THE appearance of “Dr. Skinners Grand Characteristics of the Materia Medica” has opened up an old question which is greatly in need of following up. Is it possible in any way to simplify the enormous toil of struggling with the vast bulk of the Materia Medica in order to find the exact item which is required.
The trouble with “condensed Materia Medicas” has been that they are based on a system of exclusion. The scheme on which the Dictionary of the Materia Medica is built is one of inclusion, the material of it being so arranged that no feature conflicts with any other feature or confuses it. No remedy is excluded if there is definite information about it, however scanty.
Under Toxicophis, the Moccasin snake of Florida, there are only fifteen lines of text, yet these fifteen lines were sufficient to enable Dr. Grimmer to make with the remedy two brilliant cures, one of sarcoma of the rectum and another of sarcoma of tibia and fibula. In Condensed Materia Medica, no place for Toxicophis is found. So any attempt to simplify materia medica must be based on some plan of including all that is. This was certainly the case with Adolf Lippe and his “Key-notes,” as it was also with Skinner.
Dr. McLachlan writes us that he is surprised that Skinner found no “grand characteristics” for Arsenicum. The list was in no sense a comprehensive one, but was picked up by the writer in conversation with Skinner and appeared worth putting together and preserving in form as a nucleus. If our readers will send us key- notes of their own it will help in the work of simplification.
Lippes Repertory was for many years the best Repertory available. Kents great work has made this obsolete. But Kents work, massive as it is, is only partial. As Gibson Miller wrote to the Editor of this Journal speaking of the Dictionary, “it contains so many more remedies than are found in Kents Repertory”.
In his brilliant article on Echinacea, the conclusion of which appears in our present issue, Dr. George Royal has shown one of the ways by which materia medica can be simplified. In this article the features of the drug are set forth with such force and clarity that in the vast majority of cases requiring the drug, those who have read Dr. Royals article will have no difficulty in “spotting” the remedy without a laborious application to the Repertory.
Dr. Bach again has a new method of introducing simplification into the materia medica. He is working on interior lines, and the nearer one gets to the centre of things the smaller is the compass into which they can be put. Like Schussler, Dr. Bach promises to reduce the members of his scheme within the round dozen. We say, more power to his elbow. Simplification without exclusion is the line of advance on which we look for progress. Any “grand indications” for any remedies that occur to our readers, or which they have found in their experience we shall be grateful to receive.
ENCEPHALITIS FOLLOWING VARICELLA. S. Graham (Arch. Dis. Child., April, 1930, p. 146) records two cases in boys, aged 3 and 6 respectively, in whom a mild attack of varicella was followed by encephalitis. The most prominent feature of each case was a pronounced degree of ataxia, but neither showed any paralysis. In each case lumbar puncture gave issue to a clear colourless fluid under slight hypertension, and containing an increased number of leucocytes. Both patients made a complete recovery, like all the other examples of varicella encephalitis on record. British Medical Journal, August 23rd, 1930.