TRUTH is not narrow and restricted, it is broad and, in its own sphere, universal. It manifests itself in degrees, from a most superficial presentation to the most profound comprehension. One thing, however, is requisite, its essential qualities must obtain, or it is proportionately defective or even destroyed.
So with the law of Homeopathy. In its sphere it is universal, in its acceptance it appears in all shades, from the crudest practice to the most skilful efforts of a Hahnemann. Still there is a sina qua non-, which is that there shall, somewhere, be a similarity between disease and drug.
Gradations in this law are not only such as may be expressed by the relative degree of fullness of acceptance_ _ gradations comparable with the continuous fading of light from the brilliant center to the boundary between light and darkness. Gradations in the law are also such as are expressed discretely, like the rounds of a ladder that represent distinct, progressive steps.
Two or three of these latter degrees are so clearly defined that I purpose considering them for a few moments in their bearing upon theme.
Physicians, who depend solely or chiefly upon so-called pathological indications in selecting a drug, are certainly within the province of Homeopathy, because they are, in a way, applying its law. They are seeking for fixed and definite similarities between drug and disease. They are mounted on one round of the ladder of true medicine.
Physicians who depend solely or chiefly upon so-called nutritive remedies are doubtless, within the pale of Homeopathy, for they are after a fashion applying its law. They seek the similar from among drugs that in normal quantities act physiologically, and in abnormal amount cause disease similar, in some features, to their known pathogenetic effects. They, too, are mounted on a round of the same ladder.
Physicians who depend solely or chiefly upon the organon in prescribing are unquestionably within the domain of homeopathy, for their aim is to discover what may be aptly termed the similimum. They are making the nicest possible application of the law of similars. They, necessarily, are mounted on a road of the ladder of the genuine medicine.
But what are the essential difference in these three gradations that mark them as discrete? And which of them is the highest round, nearest to the fountain of truth? Let us see. All three classes claim that they take the ” totality of symptoms” from which the desired remedy is to be deduced. But they differ severally in the method of deduction. One picks out as characteristic the pathological changes, another, nutritive changes, the third ” the more prominent, un-common and peculiar features of the case.” The first two rely mainly upon objective changes, the third upon subjective as well as objective. These essential distinctions characterize the three classes respectively when they, for one reason or another, step from their own round up or down on to another. If the pathologist gives any weight to a mental symptom, or to a drug effect he calls ‘ contingent’, it is always held in subordination to the pathological lesions, it is always with the reservation that the later must be subservient to what he terms characteristics. And this brings me to my second question: which of these is on the highest round?
Electively I decide for the Hahnemannian, and designate the round upon which he stands as that which gives the broadest and loftiest view of medicine ever yet obtained by mortal discoverer. His position is the only logical one, for he holds in his mental grasp all that is below him, and, moreover, knows just how to value every step below him and so to determine their relation with the higher and the highest. He heralds with delight the discovery that Arsenic can cause endocarditis, Bryonia, pleurisy, Mercurius Corrosivus, Bright’s disease, and Kalmia, almbuminuria. If he can not possibly do any better, he is at liberty to descend from his height and employ one or the other of these drugs accordingly. But usually his command of other and more interior effects of drugs leads him to proceed more intelligently and to act more comprehensively. ” I see”, he says, ” certain subjective and less ultimate objective symptoms that call more emphatically for another drug— for Pulsatilla”. ” But”, comes up the objection from the round below, “Pulsatilla has not the pathological symptoms”. “True, but it has the important symptoms, of the case, which I recognize as not mere reflex effects of the localized disease, but which rather bear a causative relation; and, besides, they are manifest in planes of molecular action, which necessarily hold to the coarser parts the relation of cause to effect, and any drug applied to the local symptoms only will have but a partial and palliative effect.”
Continuing the conversational style I have almost unconsciously drifted into let me presume the pathologist ask: “How can your method ever result in a tangible, fixed therapeutics? Are you not doomed always to remain in the speculative?” “No,” the Hahnemannian answers, ” we rest on terra firma as well as you, even if we are not so anxious to measure out precisely where shall be our footing. Our method develops an objective therapeutics.” ” How?” ” To illustrate, the world-renowned Aconite owes its febrile usefulness to the method of Hahnemann. When Hahnemann first prescribed it, he knew little or nothing of its power to cause and cure synochal fever. He selected it from concomitant symptoms, guided by the rule of characteristics, and lo, soon it becomes an invincible fever-remedy. It does not clearly appear from the provings of Hepar that the drug can hasten the formation of pus; boils were developed, unhealthy sores suppurated, but the power of the drug over pus was deduced from such symptoms as intolerance of pain, parts feel sore as a boil etc.” “But it is rejoined,” now that these objective and pathological facts are determined, are they not of paramount importance, and it is not Homeopathy to use them?” “It certainly is Homeopathy, but whether or not it is always pure Homeopathy is another question. The same process of deduction that gave these facts existence still rules. Aconite is doubtless similar to synochal fever; indeed, experiments since Hahnemann’s time have proved that it can cause chill, fever and sweat; but to be the similimum in a given case Aconite requires also the peculiar mental anguish and restlessness so distinctive of it, and not the quiet and torpor of some other inflammatory drugs.” “Are not such subjective symptoms as you refer to incomplete, and when fully developed into their pathological ultimate do not the latter become all sufficient as indications?.” ” They certainly are incomplete in the sense that they are not ultimated; but since they originate the ultimate they do not cease their activity when the latter appear; they still hold the superior position of cause to effects; and, besides, they represent disease changes of a more interior character than do their ultimate—disease changes which, be it ever remembered, may ultimate in more than one way; hence they are of a more universal value.”
In this connection I can not do better than quote the words of an allopath, Dr Andrew Clark, who, while learning a wholesome lesson for himself is un-wittingly re-teaching many a delinquent homoeopathist what has long since been practically forgotton. I quote from the Hahnemmanian Monthly of October 1884:
“We are so much concerned with anatomical changes; we have given so much time to their evolutions, differentiations, and relations; we are so much dominated by the idea that, in dealing with them, we dealing with disease itself, that we have overlooked the fundamental truth that these anatomical changes are but secondary, and sometimes the least important, expressions or manifestations of states which underlie them. It is to these dynamic states that our thoughts and enquiries should be turned: they precede, underlie, and originate structural changes; they determine their character, course, and issues; in them is the secret of disease; and, if our control of it is ever to become greater and better, it is upon them that our experiment must be made.”
While, then, I admit that the law of Homeopathy is elastic enough to give me quite a range of treatment, it is clear to me that my duty demands my earnest endeavor to employ, whenever I can, the purest and highest method of applying that great boon to humanity–the law of similars.