Homeopathy Papers Materia Medica

Natrum Muriaticum – Cures with Common Table Salt as a Test of the Doctrine of Drug Dynamization


Dr. James Compton Burnett (1840 – 1901), presents 25 cases cured wth Nat mur 6, as a demonstration of the efficacy of potentization.

The theory of the dynamization of drugs was, perhaps, an arcanum of the jatrochemists in the Middle Ages, and was promulgated by Hahnemann as a doctrine, while this century was still young, and it may be regarded as the natural outcome of his law of cure; he says :

“The homeopathic healing art develops for its purposes the dynamic virtues of medicinal substances, and, to a degree previously unheard of, by means of a peculiar and hitherto untried process (i.e. by triturating and shaking). By this process it is that they become penetrating, operative and remedial, even those that, in a natural or crude state, did not exercise the least medicinal power upon the human system.” – Organon, § 269.

Then again, § 275 – “The appropriateness of a remedy for a given case of disease depends not alone on its being homeopathically just the right one, but it also depends as much on sufficient smallness of the dose. If you give too large a dose of a remedy, even though it be fully homeopathic to the morbid state present, and be it never so harmless in itself, it will be sure to do harm simply by its quantity, and by the unnecessary over strong impression which it will make by acting exactly on the parts of the organism rendered tender and weak by the natural disease, and this it will do by the very reason of its like homeopathic action.”( §273 of 4th German edition).

According to Hahnemann then, the strength (size) of the dose is very important, and the more homeopathic our remedy in a given case the greater the danger of doing harm. Many followers of Hahnemann accept his law only and cast aside the theory of increasing the remedial power of a drug by trituration or succussion as irrational and, unscientific, and these are by no means the least accomplished or least scientific of them, and also by no means the least popular. Perhaps we may go so far as to say that the more a man is prone to scientific research, the less easily can he conceive it possible to exalt the remedial energy of a drug by diminishing its quantity even though the diminished quantity be spread out over an indifferent medium; and the more popular he is, the less likely is he to tread the tortuous path. Thus Dr. Kidd tells us (Laws of Therapeutics, pp. 34, 35. London, I878):

“Twenty-seven years ago I saw that the essential truth of Hahnemann’s law was totally independent of his speculations about dynamization. Adopting with great delight the law of similia similibus curentur as the chief, though not the only, foundation therapeutics, I learnt for myself that Hahnemann’s sober teaching, the use of the pure undiluted tinctures, was a far better guide to heal the sick than Hahnemann ‘drunk’ with mysticism, calling for the exclusive use of infinitesimal doses. The latter I cast aside in toto as untrustworthy and unjust to the sick, whose diseases too often remained stationary under treatment by globules, but were most effectually and quickly cured by tangible doses of the same medicines which failed to cure when given in infinitesimal doses.”

Dr. Kidd’s position entitles his opinion to great respect, but until he publishes satisfactory accounts of those sick “whose diseases too often remain stationary under treatment by globules” [was the right medicine in those globules?] we take it only as his own subjective opinion, fully concurring in his quotation from Plato that “nothing can be more repugnant to an ordinary mind than the thorough sifting of deep-seated, long-familiarized notions.”

Dr. Kidd also states (op. cit., pp. 33, 34) : “Truth is greater than Hahnemann; and of late years his speculations about “Psora” and “infinitesimal doses” have been tacitly given up by all the most skilful and intelligent of his followers.” The italics are mine.

This sentence contains three propositions. First, that truth is greater than Hahnemann; admitted as a truism. Secondly, that of late years Psora and Dynamization have been tacitly given up; admitted as to some, but not as to the vast majority.* But even suppose it were true of all, would the presence of nothing but atheists in the world do away with the Supreme Being? And thirdly, that these tacit up-givers of “Psora” and “infinitesimal doses” constitute “all the most skilful and intelligent of his followers”.

Of course we all know that those poor psoric dilutionists have neither skill nor intelligence; and besides, Codlin’s the friend, not Short. The absolute proof that the apsoric crude-druggists monopolize “all the skill and intelligence” lies in their tacit mode of doing the doughty deed. They have invented a new system of philosophy – the tacit method, and “cast aside” exclaiming, “get thee behind me, for I am more skilful and intelligent than thou art.”

But casting the doctrine aside without adequate experimental inquiry does not become science because it is done by a scientist; we are all very apt to leave the rules of scientific investigation at the door when we involuntarily feel we will not have a thing be true.

The writer has long been cast about on a sea of doubt and perplexity with regard to this doctrine of drug dynamization; he has frequently listened to the arguments brought forward for and against it, and frequently himself joined in ridiculing it, constantly feeling himself unable to believe it possible that the remedial potentiality of a given drug could be increased by any process of subdivision whatever, in fact, by any process whatsoever. The question is constantly presenting itself to one’s mind thus: Can the billionth of a grain be potentially more than a grain?… and the ready answer willingly follows impossible. lt may be conceded that the doctrine of drug dynamization is a priori, absurd: so is homeopathy. How can a drug that causes diarrhea cure diarrhea? Surely it must make it worse. What, castor oil for an alvine flux? Clearly it cannot cure it. Yet experiment shows that what causes diarrhea does indeed cure diarrhea; like does cure like whether we believe it or not; and hence, what is a priori absurd, may be a posteriori true. We are all very apt to lose sight of the fact that our beliefs have nothing to do with truth. Truth is truth whether it be believed or not. The born blind may not believe in the existence of the sunlight because he does not see it. Sound is absurd to the deaf.

