Homeopathic Materia Medica by Farrington


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Today we are to begin our study of Materia Medica. At the outset, it will be necessary to give a rambling review of the subject. Before you begin the study of the details of a science, you must understand the construction of that science or art. Were it not for these underlying laws which string together the Materia Medica into one consistent whole, you would have no need for lectures on the subject. The ten volumes of the ENCYCLOPEDIA OF MATERIA MEDICA, issued by Dr. Allen, of New York, contain over nine thousand pages. These do not include clinical symptoms, which would make several thousand more. Then recollect, each physician discovers something new each year, and so a great mass of knowledge is accumulated by a sort of compound multiplication. You can, therefore, well understand why the student might be startled at the idea of attempting to master such a conglomeration. Nor could he master it, were he to attempt to do so by memory alone. Man's mind is composed of more than memory. Memory is the impression made on the mind by a fact. Recollection is another qualification of the mind, which enables one to call up the facts which have been memorized. It is understood that nothing which we take into the memory is ever effaced. It remains there forever. It may be covered with figurative cobwebs and never brought to light, unless the mind is so drilled or so orderly arranged that it may be recalled when occasion requires. The mind should be so drilled and its various faculties so trained, that, when an external thing occurs similar to an internal fact, i.e., a fact memorized, at once that external thing awakens into recollection the fact or facts bearing on that subject. This is very apt to be so with our feelings, perhaps, more naturally than with our intellects, because the latter require more cultivation. Many of us are so strong emotionally that we may call up an emotion without any evident effort of the will or any direction of the understanding. Let me give you an example. A man, on one occasion, was driving along a country road, and ran over a dog and horribly mangled the poor animal. This made him feel very sick. The event was apparently forgotten. Several years later, he was driving along the same road, never thinking of the incident, until he came to the spot where the accident happened, when immediately the same sensation of sickness occurred. Then, the impression which was made on his mind was recalled and at once awakened the emotions. Thus must be the intellectual mind of the man who would master the science of medicine. He must see his patient; and when he sees his patient, it awakens in his mind the picture of the remedy. This has been termed instinct, but it is not. To do this, he must study persistently. You see a physician old in years, come into a sick-room. At once he says, this patient needs Sulphur. How did he know that ? It was not second sight on his part; but through thirty or forty years experience he had been studying Sulphur, had been forming in his mind images of Sulphur, and living ideas of Sulphur. The moment he sees these in his patient, that moment he recollects Sulphur. If he had not the idea of that remedy in his mind, he could not see it in his patient. Now, I ask of you not to try to jump over these years that must pass between the beginning and the ending of the art of medicine, and do not make yourselves prophets before your times.

In order to bring some system out of this chaos of Materia Medica, it will be necessary to adopt some plan of study. What is that plan is asked by every student; one teacher answers in one way, another in another. The method may not be correct and yet its results may be good. It does well enough for a scaffolding by which you erect your building, after which the scaffolding is removed and the building remains. Some method must be adopted and that retained to the end. In analyzing the method which I have chosen to adopt, it may be well to begin at the beginning and carry you on until you may see what plan I propose for your adoption. It may not be clear at once. An abstract thing is not at once grasped by the mind. It requires to come up time after time. What seems difficult at first, is plain enough after a while.

In the first place, I will begin by suggesting an analysis of the drug. We presume now that you have heard of some one substance which has been a popular remedy in your part of the country for years. You think that it ought to be proved. You proceed to get the necessary material. First, you procure your drug. You prepare its tincture and then you potentize it. Now it is a principle of homeopathy to which there is no exception, that you shall learn the action of a drug on the healthy organism before you use it in practice. That is a rule which you cannot neglect. You cannot be too careful, otherwise you throw yourself into confusion, doubt and empiricism and help to fill the Materia Medica with "bosh", of which there is enough already there.

What you want to know is exactly what this medicine will do. What would you think of a machinist who undertook to build a machine when he did not know how the, parts fitted together? what would you think of a physician who does not know the use of the tools he is about to employ ? You now intend to try the effects of this drug on some healthy person or persons. Will it produce alterations in the function or the nutrition of the body or of its organs? If so a symptom or symptoms will be the result. Symptoms, then, are indications of alterations in the functions or the nutrition of a part or of parts of the body. I have been accused of stepping down from the lofty heights of pure homeopathy and dressing myself in physiological livery. The statement made against me is that we cannot know what changes are taking place except through symptoms, therefore if one begins to talk about altered tissue, he at once pollutes homeopathy. This is true and it is false. It is true if you take this altered tissue alone. It is not true if you regard this altered tissue as a manifestation of the change in the vital force. I cannot see how there can be a symptom which is not at least the result of a change of function. I do not mean that you must give Bryonia because it acts on serous membranes ; I do not mean that you must give Aconite because it produces dry skin, heat, etc. I do not say that you shall give Belladonna because it produces hyperaemia of the brain and dilatation of the pupil; but I do say that these drugs produce these effects, and if these effects are not alterations in function what are they ? We can know changes in the vital forces only by results, and these results are symptoms.

