A Contribution to the Judgement Concerning The Characteristic Value of Symptoms (Boenninghausen, 1858)
It is now over three years since the great Homoeopathic Congress was held in Brussels, Germany being, I am sorry to say, but little represented. In the last session of this meeting after several propositions had been read, my resolution was adopted and a prize-question was proposed, to answer which a period of two years was granted. This prize essay, as the Homoeopathic journals have also made known, was intended to call out a “Treatise concerning the greater or lesser (characteristic) value of the symptoms occurring in a disease, to aid as a norm or basis in the therapeutical selection of the remedy.” The answer to this question was not limited to Belgium or to France, but it was handed over to the competition of the whole medical world, and it was thus unanimously acknowledged to be a subject of the greatest importance. Nevertheless, this question, in spite of the daily increase of the homoeopathic literature, has thus far remained unsolved. This silence extending far over the time set, which was computed liberally enough, seems to justify the assumption that the solution of the question has met with considerable difficulties, though every homoeopath must every moment find himself in the position to ask himself this question, and to have to answer it. It might not appear altogether proper for me, the author of the question, to also now enter among the competition for this prize. But the old practitioner will be pardoned for furnishing at least some contribution to the solution, and thereby again calling attention to the question.
The teaching of the Organon in this matter really contains the proper, true kernel of the answer, and this, of course, deserves to be first premised. It is found in the great Paragraph No. 153 (5th Ed.) and is as follows:
“In seeking for the specific homoeopathic remedy, i.e., in this juxtaposition of the phenomena of the natural disease and the list of symptoms of the medicines, in order to discover a morbid potency corresponding in similitude to the evil to be cured, the more striking, particular, unusual and peculiar (characteristic) signs and symptoms of the case should especially and almost solely be kept in view; for there must especially be some symptoms in the list of the medicine sought for corresponding to this, if the remedy should be the one most suitable to effect the cure. The more general and indefinite symptoms, such as lack of appetite, headache, weariness, disturbed sleep, uncomfortableness, etc., in their generalness and undefinedness deserve but little attention, unless they are more especially pronounced, as something of such a general nature is seen in almost every disease and in almost every medicine.”
It is seen, however, that it is here left to the physician to judge what is understood by the “more striking, particular, unusual and peculiar” symptoms, and it might, indeed, be difficult to furnish a commentary to this definition, which would not be too diffuse and, therefore, easily understood, and on the other hand would be complete enough to be properly applied to all these cases. Whence is it that we are unable to show any such definition in our literature? Even what Hahnemann adduces in §86, and those that follow, only contains some examples which are given without any systematic order, and are therefore but little suited to impress themselves on the memory, a requirement which in all such matters must appear to be of very great importance.
After looking about in the whole of the medical writings, allopathic as well as homoeopathic, for an aid, I remembered that in the middle ages they were accustomed to bring all such matters into the form of verses, in order that the memory might thus be assisted. The modern learned world knows, e.g., the diet of the Schola salernitana, dating from the beginning of the twelfth century, drawn up in leonine verses, as is supposed, by a certain John of Milan, from which some parts are quoted even to this day. But though I did not find here anything for the present purpose, I yet found something which, as it seemed, might prove useful with writers of quite a different doctrine. There is, namely, a hexameter dating from this same period but from the theologic scholastics; this is, indeed, of a somewhat jolting construction, nevertheless it contains briefly and completely the various momenta according to which a moral disease is to be judged as to its peculiarity and grievousness. The verse is the following:
“Quis? quid? ubi? quibus auxiliis? cur? quomodo? quando?”
The seven rubrics designated in this maxim seem to contain all the essential momenta which are required in the list of the complete image of a disease. May I be allowed, therefore, to attach my remarks to this scheme, with the desire that this hexameter, which was formerly used only by theologians, may now be also impressed on the memory of homeopaths and be put to use by them.
As a matter of course the personality, the individuality of the patient, must stand at the head of the image of the disease, for the natural disposition rests on it.
To this belongs first of all the sex and the age; then the bodily constitution and the temperament; both, if possible, separated, according to his sick and his well days i.e., in so far as an appreciable difference has appeared in them. In all these peculiarities whatever differs little or not at all from the usual natural state needs little attention; but everything that differs in a striking or rare way therefrom deserves a proportionate notice.
