Now, as diseases are nothing more than alterations in the state of health of the healthy individual which express themselves by morbid signs, and the cure is also only possible by a change to the healthy condition of the state of health of the diseased individual, it is very evident that medicines could never cure disease if they did not possess the power of altering man’s state of health which depends on sensations and functions; indeed, that their curative power must be owing solely to this power they possess of altering man’s state of health.
This spirit-like power to alter man’s state of health (and hence to cure diseases) which lies hidden in the inner nature of medicines can in itself never be discovered by us by a mere effort of reason; it is only by experience of the phenomena it displays when acting on the state of health of man that we can become clearly cognizant of it.
Now, as it is undeniable that the curative principle in medicines is not in itself perceptible, and as in pure experiments with medicines conducted by the most accurate observers, nothing can be observed that can constitute them medicines or remedies except that power of causing distinct alterations in the state of health of the human body, and particularly in that of the healthy individual, and of exciting in him various definite morbid symptoms; so it follows that when medicines act as remedies, they can only bring their curative property into play by means of this their power of altering man’s state of health by the production of peculiar symptoms; and that, therefore, we have only to rely on the morbid phenomena which the medicines produce in the healthy body as the sole possible revelation of their in-dwelling curative power, in order to learn what disease-producing power, and at the same time what disease-curing power, each individual medicine possesses.
But as nothing is to be observed in diseases that must be removed in order to change them into health besides the totality of their signs and symptoms, and likewise medicines can show nothing curative besides their tendency to produce morbid symptoms in healthy persons and to remove them in diseased persons; it follows, on the one hand, that medicines only become remedies and capable of annihilating disease, because the medicinal substance, by exciting certain effects and symptoms, that is to say, by producing a certain artificial morbid state, removes and abrogates the symptoms already present, to wit, the natural morbid state we wish to cure. On the other hand, it follows that, for the totality of the symptoms of the disease to be cured, a medicine must be sought which (according as experience shall prove whether the morbid symptoms are most readily, certainly, and permanently removed and changed into health by similar or opposite medicinal symptoms1) have the greatest tendency to produce similar or opposite symptoms.
1 The other possible mode of employing medicines for diseases besides these two is the allopathic method, in which medicines are given, whose symptoms have no direct pathological relation to the morbid state, neither similar nor opposite, but quite heterogeneous to the symptoms of the disease. This procedure plays, as I have shown elsewhere, an irresponsible murderous game with the life of the patient by means of dangerous, violent medicines, whose action is unknown and which are chosen on mere conjectures and given in large and frequent doses. Again, by means of painful operations, intended to lead the disease to other regions and taking the strength and vital juices of the patient, through evacuations above and below, sweat or salivation, but especially through squandering the irreplaceable blood, as is done by the reigning routine practice, used blindly and relentlessly, usually with the pretext that the physician should imitate and further the sick nature in its efforts to help itself, without considering how irrational it is, to imitate and further these very imperfect, mostly inappropriate efforts of the instinctive unintelligent vital energy which is implanted in our organism, so long as it is healthy to carry on life in harmonious development, but not to heal itself in disease. For, were it possessed of such a model ability, it would never have allowed the organism to get sick. When made ill by noxious agents, our life principle cannot do anything else than express its depression caused by disturbance of the regularity of its life, by symptoms, by means of which the intelligent physician is ask for aid. If this is not given, it strives to save by increasing the ailment, especially through violent evacuations, no matter what this entails, often with the largest sacrifices or destruction of life itself.
For the purpose of cure, the morbidly depressed vital energy possesses so little ability worthy of imitation since all changes and symptoms produced by it in the organism are the disease itself. What intelligent physician would want to imitate it with the intention to heal if he did not thereby sacrifice his patient?
All pure experience, however, and all accurate research convince us that persistent symptoms of disease are far from being removed and annihilated by opposite symptoms of medicines (as in the antipathic, enantiopathic or palliative method), that, on the contrary, after transient, apparent alleviation, they break forth again, only with increased intensity, and become manifestly aggravated (see § 58 – 62 and 69).
There remains, therefore, no other mode of employing medicines in diseases that promises to be of service besides the homoeopathic, by means of which we seek, for the totality of the symptoms of the case of disease, a medicine which among all medicines (whose pathogenetic effects are known from having been tested in healthy individuals) has the power and the tendency to produce an artificial morbid state most similar to that of the case of disease in question.
Now, however, in all careful trials, pure experience,1 the sole and infallible oracle of the healing art, teaches us that actually that medicine which, in its action on the healthy human body, has demonstrated its power of producing the greatest number of symptoms similar to those observable in the case of disease under treatment, does also, in doses of suitable potency and attenuation, rapidly, radically and permanently remove the totality of the symptoms of this morbid state, that is to say (§ 6 – 16), the whole disease present, and change it into health; and that all medicines cure, without exception, those diseases whose symptoms most nearly resemble their own, and leave none of them uncured.
1 I do not mean that sort of experience of which the ordinary practitioners of the old school boast, after they have for years worked away with a lot of complex prescriptions on a number of diseases which they never carefully investigate, but which, faithful to their school, they consider as already described in works of systematic pathology, and dreamed that they could detect in them some imaginary morbific matter, or ascribe to them some other hypothetical internal abnormality. They always saw something in them, but knew not what it was they saw, and they got results, from the complex forces acting on an unknown object, that no human being but only a God could have unravelled – results from which nothing can be learned, no experience gained. Fifty years’ experience of this sort is like fifty years of looking into a kaleidoscope filled with unknown colored objects, and perpetually turning round; thousands of ever changing figures and no accounting for them!