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ber of chemical atoms amounts to eight thousand trillions, or 8000,000000,000000,000000; and thus to count the number of distinct metallic particles in the head of a pin, at the rate, mentally, of a thousand millions each second, would take 250,000 years. Here we have ample room and verge enough for supplyng millions of distinct particles to every square inch of the body from a single grain of any of our ordinary lower attenuations, if only they were equally distributed. But it is different with respect to the dilutions above the trillionth; for if the above calculations are approximatively correct, if we imagine one grain divided equally among a trillion drops of water, then each drop will contain one atom or indivisible particle. How, then, if you put one drop into ninety-nine fresh drops of water? We shall then have one particle in 100 drops of water, and if you wish to dilute that again in the same way, there must be ninety-nine chances to one that the next phial will contain none of the substance. It cannot be certainly said that the limit of size is reached at the trillionth; but it seems certain that some such limit must exist probably not far beyond it.
If such calculations are near the truth, then the distance between the molecules must become so great that the chance of some one of the series of our dilutions having none of the matter at all must ere long be reached, though at what point that result is reached it may be impossible to say. This would throw a doubt and uncertainty on all experiments with high dilutions, for the 20th, or 30th, or 50th, &c, might in one batch contain some, in another none of the matter at all. This may be illustrated more palpably by referring to the particles of organic matter which are the causes of contagious diseases. If, as is now most probable, these consist of living matter, then that is not soluble, but however small can only be held in suspension, and therefore not equally diffusible at all. Let us now suppose one particle of smallpox matter, the smallest portion capable of propagating the disease, thrown into drinking water actually drunk on any day which all the inhabitants of London had an equal chance of swallowing. Then it is plain that it is about three millions to one against any particular individual getting the smallpox, supposing all were susceptible, and the particle escapes all other chance of having its efficacy destroyed. If matter is not more divisible than calculated by Sir W. Thomson and Gaudin, thiB illustration gives but a faint idea of the enormous chance against the efficacy of the highest dilutions. But when we add to that all the other uncertainties engendered by the impurities of materials, and possibility of error in manipulation in the preparation, those in dispensing, and beyond that the still greater chances of neutralization, loss, and destruction in the secretions and fluids of the body before the extremely attenuated portion of matter can come into contact with the living matter on which it is finally to act, then we shall begin to understand the extreme uncertainty that must cling to the action of all highly diluted medicines, even granting, what we by no means grant, that the dose of a well-chosen homoeopathically specific medicine can never be too small to effect a cure. Our conclusion from these a. priori considerations would be that, although'possibly the higher dilutions might, in singular instances, effect cures, they would be quite unsuitable for ordinary practice, and that in proportion to the liability of error, all experimentation with them must be conducted on a larger scale and under far more rigid conditions of proof than with the lower and more massive doses. Now, it is not the case that the so-called experiments with the high dilutions, i.e., 50th, 200th and upwards, have been made by men of proved capacity for such delicate investigation, by men who have at the same time knowledge, skill, and patience in the diagnosis and treatment of disease according to the known methods, and who have only advanced by slow steps from one well-ascertained stage to another. The contrary rather has been conspicuously evident, and men of possibly small experience with the 3rd and 6th dilution have leaped at a bound to the inconceivable height of the 200th on the slenderest evidence. The whole thing, in fact, was begun in a blunder or fraud by Jenichen, not a medical man at all, and has been carried on with a levity and disregard of the solemn responsibilities of the physician which has repeatedly caused us to blush with shame. Few things have retarded the progress of what is true in the homoeopathic doctrines than this whole unfortunate episode of the high dilutions.
We do not mean to say that the question of the relative efficiency of the] dilutions above and below the 3rd centesimal has been altogether left to the desultory experiments of private practice, for some systematic series of experiments have been undertaken by the Vienna Hospital physicians; but they are still incomplete, and the question has not been settled; for although, as a rule, greater success has been attained in hospital practice under the lower, though still infinitesimal, dilutions than when the] 15th centesimal was uniformly given, yet, on the other, hand, Watzke, a man of rare observing powers, as well as solid judgment, found that in the provings on the healthy certain symptoms were evoked by the dilutions which were not observed when the drug was given in the immediate fractions of the drop or grain. He has candidly stated the facts in 1848, and also that he has had cures with dilutions above 3rd centesimal; but the subject was evidently to him still open to further experiment before positive conclusions should be drawn; and he certainly did not draw any conclusion favorable to the practical use of higher dilutions as a rule,—a fact that may be seen by reference to his much more recent " One Day of my Practice " published in this Journal some years ago.
