By DR. E. SCHLEGEL, Tubingen. LADIES AND GENTLEMEN,-You have done me the honour of inviting me to give an address on cancer, after the publication of my book on the same subject at the beginning of this year. In this book I have attempted to collect and examine all our present knowledge of cancer and all important efforts to cure it, and, at the same time, to give from the several branches of the problem, and to represent homoeopathic therapeutics as fully justified and comparatively helpful and promising, an opinion, in entertaining which I feel perfectly justified by reason of my studies and the experiences I have made.
From the native land of our countryman, Samuel Hahnemann, still so little really known in all his intellectuality, I come to-day before you with the attempt to give a true appreciation of his great therapeutic idea in connection with that terrible disease. Far more than a century has passed since Hahnemann came forward with his theory and teachings. It is only during the last fifty years that the cancer problem has been seriously tackled in this direction. And here English doctors took the lead, as, for example, Pattison, Cooper, and Burnett. The practical side to the problem was first tackled; the scientific one followed, as a matter of course. But whilst those leading doctors’ ideas developed in touch with life itself, biologically, as, warranted by modern science, we say to-day, the medical schools have, all that time, been making an enormous display of unfruitful scientific learning, and are still continuing to do
Now if we put the question, what standpoint medical science, and practical therapeutics especially, take at all in relation to the cancer problem, the answer must be: Medical science is in no wise bound by any knowledge whatever that we may possess of the nature of cancer, or forced by binding obligations to repel the disease according to some prescribed method. It is free, thanks to the circumstance that no efforts have led to any binding knowledge.
Much detailed knowledge, it is true, has been gained of the operations of cancer and its effects on the affected organism by the arranging of natural and artificial experiments; but none of our knowledge extends to the roots of the process, none is clear and definite as to the conclusions to be drawn therefrom for therapeutics. Nor has anything of fundamental importance been ascertained in the case of plants, where we find analogous growths, or of animals that are liable to carcinoma. When one thought to have secured some positive results, the measures based on such proved nevertheless unreliable and have ended in failure.
Such experiments are being made everywhere still, and it is to be hoped that they will continue to produce new preliminary information. Hitherto, however, they have not succeeded in giving us any binding therapeutics. So practical medicine has scope enough for activity in all directions as regards the cancer problem. Success alone can be decisive here, whether it is found through surgical, dietetic, medicinal, or X-ray treatment. Thus we homoeopaths, too, are at liberty to line up with the others, and have the still greater liberty of criticizing the other schools.
I shall now show in short how, in my opinion, we are to judge of the different methods in therapeutics. The first idea in therapeutics, and one which is perfectly obvious even to the outsider, is that of operation. You see a tumour, and know it does not belong there. To remove it is therefore quite natural. Not all cancers form, as is well known, growths that are accessible for an operation. But even in a case where the tumour can be removed this will not suffice, from the medical point of view. For why should not an organism that has produced such a tumour form a second, if the chance was taken from it to nourish the first? The biological idea is utterly wanting here. And indeed, later there usually grows a second, and even a third tumour, where the first one has been removed by operation.
But anyhow, sometimes such an operation proves a successful cure: no second growth is not only the result of the removal of the tumour, but also of biological change in diet, and probably other factors, affect the patient. The operation is more biological than its mere anatomical conception would warrent us to think. Thus, you see, a reaction can be brought about that really has curative power, and thus a recurrence of a tumour may sometimes be prevented. But be that as it may, an operation is a dangerous and imperfect attempt for the cure of cancer, and frequently it is quite out of the question because of the seat and the stage of the disease.
An exactly opposite standpoint is taken by some doctors, who, very few in number for the present, do not at first take the location of the cancerous disease at all into account, and who do not start with the existence of a visible tumour, but rather from the basis of pathology. They are at the same time physiologists, and probably exclusively vegetarians. The very fact that cancer patients are frequently well-fed people who demonstrably have lived on rich, albuminous food and animal products, and that cancer is, on the whole specially prevalent where wealth and luxury abound, has induced a number of doctors to fight the disease by means of strict dieting.
