H. A. ROBERTS, M.D.
A very common mental attitude among physicians, even of the homoeopathic school, questions the value of homoeopathic philosophy and puts the whole emphasis of homoeopathic practice upon knowledge of the materia medica.
It is quite true that without a thorough knowledge of our materia medica and its homoeopathicity in individualized disease syndromes there would be no homoeopathic school, but it must be remembered that Hahnemann, in his development of the materia medica, used this knowledge of the characteristic symptomatology of individual drugs to discover certain fundamental principles — principles that explained the reasons for drug action, not only in certain disease symptoms but reasons for their effectiveness in various preparations or potencies; and further, that these principles, being sound and capable of extension on the same basis of experimentation and clinical use, might be carried into other fields just as successfully as in the field of medicine.
In fact, it is just this possibility of demonstrating the homoeopathic principles in the fundamental sciences that convinces us today of the soundness of these principles and that Hahnemann uncover basic laws through his medical research.
On the other hand, our practical field for applying these principles is somewhat limited if we attempt to restrict ourselves to progress in our chosen humanitarian work. Therefore we may ask ourselves of what value homoeopathic philosophy is in the work of the average homoeopathic physician. Every physician who attempts to practice homoeopathy knows there are certain fundamental tenets that he must accept, superficially at least, since they are implied by his calling himself a homoeopathic physician.
It might seem that each physician in the homoeopathic group could be classified under one of these four headings:.
He who knows not and knows not that he knows not is a fool– SHUN HIM.
He who knowns not and knows that he knows not is a scholar — WATCH HIM.
He who knows and knows not that he knows is asleep — WAKE HIM.
He who knows and knows that he knows is a wise man — FOLLOW HIM.
There are always those who do not recognize their own limitations of knowledge, believing themselves to know. There are always some who recognize the depth of their own ignorance, and would lift themselves above this level of their own insufficiency; these men must continually study to perfect themselves more in their work that they may do more and better work and help their patients further toward cure than ever before. It is this class who comprise the best to be found among the great majority of physicians, and it is in this class that our greatest hope must lie for future sound development.
There are those who know, to some degree, but who use their knowledge unconsciously and imperfectly because they do not realize they are using fundamental principles; they have never been awakened to the true import of these principles and their adaptability in everyday work.
This class comprises far too many of our homoeopathic prescribers; men who use these principles sleepily, as it were, and therefore not effectively for their own increase of knowledge nor for the best continued good of their patients.
Those who know, and know that they know, are all too few in any calling; we can only follow where they lead, and their leading must be based only on sound fundamental principles to maintain their high standards.
That we may be wakened from our sleep, let us consider where we must first apply principles in our daily work.
Every physician, of whatever school, daily meets syndromes of varying degrees of interest and intensity. There fore the first consideration of our practical application of homoeopathic principles must begin with our approach to each individual case. hoe do we differ in our approach from the attitude of the physician of the dominant school? The dominant school demands, first, the diagnosis of the disease. In gathering the data for his diagnosis he welcomes all laboratory aids in recording abnormal conditions.
The homoeopathic physician, also, has no reason ton scorn a diagnosis; in fact, he is anxious to have before him all possible data in relation to the case under consideration. For the same reason he does not overlook the value of laboratory analyses; but this is not enough. He must have in addition a picture of that elusive syndrome, the registration of his illness on the patient himself through his personality, as well as the physical registrations as noted in the laboratory. In other words, the classical disease syndrome as expressed by the physical and chemical dysfunctions are not enough; we cannot avoid a consideration of the man himself when we consider the case. This is fundamental in the homoeopathic approach to a case.
The search for specifics for many named diseases has been diligent and unceasing; and to date there has been no satisfactory specific found for any single disease syndrome. It is true that certain drugs have been found to affect profoundly the chemical or laboratory manifestations with a high percentage of success; but mere removal of certain symptoms does not always put the patient into a state of health. We are told that certain injections into the blood stream invariably destroy certain organisms, but the animal dies a sterile death. As homoeopathic physicians, whose perfect mission is to cure our patients, we must look farther than the destruction of attending organisms or the nullification of certain allergic tendencies or the removal of certain growths; we must consider the well-being of the patient himself.
