A COMMENT ON OUR MATERIA MEDICA

By Dr. Lewis E. Rauterberg.

There is no curable disorder in the human body nor any curable invisible morbid change that does not make itself known as disease by signs and symptoms, and hence by removing the entire complex of perceptible signs and disturbances, the disease itself is canceled. Therefore, to observe the totality of symptoms in each individual case, can be the only guide in the selection of a remedy.

This is the teaching of Hahnemann.

     This being the rock bottom of our doctrine, and the very back bone of successful treatment, it does to require very much argument to deduce the immense importance of the books that teach us the symptoms – the deviation from the normal – produced by toxic dosses of medicine upon the human economy. To make ourselves familiar with the vast compilations of symptoms in our materia medica is the most important thing in the life of a homoeopathic physician. I used often to hear my reverend father say that the whole secret of success in Homoeopathy lay in just one word, “study.” There is no way out of it unless we would be frauds or failures; short cuts and pocket repertories won’t do. There must be toil and sweat and labour and dogged perseverance; we must know it so well that it is instinctive; we must be so soaked with materia medica that we can never think without it. Subconsciously we must always be carrying on a quiz class with ourselves. While talking, walking, while in street cars, in society, in business relations, that subconscious mind must be searching every human face and form for tell tale clues and symptoms, and fastening the remedy upon them. Study – that is our watchword. Study, read, no matter how often or how long, you will always find great treasures hidden, that will prove invaluable yet; it will “come in handy” and save life and suffering – sometimes when you least expect it. I know it has often been the complaint that these books are too voluminous, that they should be simplified and abbreviated. I used myself to assert with an arrogance for which I now blush, that our materia medica was much too large, uselessly voluminous; but with riper years I have reached the conclusion, not that the materia medica is too big, but that our brains enlarging the brain. With the conceit of mediocrity I used to fume over the mass of unimportant symptoms (as I called them) and superfluous matter with which our pages are cluttered. I asserted that they should be weeded out, leaving only the vital points. Fool that I was. Which of us with our puny brains can presume to point out the unimportant symptoms!

     I was recently shocked to hear a brother physician announce that he had stopped studying when he arrived at the age of fifty, and he thought everyone should. Why, I most modestly assert, that I have studied more diligently and learned more to appreciate the truth and depth and infinite value of our materia medica since I passed that age than I had in all my preceding years. It seems to me that I find new gems every day. Things that I had thought entirely superfluous and trifling suddenly assume a lustre and value never dreamed of, and save life and suffering. It fully repays one. The haze clears away, a grasp upon the individuality of the remedies is obtained, the provings are no longer a disjointed string of independent symptoms, but a logical sequence, with a connecting thread through the whole. I remember when my sole use for Antimonium crudum was for an overloaded stomach with nausea and white tongue. Occasionally I gave it for rheumatism when the symptoms seemed to tally, but frequently without success. We all have our pet remedies. Antimonium crudum was no pet of mine. I saw no connection between the symptoms. I did not see why sometimes it cured the rheumatic and sometimes it didn’t. My head was gray before I perceived the wonderful thread upon which each of her symptoms is so plainly strung. That thread is intestinal auto-intoxication, and the hemorrhoids and the rheumatism, the gout and the callous skin and the snarling temper are all dependent upon and secondary to a sluggish, overworked intestinal tract, and they can only be cured by working back to this starting point. And the only form of gout or rheumatism which it will cure is that which results from this auto-intoxication.

      With shame I recall the time when Aurum metallicum was to me a great remedy for melancholia and suicidal mania, useful also in some forms of syphilis and mercurialization. “And it was nothing more.” But a daily pegging away at the old materia medica taught me what a fool I was and how stupendous was the brain of Samuel Hahenmann. I gradually began to see why he mentions Gold as a remedy for barren women with indurated and prolapsed wombs; why it cures pining, undeveloped boys; why bone exostoses, rheumatic metastasis to the heart, sclerosis and dropsy. It is because Gold ends the blood thundering through the body, forcing it through withered and forgotten capillaries, gathering up waste and distributing life to the dying tissue. It eliminates, it absorbs, and it feeds, that is, it forces the blood to do it. And so on with numerous remedies, I could tell you how they unfolded themselves to me.

      While speaking of Aurum, I will relate several cases which will illustrate the value of its so-called unimportant symptoms. A boy of thirteen, becoming overheated while roller skating sat down on the curbstone to cool off. A severe cold resulted with general aching; next, rheumatism of knees and ankles developed worse on motion. Next day it had left the legs and attacked the shoulders and arms. From that point is flew back to the feet, which began to swell. He had received Bryonia, Lachnantes, Ledum, etc., according to the symptoms, but at this point I was myself confined to my home for some days and had to rely upon the reports of his parents, which were vague and indefinite. They now reported that while the feet continued to swell, the rheumatism was gone, but that now he had pain in his chest, it hurt him to breathe, it was impossible for him to take a long breath. I gave Bryonia, then Cimicifuga, upon their representation without good results; the by grew worse. On the sixth day the mother reported that the boy was so weak that he could scarcely speak. I cross-questioned her very closely, among other things asked, “Lying upon which side was the pain worse?”