You will all know, I presume, the name of L. Duncan-Bulkley, the director of the New York Hospital for Skin and Cancer Diseases, who cannot lack numerous opportunities for making observations and much practical knowledge and experience. He has published a book full of important matter, and is also the editor of the journal Cancer, in collaboration with other doctors belonging to his school of thought. In very many cases of cancer, and also of relapses and metastases, they confined themselves to ordering a strictly vegetarian diet, much uncooked food, and great frugality in eating. Even milk is mostly excluded form this diet. And with this treatment Bulkley has obtained so many cures, that he expects of a general introduction of his method, that the so far irresistibly spreading cancer disease would be checked and driven back. But we may not conceal the fact that cancer sometimes breaks out also in people who have long lived on vegetarian food.
I made this observation many years ago already, and it has been confirmed to me by diet-doctors. Dr. Bircher-Benner, of Zurich, however, one of the most experienced and successful reformers in diet, added the remark: “I have not found any case of cancer with persons who have been fed in the right way on uncooked vegetarian food.” In the last years, the book, “Cancer, its Cause and its Sure Prevention.” written by J. Ellis Barker, has also made a great sensation. Barker gives his own history, that of the member of a family who had cases of cancer to register amongst his ancestors and relatives. He himself had come to the threshold of the disease, as he thinks, though it had not been located yet. By a study of the whole question, he had thereupon gained the conviction that cancer was a disease that had its roots in modern methods of living and of civilization, and that one just had to avoid all these evils so as to retain one’s health.
A food treatment in conformity with nature gave back to Barker his full amount of health and vigour, so that he felt justified in standing up for the before-mentioned conception of the malady. He has specially given his attention to the artificial preparation and refining of foodstuffs, to preserves lacking in vitamins, to the preserving of nutritive substances by the addition, of chemicals, and he sees in them the greatest evil of civilization. One can add to these observations that the present day saturation of the air with carbonic gases and the contamination of objects that are in daily use with all sorts of derivates of carbon, form a further striking instance of injury done in the way of predisposing to cancer, a fact which is quite consistent with the direct observation of the generalising of cancer by soot, paraffin, aniline, petrolic residues, and other carbutes.
It is perfectly clear that with the injurious food and the deterioration of the air we breathe, by the enormous amount of motor-gasses continually streaming into it, an increase in the disposition to cancer must be produced. It is quite evident, too, that a flight from all these things must put the organism again in a more favourable condition, must gibe back to it, as it were, its forces of conservation. Now, although the whole movement that starts at this point and that has the aim of keeping clear of the evils of civilization, bears a prophylactic character, we can yet understand how it can also operate therapeutically, viz., if we may take it for granted that also in the case of cancer the human organism retains a biological character, that it defends itself, and that it may also be victorious if the conserving forces of life gain the superiority. And that this is possible Bulkley and others have proved; thus it seems that here a fruitful form of therapeutics is opening up for cancer patients.
All these views have been taken almost straight from experience. But we are in the happy position of being able to support them also from the scientific point of view. The biological bearing of the organism shows itself already in the well-known tarring of rabbits’ ears; the spontaneous absorption of cancerous relapses and of metastases point to the same fact, and even the spontaneous healing of whole cancerous ulcerations that occur sometimes. Through two Viennese scholars, through Freund and kaminer, we were given, however, in 1925, very conclusively, the biochemical foundations for the disposition to carcinoma. They find that in the cancer patient there must be a disposition favourable to the disease. These authors followed up the biochemical process and were able to differentiate if for cancer and sarcoma. A local disposition to cancer arises, in the opinion of these two scholars, when the aetherizable sebacic acid which destroys the cell of the carcinoma is used up too much, so that its protective prophylactic effects cease. Thus the protection is proved, as well as the cessation of the protection owing to too great biological demands on it, a conception which fits in exactly with the endeavour to find a form of therapeutics for carcinoma, whether through a direct relief by means of a natural diet, or through other operations, for the success of any mode of procedure will depend on whether the organism regains its original forces that serves as a means of self-preservation.