The greatest and most important variations are here found mostly in the states of the mind and spirit, which must by scanned all the more carefully, if they are not only sharply distinct, but also of rare occurrence and, therefore, correspond to only few remedies. In all such cases we have all the more cause to fathom these states with all possible exactness, as in them frequently the bodily ailments recede to the background, and for this very reason offer but few points for our grasp, so that we may be able to make a sure selection among the remedies which compete.
Paragraph 104 of the Organon makes it a duty of the homoeopath to make a written scheme of the image of the disease, and whoever has once acquired a certain facility in this will easily know how to satisfy this requirement and gradually acquire a certain specializing penetration, which will prove to him of ever increasing usefulness. For as every man presents an individual nature different from every other one, and as every medicine must be exactly adapted to this individuality, in agreement with the symptoms, which it is able to produce in the total man, so, an once, at this first investigation as to the Quis? A great number of medicines are thrust aside, just because they do not correspond to the personality of the patient.
The spiritual and dispositional individuality of the patient here gives the most important, often almost the only deciding points for the selection of the remedy, where the disease involved is one of the mind or spirit, and generally the two disturbances present themselves so conjoined into one that the signs of the one only receive their full and definite character from the other. Hahnemann, indeed, recognized the importance of this two momenta from the beginning, but the necessity of weighting the two in their connection with one another he only recognized later on it its full measure; and he then placed the symptoms proper to the two, which in the first provings had been separated, one making the beginning and the other the end, in the “Chronic Diseases” immediately one after the other, an improved arrangement, which we also find in the best works on Materia Medica Pura of later times.
Many other things belonging to this rubric, but concerning the bodily individuality and presenting, as it were, the chief features in the portrait of the patient, are contained in those books under the heading of “general.” It would be desirable and would greatly facilitate the use if everything not pertaining thereto should be excluded, and the former be brought under a particular rubric denominated either “Individual” or “Personal,” in such a way that the corporeal would present a separate picture, as has been done with respect to the spiritual and mental.
Of course this question refers to the disease, i.e., to its nature and peculiarity.
It may be unquestionably received as an axiom that we must first know an evil accurately before we are able to give any effectual aid against it. That occasionally relief may be given, without having first recognized the nature of the evil, as little refutes this axiom as the fact that an unexpected event occurs frequently which lies outside of our computation, and which either leads to good or evil, while neither the good will, nor the knowledge of the physician have the least to do with it.
But this axiom must be associated with another, which is no less true and no less important, namely this: That we must also know and possess the means which are able to relieve the evil when it is recognized. Where these are lacking, the former are of course of no avail.
Since the times of Hippocrates, thus since more than two thousand years, very much has been done with respect to the first point, and we have especially enjoyed a great progress and enlightenment within the last century and up to modern times. The path of pure observation and experience, which for a time had been pretty much forsaken, and on which that ancient Father of the healing art had gathered his valuable material, has again been entered upon. At the same time our contemporaries possess and use the great advantage enuring to them from the fact that they stand on the shoulders of their predecessors, and can thus view a greater circle of vision and, more especially, that astonishing progress has been made in all the subsidiary sciences, especially in chemistry and anatomy; so also they have had the advantage offered them by many physical instruments, which it must be confessed they have used with industry and care. By these means the modern physiological school, and, at the same time, the diagnostics of diseases, have reached an excellence not attained in earlier times.
The only thing of which every Homoeopath has to complain in this matter, is that things are conducted in too general a manner for his doctrine, and that almost universally diseases are described and treated of under the same name, which differ essentially in their nature, and require for their cure very different medicines.
An immediate result of this failing is, that Homoeopaths can make only a very limited use of the great advance made by the dominant school in diagnostics, since their generality excludes every special direction as to the suitable remedy.
Now since the modern Materia Medica of allopathy, as well as the older one, moves in the same generality, the conclusion follows almost inevitably that even the most cultivated allopath often stands undecided when he is to make a choice of remedies, so that almost every one of them will order something different, and that he is usually compelled to mix many thins together in order to cover the various indications.
More about this will be found in the course of this short treatise in a more suitable place, where the other questions are also discussed. Here I can only say so much about it.
a. That the most penetrating and most indubitable diagnostic as offered by the best allopathic manuals is rarely of ever sufficient for the Homoeopath, so as to enable him to make a sure selection of the remedy, and that
b. Such a diagnostic at most, and even then not always, may serve to exclude all those remedies from the competition which do not correspond with the common genius of the disease, but seem to act chiefly on other parts of the organism.
