Cause and prevention of the Asiatic cholera – Hahnemann, 1831

A receipt has been given to the world, which proved so efficacious in Dünaburg in the Asiatic cholera, that of ten patients but one died. The chief ingredient is camphor, which is in ten times the proportion of the other ingredients. But not a tenth-nay, not one in a hundred of the patients would have died had the other ingredients, which were but injurious and obstructing, and the venesection been left out, and the camphor been given alone, and always at the very commencement of the disease, for it is only when given alone, and at the first invasion of the disease that it is so marvellously useful. But if physicians come, as usual, too late to the patient, when the favourable time for employing the camphor is past, and the second stage has already set in, when camphor is useless, then they may use it in vain; their patients will die under its employment. Hence 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. I have received many communications from Hungary from non-medical persons, who have restored their friends, as if by magic, by giving camphor the instant they became ill.

Where the cholera first appears, it usually comes on 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, is visible in his looks; half stupified 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-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 the first stage camphor gives rapid relief, but the patient’s friends must themselves employ it, as this stage soon ends either in death or in the second stage, which is more difficult to be cured, and not with camphor. In the first stage accordingly, the patient must get, as often as possible (at least every five minutes) a drop of spirit of camphor (made with one ounce of camphor to twelve 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 teaspoonfuls 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 vapour with his breath.

The quicker all this is done at the first onset of the first stage of the disease, the more rapidly and certainly will the patient recover; often in a couple of hours, warmth, strength, consciousness, rest and sleep return, and he is saved.
If this period of the commencement of the disease, so favourable to recovery and speedy cure, by the above indicated 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 evacuation of watery fluid, mixed with whitish, yellowish, or reddish flakes, and, along with insatiable thirst and loud rumbling in the belly, 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 marbled blue appearance of the arms, hands and face, with fixed sunken eyes, diminution of all the senses, slow pulse, excessively painful cramp 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 observable (which with a remedy of such rapid action as camphor, manifests itself within a quarter of an hour). If in such cases decided benefit is not soon perceived, then no time must be lost in administering the remedy for the second stage.

The patient is to get one or two globules of the finest preparation of copper (prepared from metallic copper in the mode described in the second part of my work on Chronic Diseases), thus cuprum 0,00 X, moistened with water, and introduced into his mouth every hour or every half-hour, until the vomiting and purging diminish, and warmth and rest are restored. But nothing else at all must be given beside; no other medicine, no herb tea, no baths, no blisters, no fumigation, no venesection, andc., otherwise the remedy will be of no avail. Similar good effects result from the administration of as small a portion of white hellebore (veratrum album, 0,00 X); but the preparation of copper is much to be preferred, and is more serviceable, and sometimes a single dose is sufficient, which is allowed to act without a second being given, as long as the patient’s state goes on improving.
The wishes of the patient of all kinds are only to be indulged in moderation. Sometimes, when aid is delayed many hours, or other and improper remedies have been administered, the patient falls into a sort of typhoid state, with delirium. In this case, bryonia 00 X, alternately with rhus tox. 00 X, proves of eminent service.
The above preparation of copper, together with good and moderate diet, and proper attention to cleanliness, is the most certain preventive and protective remedy; those in health should take, once every week, a small globule of it (cupr. 0 X) in the morning fasting, and not drink anything immediately afterwards, but this should not be done until the cholera is in the locality itself, or in the neighbourhood. The health of the individual will not be in the least disturbed by this dose. I shall not, but any other homoeopathic practitioner may, tell where the above medicines may be procured, excepting the camphor, which, like the alcohol, may be had at every chemist’s shop.
Camphor cannot preserve those in health from cholera, but only the above preparation of copper; but when the latter is taken the vapour of camphor must be avoided, as it suspends the action of the copper.

Coethen, 10th September, 1831.

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