rate which corresponded with a pulse of 84. The blood pressure was 128/68. The abdomen showed nothing abnormal and there was no tenderness anywhere. As he formerly at least, had been sensitive to cold and was inclined to be irritable, he was given one dose of Silicea 1000 and the customary placebo of saccharum lactis. This remedy was repeated in a single dose of the 10m Skinner, on July 22nd, and again on September 10th. On December 9th the previous improvement under the action of Silicea ceased; examination showed tenderness on pressure over the right lower abdominal quadrant.

He stated that eating was apt to relieve his stomach distress and that his bowels had again become costive. Anacardium orintale 10m Skinner, one dose, was given December 9, 1944, but with no particular improvement. Later, Carbo vegetabilis 200 and still later, Sulphur 1000, were given with symptoms strongly marked enough to lead to these remedies. The last named remedy was given on December 23rd and the patient was not again heard from or seen until January 11, 1945 when he stated that he still was troubled with the lump sensation. Reexamination showed no enlargement of the liver or of the spleen, though there was some tenderness on pressure over McBurneys Point; the heart and pulse were normal; he complained of some burning in the epigastrium, relieved at times by taking food, then again, not relieved by eating.

A single specimen of the urine showed a specific gravity of 1.012 but no albumin. He now stated that he was obliged to urinate once or twice at night, thought there was no difficulty in doing so. At eight oclock in the evening of this same days, while in the bathroom, he had fainted and was carried to the bedroom and placed upon his bed. When seen, he was in a state of complete collapse, face deathly pale, no pulse to be felt at the wrist, cold sweat, yet he did not complain of feeling cold.

The heart sounds were very feeble, the patient was fully conscious, but said little. Camphor 200, a dose very ten minutes, brought him out of the collapse within twenty minutes and he was given three more doses at half hourly intervals. On the following morning he had a rather large, black stool which visual examination showed to be blood; there was no abdominal tenderness, but he was having colicky pains, without distension of the abdomen, Colocynthis 200, one dose, relieved the colic. The next day he received a single dose of Nux vomica cm, but without visible effect on his general condition.

A complete gastro-intestinal X-ray examination was now undertaken, the report of which read as follows: “Esophagus-no defect noted. Stomach-the stomach is moderately enlarged and no lesion defect noted in the fundus or pars media. There is noted persistent irregularity in the region of the pylorus and duodenal cap indicative of lesion. 6 hour film-there is still noted a delay in the region of the pylorus and duodenal cap with barium scattered throughout the small intestines. 24 hour film-Barium is noted scattered throughout the colon from the cecum to the rectum. 48 hour film-Barium is noted scattered throughout the colon from the cecum to the rectum.

Colon-Barium enema-Barium flows freely into the rectum which appears of normal contour; to spastic sigmoid and colon; to high flexures; to cecum. There is noted retention of air and fluid from cleansing enemas. There is also noted a delay in the sigmoid with apparent stricture and diverticuli. Consider: 1 Pyloro-duodenal lesion. 2 Chronic constipation or colonic stasis. 3 Diverticulosis of the pelvic colon with small stricture.”

Subsequent telephonic conversation with the roentgenologist failed to elicit any further information or enlightment. He was now hospitalized in the hospital of another town where he underwent a thorough physical examination at the hands of the surgical staff, though previously a hard, very much enlarged prostate gland had been determined, together with two very much enlarged inguinal glands, not painful.

The report of the hospital surgeons was the following: “the patient has a generalized adenopathy and it is the impression that this is a lymphosarcoma, inasmuch as the gastrointestinal examination was negative. A biopsy was taken (sic) of one of the inguinal, glands and the report was not conclusive; the report showed only inflammatory tissue. However, it is the impression that this condition is a lymphosarcoma; therefore, deep X-ray therapy has been instituted. It is too soon. as yet, to give an opinion as to the outcome of the case.”

After this inconclusive report, Conium mac. 30 was given, t.i.d. with apparent relief of the epigastric pain and the rapid disappearance of the enlarged, inguinal glands. On April 15th. the patient looked ill, with drawn facial muscles, and a peculiar greenish-yellow color; he was rapidly losing weight and he had more frequently been passing blood, black in color, from the rectum. There were no further findings on physical examination. Crotalus horridus cm. Fincke, one dose was given, with some improvement of the general state of the patient though none as to his strength which was now definitely waning.

This was one April 20th. On May 1st it was plain that the patient was doomed. He had previously been examined by Dr. John H. Young of Montclair, N.J. who agreed with the diagnosis of carcinoma of the duodenum, but did not consider the diagnosis of lymphosarcoma to be warranted. Ornithogalum umbellatum 30 in three hourly doses was given for two days, then every four hours for another two days, followed by sac. lac. This remedy was chosen upon purely empirical grounds. as its proving is not to be looked upon as accurate or trustworthy.

However, the epigastric pain seemed to be relieved to some extent, but the patient was rapidly failing in every respect, became semi-conscious, very restless and passed a quart of black blood. An analgesic was necessary to relieve his last hours as well as the mental anguish of his wife and daughters. He died peacefully on May 8th. No autopsy was possible.

Comment: Here we have an illustration of the palliative effects only, of remedies chosen as carefully as possible, but upon insufficient symptomatic indications. The patient himself could not be prescribed for, leaving the pathologic symptoms only, upon which to base the selection of a remedy. Such selection is always highly uncertain and usually indicates a condition beyond the power of homoeotherapy to affect or one which is definitely incurable. Crotalus horridus is a powerful remedy, capable of saving life, when indicated, and even in desperate cases, but it cannot remove gross pathological tissue change when such change has destroyed normal function. The little flower, Star of Bethlehem, Ornithogalum umbellatum has been warmly commended for its usefulness in gastric cancer, but its proving is insufficient to give the remedy a fixed place in the materia medica.

The disappointing roentgenological report emphasizes the need for greater reliance upon physical examination, experience and common sense. Doubtless, doctors, who have differed since the time of Galen, will continue to do so, in spite of all the modern, diagnostic gadgets, instruments and laboratory methods.

So far as homoeopathy is concerned, this case shows the hopelessness of prescribing for diseases, rather than for patients; in this patient, there was of course, nothing else to do. It may be that, had this patient received careful homoeopathic prescribing years ago, he would not have succumbed at sixty-nine years to a malignant disease. Dr. Harvey Farrington, in the Journal, has written extensively upon the subject of symptomatic versus pathologic prescribing and many physicians, in the past, have based their remedy selection largely upon pathology.

Rabe R F
Dr Rudolph Frederick RABE (1872-1952)
American Homeopathy Doctor.
Rabe graduated from the New York Homeopathic Medical College and trained under Timothy Field Allen and William Tod Helmuth.

Rabe was President of the International Hahnemannian Association, editor in chief of the Homeopathic Recorder, and he wrote Medical Therapeutics for daily reference. Rabe was Dean and Professor of Homeopathic Therapeutics at the New York Homeopathic Medical College.