I have recently seen a small volume by J. Bigelow, M. D., of Boston, entitled “ Exposition of Rational Medicine.” With its main features I am well pleased -it abounds with valuable suggestions. He takes a calm, common sensepractical view of the subject; shows that he understands some of the errors and deficiencies of the allopathic practice, and fearlessly exposes them. The -public, he thinks, misjudge the true mission of the medical profession, and expect more of its practitioners than they generally realize. The Dr. says: “The cure, the relief and the safe conduct of patients, involve the great objects for which medicine has been striving for thousands of years. Yet even in the present advanced state of science, physicians are not agreed as to the means by which any one of these is to be accomplished or attempted; and a man who falls sick at home or abroad, is liable to get heroic treatment, or nominal treatment, or random treatment, or no treatment at all, according to the hands into which he may happen to fall.”
This is indeed a gloomy prospect for a sick man, and all because in the “various diversities of practice which occupy the greatest share of attention,” no discriminating symptom marks out the remedy for the disease. And this is the confession of a mature mind, well understanding the popular science of medicine. But fortunately for mankind there exists a system, with the principles of which Dr. B. seems to be unacquainted, and which has not escaped the satire of his pen, that throws over the suffering victims of disease, a rainbow of brighter promise.
The science of medicine had its origin in the dark ages of the human intellect, and was in harmony with the learning that then prevailed. But while the arts and sciences in general are advancing to a high state of perfection, and now reluctantly acknowledge relationship to those of that period bearing their names, the physician fails to elevate his profession to an equal standard. The success of the healing art has not kept pace with the progress of the human mind, nor with its own accumulating resources, nor yet with the expectations of this enlightened age. Notwithstanding all its discoveries, its best efforts are still attended with nearly the same disappointments and uncertainty they were ages ago; facts which argue a defect in the fundamental principles of medical science; a defect which can never be reached till it is remodeled and founded on philosophical principles, adopting remedies to diseases more in accordance with natural laws. This grant result, homoeopathy both in a theoretical and practical point of view, is fully adequate to accomplish. Yet Dr. B., unmindful of its true principles defines it “a specious mode of doing nothing.” And alluding to its adherents he says:
“There is great reason to believe that, at the present day, homoeopathic faith is not always kept up in its original purity by its professors. Traces of the occasional use of very heroic remedies are often detected among the most unsuspected of its practitioners. And it must not be concealed that there are instances in which the temptation is very great, even for the most resolute convert, to come to the aid of the sick with reasonable and efficient doses of real medicine. The man must be somewhat of a stoic who can look upon a case of severe colic, or of the multiform distresses which result from over-talked organs of digestion, and quiet his conscience with administering inappreciable globules instead of remedies.”
First let me say that I commenced the practice of medicine as early as the year 1817, and followed it, according to the rules of allopathic science, till 1846, when I adopted and have since practiced the system of homoeopathy.
As Dr. B. has so significantly alluded to what he is pleased to represent as inappreciable globules instead of remedies in cases of severe colic, I will give some of my experience in the homoeopathic treatment of this disease, in its various shades of character. In all of which I have strictly adhered to the Homoeopathic Law in the selection of remedies. And in no case have I prescribed a potency below the third dilution, and I think I have more frequently given the thirtieth than the third.
Soon after my attention was directed to the subject of homoeopathic medicine, I was called to see a man who, for several years, had been subject to periodical attacks of colic. The disease had been in the habit of returning every four or six weeks, when he laid by, took physic and after a few days, with much feebleness, returned to his accustomed labors. The visit referred to was the first time I was called into his family. I treated him allopathically and he was able to resume his business in about the usual time. The next time the disease returned I had obtained knowledge and confidence in homoeopathy, and gave him a few globules of the thirtieth dilution of Colocynth. The pain left him in less than ten minutes and did not return. Until the time I lost sight of the man, six years after, he had not had another attack of the colic.
Subsequent to that I had another case, precisely similar in all its essential features. It was periodical, had existed a considerable time, and the return of the attacks were about the same in regard to periods as the other. One dose of Colocynth 30th dil. immediately stopped the pain. I left a few others but it was the first dose that effected the cure. Three years afterwards the colic had not returned. Some change must have been produced by the medicine on the pathological condition that had previously favored the return of the disease.
I was called to a young man suffering intensely with colic. As I could not immediately decide on the medicine specific to the disease, I gave Colocynth, that being the remedy for more cases of colic, perhaps, than all other medicines; but in this it had no effect. I then made an accurate record of his symptoms, in a manuscript I keep for that purpose, and which I always use when the right remedy does not immediately occur to me, that I can have the cure, whatever may be the disease, fairly before me. He had constipation with disposition to evacuate without result; distension of the abdomen, with sensitiveness on pressure, &c. The group plainly indicated Nux vom. I gave him a few globules and in fifteen or twenty minutes the pain had left him, soon followed by free evacuations from the bowels. The tenderness of the abdomen subsided and he was well.
A man, about forty years of age, in a rural neighborhood, was attacked with colic. He employed his family physician, but obtaining no relief soon sent for another. After a few days being still no better, he sent some fifteen or twenty miles for one who had obtained some notoriety in the treatment of difficult cases. Obtaining no relief his family and friends expected he would die. After two weeks from the attack, being advised to try homoeopathy, I was sent for. On the investigation of his symptoms I found the bowels were open, rather loose, gripping rumbling pains and flatulence; also a disposition to cramp pains in the muscles. Colocynth was plainly indicated, and I had no hesitation in relying upon it as his remedy. In less than twenty minutes the pain had left him. And during the time I remained, nearly two hours, waiting for the cars, no return of pain occurred, nor did it afterward. Being reduced by so long suffering it was many days before he could sit up, and some weeks before he recovered his strength, but the cure was perfect.
