Read before I.H.A., Bureau of Materia Medica, June 25, 1936.
EUGENE UNDERHILL, JR., M.D.
Brilliant results in homoeopathic practice have been observed and reported from the time of Hahnemann to this very day and hour and yet the relative strength of homoeopathy in the medical field is probably much less today than it was seventy-five years ago.
The retardation and obscuration of this most beneficent therapy has been bemoaned and lamented for years without the slightest amelioration in the general situation. Something more effective than mere condemnation of other methods of treatment is necessary to pull us out of the ditch.
In the first place the brilliant results are entirely too sporadic. An overwhelming preponderance of phenomenal cures consistently obtained could scarcely be laughed off by the medical profession nor ignored by the public. a trend or drift toward homoeopathy would become inevitable and no amount of opposition could stop it.
Furthermore we must not overlook the fact that brilliant results are likewise sporadically obtained by physicians of other medical faiths and persuasions and that these results cannot be laughed off by us, nor will they always admit of solution according to the principles and philosophy pertaining to homoeopathy.
Add to the foregoing the fact that the star of modern medical science is in the ascendancy and held there by the gyrational and gravitational power of organized advertising, and finally considering our weakness along these lines, we can understand, perhaps, why we are still struggling for air.
How do our results in homoeopathic practice today compare with those of fifty and sixty years ago? Probably about the same. The earnest and conscientious prescriber now, as then, will score more hits than his less studious and less painstaking brother, but even the “tirelessly zealous” can scarcely raise his average of results to the level of eminence or sustained brilliance.
Something must be wrong or more satisfying progress along homoeopathic lines would have been made during the past two generations. Unless something occurs, either within our own ranks or in other departments of science, to make remedy and potency selections more accurate and certain than it is today homoeopathy will continue to be represented and practiced from generation to generation by a few philosophically inclined intellectuals.
Science in general has made marvelous strides since the time of Hahnemann. Efforts should be made to correlate Homoeopathy with electrochemistry and modern physics and with the latest studies along the lines of nutrition. There is probably enough known today, if properly correlated, to make remedy selection a matter of reasonable certainty. The best prescribers today would rejoice if they were dead certain that twenty-five percent of their prescriptions in chronic work would prove to be the exact similimum.
Nothing could ever hold homoeopathy back if the correct remedy and potency could be consistently prescribed in 90 per cent of the cases by the average Hahnemannian.
As things stand today one of our needs is an ADEQUATE MATERIA MEDICA. The word adequate comes from the Latin ad meaning to and aequus meaning level. Hence this word signifies just equal to, fully sufficient, yet no excessive. It is in this sense that we wish to consider the present and future possibilities of the homoeopathic Materia Medica.
Schuessler and his followers have made their mark in the therapeutic field with only twelve remedies. For depth of action no medicines in the entire materia medica can outshine them. For frequency of use Calcarea phos., Ferrum phos., Magnesium phos., Natrum mur., Natrum sulph. and Silicea will hold their own in the practice of most Hahnemannians. If the other drugs in Schuesslers list are less often employed it is due to nothing but lack of adequate knowledge and appreciation of their indications.
The twelve tissue remedies, even in the hands of experts, have failed to prove their adequacy in the treatment of the sick. Their combined range and coverage are entirely too limited to successfully compete with first-class homoeopathic practice.
On the other hand many homoeopathists find themselves hopelessly confused in the bewildering maze of our colossal materia medica.
Thorough investigation in all probability would show that every conceivable substance enfolds remedial possibilities and careful provings would define its sphere of usefulness. If every remedy in our materia medica were as well proven, as clearly defined and as thoroughly understood as Arsenicum, Nux vomica and Lycopodium, remedy selection would soon hit a new high in both ease and accuracy.
It is surprising how frequently some of the polychrests, the double salts and the nosodes, are actually indicated. While it is true that the butter we know and understand a remedy the more often we see it and use it, nevertheless some drugs are commonly in the picture while others are not. It is perfectly obvious to us all that certain remedies are very frequently indicated, others less often and some very seldom indeed.
The entire materia medica should be thoroughly investigated in a systematic and scientific manner. The net result of such a vast research would ultimately provide an adequate but not overburdened materia medica.
Remedies should be studied in their chemical and biological relationships as well as symptomatically. To do the job as it should be done would require resources and personnel equal in magnitude to that of the United States Department of Agriculture or that of the Rockefeller Foundation. While we are in the investigating mood we may as well include a study of our remedies in relation to food chemistry and the whole science of nutrition.
Another great and pressing need in homoeopathy today is a complete, accurate and well arranged repertory. In using any of the present standard repertories for working out a case, how often do we narrow our list of possible remedies to a group of polychrests which end with the familiar old refrain of Puls., Rhus tox, Sepia, Silicea, Sulphur and so forth and so on.
