WHAT Dr. Sterling has written in his admirable paper is correct. The lesson cannot be enforced too strongly. It will be needed as long as our colleagues prescribe potencies, low or high, to meet simple, mechanical conditions. As the devout Moslem, who said he would turn his camel loose and trust God,” was rebuked by his Master’s reply, “tie the camel and trust God, so we must use every means that modern science has brought to our hands, and then add that greatest vito-chemical factor, the Homoeopathic remedy. Still the question in my mind is whether the greater danger lies in the direction of Dr. Sterling’s lesson.
I am inclined to believe that it lies in the direction of neglect of the vito-chemical for the mechanical. I question, if to day, we make as many constitutional cures as we did twenty-five years ago. Just at that time my effort and that of my colleagues was to test thoroughly the existing Homoeopathic claim made in our literature for the cure of special diseases-the eye and the ear- the clinic of the New York Ophthalmic Hospital having just then been put in our hands, and while I would not, for a moment, disparage there has been a retrograde movement during, perhaps, the last ten years.
The question may be asked by my hearers, “what do you mean by constitutional cures; are not ‘Old-School’ cures constitutional?” Yes, certainly. “Are they not good, satisfactory?” Yes, certainly. “Are ours better? No, not if they lack the vito-chemical element -the similar. The danger is that we are tempted to abandon the constitutional for the more tangible, because material, surgical, just times, weary along right lines, from ignorance, discouraged, we have deviated, tinkered, until with the use of some individual remedy the difficulties have dissolved as by a charm.
Easy to practice Homoeopathy? Absurd! One needs all the wisdom of Humphrey, Dunham and Allen, joined with the intuition of a Grey and the stolidity of a Liebold. The charm that won me to the practice of our art in similars, was the physiological indications. Every salt, every metal that lies in the mould of the earth, every plant that has appropriated the salts of earth and made them living vegetable tissue; every virus that healthy action of lower animals has made a means of defence; every virus that abnormal action of higher animals has made a besom of destruction, has an action that is unique at once so wonderful for simple study, that it absorbs one, if only on that line, but so much more wonderful if we study those possibilities which lie open before us as we turn to the higher plane of helpfulness for cure of human ills.
Enthusiastic? Of course, we are. Sectarian? Certainly, in the same sense than an enthusiastic geologist, botanist, chemist, may be considered an enthusiastic sectarian; only such are we. What have we to offer to the world that is superior to the mechanical or the constitutional on the old plan? Much every way. Among these metals, salts, plants, etc., that we use largely, some which act not only generally, constitutionally, but by the grace of an all-wise Jehovah, there are some which act as by flat upon the ears. Not only so, but upon special parts of the ears, special function being thereby conserved; hence, I find ground not only for faith as a medical man, but faith as a Christian when I learned that this world is it a thing or chance.
Let me, then, to enforce my claim, cite a few instances of this special, and if I may be allowed to coin the expression, elective chemico-vital action.
Take the remedy Plantago: what is there about this simple, unobtrusive remedy that would lead one to expect such special action as was demonstrated in the proving made by Francis Humphrey, M.D. This action is unique on the trifacial nerve and related ganglia. The pains are lightning-like twinges, and patients who have had suppurative inflammation of the middle ear, become alarmed at the prospect of a similar experience. The inspection of the drumhead, however, shows it to be absolutely free from hyperaemia.
The relation to the dental branches of the trifacial is very interesting, the proving involving not only the ear, but the teeth, both upper and lower maxillary. From the clinical note by the prover, I quote: “I have for many years used the Plantago sufficiently in various forms of odontalgia, and doubt not this use of the Plantago has been confirmed by all who took part in the proving during these intervening years” (Humphreys).
A unique case may be briefly quoted: Miss S. came to me after suffering for a number of days with intense earache. Her brother, a physician, feared that she was on the verge of suppurative inflammation. Inspection of the drum-head showed that it was free from any evidences of congestion, and the hearing was normal. I asked as to her care of the teeth, saying that, in all probability, the trouble was due to defective teeth. I was laughed at for my opinion, because the lady had only a few days before had the teeth put in perfect order.
I then thought that possibly the dentist might have packed the crown of the teeth too closely and produced pressure. On inspecting the recent work, I noticed two fillings in the lower molar teeth on the left side showed evidence of contact, and asked her to bite on the handle of a cotton-carrier placed between those two fillings. The result was an increase of the neuralgia in the ear, and the laugh was then transferred to the other side of the house. The whole difficulty was obviated by burring down the fillings.
The Plantago is an admirable local application, either to the ear or to the crowns of carious teeth that cause reflex neuralgia. Dr. M., one of my friends of the opposite school, was nearly converted to the study and practice of our faith by the application of the fluid extract to his own ear while suffering from an otitis that involved the canal as well as middle ear. The relief was magical, after various mitigating agents, such as the Magendie solution, had been used.
An interesting comparison may be made between Plantago, Chamomilla and Pulsatilla. The cases of intense neuralgia under the two former remedies are associated with slight hyperaemia, even if they do not pass on to acute inflammation; and the peculiarities of the Chamomilla symptoms, the intense intolerance of pain, and the irritability of the patient, are in decided contrast to the lachrymose and despairing depression of the Pulsatilla patient.