The existence of the word paradox shows that things apparently absurd and untrue may yet be true in fact. However, there is this to be well considered. In the drug treatment of disease we have to deal with conditions and not with entities, and it is not paradoxicaI to suppose that two like and equal forces may neutralize one another. Two equal showers of rain will make the ground wetter than one, but a pair of scales weighed down with a one grain weight is restored to equilibrium by the addition of another one-grain weight on the other side; it is similar in its action, and like in its power, only it works at the other end of the beam. Here the state of equipoise is brought about by similar means that are also equal and results from two motions.

Those ignorant of homeopathy laugh at it. The writer went through this laughing stage of ignorance, but did not find it very blissful, and so was constrained to put the doctrine of similars to the test of scientific experiment, and found it a true one of great practical value. Almost all homeopaths have come that way. Hence disbelieving a thing does not disprove it.

Those ignorant of the doctrine of drug dynamization in truly scientific practice, laugh at it; so did the writer, and that in very good company; but finding that Hahnemann spoke truly in regard to drug action, he thought that circumstance some slight presumptive evidence in favour of his other doctrine, that remedial power is developed and increased in a drug by trituration and succussion.

Therefore he put the theory to the test of careful clinical experiment with the result that he has passed considerably beyond the laughing stage. The results obtained from clinical experiments ought to satisfy the most critical mind, if not blinded with prejudice, for they constitute the only scientific method of settling the question at all either one way or the other.

But it is much easier to satisfy one’s mind about the truth, or otherwise, of homeopathy than about the truth or falseness of theory of potentizing drugs.

Expethency and policy can have no weight with us. If the Hahnemannian doctrine of drug dynamization be, as it is averred on competent, authority, a great stumbling block to the profession, and a hindrance to the spread of the major doctrine of similars, we can only regret it, but must proceed, and also insist upon it before the whole world, in the path of truth seeking coûte qui coûte. What can be more beautiful than truth for its own sake?

In casting about for the best method of crying out these clinical experiments various plans suggested themselves, but no very satisfactory one. In the first place, we cannot accept most acute diseases as appropriate for experimentation, because of the many objections that may reasonably be offered to the results of any treatment of them. lt is said that almost all acute affections tend to recovery of themselves. If an experiment result in apparently shortening the course of any such affection, it is objected that the vis medicatrix naturae did it; or, the disease being one that runs its definite course if treated expectantly, the diagnosis is called in question.

Apropos of the expectant or do-nothing method. If one of our learned fraternity declare his non-belief in medicine and give only a placebo without prayer, we think him very scientific, a great pathologist, and a fine kenner of the natural course of disease; he watches Nature’s ways purely and simply, desiring to be neither her minister nor her master, but only her observer, and the law protects him and the faculty honour him. But let one of the unlettered Shaker community do the same thing with prayer, and the law and the faculty unite to punish him. So if there be not one law for the poor and another for the rich, there are one for the doctor and another for the Shaker—and all the worse for the Shaker.

But to return, the writer believes that he sometimes succeeds in breaking up measles with the aid of Gelsemium and Sulphur, but it might be a very difficult matter to satisfy another that he really does. Hence, acute affections of fixed nosology are mostly eliminated as offering too many difficulties, in private practice especially.

Of chronic affections a great number are also not appropriate; thus a chronic ulcer of the leg may suddenly take on a healing action independently of the treatment; a chronic bronchitis or other congestion may be suddenly made better by change of temperature or the veering round of the wind. Still there remain some chronic complaints that are eminently fitted for experimentation more particularly certain symptoms or groups of symptoms.

Of course no alterations are to be made either in that or hygiene, or place of abode.

Having determined on the kind of case best adapted for proving or disproving the doctrine of drug dynamization, another serious difficulty presents itself, viz : – whether the drug that supposedly proved itself curative of a given ailment, for instance, in the billionth dilution, did so simply because it contained some of the right medicine. Thus if a headache disappear in three days, under the use of Gelsemium 6, and granted that lt disappeared propter hoc, how are we to know that there was any dynamic effect there, since probably it may have yielded to live drops of the fresh juice of the plant perhaps even more promptly? Therefore it should be shown that the crude substance in various quantities and in a soluble condition failed to effect the cure.

Here, again, another difficulty crops up. You must give the remedy in substance first, for the dilution might cure, and whether it did or not, the experiment would fail. If the dilution cured there would be no opportunity of trying the crude substance, and if it failed to cure, the experiment would of course fail altogether in the present sense.

Therefore you give the drug in substance first of all. Then comes this other question: how long does the substance given continue to influence the economy or the disease in it? Suppose we were to assume a fortnight as the duration of its action, say of Bryonia Ø, might not the objection be raised that Bryonia Ø continues to influence the organism for three weeks, and therefore the cure supposedly effected by Bryonia 6 in the third week might in reality have been due to the Bryonia Ø?

Again, this would have to be determined for every single drug, since the duration of their action is held to be different. So the thing bristles with almost insuperable difficulties. Still the matter calls for elucidation and, if possible, settlement. For it has been affirmed by many able practitioners, by Hahnemann himself, and it is being daily and hourly re-affirmed by men of sound science that drugs do act differently and better when dynamized. In fact, many affirm, as did Hahnemann, that the doctrine is of transcendental importance, as many serious diseases can only be cured with dynamized drugs, being entirely incurable with the same drug in substantial doses, and so often altogether incurable unless with a highly potentized remedy.

