Read before I.H.A., Bureau of Clinical Medicine, June 16, 1942.
H. A. ROBERTS, M.D.
Few cases come to the homoeopathic physician in which he cannot read the working of some of the laws and precepts which govern homoeopathic practice; he has here the opportunity to observe the effect of environment, circumstances and heredity in relation to the complaints of the patient, and to observe the action of the laws which the patient and his forebears may have broken. He has always before him the living pages of the action of these laws governing the patients return to health from sicknesses of varying depth and chronicity.
It has been observed that heredity plays a strong part in the illness of succeeding generations. Oftentimes, too, it appears that chronic states which appear in more than one member of a family throw much light on the underlying causes of disease, and its development in different manifestations, in various members of the family. Some careful homoeopathic prescribers have observed that such chronic conditions as eczema, asthma, etc., which afflict one partner in a marriage may appear later and in very similar form in the other partner.
The laboratory cannot demonstrate any connection between such occurrences in many instances, and would no doubt dismiss the incidents as unrelated, pure coincidence. The homoeopath replies that there are yet many things about disease which we do not understood; there are subtleties of mental and physical states which we cannot appreciate, and the relation between body and mind is as profound as it is subtle.
A patient 36 years of age, married, came to me first in 1935, from a city some four hundred miles away. As a child she had suffered from eczema which had been suppressed intermittently with great success, and she had suffered from time to time also from asthma. This had never wholly yielded to treatment, and in the intervals between the eczema and asthma she suffered from hay fever. She had then two children who appeared to have escaped the mothers afflictions, except that they took cold easily and often. The husband was tall, thin, studious in appearance, the typical Phosphorus type; he suffered from severe chest colds and had the wornout feeling at frequent intervals.
My patient, Mrs. E., did very well on the remedies which were indicated from time to time, especially Pulsatilla, Sepia and Sulphur. The asthmatic attacks lessened in frequency and severity, hay fever attacks sometimes failed to appear throughout the season, and while the eczema appeared now and then in full bloom it was much better than formerly and there were long gaps between the recurrences when her health seemed to be entirely normal. Her progress was satisfactory until she became pregnant for the third time, when she went under the care of her local doctor. She had a regulated painless delivery under sodium amytal, and was hospitalized for several weeks thereafter from partial paralysis of the legs.
From that time on she suffered more continually from her asthma and eczema. The infant was eczematous from the age of a few weeks. The mother knew little freedom from the same manifestation of her afflictions; her response to the indicated remedy was never so complete and satisfactory as before her reversion to allopathic medication. Both the asthma and hay fever had now returned in full force, and she was now never free from eczema, which cracked and bled. She had begun now to suffer considerably from painful stiff joints of the hands and wrists.
October 31, 1941, her husband wrote in great distress that he had suffered from an eruption first in the preceding February which he described as follows: A rough scabby dry spot the size of a dime appeared on the left ankle. This spread, grew redder, more scaly, and itched and burned. Sometimes it appeared like a water blister, oozing. In April a streptococcus infection in ankle spread up the leg rapidly; the ulcerated pits appeared discharging a yellowish-white thick pus.
These lesions healed slowly but still itched and burned. In September the ankle broke out as before, became very red, itched and burned incessantly; watery oozing on rubbing. He received treatment from the dominant school since the first outbreak of the trouble; then bronchopneumonia developed, from which he is now recovering. Eczema began on the hands in September with large blisters under the skin, itching severely, yellowish clear oozing when blisters were broken. Ankle eruption now covers eight square inches, and a spot the size of a silver dollar on the other ankle.
Large water blisters on soles. The skin is peeling from these areas, leaving them ragged and sore, dry, cracked, red and raw. Because of the general picture and modalities, Sulphur CM. was sent.
There was immediate aggravation of the condition. The eruption increased markedly and there was no recession or improvement in any particular. Late in November, because no improvement had been noted, the case was reviewed and Medorrhinum 20M. was sent.
Immediate improvement in general strength and condition was reported, and gradual improvement of the eruptions in proper order; the eruption first receded on the hands, and so on from above downward. December 23 he reported himself practically free from the eruption and in good health generally. For a slight return since that time he has required another dose of the same potency. In the middle of April the report came that he had been in better health than for a long time and was very busy.
