Not infrequently there arises in the student mind the question as to whether there is any relationship between isopathy and homoeopathy and the same question is often brought up in discussion among physicians. One and all sense that there is something in common possessed by both. Yet there as yet has appeared in print and I have heard in discussion on concise, logical, and acceptable explanation of this similarity. To date, one has to remain content with the rather incomplete and not entirely satisfactory explanation that homoeopathy is the use of the similar antigen; isopathy is the use of the same antigen.
This is not entirely academic and is certainly lacking in finesse. Also it is not entirely correct, for it is incorrect to say that, for sake of illustration, if plumbum is given in a case of lead poisoning on the homoeopathic symptomatic indications, this remedy is at that time according to the isopathic principle. Only, in such a case, if the remedy plumbum were prescribed upon the known fact that lead was the cause of the condition would it be used in accordance with the isopathic principle. Thus, it can be said that a remedy may in a given case be both isopathic and homoeopathic. The criterion is always to be found not in the character of the antigen but in the finding principle used in the selection of the remedy.
The principle of isopathy calls for a search for the disease- producing agent, customarily but not necessarily in the theoretical sense, confined to the use of drugs. This principle has at times been extended to the employment of of psychic and thermal agents but when such has been the case few have discerned the isopathic principle in the background.
The efficacy of this principle depends, in the last analysis, upon assumption that a given antigen will always, under all circumstances, provoke the same response. Our modern researches have demonstrated that this assumption is incorrect. I have elsewhere shown that the response to any antigen is a highly conditioned reaction. We are making only a factual statement when we say that a given antigen has potentiality to evoke in a living human body a vital response and that the way in which that response shall be manifested, as it is to both prover and physician, is by symptoms of various kinds.
It is also just as true a statement to say that, although the symptoms manifested in a given number of experiment will have a great deal in common, each individual will contribute a greater or lesser number of symptoms possessing a dissimilar nature and having little or nothing in common. This question of similarity and dissimilarity of symptomatology is a coefficient of the human organism and not of the remedy. Variations in the response to a given antigen will depend also on such factors as dose, time, repetition, method of administration, etc.
The precise same situation is clearly illustrated in disease; indeed, drug reactions as observed in the conduction of proving is duplicated in practical medicine. Considering a given bacterial organism, such as the tubercle bacillus, as the antigen, let us enumerate a few of the modes that the human body has of manifesting a reaction to this single antigen. Some of the most common are the pulmonary type, the osseous type, the glandular type. Of these three main types any encyclopedia of medicine will list a large number of variations-stages of the same type, combinations of two or ore types and a host of complications of any one of the types.
This diversity, it is to be remembered, is a coefficient of the body, for in every case the antigen is the same. Now it is important to remember in this connection that isopathy never considers the diversity in the body reaction to a given antigen. Homoeopathy, on the other hand, emphasizes this diversity.
It should be already apparent that the two principles of therapeutics pursue different methods in the selection of the indicated remedy. The one, isopathy, on the basis of the effective antigen, the other, homoeopathy, on the basis of the effective antigen, the other, homoeopathy, on the basis on the characteristic symptomatology of the bloody reaction. The former lends itself readily to routinism. The latter antagonizes routinism.
Regarded in this light, then, isopathy and homoeopathy are diametrically opposed in principle, although it is true that in a given case the use of both principles may result in the selection of the same remedy. Inasmuch as this also may occur when the physiologic and the homoeopathic principle are employed in a given case, this coincidental fact can be of no value as a proof of close relationship.
Isopathy is, in the analysis, a corollary of causal medicine if the identical antigen is chosen after a successful search for the immediate cause of the disease under treatment.
Nevertheless, there is still another aspect to the question that goes more deeply beneath the surface and requires somewhat more thought to appreciate. To under-stand it we have to place the argument not he plane of symptomatology and deal with the question of specificity and non-specificity.
The homoeopathic finding principle is one of symptom similarity, and this fact leads to the seemingly logical conclusion that that antigen which will produce the greatest similarity, in a given situation, is the same, the identical antigen. As a I have already pointed out, this is an assumption only, in spite of its seeming plausibility, and for no other reason than that we have accepted without question a tacit statement that a given antigen will in all people, under any and every circumstance, elicit an identical response from any organism.
This is not true of reactions to drug stimuli. Nor is is true of reactions of the body to other forms of disease-producing stimuli, such as the psychic, the thermal, etc. The immunologist has had this truth so rudely thrust upon him that Manwarring, Kolmer, Topely, Wilson, Zinsser, advocate heterobacteriologic therapy in more instances than they recommend the specific approach.
Therefore, if the finding principle used employs the symptomatic method whether that be the homoeopathic or the isopathic, the theory would be that the identical antigen would be the most similar symptomatically. This is true in so fars the question of the physics, the chemistry an the pharmacy of the antigen is concerned but is not true of the interpretation that the particular human body places upon the antigen in its defense reaction. The question immediately arises as to how this is possible or even logical.
It is not difficult to see the logic if one persists in paying more attention to the question of body reaction than to the physics and chemistry of the antigen. One must, of course, be thoroughly convinced that there are no two human, or animal, organisms in way identical, as a result of which on two given vital organisms can respond to a selected antigen in the same identical way.
Since this is an axiomatic medical truism at Johnes Hopkins, I feel that, as homoeopaths, we can accept this statement without more . The fallacy of isopathy lies just here-that it is based on a false assumption, which is that an antigen such as sulphur in every human being in the past, present and future did or does or will react to sulphur in the exact identical way.
