Many years ago a child of five or six lay at deaths door with an influenzal pneumonia which had failed to respond to the combined efforts of two conscientious homoeopathic prescribers; such remedies as Phosphorus, Sulphur and Lycopodium had been given in vain and when finally seen the picture was grave indeed, showing a pronounced cyanotic mottling of the body surface, a failing heart and a general somnolence which bodied impending dissolution; obviously the prescribing had to be objective entirely, though the pronounced physical signs of the disease itself were of no use in the search for the remedy.
Lack of reaction, as evidenced by the appearance of the child, was the motive in the case and, of course, spelled but one remedy, and that one Ammonium carbonicum; a few doses of the 200th saved the patients life and started the child on the road to recovery, to the ever-lasting glory of homoeopathy. It requires no imagination to predict what the outcome would have been under orthodox measures, such as camphor, digitalis and the coal-tars.
Recently, an acute case presented itself, with fever, drawing pains in the limbs, lumbar backache, sore throat, headache and restlessness; the patient is of a highly nervous temperament and was depressed to the point of tearfulness; she complained of the heat of the bed and kept moving her limbs to the cooler spots. An examination of the throat showed an inflammatory redness, but nothing more, the tonsils were not enlarged.
Pulsatilla 30th, in three-hourly doses was, of course, given, and found the patient on the following morning free from the drawing pains and backache, but with a higher temperature and a more painful throat; evidently the simillimum had not been found; the throat now showed irregular patches of porcelain whiteness on the left tonsil, slightly so on the right one; from the crypts projected white deposits; the pain was confined to the left side entirely and upon swallowing darted to the ear; a drink of cold water relieved the pain momentarily. Lac caninum 30th, in water, a dose every three hours, was now given and within twenty-four hours had largely cleared the throat, with decided general relief to the patient; within another twenty-four hours the throat was entirely clear, the temperature normal and the patient quite comfortable, although weak.
No local applications were used; the diagnosis was obviously “cryptic tonsillitis.” Comment upon this case is interesting and of profit; Lac caninum is a remedy of animal origin, the milk of the dog; in the past, at least, its proving has been viciously criticised and even ridiculed, its employment, except by a few Hahnemannians, has been relegated to the limbo of forgotten things, yet it fills a place which no other remedy can fill.
As a remedy in inflammatory diseases of the throat it is easily of the first importance and should be compared with Lachesis and Phytolacca, especially; both these remedies also possess the modality of amelioration of the throat symptoms by cold drinks; Lachesis and Lac caninum symptoms extend from left to right; Lachesis and Phytolacca have throats which look bluish- red, but the throat of Lac caninum is bright red and shows pseudo-membranous deposits which are of a porcelain-like whiteness. Lac caninum has the curious characteristic that its symptoms repeatedly change sides and any disease which shows a similar tendency should call attention to this remedy.
Pulsatilla resembles it in some respects, more especially in the modality, relief from cold; these two remedies should also be remembered in nursing mothers, where it is desirable to dry up the milk supply; Lac caninum is of paramount importance in mastitis and in troubles which habitually manifest themselves just before or shortly after the menses, it is quite likely to be the needful remedy.
Allen, in the Handbook of Materia Medica, does not mention Lac caninum, nor does he speak of it in the Encyclopaedia; Stauffer gives its pathogenesis in his Klinische homoeopathische Arzneimittellehre and mentions its use in the treatment of post-diphtheritic paralysis. Herings Guiding Symptoms and Clarkes Dictionary of Materia Medica both contain the pathogenesis of his remedy. Nash writes of the medicine in his Leaders in Homoeopathic Therapeutics. The remedy is, therefore, deserving of earnest study, wider acquaintanceship and greater use.