Yet we cannot accept any man’s dictum, and faith can have no place in science. In verba magistri jurare does not advance science one whit, but neither does mere sceptical negation. Any experiments on the subject, to be satisfactory, must be of such a nature that they may be repeated by others, proper circumstances and material being given. lt seems to the writer that there is one drug above all others in the materia medica which may greatly help in the elucidation of this important subject, viz. Natrum muriaticum. He has not the pretension to settle the question one way or the other, except for himself, but he thinks his ideas on the subject, together with a few clinical experiments, may prove suggestive to his professional brethren, and possibly advance the cause of truth a little.

He will advance it historically, that is as the thing arose and grew in his own mind stimulated by observation.

Observation 1- Mrs. B., age 24, came under treatment in I876, in the early months of pregnancy, with very severe neuralgia of the face. The case proved itself very obstinate, and many drugs were fruitlessly tried, but eventually it yielded to China given in the form of pilules saturated with the matrix tincture, which drug was chosen because of perspiration breaking out when the pain became very bad. The neuralgia constantly re-appeared, and finally China ceased to have any effect. Then Populus tremuloides was given simply because of its being a congener of China and did good, in fact quite cured for the time. This pregnancy passed and my patient consulted me again, being again enceinte early in I877, for the same kind of neuralgia, and this time its obstinacy nearly reduced her and her physician to despair. The case was treated in the old Hahnemannian fashion according to the totality of the symptoms which were very few and apathognomonic, the neuralgia being always bad, and always worse, and apparently not ameliorated by anything.

After many weeks of fruitless endeavours to cure this neuralgia with medicines chosen from the repertory, I turned to Guernsey’s Obstetrics (2nd edition) and found I had already tried all those given in his list at pp. 372, 373, 374, except two; these two I then fairly tried and again failed. So my patient had received Aconite, Belladonna, Bryonia, Calcarea c., Cocculus, Cimicifuga, Coffea, Gelsemium, Gloninum, Ignat., Magnesia carb., Nux. v., Pulsatilla, Sepia, Spigelia, Sulphur, Veratrum a., China, Populus, and some others. Besides which she had applied, often in almost frantic despair, nearly every known anodyne, so that the soft parts of the face seemed almost macerated.

Here I suggested change of air (what should we poor practical physicians do without this ultimum refugium), but circumstances prevented her from leaving Birkenhead for more than a day or two, so her husband took her for little outings to New Brighton and Southport, and Chester, when it was observed that the neuralgia was worse at the seaside and better inland.

A happy thought struck me that this might be due to the salt in the air by seaside, and, being moreover absolutely at the end of my tether, I acted on it and gave Nat. mur. 30, one pilule very frequently. The neuralgia at once began to get better and in a day or two was quite well. It subsequently returned at intervals, much less severely, but promptly yielded to the same remedy in the same dose. The 30th dilution was chosen simply because some pilules of this strength were in the patient’s chest.

The patient was quite satisfied that the Nat. mur. 30 effected the cure, and so was I, and so will many others be, but in a general way the case will not carry conviction to unprepared minds and still less so to prejudiced ones. Hitherto, I had had no great respect for Natrum muriaticum as a remedy, in fact none whatever, having but rarely, if ever, prescribed it. Indeed, how can a sensible man believe that the common condiment salt, which we ingest almost at every meal, can possibly be of any curative value, especially as some are known to eat salt in considerable quantities every day and that without any apparent deleterious effect.

Dr. Hughes in his Pharmaco-dynamics, 2nd edn., p. 411, says “I really known nothing myself of the virtues of Salt.” We find him now, however, a riper homeopathic scholar, for in the 3rd edition of the same admirable work, p. 56I, he gives an interesting case of defective nutrition, showing itself especially in emaciation with dry and ill-coloured skin, accompanied with depression of spirits and suspected abdominal disease. Here a few occasional doses of Nat. mur. 30 changed the whole condition and initiated a complete recovery.

This testimony is very valuable and especially gratifying to me, and, moreover, carries conviction to my mind. It is evident that Dr. Hughes unwillingly yielded to a belief in the doctrine of drug dynamization, and would fain have continued to “know nothing of the virtues of salt.” To believe in salt as a remedy is almost synonymous with believing in the doctrine of drug dynamization, and a belief in this doctrine is extremely repulsive to one’s common sense. Perhaps the proper spirit would be gratitude to a beneficent Creator. Worse at the seaside has since proved itself a valuable indication for Natrum muriaticum with me.

Observation II – A young gentleman of about 21 years of age came under treatment for Synovitis of right knee with considerable effusion. Patient had a dirty looking skin, was constipated and had many Nat. mur. pains in the lower extremities.

Rx : Natrum muriaticum 6.

Fiat. pul. gr. vj.

Dose.—One in water every three hours. Rest in the recumbent position. I did not see the patient again, but he was observed by my colleague, Dr.Reginald Jones, who kindly gave me the following report: “The medicine purged the patient so severely that it had eventually to be left off; it also produced a great discharge of the urates, the urine becoming very thick therewith.” No other medicine was given and patient was quite well in a fortnight. Dr. Jones was much interested in the action of the remedy and declined to accede to the patient’s request to be allowed to discontinue the medicine because of the purging. The patient’s friends at length became alarmed at the catharsis and his brother called upon me to beg that the medicine might be discontinued.

This case being acute might have got well of itself in the manner described, and Nat. rnuriaticum possibly had nothing to do with it. We know that synovial effusions will often spontaneously rapidly disappear (Sir Thomas Watson). The diarrhea ceased when the medicine was discontinued, but this may also have been mere coincidence: critical diarrheas tend to cease of themselves.