Once in a while we do work out a remedy that is so strange, rare and peculiar that we actually feel exhilarated. Right or wrong, the repertories, for the most part, will tend to limit remedy selection to the grand old polychrests of Hahnemann and the early masters. Too many equally important and newer drugs have not been included under a sufficient number of rubrics to permit of their selection by repertory means alone, even if indicated. The repertory should contain a complete picture or pattern of every remedy in the materia medica.
Bidwell refers to Kents Repertory as an “instrument of precision.” Undoubtedly that is what such a work should be, but it is ridiculous to describe any present day repertory in such glowing scientific phraseology.
Accurate prescribing in chronic work requires a well taken case, an adequate, trustworthy and thoroughly up to date materia medica and a repertory which will faithfully include and reflect each remedy in its every essential feature and characteristic.
One word of prophecy in closing. The time will come when remedy and potency selection will both become a matter of precision beyond anything we have yet dreamed of in our philosophy.
DR. STEARNS: At one time two other physicians were associated with me in my office for a period of years. We were all supposed to be good students and used our books constantly. One patient used Pulsatilla more than any other remedy, another one more Bryonia and a third one more Sepia. This was not because each had a leaning for the particular remedy was frequently using but it was because each mans patients would actually be different types. See the point? Every physician attracts a particular type of patient.
One of our great difficulties is the taking of the case. About twenty years ago I remember hearing Dr. Boger say the prodromal symptoms hold the key-note to your remedy. This remark stuck in my mind and I often pondered over it because I realized that as was so often the case with Boger, his aphorisms had a wider application than appeared in the particular point that was being discussed. In this case, Boger was speaking of acute troubles but the more I thought of it the more I realized that it applies to all cases whether acute or chronic. Two patients illustrate this and both happen to be Bryonia cases.
One was the wife of physician. She had nephritis and was in very bad condition. We went over the case together and brought out the fact that she had had typhoid fever twelve years before which was treated by the cold bath method. On present symptoms there was not enough on which a prescription could be worked out but we finally chased out enough symptoms of the original illness to make a picture of Bryonia. It was a remarkable prescription. The woman responded brilliantly and after the Bryonia had finished its work she needed a constitutional remedy. She has been perfectly well ever since, fifteen years.
The second case was my own brother. He had not been feeling well for about nine months but his symptoms were vague. I went back to the original of his trouble. A girl had drowned in a lake and he dived several times to find the body. The water was very cold and the effect of the chilling, together with the rest of the experience, left him vaguely ill. His early symptoms pointed to Bryonia, which promptly brought relief.
There is one thing about our remedies we should remember, and that is that potentization doesnt destroy any of their material; it is still just as much material as it was in the first place, only it is in a different state. When remedies are in the potentized state they take on a different quality and can affect some of the reflexes of the body at a distance. This fact is leading to some important experimenting that will lead eventually to a better understanding of our remedies. It also makes possible the use of remedies that have never been proved and the enlargement of our materia medica indefinitely.
DR. ALFRED PULFORD: The drug, as I understand it, and as Paracelsus understood it, is unseeable. What we see is not the drug, but the container of the drug; and potentization does not change the drug, as Dr. Stearns aptly states, but is so applicable that we can accept it and use it from the potentized stage where we could not otherwise. The higher the potency you get, the nearer the cell is destroyed and the sooner the cure. The cure is instantaneous. The long acting drugs depend a great deal on the ability of the system to respond immediately and the depth of the condition to which the drug is applied before we notice it at the surface, and we think it is a long acting drug when it isnt.
No potentized drug can remain in the system. If you give a teaspoonful of charcoal or a large portion of mercury, which we have found already in the bones in different parts of the body, then the system keeps acting on it. Consequently, that kind of a drug will act indefinitely, but your homoeopathic potentized drug acts that quick, and it is done.
DR. UNDERHILL, JR.: The work that Dr. Stearns is doing and has been doing for years over in New York is in many ways along the line suggested in the paper that I read. I think some mechanical or mechanistic means will ultimately the evolved whereby remedy selection will become a matter of real precision and less a matter of guess-work than it is today.
Take some of the nosodes that Dr. Stearns is working out and studying; they have a tremendous range and depth of action. We have a lot of remedies in the materia medica that are so narrow or else we know so little about them they are really not very usable. Of course if they were thoroughly proven, we would know more about them and could see a vast field for their use. All the vitamins should certainly be proven as they are isolated in crystallized form. Practically all our food substances, staple articles of diets, should be proven. Of course they are vast, complex substance; nevertheless, we are using them and become sensitive to them, and, therefore, they should be proved.
I am not very enthusiastic about the solo provings we have talked about. So many drugs have just been proven by one or two people, and on one or two doses.