Now you get symptoms in your provings. These symptoms you will find to be embraced under two grand classes, subjective and objective. The subjective symptoms are those which the prover himself experiences and which he has to express to you in certain language. The objective are those which apply directly to your senses. They are such as you may see, hear, touch, taste or smell. For instance, if you give the drug we are speaking of and the prover says he feels a pain over the right eye, that is a subjective symptom. You cannot see it, touch it, taste it or feel it. It does not apply to your senses. You know what pain is; you have experienced it; you can appreciate it in your own mind. But if a boil is produced by this medicine, if there is a cloudy deposit in the urine, or if there are mucous rales or harsh sounds in the lungs, if the heart itself is altered in its action, if a wart appears on the skin, or if sweat breaks out, you have an objective symptom. Now what will be the alteration in function which these objective and subjective symptoms express? They are decrease of function, increase of function and alteration of function. If this drug produces photophobia, there is increase of function; if, on the other hand, it causes blindness so great that the patient can gaze at the sun, there is decrease of function ; whereas if it produces cloudiness of the cornea or visions of bright stars, there is an alteration of function. The prover may have increased urination, decreased urination or brick-dust sediment in the urine, this last being an alteration of function. So when we come to speak of a drug and to tell you what its effect on the system is, we will have these three classes with which to deal, increase, alteration and decrease. You go on collecting these symptoms, both subjective and objective. If you are skilled in the analysis of the excreta of the body, you should make use of your knowledge to determine the elimination of urates, phosphates etc. These are facts and, in their places, are invaluable. I would have you mind this expression, IN THEIR PLACE VALUABLE, OUT OF PLACE VALUELESS AND EVEN HARMFUL. An increase in the elimination of urea would weigh nothing in the balance, against the mental state. All symptoms of the Materia Medica are not of the same value. They are relative in value.

We include all the symptoms that we can observe. Then what have we ? A mass of symptoms seeming to have no connection at all. They come from a human organism that is all order and perfection and all the parts of which work in perfect harmony. When even one of these parts is out of order, there must be a certain clue to string these effects together and picture a form of disease and when you get this form of disease, what have you ? A pathological state. I hope that no diploma will be granted to any man in this class who does not study pathology. When you have the changes IN TOTO that this substance has made on the system, you have the pathology of the case. You have the totality of the effects on the system. This grand effect of the drug must be in the mind always, qualifying the individual symptoms of the drug. You may express this as you choose. Some call it the genus of the drug; others speak of it as the general action of the drug. This you must have in your mind or the other symptoms are worthless. Did you not do this, you would be a mere symptomist, certainly a term of reproach. You must know what the whole drug does or you are not able to appreciate any one part of the drug. You can find twenty drugs with precisely the same symptoms. How will you decide between them ? Apparently they are all identical but not in their general action. How is this general action found ? By the study of the drug as a whole. But here is a place where physicians may go too precipitately and fall into pathology. They say that as Belladonna produces a picture of scarlatina and as Arsenicum produces a picture of cholera Asiatica even unto the growths found in the excrement, therefore these substances must be THE remedies for these respective diseases. Baptisia produces a perfect picture of typhoid fever, therefore they say Baptisia must be THE remedy in typhoid fever.

As we carry out the view I expressed a few minutes ago, when we examine a patient for disease, we proceed in exactly the same way as we do in case of the proving. We note the changes we see and the sensations the patient feels; we look at his tongue, we examine his urine, we put all these together and we make a pathological picture of that man. Suppose you decide the case to be one of typhoid fever. That must not be valued except by comparison, showing how the present case differs from the general disease. If the genus of the case under treatment suits the genus of Baptisia, and, if you give that remedy, the patient will recover whether you call his case typhoid fever or mumps. If this is not the case, Baptisia will do no good. If the patient has the Baptisia symptom, " thinks he is double, or all broken to pieces," that drug will not cure unless the genus of Baptisia is there too. I may be permitted to recall a remark of Carroll Dunham. At a certain consultation there was chosen for a patient, a drug which seemed to have many of his symptoms; but when Dr. Dunham was asked for his opinion as to whether that drug was the similimum, he replied, "No, I think not, for the general character of Ignatia does not correspond with the general character of the patient which does correspond to Baryta. You will find his most prominent symptoms under Baryta." One physician decided for one drug, the other for another. Each went by his study of the drug; one understood Ignatia in part, the other by its totality.

It is my duty to show you this winter, the genus of each drug and the relations which drugs bear to one another. I cannot hope to give you all that is characteristic of each, but I think that I can give you an idea of its genus, and show you how drugs are related so that you may fill up the interstices at leisure. You must acknowledge, that Materia Medica is the most important of all branches. You cannot understand it unless you have a thorough knowledge of the others. You must learn symptoms and not mere words, and you cannot put any idea into them until you know their meaning; and unless you can interpret symptoms, you can never learn the genus of a drug.

