Homeopathy Papers

Concerning the Duration of Action

Concerning the Duration of Action

In science as well in social and political life there are occasionally questions, whose consideration and answer are most appropriately left to every individual, because objections and contradictions do not, at the time, admit of unanimity. Among these seem the question of Dose and Repetition, the complete solution to which must be left to some later time.

In the mean time it seems permissible to consider other questions, which in a certain way are connected therewith, and when these questions, which are less subject to opposing opinions, are satisfactorily answered, this will constitute a considerable contribution towards the determination of the former questions. I think the present question is one of these.

The duration of the action of the medicines used by us is very varied. While with some medicines it may extend this may merely extend to some minutes and hours, with others it must be counted by weeks and months.

Still greater will this variety be, even in the same remedies, as is well known, when used in various diseases in which they may be homeopathically indicated. For it is not infrequently the case that we must select in acute diseases medicines which act a long time, and in chronic diseases remedies whose action is a short one, because according to the principles of Homeopathy, they correspond to the disease.  But in chronic diseases the medicines of short duration will show curative powers much longer than in acute diseases and vice versa.

In view of these facts, which have never as yet been disputed by any homeopath who observes carefully, the question presses on us: What overpowering reasons and experiences are there, why, as is done frequently of late, even the medicines of long continued action are repeated so often and in such brief intervals? A question with which another is closely conjoined: whether the teachings concerning the first effects and the after-effects as we see it developed in the Organon (§63x sy.), and on which our provings and our curative methods essentially rest, are false or rest upon the nature of things and are therefore true?

But I cannot follow out these consequences any further, because they would only lead to polemics which are at present as yet useless, and it will be enough for me to have brought up into memory what everyone knows, but what seems to have been forgotten in the part. Mat what is said from the subject-matter of some unprejudiced after-thoughts!

In now turning to the proper subject of my present dissertation, I must premise, that according to what has been already said, the duration of action of no one remedy remains altogether the same under all circumstances; so that when it is spoken of only a relatively longer or shorter period can be understood, which is still subject to great modifications.

Nevertheless, it is of considerable importance for the practice and treatment of acute and chronic diseases, to know this duration of action of concurrent remedies even, though   it be merely not in order that we may, in cases of threatened danger, bring the quickest possible assistance, but also that we may not in inveterate cases, by doing too much, aggravate the evil and finally make it even incurable. This last name result of medicines given too frequently or changed too often is not so rare  as some may think, and vary many homeopaths have probably found, as I have, and as Hahnemann himself found, that the most difficult and thankless treatments of chronic invalidism are found in those cases which have been trusted for a longer period with an excess of medicines more   or less homeopathically suitable, whether by homeopaths or allopaths.

If we would make too many divisions in dividing medicines as to the duration of their action, not only the general oversight would be rendered more difficult, but the difficulties would be aggravated. I, therefore believe, that we can do with five classes, though we shall every time meet some remedies which might be included in the preceding class or in the one following. But we can thus gain an easy oversight and the mistakes cannot be very great.

Commencing with the remedies of brief action and gradually progressing to those of longer duration, the

I Class would contain the following medicines having the briefest action : Aconite, Camphor, Coffea, Ipecac., Laur., Mosch., Opium, Par., Rheum, Sambucus, Stramonium, and Tar. Of these medicines, most corresponding to the acutest diseaes and a necessarily rapid aid in chronic diseases, no use can be made except only as rare intermediate remedies.

The II Class contains the following medicines whose action is of brief duration: Arnica, Asarum europaeum, Bryon., Caladium, Cann., Cantharis, Caps., Chamom., Chelid., China, Cina, Cocc., Creos., Croc., Cyclamen, Drosera, Euphras., Hyoscyamus, Ignatia, Mgs., M. arct., M. aust., Mar., Men., Nux mosch., Nux vomica, Pulsat., Ran bulb.,  Ruta, Sabad., Scill., Secale cor., Valer., Veratrum, Verb., Viola od., Viola tric. Also from these remedies in properly chronic(psoric) diseases little result would be obtained. Only as intermediate remedies, or where the tedious invalidism ha its ground in the abuse of medicines, we may, in lack of more suitable remedies, expect a partial amelioration from these remedies; e.g., from Bryonia in pulmonary patients, from canthar. in Bright’s Disease, from Drosera in the affections of larynx, from Nux vomica and Pulsat. in various ailments, which are not infrequently found in common life and are frequently protracted for a lengthy period. But how Chelid. in many ( of rademacher’s) recipes should keep equal step and duration with other remedies of long continued action which are prescribed at the sane time is an inexplicable riddle to the true homeopath.