The seat of the disease really makes a part of the former question, but it nevertheless deserves to be more particularly emphasized, as it frequently furnishes a characteristic symptom, since almost every medicine acts more and also more decidedly on certain particular parts of the living organism.
These differences not only enter into consideration in certain so-called local diseases, but also in those diseases which are called by more general names, as affecting the whole body, e.g., gout and rheumatism. For it is probably never or very rarely the case that all parts of the body are affected in the same degree; even if it should be merely the case that the right side is more affected than the left or the reverse. But the examination of the parts affected is most necessary and most required when the whole to which they belong is larger, and is described merely in that general way which allopaths seem to delight in. Such names as headache, eyeache, toothache, colic and the like can in no way contribute to a rational choice of a remedy, not even when also the kind of pain is indicated.
Of course, the exact individualization of the ubi is most necessary in local ailments. Every Homoeopath knows from experience how necessary it is, e.g., in treating toothache, to select a remedy which in accordance with its provings on healthy persons has shown its action on the especial tooth to be treated. Among the most striking and decisive phenomena in this respect we should especially number the sores on the upper side of the joints of fingers and toes, which under allopathic treatment frequently prove very obstinate, and not infrequently become malignant, and necessitate an amputation, and, as I had an opportunity of witnessing here in two cases, may even have a fatal result. Every Homoeopath knows the efficacy of Sepia in these ulcers of the joints, which have no otherwise distinguishable features when this remedy is taken internally; without any external medication it will have a sure effect. Medicines which correspond to similar ulcers on other parts of the body in such cases are utterly useless.
If the practice of auscultation and percussion, as well as the use of the stethoscope, the plessimeter, etc., had been as well known to Hahnemann and his pupils as to our young physicians, they would no doubt have made the most extended use of the same for gaining a more exact knowledge and delimitation of interior ailments. They would have found out in lung troubles, e.g., definite local signs pointing to the use of certain remedies, and would have indicated them more accurately, and would not have limited themselves to defining them as being on the left or on the right side or at the top or below. To bring up to date and to specify more closely might be one of the chief duties for those who make additional provings at the present time, and might serve to an important and essential enrichment and completion of our Materia Medica more than a whole mass of confirmations of older symptoms or the finding out of new ones, which mostly have a lack of individuality.
At the same time it will be conceded from the allopathic side that the closer delimitation of the part affected, even though it may be of moment in the completion of the diagnosis, will be of no use to allopathic therapy, because this school is unacquainted with the peculiarities of the various medicines. No allopathic Materia Medica gives any information that the one remedy, e.g., corresponds more to the anterior or the posterior lobe of the liver, more to the upper or the lower part of the lungs, on the right or the left side, according to which the choice of the remedy may be made. Even if we Homoeopaths do not as yet know this as to all remedies, we do know it with respect to many of them, and for what is lacking we find a substitute in other signs, since, as is well known, all of these correspond to the remedy to be selected, at least they must not be opposed to it. Thence it may be seen that these new inventions, the value of which I am not in any way inclined to undervalue, have far less value in a therapeutic direction than in prognosis, where they show the extent and the dangerous nature of the malady.
Finally, we must yet consider in this question that neither the internal changes, which can be determined by these instruments, nor the material external changes, which manifest themselves openly to our notice, never present the dynamic disease itself, but are only its products, and are only developed in the course of the disease. When, therefore, these first beginnings are checked by the suitable remedy before those disorganizations take place, then these latter would not come to be developed, and it would be an inexcusable procedure to allow these sufferings to advance to a point where these material changes can be recognized in an artificial manner. It was necessary to mention this, in passing, in order that it may be shown how Homoeopathy proceeds, and to deny most decidedly the objection sometimes made that Homoeopathy is merely an expectative method, which allows the disease to develop without hindrance until it is too late to help. On the contrary, Homoeopathy knows and uses in infections diseases sure prophylactic remedies, which are always and exclusively such as have the power to heal the disease itself, and they never omit their use for the protection of those around the patient.
4. Quibus Auxiliis?
If the hexameter which we are following had been originally written for our doctrine, probably a more suitable expression would have been used in this instance, e.g., quibus sociis or quibus comitibus? Still the name does not matter, and it is manifest that it must refer to the accompanying symptoms.
