Presumably There Are

Hahnemann recommends Belladonna as a prophylactic against scarlet fever, and Sulphur against the itch. Hering, following in this path, recommends also Sulphur against malarial fever from various sources we learn the prophylactic powers of Camphor, Cuprum and veratrum, in Asiatic cholera; Bryonia, in measles; Acetic acid and Apis, in diphtheria.

During an epidemic of small-pox, Saracenia was given to 2,000 persons and everyone escaped.

Drosera has prevented whooping cough. We could enlarge this list, but think it sufficient to prove “that the belief in prophylactic agents against several, especially contagious diseases, is adopted by the highest authorities in Homoeopathy with Hahnemann at their head. In out text-books we are told that certain diseases, pneumonia, typhoid fever, etc., run a certain course, in a definite period do time, has so many stages. Yet, by proper treatment, the disease can be aborted at any of its stages. This surely is another admission of the prophylactic treatment. If the entire disease was not prevented, part of it can be, and this is prophylaxis all the same.

Reason confirms the possibility of preventing diseases by the administration of medicines. Just as a chemical or a gas, that will destroy a flower when in bloom, will destroy that same flower when still concealed in its bud …even so a medicine capable of killing, making disappear, in other words, curing a certain set of symptoms, or certain conditions which we call disease, will surely kill, that is, cure their symptoms when they exist in the system, but have not appeared outside.

We ate confronted, however, by two facts which seem to destroy all confidence in prophylaxy:

1st  Our experience

    I have given Belladonna to members of a family, of which one had scarlet fever, with different results. Sometimes I failed; sometimes I succeeded in warding off the dreaded disease. Yet I am not sure where I did succeed that it was a real prophylactic. It was a question if those who escaped would not have done so without my interference; while if they caught scarlatina, despite my prophylactic, I was certain of my failure. I am confident that this is the experience of most of us.

     2nd. If we look for the recommended prophylactics for certain diseases, we find mentioned not a single remedy, but several; each one having its advocates; each one’s power bing confirmed in a large number of cases. We call your attention, for instance, to a preventive for small-pox: variolinum, Vaccininum, Saracenia and Malandrinum, all are highly recommended each one of them has done wonders.

Now, just as for a certain set of symptoms there is but one remedy, if well selected, that will be curative, so for that same set of symptoms there can be but one prophylactic. Consequently if there be four, equally good, then one must look upon that fact as very suspicious and our belief in prophylactics must greatly diminish.

If we look somewhat closer we will detect the cause for this deviation and get a better idea of preventive medicine. We are used to classify diseases by names, but this is not sufficient. They must again be divided in different types and species. Just as animals are divided in classes, orders families, etc, each division requiring different food and different treatment for their existence, sustenance, etc., So the different types or subdivisions of a certain disease call for a different curative and consequently different prophylactic remedy. We have no names for these various types but they exist nevertheless. So we may divide scarlatina into a Belladonna scarlatina or Rhus- an Ailanthus scarlatina, etc. We may have a Lachesis, a lycopodium, Mercurius, Lac caninum, phytolacca, or Apis diphtheria and so on. Hence there is not one prophylactic for scarlatina, diphtheria, small-pox, etc., but several, as many as there are types or sub-divisions of these diseases, though called by one single name. When one in our experience succeeded in our endeavors to prevent a certain disease, we may have by chance selected the true and only prophylactic for that type. I say we may have done so, for even that is not sure. We never know if there was really any necessity for a preventive.

Exposure to a contagion is not invariably followed by falling a victim to the disease, the majority will escape. If we failed in our prophylactic endeavors, it was a sure sigh that we selected the wrong agent.

The two objections having been met and refuted, the principle go prophylaxy is hereby fully sustained.

There is an agent, but only one for every type or sub-division of any contagious disease (perhaps also for every known disease) this seems to be theoretically true.

Will this knowledge be of any avail in our practice? This is a question very difficult to answer.

If we put a seed of a well-known plant in fertile soil we can tell in advance the expected results of its growth. We can describe the roots stems, leaves, buds, flowers, fruit, etc., of the plant in minute details. Can we similarly describe the type and course of a disease should it develop, when we know the type of the contagion to which that person was exposed? Unfortunately, we cannot. It is by no means certain that one type will produce the same again. Scarlatina contracted from a very mild type may develop a malignant one, and vice versa. Why this is so, and how to account for it, we will not now discuss. We all admit such is the case. Hence, the source of the contracted disease is no guide for the selection of the true prophylactic. If a truthful and trustworthy prophetic spirit would reveal to us what that type would be, it were easy sailing.

Unfortunately, these spirits do not exist. In case of an epidemic, where we notice that the majority of the sufferers have the same type and the disease yields in almost every case to the same me-medial agent, we may conclude, or at least hope with a little more certainty, that this agent will be thee true prophylactic.

Should we administer such an agent, even if there be no epidemic? I think we should. 1st. To allay fear, which often brings on the disease. True, Sac lac and some uncompromising suggestions of assurance on our part would answer as well. Yet, 2d. As there is a chance that we may hit on the true prophylactic we should take that chance; thee more so because no harm is done in case we do not succeed. Let us not forget that our last chances of success are enhanced by the fact that a number of persons will escape despite their exposure to the contagion.

Another practical point resulting from these considerations demands our attention. It is this: Have we a sure prophylactic against small-pox that can take the place of vaccination? This is a more difficult problem to solve. Here it is not the physician, who proposes or simply gives a prophylactic to his patient. But it is thee patient (herself) himself who asks for sure protection, and even desires of demands a certificate to that effect. In theory, of course, as we have seen, there are prophylactics. But as there is more than one, and we have no means to detect the right one, we can never be sure of success. Hence we cannot promise success. You may say, perhaps, even vaccination is not always a sure prophylactic. Granted. But then we have done what the law requires and the patient desires us to do.

Undoubtedly we have a right to refuse performing vaccination as usually done. We can also propose a medicine to be taken internally as a probable protection, provides the patient will assume the risk and responsibility should our proceeding prove to be a failure. The giving of a certificate is, of course, out of the question.

In the case of small-pox we are more handicapped than in other contagious diseases. Even in an epidemic of variola we could not obtain any more information. For we are not allowed to treat the disease nor carefully observe its course during that epidemic to find the leading remedy, and consequently its probable prophylactic.

If we look to the pioneers of Homoeopathy to find some authority to substitute internal medication for vaccination we meet again with failure. Hahnemann, though recommending Belladonna as a prophylactic agent against scarlatina, fails to advise a similar course in small-pox, but advocates vaccination as being true Homoeopathy. Hering, who was well acquainted with the effects of Variolinum and saracenia, who knew very well how successfully they were used in some epidemics of variola, fails to recommend them in place of vaccination, but advises the latter as the lesser of two evils.

So that if vaccination is asked for there is nothing left for us but to refuse it or perform it in the usual manner.

The question at the head of this paper: “Are There Prophylactics in Homoeopathy?” must thus, after due consideration, be answered in this manner:

In theory certainly there are; in practice their use is very limited.