Let us consider hay fever. It is not enough to record on the patients chart the fact that he has hay fever, or that he is sensitive to certain pollens. We must individualize this syndrome in the light of its symptomatic effects upon the patient himself, as expressed through his physical, mental and emotional symptoms. A study of some ninety cases during the past season where individual study of each case found some twelve remedies indicated, with very satisfactory results for the patient and the physician, leads us to inquire why twelve remedies ?
And the answer must be: because of the individualization of the case in the attempt to diagnose, not the patients condition, but the remedy. If we analyze our failures as well, we are sure to find that it is we who have failed; it is not a failure of our principles. We fail first in our case-taking, and second, in the application of the principles of homoeopathic similitude. We can correct our case-taking by careful application; we can give more attention to our knowledge of materia medica. But here another problem presents itself:.
Suppose that we have taken the case carefully, and have such a clear picture of the indicated remedy that we can not doubt its similitude. Suppose further that we have administered the remedy, and have had no satisfactory results. Is the system at fault? Wherein lies our mistake?.
Here we must consider, not only the similitude of the remedy, but of the potency. Perhaps nowhere in the realm of homoeopathic prescribing do we need more knowledge of basic principles than in this problem of selecting the potency. And nowhere in homoeopathic principles do we find a closer relationship between the fundamental laws of physics and homoeopathics than in this same problem. Here we must use as our guide that law of Maupertius, accepted by science so many years ago: THE QUANTITY OF ACTION NECESSARY TO EFFECT ANY CHANGE IN NATURE IS THE LEAST POSSIBLE. Fincke, one of the great homoeopathic thinkers, added: THE DECISIVE AMOUNT IS ALWAYS A MINIMUM, AN INFINITESIMAL.
Perhaps we have given too low a potency. Many cases have been recorded where there was careful case-taking, and clear indications for the remedy, but administration of the remedy failed to effect any results. Careful restudy of the case reaffirmed the selection, and repetition of the remedy in another potency brought the most satisfying reaction. In this relation we may quote the axiom: THE QUANTITY OF THE DRUG REQUIRED IS IN INVERSE RATIO TO THE SIMILARITY. In other words, there is sound philosophic explanation of why the best prescribers can, and do safely, use the higher range of potencies. They can afford to use the least possible, knowing that it will effect a change in nature.
On this basis let us consider the results of our analysis of the ninety hay fever cases. The approximate percentage of each remedy indicates its successful selection in this group of cases:.
Pulsatilla, 29 percent ; Phosphorus, 20 percent ; Sulphur, 19 percent ; Nux vomica, 14 percent ; Sepia, 9 percent ; Silica, 42 percent ; Rhus tox, 2 percent ; Bryonia, 2 percent ; Calcarea carb., 2 percent ; Arsenicum album and Sinapis, one case each.
We think of many of these remedies as exceedingly deep in action, and they are rightly regarded as being effective in constitutional states. It has been my experience that hay fever conditions are deeply seated in the constitutions, and develop from a background of inherited dyscrasias, plus either profound or superficial irritations of various kinds. With this in mind, in one of the cases listed, one of the deep acting remedies was prescribed. This held the case for a time, but it slipped back, and repetition of the seemingly indicated remedy had no effect. The case was carefully re-taken, and Bryonia was administered.
The effects were startling. The boy became seriously ill, and because he was unable to come to the office it was necessary to make a house visit, although he lived at some distance. The prescription here was placebo, because his illness was nothing more than a severe aggravation, from which he recovered and has maintained a most excellent state of health.
In this case the deep-acting remedy over-shot the mark completely, while a comparatively superficial remedy such as Bryonia effected a profound change in the boys condition, even in the 1000th potency.
While the potency question is always regarded as one to develop much discussion, with the principles in mind and experience as additional evidence, one can hardly avoid mention of potency when dealing philosophically with the treatment of disease syndromes. The analysis of cases referred to brought this question to the fore.
One queries why the seemingly indicated remedy failed to work properly when administered in the 1000th potency, and upon restudy of the case and the remedy, the results of the administration of the same remedy in the 9M. potency were so brilliant? Evidently the minimum was not at first administered.
In dealing with the question of potency one cannot fail to consider the question of released energy. If, as has been demonstrated, many substances give off electric charges, even in minute measurements, we cannot doubt but that the energy released by potentization is a factor of considerable weight in this potency question. Scientists have told us that diffusion governs both adsorption and imbibition (Liepatoff) and the smaller the difficulty accessible inner surface the quicker is the adsorption (Freundlich).