In the III class the medicines of medium duration of action would belong, among which I count the following : Agaricus, Ambr., Am. mur., Anacardium, Ang., Ant. tart., Argentum, Asafoetida, Belladonna, Borax, Bovista, Bromium, Cicuta, Clem., Colchicum, Conium, Cuprum, Digitalis, Dulcam., Euphorb., Guaic., Helleborus, Iodium, Lachesis, Ledum, Magn. mur., Mercur., Mezer., Mur ac., Natr. mur., Nitr ac., Oleand., Phosphorus ac., Plum., Ran scel., Rhodo., Rhus., Sabin., Sarsap., Seneg., Spigel., Spongia, Staphysagria, Acid Sulphuricum, Thuja., Zincum met. The remedies here adducted may nearly all of them be used in acute as well as in chronic diseases with decided usefullness, if only with the former their course is not too rapid, or with the latter the ailment is not too inveterate and, therefore, too firmly rooted. In my many years practice it has been as striking to me as curious, that substances combined with an acid such as, e.g, Am. mur., Ant. tart., Magn. mur., Natr. mur., Nitr. ac., Phosphorus ac., and Sulph ac. had as it seemed to me, a much briefer duration of action than the simple basis ( Ammon carb., Ant crud., Magn carb., Natr. carb., Phosphorus, and Sulph. ). I cannot, indeed, after so many careful observations, consider this a delusion; still it would be desirable if other careful observers would also express themselves about it.

The IV Class would then receive the following ones of the medicines of long duration : Alumina, Amm carb., Arsen., Aurum, Bism., Carb an., Carb veg., ferr., Flour ac., Lycop., Magn. carb., Mang., Natr. acrb., Nitrum (kali nitric), Petroleum, Platina, Selenium, Stann., Stront. These remedies belong to the so-called anti-psoric remedies, a designation which many are unwilling at this day to accept, but for which no more suitable term is known to me.With proper diet, and once brought into activity, their action will extend over several weeks and I have always observed disadvantageous results arising when during this period premature disturbance was caused by repetition of the same remedy or by giving another. Most of all we should guard against their action as extinct, when a second (or more rarely a third) primary action should develop itself. So long as the old ailments show a renewed aggravation, without the appearance of essentially new symptoms, which lie outside of the sphere of action of the remedy and mirrors itself in the total-image of the last medicine, so long we must carefully guard against giving another medicine or repeating the same medicine again, unless we would soon rue out our precipitancy. Such a course I have found most injurious among those remedies, which, like the anti-psorics, have many reciprocal actions, which in addition seem to be multiplied by being raised to higher potencies.

Finally the V Class contains those remedies which contain the most long-continued action of all, namely : Ant crud., Baryta, Cal-carb., Causticum, Grapg., Hepar sulph., Kali carb., Phosphorus, Sepia., Silicea, and Sulph. where these remedies, the real heroes of our medical treasury for the chronic diseases, are accurately suitable and are used, they will actually perform wonders, if they are only granted the necessary time to unfold their full powers. Fortunately, they all also belong to the anti-psoric polychrests and, therefore, they find the most frequent average use. But far more then even with the preceding we shall have to guard against causing premature disturbances, since the injury caused by them is not easily made good again. What has been said above of Class IV applies here in double measure, and my journal contains many cases where a single dose continued to act beneficially for many months most manifestly, and eventually the many years chronic disease had disappeared with all its traces so completely that nothing more remained to be done.

I close the brief article with the wish that the readers may examine the statements presented without prejudice, and if they are found correct, may act according to them, so that we may get rid of the unhomeopathic action which is spreading ever more generally of repeating doses, so that such action may, as before, be left to allopaths.

About the author

C. V Boenninghausen

C. V Boenninghausen

Dr. Boenninghausen was born to one of the oldest noble families of Westphalia, Germany. His full name was Clemens Maria Franz Baron Von Boenninghausen. He was Baron by inheritance, a lawyer by profession, and an agriculturist by natural inclination. After his successful treatment with homeopathy, Boenninghausen took deep interest in studying homoeopathy and devoted his remaining years to the cause of homeopathy. Most of his systematic works concerning homoeopathy were published between 1828 and 1846. Boenninghausen died at the ripe age of 79 in 1864.

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