      “Oh,” exclaimed the poor, stupid woman, “I forgot to tell you, he can’t lie down at all, he hasn’t lain down for five nights. We have him in a Morris chair, he sits bent forward all night with his head resting in a chin strap made of towels.” A light broke upon me. Then I knew it was no pleurisy I had to deal with, but rheumatism of the heart. I hastened to his home. As I entered the room I was shocked at the pitiful change in the child since I had seen him six days before. The labored gasps for breath could be heard outside the door, the little figure sat bent forward in the Morris chair, face blue, sunken, cyanotic, feet and ankles swollen as big as watermelons; but the thing that struck me most as I entered was the terrific, visible throbbing of the carotids, which could examine his heart; he could not endure the least touch, and at each attempt gasped, “Oh, doctor, give me time; give me a little more time.” I finally made out a muffled, tumultuous heart sound, as if beating under water. The fever was 103, yet there was a good deal of perspiration, urine very scant, no thirst, no appetite. He had only slept short naps for many nights. He could scarcely speak audibly. I feared the boy was dying. There was a time when I would have treated the heart symptoms with Aconite or Kalmia and the dropsy with Apocynum and what not, and so zigzagged a slow cure or a speedy death. But fortunately I knew better now. I knew that every one of these symptoms are summed up under one remedy, and that is Aurum, and it is the only remedy which covers every point exactly. I gave Aurum 10X. Does to be given every three hours. I never saw a more brilliant cure. The first dose was at 7 P.M. I requested that they phone me at II P.M. that night. At eleven the messages came, “Louis is in a drenching perspiration, he has urinated immense quantities. And his breathing is less labored.” At eight o’clock next morning they phoned that he had slept peacefully most of the night, though still in his upright position with chin straps. That night he could recline in the chair, and the next he could lie down in bed. The urine continued in unbelievable quantities, the perspiration rained from him, and the swelling promptly disappeared. You see what a profound eliminant gold is when homoeopathically indicated. The lad made a rapid and complete recovery with no other medication. He received it first in the 10X, then I rose to the 30th, and then to the 200th, on which I kept him until the poor damaged little heart was quite normal again.

     You will recall that every one of the above symptoms are recorded by Hering and Hahnemann in these words:

“Rheumatism which jumps from joint to joint and finally fastens upon the heart.”

“Impossible to lie down. Must sit up bent forward.”

“Visible throbbing of the carotids.”

“Face cyanotic. Gasps for breath. Can hardly speak above a whisper.”

“Much perspiration, as in auric fever.”

“Swelling of feet and limbs.”

      Does not that picture the little boy I have just described? Another case yet which proved to me how important are all the unimportant symptoms of this and all remedies. A lady brought her little son aged ten to me. The child was not sick, but something was wrong. He cried if spoken to, he moped, he was cross tired. He didn’t care to romp or play or even fight. He could not learn his lessons. He could not remember anything. He was a sulky, listless, bloodless looking little chap. He had been dosed by other physicians for malaria and anaemia. At first I suspected some vice, but upon closer examination, decided that the reason of his lack of manly spirit and energy was because his manly body was not developed properly. One powder of Aurum worked a miracle. It made a new boy of him. That was a year ago, and his mother says he has been a different boy ever since It humbled me to remember that I used to regard the paragraph on “pining boys” under Aurum as superfluous and useless, and I would gladly have stricken it from the pages. It took many years for me to grasp the scope of Aurum in not only rejuvenating dead and worn out tissue, but also in building up the starved and undeveloped.

      I have heard men assert that they only aspired to master the broad lines of a remedy and let the details go. I earnestly assure you that, important as the broad lines are, this is not enough. A wide, thorough understanding of the disposition and meaning of a remedy is not enough. We must possess an infinite knowledge of detail and the finest shades of difference between remedies. It is a herculean labor and a never ending one. Constantine Hering once said to me: “It is impossible for any brain to remember it all, out it is astonishing how elastic our brains can become by persistent effort.”

