This talk is intended to give you an understanding of homeopathic medicine. To adequately grasp it one needs to realize that homeopathy is based on a fundamental discovery in the use of medicines, a discovery that solved an age-old problem in therapeutics.
We will look at the history of medicine up to the time of Samuel Hahnemann, see why he was dissatisfied with the medicine of the time and how he came to have a breakthrough conceptually — this leading to the establishment of a new system of therapeutics.
From this initial discovery we will see how the conceptual framework of homeopathy developed, leading to deep insights into the nature of both disease and healing.
Medicine before Hahnemann
For almost all cultures, disease was seen as the effect of non-material influences. Usually we hear this described as “evil spirits” or the acts of the gods. From our contemporary position it is easy for us to think this simple and superstitious, yet it can be better understood if put like this: There are influences that we cannot see, that seem arbitrary or without obvious cause. Since we can’t see them, they must be invisible, not physical and visible like is a wasp or a bear. If both invisible and harmful then we can say they are “spirits”, e.g., not physical beings and harmful to us, thus evil. In essence not different to our ascribing harmful influences to bacteria, viruses, or factors of pollution that we cannot see.
Some cultures also thought that harm could come from the ancestors, the influence of them continuing on past the grave. Considering what we know about genetic defects and mutations, that’s not so different from what we think now.
In any case, the attempt to control these invisible influences involved primarily exorcisms, use of magic, purification rituals, incantations and charms. Today we can understand by our own behavior how not knowing why things happen, we try to act in a way that will protect us or prevent our susceptibility. At those times it was perhaps wearing an amulet, today we would receive a vaccine, the modern amulet. Medicine of that time was well developed — at least conceptually. One record describes over 6,000 demons that can be responsible for health problems.
Other ways of attempted control of the health situations involved the use of soothsayers that would predict the outcome of disease. Most often it involved observing signs in nature, for example, looking for omens or reading the signs in the liver of sacrificed animals. This latter, examining the liver, was a form of “solicited omen” in which one posed a question to be answered, selected an animal to be the repository of that question, had it go through a purification ceremony, sacrificed it and then read the answer in the internal organs. Same idea as using Tarot cards or reading tea leaves — or a pendulum.
There was the use of some herbs and treatments like massage and simple surgery. In pharmacies of the time hundreds of plants and their uses were known. Animal parts were also used in medicine, esp. from poisonous snakes or animals, even the dung from animals. Over 150 minerals were also known and used, some of them quite poisonous.
The medicine of the Greeks is the primary source for the medicine that is contemporary to our culture. There were two primary schools of thought, not compatible with each other, that have continued down to the present day and are best represented in allopathic medicine, or what we refer to as contemporary or orthodox medicine and homeopathic medicine.
A major difference for the Greeks was the view that diseases had natural causes rather than supernatural ones and they looked for explanations in the natural happenings around them. Both schools of thought started from that basis.
The primary concept was that the body was made up of “humors”, the blending of which was responsible for optimal health. When one of the humors became too prominent, thus out of balance, then disease would appear. The major humors were (1) blood, (2) phlegm, (3) yellow bile, and (4) black bile. There were other humors than these, many more subtle ones were described, though there was not a systemization of them so that we could put them into a hierarchy.
An additional element was “pneuma” or “air” which through the balance of the humors allowed there to be consciousness, thought and perception.
Disease arose because of an improper processing of the humors. It went like this. The humor was first “crude” or “raw” and had to be made palatable to the being. It went through a process somewhat like cooking, e.g., the body or vital heat was involved in taking it into the proper form. This cooking was called coction.
When there is illness the raw unprocessed humor is discharged and so we can see the nature of the illness from closely observing the discharges from the patient. The body recovers from the illness by either discharging the offensive humor or “cooking” it.
It was not thought that disease was radically different from health, but they existed on a continuum. Some influence that could cause disease would result in a struggle for supremacy — the disease or the strength of the body would prevail.
The Empirical School
This view of health and disease was what we would call “holistic”. Though this term can have different meanings depending on one’s perspective today, at that time it meant that it was the organism’s own reactive powers that were the first line of defense against disease. There was always only one disease and that affected the entire patient even when symptoms seemed localized.
Proper treatment was to assist the process of coction by using something similar to the symptom condition. Thus fever was treated by bathing the patient with hot water. If the body was cold and stiff, cold water was applied to produce heat. I know, it sounds backward — but read on.
Other observed natural processes were imitated to bring about discharge and resolution, thus the use of emetics, purgatives, clysters and purgatives.
Sometimes another disease was deliberately established that would take precedence, as this second disease could be more easily cured than what was there originally.
There was emphasis on prognosis rather than diagnosis and disease was considered to be individual, such that patients always had treatment suitable for their specific condition.
The Rationalist School
The other way of understanding disease used the principle of contraries. Symptoms were to be treated with measures that would oppose them, fever with cold water, cooling medicines, etc. There was not reliance on the patient’s defenses — rather the physician took over those functions and treated the patient based on the theory of medicine adhered to by that school of medicine. It was an approach based on intervention, the defenses of the body not considered significant. The doctor substituted his knowledge and activity for that of the organism.
The emphasis was on removing what was considered to be harmful material from the body — bad blood, impure humor, unwelcome discharges. Thus there was more surgical intervention, drainage of pus or fluids.
Philosophically, this approach premised a special knowledge. Whereas the empirical doctor used common language and relied on what was observable, the Rationalist claimed that only the specially educated could understand what was happening and this set them apart from the general population because of this special knowledge. It also had the advantage of faster practice. Rather than individualizing patients, they were grouped together under diagnostic categories based on the theory that was current, and all treated the same way if it was assumed they suffered that disease common to all — for example, marsh fever, cholera, rheumatism, etc.
Medicine at the time of Hahnemann
Hahnemann was trained in medicine but frustrated at the lack of efficacy, the many theories of how to treat disease, and the lack of knowledge of the action of medicines.
The chief ways in which patients were treated were:
- Very complex mixtures of herbs and animal material, sometimes having up to 100 ingredients.
- Bleeding patients to remove what was considered to be “bad blood”.
- Purging with emetics and purgatives.
- Infecting patients with other diseases.
- Use of mercury (or other poisonous metals), a substance that was used for almost every disease much as we use antibiotics today. It resulted in serious poisoning of most patients.
