Page images
PDF
EPUB

large number of cases treated, some in hospitals some in their own homes, showing the great superiority of the homoeopathic treatment of cholera, but we have resolved to confine ourselves to such statistics as were authenticated by competeut and known authorities. Enough has been here adduced to prove that homoeopathists are entitled to claim for their treatment a real curative power over cholera, while, on the other hand, the partisans of the old school can make no such claim for any of their many modes of treatment.

We know that we may search in vain the cholera literature of past epidemics for any rational or moderately successful treatment of the disease. Nor is the most recent literature of allopathic medicine more suggestive of remedies for the fully-developed disease. "If," says Lebert in Ziemssen's magnificent Cyclopaedia, the latest outcome of German allopathic science, "the prodromic diarrhoea has resisted our efforts to check it, or if it have not existed at all, and the violent discharges have already set in, neither Opium nor Nitrate of Silver, nor any other remedy will be of any avail" (vol. i, p. 458). On the other hand, Macnamara in Quain's bulky Dictionary, the oracle of modern British allopathic science, recommends a pill of Opium and Acetate of Lead, and a mustard plaster over the abdomen, but the futility of this treatment has been sufficiently proved by the sad mortality that has always attended it.

In bright contrast to the allopathic treatment, which can - offer either no remedy at all or only such as have been again and again proved to be useless or even injurious, homoeopathy offers a mode of treatment which has in every epidemic been crowned with the most gratifying success.

When the cholera first invaded Europe in 1831, Hahnemann, from merely reading the reports sent to him of the symptoms of the disease, was able to suggest the remedies for its different stages, which in every epidemic since that time have been employed by his disciples all over the globe, with results which have astonished the world and rescued hundreds of those attacked from imminent death. Hahnemann's wonderful genius, guided by the therapeutic rule he discovered, led him to select Camphor as the specific for the first stage of the disease. The importance of administering this remedy at the very commencement of its onslaught made him insist on the necessity of the remedy being administered by the patient's friends without waiting for the arrival of the doctor. Thus he writes:

"Every one the instant any of his friends take ill of cholera, must himself, immediately, treat them with Camphor, and not wait for medical aid, which, even if it were good, would generally come too late." "When the cholera first attacks, it usually appears in the commencement in its first stage (with tonic spasmodic character); the strength of the patient suddenly sinks, he cannot stand upright, his expression is altered, the eyes sunk in, the face bluish and icy cold, as also the hands, with coldness of the rest of the body; hopeless discouragement and anxiety, with dread of suffocation, are visible in his looks; half stupefied and insensible he moans or cries in a hollow, hoarse tone of voice, without making any distinct complaints, except when asked; burning in the stomach and gullet, and cramp-like pain in the calves and other muscles; on touching the precordial region he cries out; he has no thirst, no sickness, no vomiting or purging." "In this first stage the patient must get as often as possible (at least every five minutes) a drop of spirit of Camphor (from 1 oz. of Camphor to 12 of alcohol) on a lump of sugar, or in a spoonful of water. Some spirit of Camphor must be taken in the hollow of the hand and rubbed into the skin of the arms, legs, and chest of the patient; he may also get a clyster of half a pint of warm water mingled with two full teaspoonf uls of spirit of Camphor, and from time to time some Camphor may be allowed to evaporate on a hot iron, so that, if the mouth should be closed by trismus and he can swallow nothing, he may draw in enough of Camphor with his breath" (Archiv f. horn. Heilk., vol. xi).

These directions, written in 1831, are the best that can be given for the administration of this invaluable remedy. We generally now make use of a stronger spirit of Camphor (1 to 6), and some even prefer a saturated solution. The officinal Camphor liniment may also with advantage be substituted for the Camphor spirit for frictions, but these are details of secondary importance. In the main Hahnemann's first directions are still acted on by his followers whenever cholera appears; the experience of all who have followed them in every epidemic of cholera testifies to the almost supernatural insight and prescience of the illustrious founder of homoeopathy.

The experience of some practitioners, notably Rubini, of Naples, in several epidemics of cholera, would seem to show that Camphor alone will cure cholera, without the necessity of employing any other remedy; and this is probably true if we can always employ this remedy from the commencement, or near the commencement, of the attack. But Hahnemann himself, and most of his followers, do not regard Camphor as specific for all the stages of cholera, but only for the first stage.

