The untiring work of Samuel Hahnemann and that of his friends and the adherents to his principles produced provings of many remedies which have eve since served his modern disciples. Through clinical experience these early provings have been verified and extended and to some extent remedies unknown to Hahnemann have been brought to life and subjected to homoeopathic provings. Many of these provings are far from complete, some are not wholly reliable and others are fragmentary, so that remedies have been, and are, prescribed empirically. From the American Indians the valuable uses of many vegetable medicines have been learned and from the Eclectic School of Medicine certain plant remedies have been borrowed. Of late years some of the endocrine or ductless gland remedies have been potentized in accord with homoeopathic pharmaceutical directions and these potencies have frequently produced rather startling results. Homoeopathys storehouse of medicines is almost incredibly large but the major part of these drugs is sorely in need of modern proving. Here indeed is a field for homoeopathic research, though one which will need large sums of money for its tillage. Let us hope that, eventually, sufficient funds may be obtained with which to begin this work, for the benefits to mankind will be beyond our present comprehension!.
It is the intention tonight, to present in sketchy form, various comments upon the use and possibilities of atleast some of these medicines?.
Actaea spicata, commonly known as the bane-berry, a member of the Ranunculaceae family, is a perennial herb from one to two feet high, growing in Europe and was introduced into the homoeopathic materia medica by Dr. Petroz of Spain. The remedy is rather seldom used and has a narrow field of application in rheumatism of the small joints such as the wrists, fingers, ankles and toes. The remedy is credited with the symptom of great oppression and shortness of breath on exposure to cold air; whether these symptoms are due to cardiac weakness or to bronchial disturbances is not mentioned in the provings. Its near relative is Actaea racemosa, the black cohosh, otherwise commonly known as Cimicifuga and a member of the same family.
Agraphis nutans, commonly known as the wild hyacinth or bluebell, is a member of the Liliaceae, introduced by Dr. Cooper of London who states that it is related to catarrhal conditions in the nose, with nasal obstruction and the presence of adenoid growths; enlarged tonsils come within its curative sphere and such cases have been benefited by this remedy.
Adrenalin chloride has the power of shrinking the mucous membranes and of controlling haemorrhage; it also raises the blood pressure. Potentized, it can serve the homoeopathic prescriber as a useful palliative in hypertension, thus lowering the blood pressure; however, such effect is not curative but evanescent; nevertheless, in suitable cases it is of decided use. Adrenalin is derived from the supra-renal bodies which are attached to the upper portion of the kidneys. Adrenalin is known also as Epinephrin.
Alumen or ordinary alum, when given in crude form, has an astringent effect upon mucous membranes; the remedy has been well proved and has numerous useful applications when given in potency and in accord with its symptoms. An elongated uvula, causing an annoying, tickling cough, dry in character, is likely to be relieved by this remedy and hoarseness, made worse by talking, often finds relief from this medicine. A sensation of dryness accompanies these symptoms.
Ambrosia artemisiaefolia, the pesky ragweed, dreaded by hay- fever victims, will often modify existing attacks and sometimes prevent their onset, when given in reasonable potency, such as the 12th or thirtieth. The remedy is not truly curative, but will give relief.
Antimonium sulphuratum nigrum, the black sulphate of antimony, has an effect upon the skin, relieving itching which frequently occurs in old people; it also is very useful in split finger nails and distortions of the nails, though by no means the only remedy for this unsightly condition. Of course, its use must be in potentized form. The remedy has not received a careful proving.
Avena sativa, the common oat, has not been proved, but has been prescribed empirically in ten-to twenty-drop doses of the tincture in a little water, for its alleged tonic effect; numbness of the limbs, as if paralyzed, is said to be a symptom. It does seem to quiet the nervous system and bring about sleep; it likewise relieves nervous headaches and fatigue. Most assuredly it is to be preferred to the powerful coal-tar drugs so constantly abused.
Berberis aquifolium, a member of the berberry family, but to be distinguished from Berberis vulgaris, has not received a real proving, but has been used clinically with alleged good results. It is useful in the treatment of that very stubborn disease of the skin, facial acne.
Butyric acid has been proved by that tireless, able physician, William B. Griggs of Philadelphia. Butyric acid is obtained from butter and among other symptoms has that of offensive foot-sweat, in this respect suggestive of Baryta carbonica, Kali carbonicum, Pulsatilla, Silicea, Tellurium and Thuja. The remedy needs clinical use and verification. Seemingly it has relieved, and possibly cured, some cases of duodenal ulcer; the stomach and bowel symptoms suggest its value.
Calcarea picrata, the picrate of calcium, is almost a specific in the treatment of boils in the auditory canal. Such boils are extremely painful but are quickly relieved by this remedy in the 30th or 200th potency. Our Old School friends, in these conditions, swab out the ears with sulfathiazole powder, give penicillin internally and try to relieve the pain with aspirin, codeine or morphine injections. The homoeopathic remedy gives quick relief in such cases and does not stupefy the patient.