Syphilis and the use of mercury
Mercury was found to treat the symptoms of syphilis, a disease that had been brought to Europe with Columbus — a little gift from the New World. It swept through the population as an epidemic killing many and maiming those it left behind. In desperation people were treated with mercury to the point of toxicity, the idea being that the disease caused by mercury was preferable to that of syphilis — much as we consider using chemotherapy and radiation to treat cancer today.
The issue of “specific medicines”
It had been observed that certain medicines seemed to have an unusual action. Rather than cause much upset in the patient, they would just result in symptoms going away and the patient feeling much better. Most medicines did not do this, but an occasional one did. One of these was Cinchona or “Jesuit’s bark” that was found to be specific to the treatment of malaria. It was a “problem” in medicine in that it did not fit into the models of how medicine would act. Why was this medicine different? What was the basis for such a wonderful action?
Hahnemann was aware of this and in translating a contemporary medical text, came to think about this problem and what it could mean. The theory proposed (in the authoritative text) was that Cinchona acted by being very bitter and therefore affecting the stomach in a way that would stop the fever. Hahnemann reasoned that other substances, even more bitter, should do the same — but they did not. So, there must be some other action to specifics. After considerable thought he came to the idea of trying the medicine on himself to see what it could do. On doing this, he observed the duplication of fever symptoms in himself and he thought that the reason a medicine could be specific, was because of its ability to duplicate the symptoms of the disease that it was treating. This insight was tested and confirmed and became the basis for the homeopathic system of therapeutics.
Extension of the theory: provings
Hahnemann continued to work with this idea and began a series of tests to see if other medicines could produce symptoms in the healthy person, symptoms that could then be used as a guide for the specific use of that medicine. After doing this with a larger number of medicines and confirming their usefulness, he published his findings in the first book that described in detail the accurate effects of drugs, the Materia Medica Pura, published in 1811.
These medicines then became the basis of a new therapeutics. A guiding principle established at that time was that only medicines whose actions were determined through prior testing were to be used in treatment. Speculation as to use of unknown drugs was established to be both inaccurate and harmful to the patient and so this ethical stance became an important part of homeopathy from the very beginning.
Application of the discovery
One of the first medicines that Hahnemann studied was Belladonna, from the poisonous nightshade plant. He found that the symptoms produced by it virtually duplicated scarlet fever of children, a serious illness causing death in many. He was able to apply this understanding to its treatment with success, which then greatly encouraged the direction he was going with this new method.
As new medicines were studied and the homeopathic practitioners became more skillful in using them, many impressive cures followed and these resulted in the establishment of homeopathy within the medical community itself. Several of the eventual leaders of the homeopathic movement started as skeptics, who themselves were cured or saw cures in their patients and were then convinced of the usefulness of the new method.
An example is cholera, a frightening and serious disease that spread as an epidemic through populations, often killing people in a few hours. The public was terrified of it. In 1849 a terrible epidemic hit Cincinnati and after the dust had cleared it was seen that the allopathic hospitals had mortality rates of 48—60% while the homeopathic hospitals had only 3% (1,116 patients). Homeopathy was still a relatively new method, the first US doctor being Hahns Burch Gram who began practice in New York in 1825. Yet the tremendous success of those Dr. Gram had taught brought homeopathy into a firm footing in the Northeast.
A case of Dr. Hahnemann’s is an example of how homeopathy differed in its approach to treatment from the other forms of medicine used at the time:
Case: The Washerwoman
S., a washerwoman, somewhere about 40 years old, had been more than three weeks unable to earn her bread, when she consulted me on the 1st September, 1815.
1. On any movement, especially at every step, and worst on making a false step, she has a (shooting pain) in the pit of the stomach, that comes, as she avers, every time from the left side.
2. When she lies she feels quite well, then she has no pain anywhere, neither in the side nor in the pit of the stomach.
3. She cannot sleep after three o’clock in the morning.
4. She relishes her food, but when she has eaten a little she feels sick.
5. Then the water collects in her mouth and runs out of it, like the water-brash.
6. She has frequent empty eructations after every meal.
7. Her temper is passionate, disposed to anger.
8. When the pain is severe she is covered with perspiration.
9. The catamenia were quite regular a fortnight since.
In other respects her health is good.
Now, as regards Symptom 1, Belladonna, China, and Rhus toxicodendron cause shootings in the pit of the stomach, but none of them only on movement, as is the case here.
Pulsatilla (see Symp. 387) certainly causes shooting in the pit of the stomach on making a false step, but only as a rare alternating action, and has neither the same digestive derangements as occur here at 4 compared with 5 and 6, nor the same state of the disposition.
Bryonia alone has among its chief alternating actions, as the whole list of its symptoms demonstrates, pains from movement and especially shooting pains, as also stitches beneath the sternum (in the pit of the stomach) on raising the arm (448), and on making a false step it occasions shooting in other parts (520, 600).
The negative Symptom 2 met here answers especially to Bryonia (638); few medicines (with the exception, perhaps, of Nux vomica and Rhus toxicodendron in their alternating action — neither of which, however, is suitable for the other symptoms) show a complete relief to pains during rest and when lying; Bryonia does, however, in an especial manner (638, and many other bryonia—symptoms).
Symptom 3 is met with in several medicines, and also in Bryonia (694).
Symptom 4 is certainly, as far as regards “sickness after eating,” met with in several other medicines (Ignatia, Nux vomica, Mercurius, Ferrum, Belladonna, Pulsatilla, Cantharis), but neither so constantly and usually, nor with relish for food, as in Bryonia (279).
As regards Symptom 5 several medicines certainly cause a flow of saliva like water-brash, just as well as Bryonia (282); the others, however, do not produce symptoms similar to the remaining ones. Hence Bryonia is to be preferred to them in this part of the ailment.
Empty eructation (of wind only) after eating (Symptom 6) is found in few medicines, and in none so constantly, so usually, and to such a great degree, as in Bryonia (253, 259).
To 7. — One of the chief symptoms in diseases is the “state of the disposition,” and as Bryonia (772) causes this symptom also in an exactly similar manner — Bryonia is for all these reasons to be preferred in this case to all other medicines as the homeopathic remedy.
