HOMOEOPATHY BEFORE THE LEGISLATURE Of NEW YORK. — A bill was introduced into the Legislature of the State of New York, to incorporate the State Homoeopathic Medical Society. It was referred to the Committee on Medical Affairs. In reporting it back to the House, the Chairman of the Committee, Dr. Bowen, took pains to disclaim any favorable view of Homoeopathy which he pronounced a “sublime charlatanism,” and he “challenged its advocates to show that Homoeopathy had made a single improvement in medicine, hygiene or surgery.”
It might be sufficient to reply that a State Medical Society is not primarily a Society for purely scientific ends; that it is a necessary part of that organization of the profession which is required by the laws of the State; that there are 300 or 400 homoeopathic practitioners in the State of New York, who are amenable to the laws regulating the practice of medicine and surgery, and who cannot avail themselves of the immunities granted by those laws nor have adequate protection from an unjust application of their restrictions or penalties, except through the operation of a duly incorporated State Medical Society, and that therefore this bill only grants them an indisputable right, a right which would be the same, even could it be clearly proved that “Homoeopathy has not made a single improvement in medicine, hygiene, or surgery.”
But while thus showing the irrelevancy of this ground of opposition to the bill of incorporation, we very willingly accept the Doctor's challenge and shall proceed to show that Homoeopathy has introduced most valuable improvements, directly in medicine and indirectly in hygiene and surgery.
We consider that the most important improvement in medicine that could be introduced, would be a method of treatment which should diminish the mortality and abridge the duration of acute diseases, and should cure such chronic diseases as have been hitherto regarded as incurable. And as we shall show that Homoeopathy has done this, we claim that the introduction of Homoeopathy itself is a most valuable improvement in medicine.
What witnesses shall we call? Of the 30,000 practitioners of medicine and surgery in the United States, 3000 are Homoeopathists. Of this number, at least 2500 have studied in Allopathic Colleges and have practiced allopathically for a longer or shorter period. The very fact that these men have abandoned the old method in spite of all the restraining influences of prejudice, association, esprit de corps, and the certain temporary loss of consideration and of income, furnishes the very strongest evidence in favor of the superior claims of Homoeopathy in the cure of disease. For what other consideration could have induced these men to forsake the old method of practice?
In addition to this presumptive evidence, we have the positive statement of homoeopathic practitioners, both in hospital and private practice, to the effect that their cures are both more numerous and more speedily accomplished than in similar cases under allopathic treatment whether in hospitals or private practice. These are the homoeopathic statistics.
But with an extraordinary assumption of superior virtue on their own part, and a most indecent ascription of insincerity to the Homoeopathists, our friends, the Allopaths, refuse to admit the testimony of Homoeopathists on the subject of the efficacy of homoeopathic treatment. They reject the testimony of those alone who have had opportunities of forming a practical judgment of the merits of the method. They require what would seem to be an absurdity in terms — that an Allopathist should testify to the superior efficacy of homoeopathic treatment, the witness remaining an Allopath. Should his testimony convince him and lead him to avow himself a Homoeopathist, this avowal would at once deprive his testimony of all weight in the judgment of the old school.
But monstrous as this requirement seems to be, we are able to meet it and we shall bring allopathic witnesses of the very highest rank in the profession to testify to the efficacy of homoeopathic treatment.