Now since in Homoeopathy the chief aim consists in ascertaining the remedy which most completely corresponds to the totality of the symptoms, it is evident that this point is of the greatest importance and deserves the most careful consideration.
For every disease presents in its recognizable phenomena a more or less numerous group of symptoms, and it is only their totality which presents its complete image. This image may be compared to a portrait, which can only then claim to be a striking likeness when all the features of the original are faithfully presented in it. It is not sufficient that mouth, nose, eyes, ears, etc., should be presented in such a manner as characterizes man, and distinguishes him from the monkey and other animals but as every human physiognomy possesses its peculiarities and is distinguished from every other, so also here the more or less strongly pronounced abnormalities must most carefully and with the greatest faithfulness and truthfulness be presented and given their prominence. If therefore, retaining our former comparison, the nose should have a most peculiar form, color or size, it would not be sufficient to present this alone, though it should be most lifelike, and to add all the rest according to fancy, but also the secondary parts, which, as it were, form the background, must present a whole, such as it exists in reality, in order to give a perfect likeness.
It is from this point of view that the concomitant ailments are to be regarded when we select a remedy according to the motto: Similia similibus. Thence it is evident that the rare, striking and peculiar symptoms which present themselves demand a more prominent place than the common ones, because on them chiefly though not exclusively the similitude depends.
From this it naturally follows that the value of such concomitant symptoms for the purpose intended varies widely. But it would too far transcend the purpose of this contribution if I should adduce and explain all the many categories of value. I shall therefore limit myself to the presentation of a few of the most important points here involved:
First of all, those symptoms which are found in almost all diseases may be left out of our count, unless they manifest themselves in a striking manner.
The same obtains as to those ailments which are wont to appear as constant concomitants or at least as usual in the disease under consideration, unless they should be distinguished by some rare peculiarity and in this respect offer something characteristic.
On the other hand, all those attendant symptoms should be carefully noted which (a) rarely appear in connection with the leading disease, and are, therefore, also found rarely among the provings; (b) those which belong to another sphere of disease than the chief ailment, and (c) lastly, those which have more or less of the characteristic signs of one of the medicines, even in case they have not before been noticed in the present juxtaposition.
Now if besides this among the last mentioned concomitant symptoms there should be one or another in which the genius of one of the remedies should be plainly and definitely portrayed, so that it would be plainly pointed out, this one symptom thereby would acquire such an importance that it would even outweigh those of the chief ailment, and many then be at once considered as the most suitable. Such a symptom would be included among those which Hahnemann calls “striking, strange, unusual and peculiar (characteristic) signs,” and which are then “almost alone to be considered” because they preeminently give to the whole disease its individual character.
One circumstance deserves to be particularly mentioned here which particularly shows the importance and value of concomitant symptoms, namely, that several very efficient and in part specific remedies in certain diseases were discovered almost exclusively through them, the other symptoms indicating the main disease not having pointed in that direction, nor indeed could they have given such an indication, because the noticeable proximate signs could not sufficiently indicate the real peculiarity of the disease. This same system of concomitant symptoms also gives to Homoeopathy a much greater sureness in the treatment of diseases as compared with Allopathy, which first constructs for itself a frequently deceptive diagnosis of the disease, which at most only points out the genus of this disease, and where there are important attendant symptoms it endeavors to help itself by adding to the leading remedy given for the genus of the disease one or another remedy to cover the concomitant ailments.
Why? The causes of the disease play a prominent part in pathological books, and justly. But a large part of this amounts only to guesses and attempts at explanation, which mostly have only a very subordinate value or none at all in the proper therapy of the disease, and which are too remote for our doctrine which is directed merely to the practical.
The causes of diseases are most generally and, indeed, very properly divided into external and internal. The internal causes properly refer only to the general natural disposition, which in some cases amounts to a peculiar supersensitiveness (idiosyncrasy). The external causes or occasional causes embrace everything which, where there is such an internal disposition to disease, may produce disease.
The general natural disposition which is also called the proximate cause, really belongs to the first question (Quis?) which respects the individuality of the patient. It only belongs here in so far as the consequences of a former disease may have modified the original natural disposition, and thus it deserves mention.
