When physicians of the old school do not know what to do in a chronic disease, they treat it blindly with their so-called alterative remedies (alterantia); among which the horrible mercurialia (calomel, corrosive sublimate and mercurial ointment) occupy the foremost place - which they allow to act in such large quantities and for so long a time on the diseased body (in non-venereal diseases!) that at last the health is by their destructive effects completely undermined. They thus certainly produce great alterations, but invariably such as are not beneficial, and they always utterly ruin the health by their improper administration of this excessively injurious metal.
When they prescribe, in large doses, cinchona bark (which, as a homopathic febrifuge, is only specific in true marsh ague, accompanied with psora), for all epidemic intermittent fevers, which are often distributed over large tracts of country, the old school practitioners palpably manifest their stupidity, for these diseases assume a different character almost every year and hence demand for their cure, almost always, a different homopathic remedy, by means of one or a few very small doses of which they may always be radically cured in a few days. Now, because these epidemic fevers have periodical attacks (typus) and the adherents of the old school see nothing in all intermittent fevers, but their typus [periodicity], and neither know nor care to know any other febrifuge but cinchona, these routine practitioners imagine if they can but suppress the typus of the epidemic intermittent fever with enormous doses of cinchona and its costly alkaloid, quinine (an event which the unintelligent, but, in this instance, more sensible vital force endeavors to prevent often for months), that they have rured this epidemic ague. But the deluded patient, after such a suppression of the periodicity (typus) of his fever, invariably becomes worse than he was during the fever itself; with sallow complexion, dyspnoea, constriction in the hypochondria, disordered bowels, unhealthy appetite, broken sleep, feeble and desponding, often with great swelling of the legs, of the abdomen and even of the face and hands, he creeps out of the hospital, dismissed as cured, and long years of homopathic treatment are not infrequently required, merely to rescue from death, let alone to cure and restore to health, such a profoundly injured (cured?), artificially cachectic patient.
The old school is happy when it can convert the dull stupor that occurs in typhus fevers, by means of valerian, which in this case acts antipathically, into a kind of liveliness of a few hours' duration; but as this does not continue, and to force a repetition of the animation ever increasing doses of valerian are requisite, it is not long before the largest doses cease to have the desired effect. But as this palliative is only stimulant in its primary action, in its after effects the vital force is paralysed, and such a patient is certain of a speedy death from this rationai treatment of the old school; none can escape. And yet the adherents of this routine art could not perceive that by these proceedings they most certainly killed their patients; they ascribed the death to the malignancy of the disease.
A palliative of a still more horrible character for chronic patients is the digitalis purpurea, with which the old school practitioners imagine they do such excellent service, when by means of it, they compel the quick, irritated pulse in chronic diseases (purely symptomatic!) to become slower. True it is that this dreadful remedy, which is in such cases employed enantiopathically, strikingly diminishes the frequency of the quick, irritated pulse, and greatly reduces the number of the arterial pulsations, for a few hours after the first dose; but the pulse soon becomes more rapid than before. In order again to diminish in some degree its frequency the dose is increased, and it has the effect, but for a still shorter period, until even these and still larger palliative doses cease to reduce the pulse, which at length, in the secondary action of the foxglove which can no longer be restrained, becomes much more rapid than it was before the use of this drug, - it then becomes uncountable; sleep, appetite and strength are lost - death is imminent; not one of the patients so treated escapes alive, unless to be a prey to incurable insanity!*
* And yet Hufeland, the chief of this old school (v. Homoopathie, p. 22), extols with much satisfaction the employment of digitalis in such cases, in these words: 'None will deny' (experience invariably does so!) 'that too great rapidity of the circulation can be removed (?) by digitalis.' Permanently removed? and by a heroic enantiopathic remedy? Poor Hufeland!
Such was the treatment pursued by the allopathist. The patients, therefore, were obliged to yield to the sad necessity, because they could obtain no better aid from other allopathists, who had gained their knowledge from the same deceitful books.
As the fundamental cause of chronic (non-venereal) diseases, together with the remedies for them, remained unknown to these practitioners, who vainly boasted of their causal medication and of their diagnosis being directed to the investigation of the genesis of diseases*; how could they hope to cure the immense numbers of chronic diseases by their indirect treatments, which were but hurtful imitations of the unintelligent vital force for its own relief, that never were intended to be models for practice ?
* 'Which Hufeland in his pamphlet, Die Homoopathie, page 20, makes a futile attempt to appropriate for his old psuedo-art. For since, as is well known, previous to the appearance of my book (Chronic Diseases), the 2500-years-old allopathy knew nothing about the source of most chronic diseases (psora), must it not have attributed a false source (genesis) to such maladies?
The presumed character of the affection they regarded as the cause of the disease, and hence they directed their pretended causal treatment against spasm, inflammation (plethora), fever, general and partial debility, mucus, putridity, oblstructions, etc., which they thought to remove by means of their antispasmodic, antiphlogistic, tonic, stimulant, antiseptic, dissolvent, resolvent, derivative, evacuant, antagonistic remedies (of which they only possessed a superficial knowledge).
But from such general indications really serviceable medicines could not be discovered, most assuredly not in the materia medica of the old school, which, as I have elsewhere shown,* is founded mainly on conjecture and false deductions ab usu in morbis, mixed up with falsehood and fraud.