Nepeta cataria, the catnip of our ancestors, is essentially a childrens remedy, very useful in colic and in this respect similar to Chamomilla, Colocynthis and Magnesia phosphorica. It has received no proving, but should be thought of in fretful, colicky infants.
Ceanothus americanus, New Jersey Tea, drank as such by the colonists during the Revolutionary War when China or Indiana tea could not be obtained, has a specific effect upon the spleen and is therefore a left-sided remedy. It is useful in inflammations of that organ when sharp pain in the left side, below the ribs, is present. It has cured enlarged spleen, the aftermath of malaria suppressed by quinine. Its pains are aggravated by lying on the painful,left side. As might be assumed, motion also increases the pain.
Coccus cacti, the cochineal insect, is a very valuable remedy in whooping and other bronchial coughs which are made much worse indoors, when lying on the left side, after sleep, from touch or from brushing the teeth, but always better when in the cold, open air. The expectoration is very tenacious, sticky and likely to form long strings; the color is usually white. Tickling in the throat-pit excites the coughing spells; drinking cold water relieves.
Conchiolinum is a potentized preparation of mother of pearl, matter perlarum, found in oyster and other shells; there is no proving of it, but Allens Encyclopedia of Pure Materia Medica, volume 10, gives a highly interesting account of its deleterious effects in pearl grinders, showing that pearl dust, when potentized in the homoeopathic, pharmaceutical manner, is clinically related to bone inflammations, known as osteitis, and seems to affect the ends of bones, more especially. Drs. Carl Gussenbauer and Billroth were the first to call attention to the harmful effects of pearl dust inhaled by grinders during their work. These effects suggest the crying need for research by homoeopathic investigators and also that it may be that in this remedy we have one which might prove to be of benefit in the present unsatisfactory treatment of arthritis deformans. In an elderly woman who complained of pain in the heel, the X-ray revealed a small, bony spur, resembling the spur of a rooster. Conchiolinum in the third decimal potency, a dose each night and morning, caused the pain to disappear altogether with no recurrence; this was several years ago and is very significant, leading to the justifiable assumption that the spur has at least diminished in size or, possibly, has been entirely resolved; unfortunately, another examination by the X-ray has not been made; final judgment must, therefore, be with held.
Condurango, the condor plant, is a member of the family of Asclepiadaceae. The remedy is prepared from the bark and the climbing shrub from which this bark is obtained, grows in Ecuador at an attitude of free 3000 to 5000 feet. This drug was first proved by the late Dr. J. Compton Burnett of London, England, whose works are numerous and well known to all homoeopathic physicians in the United States. It is best known for the symptom “painful cracks in the corners of the mouth” or in general, fissures where the skin and mucous membranes meet. Allens Encyclopedia of Pure Materia Medica contains a proving of this remedy in volume 4, but spells the name with a “u” in the first syllable instead of an “o”. This proving produced on the third day “a painful crack in the right corner of the mouth” which healed in two or three days and is the most emphasized symptom of the entire proving. Clinically the remedy is said to be beneficial in cancerous growths though trustworthy evidence is lacking. There are of course, numerous remedies which are indicated in cracked lips, such as Arum triphyllum, which is our ordinary Jack-in-the-Pulpit, Graphites, Natrum muriaticum, Pulsatilla Sepia and and Sulphur and their choice will depend upon the general, constitutional symptoms of the patient.
This is why each case must be individualized and studied, for no two patients are exactly alike in their disease manifestations.
Fagopyrum esculentum, no doubt better known to the layman when served in the form of delectable buckwheat cakes, presumably and especially when made by our old colored friend, the faithful Aunt Jemima. This remedy, in potentized form of course, is often indicated in itching skin eruptions as well as in itching of the skin in old people: there are individuals who are sensitive to buckwheat and such persons can be freed from their allergy by a high potency of buckwheat. The deciding modality is the relief of the itching by bathing in cold water, a symptom which has been verified and particularly so in poisoning by the primrose plant, Primula obconica.
Fragaria vesca, the wood strawberry, is mentioned by Allen in a brief proving and has produced an urticaria-like eruption on the ski, with the usual maddening itching. Allen mentions the symptom, “swelling of the whole body” which is of course, indicative of a possible giant urticaria. People who cannot eat strawberries may frequently be cured of this allergy by taking a single dose of a high potency of Fragaria.