The reaction in this case was so enlightening that when his wife next called for a prescription for her asthmatic attacks and her painful cracked eruptions and deforming finger and wrists, she too received Medorrhinum 20M. The babe, who had been having a bad session with asthma and eruptions, also had a dose of the same nosode in the same potency. At the last report the babe had had some attacks of asthma, lighter, fewer and shorter than before.
The mother still complains that she has some embarrassing eruption on her face, but the deep bleeding cracks on her hands have disappeared. She did not mention her painful fingers and wrists, but she wrote the letter in long-hand, which she had been unable to do for some time.
Further medication will be required in these two patients, the one of long chronicity, and the other a direct heir. But satisfactory progress has been made in the few months just past, better than the results from other seemingly indicated remedies over a much longer period of time. And it is a hindrance to the prescriber to be unable to see that condition for which he is prescribing, and to rely solely on the report given by the patient himself.
A woman now 92 years of age has been under my care for twenty years. Although always under good homoeopathic care, when she came to me she had a discharging ear; the discharge was very offensive, and she must always keep her head covered at night.
Several members of her immediate family had succumbed by middle life to tuberculosis in some form. Her health became very good under Silica, the discharge from the ear ceased, and she forgot to cover her head at night. Although always suave and courteous to those whom she met, she dominated her husband until his death and her two daughters until they became hopelessly insane.
In spite of her indomitable will, old age came upon her, and she developed attacks of delusions that robbers were breaking into the house; that members of her family were stealing her valuables (which she herself had hidden); that she was among strangers and wanted to go home; and finally and very markedly, obscenity appeared. She has been kept comfortable and brought back to a reasonably rational state by the indicated remedy. Bryonia and Lachesis have been useful at times, and for the obscene states Hyoscyamus has been very effective.
It has been possible to keep her at home under the supervision of her granddaughter and a housekeeper through the use of homoeopathy, which has palliated an end condition that under orthodox treatment would have demanded institutional care. It has been far less expensive in money as well as in wear and tear on both patient and family. No other form of treatment can offer so much comfort as Hahnemannian homoeopathy, even where cure is not possible.
Another case where homoeopathy rendered a patient comfortable where complete cure is problematical is that of a man 85 years of age, under homoeopathic care for some three years, for gangrene of the feet. He had been a lumberman all his active life and had frozen feet several times. Until the past few years he had been a continual alcoholic. When he came under my care he had six gangrenous spots on the feet and toes, two of which involved the toes complete with the joints. Secale 200 has been the principal remedy indicated in this case, although occasionally Arsenicum album and Sulphur have been clearly exhibited.
All but one of the gangrenous portions have sloughed off dry and clean; the two toes required only that the tendinous portions which held them be snipped, and they healed as they separated. One foot is healed except for a spot half the size of a dime, which is healing rapidly. The other foot still has a place on the upper surface of the great toe extending upward toward the foot, which may or may not yield to the action of the remedy in a satisfactory manner.
A vigorous young contractor called me out of bed one night to see what could be done to relieve the pain in his little finger. It had been injured three days before by dropping a heavy weight on it, causing little trouble at the time. Tonight it was hot, throbbing, painful, with a painful red streak running up the arm. He was fearful, nervous, flushed and restless. Aconite 200 gave him relief in half an hour, and sleep within the hour. He accused me of giving him an opiate because of the prompt relief. The next day slight numbness remained, and no further trouble developed. Could orthodox medicine offer anything to equal this?.
A case of hay fever, eczema and occasional asthma which had troubled a young woman since childhood yielded well to infrequent doses of Sulphur in ascending potencies. About once a year she called for help, and each year reported the trouble as much less than formerly. After her marriage she failed to report for a year or two, but upon the birth of a child the troubles all came back, much exacerbated. I fully believe this was due to allopathic interference during gestation and lactation, as she lived some distance from homoeopathic treatment during that critical period. Finally she called upon me again in desperation because asthma had appeared in a severe form. This time Sulphur did not give satisfactory reaction.
There was slight relief from the oppressed respiration and marked increase of the eczema which was already present; but the cycle was incomplete, there was some impediment to cure. The clue came when she reported that she could stand it days, but she dreaded the nights because either the eruption or the asthma was so bad during the dark hours. A review of the case demonstrated the need for Syphilinum; and the expected improvement, in the right direction, developed. A further reason for hindrance in the remedy action came when she divulged the fact that she was taking a cod liver oil and calcium combination; with this abolished, improvement proceeded more rapidly, and the last report was of great improvement.
