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British Homoeopathic Congress, 566.—Bazaar in aid of the Funds of the London Homoeopathic
CONTENTS OF No. CXXX.
PHOSPHORUS IN NEURALGIA.
In the October number of the Practitioner Mr. J. Ash burton Thompson continues his remarks on the powers of Phosphorus in neuralgia, and mentions several preparations as having been employed by him with varying success. Among others he instances six cases of neuralgia treated with Zinc phosphide. "This preparation is said," he writes, "to contain one fourth of its weight of pure Phosphorus, of which only a half is available for therapeutic purposes." What he means by that is not clear to us; we would be inclined to think that the whole dose of the medicine given was available for therapeutic purposes, but as Zinc phosphide, not in any way as Phosphorus, which is quite a different thing. However, let that pass; there are other things that strike us in this notice of Zinc phosphide. The writer, it seems, "inadvertently prescribed a quantity equivalent to ^nd of a grain" in two cases. One of these was a young lady suffering from chronic gastritis, the other a young man debilitated by excessive mental work; neither of them had ever had neuralgia, though one of them had a neuralgic sister, so might be " a favourable subject for the disease." The sequel shows that the other was an equally
VOL. XXXII, NO. CXXVII. JANUARY, 1874. A
favourable subject for neuralgia, though no family predisposition is recorded of her.
These two non-neuralgic persons then, after taking respectively seven and nine doses of this minute quantity of Zinc phosphide, "complained of severe frontal headache accompanied by frequent stabs of pain, apparently darting from before backwards to the occipital region, but intracranial, and not attended by any disturbance of sensation in the scalp." Then follows the very curious denouement: "Under a dose equivalent to ^th of a grain of Phosphorus both patients very quickly recovered, and have had no return of pain. These are the only two cases in which, under favourable circumstances of experiment, I have observed any apparent confirmation of the homoeopathic hypothesis, and I will not attempt to explain these phenomena from that point of view. But since, after its first prescription by Dr. Radcliffe, the use of Phosphorus in neuralgia was practically reintroduced to notice under auspices of homoeopathy, it may not be out of place to remark here that it holds no more distinguished a place in the Homoeopathic Pharmacopoeia than the other thirty-and-odd drugs which are there recommended in the treatment of this disease."
There are several statements in this passage which appear to us to require comment.
And, first, we would observe that no conclusion can be drawn relative to the effects of Phosphorus from the administration of Zinc phosphide or even of Sodium hypophosphite. Neither can the cure of symptoms caused by the 7'5nd of a grain of a drug by the ~th of a grain of the same drug be regarded as either a real or an apparent confirmation of the "homoeopathic hypothesis." What Mr. Thompson apparently fails to perceive is that the production of neuralgia in patients not subject to that affection by a drug which has the power of curing similar neuralgia occurring spontaneously, as some of his cases prove it to possess, is a real and not at all an apparent confirmation of the truth of the homoeopathic therapeutic maxim, similia similibus curantur. What Mr. Thompson means by the "homoeopathic hypothesis" we do not know, the maxim being merely a therapeutic rule and not a hypothesis at all.
Again, he might have known that no one neuralgic remedy in the Homceopathic Pharmacopoeia holds a more distinguished place than another. Every one is equally distinguished for the cure of its own peculiar form of neuralgia. This is one of the most frequent errors of the allopathic sect, treating names in place of individual forms of disease. If there are thirty-and-odd drugs used according to the homoeopathic method for neuralgia they are for the treatment of thirty-and-odd forms of neuralgia, and the form produced on the healthy by each of these gives the guide to the form spontaneously occurring it is capable of curing. To his great surprise Mr. Thompson made an accidental proving of the Zinc phosphide, and had he carefully noted the pathogenetic effects developed they would have surely guided him to the form of neuralgia for which the drug is curative. That Zinc phosphide is not indicated for the same cases as Phosphorus is shown by one of his own cases, No. 35, which was fruitlessly treated with the former remedy, but rapidly yielded to the latter. Mr. Thompson would have conferred a real benefit on therapeutics had he set himself to differentiate the forms of neuralgia for which Phosphorus and Zinc phosphide are respectively indicated.
Mr. Thompson is mistaken in supposing that Dr. Radcliffe was the first to prescribe Phosphorus in neuralgia, even admitting, which we are not the least disposed to do,, that his prescription of Sodium hypophosphite was equivalent to a prescription of Phosphorus. Long before Dr. Radcliffe was a doctor, and long before Phosphorus had been proved by Hartlaub, it had been successfully used in neuralgia by physicians of the old school.
It may interest our readers to give here a slight /-sketch of the employment of Phosphorus in neuralgia by both schools.
Kunckel (Chem. Anmerk., Erfurt, 1721) was probably the first that used Phosphorus for curative purposes. He gave it in the form of pills, and lauds its strengthening and painsubduing properties. Thirty years later we find a notice of Phosphorus as a remedial agent in an inaugural treatise by J. G. Mentz, Dissertatio inavg. medica de Phosphori loco medicinw assumpti, virtute medica, aliquot casibus singularibus confirmata, Vittemberg, 1751.
The singulares casus alluded to are mostly of malignant fevers, some petechial. Various allopathic practitioners have confirmed the utility of Phosphorus in such cases, and it is well known to homoeopathists as a sovereign remedy in typhus. But this by the way.
We shall now give some cases from allopathic authors of the cure of neuralgias of the head by means of Phosphorus. The first case is one by Dr. Lobenstein von Lobel from the 22nd vol. of Horn's Archiv, which is given in full detail in the 2nd vol. of Frank's Magazin (from which we translate) and in a more condensed form in Sorge's Phosphor.
The author (Dr. L. v. L.), a thin, delicate, and highly irritable subject, had had an attack of podagra in January, 1805, which was cured in six weeks. He remained well for two years, with the exception of a violent headache that used to torture him for a day at a time. It was not produced by anything he ate, nor by mental fatigue, but came on without any assignable cause. It did not always attack the same part, but, on the contrary, always chose a new spot, which was sometimes the forehead, sometimes the occiput, &c. Where the pains were most severe the part swelled and caused the most intolerable pain when touched. His mind became so weak that he could not do the simplest intellectual work, and the left eye was so affected by the pain that he could no longer see things distinctly—although no change was perceptible in the eye itself. He considered his ailment to be a transient arthritic headache. [The name is, of course, of no importance, except as it led the patient to use a farrago of anti-arthritic remedies without benefit.] He rubbed his head several times a day with Camphorated spirit and dosed himself with Bad. calam. arom., Tinct. Ouaiac, and Laudanum. At the same time he avoided all intellectual work and bodily exertion and took frequent tepid baths. Still the headache always returned, and that notwithstanding that the doctor employed many other external and internal remedies and was