Observation III – Mrs. M., age 50, or thereabout, had a most severe attack of Rheumatic fever, the joints being much swollen, red and distressingly painful. The usual homeopathic treatment was adopted but with no great success. lt was her fifth attack of rheumatic fever. Between the third and fourth week Dr. Jones and I saw her together and found this condition: Ill-coloured skin, obstinate constipation, foul tongue, urine very pale and limpid, great depression of spirits, fever; joints red, swelled and painful; great restlessness, low and desponding of the future, sour perspiration’s, insomnia, bedsores, and great weakness.

We agreed in the opinion that the emunctories had almost left off work and required to be brought back to their duty. A sharp cathartic combined with a diuretic seemed to be indicated by the general condition, but contraindicated by the profound adynamia, and hence the blessing of a refractissima dosis. My consultant’s observation in Case II, caused him to suggest the same remedy. So we put patient on Nat. mur. 6 trit., as much as would lie on a shilling, every two hours in water. No other medicine was given, and no auxiliaries used. Next day her urine became a little cloudy; the second day the bowels were moved and the urine had a red deposit; then diarrhea with loaded urine set in. The swelling, redness and pain in the joints went away. The skin became cleaner looking, the tongue cleaned gradually, the perspiration’s ceased, her spirits became brighter, and in ten days from beginning the medicine she was in full convalescence, though still very weak.

Patient suffers from chronic asthma with slight emphysema, and is always obliged to sleep in a semi-recumbent position, but for six weeks after this critical evacuation she was able to lie down in bed like anyone else without any dyspnoea. Many months have elapsed and she is now about in her house and drives out, still asthmatic and has chronic rheumatic pains here and there. Her tongue was cleaner for two months than I had known it for the previous three years.

This patient lives ten miles away and was not seen often, but the husband brought daily reports, and when doing so pleaded hard day after day that the Natrum muriaticum might be discontinued because of its purging so severely, he fearing lest it might weaken her too much. On that account it was then given interruptedly, but with no other medicine, and the alvine and renal functions fluctuated accordingly.

Hahnemann says (Chronische Krankheiten, 2nd edition, vol. iv., p. 348) “Pure salt (just the same as any other homeopathic somatic force dynamized) is one of the most powerful antipsoric remethes.” And higher up he speaks of it as an heroic and violent remedy that, when dynamized, must be cautiously administered to patients.

Then he exclaims: “Welche unglaubliche und doch thatsaechliche Umwandlung ! —eine anscheinend neue Schoepfung !” Still it goes against all common sense and all one’s notions of things, and no man may be blamed for declining to accept such a preposterous proposition, merely on trust. It is scarcely possible to accumulate sufficient facts to get anyone to listen to it, much less to believe it.

Dr. C. M. retorts: “There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in thy philosophy.”

Observation IV – At this stage of things I felt curious to know what the sixth centesimal trituration of Natrum muriaticum might do to my humble self pathogenetically, I being in my usual health. So I took nearly 3Iv., [SIC] in about ten days in little pinches dry on the tongue at odd intervals. I got gradually during that time a deep crack in the middle of my lower hp, which swelled and became burning and very painful; the Natrum muriaticum may have had nothing to do with it, but I gave it up and both crack and swelling went away. I never had the like before, nor since. The same Symptom is noted by Hahnemann, and Dr. Allen in his Encyclopcedia—but removed by the latter from the regional division of the “lips,” and placed under “skin” which is not only confusing, but also a mistake.

Observation V – Mr. H., at 45, came under treatment for great pain in the stomach which sent him to bed and kept him there in great agony. The last year or so he has been subject to these attacks of epigastric pain, and I was sent for to relieve this as on previous occasions, and the wife specially requested me to give something not only for this attack but to use whenever the attacks came on. He had, besides the pain, vesicles on the lips drying up into scabs. I gave. Nat. mur. 6 trit. gr. v. every two hours in water. Next day (observed by Dr. Jones) it was followed with a great discharge of the urates and a regular attack of gout. Has since remained free from these attacks of pain, and this is now many months since.

lt is impossible to tell whether the Natrum muriaticum had anything to do with the metastasis of the gout from the stomach to the big toe; moreover it is not now medico-scientifically fashionable to believe in metastasis.

Observation VI – A girl of 15 suffering from Hemicrania dextra and cloudy, thick, red, sedimentous urine. I gave her Nat. mur. 6 trit. and received shortly thereafter a written report “urine quite free from sediment or cloud in a way it has not been for long.” The megrim was not affected. The young lady and her mother attributed the changed condition of the urine to the powders. The urine had been in the abnormal condition for a long time and my ordination consisted only in prescribing the powders. Weeks afterwards the urine continued clear. This case is not adapted to carry conviction to the mind, as we know that many atmospheric changes and accidental circumstances of all kinds after the state of the water at once.

Observation VII – A baby on the bottle, some three months old. I find it has not slept well for some time and is now very restless and fretful, and vomits water. Give Nat. mur. 6 trit. lt at once began to sleep, two or three hours at a time and the watery vomiting ceased. Two days afterwards measles broke out. The mother conceived a very high opinion of the soothing soporific effect of the powders.

Observation VIII – Mr. P., age 26, has had very thick urine for months, and for two months very great pain in small of back, worse on bending and very much worse when digging in the garden. Gave Nat. mur. 6 trit. The back pain and turbid urine disappeared in four days and did not again appear. This case carries a little weight with it, and looks something like a medicinal cure.

Observation IX – A lady, age. 54, with Stillicidium lachrymarum and bad chronic yellow excoriating leucorrhoea, Nat. mur. 6 trit. In one week the leucorrhoea had quite disappeared but the Stillicidium was worse. Chronic leucorrhoeas are not apt to disappear spontaneously in one week, though its possibility cannot be denied.