The late Sir John Forbes, Physician to the Queen, so long Editor of The B.&F. Medico-Chirugical Review, speaking, in 1846, of the statistics of Fleischmann's Homoeopathic Hospital in Vienna, says, “not merely do we see thus cured — all the slighter diseases, whether acute or chronic which most men of experience know to be readily susceptible of cure under every variety of treatment and under no treatment at all, but even all the severer and more dangerous diseases, which most physicians of whatever school have been accustomed to consider as not only needing the interposition of art to assist nature in bringing them to a favorable and speedy termination, but as demanding the employment of prompt and strong measures to prevent a fatal issue in a considerable proportion of cases. * * * We cannot refuse to admit the accuracy of Dr. Fleischmann's statements as to matters of fact.” Now what is the purport of Dr. Fleischmann's statistics. Mr. W. R. Wilde, of Dublin, the distinguished Oculist and Aurist; Author of a work on Aural Surgery, testifies as follows in his work on Austria: Its Literary, Scientific and Medical Institutions, &c.; Dublin, 1843. page 277: — “Whatever the opponents of this system may put forward against it, I am bound to say, and I am far from being a homoeopathic practitioner, that the cases I saw treated by it in the Vienna Hospital (Dr. Fleischmann's), were fully as acute and virulent as those which have come under my observation elsewhere; and the statistics show that the mortality is much less than in the other hospitals of that city. Knolz, the Austrian proto-medicus, has published those for 1838, which exhibit a mortality of but five or six percent, while three similar institutions on the allopathic plan, enumerated before it in the same tables, show a mortality as high as from eight to ten percent.”
To these very high authorities we may add the unexceptional testimony of Dr. Routh, who in his work on The Fallacies of Homoeopathy gives the following comparative statistical table and admits its substantial correctness;
|Pneumonia — deaths percent, . . 9.7
|deaths percent, . . 24.0
|Pleuritis — “ ” . . 3.0
|“ ” . . 13.0
|Peritonitis — “ ” . . 4.0
|“ ” . . 13.0
|Dysentery — “ ” . . 3.0
|“ ” . . 22.0
|Typhus — “ ” . . 15.0
|“ ” . . 19.0
|All other diseases “ ” . . 4.4
|“ ” . . 8.5
On the testimony of these three witnesses we might rest the case, and reasonably claim that a method of treating disease which causes a reduction of 50 percent. in the general mortality of all acute diseases, is indeed an “improvement in medicine.”
But one cannot fail to ask why did not Sir John Forbes, and Dr. Wilde and Dr. Routh become Homoeopathists, convinced by their own testimony? This will be answered by a review of the modes in which they account for the admitted practical superiority of homoeopathic treatment.
Sir John Forbes affirms that these statistics do not show any absolute power of homoeopathic treatment over disease, but only a comparative power, when placed side by side with Allopathic treatment. He admits the superiority of the former, but contends that the cures are due not to homoeopathic remedies but to Nature, and affirms that if homoeopathic statistics could be compared with statistics of diseases treated by hygienic means alone, the former would show no superiority over the latter. He admits further the inevitable inference from this statement, viz.: — that the excess of mortality under allopathic treatment over that under homoeopathic treatment is directly due to the positively mischievous nature of the Allopathic methods, and he affirms that “in this respect, if in no other, the doctrine of Hahnemann will have conferred an inestimable blessing on the healing art,” in that, being a system which essentially leaves diseases to the operation of nature, we must regard it as a grand experiment in therapeutics, &c., &c.“ In the same sense he speaks of Homoeopathy as “destined to be the remote, if not the immediate cause of more important fundamental changes in the practice of the healing art than have resulted from any promulgated since the days of Galen himself.”
Dr. Routh likewise denies the efficiency of homoeopathic medicines, but accounts for the admitted success of the treatment by ascribing to its practitioners superior hygienic management both moral and physical. He thus concedes to Homoeopathy an improvement in hygiene, while denying that it is an advance in medicine proper — that is to say in Therapeutics. It is not, we suppose a source of distress to our patients if it be true that we do cure by superior applications of hygiene, provided only we cure them.
Why Mr. Wilde did not become a Homoeopathist after the voluntary testimony in favor of the system which we have quoted, we certainly cannot say. Far be it from us to undertake to account for the mental inconsistencies of one of that wonderfully gifted and erratic nation. Whoever has had the good fortune to attend his clinique at St. Marks, in Dublin, must have perceived how thoroughly he possesses the mental characteristic of an Irishman — the power to draw untenable conclusions from impossible premises; and we infer from his dealings with Homoeopathy, the converse is equally characteristic — the inability to draw inevitable conclusions from indisputable premises.
