The Scientific Reasonableness of Homeopathy
Royal S. Copeland, A.M., M.D.
Dean New York Homeopathic Medical College and Flower Hospital
Formerly Professor in the University of Michigan
Late President, American Institute of Homeopathy.
Reprinted from The Chironian
This monograph is the outgrowth of a series of addresses, given by the writer during the past half dozen years. The first of these was presented to the American Institute of Homoeopathy, and was afterwards published under the title "In Defense of the Attenuated Drug." This was followed by the University of Minnesota Introductory Lecture, the Medical Century Prize Essay, the McClelland Anniversary Address, etc., etc. Under the caption, "The Scientific Basis of Homeopathy" it was again presented to the profession. At the Chicago meeting of the Illinois and Wisconsin Societies a similar address was delivered with the title " Homeopathy and the ‘New Thought' in Science." The evolution has now resulted in this little volume, which is modestly dedicated to the hope that it may help our beloved cause.
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The Scientific Reasonableness of Homeopathy
"Ye see how large a letter I have written unto you with mine own hand," said Paul in closing his letter to the Galatians. In the language of this epistle would I speak unto the homeopathic profession. t cannot say with the Apostle, "Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship. him I declare unto you." I can simply say that whom you understandingly worship likewise I follow. Your faith is my faith, and your belief my belief. Therefore, in all simplicity, I bring Paul's Galatian message: "Let us not be weary in well doing; for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not. As we have, therefore, opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who arc of the household of faith. "
The message I bear is no new thing; it strikes no unfamiliar note. The recent meetings of all our societies have discussed, more or less in detail, the line of argument here presented. Except for the well known tolerance of our profession, I might not make bold to offer this old wine. However, they of the household itself need frequent refreshment, and restatement of the articles of faith tends to renewal of strength and vigor. Therefore, my brethren, in bringing an old message, I pray only for new words that may help to hold the reapers till the harvest is ready.
Rarely has a system of medicine, religion, or philosophy outlived its founder. But the history of Homeopathy, the institution, offers striking testimony to the possible perpetuity of an absurdity, or it indicates the ultimate universal acceptance of Nature's law in therapeutics.
At the time of Hahnemann's death, the theories of the homeopathic doctrine and practice were so at variance with the accepted views of the medical world, that it is small wonder our founder was vilified and rejected. Things have changed since that day. In its essentials Homeopathy has not changed, but the history of the other school, during this period, is splashed and even bathed in the blood of many revolutions. Not always, it is true, but usually, successful revolutions make for progress. We may be biased observers, but to the homeopathist there is nothing but pleasure in the observance of these upheaval. In each succeeding readjustment of medical thought, we observe a closer approximation to homeopathic ideals.
Take, for instance, the fling made in older days, and made even yet by people ignorant of advanced scientific thought, "the homeopathic physician is a 'little pill' doctor." In 1876, in his presidential address before the American Institute of Homeopathy, the noble Carroll Dunham said, "Ingenious experiment shall lead a Tyndall or a Crookes to a demonstration of the power of potentized medicaments." Prophetic words, these! Radioactivity, unknown to Dunham and unheard of for a score of years after his death, is the fulfillment of his vision. The advance in physical chemistry, too, has demonstrated the value of the infinitesimal. The consensus of opinion today and the teaching of every laboratory in the world, is that the finer the division of a chemical substance, the more active it is, and its activities are not fixed qualities except in infinite dilution. Samuel Hahnemann knew this a century ago. Listen to his statement: "The effect of a homeopathic dose is augmented by increasing the quantity of fluid in which the medicine is dissolved preparatory to its administration." Every physician today, versed in scientific knowledge, is a "little pill" doctor! The massive doses of former generations have been forever displaced.
Dissociation of Molecules.
In the theory of dissociation of molecules, the laboratory of physical chemistry has scientifically proven the value of the infinitesimal. While this doctrine is now well known to every scientist. and especially to the reader of the homeopathic publications of the past five years, it may not be out of place to review it briefly. As interpreted by this theory, a chemical, technically an electrolyte, when dissolved, is dissociated into parts or particles smaller than the atoms and known as ions. The more dilute the solution the greater is the dissociation and consequently the atoms are less in number and the ions increased. In a solution infinitely dilute, the dissociation is absolute and the chemical is present only in a state of ionization.
When this subject was newly presented the first question which occurred to most of us was: How dilute must the solution be in order to bring about complete dissociation? If it were a solution of sodium chloride, for instance, what dilution, according to our nomenclature, would furnish complete ionization? The search for facts on this subject revealed Lord Kelvin's statement as to the size of the molecule. He says: "Imagine a rain drop or a globe of glass as large as a pea, to be magnified up to the size of the earth, each constituent molecule being magnified in the same proportion. The magnified structure would be coarser grained than a heap of small shot, but probably less coarse grained than a heap of cricket balls." The illustration permits us to appreciate, to some extent, at least, the enormous number of molecules in a bit of matter the size of a millet seed. In order, then, to reach a solution sufficient to bring about dissociation of the molecule itself, it is readily seen that the volume of the solvent used must be immense. Having quoted Kelvin, Jones, Professor of Physical Chemistry in Johns Hopkins University, states that perhaps, the best demonstration of the almost unlimited divisibility of matter is furnished by some of the aniline dyes, or by fluorescein, where one part is capable of coloring or rendering fluorescent at least one hundred million parts of water. This solution corresponds to, at least, the eighth decimal dilution. The authorities agree that the dissociation increases with the dilution from the most concentrated solutions up to a dilution of about one one-thousandth normal. It is safe to assume that dissociation of the simplest drug is not complete under the sixth decimal dilution.