Capsicum.-Although I have frequently referred to this remedy in other similar papers, it is too good a sample of our work to be omitted from this. How shall we account for the action of Capsicum in mastoid disease? Sinapisms are as old as the art of healing, Possibly one of hippocrates’s numerous students had the earache. Mustard being scarce and red pepper plenty, a diversion was created in the race, so that future generation had in impression on the Capsicum line, and the proving evolved this tendency. But, seriously, one would never expect this symptom, “on the petrous bone behind the auricle a swelling, hard, red, and painful to the touch.” Yet, this was the guiding-star, under clinical study, to a most valuable remedy. We are under obligation to Professor Allen for a study that leads to the question: “Is Capsicum of value in the treatment of ear diseases?”
In comparing it with Hepar and Mercury, it belongs to the earlier stages of acute catarrhal or suppurative inflammation, and undoubtedly saves patients form the deep-seated suppuration in which Hepar and Mercury are needed, and operative interference a possible outcome. Still, it is very difficult to draw that line, and it is effective even after profuse suppuration is well established, and has made the knife unnecessary. Compared with Hepar, the area of sensitiveness is very much greater, and there is less of the variations due to exposure, time of day, etc. Compared with Mercury, the area of sensitiveness is as great, perhaps, but we do not notice the peculiar nightly aggravations of the latter remedy, nor the sticky, uncomfortable perspiration.
Tellurium.-Why should a metal like this select the tympanum as its point of offensive warfare? Why should it produce in offensive that smells to heaven?-an odor of fish-brine so offensive that one finds a parallel in the proverbial profanity of the fish woman possibly the drug was proved on one of them.
The proving, as made by Dr. Dunham, shows that there were most profound changes in the mucous membrane of the tympanum, as well as of the drum-head. One of the most remarkable cases that I have ever seen was the action of this remedy in the person of a young married woman, Mrs. M., 21 years of age. She had had suppuration of the ear from childhood, and now that the responsibility devolved upon herself since her married life, she was very anxious to be relieved of this annoying conditions.
The canal was large, tissues wasted, the drum-head undefined and oozing a thin, watery, most offensive discharge. Under Psorinum this was modified, and developed the characteristic odor of fish- brine. Under Tellurium, the appearance of the ear gradually changed, the discharge grew less, scales formed, were exfoliated, the outlines of the perforated drum-head came into view, the perforation headed, and, to my great surprise, a fair degree of hearing was secured. The cure was permanent, at least, so far as I know up to date. I have seen the lady frequently since, and the result is very gratifying.
The comparison that between this metal and the virus, Psorinum is unique. I admit that I had an intense prejudice against the latter remedy, but experience among the poor children at the Five-Points House of Industry, and later on at the Ophthalmic Hospital, overcame it entirely, and one need only study the wretched, puny, prematurely aged, with discharges of a cadaverous odor from the ears, stinking diarrhoea, stench of the very person, which is indescribable, but well recognized by those who have had experience with these cases who present themselves at our institutions, to be profoundly thankful for any remedy that will correct such conditions.
Chenopodium Anthelminticum.-Why should this vegetable select not only the auditory nerve but particular portions of it? Notice these symptoms taken from Allen’s Encyclopaedia:.
“Deafness to the sound of the voice, but exquisite sensitiveness to the sounds of passing vehicles. He remarked as each vehicle rolled by that it sounded like the roaring of immense cannons right into his ear; also annoying buzzing in the ears….During all the time his deafness, as described, was progressive, and became so pronounced as to make it impossible to talk to him. Still, there was the same kind of sensitiveness to other sounds. For example, when the tea bell rang, though he was on the third story, three flights from where the sound came, he, without notice from members of his family, to their utter astonishment, got up and walked as deliberately as ever into the dining-room.”.
Here we have a picture of profound effect upon the auditory nerve, and, more than that, not an abolition of function, but a modification which shows deafness to voice, but sensitiveness to both high tones and low tones. Clinically, it has proved curative for the low tones of the organ, 16- and 32-foot pipe, and should be thought of when there is in the patient the perception of high tones, like those of small bells, whistles, etc., and also a shrinking from low tones, the intermediate tones being either good or absolutely lost.
I have given thus rapidly pictures of remedies acting upon the sensory nerves of the tympanum, not involving the mucous membrane to a degree of inflammation or suppuration; also, remedies affecting the tympanum in such a condition of acute inflammation, and one remedy affecting the auditory nerve entirely independent of conditions of the middle ear.
These statements do not need any argument. They are too well known to those who are interested in this subject. If this be so, the question then arises, why is it that the profession does not use these remedies and similar remedies? Dr. Sterling has referred to one gentleman who does use them, and who has used them for years, to my personal knowledge, but when he offers them to his colleagues in a paper read in their hearing, they simply state that these are the remedies and the methods of Homoeopathy. Let the gentleman take them and go with them to those who practice sectarian medicine.
The simple fact is that we are none of us free from prejudice, and we are not likely to be freed from our prejudices. Here and there peculiar circumstances of association or accidental conviction lead one to the investigation of physiological medicine, which is Homoeopathy, and such persons modify their methods, if not their relations.
Perhaps it is not well to ask more in medical lines than we do in other lines of experience and conviction.