An address by Charles Edmund Fisher M. D., Ex-President, American Institute of Homeopathy – at Hahnemann Medical College And Hospital – Chicago -Nov. 17, 1899.)
The practical side of any system of medicine lies in the direction of its abilities to cure disease, relieve suffering and prolong life; and unless a system of medicine, offering itself for the consideration and patronage of the American people, possess this practical side it will receive scant courtesy and brief tenure at their hands.
Similia similibus curentur ought easily to appeal to the inquiring mind as a reasonable proposition. There can be nothing more simple in medical precept, than that a drug or remedy capable of producing symptoms in organs or tissues of the healthy, can cure those symptoms in the sick. The newer system is built wholly upon its ability to relieve suffering and cure disease through the application of remedies upon this simple idea.
From the very moment of the promulgation by Hahnemann of the law of similars homeopathy has shown itself possessed of a practical side, a power to cure the sick. Beginning with its earliest days it was brought into direct competition with the then dominant allopathic system and also the expectant plan of treatment in a contest against pneumonia through a series of experiments conducted in Paris and Vienna, in all of which it demonstrated its superior possibilities. Treated allopathically the cases were grouped and treated according to the pathology and diagnosis of the disease. Treated expectantly the ailment was allowed to run its course without medication of any kind, the restorative forces of a distressed nature being wholly re- lied upon. Treated homeopathically the patients were segregated and each treated according to his individualities – his physical, psychical and pathological environments alike entering into a consideration of his case.
Touching for a minute upon the results of comparative tests in pneumonia made in the early days of homeopathic history, the records are all to the credit of its practical side. Homeopathy’s losses in Paris and Vienna, where the experiments were conducted, amounted to a fraction above six per cent, while those of the old-school system aggregated the large mortality of twenty and seven-tenths per cent. The expectant method did better than the latter but not as well as the homeopathic plan, its loss being nearly two more in every hundred treated, the result going to show that carefully selected individual treatments are capable of producing effects somewhat better than nature herself can secure, especially when below her usual power, while they are infinitely superior to those attained through a method of drugging erroneously styled “heroic” but which should be denominated “destructive,” instead.
Adding a mite, the results in a personal experience in North Central Texas, whose changeableness of climate conduces to a prevalence of pneumonia in the winter months, are considered worth recording. Eighty-three cases were treated with but three fatalities. Sixty-one of the cases were of the catarrhal type, some of them very severe, the remaining twenty-two of the croupous form, whose death rate under drastic treatment is always high.
On every hand the old-school lost their cases, the death-rate being severely high each winter, covering a period of years. Through the better results under homeopathy’s care, the new system was firmly implanted in the section referred to, among a people before unacquainted with its precepts and desirous only of securing results, no matter what the way.
The personal record just given is not unusual in homeopathic experience. It is about the record of every well-versed homeopathic physician throughout the length and breadth of the land. To us pneumonia is largely shorn of its terrors. A correct homeopathy knows no depressants and employs no stimulants. There is no see-sawing between extremes of vital tension, nor are the physical forces of the patient annihilated or maimed by a toxination from drugs that destroy. Acting in harmony with nature’s best laws, her strength is conserved, her forces are not battled down, she is given a chance. In pneumonia, as in all acute diseases, each case is led along gently, tractably, accurately, without medical coercion, the sole object in view being to assist nature as best we may while we make ourselves sure we do no harm.
Not less striking, in fact even more so, are the collations in relation to a comparative combat with cholera which occurred while homeopathy was yet in swaddling clothes. Again Vienna was the seat of war. In that famed hospital city there were treated in separate wards, one conducted by the old-school and one by early homeopathic practitioners, almost a thousand cases. The disease was unusually malignant and the death-rate large under both methods. The conditions of treatment and management were the same except in internal medication, yet the result was strikingly in favor of the young homeopathic giant. Our loss numbered a trifle below thirty-three per cent., the old-school mortality mounting to a fraction above sixty-seven per cent. In the city of the Austrian Royal Infirmary the effect was exceedingly gratifying, so eminent an authority as Balfour, of the old-school staff, proclaiming it beyond comprehension and volunteering the information to an English confrere that no young physician need hope to locate in Vienna and succeed unless well-versed in homeopathy’s ways.
In the epidemic which devastated Europe in 1836, in twenty-one hospitals in France and Italy the old- school lost sixty-three per cent of their cases, while in the same epidemic the homeopathic profession lost but eleven per cent of their patients in ten cholera hospitals in Germany, Italy and France.