Now, as this woman was very robust, and the force of the disease must consequently have been very considerable to prevent her by its pain from doing any work, and as her vital forces, as has been observed were not impaired, I gave her one of the strongest homeopathic doses, a full drop of the undiluted juice of bryonia root, to be taken immediately, and bade her come to me again in 48 hours. I told my friend E., who was present, that within that time the woman would assuredly be quite cured, but he, being but half converted to homeopathy, expressed his doubts about it.
Two days afterwards he came again to ascertain the result, but the woman did not return then, and, in fact, never came back again. I could only allay the impatience of my friend by telling him her name and that of the village where she lived, about a mile and a half off, and advising him to seek her out and ascertain for himself how she was. This he did, and her answer was:
“What was the use of my going back? The very next day I was quite well, and could again go to my washing, and the day following I was as well as I am still. I am extremely obliged to the doctor, but the like of us have no time to leave off our work; and for three weeks previously my illness prevented me earning anything.”
What is the medicine doing when similar?
In the almost 50 years of clinical practice and research that Dr. Hahnemann was able to do in his life, he worked out the details of the homeopathic mechanism. He found that when a medicine was able to produce changes similar in nature and expression to that of the natural disease in the patient, it stimulated a response. This response was the natural one the body used in curing itself. The remedy was able to stimulate this to happen in spite of obstacles or sluggishness of the system. The essential factor was the similarity in effect, which was absolutely necessary.
Reactions: aggravation, counter-action
The reaction that ensued was often seen as a two part change. First there was a temporary aggravation of one or more of the symptoms and second, a resolution of the problem as the system re-balanced itself. Symptoms disappeared and health was regained. With continued experience with patients, other signs were recognized that this process, which he called “cure” was happening.
Return of old symptoms (chronological reversal)
Symptoms that had been suppressed before by other treatments would come back to be resolved. The sequence was of a chronological reversal — the more recent ones first, then older ones appearing in the reverse order of how they arose in the first place.
Externalizing of lesions
There was also the movement of the focus of the disease from the inside of the body to the exterior, often as a skin eruption. So as the internal organs improved the skin would become more noticeably affected. It was essential that this skin condition not be suppressed.
Movement of focus downwards
Over time the lesions would move downward in the sense of towards the rear legs and feet and away from the head.
Discharge was very often a part of recovery. This could sometimes be in the form of pus, or changed secretions from the bladder, bowels, skin, ears, vagina or other mucous membrane lined tissues.
Enhancement of inflammation
Common to all these processes was an inflammatory process that allowed true healing to occur, a healing that should have occurred long ago. The inflammatory process was not a negative development but the primary way in which altered tissues and damaged organs were brought back to normality.
The meaning of symptoms
In all of this came a new understanding of what symptoms were. Instead of the stance that symptoms were the disease, something to get rid of, they were seen as an integral aspect of the process of defense the body was using to fight the influence of the disease. Practitioners were brought to the understanding that symptoms were essential to the healing response. It was found, for example, that the patient that exhibited few or weak symptoms did not have much vitality and it was this lack of vitality which resulted in the inability to have a final healing. Also, those individuals that had much prior suppressive treatment would come to a state of minimal symptom expression and this because of the ensuing weakness.
Symptoms as part of a healing response
Symptoms came to be seen as part of healing. Thus they were to be assisted by the remedy and never blocked or altered in any way. Homeopathy came to be a method of assisting the body’s own tendencies, working with it to accomplish the intended end.
What are medicines doing when not similar?
Once a method of using medicines to bring about the recovery of health in a reliable manner was worked out, this provided a context for further exploration of the action of drugs used in other ways. That is, what happens when drugs are not used on the basis of similarity? Symptoms certainly change; is this the same or an alternative way of using them? Within this context Dr. Hahnemann was able to learn a great deal about the use of medicines.
Elucidation of cure vs. palliation & suppression
Two other effects were elucidated. When drugs are not similar to the patient’s state then they can either palliate or suppress symptoms. This was a new understanding and an essential part of clarifying the use of medicines.
Palliation is using a drug to maximize its first influence on the body. That is, rather than the reaction or counter-action that will follow, the immediate, often physiological, effects are the ones desired. Drugs used in this way are intended to modify or block some function of the body. For example, use of an anti-inflammatory to block inflammation or an anti-histamine to block the action of released histamine. It is necessary to continue using the drug to maintain the effect. As it “wears off” then the drug is given again. So there are three aspects seen with palliative treatment:
- The drug must be repeated on a regular schedule.
- The effect of the medicine is quick, almost immediate.
- As time goes on, larger and larger doses are needed to maintain the same influence.
Suppressive therapy is similar but different to this degree. A symptom or group of symptoms is made to disappear — either for a long time or permanently. This is not a curative effect. The patient is not better overall and, in fact, may be more ill as time goes on — but with different symptoms.
- The drug is used for a while, until symptoms subside.
- The patient does not improve overall.
- Often there will be changes in the emotional state that follow — anxiety, irritability, etc. that come up as the physical symptoms disappear.
These two alternative methods of using drugs were found to result in gradual deterioration of a patient’s condition when this practice was continued over a long period of time. It is not immediately obvious it will happen this way, but as homeopaths worked curatively with patients it was observed that palliative and suppressive treatment were never helpful treatments — in fact they were often the reasons why disease got as bad as it did.
Clarification of principles
Other discoveries were made as well. Certain “rules” were established as necessary for success with curative treatment. Besides using medicines inappropriately, in a way that was palliative or suppressive, there can be other obstacles to bringing a patient to full recovery. Some are obvious — like continued physical deprivation. Others were not understood until practice experience was accumulated.
One remedy at a time
A basic one is that the best results are obtained in using one remedy at a time. Mixing remedies or giving them alternately resulted in palliation or suppression or just confusion of the case. It was found to be necessary to let one medicine, that was similar to the patient in his entirety, to act without the interference of other medicines, even those that have some degree of similarity as well.
No external treatment
Treatment of external lesions, like skin eruptions or growths like warts or tumors, also interfered with curative treatment and it was found necessary to proceed with just internal homeopathic treatment to have success. In fact, the external lesions became a very useful guide. As the internal treatment continued, the external would gradually disappear and thus provide a way of evaluating progress.
No surgical removal of lesions
The most profound technique of suppressing symptoms (or lesions) was the use of surgery. Removing the effects of disease threw the patient dynamic into disarray and greatly delayed a curative response or, in some cases, made the patient incurable. Thus surgery is not used as much in homeopathy — usually at the end of treatment to remove the remnants of disease in a cured case.
