We are here not concerned with the merits or demerits of this now universally prescribed antibiotic, a question on which much can be said. It is the threat to the practice of Hahnemannian homoeopathy which disturbs us; for the more often the antibiotics are resorted to by homoeopathic physicians, the more will their ability as prescribers deteriorate, until a point is reached at which homoeotherapy is likely to vanish altogether.
As a profession, we are not far from this milestone in homoeopathic decadence now. This observation applies with especial force to the younger physicians who have recently graduated from our remaining medical schools which are obliged greatly to curtail the teaching of homoeopathic materia medica and its highly important philosophy. Without these two subjects of instruction, the school will rapidly disappear as a force for good in the fight against disease.
Widespread publicity concerning the antibiotics has already convinced a very large segment of the American people that modern therapy must embrace the use of these easily administered biological products, and it is understandable that younger physicians, poorly versed in our materia medica, yield to the insistent demands of the laity, for unless they do so, their future success in the practice of medicine is threatened. Such pressure by the laity is most difficult to resist and is more and more leading to neglect of our principles and practice. In this sense, the problem is one of finance. Physicians, no matter how altruistic they may be, must, after all, make a living and it is painfully obvious that the loss of patients through defection militates against financial security.
Among our younger men who have at least a smattering of homoeopathic medicine and who would be happy to increase this limited knowledge, there are those and they are in the majority, who are finding it impossible to pursue their quest for the simple reason that patients demand in no uncertain tones that the antibiotics be promptly used.
Hence these younger physicians are compelled to practice not as they prefer to do, but in obedience to the demands of laymen whose knowledge is superficial and has been obtained from skillfully conducted propaganda over the air waves, through newspaper accounts of research work and through the highly plausible articles to be found in the hundreds of weekly and monthly magazines which literally overwhelm the public. Too often, the mere doctor no longer determines what is to be prescribed; it is the members of the family and their relatives and friends who make the decision. This statement seems fanciful, but actually is not so. Too many of our people possess a “newspaper education” only and do not think or investigate for themselves.
Quite recently, we were called upon to prescribe for 74- year-old woman patient who has had ample reason to appreciate what homoeopathy has done for her in the past. She stated that a few days before her summons to us, she had removed a scab from her left elbow, but with no knowledge of a prior injury or of any pain. The arm was now swollen, inflamed and red all about the elbow joint and a temperature of 100.5 was present. Throbbing was complained of and the entire remedy picture was obviously that of Belladonna, with the thought that Hepar sulphur would probably be needed later.
In spite of explanations concerning the evident infection and its course, the patient sent word in the evening that the temperature was higher and that the pain was no better; also, the sister of the patient, who had conveyed the message, stated that an orthodox physician had been called and had prescribed Penicillin, stating that an infection was present and that he hoped an operation would not be required. From the standpoint of the patient and her sister, the questionable ethics of the procedure of dismissal was not evident. But to the homoeopathic prescriber the episode was a defeat and more especially one which was inflicted upon homoeopathy as a method of treatment.
As an exponent of such treatment, it mattered little, except to one’s pride; the damage to homoeopathic practice is distinct, however, and serves as another sign of the increasing decadence of our school. If we are to uphold our sectarian name, especially where our national and state organizations are concerned, such instances are serious and a threat to our future. If, on the other had, we drop, as many in our school believe we should, all sectarian distinctions and titles, the matter then must assume an entirely different aspect. The question is, after all, one for organized homoeopathy seriously to consider and decide. It is not doing so now, but our decadence inexorably continues.