One day, at noon, I was called to visit a man attacked with colic. He could give me no symptoms, only colic, a severe pain in the bowels, worse at times. I could obtain nothing more, and in the absence of discriminating symptoms, had to try different medicines, as I could best judge of their relative importance in colic. Being soon sent for again I tried still other remedies with no better success. I saw him four or five times during the afternoon and evening, and tried to induce him to tell me all the feelings he experienced, whatever they might be. In the morning before light I was called again-he had no relief, nor could he describe any more symptoms. I was obliged to make another random prescription, and called again immediately after breakfast. He was still no better. But a comparatively trivial circumstance now came to my aid and his relief. His wife sitting with a child in her arms, having occasion to do something, was about putting it on the bed when he said, lay the child on my stomach, pressure makes it feel better. Ah! said I, why did you not tell of that before? Oh! he did not think that was anything. On referring to the symptoms of Belladonna, it has colic, griping, seizing as with talons. In Jahr's Repertory, under the head of abdominal sufferings is found, amelioration from pressure-Belladonna. Of this I immediately gave a few globules, and in less than ten minutes the pain left him and did not return.
A man aged forty, had severe colic-pain, intense. I attended him two or three days but failed to obtain symptoms that would point out the remedy. He called another physician, who prescribed Opium and Calomel, followed by Castor Oil. After the medicine had operated the pain left him, and he supposed he was cured. Some six or eight weeks afterwards he called at my office saying his turns of colic had continued to occur once or twice a week during all that time. He could stop the pain with the same prescription, but in a few days it would return, and was becoming more frequent. His appetite had failed, he was losing strength, and felt discouraged. Making another effort to get his symptoms, he told me he felt as though there were a cord bound tight round his body just below the ribs, and that his stomach and bowels seemed to grow fast to the back bone. On inquiry I found he had always had these symptoms, but did not think it important to mention them. In the pathogenesis of Plumbum we find, excessive pains in the abdomen, sunken abdomen, tearing colic pains, abdomen drawn in so its walls seem to be glued to the spine. I gave him Plumbum, third trituration, and furnished him with a few powders, for which he had no use, as the pain left him and did not return. Six or eight months afterward he was suddenly attacked, in his shop, with the same pain. He took a coach, called at the door of my office and finding I was absent, not to return for an hour, he said he did not see how he could live an hour without relief. Mrs. Colby, learning his situation, sent him out a powder of Plumbum, she happening to be in the office at the time I prescribed it for him, had fortunately remembered it. When I arrived at his house, he told me that the pain almostly immediately left him, and had not returned. The next day he was able to resume his work.
Several years ago I was called to see a man who had been afflicted with colic forty-eight hours. He had during that time been under treatment, not homoeopathic, without relief, and had not slept since the attack. Colocynth relieved his pain and in fifteen minutes he was asleep-slept an hour; but awoke with return of pain. Col. gave no farther relief. I closely attended him twenty-four hours, when, as he was about dismissing me to try some other treatment, I prescribed an injection of two quarts of cold water. I told him to be sure to retain it, which he could easily do. He had the injection, the pain immediately left him, and did not return. If we consider the pathogenesis of the remedy and the indications to be met, it is evident it must cure. It is strictly homoeopathic. Colic is the spasmodic contraction or irritation of the muscular fibres of a portion of the intestinal tube, by which the canal is closed, or unequal peristaltic motion caused. Here we have an agent that, when applied so as to -make the part cold, never fails to remove spasms, and arrest all irritation, because, for the time being it takes away the muscular powers. In this case, beside the relaxing principle of colic, you have the mechanical power of pressure, and the whole intestinal canal may be filled as tight as a bladder without a disposition to expel the water. There will then remain little opportunity for colic, or iliac passion, or intersusception of the intestines to be developed.
Among the cases reported above, are the only ones I have treated in this disease that have not promptly yielded to the medicine prescribed. Failures of success will be seen to have originated, not in the inefficiency of homoeopathic dilutions, but in the difficulty of obtaining discriminating symptoms, that would designate the necessary remedy. If the prescription fail to relieve in ten or fifteen minutes, it is evidence that it is not the specific for the disease, and another selection must be made. Cure by the dynamic remedy is prompt and perfect-The perverted action constituting the disease being reversed, its effects cease without farther loss of strength, a result, to obtain which persevering efforts should be made to discover the true specific, instead of resorting to Dr. B.'s “ reasonable efficient dose of real medicine.”
Has Dr. Bigelow, by well directed experiments, proved, that homoeopathic remedies are destitute of curative influence in those identical groups of symptoms in which its friends believe it possesses dynamic power, and upon which they exclusively rely? If not, is he competent to decide that the practice consists only in “leaving the case to Nature, while the patient is amused with nominal, and nugatory remedies?” Is he not aware that thousands of intelligent and well educated homoeopathic physicians, in all parts of the civilized world, many of whom were once popular in the allopathic school, now profess and believe its remedies possess dynamic and controlling power, in all cases where medical practice can avail, and to be willing to rest their popularity and the safety of their patients on their faith in the homoeopathic practice? Can he furnish satisfactory reasons for the belief that this large class of medical men are the victims of delusion, or, as he strongly intimates, that they are guilty of attempting to impose on the oredulity of an undiscerning public.
|Source:||The AMERICAN HOMOEOPATHIC REVIEW Vol. 01 No. 08, 1859, pages 370-374|
|Description:||Bigelow, Exposition of Rational Medicine; Cases of colic cured by Colocynthis, Nux vomica, Belladonna, Plumbum metallicum|
|Remedies:||Colocynthis, Nux vomica, Belladonna, Plumbum metallicum|
|Editing:||errors only; interlinks; formatting|