It is easily conceivable that a certain adaptability will still develop in us and our descendants against the injurious results of civilization. It will probably have to be understood so, that counteracting matter will appear in the coming generations in abundance and perhaps in manifold selection. But since the injurious influences resulting from technical and chemical contrivances is rapidly on the increase, humanity with its process of adaptability will probably not be able to keep up with it, and a great reform in the use of all that poisonous matter will be necessary so as to reduce the rate of cancer. If the disease has already broken out, it is for many too late, as it is, to make use of medical instructions that are merely negative.
And so we come to the third possibility of gaining the victory over the formation of carcinoma, viz., through medicines. The effect of medicines is a less sympathetic means by which Nature rids us of diseases, as it leads us through unknown processes in the interior of our organism. Whilst surgical activity solves apparently easily understandable problems, and whilst dietetics with their large scope for action are, in reality, as easy to understand, medicinal science leads us into a wonderland. That which is easy to understand in its effects does not belong at all yet to the medicinal province, as, for example, the destructive effects of soda on acids; the latter has its origin in the dark, and emerges from uncontrollable mutual effects in connection with the organism. But nevertheless such effects do exist in a most astonishing manner. We comfort ourselves with the though that there is much that is obscure in natural-
Process as it is, and that yet we have no doubt whatever about the important interdependency of cause and effect. The whole problem of alimentation falls within this province. From infancy on we demand things the scientific justification of which does not bother us in the least at the first, but the effect of which on the establishment of our body is beyond all doubt. And in reality it is similar with the province of medicinal experience. At all times one has made observations here that are in general established, though it is difficult to turn them to account in the individual case. Extremely different medicines, narcotics as well as strong irritants, and even poisons, of which I will only mention belladonna, conium, chelidonium, potassium, hydrastis, phytolacca, arsenic, have sometimes been found to have a striking effect on cancers; but over against the different natural products there was only the name carcinoma, and many cases had to be treated with one of these remedies in order to obtain once again such an unmistakable reaction. Thus it was a matter of chance, somewhat moderated by the tact and sagacity of the doctor, when such a prescription of medicines had to be made. And yet no one dares fully deny those effects, and even where medical scepticism instead of medical skill has been practised, such remedies were resorted to again in face of the terrible suffering in cancerous diseases.
And now a medical genius came forward, Samuel Hahnemann, whose doctrines in regard to this subject can be summarized thus: Ask Nature! Do not seek to find out scientific names for the different cases of the disease, but rather all its natural phenomena, all its so-called symptoms, objectively and subjectively. Do not let one phenomenon escape you, for they are all the expression of some inner physical necessity. But do not neglect either to inquire into the natural phenomena of the medicines, examine the effects of belladonna, conium, arsenic, on relatively healthy people, and you will get a whole series of disorders that will often strike you with their great similarity with the symptoms of the maladies that affect human beings; and now, when you find a series of symptoms that are similar to those of cancerous diseases, oppose the most similar ones to the individual malady, by freeing their actual energies from the roughest parts of their material original surroundings, and by thus introducing into the affected organism a superior dynamic force which destroys the effects of the disease, just because it is so similar to it, that it, that it touches the very same points of the organism.
It is perfectly easy to imagine this therapeutical analogy, if you intuitively grasp the effects of a medicine; you have a poisoning of the organism before you, and you can experience it in your own person, as Hahnemann did by taking Peruvian bark. The disorder in his health and the fever he felt reminded him of malaria. In consequence, a similar disease-creating energy must have got into his system through Peruvian bark. For a long time he carried this impression about in his mind, till the obvious thought struck him that he had here a process determined by some natural law which must also obtain in the case of other helpful medicines. He put this thought to the test with bryonia and ipecacuanha, and was led by such experiments to consider dilutions of those poisons to be more profitable than the undiluted medicinal substances.