Hierarchy of symptoms
If we are to be guided by symptoms in choosing a medicine, are all symptoms of equal importance? Experience has enabled homeopathic practitioners to classify symptoms as to their usefulness in prescribing. They are broken down as:
- General symptoms, affecting the whole patient.
- Particular symptoms affecting a part.
- Mental or emotional symptoms as the primary focus.
- Modalities, conditions that alter a symptom for better or worse.
- Concomitants, symptoms that appear along with the chief complaint.
All of these are important but numbers (1), (4) & (5) are especially so.
Diagnosis as a misleading concept
The idea of grouping patients by the most common symptoms, that is those symptoms that are not specific to that individual, is the diagnostic method with which we are familiar. It is assumed that it is the common expression of named conditions that categorize the patient into a diagnostic group and, on this basis, a standard treatment is determined. This idea runs counter to the discoveries in homeopathy — that disease is individual and requiring specific individual treatment and also that the common symptoms are of least value. So, the idea of diagnosis is rejected as unsound and inaccurate as a basis for treatment.
Animals were treated early on, even in the time of Hahnemann. He saw no reason why animals could not be treated by homeopathy on the same basis as human beings.
Clemens von Boenninghausen (1785–1864) was one of the first practitioners to treat animals as a regular practice. He was originally a lawyer who was saved from death by tuberculosis by homeopathic treatment. He became one of the most dedicated disciples of Hahnemann and contributed much to the early homeopathic literature. Von Boenninghausen thought that treating animals was particularly interesting because it avoided the criticism of placebo effect. Many of his published cases involved treated horse and cattle.
Homeopathy continued to be used on animals, becoming a method used all over the world. The very first successful treatment of canine distemper was by a veterinarian using homeopathy (before vaccines were developed). Dr. Jervis describes the exciting success of using nosodes for both prevention and treatment.
Here is a little example of reliance on homeopathy by the famous circus, Barnum & Bailey.
In the 1925 Edition of Humphrey’s Veterinary Manual we find the following testimonial:
New York City
Horses, both in the ring and in trucking work, are a big part of animal life. We have rare cattle from India and other parts of the world. We have Dogs, Geese, Sacred Sheep and thousands of other animals that are of domestic type, as well as our menagerie wild beasts to keep well during the trying train trips and travels of a circus season.
Our experiences with Humphreys’ Veterinary Remedies on all of these various animals has been so satisfactory that we have now adopted them throughout our entire circus.
Wishing you all kinds of success for having produced so reliable and simple a Veterinary Kit of Remedies, we are,
Very truly yours,
Ringling Bros. & Barnum & Bailey
Cases of homeopathic treatment of animals were common in the medical journals of the time. Here are a few representative examples. It is helpful to remember that the cases described here were well before the discovery of antibiotics. These come from the late 1800’s, the first case in 1895.
Case 1: Ophthalmia
Jack, a brown driving horse, has been under the treatment of a veterinary surgeon (old school) six weeks, for ophthalmia.
Prognosis: Blindness. There is a steady flow of thick mucus from the eyes obscuring the sight. When attempting to see an object the horse will wink in order to remove the mucus from the field of vision.
Sept.10, 1895. Four powders Euphrasia 1M B. & T., one powder every four hours.
Oct. 9. The horse had an attack of influenza after the remedy, now past without other treatment. Eyes improved until recently. One powder Euphrasia 45M, Fincke. The eyes were soon well and have remained so for four years.
Case 2: Capped Hock
Brownie has a capped hock, resulting from a kick, which has persisted for some ten months in spite of the ordinary treatment with blisters and liniments. The swelling will decrease, then while in heat she will kick against the side of the stall and make it as bad as before.
Six powders Rhus toxicodendron 1M B. & T., one morning and night until they were gone, stopped the kicking and reduced the swelling. A repetition of the prescription a month later made a cure.
Case 3: Pneumonia
The same horse has pneumonia. High fever; hard, dry cough; respiration rapid and superficial. Yellow nasal discharge.
Jan. 16. Four powders Bryonia alba 200 B. & T., one every two hours.
Jan. 18. Fever continues high; cough less severe; respiration oppressed. Four powders Phosphorus 1M B. & T., one powder every four hours.
Jan. 20. Fever abated; cough loose; respiration easy. Convalescence proceeded rapidly and she was soon on duty. Another horse in the barn, taken at the same time, seemingly a less severe attack of pneumonia, was treated by a veterinary surgeon and died on the sixth day.
Case 4: Mastitis
A cow, with calf ten days old, has no milk from the left udder, which is very large and hot. Dung hard, dry, dark. Urine dark, looking like the dregs from a cider barrel.
One powder Nitric acid 1M B. & T., soon removed all abnormal conditions.
Case 5: Warts
Betty, a promising heifer, three years old and expectant, has on one of the dugs a group of warts, large, long and seedy.
Four powders Thuja 200C B. & T., one powder morning and night.
Two weeks later the warts were smaller, dark colored and dry.
In six weeks they were all gone.
Case 6: Mange
Malcolm, a pug dog, has mange. His back is covered with a thick, dry crust. The itching is made worse by heat and bathing. He has such a dislike for a bath that he will growl and bite whenever placed in the bathtub, which had previously given the greatest delight.
Oct. 8. Four powders Sulphur 1M B. & T., one powder every four hours.
Dec. 23. The back is quite clear of crust, but the hair is falling off. His ears are scurfy inside and itching. Hearing dull. One powder Graphites CM Fincke.
This soon removed all vestiges of the disease.
Case 7: Colic
Pocahontas, a bird dog, has frequent attacks of whining, at the same time she will double herself up as far as possible; manifesting severe pain.
A powder of Colocynthis 9M Fincke, would quickly relieve her, and a few repetitions of it put an end to the trouble.
Case 8: Mastitis
Tabby, a mother puss, is weaning her kittens. The mammae are hot, hard, distended. Her ears are hot; appetite gone.
Phytolacca CM Fincke, one powder.
The next day the heat was gone from the glands, swelling subsiding and rations called for.
Case 9: Indigestion
Matilda, daughter of the foregoing, compelled to take cow’s milk, is unable to digest it. Stools loose and curdy. Some vomiting of milk. Emaciation, and the most precious one of her lives is in jeopardy.