Observation X – Unmarried lady, age 24, Polyuria; constipation with much flatus; amenorrhoea these two months. First symptoms worse at the seaside. She is rather thin with an ill-coloured skin. Nat. mur. 6 trit. In a few days the menses appeared, and the renal and alvine functions became normal. She had passed her second menstrual period. A causal nexus between the taking of the Natrum muriaticum, and disappearance of the symptoms is not easily established here.

Observation XI – A clergyman’s wife, about 50 years of age consulted me on February 29th, I878, complaining of severe dyspepsia with other symptoms of Natrum muriaticum. My visit was a hurried one, so I did not enter very fully into the case. Nat. mur. 6 trit. v grains in water twice a day was the prescription. It cured in three days these symptoms: “Hiccup occurring morning, noon, and night, for at least ten years which was brought on by Quinine; it was not a hiccup that made much noise but ‘shook the body to the ground’; it used to last about ten minutes and was ‘very distressing’.”

How do you know that the hiccup was really produced by quinine, I inquired? She answered: “At three separate times in my life I have taken quinine, for tic of the right side of my face, and I got hiccup each time. The first and second time it gradually went off, but the third time it did not. When the late Dr. Hynde prescribed it, I said, do not give me quinine as it always gives me hiccup, but he would give it me. I took it and it gave me hiccup which lasted until I took your powders; it is more than ten years ago since I took the quinine.” The cure of the hiccup has proved permanent.

This patient is a most truthful Christian woman and her statement is beyond question.

She has been a homeopath for many years and my patient off and on for more than three years, during which time I have had to treat her for chronic sore throat, vertigo, palpitation. and at one time for great depression of spirits.

She had also previously mentioned her hiccup incidentally but I had forgotten all about it, and on this occasion she did not even mention it. So as far as the hiccup goes the cure was……………a pure fluke! But it set me a-thinking about the Hahnemannian doctrine of drug dynamization for the thousandth time and has seriously shaken my disbelief in it.

Hiccough is a known effect of Chininum sulfuricum

Allen’s Encyclopedia, vol. iij., p. 226, symptoms 370 and 379.

We note from this case that:

1. The effects of quinine, given for tic in medicinal doses to a lady, may last for more than ten years, that-

2. Nat rum muriaticum in the sixth trituration antidotes this effect of quinine while-

3. The same substance in its ordinary form, viz. common salt, does not antidote it even when taken daily in various quantities and in various forms for ten years. Inasmuch, then, as the crude substance fails to do what the triturated substance promptly effects, it follows, therefore, that-

4. Trituration does so alter a substance that it thereby acquires a totally new power, and consequently that—.-

5. The Hahnemannian doctrine of drug dynamization is no myth but a fact in nature capable of scientific experimental proof, and, inasmuch as the crude substance was taken daily for many years in almost every conceivable dose, in all kinds of solutions of the most varied strength it results-

6. and lastly. That the Hahnemannian method of preparing drugs for remedial purposes is not a mere dilution, or attenuation, but a positively power-evolving or power-producing process, viz. a true potentization or dynamization.

This case is probably as good a one as we may ever expect to get, and it might here fitly dose the subject as far as its simple demonstration is concerned, but I have others in my case-book both corroborating it and presenting new features.

Before leaving this Case XI, let us reflect for a moment on the certainly immense number of modifying and perturbating influences this lady had been subject to during those ten years, as well as living at the seaside and including the daily use of salt and yet her hiccup persisted until dynamized salt was given. Before coming to these conclusions I exhausted all my ingenuity in trying to explain it away, and that backed by no small amount of scepticism, but I cannot avoid them, do what I will. Moreover I require more scepticism not to believe it than to believe it.

I am thus in a dilemma : either I must believe in the doctrine of drug dynamization or disbelieve the most incontrovertible evidence of facts, which is the province of the demented. Or canst thou, critical reader, being more ingenious and more sceptical than I, help me out of the dilemma? Fain would I believe thou canst, for this doctrine of drug dynamization seems to take away firm material ground from under one’s feet and leaves one standing in the air. But I must emphatically decline Dr. Kidd’s tacit method as going quite beyond my skill and intelligence.

The next observation of which I have noted, Observation XII.—A lad, age 12, living at Parkgate. He suffers for some time from constipation, loss of appetite, dirty looking complexion. emaciation, frontal headache going round to the back, sleepiness towards evening and first thing in the morning, urine thick with nasty smell.

Excepting the ‘nasty” smell, which the boy could not define, I find all these symptoms in the pathogenesis of Natrum muriaticum in Allen’s Encyclopedia of Pure Materia Medica and numbered respectively 529, 35, 25I, 885, 64, 970, 56I. Therefore Nat. mur. 6, and that six grains in water forenoon and afternoon. After taking 24 powders he returned cured of all the symptoms except the odour of the urine and the emaciation, and “feeling very much better”. The prescription was repeated and patient did not return. His father subsequently informed me that the cure was complete.

Observation XIII —Young lady about 28 years of age: emaciation, chlorosis, for eighteen months slight bearing down in the hypogastrium, gradually getting worse, and the last week increasing to very severe cramp beginning in the back and coming round to the pubic arch, and, when walking, felt severely in the knees, had frequently to sit down to get relief from the hypogastric pain, urine muddy for a long time, obstinate chronic constipation, the mouth is dry but there is no thirst, taste disagreeable, bitter.

Nearly all these symptoms are in the pathogenesis of Natrum muriaticum. Hence Nat. mur. 6, twenty.-four six-grain powders taken in a fortnight resulted in the permanent disappearance of all the symptoms excepting the emaciation and the chlorotic conditions, for which she was put on Phosphorus.

