– Taken from an old volume in the library of francis treuherz, ma, rshom. fshom
Hahnemann’s work on chronic diseases may be considered a continuation of his Organon; the medicines which will follow the present volume may therefore be considered a continuation of his Materia Medica Pura. As the principles and rules of general therapeutics have been developed in the Organon, so does Hahnemann develop, in the present treatise, the principles and rules which ought to prevail in the treatment of chronic diseases, whose name is legion. In the Materia Medica Pura Hahnemann describes to us the symptoms which the general remedies that he tried upon healthy persons, are capable of producing; the present treatise, on the contrary, will be succeeded by an account of those remedies, which Hahnemann especially employed in the treatment of chronic diseases, and which he therefore called anti-psorics. In the Organon Hahnemann tries to establish the fact that the principle similia similibus curentur is the supreme rule in every true method of cure, and he shows how this rule is to be followed in the treatment of disease; whereas in his treatise on the chronic diseases, which is based upon the Organon and does not, in the least, modify or alter its teachings, Hahnemann shows that most chronic diseases, originating in a common source and being related amongst each other, a special class of remedies designated by Hahnemann anti-psorics, should be used in the treatment of those diseases. This common source of most chronic diseases, according to Hahnemann, is Psora.
The shallow opponents of Homoeopathy-and we never had any other!-pounced upon the theory of the psoric miasm with a view of attacking it with their hollow and unmeaning sarcasms. Making Psora to be identical with itch, they sneeringly pretended that according to Hahnemann’s doctrine the itch was the primitive evil, and that this doctrine was akin to the doctrine of the original sin recognised by the Christian Faith. 2
With the same impudence with which they had, on former occasions, asserted, that Hahnemann rejects all pathology in his Organon, they now asserted that he himself advanced a pathological hypothesis, and “that the true which it contained was not new, nor the new true.”
Equitable judges will not fail to recognise in this treatise on chronic diseases the same carefulness of study and observation which the great author of Homoeopathy has shown in all his other writings. Hahnemann had no other object in view except to cure. All the energies of his great soul were directed to this one end. His object was not to overthrow pathology, although the pathology of his time had been set aside as a heap of foolish speculations, and has been replaced by other systems, that may perhaps suffer the same fate in fifty years; he merely contended against the foolish and presumptuous application of pathological hypotheses to the treatment of disease. He rejected and overthrew the foolish belief which had been driven like a rusty nail, into the minds of the Profession and, by their instrumentality, into the minds of the people, that the remedies should be given against a name against an imaginary disease, and that the name of this imaginary disease indicated the remedy. Up to this day physicians have been engaged in accrediting that superstition. Whence should otherwise spring the desire which so many patients manifest, of inquiring into the name of the disease, as if a knowledge of that name were sufficient to discover the true remedy against the disease. Many patients are disconsolate when the doctor cannot tell them what is the matter with them. Do we gain anything by being able to say that the disease is rheumatism, dyspepsia, liver-complaint? Does it avail the patient any to be able to repeat his doctor’s ipse dixit “that he is bilious, nervous, etc.?” Do these words mean any thing definite? Are there yet physicians foolish enough to believe that their speculative explanations mean any thing? Does not every body acknowledge that they are mere ignes fatui (Wills o’ the wisp-Ed.) flitting to and fro upon the quagmire of the old decayed systems of pathology?
Assuredly, a physician of modern date, who has not remained altogether ignorant, would be ashamed of assuring his patients with the air of a deep thinker, that one has a disease of the spine, another consumption, a third a uterine affection, etc. Every tyro in pathology knows that all this means nothing definite, and that it is only to very ignorant persons that such assertions can be given as science. Every tyro knows that the question is, to find out what are the symptoms and the nature of that disease of the spine or the uterus. It is moreover known that this more precise knowledge is necessary as respects prognosis, and for the purpose of regulating the mode of life of the patient; but it is also settled that to know merely the variety, to which the disease belongs, is not sufficient to cure it. All the successful and celebrated practitioners of the old school have been such as have constantly modified and individualised the treatment of disease. This is all that Hahnemann has tried to accomplish; with this difference that he has individualised every case of disease with much more precision than any of the older physicians had done. Hahnemann had courage enough, at once to face the contradictions which constantly existed between practice and theory; he declared that the speculative knowledge of physicians was merely learned dust which they were in the habit of throwing into people’s eyes for the purpose of blinding them and inducing them to consider the ignorance of the doctors and the insufficiency of their knowledge as something respectable. Hahnemann dared to lay down this maxim: that, in treating disease, he had nothing to do with its name.