One powder Aethusa cynapium 1M B. & T., worked a marvelous change, and one week later she was as playful and happy as a kitten could be.
Case 10: Untidiness
Gibbie, a well-behaved family cat, became untidy in his habits, permitting his face and paws to remain soiled, with unkempt hair. Hoarse voice, almost aphonia. Itching of the ears. Soles of feet and head hot.
One powder Sulphur 200C B. & T., was followed by a remarkable change in his character. He was again neat about his person. On the third day he stole a paper of (pork?) chops from the pantry, hid one of them and was found eating the other. He had always before been trustworthy, even alone in a room with table set for dinner. It is interesting to note that this happened at 11 a.m.
Human treatment (historically)
Treatment of human beings was dramatically effective in these early days of homeopathy. At a time when there were no “miracle drugs” homeopathy was resolving problems that simply could not be helped with the other modalities at that time. Here are a few examples, again from the late 1800’s.
Case 11: Neuralgia
A black haired woman, a widow, aged thirty-six, dressmaker, has long been overworking, and her life is made miserable by neuralgia.
Tearing, stitching pains about the left ear downward and inward for the most part.
Numbness of the outer ear.
Dullness of hearing in the left (painful) ear.
Sensation of heavy pressure on the vertex.
Shivers run up the back and left side of chest with pain.
Irritable and despondent.
Jan. 1, 1900. Verbascum thapsus 1M B. & T., in solution, four doses, one every three hours.
Case 12: Tetanus
June 4, I was called to see Willis, a freedman, about 60 years old, who was reported to have the lockjaw. Upon visiting him I found that he had stepped upon a nail, about two weeks previous, but that for three or four days subsequent to the accident he had continued his work, only troubled by an occasional pain shooting up the limb. This pain increased, until he had “cramps,” as he called them; first, of the flexors of both limbs; then, the abdominal muscles became involved, until his body approximated in shape to an “S” or a “Z”.
At the time of my visit, the muscles of mastication and deglutition were also affected, and to such a degree that, a sudden noise, a touch, or an attempt to move or speak, or to drink, would induce a spasm. His jaws were so firmly and closely fixed as only to admit a case-knife between his teeth, and all nutriment was, necessarily, taken in a fluid state, and in very small quantities.
He was quite restless, anxious, very weak from a scanty diet, and almost sleepless. His thirst was considerable, but such was the difficulty of swallowing. that he drank very little. He had little hope of relief as some kind friend (?) had informed him that but one man had ever recovered from the lockjaw.
Upon an examination, I found the wounded foot and limb considerably swollen, the wound healed up, leaving only a dark spot very slightly tender, and upon re-opening it, only a few drops of dark blood escaped.
Rx Belladonna 30C, 5 drops to half a glass of water, a teaspoonful every hour. A slice of bacon to be applied to the wound.
I called again in the afternoon, and found him somewhat more comfortable.
June 5. Decidedly better; paroxysms fewer and shorter. Treatment continued.
June 6. He meets me with a grin, to show how loose his jaws are, as he can get them about a third of an inch apart. He now sleeps pretty well. Treatment continued.
June 7. Still improving; re-opened wound and applied a bread poultice. Treatment continued.
June 16. Received Arsenicum album 200C for edema of the lower limbs, after which, without further treatment, he entirely recovered and is now (Nov. 15) as hale an old man as you could wish to see.
Case 13: Gangrene of the lung
S. Mary Ives
I was recently sent for in haste to come out in the country and see a woman with “lung fever.” Obeying this hurried summons at 10:00 PM, I found my patient a little old woman, old and withered even for her seventy years; a face full of restless distrust and anxiety, and every movement characterized by sharp, short jerks. The history of the case was as follows: Has not been well for the last two years, a general failing in health. In November last she contracted a severe cold, and has coughed more or less ever since, expectorating “yellowish matter.” Some two or three days previous to my visit she had taken a fresh cold due to sudden chilling after being overheated. Pain in the left chest developed which finally drove her to bed. A physician was summoned, and then another: the latter prescribed, but said it was useless to go on with the case as the woman could not get well at her age.
It was then I was called and found my patient presenting the following picture: Lying in bed flat on the back, unable to lie on the left side; must lie on the back or right side, but any movement caused agonizing pain in left chest, causing her to scream aloud. Breathing quick and shallow; flapping of wings of nose. Cough causing distressing pain in left chest, between the third and fourth ribs – during cough she grasped that portion of the chest. Expectoration of mouthfuls of thick, yellow pus: in quantity, some three or four ounces in twenty-four hours. Sleepless, she had opiates. “Fever” every afternoon from 3-4pm, lasting until late in evening: throws all covers off and wants windows open. Intense restlessness during fever, throwing arms and legs about. Thirst “awful” — unquenchable.
Upon making a physical examination, which was very difficult to make, as the patient strongly objected, an area of dullness was found over the site of acute pain. viz., between the third and fourth ribs on the left side and a few inches from the sternum. Percussion seemed very painful, and so a detailed examination was impossible. Prescribing upon this picture, I gave Lycopodium cm, one dose. The next morning she said she was better: had slept better: pain was decidedly less, cough and expectoration about the same. That afternoon the fever came at usual time, accompanied by restlessness, etc., and the following morning she complained of more pain again. Lycopodium cm. was repeated. Day after day the case went on: sometimes a little better and yet with a gradual decline in strength and increase of symptoms. The fever came faithfully each day, always sometime the late afternoon, 3-5pm.
The restlessness grew worse, until it was something dreadful to behold; she would fling an arm here, then the other somewhere else, and off would go a leg in one direction and the other away off some other place: quick, sharp, darting movements, quick as a flash. The fever was of a continued type its time of aggravation in afternoon and the pulse corresponded. She grew distressingly irritable, occasionally very angry: discarded me many times over: hated her nurse, distrusted her: distrusted me: refused absolutely to tell her symptoms when I questioned her; insisted on being kept informed as to her husband’s doings; through really too weak to move her head from the pillow, if she heard a door open down stairs she would make an effort to raise herself up and strain every nerve to listen to what was going on. Kept close watch over things in the room: if a pillow was missing: “Where’s my feather pillow: what have you done with it?” “How many table napkins have you got down stairs? Go fetch them and let me see.” and so on, so suspicious and distrustful. All this time the cough kept on, expectoration profuse, of yellowish pus, which began to grow greenish in hue and to have a horribly offensive odor; was stringy and difficult to get rid of; the mouth became literally covered with aphthous patches: the tongue was glazed and parched; dry and shiny in the highest degree: she complained of a dreadful taste and awful soreness in the mouth. Sleeplessness worse before midnight. Breathing rapid. Refused absolutely to allow me to look at her chest, as she claimed that I “punched” her and made her much worse.