Edinburgh and Leith duplicated the record to our favor, though by a less satisfactory showing, 235 cases yielding a death-rate of twenty-four per cent. But in the same cities, at the same time and under the same conditions except as to internal treatment, the old-school loss attained the awful mortality in 231 cases of more than eighty-five per cent., almost four deaths to homeopathy’s one.
In 1849 the hospitals of Liverpool gave results not quite so strongly in our favor, but yet sufficiently gratifying to prove the superior value of the homeopathic method. The losses here under old- school treatment were a trifle above forty-six percent., while under homeopathy they were less than twenty-five per cent.
In 1853 and 1854 Europe suffered a terrible visit from the Asiatic plague, cholera hospitals being required in almost all the larger cities. In those of Bavaria allopathy lost 48 per cent., homeopathy, but 6 per cent. In Newcastle, England, the old- school loss was more than fifty per cent.,the homeopathic mortality less than twenty per cent. In the Dundee hospital under allopathy the loss was 61 per cent., in Copenhagen 55 1-5 per cent., in Stockholm 59% per cent.; and in Leyden, The Hague,Delft, Rotterdam, Doriecht, Gonda and Utrecht there were treated 3,923 cases with 2,337 deaths the rate for the seven cities averaging a trifle less than sixty per cent. These tabulations show that throughout all Europe the old-school loss stood uniformly at from fifty to eighty per cent., while those quoted from homeopathic wards and hospitals give to homeopathy the better record of saving full seventy-five per cent, of those entrusted to her care.
At Wishney-Wolotschock, in Russia, at about the same time, a series of experiments were conducted in which allopathy, homeopathy and the expectant plans were tried, the result being that homeopathy lost twenty-one per cent of her cases, expectancy sixty-seven per cent, and allopathy seventy-four per cent.
At Raab, in Hungary, the allopaths treated 1501 cases with 640 deaths, an average of 42 per cent., while homeopathy treated 154 cases with a loss of but six, a mortality of four per cent.
At Bordeaux the allopaths treated 104 cases with seventy-two fatalities, a rate of 69 per cent., while the homeopathic “physicians of the town treated 31 cases with a loss of six, a rate of 19 per cent.
In London there died under allopathic care in 1854 an even forty-five per cent., while under homeopathic management the rate fell to 17 per cent. The death-rate in cases in which collapse had set in was sixty-nine per cent, under old-school methods while under the homeopathic way it was an even thirty per cent.
At Midnapore, in Bengal, of 120 cases treated homeopathically there were but sixteen deaths. In our own country, Cincinnati suffered a most destructive epidemic in 1849, which through the heroic efforts of Pulte and Ehrmann, two faithful disciples of Hahnemann, homeopathy made a splendid record. These two homeopathic pioneers treated 1,116 cases with a loss of but thirty-five, a death rate of but three per cent. Homeopathy was firmly grounded through this splendid achievement in all that section, among the converts to the better way in medicine being the late and greatly lamented Holcombe, subsequently of New Orleans, who for more than forty years did noble battle in the cause of medical truth throughout the epidemic-stricken regions of the Sunny South.
When there is taken into consideration the wide field covered by the figures recited, and when it is also considered that cholera has always been acknowledged one of the most deadly foes the human face has to meet, the remarkable achievements of homeopathy’s men are exceedingly gratifying and sustaining, giving to the new system, as they do, a marvelously effective practical side, which deserves the recognition and commendation of every friend of suffering man and every disciple of the Aesculapian art.
Not less successful in yellow fever than in cholera, homeopathy has established a claim to virtue and strength in epidemic contest which all the prejudice and tyrannical opposition of an engrafted profession can never destroy.
In that deadly scourge which devastates states, destroys the commercial life of metropolitan cities, paralyzes the industries of great arteries of traffic and populates cemeteries as certainly and swiftly as though deadly war were mowing down a community’s favorite sons in battalion, the new system of treatment has proved its ability in a record which all the years to come cannot dethrone. As early as 1854, when our pioneers in the sun-kissed cities of our Southland numbered but half a score, the efficacy of homeopathy was being demonstrated to the satisfaction of a population who knew naught of its virtues and who cared naught but for results. Holcombe, Bailey, Belden, Mathieu and Angdl – these sturdy pioneers,and others with them fought the yellow foe as it had never been fought before.