As to the emaciation, she gained six pounds in ten weeks, but this gain in weight was partly made while under Ferrum 6, for haemoptysis, chronic cough and large moist rales in the left lung, and these symptoms having disappeared under Ferrum 6, she went into the country for three weeks and returned with the above symptoms.

Observation XIV—Gentleman, age 34 or thereabouts, has suffered from a general feeling of chilliness (attributed by himself to a poor circulation), for more than two years, sleepiness and drowsiness after dinner for two months, compelling him to go and lie down; black spots before the eyes; disagreeable taste in the mouth, sour; watery eyes; urine clear; bowels moved twice a day; looks very pale. Ordered him Nat. mur. 6 trit. six grains in water twice a day. Having taken twenty-four of such powders he paused a few days and returned stating that the chilliness had quite disappeared and also the postprandial drowsiness, the black spots had quite disappeared but were returning again a little, the sour taste was gone, the watery state of the eyes as bad as ever, the urine had become cloudy.

In this case the medicine was evidently quite homeopathic to the condition of the patient, and it is manifest that the Nat. mur. 6 profoundly affected his organism, as the chilliness of more than two years’ duration quite disappeared, as also the after-dinner drowsiness. Of course the sensations may not be indicative of profound organic lesions, but they are not indicative of a normal condition either, but the evidence of drug action does not hang on this. The Symptom that brought him to me was the postprandial drowsiness, as it materially interfered with his business in the afternoon (he dines early). He formerly lived in Tranmere and then always felt this drowsiness. He afterwards came to live in Birkenhead itself and during his residence here did not feel it, but on removing again to Tranmere the old drowsiness re-appeared and he thought he would have to leave the neighborhood to get rid of the troublesome symptom. The billionth dilution of Sodium chloride has saved him this trouble.

Was it faith that cured him of his drowsiness and chilliness? If so, what rendered his water cloudy? Besides, this was our conversation. Was that a kind of salt you gave me, doctor?’ Why? “Because I showed the prescription to my old schoolmaster and he said you were giving me salt.” Yes. lt was salt in what we homeopaths call the 6th centesimal trituration, i.e. the billionth dilution.

“Do you think it can have had anything to do with my chilliness and drowsiness going away: could it have affected the circulation and liver (his theories) like that?” A broad grin was on his face when he put the last question; then he checked himself and apologized for lt. No one will, I opine, maintain that an open mouth with a broad grin are specially expressive of faith that worketh a cure of chilliness of two years’ duration.

When formerly living in Tranmere and suffering from this postprandial lethargy he was treated allopathically and homeopathically for it without avail, the latter treatment included that wonderful vegetable mercury, Podophyllum peltatum given because “lt was liver”. Do we not all know that Podo is good for the liver? That being so the livers of very many people must be preternaturally good, for a veritable podophyllomania has been raging for years under the commercial ticket of “homeopathic”.

Microscopical sections of the livers of some of these Podophyllum-eaters might be instructive as showing the pathological outcome of direct liver irritation; the gin-drinker’s liver we know, the Podophyllum-eaters’ liver awaits an histographer. There is one thing to be said in favour of the Podophyllum-givers : they are impartial and give it to all alike. But this is digressive.

Here let me note that I have noticed that some of the Natrum Muriaticum affections are worse in cold, and better in warm weather.

Observation XV.—Lad of 12 came under observation on March 30th, I878, suffering from a group of symptoms that collectively are conveniently called Phlyctenular ophthalmia. The left eye was spasmodically closed from the photophobia. A month before he had caught a cold in this eye, and it bad remained closed, inflamed and painful ever since, and was not getting any better. On everting the lids an ulcer in the cornea is observed, resulting evidently from a burst phlyctenula of about the size of a split pea. The dimness of vision from this ulcer determined the parents to seek advice, they fearing the “eye” was being affected. To leave an ophthalmia for a month without seeking advice is a phenomenon that will greatly surprise many, but not medical men.

The prominent symptom in the case was the great lachrymation, and this is very characteristic of Natrum muriaticum. So six grains of Nat. mur. 6 trituration was given in water three times a day. April 6th. Opens his eye wide and sees quite clearly; the photophobia, pain, inflammation and lachrymation gone; the ulcer nearly so. Continue the medicine. Excepting some very faint leucomatic streaks the cure was complete in a few more days. Patient had formerly been long under my treatment for caries of the petrous portion of left temporal bone, and had got quite well of it.

Sodium chloride has an ancient reputation as an antiscrofulosum, as we all know.

OBS. XVI.—Boy of 9, with ganglion on leg the size of a small hen’s egg. Has been under my treatment for many months with no good result except very slight amelioration from Sticta pulmonaria. Silicea did no good. On Dr. Schüssler’s recommendation (Abgekürzte Therapie, Vierte Auflage, p. 46, Oldenburg, I878), I gave Nat. mur. 6, six grains in water night and morning. Three months later I received by letter the following report : “The swelling on the little boy’s leg, I am glad to say is much better—a good deal smaller, now about the size of a small nut, and rather more in its original position—not so much under the knee joint as it was.”

Continue the medicine.

OB. XVII.—Lady, age 63. Regular gout in left big toe and foot. Patient is fond of beer.

R Nat. mur. 6 trit. Six grains every two hours. In four days all symptoms had disappeared. Here I did order her to leave off her beer, but was not obeyed.

Patient since this keeps a stock of these powders on hand, and calls them her “gout powders”; they have since promptly relieved two or three similar attacks, as I learn from her daughter. Since treating the case I have used Nat. mur. 6 trit. frequently repeated, in several other cases of gout, with very great satisfaction indeed.