Magnetis polus australis, the south pole of the magnet, is mentioned by Jahr in his Symptomen Codex, volume 1, a symptomatology which has excited the visibilities of many homoeopathic physicians; nevertheless, facts are stubborn obstacles to overcome and must prevail over ignorance and prejudice. Curiously enough, this remedy, as well as the north pole of the magnet, is mentioned by Hahnemann in his Chronic Diseases though he gives us no information concerning its proving, hence we do now know just how this proving was conducted. The symptoms apparently produced are many, but the only one ever spoken of is that relating to the large toe of which Hahnemann states, “soreness of the inner side of the nail of the big toe in the flesh, as if the nail had grown into the flesh on one side; very painful, even when slightly touched.” Of course, this statement obviously suggests the presence of an ingrowing toe nail, a condition brought about by too narrow and tightly fitting shoes. Magnetis polus australis, given in high potency, has been known to cure this unhappy state. Hahnemann includes under the term “Imponderabilia”, Electricity, Galvanism, Magnetismus, Magnetis Polus Arcticus, the north pole of the magnet and Magnetis Polus Australis. the south pole of the magnet. Concerning Magnetismus he states that its “duration of action is from 10 days to a fortnight” and attached to the symptomatology of the south pole of the magnet is his note, evidently referring to a proving, “This female held the south pole, touching at the same time the middle of the bar.
The south pole appears to excite haemorrhage, and especially from the uterus, as its primary effect; the north pole seems to act in the contrary manner. These observations of the “Imponderabilia” may seem to us moderns archiac and quaint, but we must remember that Hahnemann was a scientist and spoke the language of his day. Modern research alone can verify or disprove his statements. Experimentation and observations upon the sick, are needed.
To mention another endocrine gland, a few remarks upon the pituitary may be of interest. This important gland is situated at the base of the brain in a cradle-like bony structure, known as the sella turcica. Wolf, in the second edition of his valuable work, Endocrinology in Modern Practice, under the heading “Physiology” states: “The pituitary has been aptly called the general headquarters for the endocrine system, since through its secretions it influences the rate of the cycle of the various activities of every ductless gland. In addition, it regulates certain metabolic and stimulative processes which are of profound importance in any discussion of humans physiology. All the influences are exerted by means of hormones which are the secretory products of the cellular activity of the glands.” Pituitary hormones raise the blood the blood pressure; conversely, given in a potentized form, such as the 200th or higher, Pituitary, in cases of hypertension due to arteriosclerosis, will reduce the pressure and relieve the headaches caused by blood-pressure. Potencies of the anterior portion of this gland appear to be the most efficacious. We cannot cure arteriosclerosis, but we can greatly modify its effects through the use of our well-selected remedies and among these, provings of the endocrines are most desirable.
Phleum pratense, or timothy, in the early summer when the farmer is watching his fields to determine the best time for cutting his timothy hay, should be thought of as a homoeopathic palliative of hay-fever when the acute symptoms predominate and the underlying, constitutional symptoms are held in abeyance. Potencies from 12X to the 30th and higher, frequently modify the severity of the attack and shorten its duration.
Some people are sensitive to golden-rod and come down with hay-fever in the middle of September when this beautiful wild flower begins to exhibit its golden sprays; there are very many species of the golden-rod family, but the one commonly used and described in the homoeopathic Pharmacopoeia is known as Solidago virga-aurea. In potency it also, as with Phleum pratense, palliates fall attacks.
Vipera torva, the German viper, furnishes us with another snake poison, described by Jahr in his valuable work, the Symptomen Codex. Its range of therapeutic action is limited, though valuable in the treatment of varicose veins, especially those of the legs; in such cases the indication is a sensation as though the veins would burst, when the legs are hanging down. This symptom has been verified many times.
Gnaphalium polycephalum, known as the common ever-lasting, is a very valuable remedy in the treatment of sciatica when the pain is worse when the sufferer is lying down, from motion, but, oddly enough, better while sitting on the affected thigh. There are numerous remedies homoeopathic to the symptoms of sciatica, but this modest plant, first proved by Dr. William Banks many years ago, fills its own peculiar place. At times its symptoms are accompanied by a sensation of numbness.
In this brief essay twenty-two remedies, most of them seldom used, have been touched upon; they are remedies which on occasion, serve a most useful purpose in relieving certain, often troublesome, acute or subacute ailments. When prescribed, they are not, as a rule, fundamentally curative remedies; the latter belong in the categories of the antipsoric, antisycotic and antisyphilitic remedies, selected carefully and often with difficulty for chronic diseases and prescribed upon the symptom- totality of the patient. Patients under homoeopathic treatment gradually develop an increased resistance to acute diseases and at the same time their chronic ailments are greatly modified and often entirely cured. Such cures take time, which is one reason why homoeopathic treatment is frequently criticized as being too slow.
It is unquestionably true that patients under homoeopathic treatment, provided this is genuinely Hahnemannian in character, have a better chance to grow old than do those who prefer to entrust themselves to the ministrations o orthodox physicians. The practice of medicine is yearly becoming more and more specialized and, although no intelligent person denies the importance of skillful specialists when their services are really needed, it still remains a fact that much specialism, especially that which is surgical in nature, is capable of doing great harm. Too frequently in this day and age, meddlesome surgery exacts a tragically high price.
Homoeopathy needs development through research and also through some method of making remedy selection easier. Perhaps the future, through men who are now at work, may solve our problem.