The assertion has been repeatedly made of late, that Homoeopathists are changing ground, becoming more assimilated in theory as well as practice, to their opponents, the Allopathists; nay more, that they are abandoning their ground altogether. and confess the utter inefficiency of Homoeopathic preparations. Add to this the Well-worn charge that we give Allopathic medicines secretly and under pretence of giving Homoeopathic, and there is little left for us to stand upon. It is my purpose in the present article, to consider the truth of these allegations.
And to take the last first; there has been no time for the past twenty years, that this assertion has not been made in regard to Homoeopathists in general, but no one to my knowledge, has ever brought it home to any individual. The last public appearance of this slander, was about a year ago, when it was produced by Dr. Davis of this city in his journal. He says:
“We see but one question left in connection with Homoeopathy, and that is, how long a class of men, calling themselves doctors, can succeed in deceiving the public, by calling Calomel Mercurius, Arsenic Arsenicum, etc., and concealing the most concentrated poisonous articles of the Materia Medica under a cover of sugar of milk.”
The Dr. shuts both eyes when he fires, like the raw-recruit, and lets fly at random. If he knows of any Homoeopathist who does such things, why does he not call him by name and hold him up to universal reprobation; though the sin of calling Arsenic Arsenicum, does not seem to me a very flagrant one. If Dr. Davis will convict any Homoeopathist of giving concentrated poisons, under a cover of sugar of milk, I will join with him in condemning such a man, or if he will accuse him by name, I will aid him in bringing the accused one-if he is found guilty-to justice. The Dr. has been in this city long enough to know something about the doings of the Homoeopathists here, and if he has any evidence to sustain this charge, he is challenged to publish it. That some individual may do it, I am not prepared to deny, but that it is the practice of the majority of Homoeopathists in this city, I do deny without hesitation. The assertion is one both from its indirectness and its falsity, which no man of honorable feelings should ever allow himself to make.
Nor do Homoeopathists deny the efficiency of Homoeopathic preparations. As far as I am able to judge-and my acquaintance with Homoeopathists is tolerably extensive-the great majority of them recognise the efficiency of infinitesimal doses-of the attenuations from the third upward. That there should be a great diversity of opinion upon such a subject, is not surprising, nor does it argue anything against the efficiency of the attenuations. Indeed it is by no means certain that the question ever will be settled more than it now is, that is, to leave the whole scale open to the judgment of the individual practitioner. Nor do we abandon any ground which we have ever occupied, when we say that Homoeopathy does not consist in giving minute doses of attenuated medicines. That the practice of giving such doses is a deduction from our fundamental principal we admit, as we always have admitted. We challenge others to repeat our experiments-giving but one medicine at a time-a medicine selected according to our principle that like cures like, and we are ready to leave it to their good sense and conscience to say how much they shall give. Those who make this experiment fairly, will arrive at substantially the same conclusion which Hahnemann and the vast majority of his disciples have reached, that medicines attenuated, to a greater or less degree are to be preferred to crude drugs. That there are a few who give doses rather large for infinitesimal, does not prove an inclination of the whole school in that direction, while the largest doses of the most heroic Homoeopathists, would be small enough compared with the doses prescribed by the orthodox Regular twenty years ago.
But if we have not inclined towards the Regular Allopathic practice, have not the Allopathists inclined towards us ? In matter of principle it might be difficult to prove it, for they scout the idea of having any principles; but what discoveries have they not made in Materia Medica since the Materia Medica Pura was published! Their advance has been slow to be sure, but no less certain, and year after year the Allopathic journals teem with announcements of important discoveries known to the Homoeopathic world fifty years ago. That Nux vomica would cure tetanus, constipation and piles, that Arnica was good for bruises, that Aconite acted like a charm in fever &c, &c, these and similar facts are claimed in Allopathic journals as great discoveries by Dr. this and Dr. that, when they are simply great thefts. And then as to the dose-who does not know that the size of their doses has been gradually diminishing for the past twenty years: who does not know bleeding is not practised once now where it used to be twenty times no longer ago, and that all the murderous and torturing engines of Allopathy are becoming more and more disused every day? One great hindrance to the spread of Homoeopathy is, that Allopathists now-a-days give so little medicine. Deride the system and its adherents as they will, they do not scruple when they can get or save a case by it, to announce that they practise Homoeopathically, and refer to their small doses as evidence, or even to pass themselves off as Homoeopathists.* [I do not mean to apply this charge to all of our opponents-there are among them, certain high minded men to whose excellence I should even esteem it s pleasure to bear witness, but to certain ones in this city, who in public and in private are incessantly defaming and traducing our system and its adherents. Here is a picture of two of them which I can complete at any time by names, dates, &c, &c. A lady sometime ago, came to this city from Detroit, where she had been under the charge of a Homoeopathist. Her babe was taken sick soon after her arrival, and having prospered so well under Homoeopathic treatment there, she concluded to try it again here. Being a total stranger in the city it chanced that an individual was called in who was once upon a time designated by the Board of Health as an Allopathist, but as he flouted the title it might seem discourteous so to style him; however, he was not a Homoeopathist, though the lady thinking he was, related to him how favorably she had been impressed with Homoeopathy in Detroit, and how strong were her preferences for Homoeopathic treatment. He indulged her in the illusion that he was a Homoeopathist, and treated herself and child for some time with but little success. Counsel was at length proposed and introduced-heard the the same story about the lady's preferences and joined in the same deception. The two together treated her long enough to show that two heads are not always better than one, and at length left her, after having told her that she would certainly be obliged to wean the baby, and would very probably lose it. The patient was more successful in her next medical attendant, who being a real Homoeopathist, cured both mother and child in a few days and that without weaning.]