Query: Does the remedy cause an increased elimination of the urate of sodium? I think it probable.

Observation XVIII.—April 21st, 1878. John H., age. 29, seaman, had fever and ague two or three times a day, with watery vomiting, in Calcutta, in September, I877. Was in the Calcutta Hospital three weeks for it, and took emetics, quinine and tonics. Left at the end of the three weeks cured. But before he was out of port the ague returned, or he got another, and he had a five month voyage home to the port of Liverpool. During the first three months of this homeward voyage he had two, three, four, five attacks a week, and took a great deal of a powder from the captain, which, from his description, was probably Cinchona bark. Then the fever left him and the following condition supervened, viz., “Pain in right side under the ribs; cannot lie on right side; both left calves very painful to touch, they are hard and stiff; left leg semi-flexed, he cannot stretch it. “In this condition he was two months at sea, and two weeks ashore; and in this condition he comes to me hobbling with the aid of a stick, and in great pain from the moving.

Urine muddy and red; bowels regular; skin tawny; conjunctive yellow.

Drinks about three pints of beer daily. I recommend him not to alter his mode of life till he is cured, and then to drink less beer. The former part of the recommendation he followed, as I learned from his brother; of the latter part I have no information.

Observation XIX – Bears directly on this one, we having evidently to do with an ague suppressed with Cinchona. Therefore ordered Nat. mur. 6 trit. Six grains in water every four hours. April 27th.—Pain in side and leg went away entirely in three days, and the water cleared at once; but the pain returned on the fourth day in the left calf only, which to-day is red, painful, swelled and pits. He walks without a stick.

Continue medicine.

May 4th.—Almost well; feels only a very little pain in left calf when walking. Looks and feels quite well, and walked into room with perfect ease without any stick. He thinks he had a cold shake a few nights ago. He continues to perspire every night; ever since he got the ague the sheets have to be changed every night.

Continue medicine.

May 11th.—Quite well. No medicine.

July 20th.—Continues well.

The last two reports were obtained by me from his relations, he, being well, not thinking it worth while ( notwithstanding his promise to report himself) to come again after the third visit on May 4th. Considering that patient had been a fortnight here on shore before coming to me, it is not probable that his rapid cure after taking the Nat. mur. was due to the climate. Still this is the weak point in the case, if it have any.

Patient and doctor both think the medicine wrought the cure; others may think differently. lt is to be noted that the salt provisions and sea air during a voyage did not cure it.

OBS. XX—Mrs. B., age. 53. For four or five weeks cold shakes many times a day and night, beginning in the shoulders like cold creeps, and going down the back and then all over; cold creeps in legs in bed at night; head cold and sweaty; nauseous taste in mouth; great sleeplessness these four or five weeks, viz. wakes at 2 a.m., and is unable to get off to sleep again. She is very tearful; merely describing her symptoms brings tears into her eyes.

R Nat. mur. 6 trit. Six grains in water every four hours.

On my calling a few days later to see how she was progressing, I got the foliowing report : “The cold creeps and shakes left off after the first powder.” (She speaks of the powders subsequently as “those powders that made me warm”.) Feels altogether warmer now, not like the same, and sleeps well. She never had ague.

Two months after this I had occasion to see her daughter, when patient (the mother) said, “Those powders did me so much good that I have been better than I had been for years”.

Subsequent to the cure I thought I should like to know whether patient was in the habit of partaking of salt with her food; and on enquiring was much astonished to hear the following statement from her:

“About a year ago I was recommended by a friend to take a good deal of salt, as she thought it would be good for me, and since then I have taken about one-and-a-half teaspoonfuls a day often spread on bread.”

Query: Was this a case of chronic salt poisoning antidoted by its own dynamide?

This is a most interesting observation indeed. Here we have a lass who in addition to partaking of salt in the ordinary way with her food, and in her food, had actually partaken of one-and-a-half teaspoonfuls of salt daily for a twelvemonth, and was still doing so during the cure, and yet the very first powder of triturated salt wrought such a marked change. The difference in the look of the patient was also remarkable: at my first visit she came to me in her drawing room with a shawl over her shoulders, and looking evidently cold; at my second visit only a few days later she wore no shawl, and was quite free from any chilly feeling.

This lady suffered for years from Angina pectoris (true breast-pang), and had been given up by members of both schools to the brandy bottle; but under my treatment (extending over two years) she made a complete recovery, having been now quite well of it these 18 months.

Observation XXI- Mrs. W., age. 60. Came under treatment for coldness of the legs from the knees to the feet, for three months; she cannot keep them warm in any manner; at night she wraps them up in flannel, and encases them also by day, but still they are cold; the coldness is subjective but not objective; she suffers also very much from sleeplessness and great nervous irritability.

R Nat. mur. 6 trit.

At the next visit a few weeks afterwards she reported that she had been promptly cured of her old insomnia and also of the coldness of the legs, but the legs were not as she would like, the coldness having given place to a burning feeling, especially in the veins of the part, which now swell. She no longer wraps up or encases her leg but on the contrary they are almost too warm.

To continue the medicine.

The cure was permanent. The medicine so improved her nervous state that she still speaks of it as the “powders that soothed her nerves.”

Observation XXII- .Constipation, of long standing, in a pale anemic young Lady of 23; only one motion in two three days.

R Nat. mur. 6 trit. Twenty-four six-grain powders, one in water forenoon and afternoon.

This one set of powders quite cured it; there is now daily stool. Also the menses came on a week late (very unusual), and the usual painfulness was absent; they were also not so excessive as usual.