The statistical reports of Eidherz, in 1862, also give countenance to the belief that the 6th or 9th centesimal dilution acted more favorably in pneumonia than the lower, though still infinitesimal dilutions.
The paper published by Dr. Bayes some time ago,.in which he gave the doses usually prescribed by our colleagues in this country, proves very little beyond the fact that most of the British practitioners have accepted the common opinion first imported into this country along with homoeopathy, viz., that low dilutions are best for acute diseases, and high dilutions for chronic diseases. This opinion does not seem to be founded on any series of comparative trials, and we are at a loss to account for its general acceptance except on the ground that it was authoritatively put forward by some writers who first secured the attention of the profession. Almost every new convert adopted it and passed some years of his professional life without questioning its truth. It is evident from the statistics collected by Dr. Bayes that many have remained in this stage of their first impressions, and have continued to repeat, like parrots, the opinion they [first adopted on the authority of others. Some have indeed cast aside the trammels of authority, and have discovered that this rule for the dose has no foundation in practical experience, but most, as is evident from Dr. Bayes' statistics, have remained fossilised in the notions they originally adopted, and amid the busy exigiencies of their practical life have apparently lost the power to throw off the routine habits and ideas they started with. Thus it happens that statistics of the practice of homoeopathists in this country show an overwhelming majority still practising in the way they first learned to practise, who have had, perhaps, neither the time nor the inclination to obtain fresh experience for themselves, but have been only too willing to accept a rule which comes recommended to them by its apparent simplicity and by what they deemed to be respectable authority. Every one conversant with recent homoeopathic literature knows that this supposed rule for the dose is not true, but it is equally clear that the true rule for the dose has not yet been discovered. —eds.]
Guaco and its Uses*
This species of twining plant grows wild in the fields of New Grrauada and Venezuela, and is met with usually in glens, at the margin of rivers, and sometimes attached to the boundaries of gardens.
No one knows when the Indians and negroes of Santa Ee first employed it as an antidote against the venom of snakes. This property was kept secret amongst them until 1788, when Senor Mutis discovered it by an artifice. Ten years later he thus wrote to Senor Zea: "Nobody in this place dies of snake bite. Horses, sheep, &c, are cured as well as man when there'is an opportunity of giving them guaco juice."
When the negroes wish to guard against snake bite, and to be able to carry snakes about them with impunity, they resort to inoculation. They make six incisions—two in the hands, two in the feet, and one on each side of the chest. The juice is extracted from guaco leaves and put into the incisions, after the manner of vaccination. Previous to the operation two spoonfuls of juice are swallowed. It is advisable for the initiated person to take the juice every month for five or six days; because if this be omitted for some time, his vulnerability returns and a fresh inoculation will be necessary.
* Translated from La Meforma Mediea, Oct. 31st, 1873, by George Moore, M.D.
As the plant drops its leaves in the dry season, and as the pure juice from them cannot be preserved many days without undergoing decomposition, the following preparation must be made for future use. Take the leaves only and squeeze out the juice through linen; put it at once into a bottle containing an equal quantity of spirit; shake this mixture well together, then cork the bottle and let it rest for eight days. At the end of this time all the sediment has fallen to the bottom, and the clear tincture remaining above is decanted into another bottle, which should be tightly corked to keep its contents in good condition for use when wanted. The tincture is applicable to the same purposes as the pure juice, except that the latter is alone fitted for inoculation.
Applications.—1. For snake bite, three large spoonfuls of the pure juice are to be taken immediately, and at the same time a cataplasm of the powdered leaves is to be applied to the wound. These are to be repeated every day until the patient is well. If nothing but the prepared guaco is at hand, he should have three spoonfuls of it, and it should be rubbed into the bite, repeating these measures as with the pure juice and the cataplasm. Larger doses are required for horses, cattle, and other animals.
2. The same treatment should be adopted against the bites of the scorpion (alacran) and those of dogs and other rabid animals, continuing in the latter case for forty days.
3. In rheumatism and gout give daily two spoonfuls of the pure juice or of the tincture, and rub the painful part with one or other of these forms of the drug, or apply a cataplasm.
4. For the injuiries due to mechanical violence, apply the same treatment for a few days, with the difference that the dose should be three spoonfuls.
6. "When the catamenia are suspended, two spoonfuls should be taken every day until the case is cured. The same treatment is required for other obstructions of the abdominal viscera and for liver disease. In the latter disease we should also apply cataplasms of the leaves over the right hypochondrium, or rub in the tincture.
6. He who suffers from chronic and refractory ulcers should take daily three or four spoonfuls of the pure juice or of the tincture, and also put cataplasms of the leaves on the ulcers, or dress them with the tincture.