Hahnemann teaches that the remedies should be chosen according to the symptoms of the patient. The physician should be governed by what is certain and safe, not by that which is more or less uncertain and unsafe, and which is changed according to fashion. Both in the Organon and in his treatise on the chronic diseases, Hahnemann insists upon the remedies being chosen in accordance with the symptoms.
It is not an easy matter to choose a remedy according to symptoms. This may be inferred from the manner in which tyros in homoeopathy and physicians of the old school who come over to us, go to work. They constantly rely upon names, giving a certain remedy in scarlet fever, because some one else had found it useful; or a certain remedy in pulmonary inflammation, because it had been successfully exhibited upon a former occasion; whereas Hahnemann teaches that, because a remedy has helped before, this is no reason why it should help again in a similar disease. The symptoms and not the name are to point out the remedy. This is also the case in chronic diseases. In the treatment of chronic diseases Hahnemann has been taught by experience to give preference to the anti-psoric remedies. This preference is not theoretical, and is constantly subordinate to the general principle.
Hahnemann has never said that the principal constituents of mountains, which are the most important materials in nature-the metals, for instance-are the most important remedies for the cure of the most universal diseases. However, he has pointed out the oxides salts of ammonium, potassium, sodium, calcium, aluminium, magnesium’ as the most important anti-psoric remedies. Hahnemann has said nowhere that the most important. metalloids constitute the most important remedial agents, although he has introduced Sulphur, Phosphorus, Silicea, Chlorine and Iodine-in one form or another, as anti-psoric remedies. In selecting a remedy Hahnemann has never been guided by theories but always by experience. He chose his remedies agreeably to the symptoms which they had produced upon healthy persons looking at the same time to their remedial virtues having been tested by practice. This is the reason why the general views which have been expressed just now did not prevent him from admitting as chief anti-psorics Borax and Ammonium carbonicum, Anacardium and Clematis.
Why, it may be asked, has a great number of homoeopathic physicians, neither recognised Hahnemann’s theory of psora, nor the specific character of the anti-psoric remedies? Why have some even gone so far as to set the theory sneeringly aside, and to decry the anti-psorics as less trustworthy than the other remedies?
For the same reason that the astronomical discoveries of our Herschel are doubted by people who have no faith in the discoverer, and are not able to verify his discoveries. To do this, knowledge, instruments, talent, care, perseverance, opportunities, and many other things are required. Not one of all the prerequisites can be found with those who are mere dabblers in practice, scribbling authors opposing their own opinions and imaginations to facts and observation.
Or, for the same reason that Ehrenberg’s discoveries cannot be appreciated by those who have either no microscope, or who have one which is not good, or who have a microscope without understanding the difficult art of using it; or else who know how to use it, but do not use it with the same exactness and carefulness as Ehrenberg, who discovered in the chalk-dust of visiting cards the shells of new species of animals, by simply making the cards transparent by means of the oil of turpentine.
Or lastly, for the simple reason that physicians find it more easy to write something for print, than to observe nature; that it is more easy to impose upon people than to cure the sick, and because the greater number of physicians is affected with the delusion that things which they do not see, do not exist.
If such physicians succeed in effecting a cure, they are at once ready to boast of their exploits, whereas the cure was due to Hahnemann’s doctrine, to the remedies which he has discovered, to the researches of other physicians, to their instructions or example, or to so-called chance. But if they do not succeed, they impute their failure to anything but themselves: it is homoeopathy that is deficient; this or that rule is not correct; the materia medica is at fault; or, if something in Hahnemann’s system does not suit them, they are prone to say, that they have never seen this or that, that they cannot agree with it. And in talking in this way, they really imagine to have said something against the matter itself. Upon the same ground that Hahnemann carefully distinguished from the disease the symptoms which owed their existence to dietetic transgressions. or to medicinal aggravations; upon the same grounds that he acknowledged as standing and independent diseases the acute miasms, known as purpura, measles, scarlatina, small pox, whooping cough, etc., or that he distinguished the venereal miasm into syphilis and sycosis, we may afterwards, if experience should demand it, subdivide psora into several species and varieties. This is no objection to Hahnemann’s theory. Hahnemann has taken the first great step without denying the faculty of progressive development inherent in his system. But let improvements be made in such a way as to become useful, not prejudicial, to the patients. We ought to raise our super-structure upon Hahnemann’s own ground, in the direction which he has first imparted to his doctrine.
Although it matters little what opinions the respective disciples of Hahnemann hold relatively to the theory of psora, I will nevertheless, communicate a short extract from my essay, Guide to the Progressive Development of Homoeopathy.