But to say nothing of the “ lower classes” of the Regular Scientific Faculty, the most upright and conscientious, the most intelligent and scientific of them, have gone much more than half way towards infinitesimal doses. Account for it as they may, they cannot dispute the fact, nor can they claim that they have reached the limit of their progress in this direction-whether they are yielding to their own judgments or to the demands of their patients, they are lessening their doses, and they will be surprised in time to come to see how much more their doses will bear reducing. Not only that, but Madam Rumor says that it is no uncommon thing for the Scientific gentry to give Homoeopathic Remedies, secretly of course: but on this point I shall say nothing, till some one of them honest or foolish enough to speak the truth acknowledges the facts.
If the above statements are true, what folly is it for Homoeopathists to give large doses for the purpose of gaining the favor of Allopathists ? In the course of time it is quite probable, that as Allopathists gradually lessen their doses, both Homoeopathists and Allopathists may-in regard to the dose -occupy very nearly common ground. As regards to our fundamental principle, it is quite conceivable, that, when intelligence is more widely diffused, medical men may see that it is better to have some principle to guide them in the selection of a remedy than to get -their remedies from old women or by chance, and thus the two schools may become one; but let us not forsake our principles or our modes of practice deduced from those principles for the sake of unity.
While the majority of Allopathists profess to take it for granted, that Homoeopathy has already been sufficiently tried, the recent controversy in this city relative to the City Hospital, brought to light the fact that there were some who thought otherwise. It will be remembered that the Board of Health appointed two Boards to this Hospital, a Homoeopathic and an Allopathic and thus designated them: and that Dr. Davis who was appointed to the Allopathic Board, in a very discourteous letter to a public paper declined the honor. Prof. Dickson of South Carolina, who seems to have the heart of a man within him, and would like to see a fair stand up fight, thus gives Dr. Davis his views of the case. After discussing other points he comes to the case in hand as follows:-
“A very different question is presented in the appointment to office of heterodox or schismatic practitioners or teachers, among those of accredited or orthodox views. Thus in at least two of our great cities, it is proposed by the Commissioners in charge of public hospitals, to admit among the attending physicians, persons who designate themselves and are known as advocates of partisan principles, as champions of new and special modes of practice. Thus in one of our Medical Colleges, it is proposed to instruct a Professor, expressly to teach its classes, the doctrines of a new school. Under these circumstances, and in a storm of indignation, the present medical staff of these hospitals, are called on loudly to resign their places, promptly and peremptorily; and the present highly esteemed faculty of the medical school alluded to, are required to vacate their chairs, rather than accept the enforced fellowship of so equivocal a colleague. For my part I regard the course thus advised, as full of danger and threatening seriously evil consequences. With a single condition which is not refused, or even contemplated to be refused, the conjoint hospital service which has been denounced as derogatory, seems to be at once safe and honorable, and indeed promises to be full of advantage. Let there be no interchange of patients; let separate wards be set apart, in which each practitioner shall follow his own course, and it is impossible to see what contamination or other injury shall accrue. Nay, as we all profess to be in search of truth; as we are all anxious to provide ” the greatest good for the greatest number,“ we must not shrink from any fair experiment, any attempt at palpable exhibition or open demonstration. 'Truth has nothing to fear from the frankest exposure, the most precise comparisons, and I have not the slightest uneasiness as to the ultimate result. Hypocrisy and quackery may not be unmasked at once, as by the sudden touch of Itheriel's spear; the obstinacy of dullness and ignorance may require sometime to be overcome, but at last even the most partial jury will be convinced by accumulation of evidence, and the “sober second thought” of the common people, to which even science itself must not disdain to appeal, will be enlightened and guided aright.