It is easily seen, then, that complete ionization is possible only in infinite dilution. Not only is this true in theory, but also the research of the chemist seems to prove it. We are prepared, then, to assume that the therapeutic value of the drug is not lost when it is placed in such dilution as to represent an amount, by any present means of determination, less than any assignable or measurable quantity.
That this is true is proven, first, by clinical experience. This argument needs but the mentioning; every homeopathic physician can testify to cures made with remedies in such dilution as certainly to be far beyond the beginning of dissociation, and probably beyond complete ionization. Then, the laboratory has proven that the properties of completely dissociated solution are the sum of all the ions present in the solution. This holds for such properties as conductivity, lowering of the freezing point, refraction equivalent, heat of neutralization, and undoubtedly, for any therapeutic effect possessed by the drug.
The Power of the Infinitesimal.
In the same connection may be mentioned the wonderful properties of radium, which have excited interest, not only in the scientific world, but in the minds of all intelligent persons. Recently, Strutt, of Trinity College, Cambridge, put forth a book, entitled "The Becquerel Rays," in which he undertakes to explain the action of radioactive bodies. Some facts gleaned from this volume an: pertinent to the present discussion.
For instance, a specimen of radium bromide, placed in a glass tube and gently heated, will evolve a small amount of gas. The emanation from any such quantity of radium as is at present procurable, is absolutely infinitesimal; Strutt says the volume of this gas would not exceed a pin's head. If this emanation is now mixed with a million millions' times its own volume of air, the mixture is found to have all the properties of the pure radium, the positive, even destructive, effects of which upon the human tissues are too well known to require recital. It has been determined that the emanation thus diluted, generates a solid deposit, although not enough has yet been accumulated to be visible even under the ultra-microscope. The same scientific world which to this day denies Samuel Hahnemann the reward of his labors, has accepted these demonstrations as conclusive. Speaking, then, of this invisible deposit, and using the language of Strutt, "There lies latent in every atom of this emanation from radium. a quantity of energy absolutely gigantic." What marvellous powers in the infinitesimal!
Disregarding for the time homeopathic sources of information on this point, an eminent Parisian physician of the other school has recently testified to the wonderful results, both physiological and therapeutic, of minute amounts of gold, silver, and platinum. This experimenter, Dr. Alfred Robin, has discovered that "almost infinitesimal closes are endowed with very great activity." For instance, solutions of gold, corresponding to about the 5th decimal dilution of our system, produced results, so positive as to be readily determined and accurately measured. Robin's statements have been widely quoted by the homeopathic press and are, doubtless, familiar to most of our profession. However, it may not be out of place to recall to mind the results of his experiments. Since this remarkable testimony points to the actual modification of the life processes, and since these changes were brought about by the administration of infinitesimal amounts of a metal commonly considered inert, to quote Robin and enumerate these results in detail, will assist our side of the present discussion and will help the further elaboration of our argument.
He found, then. that the 5th dilution of gold produces:
"1. An increase in urea. which may rise as much as 30 per cent.
"2. An increase in the coefficient of nitrogenous utilization.
"3. An increase in uric acid, which may reach high figures, as much as three times the initial quantity.
"4. A positive flush of urinary indoxyl.
"5. A decrease in the quantity of total oxygen consumed.
"6. A temporary raising of arterial tension.
"7. A profound modification of the blood¬globules, an injection being followed after several hours by manifest leucocytosis, slight in a healthy person, intense ill infectious disorders habitually associated with leucocytosis."
According to Robin these results show the possibility of assimilating metals in extremely diluted solutions, their action being considered similar to organic diastases. He says, "In the above-mentioned solutions the atoms of the metal separated as widely as possible, are, as it were, liberated. autonomous in their activity, and susceptible in this way of developing greater energy. It is not difficult to conceive that these simple bodies. even ill the infinitesimal doses in which they are found, are capable of influencing the chemical reactions of elementary nutrition."
After referring to the results obtained by the use of gold in minute doses in pneumonia, which he claims in six cases out of ten, produces a crisis in six days. Robin draws the following conclusions from his experiments:
"1. That metals in extreme subdivision are capable of remarkable physiological action, out of all proportion to the amount of metal used.
"2. That such metals, acting in doses which therapeutics considered heretofore as ineffectual and useless, by making a profound impression on some of the chemical processes of life whose deviations are connected with many morbid conditions. are probably destined to take an important place among the remedies of functional therapeutics."
It must be seen, therefore, that regardless of schools, the consensus of opinion today, based on chemical experiments and proven by clinical experience, is that the finer the division of a chemical substance, the more active it is, though unchanged in the quality of its reactions. In its state of complete ionization its line of direction is not changed, but its activity is multiplied; it is altered not in kind, but in degree merely. Furthermore, the physiological efficiency of any drug is not a fixed quality except in infinite dilution. By means of solution we get the most complete division, and in infinitesimal dilution is found the most powerful chemical action. Thus, in this new century, is scientifically verified a statement made by Samuel Hahnemann, who said: "The effect of a homeopathic dose is augmented by increasing the quantity of fluid in which the medicine is dissolved preparatory to its administration." Homeopathy, at least the infinitesimal dose, is as reasonable, as explainable, as scientifically sensible, as is any other of the natural sciences.
Disease and the Infinitesimal Dose.
Health depending upon a condition of chemical equilibrium in the cells of the body, it naturally follows that if through any cause there is a disturbance of equilibrium there is at once a change of constants. The processes of metabolism are interfered with and we have a disturbance of function and even changes in structure. To illustrate: If there be a disturbance of the equilibrium of the parietal cells of the stomach, there is a failure in the production of hydrochloric acid. In malignant growths the chemical processes are so perverted that the cell metabolism is concerned only in reproduction; for instance, in the liver no bile is produced, but reproduction and abnormal growth result. In fatty degeneration there is such a disturbance of metabolism that the cell protoplasm is converted into fat.