Analysis of a medicine.

Blood and bloodvessels. Lymph and its vessels. Nerves, brain, spine, and sympathetic ; muscles, tendons, ligaments. Connective tissue. . Bones, cartilages, and joints. Serous and synovial membranes. Mucous membranes. Skin. Organs.

We want to understand a drug as analyzed according to the schema on the board. We want to see how it affects the blood and bloodvessels, the lymph and lymph vessels, the nervous system, including, of course, the brain, spine, and sympathetic nervous system.

Again, this first division tells us of the nutrition of the body. The second, the lymph, likewise tells us of nutrition and how well repair is going on. The muscles, ligaments, etc., speak to tell you how the human machine may move; and so you may go through the entire schema.

You will note the deviations from the physiological under each of these headings. Under the condition of the blood you will note increase as in plethora or hyperemia, decrease as in anaemia or ischaemia, and alteration as in chlorosis or pyaemia. The same is true of the lymph, which may exhibit plus, minus, and change, and so on down the list.

When you study the drug by this analysis, you quickly arrive at an idea of it as a whole, that is, you get the genus of the drug. But when you have done that, you are not through with your difficulties. You must learn to tell one drug from another.

You go into a field and you see two or three hundred cattle. They all look alike to you, yet the man in charge of them knows each one. How does he know them ? He knows them by certain distinctions which he has learned by familiarity with them. So can you know one drug from another by studying their, points of difference. Drugs impinge in their resemblances, and separate in their differences. Thus we have another form of study, comparison of drugs. That is just as necessary to successful practice as is the first step, the analysis of the drug. Then again there are drugs which antidote each other. You may have made a mistake. Your patient may be too susceptible to the action of the remedy, and you require to modify its effects. It was only yesterday that I prescribed Nux vomica for a cold. It relieved the patient of his cold but he became almost crazy with headache. He had had an excess of Nux vomica, so I gave him Coffea, and in ten minutes his head was better. This was done by simply modifying the effects of Nux vomica, not by suppressing the symptom.

Again, there are some remedies which, although they bear a strong resemblance to each other, seem as though they ought to be concordant remedies; yet they are inimical.

So you study the Materia Medica, analyzing one drug after the other until you have analyzed all. Then you must arrange your remedies according to some system in your mind, and so be enabled to recall facts as you need them. If you only study one remedy, every case you see fits that remedy. If you have studied Aconite, every case will suggest Aconite. Thus, you must have Aconite by its confreres, side by side in your mind, before you can use them, successfully in the sick room. This is done by systematizing your study.

Now then, you will find that drugs hold certain relations to each other. You will find five relations. The first I have called the family relation, derived from their similarity in origin. When drugs belong to the same family they must, of necessity, have a similar action. For instance, the halogens, Chlorine, Iodine, Bromine, and Fluorine have many similitudes, because they belong to one family. So, too, with remedies derived from the vegetable kingdom. Take for instance, the family to which Arum triphyllum belongs. There you find drugs which resemble each other from their family origin. Take the Ophidians, and you will be perplexed to tell the differences between Lachesis, Elaps, and Crotalus. This resemblance through relationship is sometimes so nearly identical, that these drugs do not follow each other well. Take, for example, Ignatia and Nux vomica. Both come from the same order of plants; they do not follow each other well, and they do not antidote each other. Then we may have drugs which present marked similarities in action although dissimilar in origin. These are said to be "concordant". Drugs which hold a concordant relation may follow each other well.

There is another relation, that of complement; that is, one drug completes a cure which the other begins, but is unable to effect. Such a relation exists between Belladonna and Calcarea.

Next we have the relation of antidote, of which I spoke a few moments ago.

Lastly, we have the relation of enmity, one that I am unable to explain to you. It is a fact that certain drugs, although resembling each other apparently, will not follow one another with any satisfaction. They seem to mix up the case. Such drugs are China and Psorinum, Apis and Rhus, Phosphorus and Causticum, and Silicea and Mercury.

In carrying out these various ideas, we must study Materia Medica as a natural science, for such it must be intrinsically, although it is as yet undeveloped and unworthy of that dignified name in our present understanding of it. Nature's laws in no way dispute the known relations and actions of drugs. They rather harmonize with them. We are now ready to begin our study of the various drugs composing the Homeopathic Materia Medica.

For this purpose I have arranged the remedies in three grand divisions, according to the kingdom of nature from which they are derived, viz.:

1. Remedies derived from the animal kingdom.

2. Remedies derived from the vegetable kingdom.

3. Remedies derived from the mineral kingdom.

There is also a fourth class of remedies, the nosodes or disease products.

In our next lecture we will begin our study of drugs derived from the animal kingdom.