Similar reasoning is applicable and with greater force, in reference to the contemplated Professorship. Laymen will accuse us of evading the offer of a “fair field and no favor,” and of doubting our own ability to maintain what we proclaim as truth and reason. Let me be permitted to express the hope, that the respected members of our profession who in. New York, or Chicago, Ann Arbor, or any where else, are thus, or in any similar manner, called upon or chosen “to defend the right,” will show themselves as ready and willing, as we know them to be able, champions of our care-worn and time-honored faith.”
Right manfully spoken! one would think that such words would arouse the latent courage of any man, but Dr. Davis' courage is not to be thus aroused. He declares in reply, that he never can consent to such a trial, because he and his compeers were called Allopathic-because, as he alleges, the Homoeopathic method of treating disease when faithfully adhered to, has been fully proved to be inefficient and unsafe when applied to diseases of an acute and severe character,* [The Drs memory is poor-let me jog it. In November 1854 he in common with two brother Professors, had a patient sick with cholera-a disease of rather an acute and severe character sometimes: thus it happened to be this time, and after twelve hours were passed in “the ordinary scientific practice of the day,” as the Dr. calls it, the patient was left to die, her probable term of life being set down at about a couple of hours; there was no mistake on this point-one of the two sent to the house the next morning to see when the funeral was to be : but to go back; the Doctors having left, it was concluded to try Homoeopathy as the last resort, and to make a long story short, the patient recovered and is alive to this day. Another case-one of Typhoid Fever, which is also a disease of an acute and severe character, was left by the Dr. to die, but was cured by a villain of a Homoeopathist. In these two cases Homoeopathic treatment was not very “inefficient,” and the subjects of it did not think it “unsafe,” though “it was faithfully adhered to.” Nor are these two the only cases which have been given up by Allopathists, and cured by Homoeopathists, as Dr. Davis very well knows.] because he thinks that these experiments should not be repeated when human victims are to be involuntarily the subjects of the experiments, “ that the system must be false, because after a lapse of fifty years it is wholly repudiated by the profession, (see Homer's Letter) and its pretended advocates are with scarcely a foothold or a place in a single public hospital or incorporated school of medicine on either hemisphere, and because three-fourths of those who claim to be Homoeopathists, openly renounce the idea of potentizing remedies by trituration and attenuation, and the efficacy of infinitesimal doses,” but all these are the shallowest of pretences; to have said “ I am afraid of the issue,” would have been as much truer as it is shorter. Dr. Davis, however, may be taken as the representative of a large portion of the Regular fraternity, while it is to be hoped that the class represented by Dr. Dickson is increasing and to increase. The voice of the people is already requiring that the points in dispute should be submitted to an impartial investigation, and whether Dr. Davis is willing or not, the investigation will be made ere long.
Before concluding this article allow me to express a hope that Homoeopathists throughout the country, will take an early opportunity to express their views fully and frankly upon the matter of the dose. For my part, I am not willing to acknowledge any one person or any number of persons as exponents of Homoeopathy, who decry small doses-they have the right, and I would make them welcome, to hold and publish their views to the fullest extent, but let the other side -if there be another side-express their views with equal freedom. After a practice of more than sixteen years I do not hesitate to say, that while I am not confined to any one dilution, I could not practise with satisfaction to myself without the thirtieth attenuation-that I have seen as well marked and decided effects from this attenuation as I ever have from drugs in any form. As for the poor persecuted pellets I fondly cherish them still, even when they are as small as a mustard seed. I have no aspiration for greatness which can be gratified by giving big pills or pilules or globules, and I find the pellets in many cases not only useful but indispensable. It is not my custom always to use them, but when I lay them aside for drops or powders, it is not always very clear that it works to the advantage of the patient or the advancement of truth. Were I to go to either extreme I should prefer to side with those who never give anything but pellets and the high attenuations-from the sixth upwards say, than with those who never give anything but the extracts or Mother tinctures. My observation leads me to think that more medicines may be given than is necessary to cure the disease and that the surplus often retards and can in no case hasten the cure.
|The AMERICAN HOMOEOPATHIC REVIEW Vol. 01 No. 10, 1859, pages 445-452
|Are we inclining to Allopathy?
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