-RAMSEYER A. A.,
Practical experience taught Rademacher that there are three fundamental affections of the whole organism or system, one of which is cured by cubic saltpetre, another by iron and the third by copper. Rademacher does not claim that there cannot be more than three, or less than three such affections of the whole organism; in his experience he has found three only. A universal remedy is a remedy which cures an affection not curable by an organ remedy. He has not even infallible pathognomic symptoms which might characterise each of the three universal diseases, yet in speaking of each remedy, he gives some symptoms which have struck him as generally denoting such an affection, or indicating such a remedy. A remarkable fact that he found out is, that when using universal remedies in acute diseases, the fourth day of administration of the remedy is generally the day when improvement sets in. This reminds him of Hippocrates’ critical day.
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Cubic saltpeter (natron nitricum)
In 1814 (in his preface the year 1815 is given), Rademacher was treating a case of acute rheumatism according to the methods of Brocklesly, viz., by blood-letting and with large doses of Kalium nitircum; as this salt caused some pain in the stomach, he concluded to try a neutral salt having sodium for base, for he knew that Natron sulphuricum acted milder than Kalium sulphuricum and Natron tartaricum milder than Kalium tartaricum. He gave Natron nitricum, which not only did not disturb the digestive tract, but brought about a cure which was bordering on the marvellous. The patient got rid of her rheumatism and of her fever in a few days, without any more blood-letting. The same remedy acted just as well in similar cases; and thinking it might be of benefit in fevers as well as in rheumatism, Rademacher tried it in a case of remittent fever, which had lasted a long while; it cured it in three days. He now tried this salt in different affections, such as angina, pleurisy, scarlet fever, diarrhoea, dysentery, cough, asthma and many more; the results were excellent and the cures surprisingly swift. The only fever which would not yield to this universal remedy was the intermittent. With this exception, his practice during eight or nine months was extremely easy and successful, until gastric and hepatic affections and brain fevers appeared which this salt could not cure. So far, he had met with something that was general, common to many affections and Natron nitricum had proved a universal remedy in all these. He was now like an inexperienced rider who exchanges a gentle horse for a stubborn one. He was unhorsed. He had to look for organ remedies and he found them too; but these will be taken up later.
The dose of this salt is from one drachm to one ounce for 24 hours. In general two drachms for 24 hours were sufficient; if diarrhoea was present, one and a half drachms were given in a mucilaginous potion or in an emulsion.
Before mentioning the different affections in which he found the cubic saltpetre efficacious, Rademacher warns his readers not to infer from his remarks that it is the best anti-hysteric, antipyretic, etc He says: ” Not so! I know of no anti-remedy against nosological forms. So soon as the same nosological forms where we saw the most gratifying effects of the saltpetre, are the manifestations of another pathological condition of the whole organism, they cannot be removed any more by saltpetre, but by iron or copper.”
Now follows a partial list of diseases cured with this salt; hystery, especially in young, plethoric maidens and women. Angina (here along with saltpetre, a digitalis salve externally); in saltpetre angina the tongue is generally coated white. Ophthalmy, pneumonia and pleurisy, generally with red urine. Cough, asthma, epidemics of dysentery in 1819, in 1822 and during the winter of 1832-33. Acute rheumatism, scarlatina during the summer of 1831. Small pox in 1817. In both eruptive fevers, the cubic saltpetre mitigated wonderfully the symptoms and cut the disease short, making the small pox eruption much less abundant than it would have been if it had been left to nature. The sooner saltpetre was give, i.e. , before the fourth day, the lighter were the symptoms; if treated right in the beginning (with saltpetre), these two affections ran a very mild course.
Rademacher found different forms of eruption in one and the same epidemic of scarlatina. Most patients had the smooth variety, a few had small vesicles and in some rare cases real blisters appeared on the red ground. During an epidemic of small pox in 1817, all those who took cubic saltpetre from the beginning of the disease had a very light fever and the eruption appeared in a very mitigated form; one patient had an abundant eruption on the face when he called the doctor in, but, as yet, none on the body, or on the extremities and the fever was very strong. After taking the cubic saltpetre the fever abated considerably and the pocks on the body and the extremities were so few that the disproportion of their number on the face and on the balance of the body was remarkable. It must not be thought that this epidemic was very light; on the contrary, one of the first patients, a fifty year old saddler, was covered from head to foot with the pocks, without a spot of sound skin left; this man died in a very short time after the eruption appeared.