Observation XXIII- A gentleman, age 60, with edema of the praeputium for some weeks; severe intertrigo between thighs and scrotum, with a good deal of acrid discharge, and considerable excoriation; this condition has existed for many months, notwithstanding daily ablutions often several times repeated. Patient is arthritic and very melancholy and despondent.

His skin is very dusky and unhealthy looking.

R Nat. mur. 6 trit. Six grains four times a day.

In a week the edema and intertrigo were nearly well, and he was in very much better spirits, and at the end of the second week he was well. He continues well, and the skin of his face is lighter in colour, but the colour of that of the trunk remains as before. The change in his mood was quite remarkable.

Observation XXIV – Gentleman of 35. Pain in left side of Iower jaw extending to the end tooth of left upper jaw, an up to the left eye, always after food, throbbing wrenching pain, making the tears come into his eyes; the pain he describes as terrible, arid it lasts about an hour. He has been in this condition for three months, which coincides with his leaving Liverpool and coming to reside in Tranmere.

Urine high coloured and thick. The pain evidently proceeds from a decayed tooth. He sleeps well after the after-supper pain has gone.

R Nat. mur. 6 trit Six grains in water three times a day.

In a week he reported: Pain much better, it comes on and lasts only five or six minutes, and no tears come into his eyes.

To continue the medicine.

The next report was that just as he thought he was cured, he caught a slight cold, and the pain came on in all its original violence, when a dentist relieved him of both tooth and pain. Goes under treatment for hemorrhoids. The fact that the pain returned in all its original ‘violence is only what we should expect under the circumstances, and it militates against the case as one of permanent cure, but does not invalidate the evidence of the potent drug action.

Observation XXV – A gouty gentleman of ‚70. Until three years ago he was in the habit of perspiring freely, but latterly he perspires less, and for three years he has always felt chilly and cold. Urine bloody and thick; he urinates with great difficulty, and uses the catheter at night these two years. He takes Nat. mur. 6 trit. for three weeks, and reports that after the first day or two he ceased using the catheter altogether, having sufficient power over the bladder; the urine is free from blood and slime, but still thick, but not so red or brick-dusty; he is more costive than usual, and feels considerably warmer. He begs to go on with the medicine, to which I agree.

He did not consult me again, but when he came to pay his little bill, he informed me that he had gradually got quite well of his chilliness, that his urine had become normal, and that he no longer needed to pass the catheter at all. The urine may possibly have come right of itself, and passing the catheter those two years may have been a mere habit and unnecessary; but how are we to account for the disappearance of the cold, chilly sensation that had lasted three years?

Observation XXVI.—Gentleman of 50, usually enjoying good health, and of splendid physique. Symptoms: For the last six weeks coldness of the abdomen, from the navel downwards, including the genitals swelling of the abdomen after late dinner, with flatulence; passes a very large quantity of water with a strong odour; it does not contain any sugar; he is cold about the legs, and is restless at night, with cold creeps from navel, down the legs; as he sits on the sofa before me, I notice that he holds both his hands tight over the pubes; and to the inquiry why he does so, he replies that he is so cold about those parts that he holds his hands there to warm them. The sensation is as if his shirt were wet and cold; when he urinates it seems as if he would never leave off for the dribbling. Fearful thirst of mouth, not of the stomach; bowels regular; tongue coated, breath foul. Very despondent of. himself.

Takes vapour baths regularly. Here the chilliness, profuse urination and thirst seem the prominent symptoms and, as we all know, they are those of Natrum muriaticum.

R Nat. mur. 6 trit. gr. v. Fiat pulv. Tales xxiv. One in water four times a day. Eight days later: The coldness a great deal better; does not pass quite so much water, and its smell is less bad; the coldness of legs better a great deal, as also that of the pubic parts; the thirst is also much better, so also the tongue; breath sweet; feels better all over; warmer. Is anxious to continue the medicine, which is done.

He did not come again, so I wrote to him to inquire how he was doing, and received a reply to the effect that the second lot of powders had finished the cure, except a little thirst, for which he intended coming to see me again, but he never did. From a mutual acquaintance I learn he continues well. In this case the amelioration commenced immediately after the powders were taken, and as far as I can see the cure can be attributed to them only.

This, critical reader, is the way I have wandered in my search after truth as it is in nature; from it I am forced against my will to admit the existence of a something in drugs that becomes operative by trituration.

What it is, I do not know; what you call it, I do not care.

Mach’s nach, aber mach’s besser.

* Since writing this I have been honoured with a copy of an address delivered before the Annual Assembly of the British Homeopathic Society, June 20th, I878, by R. Douglas Hale, M.D., etc., Vice-President of the Society, and on page 6 read, inter alia, … “We emphatically deny that we have ceased to employ the infinitesimal dose.”

James Compton Burnett (1840-1901) spoke out against vaccination. He introduced the remedy Bacillinum. He authored twenty books, including the much loved “Fifty Reason for Being a Homeopath.”

– Presented by Katja Schütt –

About the author

James Compton Burnett

James Compton Burnett was born on July 10, 1840 and died April 2, 1901. Dr. Burnett attended medical school in Vienna, Austria in 1865. Alfred Hawkes converted him to homeopathy in 1872 (in Glasgow). In 1876 he took his MD degree.
Burnett was one of the first to speak about vaccination triggering illness. This was discussed in his book, Vaccinosis, published in 1884. He introduced the remedy Bacillinum. He authored twenty books, including the much loved "Fifty Reason for Being a Homeopath." He was the editor of The Homoeopathic World.


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