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CONTENTS OF No. CLXIV.
CONTENTS OF No. CLXVI.
THE CHIEF TASK OF HOMCEOPATHY IS THE PERFECTING OF THE MATERIA MEDICA.
By J. Drysdale, M.D.
(Read before the Liverpool Homoeopathic Society, November 2nd, 1882.)
Although much of our time must unavoidably be consumed in the spreading of the knowledge of the homoeopathic principle and in repelling attacks upon us as a body, yet I cannot but feel that a disproportionate part of our time and work has been given to these objects, compared -with what has been done for the completion of the materia medica. Therefore I think that we cannot do better than direct the attention of our members in Liverpool to that subject, and devote at least one of our meetings to the continuation, as it were, of the discussion on the subject which took place at the Edinburgh Congress in September last.
In the current number of the British Journal of Homoeopathy it is stated by the editors that "the tendency of men of science in the dominant school is to investigate the physiological properties of drugs, which has always been a feature in the homoeopathic school." This seems a rather lukewarm mode of stating the case. We should rather say it was the essential feature of homoeopathy practically originated by Hahnemann, and for long the exclusive property of our school; also it was the reasonableness of this prac
VOL. XLI, NO. CLXIII. JANUARY, 1883, A
tice which was one of the grounds of the conversion of most of us to Hahnemann's opinions. Nevertheless it is a fact that physiological experiment with drugs has become more common of late years. There is a difference between the homoeopath's experiments in this field and those of the others. With us, having a distinct principle making the results directly applicable to therapeutics, the experiments are the essential means of obtaining the data needful to carry out the principle; with others they are carried on for the love of knowledge, distinctive of pure men of science, without regard to any practical application of their discoveries, or certain properties of drugs are incidentally revealed while these are employed in experimenting on the physiological functions of the body in what is improperly called vivisection. From whatever source, and for whatever reason sought, all knowledge of the action of drugs on the healthy body is of essential interest to us, and it ought to be our special province to be the first in the field to collect and incorporate into our materia medica every item of knowledge on this subject as it accrues, and also to revise and perfect our materia medica in accordance with the advance of knowledge. Can we say that this has been done by our body in this country, or even in America, where the workers are so much more numerous? We have, it is true, the excellent compendium of Dr. Hughes and similar American works, and the vast collection of material given in Allen's Encyclopedia. But the former, although indispensable from their critical and practical value, do not give the symptomalogy in its fulness, while the latter fails in the necessary critical revision, the arrangement, and the therapeutic use. What we require is a complete materia medica, in which all the knowledge of the day on the action of each drug on the healthy and diseased body shall be correctly represented; thus implying that there will be a thorough criticism of every symptom, and if possible none admitted if at all doubtful, likewise that the arrangement shall be such as to afford easy access to the detailed symptoms without destruction of the natural groups in which they originally occurred. Such a work can only be furnished by the homoeopathic school, for the sectarian allopathist is debarred by his prejudices and fear of persecution from making use of the rich store of material contained in the provings of Hahnemann and his disciples, while we welcome information from every quarter in addition to them. And it is a slur upon our reputation that we cannot point to any volume published by us in such a complete form. For our own use we have still to depend on the original provings of Hahnemann, or the above imperfect additions to them, and the practitioner has no access to the great store of new drug actions scattered through scientific journals and allopathic materia medicas.
To supply this want the Hahnemann Materia Medica was long ago started, but it has failed hitherto to attract workers enough to fill up a volume useful to the practitioner. This is much to be deplored, and it suggests to us one of the causes of the stop to the progress of our school and even the falling off of the numbers of our body in this country. Here, as elsewhere, to cease progress in scientific work proper is not even to stand still, but to go backwards. When I became acquainted with homoeopathy about the end of the first generation of homoeopaths, it was even then complained that the majority were ready enough to milk the cow of homoeopathy, but few took any trouble in the feeding of her. The making new provings and scientific study of the materia medica was then languishing. But soon after the spirit of science revived and the splendid series of Austrian re-provings was published. So little has this example been followed in this country that we have not only left the work of re-proving and experiment in the materia medica almost untouched, but we have not as yet given all the Austrian re-provings in a complete form to the English public. Nor have we incorporated the vast mass of pharmacological experiment and research already published in purely scientific and in allopathic medical journals. In Germany there is a periodical wholly devoted to experimental pharmacology, from which we have as yet derived no benefit almost.
Lately, however, Dr. Black, who, fortunately for us, has been relieved from the pressing cares of practice, while his