If we can restore the equilibrium of the cell, or group of cells, we have remedied the abnormal condition and normal function will be resumed. A remedy is anything which will do this. This remedy may be rest, or stimulation, local application, or something else, but usually it is some drug administered for a specific effect upon the diseased condition. In the light of all present knowledge, we believe the drug may act by virtue of its chemical activities. Our knowledge being so meager as to the actual reactions in the laboratory of the cell, it is difficult to follow the drug action, but we do know that almost without exception chemical substances introduced into the animal body are acted upon, more or less, and enter into al1cl out of combination with the protoplasm of the cell. Some of the most stable of chemical substances are completely decomposed in the body. Enough has been positively determined in the laboratory to state that the animal body possesses chemical capabilities sufficient to deal with the simplest, or most complex chemical problems, and that everything proceeds along definite and constant lines.
With the system demanding relief and the symptoms calling for a certain drug. barium chloride, for instance, I have no doubt that that drug given, high or low, in dilution or crude form, will thread its way through the blood stream and a sufficient quantity be appropriated by the disturbed cell to satisfy and correct its chemical equilibrium. But the experiments of Wenstrand and Hektoen have demonstrated that the ions of this particular drug combine with certain elements in the blood serum and if given in amounts sufficient, to a great degree, destroy its protective functions. Hektoen remarks that substances which suspend, diminish, or modify the protective properties of the serum, favor the development of certain general infections, for instance. typhoid fever. It is not unreasonable, then, to presume that in the treatment of conditions where blood toxins are developed. in the administration of material quantities of barium chloride, for instance, the symptoms calling for it may disappear, only to be replaced by conditions more serious, induced by a lowering of the protective forces of the body fluids. In the terms of Ehrlich's hypothesis, this untoward effect is due to the action of the barium ions upon the complementary body of the serum. In the more recent work of Wright, it is probably due to the negative phase of the drug, with the consequent lowering of the opsonic index. Anyhow, the immunizing properties of the blood are suspended, or, at least, greatly reduced. In the administration of a remedy for the relief of any disease, this fact must not be overlooked. The ideal prescription in the administration of a drug, is the minutest possible quantity to satisfy the disturbed cell, infinitesimally small, in such dissociated condition as to make its appropriation the simplest possible chemical reaction, and in such form as not to interfere with the protective forces of the body. This is the ideal prescription, because it exactly supplies the demand of the diseased cells, without disturbing other normal cells, or lessening the protective functions of the body fluids. Thus, the efficiency of the small dose and the capability of the human system to appropriate' and utilize medicine administered in minute quantities are facts based, not upon a vagary of the imagination, but upon the most modem of accepted truths.
If never before, now certainly the homeopathic physician may hold up his head and proclaim to all therapeutists: "I am king!" The infinitesimal dose, the law of similars, and the single drug comprise the subjects of the world's theses. Of this we desire to say more.
The Opsonic Theory.
Other recent happenings in the world of science are not only productive of practical good to the patron of medicine, but also these evidences of progress are worthy of translation into language intelligible to the layman. When so translated they cannot but prove interesting and instructive. Take, for instance, the modern theories of immunity, the ways by which the human system protects itself against the invasion of ever vigilant disease. Across this field we discover that science has travelled with huge strides. Ages ago, biologically speaking, it was known that the foe of the disease germ was, or, at least, had its habitat in the white blood cell. In the blood stream this warfare is a battle royal. Under the microscope, with the same advantage offered the military strategist by the war balloon, the raging battle may be viewed and studied. The white cells seize upon and literally swallow multitudes of the enemy. Add to a drop of the fluid containing a few white blood cells a thousand germs, for instance, of tuberculosis, and in all instant each white cell is seen to attack and to receive into its own substance many of the disease bacilli. Here they are rendered harmless. As they die in this pit for spectacular effect, so in the body itself they are swept out of existence by provident nature's ingenious methods.
The scientist was happy for a time in the thought that the manner of resisting disease had been determined. But it was early discovered that a given amount of blood. or more specifically. of white blood cells, taken from one person will destroy more disease germs of a given variety. than will the same amount of blood or white cells from another person. Once more the scientific sea was agitated. Why is this so? was the cry. As is well known, it was left to Sir A. E. Wright, of London, England, to discover that a white cell is powerless to act upon the disease germ, except in the presence in the blood, of a substance, named opsonin. from the Greek. meaning "to devour." Somebody has likened the opsonins to a sauce which must be sprinkled upon the germ to render it palatable to this old epicure, the white cell. As investigation proceeded, was learned that there is a separate and distinct opsonin for each and every germ. In the absence of the opsonin the germ is safe from attack, but, in its presence. its fate is sealed.
While this interesting theory, or, at least, its value to practical medicine. bids fair to be lost in the scrap heap of discarded scientific lore. it is still active enough to merit our consideration. After Wright 's pronouncement regarding these alleged biological truths, the medical world set about to make some practical use of the knowledge. Ways have been devised, as is well known, to test the opsonic power of the individual, or, in the language of the laboratory, to take the "opsonic index." When this has been determined, if found to be low, the scientific physician proceeds to elevate it, and thus to increase the power of immunity, or resistance to the disease which may be induced by the germ in question. At this period we meet some most startling experiences.