I repeat, this way the analogy is easy to be imagined, but for a theoretical, scientific development the way is more circuitous and difficult. If one takes Hahnemann’s doctrines as a whole, as we meet them finally in the “Organon,” it is evident that medical science can only come by a roundabout way to agree with them. But there is another quite short and purely logical way of looking at it, one which is based on natural dynamics and which declares: if in two such vastly complicated systems as we must suppose them to be in people that have fallen ill spontaneously and those that are ill from medicines, there are far-reaching analogies in prominent natural phenomena, there must exist also a relationship of the inner dynamic, which may include a connection in the mode of cure; this reasoning is correct, but it does not carry us any further. The power to bring us further must come to medical science from experience, from experiment; Hahnemann, as you know, carried through the necessary experiments. By his train of thought the nature of chance has been taken from the whole medical problem, for it is generally valid, in the case of an acute feverish disease was not capable of healing the still fresh disturbance by means of its forces of conservation, can still less do so when it is in its chronic stage.
So if we can perceive in the case of an acute disease that the homoeopathic medicine takes effect rapidly and shortens the suffering in a striking fashion, we shall not effect in a case of cancer a sudden turn towards recovery, but we shall have to watch patiently the natural phenomena of the whole chronic state, and again and again to try to stimulate the whole constitution with the analogous remedy. But this does not exclude the possibility of our also having some rapid successes, at least initial successes, which encourage us greatly, but which necessitate an exact and favourable continuation along the same before mentioned line. And some cases, which take their course with too greatly diminished forces of the individual, we shall not be able to save any more.
I am so fortunate as to speak here before convinced homoeopathic colleagues. You will agree with me in the before- mentioned, formulae for our laws of healing. In reality, this formulation is derived from Hahnemann, though slightly modernized, and it is all the less necessary for us to give any reasons for it, since the whole modern movement in medical science represents a strong approximation to it. You know also that Hahnemann very strongly stressed the difference between an acute and a chronic state, and that his doctrines were not doctrines at chronic state, and that his doctrines were not doctrines at first, but principles founded on experiment.
Hahnemann proceeded from observations he had made, and he has said expressly in the “Organon” that, should experience prove “opposite” remedies to be successful, such should be chosen but if it should justify “similar” remedies to be successful, then they should be selected. Not before he had made such experiments did this great physician lay down his principles, and we can say, through his consultation of Nature and his therapeutics based purely on natural phenomena light was thrown on the science of healing. No one will ever blow out the torch he raised; on the contrary, several movements of medical scholars unite to-day to raise it even higher; it will one day receive its central place, since it is this light that excludes uncertainty and that leads us to successes in the range of the possible. On the whole, we may understand, with medical therapeutics and especially with homoeopathic therapeutics, that by these remedies the biological production of protective matter is stimulated.
We have seen, however, that there are also other therapeutical methods. Even amongst the medicinal influences there are other conceptions that are noteworthy. But I shall now only make mention of the X-ray treatment. One sought therewith to kill the cancer, but others have adopted the opinion that the rays call forth a biological counteraction. Thus there might be also some medicines that directly bind the cancer poison and neutralize it, whilst we with our homoeopathic views believe in a biological counteraction, in the sense that the medicine is poisonous in itself, in a strong analogy as poisonous as the cancer itself, but that by virtue of its superior dynamic forces, which Hahnemann gave it in the diluting process, it volatilizes again after stimulating the organism. And just with ray treatment we can carry through this opinion, as it is an accepted fact that radium as well as Rontgen rays act as poisons; they are genuine poisons which do their damage by chemical irritation., And as regards the analogy, their effect is not infrequently a complete carcinoma, particularly on the skin. They injure all the tissues, cause, for example a clouding over of the lenses, and destroy the germinal tissues the ulcers they produce have often been recognized as genuine cancer and have killed the patient.
The ray treatment has therefore to be included in the range of out homoeopathic considerations. And so we are also fully justified in working with minimal doses of ray treatment by way of experiment., In 1911 Dr. Still man Bailey gave an address here at the Congress on this method of therapeutics, and I was exceedingly anxious to hear of the further development of this affair. I have made some experiments in this direction myself, which were very successful in the cases of angioma and lupus unhappily I was not in a position to proceed with them sufficiently in the case of cancer. It would be very desirable to hear something about the subject and how far experiments have developed, which I did not succeed in doing in spite of all my endeavours.