Hahnemann says:

"If this period of the commencement of the disease, so favourable to recovery and speedy cure by the above-described employment of Camphor, has been neglected, then things look worse; then Camphor is no longer serviceable. There are, moreover, cases of cholera, especially in northern regions, where this first stage, with its tonic spasmodic character, is hardly observable, and the disease passes instantly into the second stage of clonic spasmodic character; frequent discharge of watery fluid, mixed with whitish, yellowish, or reddish flakes, and along with insatiable thirst and loud rumbling in the bowels, violent vomiting of large quantities of the same fluid, with increased agitation, groaning and yawning, icy coldness of the whole body, even of the tongue, and marked blue appearance of the arms, hands, and face, with fixed sunken eyes, diminution of all the senses, slow pulse, extremely painful cramps in the calves, and spasms of the limbs. In such cases the administration of a drop of Camphor spirit every five minutes must only be continued so long as decided benefit is obtainable (which, with a remedy of such rapid action as Camphor, manifests itself within a quarter of an hour). If in such a case decided benefit is not soon perceived then no time must be lost in administering the remedy for the second stage."

According to Rubini, who had ample opportunity of observing cases of cholera, Camphor still suffices to cure the disease, and no other remedy is needed. But then Bubini was not likely to see such cases as, Hahnemann tells us, are apt to occur in more northern climates, and evidently all the cases he met with in Naples helonged to the class in which Camphor is the specific. Had Hahnemann had an opportunity of treating cholera himself perhaps he might have found, like Rubiui, that Camphor was serviceable in even the later stages of the disease. But, at all events, we know that Hahnemann was aware that Camphor often sufficed, without any aid from other medicines, to cure the disease; for, in a letter to Dr. Peschier, he says:

"I learn from authentic sources that at Vienna, Berlin, and Magdeburg, thousands of families, by following my instructions with regard to the treatment by Camphor, have cured, often in less than a quarter of an hour, those of their members who were attacked by the epidemic."

This is no exaggeration of the rapidity of the action of Camphor in the early stage of cholera. Dr. Russell relates that he once saw a little girl actually take cholera. She suddenly presented the strange unnatural look which characterised the disease and seemed to shrink in size, becoming cold and livid. Five or six drops of Camphor spirit were at once given, and in ten minutes the anxious frigid expression of the face gave way and was succeeded by a glow of warmth; and the" pulse, which had become very small, rapid and irregular, resumed its normal volume and rate.

It may not be without interest to inquire what led Hahnemann to select Camphor for the first stage of cholera and to prescribe it in the doses we know, which are so different from those he habitually used for other medicines, and from those of the other remedies he employed in this very disease.

In his first communication on the subject which appears in the Archiv f. horn. Heilk., vol. xi, and is dated 10th September, 1831, he mentions that a prescription, the principal ingredient of which was Camphor, was employed for the cholera at Diinaberg with such success that only one patient in ten died. He then proceeds to say that had the Camphor been employed alone not 1 iu 100 would have died. Possibly this Diinaberg prescription and its success together with reports of the similarly successful use of Camphor in Hungary led him to inquire if Camphor in its pathogenetic effects offered a picture of the symptoms of cholera. Dr. Russell (op. cit., p. 209) has arranged together all the choleraic symptoms of Camphor, and we cannot fail to perceive that they present a tolerably accurate representation of those that attend the invasion of cholera. But why did Hahnemann prescribe it in such large and frequently repeated doses, and not only by the mouth but in clysters, inhalations, and frictions? This is so unlike his mode of using any other remedy that there must be some reason for this departure from his usual practice. Of course we may say that he merely prescribed the remedy in the doses that he had heard had effected such marvellous cures in Poland and Hungary, but this would hardly have influenced him in prescribing it as he did, had it not been for his views upon the nature of cholera. We learn from a pamphlet he published soon after the above-mentioned article in the Archiv, that he believed that the infectious miasm of cholera consists of "innumerable invisible living beings," and that Camphor was a certain poison for them. Though this view of the cholera miasm is in perfect accord with the modern fashionable Pasteurian doctrine of microbes, which it indeed anticipates by more than fifty years, we do not feel satisfied of its correctness. It constitutes, however, a plausible reason for giving the remedy in those large doses which form such a contrast to Hahnemann's usual doses. And yet it must strike everyone as being extremely odd that a medicine should be at once the homoeopathic remedy for a disease and the poison of the microbes on which the disease is supposed to depend. We should like to know, though of course that is impossible, the sequence of events in Hahnemann's recommendation of Camphor. Was the hypothesis as to the cloud of invisible living organisms constituting the miasm of cholera formed before

« PreviousContinue »