Even though the white blood cell and the germ, for instance, of tuberculosis, are microscopic objects, yet under the lens they are material enough to be readily studied. It might be supposed, therefore, that the agent employed to make this material entity, the germ, palatable to the grosser white cell, would be in itself a material substance capable of measurement, and, perhaps, of weight. This is not true, however, and, in disease, to the powerless white cell, aid comes by the Wright method, not as in the use of antitoxin, a chemical neutralizing agent, but as in long practiced Homeopathy, through the dynamic effect of the curative agent. That is to say, by the administration of a. minute quantity of the vaccine, the cells of the body are stimulated to produce and throw into the blood stream the opsonic substance which makes it possible for the white cells to act upon the germ.
The vaccine employed is a diluted toxin of the disease producing germ. In physiological doses it cannot cause the identical disease, but is capable of inducing symptoms similar thereto. The dose recommended by Wright is 1-10,000 of a milligram. equivalent to the sixth decimal dilution of the homeopathic scale. Before the New York County Society, only a few days ago, Prof. Denys, of Belgium. speaking of his anti-tubercular substance. recommended doses in one millionth of a milligram. at least the 8th decimal. The practice certainly, is Homeopathic in principle and dosage. We so proclaim to all the world. Wright, himself, admits it. Certainly the theory is a remarkable instance of old school stumbling towards the light.
In the study of the opsonic index and the effect upon it of homeopathic remedies. much work is being done. Wheeler of the London Homeopathic Hospital, Watters and Southwick of Boston University School of Medicine. and Burrett and Runnels of Michigan, have already reported remarkable progress.
The Single Remedy.
Time does not permit extended discussion of the collaterals to this theory, but a single subject may be mentioned. There are opsonins for every microbic disease, and only the opsonins for the particular disease respond to the toxin of the infecting microbe. Is there not in this a beautiful argument for the single remedy and its accurate scientific selection? Hahnemann. perhaps, could not explain why the single remedy, for which he contended so vigorously, was the scientific prescription, but with present knowledge it is explainable. Chemical reactions are definite and positive. An unsatisfied equation cannot be completed by the addition of any wandering chemical. which, by haphazard chance, may come within reach. A remedy prescribed on "general principles," by random and aimless methods, may. by accident, possess within itself such a component as to permit it to join in unfortunate combination with the unsatisfied cellular element. This unhappy marriage robs the cell of needed sustenance by forcing upon it a lazy and unproductive spouse. It may prove so miserable an alliance as to result in violent domestic infelicity, with breakage of the furniture and even tearing down of the walls of the cell residence itself. More likely, however, such prescribing results in nothing more than damage to remote cells having an affinity for the drug administered. The tissue originally diseased and clamoring for help is left without succor, and other tissues are destroyed or weakened by the untimely action of drugs carelessly prescribed. This is, undoubtedly, the effect of administering material doses, as has been the practice of the dominant school. It probably follows the administration of more than the single remedy in so-called homeopathic practice. The saving grace of the infinitesimal has doubtless spared humanity much suffering at the hands of faulty and inaccurate prescribers in our own ranks.
In the old school, the vaccine idea has taken firm hold of all advanced thinkers. Von Behring, the discoverer of antitoxin for diphtheria and the winner of a Nobel prize, is one of the most active. As is well known, von Behring is at work upon a' new tuberculo-therapeutic substance. In speaking of it he has lately used this langauge: "The scientific principles of this new agent are yet to be established. In spite of all scientific. speculations and experiments this therapeutic usefulness must be traced in origin to a principle which cannot be better characterized than by Hahnemann's word, 'homeopathic.' What else," he says, "causes immunity in sheep, vaccinated against anthrax, than the influence previously exerted by the virus, similar in character to that of the fatal anthrax virus? And by what technical term could we more appropriately speak of this influence, exerted by a similar virus, than by Hahnemann's word, 'Homeopathy.'''
We must honor the man who concluded his statement with these words: "If I had set myself the task of rendering an incurable disease curable by artificial means, and should find that only the road of homeopathy led to my goal, I assure you dogmatic considerations would never deter me froth taking that road."
Dr. Amalia Gimeno, Professor of Therapeutics in the Faculty of Medicine in Madrid and former Minister of Public Instruction, has just paid a similar tribute to Hahnemann. This is his language, "As the author of a treatise on therapeutics that I published twenty-five years ago at Valencia. which became classic in the Spanish faculties, I deplore sincerely having consecrated several pages to unjust attacks against Hahnemann and his disciples, and I would like to be able today to tear these pages from my book. Modern discoveries, however, will charge themselves with the care of correcting them. It is most proper that we should venerate the grand figure of Hahnemann who divined that which subsequent events sanctioned."
The Theory of Similars.
The chief point of difference and dispute between the schools today is the theory of similars. Personally, I have almost invariably avoided speaking of the phrase "Similia similibus curentur" as the expression of a law, preferring to regard the doctrine as still in the hypothetic stage. However, using the accepted definition of the word law as it relates to the physical world, one should be quite justified, technically, in assuming that the working hypothesis of Hahnemann has been verified, and that our doctrine is, in the true sense, a law of nature. "The uniform occurrence of natural phenomena in the same way or order under the same conditions, so far' as human knowledge goes," is a rule of the universe, it law of nature. In the physical world. in the last analysis, there is no difference between a working hypothesis and a law. In science, "a natural law is simply a recognized system of sequences or relations." It is extremely doubtful if any so-called natural law will ever be placed on the same high plane of established truths as are the facts of mathematics, for instance. Personally, I am willing to admit that the theory of similars is not so well founded and certainly is not so demonstrable as is the law of gravitation. But ill the true scientific sense, it is a hypothesis which perfectly explains every phenomenon familiar to the medical mind, and while it may never be beyond the' possibility of cavilling doubt, yet it offers a reasonable, sensible, convincing and satisfactory explanation of all therapeutic procedure.
