THE MATERIA MEDICA IDEA
By Lewis Pinkerton Crutcher, M.D., Kansas City, Mo.
In the history of medicine one idea after another has occupied the center of the stage for a little while, doing some good, some damage, and then it has taken its place among st the relics of chaotic therapeutics.
The source of these ideas has been almost as varied as the ideas themselves, for we find them emanating from the halls of chemical experimentation, the bacteriological laboratory, and other ultra-scientific sources; and then no fewer have originated in the emotional souls of grandmothers, as well as the superstitious minds of “black mammies”
Whether the Materia Medica idea is to be classed with these indefinite principles sin medicine depends entirely upon the origin of that idea, and I am free to confess that I would be extremely suspicious of it if it came from any of the sources just mentioned.
The shibboleth of all these creators of Materia medica has been and is, “Prove all things, hold fast that which is good,” and I justify my refusal to accept their dictum in the fact that he who proves all things is quite as apt to hold fast that which is bad as that which is good, since his failure to determine by a priory reasoning what is good or worth proving makes him unfit to differentiate between the good and the bad after the proving.
The only Materia Medica that has escaped this haphazard inception is that which is simply a record of drug effects upon the healthy, and this idea we are profoundly indebted to the sage of Leipsic.
Every other system of therapeutics has its Materia Medica ideas, but the homoeopathic system has its Materia Medica idea, and just. Here let me add that whatever else there is of Homoeopathy that might be based upon the fallacious, the homoeopathic Materia Medica is a demonstrable fact, being, per es, but a record.
You are, perhaps, aware of the fact that the homoeopath of today works with a Materia Medica that has been, and is, made or build-ed, the construction being based upon the one scientific idea; and, since this is true, it must be evident to you that the homoeopathic is the only system of medicine that could lose its Materia Medica and immediately rebuild it in all its perfection.
Let the other systems of medicine suffer the destruction of their recorded Materia Medica and they would be hopelessly at sea in an attempt to rebuild it, because if the experience of the past be a criterion new ideas would arise so rapidly during the building that the chaos of the past would repeat itself and become the uncertainty of the present and the future. On the other hand, let us suppose that these great records, “The Materia Medica Pura,” and “The Guiding Symptoms,” and a; publications subsequent to them, should vanish from the face of the earth – what would hinder your or me from learning the field of action of Sulphur, Belladonna or Arsenic, so long as we had the Materia Medica idea by which their realm of action was originally determined. A point in comparison is our system of weights and measures. With the loss of all of the media of weight and measure, the metric system is the only one that would be subject to resurrection, because so long as the earth shall endure it will be possible to estimate its circumference at the poles; and with this imperishable idea, what could hinder us if we would know the length of the metre that was lost? On the other hand, no man could again definitely determine the grain, the inch, or the quart, because that system has no basic idea.
Let us carry this simile far enough to suggest that if it were illogical to attempt the cure of the sick with remedies proven upon the healthy, it were quite as illogical to use the metre for the measurement of anything except the earth, since it is primarily determined by a measurement of the earth.
The perpetuation of the Materia Medica Idea Homoeopathic rests with those who understand it, and who have the power to favor it with instituted loyalty or to treat it with murderous perfidy. The homoeopathic school must stand or fall upon the Law of Similar, and should we ever neglect, in any degree, the Materia Medica which is the chief offspring of this law we would then begin slowly to rob homoeopathy of its life-blood, and it would in consequence ultimately become but an empty name in medicine.