It is a facetious thought that a homoeopath would allow himself a favorite drug; for the ultimate in this line of thought would be a situation where he might consider only Bryonia for any cough, or Rhus tox. in any rheumatic condition. But when this title was suggested my curiosity was aroused as to just which drug had been used most often in my practice in the past year.
We reviewed the repertorial work and found that Phosphorus was by far the most popular, and had been prescribed in twenty- eight per cent of the cases. At the time I was unable to comprehend this high score for Phosphorus. Our habitat with heavy industries and coal mines would seem to predispose to the use of Sulphur. There was no diagnostic similarity in the cases studied; in fact, the range was a wide one which included neurological lues, anxiety state, chronic headache, allergic bronchitis, chronic enteritis, surgical menopause, conversion state, rheumatoid arthritis, dementia praecox, and oophoritis.
Oddly enough, none of these people had any of the blood dyscrasias we usually associate with Phosphorus, and only one had a respiratory involvement. Also, no one of them was the tall, thin, slender-chested, stooped patient that we usually regard as the Phosphorus type.
Some similarity in the case pattern was noted however: all these Phosphorus cases were women. The fact that men made up only twenty-five per cent of the cases repertorized does not explain this situation. Another constant feature in every case was the background of tension with its resultant symptom of apprehension predominant in the patient. An outstanding factor in every case was the patients grandiose urge to live apart and usually above her environment, although these women come from all stations in life.
My wife refers to these Phosphorus ladies as the grandes dames of my practice. For instance, the plumbers wife spent all of her spare time and as much as possible of her family time in reading the Greek classics. The costume-like dresses that she designed for herself can only be described as magnificent creations. One of these Phosphorus cases was a college professor who obtained her Ph. D. under very arduous conditions while she was teaching a full schedule and carrying on her fathers contracting business. Still another of these cases had given up her job as bar-maid, because she thought it was beneath her, and had become a free lance prostitute.
Allow me to carry the coals of Newcastle by reporting a case: that of the college professor noted above. For seven years she had visited me for liver shots; her own prescription. Finally, this January she become so uncomfortable that she was willing for me to do the prescribing. Her main complaints were painful swelling of the finger joints, nocturnal leg cramps, involuntary grinding of the teeth, and a pulsating pain in the left ear. The following symptoms were selected for repertorial work-up:
1. Aversion to meat.
3. Desire for salt things.
4. Desire for sours.
5. Menses too frequent.
6. Perspiration absent.
7. Pulsation left ear.
8. Grinding of the teeth.
9. Lack of vital heat.
Using a Kent Repertory Phosphorus scored highest with an 8/17.
February 1–She was given a powder of Phosphorus 200.
February 2–She had had no leg cramps and never felt better in her life. The thumping in her left ear had disappeared; a symptom that has existed as long as I have known her. Oddly enough this was the only rubric in which Phosphorus was missing. One dose of sac. lac. was prescribed at this time.
March 8–She still felt better than originally but there was no improvement over the last visit. Phosphorus 200. was given on the tongue.
April 2–She was completely symptom free and has remained thus until this date. She has become very interested in Homoeopathy and even at this latter day refers to it as the new method of cure.
In retrospect, then, it seems to me that Phosphorus rather than Nux vomica most surely represents the background for present day ailments. Americans have become over-civilized, over- educated and over-sensitive. Modern inventions and legislation have removed most of the physical demand from our existence. Sexual stimulation is everywhere and the search is being pushed again for eternal youth. We live in a fog of fear; fear of future insecurity, fear of war and fear of each other. Our world is emotionally tired and so is Phosphorus.
332 Vine Street
DISCUSSION. DR. ELIZABETH WRIGHT HUBBARD (New York, N. Y.): I was amused at the doctors saying that the Phosphorus ones were emotionally tired. I once had a platinum blonde lady of the type. They are usually giving the glad eye to all the good- looking doctors.
DR. JAMES STEPHENSON (New York, N. Y.): I wonder if Dr. Wesner has ever had any cases of tuberculosis on Phosphorus, or what percentage of Phosphorus patients had a strong tubercular background.
DR. VIRGINIA JOHNSON (Chicago, Ill.): I think in certain districts different remedies are empirical. My father used to say that in New York, in the Niagara district, where the temperature would change 30 and 60 degrees in a day, Aconite was used by the barrel, and in a different district, Bryonia. I think the smoke in the lung conditions probably predominate in your district.
DR. WESNER (closing): Just to answer the doctors question, none of these cases had tuberculosis. Of course, we all have tuberculosis at some time in our life, but none of these cases had any recent tubercular history that I knew about. As I say, we all have it at some time or other, and I mentioned, I think, that Kent mentions the habitat. He describes Sulphur in the environment of chronic cases, not acute cases.