One cannot explain why the law of magneto-electric induction operates. One cannot explain why Kepler's laws govern the motions of the planets. One may merely speculate as t9 how medicines act. Life itself is beyond test tube and scalpel. To wander into these fields of thought is simply to lose one's self in an unsolved and unsolvable maze. But applying the same methods of experimental research as are elsewhere considered convincing, it is gratifying to find that every question put to nature regarding the truth of Similia similibus curentur has been answered in the affirmative.
By exactly the same methods of approach employed by scientists in all other fields, Hahnemann reached the goal of law in therapeutics. Measured by the same scientific standards, the theory of similars must be accepted as a law of nature.
Let us consider disease, such disease, for instance, as is due to the action of toxins. This condition may be dealt with in one of two ways: First, the toxin may be neutralized in the blood stream, as is the case in using diphtheria antitoxin; second, the cells of the body may be properly fed, stimulated or protected, rendering them immune to attack, or capable of successful battle if seized upon. The first method cannot be considered therapeutic, it is merely antidotal, and, of course, is the property of all schools of medicine. The second method of procedure is therapeutic, and it involves the entire issue between the schools. Having a patient so affected, if there be a law in therapeutic procedure, it now demands application. If there be such a law, of course, it is universal—every true scientist will apply it. If there be no law every practitioner is authority unto himself.
What is the situation in the dominant school of practice? Osler, the head and shoulders of that school, absolutely abandons drugs, and looks upon them as useless and many times harmful, saying:"Be skeptical of the pharmacopoeia; he is the best doctor who knows the worthlessness of most medicines." Trudeau disregards internal medication, and considers the out-of-door life and forced feeding as the essentials in practice. Kellogg considers disease only in its relation to metabolism, and, standing in the high place of liberal medicine, broad and unsectarian, proclaims to all the world that the vegetable diet is the one and only means of cure for suffering humanity! Surgeon General M.O. Terry wrote me recently, saying that every patient admitted to the Battle Creek Sanitarium has a most careful physical examination, blood count, chemical analysis of the excretions and secretions, but, strange to say, all paths lead, not to a carefully selected remedy. but to the one goal, the "shadow" diet.
Studying the announcement of the specialists, the wondering sufferer discovers that Dr. A. uses electricity exclusively; the "life currents" are disturbed, and to follow nature's way of cure, electricity is the proper treatment for all diseases. Dr. B. depends upon phototherapy; the X-ray, the Finsen light, the leucodescent light—in one of these is healing for the nations. But Major Woodruff says nay to all this; sunlight, he declares. is fatal to the nervous system, and to live long and be happy, one must keep in the valley of the shadows; the mortality rate is highest where the light is brightest and longevity is promoted by dwelling in the rainy and gloomy regions of the earth!
The next specialist consulted is a rhythmo-specialist who has a jiggling machine for every vital part. In common with the hydrotherapeutist he seeks to increase phagocytosis, and by active or passive hyperæmia to accomplish the healing. Then, there are the serum-therapy and the organo-therapy specialists. Neither must we overlook the prophylactic doctor whose one aim is to discover the germ and dispatch it ere it begins its deadly work. Reaching now the last letter of the alphabet, we find here the zymotherapy specialist, who not only disregards medicines, but to the horror of that other non-sectarian, Dr. Kellogg, feeds his patients upon meat, thereby, he says, increasing the antitoxins in the blood and neutralizing the products of germ life.
Is it fair of a profession so broken into parties and factions, each party and each faction so exclusive in its ideas of therapeutics—is it fair. I say, for an adherent of that school to accuse the homeopathist of sectarianism? Really, the sectarianism is not with us. Recognizing a law and then uniformly following it are evidences of real science.
The difference between the schools is that the homeopathist does believe there is a law in therapeutics, and with a knowledge of materia medica he proceeds in a scientific manner to apply his knowledge to the relief of his patient. For a given condition, no matter where the homeopathic physician was educated, or where he may practice, be it in Pennsylvania, or California. the Dominion of Canada, or the British Isles, the curative remedy selected will be the same. As in the selection of glasses for a definite error of refraction, scientific oculists from one end of the world to the other will reach the same conclusion as to the need of the patient, so, in homeopathic practice, definite and positive symptoms of disease will call for the same internal remedy with every prescriber.
There is much confirmatory evidence to establish our belief. Did time permit it would be interesting to record the experiments of Loeb and others, apparently demonstrating the truth of the theory of similars. It has been found, for instance, that the rhythmic contractions of muscle fibre, immersed in sodium chloride, or in calcium chloride solution, will cease after a time, a toxic condition of some sort being produced. Suppose the exhausted muscle is in the sodium solution, a small amount of calcium chloride, corresponding to the third or fourth decimal dilution, added to the solution containing the muscle, will cause the tissue to resume its contractions, to "cure" it, as it were. Thus is demonstrated the removal by a small quantity of a drug, symptoms similar to those produced by a large quantity of the same drug. Is it not fair to count this and similar experiments as verifications of our theory of therapeutics?
The dominant school, largely skeptical in therapeutics, certifies to four sure remedies, mercury, in syphilis; quinine, in malaria; salicylate of soda, in rheumatism, and iron, in anæmia. The most radical of that school, denying the homeopathicity of these remedies, would admit that the poisonous action of each is remarkably similar to the disease it has power to cure. If space permitted other remarkable scientific facts could be cited in proof of our claims. These exist and apparently vindicate the truth of similia, but enough has been shown to prove that the entire homeopathic practice and such of the practice of the dominant school as is conceded by that school to he of positive therapeutic value are in harmony with and are explained by the theory of similars. It is not begging the question, therefore, to leave the matter here and claim that until a future generation finds a better hypothesis, we have the right to accept the theory of similars as the law of cure.