During these three weeks I prescribed remedies as the case seemed to me to indicate them; Arsenicum, Phosphorus, and Pyrogen, but evidently my perception was at fault. Nothing touched her, until after a thorough re-study of the case, at a time when death seemed almost inevitable, Lachesis opened up before me, and I gave it in the cm. potency, one dose. It covered the suspicious disposition, the character of the restlessness, the darting, rapid movements, intense heat with intolerance of clothing, and demand for fresh air: the glazed tongue and aphthous mouth, and last, but not least, the suppurative process in the left chest with gangrenous character and peculiar characteristic expectoration, green and horribly offensive, actually putrid.
I gave her the Lachesis and then came the tug of war. Away she went down into the very gate of death, but not to pass through, thanks be to our homeopathy. Twelve hours after the administration of the remedy I was called early in the morning with the word that my patient was dying. I hastened to the house and found her supported in bed by her weeping husband and two somewhat terrified nurses. A violent coughing spell had aroused her, and with the gagging cough she was bringing up mouthfuls of the vilest stuff, green, putrid smelling pus: the stench was truly horrible, permeating the whole room. After this attack subsided she lay back in an exhausted faint. As consciousness returned she was given some nourishment, after which she went quietly off to sleep, and rested more peacefully than for days. Twelve hours later came just such another time when more of this stuff was ejected, and from that time on the patient made a rapid and uninterrupted recovery. In two weeks time she was sitting up in her room, sewing, could eat and sleep well and enjoy life generally. No cough, occasional expectoration of a whitish mucus.
During the time of the recovery, some two weeks, the parotid glands became very much swollen, presenting an appearance of mumps; first the right side and then the left; as the left side commenced to swell the right-sided swelling commenced to decrease. As quickly as these glands showed signs of swelling the aphthous patches in the mouth began to clear up, the tongue grew moist and soft and the dreadful, unquenchable thirst became a horror of the past.
At thirteen weeks since first seeing her, this patient was attending to all her household duties: caring for her garden, visiting her neighbors, etc.and proving herself as meddlesome an old lady as ever.
Since the above case was reported, I have seen many evidences of the sound cure of this patient. It is a daily occurrence for her to walk two or three miles, and this oftentimes in inclement weather.
S. Mary Ives, Middletown CT, October 28, 1901. Mary Ives was a pupil of Kent in Philadelphia in 1895. In 1946 she was still living in Middletown.
Case 14: Uremic Coma.
From a paper read to the Connecticut Homoeopathic Medical Society May 19, 1914.
Nine years ago an old gentleman with uremic coma could be aroused sufficiently to answer questions, but always repeated the question before answering. Had been “breaking down” several months. Urine scanty and concentrated with albumin and casts. Causticum 1M one dose. Rushed to office to see if prescription was correct. Returned a half hour later to find him awaken. Sulphur cleared up the urine and he is living yet.
Case 15: Hemorrhage From Wound
A young Italian who had his radial vessels and nerve playfully severed by one of his companions lost so much fluid that he persisted in fainting every few minutes. He became pallid, covered with cold sweat, the pulse slow and nearly empty, and he appeared to have much dissatisfaction with his breathing, emphasizing it with gasping for breath, with wild expression, bulging eyeballs, choking and rattling in the chest. Could not breathe when reclining. To get rid of these little annoyances and to permit the wound to be dressed without such defiling interruptions he was given a dose of China CM, after which he played his part to perfection and the admiration of his comrades.
Case 16: Mushroom Poisoning
A man of 50 who said he had gathered mushrooms for thirty years and considered himself an expert, became poisoned with toadstool. He presented one of the most horrible pictures of suffering that I have ever seen. Unbearable burning pain in the stomach, violent vomiting and retching, loud groaning, insatiable thirst, copious sweat, thrashing the bed with anxiety, countenance deep red and expressing intense suffering and horror. About ten minutes after a dose of Arsenicum CM had been taken he was improving. Within a half hour he was quiet and convalescing.
Case 17: Typhoid Delirium
A boy of nine with typhoid fever, had violent delirium; biting, striking, rising in bed and banging head against the wall, screaming, shouting and trying to escape. Eyes brilliant, countenance wild and fierce, quiet neither day nor night, worse afternoons, temperature 106. A dose of Belladonna CM cured the delirium in less than twenty-four hours and the fever within a very few days.
Case 18: Acute Mania
A woman of 49 who had had intestinal hemorrhages after a fall became insane one night. She escaped from the house at l a.m. and went to a neighbor’s clad only in her night-clothing. She became violent and raving; fighting; continually talking, excited speech and vociferous gestures. Pulse 126. Temperature (after becoming quiet) 101.
Specimen of talk: “I shall fight my own battles.” “My children are good children. If you say they are not I shall fight! I shall fight!” “I will crush your head with an axe. Oh, that man, why does he look at me so! Look! look! look!” etc.
Lachesis 41 M, one dose was given. In about twenty-five minutes the mania began to subside. After an hour she walked home with assistance and remained quietly in bed. Next day her mind was self-controlled and she made a good recovery.
Case 19: Suicidal Insanity
A blacksmith who had struck the back of his head on a stone when a small boy was compelled to cease work during three days at a time because of intense headaches and suicidal depression. The climax was reached one night when he attempted to shoot himself. His wife had a desperate struggle with him for the possession of the revolver but she finally succeeded in wresting it from him and locking him outside the house. When I arrived the patient was almost stupefied with pain in the head. A close of Natrum sulph CM relieved the pain within an hour. A dose of the 50 M some weeks later made a permanent cure.