Improvement in medicine may be negative or positive. A negative improvement would be a demonstration of the mischievous character of methods of practice heretofore in vogue. A positive improvement would be the introduction of some method which would reduce the rate of mortality below that of former methods of both active and of expectant treatment
Sir John Forbes has testified most emphatically to the valuable negative improvement which Homoeopathy has introduced in medicine. For in addition to what has already been quoted, he says that to Homoeopathy chiefly we owe a knowledge of the fact that “in a considerable portion of diseases it would fare as well or better with patients, in the actual condition of the medical art, as now generally practiced, if all remedies, at least all active remedies especially drugs, were abandoned.” Is not this negative improvement to which Sir John Forbes says medicine is indebted to Homoeopathy of sufficient value to entitle Homoeopathists to recognition at the hands of the State? How valuable Sir John Forbes thought it we may gather from the fact that he accounted by it for the difference of statistics in favor of Homoeopathy — a difference according to Dr. Routh of 50 percent.
But in addition to the general improvement in medicine which their method of applying facts not originally discovered by themselves involves, Homoeopathists claim to have made positive special improvement in medicine. The use of Belladonna in Scarlatina, of Camphor and Veratrum in Epidemic cholera, of Arsenic in sporadic cholera, of Aconite in the early stage of acute inflammation, will serve as instances most familiar to the public; and the value of these improvements is made evident by the extent to which they are borrowed and adopted without acknowledgement by Allopaths. (See discussion in the New York Academy of Medicine on Belladonna in Scarlatina, 1861.) We shall have occasion in speaking of Surgery to mention the use of Aconite and Belladonna in Erysipelas as special improvements, for which medicine is indebted to Homoeopathy.
Is medicine indebted to Homoeopathy for an improvement in Hygiene? Let it never be forgotten that Homoeopathy has, in some way or other, reduced the average mortality of acute disease, some 35 to 50 per cent. However it may be accounted for, the fact is granted. Sir John Forbes admits it; Mr. Wilde affirms it; Dr. Routh concedes it. Does it accomplish this by positively curing a greater number than the Allopaths do, or by abstaining from sundry fatal practices to which the Allopaths are given, or by mystically managing the patients by some weird magic called Hygiene and coaxing them to get well? Sir John Forbes adopts the second supposition. Dr. Routh contends for the third. The Homoeopathists are fain to plead guilty to both charges. They admit their guiltlessness of the nefarious practices of bleeding and purging, blistering and otherwise tormenting into untimely graves that luckless 50 percent of patients. They confess to a stricter and better hygienic management of their patients than their old school brethren practice; and in addition they claim no inconsiderable amount of positive cures. In reply to the challenge respecting improvements in Hygiene they refer to Dr. Routh, and Dr. Bowen may take his choice of the methods of accounting for the superior success of the homoeopathic treatment. If he ascribe it to superior medical attainments we shall be content; if, with Dr. Routh, to an enlightened hygiene, we shall strive to bear the judgment meekly, and give him our best wishes in his study of our improvements in that branch of medical science.