* See essay in the first volume of the Materia Medica Pura (English edit.), 'Sources of the Common Materia Medica.'
With equal rashness they attacked those still more hypothetical so-called indications - deficiency or excess of oxygen, nitrogen, carbon, or hydrogen in the fluids, exaltation or diminution of the irritability, sensibility and reproduction, derangements of the arterial, venous and capillary systems, asthenia, etc., without knowing a single remedy for effecting objects so visionary. All this was pure ostentation. It was a mode of treatment that did no good to the patients.
But all semblance of appropriate treatment of diseases was completely lost by a practice, introduced in the earliest times, and even made into a rule: I mean the mixture in a prescription of various medicinal substances, whose real action was, almost without an exception, unknown, and which, without any one exception, invariably differed so much among each other. One medicine (the sphere of whose medicinal effects was unknown) was placed foremost, as the principal remedy (basis), and was designed to subdue what the physician deemed the chief character of the disease, to this was added some other drug (equally unknown as regards the sphere of; its medicinal action) for the removal of some accessory symptom, or to strengthen the action of the first (adjuvans); and besides these, yet another (likewise unknown as to the sphere of its medicinal powers), a pretended corrective remedy (corrigens); these were all mixed together (boiled, infused) - and along with them, some medicinal syrup, or distilled medicinal water, also with different properties, would be included in the formula, and it was supposed that each of the ingredients of this mixture would perform, in the diseased body, the part allotted to it by the prescriber's imagination, without suffering itself to be disturbed or led astray by the other things mixed up along with it; which, however, could not in reason be expected. One ingredient suspended wholly or partially the action of another, or communicated to it and to the others a mode of action and operation not anticipated nor conjecturable, so that it was impossible the expected effect could be obtained; there frequently occurred a new morbid derangement, which, from the incomprehensible changes imparted to substances by their admixture, was not and could not have been foreseen, which escaped observation amid the tumultuous symptoms of the disease, and which became permanent from a lengthened employment of the prescription - accordingly an artificial disease was added to and complicated the original disease, causing an aggravation of the latter - or if the prescription were not often repeated, but superseded by one or more new prescriptions, composed of other ingredients, given in rapid succession, then the very least that could happen was a farther depression of the strength, for the substances administered in that way neither had, nor could have had, any direct pathological relation to the original malady, but only attacked, in a useless and injurious manner, parts that were least implicated in the disease.
The mixture of several medicines, even if the effects of each single medicine on the human body were accurately known (- the prescription writer, however, often knows not the thousandth part of their effects -), the association, in one prescription, of several such ingredients, I repeat, many of which are themselves of a very compound nature, and the peculiar action of any one of which is as good as unknown, although in reality it always differs greatly from that of the others, and the administration of this incomprehensible mixture to the patient in large and frequently repeated doses, in order therewith to obtain some purposed, certain, curative effect, is a piece of folly repugnant to every reflecting and unprejudiced person.*
* The absurdity of medicinal mixtures was perceived even by adherents of the old school of medicine, although they still continued to follow this slovenly plan in their own practice, contrary to their convictions. Thus Marcus Herz (in Hufeland's Journal, ii, p. 33) reveals the pricks of his conscience in the following words: 'When we wish to remove the inflammatory state, we do not employ either nitre or sal-ammoniac or vegetable acids alone, but we usually mix several, and often but too many, so-called anti-phlogistics together or give them in the same case in close succession. If we have to combat putridity, we are not content to look for the attainment of our object from the administrations of large doses of one of the known antiseptic medicines, such as cinchona bark, mineral acids, arnica, serpentaria, etc., alone; we prefer associating several of them together, and count upon their community of action; or from our uncertainty as to whose action is the most suitable for the case in question, we throw together a number of different substances, and almost leave it to chance to effect the end we have in view, by means of one of them. Thus we seldom excite perspiration, purify the blood (?), overcome obstructions (?), promote expectoration, or even evacuate the primae viae, by a single remedy; our prescriptions for these objects are always composite, almost never simple and pure, consequently neither are our observations in reference to the actions of each individual substance contained in them. To be sure, we learnedly institute certain grades of rank among the remedies in our formulas; on the one to which we particularly commission the action, we confer the title of base (basis), the others we call helpers, supporters (adjuvantia), correctives (corrigentia), etc. But this classification is evidently almost entirely arbitrary. The helpers and supporters have just as much part in the whole action as the chief ingredient, although, from want of a standard of measurement, we are unable to determine the degree of their participation in the result. In like manner the influence of the correctives on the powers of the other ingredients cannot be quite indifferent; they must increase or diminish them, or give tbem quite another direction; and hence we must always regard the salutary (?) change which we effect, by means of such a prescription, as the result of all its ingredients collectively, and we can never obtain from its action a pure experience of the individual efficacy of any single ingredient of which it is composed. In fact, our knowledge of what is essential to be known respecting all our remedies, as also respecting the perhaps hundred-fold relationship among each other into which they enter when combined, is far too little to be relied upon to enable us to tell with certainty the degree and extent of the action of a substance, seemingly ever so unimportant, when introduced into the human body in combination with other substances.'
The result naturally belies every expectation that had been formed. There certainly ensue changes and results, but none of an appropriate character, none beneficial - all injurious, destructive!
I should like to see any one who would call the
purblind inroads of such prescriptions on the diseased human body a cure!