Case 20: Spinal Injury
An athletic German “felt something give way” in his spine while “twisting the broomstick” with a friend. Every few minutes he was seized with cramping of the muscles of the thorax which effectually locked his respiration until he became cyanosed and relaxed, then was all right again for a few minutes until the cramp returned. Copious sweat during each cramp. A few drops of Gelsemium tincture were put in half a glass of water and he had a teaspoonful after each cramp. Two teaspoonfuls were all that was necessary.
Case 21: Asphyxia
A girl of three who had been ill with laryngeal diphtheria several days was threatened with asphyxiation. There was cyanosis, cold sweat, wide open appealing eyes with dilated pupils, agonized expression and attitude, the drowning aspect. Put a dose of Antimonium tart. on the tongue and went for consultant and instruments for intubation. When I returned the child was contentedly picking its nose. Later she developed a craving for beer and Sulphur completed the cure of a desperate case in which l5,000 units of antitoxin had had no apparent effect.
Case 22: Malignant Septicaemia
A woman of 23 years had aborted a three months’ foetus that was decomposing. The placenta was retained; there was putrid discharge, general aching, restlessness, etc. Pulse 132. Curettage.
Next day, no improvement. Temperature 101, pulse 100. Pyrogen CM, one dose.
Next day, “feeling splendid.” No temperature, pulse 92.
Next day at midnight awoke with a shaking chill without coldness, intense restlessness, and mental anguish. Sweetish taste, thirst for cold; nausea constant and distressing, vomiting dirty yellow fluid; then dry retching; putrid taste, slight yellow lochia not offensive. Palpitation; throbbing in the head. Ashy complexion; deathly expression; temperature 102, pulse 136, small and feeble. Appeared as if about to collapse. Pyrogen CM, one dose. Next day pulse 96, temperature 99; nothing more needed.
Case 23: Typhoid
A girl of nine years after several weeks of typhoid fever was skeletonized and badly prostrated. It seemed that remaining life existed only to utter long drawn out groans day and night, day and night. Constant oozing of dark, putrid blood which when dry resembled charred straw. Lachesis 1M stopped the hemorrhages and the child slowly recovered.
Development of homeopathy world wide
Homeopathy spread from Hahnemann’s early work, because of its successes, over much of the world and you will find homeopathy represented in most countries, though less in Asia than other parts of the world. This table gives you the idea of the progression of homeopathy chronologically:
The Spread of Homeopathy, Adapted from Rudolf Tischner’s 1939 treatise Geschicthe Der Homoopathie (History of Homeopathy)
By Jay Yasgur, R.Ph., M.Sc., JAIH Spring 1998, Vol. 91, No.1
Parentheses contain the person responsible for introducing homeopathy into that respective country.
1796 Germany (Hahnemann)
1816 Austria (M. Marenzeller)
1821 Denmark (Lund)
1821 Italy (Necher u.a.)
1822 Hungary (J. v. Bakody)
1823 Russia (Adam)
1824 Poland (Bigel)
1825 United States (Gram)
1826 Sweden (Wahlenberg)
1827 United Kingdom (Quin)
1827 Switzerland (Siegrist)
1827 Surinam (Hering)
1829 Belgium (van Moor)
1820-1 Spain (Querol and Folch)
1830 South Africa (Philip)
1830 France (Graf Des Guidi)
1831-2 Holland (J. Schonfeld)
1836 Portugal (F.G. Galvao)
1837 Brazil (Jahn, 1837, Mure, 1842)
1837 Ireland (C. Luther)
1837 Columbia (?)
1845 Cuba (J. Bramon)
1845 China (Macao/Conaton, Lagrenee, Yvan, Callery)
1847 India (Nolasco)
1847 Mozambique (Monteiro)
1848 Chile (Garcia, Aug. Gusmao)
1848 Paraguay (Chedifer)
1848 Canada (v. Schrader, Lancaster)
1849 Uruguay (Korth, Estrazulas, Lopez)
1851 Egypt (Mure, v. Sonnenberg)
1852 Sudan (Mure)
1853 Mexico (Navarette)
1853 New Zealand (Fischer)
1859 Australia (Victoria, v. Rochlitz)
US hospitals and schools
In the US, homeopathic schools and hospitals were among the very first established in this country. Eventually there were over 100 homeopathic hospitals, 22 or more homeopathic medical schools, 60 homeopathic orphanages, 29 medical journals and over 1000 homeopathic pharmacies. One can see that homeopathy was an important part of the development of medicine in this country.
Example of contemporary animal cases
I am presenting here three cases from my practice so you can see that the same techniques described so far are still applicable to animals.
Case 24: The Pig Who Could Not Walk
Jan. 2, 2001 Pot-bellied pig, born Dec. 2000. Was small at birth. Never nursed well. Can’t walk properly, is stilted and slow. Lies down or walks on knees or on attempting to walk in usual position, the knees knock and wobble. Either has no energy or doesn’t feel good. She acts cold, shivers, but seeks out cold corners. Client operates an animal shelter and has several other pigs. This one is the most friendly and affectionate, liking human attention. Rx Pulsatilla 30, SID for 3 days.
Jan. 23, 2001 Not much change. Walks on knees. Rx Calcarea carbonica 10M.
Feb. 14, 2001 Has grown to almost normal size. Improved right after remedy. Walks and runs normally. X rays recently taken have shown that the knees and elbows are not calcified. Prognosis of permanent or long-lasting illness.
May 10, 2001 Has continued fine. Knees normal. No wobbling or knocking. Runs normally. Still smaller body than other pigs.
August 14, 2001 Still doing well, active and moving normally.
June 6, 2002 Is a normal pig with piggish delights.
Case 25: The Mosquito Bitten Nag
July 17, 1990 One year old male horse with skin lesions due to insect bites. Appear as little pits that are yellow with swellings underneath. Not painful, but a little sensitive to heat. He sheds hair excessively and rubs up against things. There are many insects about and he is bitten extensively. Rubs his face from the bites and is especially affected at the outer corners of the eyes. When bitten becomes very agitated, walks in circles and swishes his tail and bucks. Rx Ledum 200.
August 7, 1990 A little better but condition continues, patches not healed, areas scabbed and callused.
Several other remedies tried, including Apis and Thuya. Finally responded favorably to Sulphur 10M and began to heal in September 1990. Continued problems over next couple of years. For example, after castration in October 1990, developed herniation of omentum, an 18 inch piece hanging out and requiring surgery again. Vaccinated of course. Injured eye needed treatment. Developed a diarrhea that did not respond to several remedies, remedies like Calcarea (“he’s a big horse, long body, not delicate”). Some partial responses, improvement for a few weeks or months carried us to April 1992 at which point the client moved him away and contact was lost.