Homeopathy and Mendeleef's Law.
The homeopathist, scientific in all his methods, is particularly exacting regarding the admission to the materia medica of new drugs having alleged value in the relief of disease. Before a remedy becomes canonical its effects are thoroughly proven upon healthy subjects. Many drugs, accepted as efficacious by the homeopathists, are considered harmless and inert by many of the dominant profession. Sodium chloride, for instance, has long been pointed to as an example of the misplaced confidence of our profession in the possible action of a chemical, usually considered inert in the ordinary dosage. Other substances, especially of the inorganic world, have been pointed to as therapeutically ineffectual and useless. We have already mentioned the concessions made regarding some of the metals, Robin's testimony especially; but it may not be out of place to consider somewhat in detail this criticism of homeopathic practice.
It has long seemed to me that if there be ally virtue in the infinitesimal dose, the practice, if not the crux, of our doctrine, the provings made with diluted drugs ought to respond to and be governed by the same laws that control the chemical reactions and properties of the same substances. A hundred years ago Hahnemann, an expert chemist himself, called attention to what chemistry had already done, and to what it might thereafter effect for therapeutics. In considering the relations of the chemical properties of drugs to their dynamic effects we are, then, in a field somewhat explored by our founder. Mendeleef, however, had not yet formulated his law, and chemistry, indeed, was yet too crude a science to permit of advanced conclusions. It must be admitted by the student of modern science that homeopathy responds well to the rules of the chemical laboratory. Certainly, it is interesting, to say the least, to observe the remarkable parallelism existing between the therapeutic, the homeopathic value of a given drug, one of the elements particularly, and the chemical properties of the same substance. Not all the known elements have been proven, but such as have been verify this theory. Take. for instance, calcium, strontium, and barium. In their provings, as well as in their chemical properties, they are remarkably similar. They look alike, act alike, and are alike in their variations. The same may be said of chlorine, bromine, and iodine, or of sulphur, selenium, and tellurium.
If the mean of the atomic weights of the first and third elements in either of these groups, or in any other group, be taken, the approximate atomic weight of the middle one is obtained. Sulphur, for instance, has an atomic weight of 32. I, tellurium 127.5. The mean, therefore, is 79.8, corresponding almost exactly to the atomic weight of selenium 79.2. This discovery led to the formulation of the so-called "periodic law," stumbled upon almost simultaneously by the Russian, Mendeleef, and the German, Meyer. So long ago as 1863, John Newlands pointed out that if the elements be tabulated in the order of their atomic weights, beginning with hydrogen = 1 and ending with uranium = 240, they naturally fall into such groups that elements similar to one another in chemical behavior occur in the same column; and that, moreover, the number of elements between anyone and the next similar one is seven. In other words, to quote Duncan. "Members of the same groups stand to one another in the same relation as the extremities of one or more octaves in music! This leads us to think that not only may there be a relation between these little fundamentals of the universe, but a veritable harmony."
Briefly and technically, the law states that "the properties of an element are a periodic function of its atomic weight." This statement formulates an extraordinary fact. To quote Duncan again, it means no more nor less than this: "That if you know the weight of the atom of the element, you may know, if you like, its properties. for they are fixed. Just as the pendulum returns again in its swing, just as the moon returns in its orbit, just as the advancing year brings the rose of spring, so do the properties of the elements periodically recur as the weights of the atoms rise. To demonstrate this fact, take some one specific property. for example, the atomic volume. which is the atomic weight divided by the specific gravity of the solid element. and arrange a table on a piece of engineering paper, in which the atomic weights read from left to right (the abscissas), while the atomic volumes read from bottom to top (the ordinates). Now construct a curve by pricking out the position of the different elements in accordance with both their atomic: volumes and atomic weights, and you will find yourself in possession of a table such as Figure 1.
We see at once from this curve that the atomic volume is a periodic function of the atomic weight. As the atomic weight increases. the atomic volume alternately increases and decreases. The periodicity proclaims itself in the regularly recurring hills and valleys which constitute the curve. Elements which occupy similar positions on the five hills and valleys have markedly similar properties. Thus, you will notice at the summit of each of the five hills, the symbols of the elements lithium, sodium, potassium, rubidium, and cæsium, all of these elements possessing amazingly similar properties. Or, again, find the little dot marked S (signifying sulphur). on the slope of the third hill, and you will then notice a little dot marked Se (selenium), and another Te (tellurium) in a correspondingly similar position on the other two hills, respectively. These elements have strikingly similar properties. Take now another property altogether, let us say the melting point of the elements, and make a similar diagram. You get a curve remarkably like the first one, with this exception, that the elements which were at the top at the first curve are now at the bottom. The melting point curve is as strictly periodic as the volume curve and of the same general shape. There is a regular irregularity of the two curves, and there is not only a periodicity, but a double periodicity, as shown in the little hump on the slope of each hill of the curve. Similar curves may be constructed for many other properties. Can we imagine, then, that these atoms, these little invisibilities, in which we all live and move and have our being, are separately created, arbitrarily made, unrelated individuals? Hardly so, for they are obviously created in accordance with some scheme. Would that we might understand this scheme all in all! It would be a veritable glimpse behind the veil of existence. But if we cannot read from Alpha to Omega, we may spell out what we can, leaving future letters for future men; perforce content that if ill this cryptogram of the universe we know indubitably that there is a cryptogram to be read, we have, at least, come to the beginning of knowledge."