Strictly speaking, Homoeopathy and Surgery have nothing in common; for the former comes within the domain of Therapeutics alone, while Surgery is a mechanical art totally distinct from Therapeutics. Practically, however, every surgical case requires more or less therapeutic management in addition to the mechanical operations of the surgeon, but in so far as the surgeon applies therapeutics he ceases to be a distinctive surgeon, and exercises the functions of a medical practitioner and can avail himself of the improvements, be they positive, negative, or hygienic, which medicine owes to Homoeopathy Among the complications in the way of disease to which surgical patients are liable, none is more common or more formidable than erysipelas. Homoeopathists have testified again and again to the efficacy of their treatment in this dreaded disease. But our candid brethren of the other way of practice have a pleasant way of ignoring our testimony. Let us remind them, as the best way of responding to Dr. Bowen's challenge on this point, of the remarks of the late Mr. Liston, whose name is second to none on the list of English surgeons. They are found in The London Lancet, Feb. 6th and 13th, and April 16th, 1836:
”Erysipelas of Head. — Mary Pecks, aged thirty-two, admitted 21st January, 1836, with severe erysipelas of head and face, under care of Mr. Liston. One grain of Belladonna in sixteen ounces of water: two table-spoonfuls every three hours. On the 24th was convalescent: In going round, Mr. Liston said, this was one of the most satisfactory and rapid cures of erysipelas he had ever seen, the disease entirely, though not suddenly, disappearing in the course of a very few days. He was inclined to attribute this to the treatment, both general and local, which had been adopted, but more particularly to the Belladonna. This, the students might be aware, was given on the homoeopathic principle, the doses only being somewhat increased. They had all probably seen the good effects of Aconite and some of the other remedies employed by the advocates of Homoeopathy. The Aconite has superseded bleeding in many cases in this hospital.“
Speaking of another and similar case Mr. Liston says, “In twenty-four hours the disease had quite disappeared. Of course we cannot pretend to say positively in what way this effect is produced, but it seems to act almost by magic; however, so long as we benefit our patients by the treatment we pursue, we have no right to condemn the principles upon which this treatment is recommended and pursued. You know that this medicine is recommended by the Homoeopathists in this affection, because it produces on the skin a fiery eruption or efflorescence, accompanied by inflammatory fever. Similia similibus curantur say they. They give in cases where a good night's rest is required, those substances which generally, in healthy subjects, produce great restlessness, instead of exhibiting as others do, those medicines termed sedatives. It is like driving out one devil by sending in another. I believe in the Homoeopathic doctrines to a certain extent, but I cannot as yet, from inexperience on the subject, go the length its advocates would wish, in as far as regards the very minute doses of some of their medicines. The medicines in the above cases were certainly given in much smaller doses than have hitherto ever been prescribed. The beneficial effects, as you witnessed, are unquestionable. I have, however, seen similar good effects of the Belladonna prepared according to Homoeopathic Pharmacopeia in a case of very severe erysipelas of the head and face under the care of my friend Dr. Quin. The inflammatory symptoms and local signs disappeared with great rapidity. Without adopting the theory of this medical sect, you ought not to reject its doctrines without due examination and inquiry.” And this advice which Mr. Liston thought proper to give to his students, it would be well for Dr. Bowen to heed before he reports again to the Legislature.
But the great object of all medical treatment is to shorten disease and to save life, and it chiefly concerns the public to know that the first three high authorities of the old school unite in testifying that under Homoeopathic treatment the mortality of acute diseases is diminished some 80 to 60 percent! This is a kind of improvement in medicine which every one can appreciate, and surely it constitutes a valid claim to share in all the privileges of incorporation under the laws of the State. DUNHAM.
Homoeopathic Medical Society of the Stats or New York — On the 15th of May, 1850, a number of homoeopathic physicians from different parts of the State met at Albany, and organized a society entitled as above. This Society was never incorporated, and the meetings after being held semi-annually for several years were discontinued.
The Legislature of this State had, in 1806, granted a charter to a State Medical Society, to be composed of permanent members and delegates from County Societies; an act for the formation of the latter in each County of the State having passed the Legislature the same year. This State Society in a few years became, as all such are too apt to do, a mere political machine and assumed to dictate to the Legislature the passage of laws concerning the practice of medicine and surgery in the State. With the ostensible purpose of suppressing quackery, they were enabled to persecute all who differed with them in practice.