November 16, 1998, an interlude of 6 years. Client back, says diarrhea has been a continued problem off and on all this time. It happens whenever he is nervous or upset and it comes on quickly. Very sensitive and particular about his food. Gentle horse, very yielding, she says “lacking self confidence”. She calls him lazy at times, says that he can become sullen about how he is treated (who can not?); “acts as if his needs are ignored”. Are they? Client sees the horse infrequently, not daily. I buy it. Drinks normally. Weight slightly too high. Coat average. No itching.
Rx: One dose of Sulphur 10M.
Dec. 21, 1998 Much improved, client says “a lot”. Behavior has changed for the better, takes the lead now. Client says “Better all around. I’m surprised at the improvement. Happier with himself.” Loves to run, but not so good on the lunge line, won’t listen to her. She says “he tends to be lazy”. No treatment.
July 5, 2001 Had no further skin or diarrhea problems or health problems of any kind. Client sold him because she could not bridle him and if she tried to ride him around meal time, he would buck her off. Guess he would rather eat.
This is a case of a 3 year old yellow lab, male (n.) that was obtained by the client as a puppy. Though he is not very old there have been health problems from early on. First seen by my practice in late 1999.
Oct. 28, 1999 Shy, barks. Ravenous appetite. Itching without eruptions, no lesions evident. Soft mustard colored stool. Coat thick but dull. Had been treated prior with Apis 30 to no effect. Client then gave Sulphur 30x a few times with little change. Rx Sulphur 1M.
Dec. 6, 1999 Improved some. Sudden itch as if bitten. If eats grains will have diarrhea. Left ear irritated, likes it rubbed, scratches at it, brown discharge. Less from right ear. Rx Bryonia 200.
Jan. 7, 2000 “Now fine. I guess the last remedy did the trick. His coat feels softer and is a little more shiny also. Eats his food like a normal dog now.” Scratching occasional and seems normal amount to client.
Aug. 14, 2000 Fractured a right premolar tooth, buccal surface. Weight now normal, very muscular.
Nothing more until May 31, 2001, a hiatus of 9 months.
Losing hair from underneath, appears to be falling out or not growing. Itchy. What hair there is too thin. Stamina not good, takes a long time to recover (dog used in rescue training). Runs well. Very painful swollen toe joint, rear left foot. Causes limping. Joint palpably enlarged. Only one joint affected. Skin darkened, odor very noticeable to me.
Abnormal lab tests: BUN 27 (12–18), Creatinine 1.1 (.5–1.1), ALT (SGPT) 58 (3–50). Free T4 9 (12-33), Free T3 11.6 (4.5–12), Total Thyroxine 35 (15–50), TSH 15 (0–37). Thyroglobulin autoantibody 511 (<200).
Rx Mercurius vivus 30, SID X 3 days. Also supported with Immuplex and Antronex. On excellent diet.
June 8, 2001 Joint has swollen 3 times more than it was. T. 101.8 and rose to 102 later. Foot very tender but he walks OK. Client soaking affected foot in cold water every 15 minutes to reduce inflammation and is concerned about an infection. Sig. Stop cold water soaks, delays healing. Toe has arthritis and will improve with more time. Report again in another week.
June 10 Began to improve. Two front paws and rear right foot developed a blister-like eruption with a reddish fluid discharge. Client opened them and applied calendula cream. Joint swelling much reduced and no sensitivity there now. Very energetic, more. Itching comes and goes, not constant. Appears to be having some new hair growth. Temperature now normal, ranging from 101 to 101.4. Doggy odor less. Stools normal, no diarrhea. Improved stamina. An allergy testing that was recently done show sensitivity to 30 things and several borderline other substances.
July 10 “Doing wonderfully.” Has gradually improved. No limping or soreness. Hair growing back except on the legs. Hair softer, odor reduced by half. A lot of energy. Weight perfect.
July 23 Occasional itch. Still improved, stamina better, skin and coat improved. Rx Sulphur 6c, SID X 10 days.
Aug. 6 Client notices his dog itches more when fed chicken or beef; improved with feeding lamb (there were not dietary restrictions based on allergy tests — advised to avoid any foods that obviously aggravated). Recently lame on right rear leg after exertion. Has had some coming and going of sores and itching and they resolve slowly.
(Analysis limited to the chronic remedies)
Rx Natrum muriaticum 6c, SID X 7 days.
Aug. 20, 2001 No trouble. Went on a search and rescue certification and did very well. In great shape, no limping, no itching. Coat gradually improving. Sig. No remedy for now. Report again.
Jan. 2, 2002 “It’s been a while since I lasted reported to you about our two boys, but I just wanted to be sure of their condition, especially Shilo’s. This report is the kind that I’m sure you like to receive and is certainly the kind I like to send. First of all, I want to thank you for what you did to bring Shilo back to 100+% condition. I was reluctant to say anything earlier to make sure. It has been 100% for several months. Actually, he showed remarkable improvement within one to two months of the treatment you prescribed back in June. Through the months of September and November and December, he was fully sound in every way, even his coat and skin was back to normal. There is virtually no sign of any itching and skin problem or sound body odor. You would see a beautiful dog again like in the photo I sent earlier of him posing in a field. It’s almost too good to be true…”
We have covered a lot of ground, starting with medicine at the time of Hahnemann and the problem of finding how to use medicines specifically — a problem that he was able to solve. Starting from a simple discovery, homeopathy evolved and acquired so much knowledge that it became a complete therapeutic method with unexpected power and a simple elegancy. It is in the details of the patient that we find the answer to their malady and it is in the attention to them as a person or as an animal that we find how to restore their health.
Hahnemann gave us a great deal. Not only a scientific method for using medicines but also an incisive and deep understanding of the process of disease and what recovery looks like when it happens naturally. The principles of homeopathy are applicable to all forms of healing as the ways in which health is restored is not unique to any particular method but universal to all beings.
It is no wonder that Dr. Hahnemann was one of the few doctors that had a statue and monument erected in his honor in this nation’s capital.
I hope this presentation will give you a better understanding of what homeopathy is — its principles, the understanding of disease and how treatment is applied.