The moral of this next tale might be THE INGRATITUDE OF PATIENTS. A young man who had been in my care since birth married a young woman who suffered from chronic osteomyelitis, and had been operated more than once for the condition.
She was brought to me for treatment, and because of the condition it was necessary to invoke surgery once more. Silica brought her through this operation in unusually good condition, and she kept in good health for sometime. She had one further attack of some severity, but recurrences were less frequent and milder in type under the homoeopathic remedy. A child was born, under homoeopathic care from birth, and she has had few minor ailments, and the mothers health remains good.
In the meantime the father contracted an acute sycotic infection which was controlled by the homoeopathic remedy, but he himself is hard to control as he does not return as often as necessary and fails to cooperate because the wife, who has been saved from a life of chronic invalidism, feels that not enough is being done for him by homoeopathy and urges that her husband receive orthodox treatment.
A persistent and extremely painful tic douloureux yielded very reluctantly and only partially to homoeopathic prescribing from three competent Hahnemannian prescribers over a period of some two or three years. She had had allopathic treatment for years previously with no relief whatsoever except such as offered by narcotics. It was an obscure and difficult case and relief from the seemingly indicated remedies was only temporary. There was no history of malaria, although she came from a section where malaria was rampant; she had no history of chills or fever in any form and said she had never been sick even during gestation or childbirth.
Finally she complained of tension on the face as if white of egg had dried there; lightning-like pains which drove her from bed to walk the floor, which came on only when it was time to retire and after she had retired, and let up around 3 a.m. Her face was yellowish and dirty in appearance although she was a cleanly person. Magnesia carb. 900, one dose, gave progressive comfort for three months, when the trouble returned after news of the death of her son. The remedy was repeated and to date (some four months) no further report has been received, so it may be assumed that improvement has continued.
Another case of tic douloureux had been under control for some time, the remedies being Arsenicum album and Syphilinum at long intervals, when another attack occurred after exposure to cold winds.
In this attack there was complete relief as soon as the patient lay down to rest. If she rose to go about her work the pain returned, her limbs would tremble and she would become almost prostrated. Magnesia phos. 1M. gave progressive relief, and at the last report the condition had all but disappeared.
One cannot help but note here in this connection that in almost every case of tic douloureux under observation the immediate impetus to onset of pain has been emotional in character. Only once or twice have I seen a case of this affliction in men; it has almost always been confined to widows in their fifties or women who have passed through severe emotional strain.
Each case of whatever nature presented to the homoeopathic physician offers a fresh illustration of the action of the natural laws which operate in sickness and disease, and is a fresh stimulus to further cooperation with those laws through study and application of the means at our disposal.
DR. SUTHERLAND: In the first part of his paper Dr. Roberts mentioned family tendencies with respect to diseases such as asthma, eczema and hay fever in various members of the same family, perhaps for generations back and in succeeding generations. That is a very interesting observation which I have had an opportunity of confirming.
Further, I think one will often find a family tendency to the same remedy. For instance, I have a young woman under my care whose remedy is Sepia; her mother requires Sepia; her father requires Sepia, an uncle requires Sepia, and a brother requires Sepia, and all have benefited by that particular remedy–a rather interesting thing. There is a great deal of hay fever, asthma and eczema in that particular family.
Another point that I would like to stress is this, that cases who come to us from orthodox prescribing we often find are difficult to get anywhere with. I think the types of treatment which they have had have been so suppressive that our remedies often take a great time to get any action. We sometimes have to poke around until the way is cleared enough to get a characteristic symptom. Then a remedy indication appears in very distinct form, and we can prescribe and really get somewhere.
Tic is a disease which I think we all hate to encounter because it presents such difficulty in curing. I well remember a case that took me four years to cure. I am happy to say I was able to cure this elderly lady, and eventually she died of pneumonia, which I wasnt able to cure. She was eight-five, and perhaps her time had come anyway.
It is a strange thing that of the many remedies that seemed well indicated, the one that finally cured her was Cimicifuga. The pain disappeared at night. That was a very distinct factor and was not recognized by me for a long time. For months she had this particular symptom. I spent much time trying to elicit the character of the pain and common symptoms without paying very much attention to that. When I really realized the importance of the modality in the case, she got well in less than a weeks time, after four years.