The occasional cause, however, is the matter with which the present question occupies itself and which deserves to be more closely considered. As to the natural disposition notified through previous diseases, this either depends on the miasmatic-chronic nature of those diseases as yet unexterminated, among which in agreement with the teachings of Hahnemann many homoeopaths even at this day count psora, syphilis and sycosis, or it is derived from the remains and after-effects of acute diseases, which when they do not belong to the former, as is frequently the case, constitute the numerous class of medicinal diseases or poisonings. Not infrequently, however, we meet with cases where both these momenta have cooperated to undermine the natural health, thus producing a monster of a disease which is even more deeply in-rooted and more difficult to combat.
As to the recognition and treatment of the first mentioned miasmatic diseases and their complications, Hahnemann himself in his masterly work on the Chronic Diseases left us the most complete directions, founded on many years’ experience. The much disputed division of medicines into antipsorics and non-antipsorics need not be considered here. It is enough to know that the former far excel the latter in their effectiveness in chronic diseases, and that their originator has nowhere excluded them from use in acute diseases. Later experience has also taught us that additional medicines from our medical treasury should be numbered in this category which have not been thus treated of in that excellent work. I am only sorry that Hahnemann has not been able to fulfill the promise which he gave me in writing, that he would treat as thoroughly and completely the images of syphilis and sycosis with his accustomed mastership as he had done in the above mentioned work (Vol. 1, p. 58 f. of the Second Ed.) with respect to latent and re-awakened psora.
Whether we may believe in what many somewhat derisively call Hahnemann1/4s Psora-theory, or reject the same, the attentive practitioner must frequently have found cases where even the remedy chosen with perfect correctness, in some acute disease, did not unfold its proper and decided effect before one of the so much criticized antipsorics – frequently Sulphur – had first been used, when psora had been involved, or an antisyphilitic or antisycotic when syphilis or sycosis had been present before and had remained uncured. It must, however, be confessed to be one of the most difficult tasks of the physician to always make the most suitable choice among the antipsoric remedies, as most of them have almost the same symptoms and very few truly characteristic symptoms are found with the different remedies. The more necessary is it for the homoeopath to study with continuous industry these lists of symptoms and to compare them with each other in order that he may pick up the scattered grains of gold for his use.
Poisonings and medicinal diseases are in one line and it makes no difference by whose hand any one has been deprived of his health by means of a substance injurious to his organism; among these substances medicines as well as poisons find their place. Of course, it is always of the greatest importance to know in every case the medicines or poisons, in order that they may be met by the proper well-known antidotes. The simple poisons may be pretty easily and surely recognized by their effects! It would have required but one case of poisoning occurring before the eyes of a Homoeopath for him bo have recognized the effects of Arsenic, which yet remained unknown to all the allopathic physicians, in the case of the thirty murders of Gessina Timme in Bremen, until the facts were obtained. In the medicinal diseases this is much more difficult, because seldom or never is one medicine given by itself, but always mixed with others; it can not, therefore, yield a clear and definite image. With these, therefore, it is necessary, as in the other case it is desirable, and it facilitates the treatment, if we can have a reliable account of what has preceded, and to be able to look over the prescriptions. Since this may be of use even later on, as the treatment proceeds, the journals of many Homoeopaths have a special rubric reserved for this subject.
We must consider these symptoms, called anamnestic, as being of special importance in this question. Although the ordinary consequences of such morbiferous circumstances and events are mostly already contained in the lists of symptoms of the medicines proved on healthy people, yet homoeopathic practice has long ago shortened and made sure the tedious and troublesome path of such investigations, and indicated for most of these cases the remedies which are foremost in their usefulness in such cases. This is e.g., very much simplified in cases of contusions, sprains, burns and the like. In other cases, e.g., in colds, the matter is already somewhat more complicated, since the kind of a cold and the part of the body affected offer differences which again point to different remedies. Thus there is a great difference in this respect as to whether the person has been simply exposed to the cold, or whether this took place while the body was in a perspiration, or if he at the same time got wet through. So also it is well known that different remedies are indicated when internal parts (stomach, abdomen, chest) have been exposed, or merely external parts (head, feet, back), and this must be carefully weighed in every case.
All this, as before said, is found among the symptoms in the Materia Medica; but when once it is known that a cold in the head from exposure to cold air, after previously being in a heated room, or after having the hair cut, points to Belladonna or Sepia; after taking cold in the feet, to Baryta or Silicea, and when at the same time there has been a wetting, to certain other remedies, then the attention will first of all be directed to these, and only comparison be made with others which are also occasionally indicated when the first are not sufficiently suitable.