Of what interest is all this to homeopathy? Much every way. If our remedies, in their provings, coincide with the same periodic law, it shows that therapeutically, homeopathy is in harmony with the ever-acting and universal laws of nature. Let us examine and, see. I will not take chlorine, bromine, and iodine, the halogen group, because everybody, familiar at all with materia medica, knows the close relationship existing. Let us take sulphur. selenium, and tellurium. A casual examination of the provings discovers, among other symptoms, the following:
Appetite.—Desire for apples and beer; later, desire for both ceased.
Face.—Twitching of muscles of the face and a crack in middle of upper lip.
Skin.—Pimples, vesicles, herpes. offensive sweat at night.
Sleep.—Sleepy in evening, sleeps in chair, restlessness and sleeplessness on going to bed. Dreams of smoking cigars. Nightmare.
Cough.—Hoarseness. roughness, tickling and cough.
Stool.—Constipation after diarrhœa. Stool hard and crumbly, but softer at the end.
Appetite.—Desire for brandy and salt, then aversion for them.
Face.—Distortion of facial muscles, and burning in middle of upper lip.
Skin.—All kinds of eruptions and sour smelling night sweat.
Sleep.—"Cat naps," light sleep, difficulty in getting to sleep.
Cough.—Hoarseness, soreness in larynx, dry, trying cough, especially at night.
Stool.—Diarrhoea in morning, also constipation, hard stool mixed with slime.
Appetite.—Ravenous appetite and desire for acids, thirst for beer and later aversion to food.
Face.—Twitching of muscles and crack in middle of upper lip.
And so we might compare phosphorus, arsenic and antimony, and formulate other groups of elements, which, at first thought, seem inappropriate bed fellows.
What, if anything, is the significance of all this? Isn't it a bit remarkable that Hahnemann, a century ago, Metcalf, in 1852, and Berridge, in 1873, working with sulphur, selenium, and tellurium, respectively, should discover the therapeutic value of these drugs, record their results, and then in the year of our Lord, 1909, it should be found that all their provings, forming parts of a cryptogram, are deciphered by means of a chemical formula, and found to coincide with a law of nature? That all of these substances usually considered inert, were proven by the administration of infinitesimal doses, and therapeutically established by repeated clinical tests, gives further proof that homeopathy is true, scientifically exact in every part, and in perfect harmony with the music of the spheres.
This is a mere hint at a subject which, in my opinion, is capable of interesting, if not convincing, development. It certainly is another argument in favor of the scientific basis of our system of therapeutics. It explains, too, why by the use of a repertory, or in prescribing upon "the totality of the symptoms," a certain drug may be called for, which has no mention in its provings of the special symptoms demanding the attention of the physician, and, in another case, why the prescription is determined without reference to the special symptoms mentioned. In Mendeleef's arrangement, there are places for elements yet undiscovered, yet their nature, chemical and physical, may be studied now, as if they had already been the object of the actual investigation of the chemist. This was done with several elements afterwards discovered. For instance, Mendeleef himself, when he first formulated his periodic law, found several gaps which, if the law was true, should have been occupied by elements possessing certain fixed properties. So, starting with the properties of the known elements of the same group, he did actually predict the chemical and physical properties which the unknown elements should possess. Since then his predictions have been verified in every respect, and three new metals, scandium, gallium and germanium, fill the formerly vacant places. In a similar manner, it seems to me, and with equally scientific reasons we may compare the incomplete provings of one element with the more exhaustive provings of others of the same group, and, by analogy, determine that the drug seemingly limited in its action is, after all, a remedy of wide usefulness. If this. is true of the chemical elements, certainly it is equally true of the organic compounds, and of all substances used in medicine.
I have long believed that our throat provings, for instance, are far from complete. In a paper written nine or ten years ago on "Tonsillitis and Its Treatment" I used this language:
It has been a recent pleasure of this writer to examine the literature relating to all the remedies known to have been the used homeopathically in tonsillitis. The tabulated results arc worthy of study and warrant some conclusions, even if not the ones which come to his mind. For the purpose of this particular paper we will consider simply the symptoms which relate to the middle divisions of the respiratory tract, namely, the bronchi, larynx, pharynx and the tonsils. Of five hundred remedies studied one hundred sixty are said to involve one or more of these structures. The frequency of attack, in round numbers, shows the pharynx to be the most susceptible, half of all these remedies having an affinity for that region. Seventy involve the larynx, fifty the bronchi, and but forty the tonsils. Disregarding, then, the drugs producing rhinal symptoms and those involving the bronchioles and air cells, the proportion of respiratory remedies attacking the tonsils is comparatively small, twenty-five per cent only. Sensitive as the tonsils are and so susceptible to disease, it does not seem possible that the recorded provings tell the whole truth.
As is well known, the tonsils atrophy, and, in health, disappear after the age of twenty-five. Since most of our provings have been made by adults, is it not probable that many remedies credited by the authorities as pharyngeal or laryngeal only would, in children, produce tonsillar symptoms also?
In considering the therapy of tonsillitis, until more extended provings have been made, are we not justified, then. in including remedies which have not been absolutely proven to affect this tissue? It seems reasonable to this writer that any drug affecting the mucous membrane, especially of the pharynx, may be prescribed in a tonsillar affection, provided the subjective and general indications suggest it. The continuity of the mucous membrane lining the mouth, fauces and upper respiratory tract, the vascularity and free anastomosis of the vessels, the innervation, the very intimacy of these parts, anatomically and histologically, justifies this conclusion. In the selection of remedies, then, for tonsillar involvement, we need not be confined to the forty mentioned by the authorities.
The Sphere of the Repertory.