It was not many years before the Legislature repealed the obnoxious laws and homoeopathic physicians were not interfered with in their practice, although they were not recognized and had no legal organization. In 1857, however, the Legislature passed an act authorizing the formation of County Homoeopathic Medical Societies with the same rights and privileges as granted to the old school.
In the winter of 1860-1 through the indefatigable exertions of Dr. H. M. Paine, the subject of a State homoeopathic organization was brought before the Legislature, a charter drawn up and a meeting of the homoeopathic physicians held in Albany, in February, 1861. Through some informality in the bill, however, it did not pass,
As the old organization had not been kept up, a new constitution was adopted, officers elected and a voluntary informal association formed. Again last winter another application was made for a charter, and, in expectation of receiving it, a meeting was held in Albany, on the 18th of February last. Under the constitution adopted the year before, officers were elected and committees chosen for the ensuing year. This meeting also was premature for the charter, afterwards granted, which we publish below, specified the sixth day of May as the time when delegates should meet and organize. The Homoeopathic physicians in this State have now a legal status exactly the same as the old school. S.
Section 1. It shall be lawful for each of the County Homoeopathic Medical Societies incorporated under the Session Laws of 1857, chapter 884, to elect by ballot, at their annual meeting, or at a special meeting to be held for that purpose, on fire days notice, from their members respectively, as many delegates to a State Homoeopathic Medical Society to be organized under this act, as there are members of Assembly from such county.
Sec. 2 Said delegates shall meet together for their first meeting at the city of Albany, on the sixth day of May, 1862. and being met, not less than nine in number may elect by ballot a President, three Vice-Presidents, a Secretary and Treasurer, who shall hold their office for one year, and until others shall be chosen in their places. If the said delegates should not meet and organize themselves at such time and place as aforesaid, it shall be lawful for them to meet at such other time and place as a majority of them shall think proper, and their proceedings shall be as valid as if such meeting had been held at the time and place before specified.
SEC. 3. Such delegates when met together as aforesaid, and such persons as shall be elected in like manner from time to time by said County Medical Societies in accordance with this act, shall constitute a body politic and corporate, to be known as the Homoeopathic Medical Society of the State of New York. Such Society shall be subject to all the liabilities, and entitled to all the powers and privileges of the Medical Society of the State of New York, incorporated under the act entitled “An Act to incorporate Medical Societies for the purpose of regulating the Practice of Physic and Surgery in this State,” passed April 10th, 1813, and the acts amendatory of the same not inconsistent with this act, and shall also possess the powers and be subject to the provisions and liabilities of the eighteenth chapter of the first part of the Revised Statutes.
Homoeopathy in Chili. — We make the following interesting extract from a letter of Dr. Benite Harcia Fernandes, in The Bulletin de la Societe Homoeopathique (March, 1862): “In Santiago, Chili, there are two homoeopathic physicians, Dr. Cobo and Dr. Fernandez; in Valparaiso three, Dr. Bruner, a German, Dr. Guipuscoan, who was for ten years physician in the Chilian army, and Dr. Gerbeau; in Coquento, Dr. Bruner, brother of the physician of the same name in Valparaiso. Moreover the landholders and the clergy in most settlements of the republic treat the poor in their neighborhood homoeopathically. Among these practising laymen, the Bi-hop of Conception is distinguished by his seal and his intelligent devotion to the cause.
“Dr. Fernandez has, for the last ten years, in connection with his friend, Dr. Cobo, conducted a dispensary in Valparaiso, which was erected by the Government. During this period of ten years these two physicians have made 280,000 prescriptions which gives an average of 28,000 a year. * * *
“In the year 1853,” says Dr. Fernandez, “the President of the Republic, with his ministers, made a tour, and he honored us with an invitation to accompany him. During the journey, my occupation consisted in giving gratuitously to the poor who consulted me, advice and medicines. The concourse was so great that I once saw in a single day from 400 to 500 patients.”
|The American Homoeopathic Review Vol. 03 No. 01, 1862, pages 40-48
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