We must remember that these findings have developed from physical experimentation, and not on the living human mechanism, which must be infinitely more delicate through its psychological and emotional reactions.
Therefore, in dealing with disturbed functioning of our human patients, whether this be mental or physical, or both, we cannot fail to consider the dynamic disturbance that we do not find in purely laboratory experimentation. There is that delicate balance that we must consider which does not enter into consideration in the same light in dealing with physics and chemistry alone; this condition must have a parallel in consideration of the drug preparation to be used.
If we wish a physiological action from any drug, we must find this in the suitable preparation; but we cannot expect that massive doses will have the same permeative results on the whole organism as a finely divided, potentized preparation. Here again we find Maupertius law governs, for here it is not physiological action we seek; rather, we seek to effect a change in nature of the disturbance, a return to health; therefore our quantity must be the least possible.
Homoeopathic philosophy, applied in our every-day work, gives us a reason for the faith that is in us; it provides us a sound basis for procedure as well.
Suppose we have selected our remedy, that it has been administered in a seemingly suitable potency, and we have recorded definite results from it. After a time the condition returns in part. What shall be our next step? Here too we must consider the sound basis for procedure along the lines laid down by the master-thinkers and early homoeopathic scientists.
How does the condition return ? In whole or in part? If as a whole, are the symptoms as bad as before? Perhaps a repetition of the dose is required. Or is there only a part of the symptomatology manifesting now ? Here we must ask ourselves what part. Our early teachers gave us the solution to this problem in the law of direction of cure, and over a century of use has proved it sound: CURE TAKES PLACE FROM ABOVE DOWNWARD, FROM WITHIN OUTWARD, FROM AN IMPORTANT ORGAN TO A LESS IMPORTANT ORGAN, AND IN THE REVERSE DIRECTION OF ITS ONSET.
If our treatment of a case of rheumatic fever sees the patients earlier symptomatology clearing, but his heart becoming involved, we know at once that our remedy selection or our potency was gravely wrong (other conditions being equal), and the patient is proceeding away from the direction of cure. If, on the other hand, he is still in pain but the pain is moving from above downward, and clearing as it goes, we may be sure he is proceeding toward cure, and with our proper understanding and cooperation he will attain it.
If our ability and understanding in healing the sick has no more sound basis for procedure than the results of random experimentation, we are in no better position than the physician of the dominant school. If we have no comprehension of the practical value of the basis of our homoeopathic philosophy we are not truly peculiarly scientific basis for our school of medical thought. But there is a value to homoeopathic principles that gives to our school all the truly scientific procedures for diagnosis of the dominant school of medicine plus a sound and truly scientific basis of reason for therapeutic procedures; and still more, a definite basis of reason for therapeutic procedures; and still more, a definite set of principles that, when thoroughly understood, will perfect our prognosis and comprehension of each individual case that we may meet in practice.
We have not the ability, as yet, to cure every case of sickness we meet. That we shall ever reach this stage of perfection is beyond our hope or expectation, for there are so many elements entering into consideration of each case, and so much individual lack of comprehension of simple facts, that this possibility is hampered from the very start. But with our sound principles to guide us, and with the determination to see as clearly as possible hindrances to cures as well as the true picture of each individual case, we can go forward knowing that our homoeopathic principles can be applied in practical ways for our guidance and to the best good of our patients.
Miss I. M., age 45. Occupation: secretarial work, and drives her auto about fifty miles almost every day.
Chronic long-standing colitis. Constant uncomfortable feeling in left side; always a sensation as if there were something in there, causing discomfort. Soreness in front part of abdomen seems to be connected with a spot in the lumbar region; she has had this for years.
Cannot eat acid-forming foods. Constipated; it takes different forms.
Aches from iliac region under liver down abdomen.
Lameness in right knee and right arm, better from Lactrodextrin. Right eye sore, hurts to turn it.
Not always rested; feels tired inside.
Gaertner 200; after about six weeks treatment is much improved.
Another case like the one previously reported.
Miss A. S., lawyer living in another state, had been treated by homoeopathic physicians in another state but without relief. Gaertner 200. After about two weeks she wrote: “My whole life has been changed. I feel fine, am able to drive my car now, and take care of my legal practice again.” We heard from her after about a year, and she reported she continued well.
–VIRGINIA M. JOHNSON, M.D.