In looking over an old number of the “Chemist,” a London Journal of Chemical and Physical Science, my attention was arrested by an article on the “efficacy of Roman Chamomile in serious suppurations,” by M. Ozanum. The essay attracted my notice not so much on account of the cures he relates, as the acknowledgment of some principles proving the homoeopathic applications of the drug.
One word in regard to the Chamomile he employed: it differs slightly from the Matricaria of our Materia Medica: the Anthemis nobilis is the most important of this species, yet it is possible that we have in our fields in the common May-weed (Anthemis cotula) a plant deserving of more investigation and worthy of honest provings.
Anthemis nobilis is mentioned in the treatises on Materia Medica as fit for soothing stomach-aches and gastric difficulties, and for improving the appetite; fomentations of the flowers are employed in ill-conditioned ulcers. How it cured or changed to a healthy sore the pale and flabby surface, will be seen by the concessions M. Ozanum makes in reference to its external use.
Its flowers are said, by Lemery, a French chemist who lived in the first part of the seventeenth century, “to be emollient, digestive, carminative, resolutive, alleviating and strengthening.” These properties are vague, and M. Ozanum says, “no one has discovered the great and precious virtues of Chamomile, viz.: that of preventing suppurations when the evil has not advanced too far, and of drying them up, when they have existed for a long time.” He gave the drug in large doses, frequently too large to cure, as he acknowledges; he gave an infusion of 5, 10 or 30 grammes of the flowers, to one quart of water, to be drunk during the day: he kept this up until the cure was complete — a worthy example of perseverance in the use of one remedy, if positive in its homoeopathic indication, until the disease yields and health returns. M. Ozanum also in some cases applied the remedy locally by compresses soaked in the infusion, but he soon became convinced that the effect of the remedy was developed either with or without local application, proving to him, that this wonderful property of Chamomile must arise from a general action on the economy and not as a local action; this conclusion seems to be truly philosophic, as the unhealthy ulcer is kept unhealthy by the vitiated fountain within and not by the external surroundings.
1st case. Man. set. 33. Phlegmonous Erysipelas of the face and scalp, five abscesses formed, denuding the bones of the cranium and covering them with a cap of pus, then a sixth abscess was formed at the angle of the lower jaw, delirium, continuous and violent fever, pulse 140, complete prostration of strength; employed. Chamomile on the 28th day (30 grammes per day) suppuration increased for the first few days, (note this fact) I decreased the dose (he says) to 15 grammes per day, rapid diminution of suppuration; at the end of 20 days patient completely cured.
2nd case. Man. aet. 35. Phlegmonous Erysipelas of foot, leg and scalp, 14 successive abscesses formed, soon communicating together, for the length of 24 inches, enormous suppuration; at the end of three months the patient was in a completely cachectic state; amputation of the thigh was proposed, but the patient refused. I then commenced the use Chamomile, (30 grammes per day) return of strength, progressive diminution of suppuration, flesh was retained by systematic compresses; patient cured at the end of six weeks, without any other remedy.
3rd case. Man. aet. 26. Obstinate intermittent fever of 9 months standing, crisis, by an abscess forming on the right flank, as large as head of a child two years old; opened the abscess with bistoury, very abundant suppuration; gave Chamomile in large doses; after eight days, patient had two violent fits of intermittent fever, which had disappeared to give place to a continuous fever from the time of the appearance of the abscess; treatment interrupted for a few days, then renewed Chamomile, 15 grammes per day; cured at end of three weeks.
4th case. Man. aet. 22. An exceedingly interesting case, malignant typhoid fever, left pleuritis on the 21st day; right pulmonary congestion and hemoptysis the 25th day; suppuration on 32nd day, expectoration of pus, hectic fever with profuse perspiration; employment of Chamomile in moderate doses, owing to the great weakness of patient, (15 grammes per day) return of strength, a progressive diminution of suppuration; cured at end of 25 days.
Here are four cases, each of a serious character and each recovering under the one remedy, Chamomile. M. Ozanum says the power of this remedial agent is valuable, and will be indicated in Phlegmonous Erysipelas, in Puerperal Fever in the purulent diathesis of amputations, and in fact every case in which it is desired to prevent too abundant or too long continued suppurations. He acknowledges a transient aggravation of the evil, this aggravation preceding the cure, this he says is a medicinal effect, which should not discourage, but indicates that the dose should be diminished, so as to arrive at a more gentle cure; now, he is undoubtedly correct in his perseverance with the drug and wise when he lessens the dose.
Here we find that law of specific action, the drug in large doses increasing the diseased condition, aggravating the suppurative stage; yet when the dose was lessened, immediate improvement followed. Specific laws of effects, induced by drugs taken in the system, are the only guides to correct and positive medical science.
A drug acts by a certain specific power on the human organization; on the delicate fibres and tissues it operates with the precision of a law, an organic law, fixed by some principle of specific power between the drug and the vital tissue. Malaria acts in the same manner, developing a train of effects similar to the drug. Here on this common field of action, our remedial agents battle with the enemy, and overcome the intruder; disease must be cured by some harmonious law, to be cured effectually, and no law is so full of order and harmony as the law of correspondence, this likeness between drug symptoms and disease symptoms. This remedy certainly invites special investigation, in cases of suppuration, without reference to the organ effected, it seems to act specifically on surfaces thus morbidly wasting, and in small doses rectifies the fountain within, restoring the healthy and vigorous tone without. Perhaps we too often select our remedies with reference to the organ effected, instead of being guided by the specific action of the drug — Anthemis. acting specifically on suppurating surfaces, if so, it would be useful in abscesses of all kinds, from the painful panaris to the serious psoas abscess, in puerperal peritonitis and anthrax.
If certain drugs effect only certain tissues of the body, they act only on those tissues in disease; the size of the dose best adapted to cure is not so positively fixed; Ozanum found he could give too large a dose, but perhaps 5 grammes per day would have been sufficient to cure, instead of 15, as he gave; however, I think that the nearer you approach the vital nerve force, when you wish to effect the delicate tissue of nerve fibre, then comes the power of high potencies, and I think that different conditions of even the same parts and organs require different potencies. Who can cure gonorrhoea with the 30th of Cannabis or Mercurius; this is a low form of disease, gross and sensual, having relations to debased and vitiated passions, and requires corresponding treatment. I know it is recorded as being cured by high attenuations, but I have never succeeded.
|The American Homoeopathic Review Vol. 02 No. 05, 1860, pages 228-232
|errors only; interlinks; formatting