     I was not long ago impressed by the value of knowledge of detail. A certain lawyer of this city was taken ill while at Atlantic City with a violent cold followed by abscesses in both ears. He suffered agonies and slept only under morphia. A violent chill and high fever indicated the formation of pus. As the attending physicians could afford him no relief, he insisted upon returning to Washington. The physicians protested, but being headstrong and impatient he could not be controlled. And with fever of 1030 he arrived, and I was sent for. I found him suffering terribly. The drum of one ear had ruptured. And it was discharging freely. The condition of the other ear was grave. Friends were clamoring for mastoid incision, and the patient was besides himself with agony. I recognized that the Eustachian tube was closed, so that it could not discharge through that avenue. According to the allopathic practice, I suppose, I should have punctured the drum and drawn off the pus, lest it should back water into the mastoid process, causing graver complications. But I know old Hahnemann could do better than that. As there was oily perspiration in spite of the fever and worse towards night, it was clearly a Merc. case. I gave merc. vivus, confident of success. After ten hours the patient was not one whit better. It was surely a Merc. case I knew. And yet, which preparation or combination of Merc.? Ah, there is the rub! Of our eight preparations of Merc., all so closely related and similar in general outline, which was the key that would fit this lock exactly? Here a knowledge of detail was imperative. In a flash I remembered that farrington mentions in an unobtrusive little footnote that where there is closure of the tube, Merc. dulcis. Is preferable. Rejoicing that this detail, this mere crumb of materia medica had been stored up, I gave merc. dulcis 3x. Imagine my delight when at nine o’clock next morning, his wife burst into the office exclaiming that the medicine had worked a miracle with the first doses. He had slept all night and had no pain. Merc. dulcis was the key that fitted the lock, you see. It opened the Eustachian tube, the abscess discharged through that avenue and all went well. Merc. dulcis was continued for two days. After that the hissing in the perforated ear and the continued discharge seemed to call for Silicea, but as Sil. Must never follow directly upon Merc., I interposed Bella. For one day for an erratic neuralgia and then Silica completed a prompt and perfect cure.

     There is yet another phase of study necessary for the homoeopath, a study not often found in books. It is to only necessary to have a broad, comprehensive insight into the general nature of a remedy, and a complete mastery of detail, but to be able to recognize the symptoms in the patient, As we are all painfully aware, patients to not always relate their symptoms in the words of the book, and it is surely a study and an art to be able to recognize and translate them into the language of the materia medica. Here is a clinical example of this point. A young man of thirty was brought to me afflicted with epilepsy of eight years’ standing. The attacks were frequent and of frightful severity. He-looked almost imbecile. He was florid and scrofulous. He knew of nothing that aggravated or ameliorated the attacks. He could name no time or circumstance that influenced the fit. They seized him at random. The only thing the he could tell was that he heard voices calling him, calling, calling. He felt that he must get to them, he must break away, he must struggle to reach those calling voices; and then and there he fell in the fit, screaming, struggling and biting. As you know, the books say that the stramonium epilepetic hears voices calling him. So stramonium was given. Well, it had no effect whatever. Then I sat down to think and to translate his symptoms. I reasoned thus: the prominent symptom of Bella. Is a desire to escape, to get out or away from where they are, to get from under an oppressing load, to escape from something that holds to something else. Again, under Bella. We read yet, “illusions of sight and hearing.” Might not this epileptic’s illusion of hearing and struggle to escape to the voice be translated into Bella. Remembering that florid face settled it. I gave him several powders of Bella. 30, and he has never had another fit since, and that was two years ago.

      In conclusion, I want to call attention to the importance of a careful selection of the books we study, remembering that while many lightweights rush into print, it takes an intellectual giant to be a reliable authority upon this immense subject. If we will cling fast to Hahnemann and Hering, Von Boenninghausen and Jahr, both the Allens, the brilliant Burnett and good old man Nash, we will have selected books worthy of our reliance. If we live with them intimately we can not help but catch some of their glory. Let us stick to the highest type of old true Homoeopathy. Remember that the really great men of Homoeopathy have invariably been the strictest Hahnemannian homoeopaths. I would not for a moment have you think, however, that because I advocate the old Hahnemannian Homoeopathy, that I mean nothing modern is worth while.      

      That would be unworthy of any intelignet physicaian. Do not mistake me, I am warning against discarding old splendors for new trash. While I consider Hahnemann and Hering as the very backbone of our literature, we find in lesser degree modern masters, too. These have perfected a large array of nosodes and added them to out splendid equipment. Bacillinum, Medorrhinum, Syphilinum, Variolinum and all the other inums, with the exception of Psorinum, represent their work. I cannot is magine what I would do without Bacillinum nowadays, in tuberculosis, or without Pyrogenium in septic fevers. And in passing, permit me to remark that of this last I have seen the most brilliant results where physicians and surgeons pronounced cases doomed. I fear this wonderful remedy introduced by Burnett has been sadly neglected, judging by the number of septic cases where I have found the patient being dosed to death with Fowler’s solution, quinine and the like, where pyrogenium cured. Stop and think what it is. Rotten meat. Could anything be more homoeopathic to aseptic or puerperal fever, or any condition where decayed animal matter has been absorbed? We owe debts of gratitude to Burnett for his introduction of it, and H.C. Allen for his admirable proving.

      Thus from time to time there arise such great men who can add another bit to the great work of Hahnemann, but not one who has yet been able to detract from it.

      For myself, through a long life, while I have gathered useful hints from many writers, I invariably find I am at my best when. I am following most closely in the steps of the master, Hahnemann.

The Farragut, Washington, D.C.

Author: Dr James

Homeopathy

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