Finally we must yet add a word under this question about infectious diseases, about which in pathological manuals we read so much that is contradictory and unreliable; the influence of which teachings is, however, much more far reaching than is generally supposed. To meet these diseases, which often spread until they become a real calamity, Homoeopathy has the most sure and approved prophylactics, and these, indeed, are the very same which have the power of healing those diseases when they have developed. Therefore, when we find in a family a case of infectious typhoid fever, there the same remedy, which has been given the patient in accordance with his symptoms, will also be sure to protect those in the house from infection, as it destroys the natural disposition thereto, and it will even in the shortest time restore those with whom there may have already been apparent the beginning of the disease. This last fact is the more important, as these first beginnings are usually so poor in symptoms that no certain choice can be founded on them; but the known occasional cause fully makes up for what is lacking. Of course, such a cure is not so brilliant as when the patient has been at the verge of the grave, but the gain for him and the consciousness of the physician is his sufficient reward.
From his etymology, this preposition excellently describes the essence and the scope of the question before us. For the word Modus in the old classics not only refers to the manner and mode in general, but also to all the modifications which can take place in anything, thus the measure, the rule, the aim, the relations, changes, etc.; thus whatever, with the exception of time, which is included in our last question (Quando), possesses the ability to produce a modification, aggravation or improvement with the patient, naturally belongs, according to the usage of the language, to this rubric. This question has a double importance to Homoeopathy, first, because it was first discovered and developed by Homoeopaths, and is, therefore, their indisputable and exclusive property, and secondly, because all the results of provings and experience, without exception, belong to the more or less characteristic signs, of which no one is a matter of indifference, not even those of a negative kind.
Allopathy has never given any general attention, which might have been of use to therapy, to this momenta. At least its manuals on Pathology, Therapy and Materia Medica contain nothing of importance on this subject. Homoeopathy, on the other hand, soon after its discovery, recognized its great therapeutic value, and we find the first but already clear traces of it in Hahnemann1/4s “Fragmenta de viribus medicamentorum positivis,” which appeared in the year 1805. But during the progressive development of our science its importance appeared more manifest, and it was soon declared to be indispensable, so that in the later provings the attention was more and more directed upon it. On this account the latter provings are the more complete, with the exception of those made by Hahnemann in the Materia Medica Pura, which were elaborated with especial industry and on account of their constant use accompanied with copious notes.
If we compare the lists of symptoms of the medicines which have been proved somewhat fully, even a superficial survey will show that we find in almost every one of them the general indications of almost every disease; headache, colic, pain in the chest, diarrhoea, constipation, as well as dyspnoea, pains in the limbs, fever and cutaneous ailments, etc., are in no case quite absent. But if we study these indications somewhat more closely, with respect to the special parts of the body and the different sensations, then, indeed, differences will appear, and we frequently discover symptoms which appear more or less frequently in one remedy and are totally lacking in another. But the number continues too large to bring the decision to a sure and indubitable point, and we soon feel the need of securing additional points in order that we may find the true and suitable simile among the competing medicines. But the Quomodo with the Quando generally solves the riddle in the most satisfactory manner, and not only removes every doubt, but also furnishes the proof for the solution which we may have before supposed to be the right one. That in such investigations and comparisons we must also, as in what precedes, occupy the especial standpoint, is a matter of course. It is not sufficient, e.g., to merely consider motion in general in contrast with rest in the body, or in the part affected, we must also consider incipient and continuous motion, as well as the different kinds and degrees of motion. The same applies to lying down, we must not only consider the kind of position (on the back, on the side, doubled up, horizontal, etc.), but also aggravation or improvement in the parts affected by lying on the painful part, or the part not painful; all this is to be found out accurately and adapted to the remedy.
Quite a prominent part in this rubric is occupied by the partaking of food and drink, and this not only in diseases of the digestive organs, but also in fevers and other internal and external affections. Here it is not so much the amount of appetite, or thirst, to which also allopathy in some cases gives a proper importance, but especially the dislike or the desire for particular kinds of food and drink, and more especially also the change of condition after partaking of one or another article of food that often gives the most important hints as to the medicine to be selected. All experienced Homoeopaths have therefore always given the greatest attention to this subject, and it is very much to be desired that whatever different persons have discovered in this direction should be collected and published.
