Homeopathic Materia Medica by Farrington
( )I propose now to begin the study of the drugs obtained from the mineral kingdom. I have placed on the board (see NEXT PAGE) for your study the elements with some of their relations just as we find them in chemistry. They have not been arranged thus to suit the materia medica. This is not an absolute arrangement which cannot be altered without destroying its correctness. I wish to explain here the general idea of the relation of drugs, and especially of those belonging to the mineral kingdom. If you consult chemistry you will find that the elements hold to each other an electrical relation. They hold to each other a relation of polarity as positive electric and negative electric. Certain of these elements are emphatically negative, and others are just as positively positive. Some of the elements, as gold, silver, etc., hold a middle relation, being rather neutral. These I have placed at the neutral point of the magnet. The advantage of this method of study will be seen as we proceed. The negative electrics are known to be conductors of light, the positive conductors of heat. The extreme effects in this respect are noticed at either pole, diminishing as we approach the curve of the magnet. Another fact which is well worth knowing, is this general statement: The electro-negatives act on the bowels in the morning, and the chest in the afternoon ; that is, they act upward on the body during the day. Exactly the opposite holds true with the electro-positive. These act on the chest in the morning, and on the bowels in the latter part of the day. Most of you are acquainted with the morning diarrhoea of SULPHUR, which hurries the patient out of bed. You know how the asthma of that remedy increases in the afternoon. Taking the remedies at the other extreme, we have the Kali salts as examples; you know that they have aggravation of their chest symptoms in the forenoon, and of their bowel symptoms in the afternoon. This is, of course, a very general statement, but it may be of great use to you in enabling you to differentiate between drugs. Let me illustrate. You have a case of scrofula and you are obliged to decide between Sulphur and some salt of lime. You will be astonished to see how similar are many of the symptoms of these two drugs. The very fact of the diarrhoea coming in the morning or afternoon, insignificant as it may appear under other circumstances, acts as a symptom of differentiation between these two drugs. Now in making this statement, I do not mean that because Sulphur produces a morning diarrhoea, that it must ALWAYS be the remedy when that symptom is presented ; but I do mean that when you are compelled to decide between two remedies having opposite directions in action, this relation becomes of great importance. As you approach the remedies or chemicals at the neutral point of the magnet, you find these effects less and less marked, until, finally, they are unnoticeable.
There is another fact which we may learn from this arrangement of drugs. You notice that here we have oxygen and sulphur. They are chemical elements, which are placed near together in chemistry, and are similar not only as chemicals but also as medicines. Next on the list we have nitrogen, which is used in medicine in the form of Nitric acid. Below this we have a list of remedies which constitute a group in chemistry known as the halogens; they consist of Fluorine, Fluoric acid, Iodine, Bromine, and Spongia. The latter drug is placed here not as a chemical substance, but as a drug which owes its medicinal. properties to the iodine and bromine which it contains. It is of practical value to remember these drugs in this connection, because they are not only chemically similar, but they are also similar as medicines. Moreover, this grouping of remedies enables you to keep in mind a group of remedies from which you may choose one to suit your case. I have introduced cyanogen here because it holds important chemical and medicinal relations to the halogens. Below we have the carbon group, Carbo veg., Carbo animalis, Anthrakokali, the diamond, and Graphites. I have also placed in this group, Petroleum and Cosmoline, two oily substances, rich in carbon, and having many resemblances to the pure carbons.
You will find in a future lecture, that I can show you characteristics which belong to all the carbons. You will say that here is a patient who needs some preparation of carbon, which shall it be? This you determine in the same way as you selected one of the halogens. Next we have a group composed of Phosphorus and its acid and Arsenicum. Below, we have Tellurium, Antimonium crudum and Antimonium tartaricum, which is similar enough to the sulphide to be placed along side of it. This group of drugs possesses many similarities. Phosphorus and Arsenic are continually in the physician's mind placed in contrast, and it is often difficult for him to decide which he shall give.
The Antimony preparations are similar in form and isomorphous with Sulphur and Selenium. There is another fact which we may borrow from chemistry, and that is that substances of similar crystalline structure have similar medicinal effects. These substances often replace each other in chemistry. I give you these facts so that you may have a rational conception of drugs, not as mere individuals, but as consistent with nature and with themselves. Here below we have the noble metals, gold and silver. Then we may go up on this side tracing the drugs through the same relation we did on the other. Every one knows how closely related chemically and medicinally are Barium and Strontium. This relation is very much like that of similarity in origin. They are not apt to follow one another well. Here are Sulphur and Sulphuric acid; suppose you are going to decide between them and suppose it to be a perplexing case. You say "I will give Sulphur and if he is not better tomorrow, I will give Sulphuric acid." That is bad practice. It would be much better to say that I will give Sulphur today and Calcarea tomorrow. Why ? They are similar drugs but entirely foreign in their family relations. Why do I dwell on these two relations ? Because I want you to distinguish between that which is the same and that which is similar. Ignatia and Nux vomica are too much as though they were the same thing. Ignatia and Zinc are concordant remedies which are similar but which are not identical. You note that I have placed hydrogen above all the potash salts. You notice that here is placed antozone. Ozone is negative oxygen, and antozone is positive oxygen. Ozone exists in the sea-air and how many times do you send your patients to the sea-shore for relief. We may derive a hygienic fact from this statement; if I have a patient who is something of a Sulphur patient, I would think that sea-air would do him good because sea-air is rich in ozone and ozone in a general way suits his condition. On the other hand, if he belongs more to the "salt" class of drugs I would not send him to the sea-shore. I would send him where antozone exists, as in fogs. We will now proceed to study the drugs derived from the mineral kingdom. The remainder of the hour, I will devote to the consideration of Selenium. Tomorrow, we will study that king of remedies, Sulphur.