If one were to persist in explaining drug effects, intent upon only the pharmacy of the drug, the theory an practice of isopathy could not be explained, so divergent is it in results. And, under like circumstances, no one could admit the turns attention to the vital reaction of the organism and studies that, new light is thrown on the problem.
Homoeopathy, if for no other reason, exists as a progressive phase of medical science because it has emphasized the question of body reaction and has employed this very dissimilarity of body defense to achieve clinical results. Indeed, homoeopathy, in the earliest provings, demonstrated on a factual, experimental basis that two antigens of so diverse chemical natures as mercury and hepar sulph., when administered to human beings, elicited reactions of a very similar nature. The same thing can be said of terebinth and phosphorus. These drugs are then said to be homoeopathic antidotes, one to the other.
And toxicologists also that turpentine antidotes phosphorus poisoning and the sulphide of calcium antidotes the poisoning of mercury. Still the homoeopath does not contend that these drugs stand constantly in this relationship, one to another. Just as the physiologist finds that the one case of purpura may bleed with a high platelet count, indeed abnormally high, another person with practically no platelets will show no signs of bleeding or of purpura.
IN like manner the pathologist will discover that one patient will recover speedily from typhoid with no demonstrable antibodies while another patient with a high antibody titre will rapidly succumb. So the homoeopath has for more than a century recognized that he reaction of the human body to a disease-producing stimulus is highly unpredictable, being as it is dependent upon so many conditioning factors, the greater portion of which are unknown.
Isopathy, on the contrary, takes it for granted, in flagrant opposition to the fact that all body reactions to any antigen are stereotyped and conform to a fixed pattern which never varies. If this were true and if isopathy used a symptomatic finding principle, then something like the following would hold.
Accept, as a first part of a syllogism, that the remedy of choice in every case is that one that has the identical symptomatology and not a similar symptomatology. This is, to begin with, another assumption concerning the truth of which medicine today can offer merely opinions, no facts. Then it would follow that the isopathic remedy was always the remedy of choice. But this conclusion is based on two assumptions and hence holds no weight. Such teaching, and any therapy founded on such teaching, can claim no credence in scientific medicine.
However, there can be no denying the fact that if a certain drug, let us say plumbum, is employed as an experimental antigen and is given in the same dose of a subphysiologic strength, at the same intervals, to humans of the same sex and age and under closely similar circumstances, thee will result a series of body reactions which will conform to a pattern in a broad way. That is to say, those people who are sensitive to this antigen will react to produce symptoms of which not a few will be fairly well duplicated in a large number of provers. These are the so-called general symptoms.
Thus the isopathist, in spite of the fact that he selects his drug on other than a symptomatic basis, will be inadvertently practicing a kind of homoeopathy. Yet there may be, and indeed it often occurs, that a person taking plumbum will manifest symptoms more characteristic of the generals of causticum than of lead. In such a case, causticum would be the remedy indicated on the basis of symptom similarity. Nevertheless, in other similar cases, plumbum would be indicated on that same basis.
Therefore, and again speaking on a basis of symptomatology, the isopathic remedy may at times be the homoeopathic remedy and the homoeopathic remedy the isopathic. It is a question, in the last analysis, of degree of similarity of symptomatology displayed in the sick patient to the generals and particulars discovered through provings.
On this basis we may continue the argument in the following manner. Theoretically, it is merely a question of degree of similarity, that is, whether it is similar, more similar, most similar, or identical. The terms similarity and identicality express relative degrees of the same thought. Identicality in medicine, however, is like infinity in mathematics. It is a hypothetical possibility which is never reached.
In spite of this we can make the following assertion: All things that stand in relationship of identicality stand also in the relationship of similarity but the opposite does not hold, namely, that all things that stand in the relationship of similarity stand also in the relationship of identicality. In applying this logic to the relationship, theoretically, of isopathy to homoeopathy we obtain the following: All isopathy is homoeopathy, but only a small portion of homoeopathy may be isopathy.
The above would seem to be entirely explanatory of the relationship existing between the two principles of drug therapeutics but, as I have tried to point out and will reiterate, it is entirely fallacious since the one method is symptomatic, the other causal; the one recognizes the often incomprehensible body individuality, and the other does not.
There exists still another and vastly important distinguishing feature with further limits the relationship between these two methods. The isopathic method takes no cognizance of disease states, of diseases, varieties and complications of a given disease. It pursues the diagnostic method. This, as I hardly need to point out, is again antagonistic to the homoeopathic approach. Homoeopathy seeks to employ that antigen which can in the healthy produce a combination of symptoms that is presented in a given state or phase of a disease in a particular patient and recognizes that as the disease progresses its aspects change, old manifestations give place to new; in short, as newer symptomatologies take the place of old, the antigen may or must be changed in keeping with the newer situation.
Isopathy, one other hand, would have us employ the so-called identical antigen in any and all stages of the disease regardless of the changing aspects of the case. This being the case, it should be quite obvious that isopathy pays little, if any, attention to the body reactions or the symptomatology of the case and once again is clearly anti-homoeopathic.
The final difference is in the sphere of application. Isopathy is applicable only where there is a distinct, single, causative agent demonstrable beyond the peradventure of a doubt. Since modern scientific investigation teaches us that disease in the large majority of cases the result of a combination of many factors, the application of isopathy becomes immediately highly restricted. In not a few cases the identity of and the nature of the causative agent will be a mooted question, entirely opinionated, lacking exact proof.
On the other had, homoeopathic is indicated in any medical case where there is a symptomatology calling for a known and proven antigen if the organism into which it is to be brought into contact can react and in which the reaction will not constitute a danger.