In 1853 Holcombe and Davis, at Natchez, Mississippi, treated 555 cases of typical yellow fever, all doubtful diagnoses being excluded, with a loss of thirty-three by death, a mortality rate of 5.94 percent. Dr. Holcombe, then young in homeopathy, treated 140 of the cases with nine deaths. Dr. Davis treating 415 with 24 deaths.
In 1878 the South suffered an especially destructive visitation of the pestilential scourge. States, cities and sections were stricken which had never been stricken before. Many years had passed since a marked epidemic had occurred, consequently the fuel for the fire was plentiful. Forty thousand cases were reported to the Boards of health of the various cities and large towns which suffered, while perhaps half as many more were never placed on record because of the absence of authoritative organizations in the rural districts. Of the number legitimately recorded it was shown that 3,914 were treated by homeopathic physicians with a loss of but 261, a mortality-rate of six and six-tenths per cent., while 36,000 cases were treated by allopathic physicians with a loss of an army of four thousand souls – a mortality rate of eleven and one-tenth per cent.
It is worthy of note in this relation that in every instance the boards to whom reports had to be made were composed of old-school physicians, on only two of them, there being a single homeopathic member. Further than this, in every city scourged in which a board existed it was a finable offense to fail to report a case, and when reports were made the boards of health and various committees of relief immediately visited the cases reported and provided for their necessities, thus authenticating the records and leaving no room for error or falsification of returns. Not in all medical history have statistics been gathered under conditions so free from the possibilities of error, and never have collaborated data brought down the scale to the credit of homeopathy more emphatically.
So overwhelming was the evidence in favor of the practical side of homeopathy – its treatment side – that it resulted in an official report to the Congress of the United States on the result, this, in turn, securing the appointment of a homeopathic member upon its investigating committee and of two members from the homeopathic school upon the national board of health afterwards created.
The little band of homeopaths flying the banner of similia in the scourge stricken district were applying their remedies with almost unerring aim. Many of them had never seen a case of yellow fever before. In the city in which my personal experience as a volunteer physician was gained not a member of our profession had ever been confronted with a case of the disease till then, and but for our law, our guide, our compass, our rudder we would have been buffeted helplessly in the terrible storm. That we saved nearly twice as many lives per hundred as did they, is due to the fact that homeopathy possesses an accurately practical side through the immutable law upon which it is founded – a law which serves us as well in times of deadly epidemic as in times of mildest requirement.
It is in epidemic contest that the practical side of homeopathy stands forth in boldest relief. The symptomatology of the disease being combated is striking, its physiognomy characteristic, its genus epidemicus emphatic, its lines not to be mistaken. To even the casual student of materia medica it is not difficult to fit the remedy to the disease. Guided by our law, we see the symptoms of the case before us plainly depicted in all their minutia, and if versed in our materia medica as we should be, we readily choose the drug adapted to the case in hand.
An investigation made by a responsible committee of the American Institute of Homeopathy developed that the administration of remedies in the epidemic of 1878 amounted almost to a reprehensible routineism. Aconite, Belladonna, Gelsemium and Veratrum viride were accounted the ones from which the similimum might be selected for the first stage; Bryonia, Nux vomica, Natrum muriaticum. Phosphorus and Argentum nitricum were reported as having been found all-sufficient, with an occasional exception, for the second stage; while for the third stage Arsenicum easily took first place, followed by Carbo vegetabilis. Sulphuric acid, Lachesis and Veratrum album. Occasionally Naja, Cuprum, Cantharis, Mercurius corrosivus. Opium, Hyoscyamus or Stramonium would be found indicated.
But so definitely applicable was the law that from New Orleans to Chattanooga, from Louisville to Brunswick and from Mobile to Memphis the homeopathic profession was found standing as firm as the rock of Gibraltar on its sound basic law, while the old- school profession was crying loud for some unknown power to come over into their Macedonia and help them.
The Hahnemannian law changes not with every whim of pathology and every new discovery of the pharmaceutical mortar, whether of scientific or commercial evolvement, nor does it stagger and weaken before the cyclonic rage of the most terrible destroyer that disease and death can array. Honest in his belief, firm in his conviction and strong in his knowledge of the power and comprehensiveness of his armamenitarium, the well-versed homeopath quails not in the face of unusual danger but stands ready to engage in combat with any and every foe.