A woman of 52, about a year ago, had her right breast removed on account of alleged carcinoma; the wisdom of this procedure need not be discussed here, except to say that the last word has by no means been spoken concerning surgical interference in this disease; following the operation there was a long period of tedious healing, marked by a brawny infiltration and thickening of the right arm and hand, together with a malignant-looking, reddish-purple ecchymosis of the upper arm and chest wall, on either side of the gnarled incision.
In spite of treatment, this state of affairs did not improve until Bufo cinereus 30th, in frequently repeated doses, was given; this little-used toad poison has reduced the swelling and caused the erythema to become considerably paler, at the same time softening a suspicious, hard, metastatic lump in the remaining breast. The patient has numerous other complaints and is undoubtedly incurable: too much should not, therefore, be expected of this or of any other remedy; the best that can be hoped for is homoeopathic palliation. It is, however, remarkable that the poison of the much despised toad, when given internally and in potentised form, can do so much to relieve in the face of insuperable odds. Among other things, Bufo produces lymphatic inflammation and infiltration, hence its selection in this case.
The taking of the case in a proper manner has been taught in the Organon and by numerous distinguished followers of Hahnemann since his time, yet nevertheless many of us do not know how to take the case from the homoeopathic standpoint and fail therefore, when we should succeed in curing our cases. Here, indeed, is an art which few of us seem to master, for most of us rely upon a few keynote symptoms in the making of a prescription, symptoms which may or may not lead us to the correct remedy, but which more often serve to mislead us entirely.
When we speak of the constitution of the patient, we should have in mind his type and temperament, his mental symptoms, his likes and dislikes, his reactions to weather or seasonal changes, his sensitiveness to heat and cold, the sides of the body affected or first affected, in short, to all the things which affect him as an individual; what Royal calls the make-up of the patient is of the greatest importance in the selection of the remedy. The constitution of the patients envelopes, so to speak, his pathology, and if the latter has not progressed too far, we may with a reasonable hope of success expect to cure it; on the other hand, if we begin by attempting to remove the pathology regardless of the patient , we are certain to fail of cure.
Hence the proper taking of the case is the major part of the art of remedy selection; the case well taken, the recognition of the right remedy is comparatively easy, provided, of course, that we know our materia medica as every homoeopathic physician should know it. To know it means wide reading as well as repeated reading of such works as Farrington, Dunham, Nash, Kent, Clarke, etc.
Many years ago one of our homoeopathic physicians had swallowed household ammonia in mistake for aromatic spirits of ammonia, with the result that his mouth and oesophagus were horribly burned, leading to a complete stricture of the gullet; of course, an emergency gastrostomy had to be done, and through the opening thus provided he was fed; his condition became desperate, in spite of all the scientific surgical treatment with which he was overwhelmed.
Tacit admission of defeat now induced the surgeon to consign the victim to the tender mercies of Hahnemannian homoeopathy, which looked upon the sufferer as a human to be rescued and not in the light of a pathologico-surgical specimen. The picture was that of a terrified man in horrible anguish, fearing death, clamouring repeatedly for cold water which he was only able to sip, but not to swallow. As he writhed about the bed in his agony of despair and weakness, Arsenicum album fairly screamed for recognition; its administration in repeated doses of the 200h quickly modified the picture and saved a life; the doctor is living today, thought obliged to feed himself through a tube.
Here, then, surgical science had done its utmost; it remained for the art of homoeopathy to complete the task, forgetting for its purpose pathology altogether.
This, then, is the art of prescribing homoeopathically an art based upon the recognition of the patient primarily his peculiar individuality, his reactions to external things, ad evidenced by temperamental characteristics; this art takes into account anything and everything, nothing is too insignificant for its consideration, thought it reserves the right of discrimination and selection. It is an art which can be cultivated and learned, if we will only thinking terms of human equations, remembering that we are dealing with that priceless possession, life and that we are here to prolong it, to save it if we can; that the study of life, controlled by natural laws, and that one of these laws is the of similars, a law bound to work out correctly, if correctly applied, for the law of homoeopathy is immutable and everlasting.