This leads me to say that the more I visit the crowded storehouses of the Materia Medica, the more I am impressed, recently, that we already have the material for a much more successful therapy than is actually possessed by most of us. What a pity it is the medical mind, even the homeopathic mind, is so constituted that it seems our rule to scoff at the idea of therapeutic progress. With almost the same arrogance that the so-called "regular" sets aside most homeopathic claims, we seem to doubt the possibility of the existence of any scientific and systematic methods of selecting from the mass of provings more than a minimum of practical value. However, the history of other analogous sciences presents the same reluctance of universal acceptance of such methods. In botany, for instance, with more than 120,000 known species, there was necessary some method of classification and systematic arrangement. Different systems, based upon artificial, or upon physiological principles, have prevailed, but objections have been found to all. It is gratifying to observe. however, that botanical analysis has progressed to the point that almost any plant, long known or recently discovered, falls naturally into a place ready for it.
The same conditions are met in chemistry. They ought to be possible in therapeutics. Some of our brethren say we have already attained to that point, and that by the aid of the modern repertory it is possible to find the similimum for the obscure, as well as the simple, symptom-complex. There is such misunderstanding of the proper place, if any, of the repertory in the armamentarium of the physician that the limitations of its field or, to change the figure, the proper indications for its use, ought to be clearly defined.
As I understand it, it is not claimed that this method of prescribing should be used to the exclusion of the more common methods. As in chemistry, the apparent physical properties of a given substance may make at once apparent the exact nature of the chemical, so in taking the symptoms of a given patient, they may at once proclaim the proper remedy. One's study of belladonna, for instance, may, and probably should, give a mental picture so graphic that the similar symptoms in disease need no detailed description to make its indication plain. Or, in taking the symptoms, they may steadily point to this or that remedy, to the exclusion of all other possible remedies. In neither of these cases, then, is the repertorial system needed, and it is not so employed, as I understand it, by its most ardent advocates.
Up to this point, therefore, there is no dispute between the two wings of our profession. At this point, however, we follow diverging paths. Those of us who have not made use of the repertory, .or of a sufficient amount of midnight oil, have said, mentally, at least, "I do not know of any homeopathic remedy for this case, and I am justified in resorting to expediency." With most of us expediency has meant palliative, certainly material treatment.
But the repertorial advocate says nay to all this. He insists there is still a way to select from the bushel of chaff the grains of wheat which maybe made into the loaf of healing. Without present discussion of the details of this system, I wish to give earnest testimony to what it has revealed to me of the possibilities and actualities of successful prescribing in cases heretofore apparently hopeless by the other methods of homeopathic practice. Personally, I regret the years of active practice without working knowledge of the repertory, and I have promised myself that I shall make future use of the system, limited and circumscribed as here indicated. If the botanist and the chemist can solve an "unknown," the homeopathist, if our science be as exact, should do as well; with the scientific foundation of our principles that should be and, I believe, is within the range of reason.
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Homeopathists the Patrons of General Science
It is conscientiously believed that the superiority of the homeopathic practice has been proven in every disease, in every climate, and in every season. Yet no homeopathic physician looks askance upon the advances of general medicine. The sputum examination, for instance. in the diagnosis of throat and lung diseases, is given the same importance in the homeopathic world that it receives elsewhere. The most radical opponent of Homeopathy would not say that in the choice of a drug the presence or absence of the germ would influence his selection of a curative remedy. It would simply decide the question of climate or the general disposition of the patient. It means, at least, that much to the homeopathic prescriber. The laboratory methods of science receive the same patronage and the same encouragement in the homeopathic school as elsewhere. In surgery, in gynæcology, in ophthalmology, the same careful technique, the same skill, fhe same methods are everywhere employed. No one dare claim that the results of surgery in other schools are superior to those gained by the homeopathic operator. The well known success of the homeopathic surgeons and their high professional standing, not only by the rating of our own school, but also when measured by the standards of all other systems of practice, place them above criticism.
The American Institute of Homeopathy has officially decreed that "A homeopathic physician is one who adds to his knowledge of medicine a special knowledge of homeopathic therapeutics. All that pertains to the great field of medicine is his by tradition, my inheritance, by right." The patient, therefore, who employs the homeopathic physician gives himself all that the dominant school offers, and, in addition, the wonderful resources of the homeopathic materia medica. He loses nothing except the greater probability of escaping surgical procedure by the saving grace of a more potent medical armament. He reduces his chance of mortality and decreases the duration of his illness. All that pertains to chemical methods, to bacteriological research, to surgical ideas, to the great field of general medicine—all these belong to the homeopathic physician to give his patient, together with the possibilities of the homeopathic remedy. Truly, "They who have not tried Homeopathy have not half tried to get well."
The founder of this system of therapeutics was born a century and a half ago. He lived in an epoch of superstition. he practiced during the dark ages of medicine, he knew nothing of the modern laboratory idea. Yet this gigantic intellect was capable of formulating a system of therapeutics so accurate in its essential parts that the rest of the scientific world has adjusted and readjusted itself until now it snugly enfolds and perfectly fits every feature of the homeopathic doctrine. Study the modern ideas of disease and the morbid processes as they are now understood, delve in physical chemistry, as it is taught in every university of the world, listen to the forensic eloquence of the physicist. the chemist, the physiologist, and the pathologist; then take from its shelf the "Organon of the Art of Healing," written a hundred years ago by one Samuel Hahnemann, and it will be found that the notes of all these latter day scientists are so attuned that when that voice of a century ago sings its lay to the modern music there is not a suspicion of discord, but in perfect sweetness the whole temple of science is resonant and reverberant in one symphony of perfect harmony.
Therefore, my friends, we proclaim the scientific reasonableness of Homeopathy.
This page was posted on August 6, 2010.