It was mentioned above, in passing, that even negative signs, so far as they belong to this rubric, should not be neglected. An example will show best what is meant by this: when a patient, for whose condition Pulsatilla seems suitable according to the five preceding questions, feels best while at rest in a warm room, while he feels uncomfortable in the open cool air, and also is fond of fat foods and bears them well, or offers other peculiarities which are in conflict with the characteristics of Pulsatilla, this would give an urgent cause to doubt the applicability of it to his case and to look for another remedy which also in these points corresponds with the symptoms.
I am sorry that the space for these contributions, which anyways may seem to have been already greatly exceeded, does not permit me to enter more in detail on one and another matter belonging to this division, as I may openly confess that I consider the indications obtained from this and the following question as the most important, indubitable, and therefore the decisive ones for therapeutical purposes. Even the numerous class of reflex actions, almost all of which fall into these two rubrics, do not by their internal contradictions diminish this importance, as soon as we know their mutual value, and are, therefore, enabled to estimate properly the worth of each.
This last question concerns the time of the appearance, of the aggravation or the improvement of the ailments, and follows in natural order after the preceding, and is hardly of less importance in therapy than the last one.
From the time of Hippocrates and his commentators up to our times great attention has been bestowed on the periods of time in the various phases and stadia of the disease. The endeavor has been made to fix the period and continuance of the beginning, of the increase, the acme, the decrease and of the end of the disease. This would, indeed, make a useful contribution to the recognition and the characterization of the disease. But only in case it should be left altogether to itself and not be modified by medical interference. But on the other hand it can not be denied that this cannot give the least aid in the selection of the remedy, if only owing to the fact that the medicines cause disturbances in the natural course of the disease, which frequently lie altogether outside of all computation. Least of all can they be of any advantage to allopathic therapy, because it lacks all criteria from which to indicate the one or the other. I hope that I may not here hear the objection that, e.g., the periodical return of a fever points to an actual or a disguised intermittent fever and therefore indicates Quinine in its various preparations; for we are not likely to find a homoeopath who has not in his practice had to treat numerous victims of this error.
Homoeopathy intends something quite different in this question, having nothing in common with what precedes. But it is concerned with two momenta which have an immediate effect on the choice of the remedies, namely (a), the periodical return of morbid symptoms after a longer or shorter cessation, and (b), the aggravations and alleviations depending on the time of the day. These two will require but a few words.
The periodical return of morbid phenomena often coincides with periods of time which carry with them particular occasional causes. Among these are to be numbered the menstrual ailments, as well as those which are conditioned by the seasons, the weather, etc. Where such definite secondary causes cannot be discovered, and where as is mostly the case, the attacks are not closely bound to any sharply defined periods, they have no therapeutic value for homoeopaths as they lack the quality of a useful indication.
But of the greater importance are the aggravations and alleviations at particular times of the day, and this with respect to those which refer to single symptoms as well as those that refer to the general health. In this respect Homoeopathy possesses a great and valuable treasury of well proven experiences which are being more and more enlarged by careful observations. For there is hardly any disease, from the malignant internal fevers down to local ailments, in which during the different times of the day there does not manifest itself a more or less decided and distinct aggravation or alleviation. Now since homoeopaths have learned these peculiarities also in the various medicines during their provings on healthy persons, they are enabled to make extensive and blessed use of this peculiarity in their therapeutics, and they are obliged to do this in order that they may satisfy the rule Similia similibus also in this respect.
To demonstrate the preceding with some special facts, I will only adduce here the importance which the time of the day has on coughs with respect to the expectoration, as well with respect to the greater ease with which it is discharged, as also the consistence and the taste. Something similar we know about the stools, and although most of the remedies have diarrhoea among their indications, we so far know only of two (Conium and Kali carb.) where this takes place only by day and not by night.
With respect to the ailments which have a typical return, independent of other causes, we have a considerable series of remedies corresponding to this, without on that account excluding others, when they are indubitably indicated by their symptoms. Only in cases where this return is sharply and definitely pronounced, as for example in the evening from 4 to 8 o’clock (Helleborus and Lycopodium), or exactly at the same hour (Antimon. crud., Ignatia and Sabadilla), we should give it a special importance and only be careful that there may be no contraindications.
I conclude these contributions, which I have only hastily sketched down, with the hope that I may have succeeded in putting into the true light the difference between Allopathy and Homoeopathy and to incite my colleagues on their part to treat these important themes more at length, even if this be done only with respect to some one of the questions indicated at a time.
Clemens Maria Franz, baron von Boenninghausen 1858