Let us now follow out somewhat the light which we have acquired on our subject. Here is a patient who is helpless, because the Motor Nerves have been so disabled that he cannot move himself in any way. The nerves of sensation, however, are excessively keen. A pulsating is felt all over the body, preventing sleep, and a dose of "Aconite" is given. The pulsating ceases inasmuch as this Sensitory system is "benumbed." Relief is felt, and the doctor is thanked and praised. But what about the Motor Nerves? Has the Aconite had no effect on them? It has had even a greater effect. What of the Nutritive Nerves and their supply of life to both Motor and Sensitory? The drug has acted, in the first instance, on these, and only through these, on the Sensitory, so as to deprive them so far of life, and compel them to cease giving pain. If then we are laboring to give life and motion of the muscles, by renewing the nerve action in them, what is the effect produced ? It is to take away more life in a few seconds than we shall be able to renew in as many days - perhaps in as many weeks! It is in this way that we find the use of drugs like these ruining the nerve system faster than any one can renew it.
We particularize these drugs because they are so common in the prescription of our medical men, and even among the people without prescription altogether. They interpose terrible barriers in the way of our doing the good we might otherwise do, and in the way of many who make good use of common-sense remedies. Further on, we hope to take up other aspects of this subject. In the meantime we would like to make one or two practical remarks on this subject. The first of these is, that we must not expect instant or even speedy results from getting a poisonous drug discontinued. Take "Digitalis," for instance. You have a case in which this has been used three time a day in the twenty-four hours and that for many months. You succeed in getting the patient free from this constant poisoning. But the heart does not all at once recover. It seems as if it would do so. The patient under active treatment, such as increases the vital force, rallies for some days, but a time comes around at which the heart's action seems to demand the poison afresh. It is exactly the same as the case of the person who has fallen a victim of Alcohol. He signs the pledge under some strong moral impulse, and feels free from the demon that has cursed him. But that freedom is only for a brief season. It may be for days - even weeks, even for months; yet, at a certain time the mysterious nervous state that proves so dreadful to him comes on, and even his soul is bartered for Alcohol. So it is with all habits of soothing by means of poison. Now, one who would heal his fellow creatures must be aware of this. We have cured cases in which the patients had to be put under physical restraint when this time came, and the apparent need for this drug was developed. During day and night the piteous cry had to be disregarded in seeming cruelty; but the victim was rescued. In other cases the root of the Upas tree was put back into the soil again, and the life was lost. Even infants at the breast show this terrible power by which the use of poison enchains the spirit of man. Hence, if you would cure, you must succeed, in the first place in getting such roots of disease as we have described effectually removed. There will be not only a difficulty showing itself in the desire of the patient for the drug that is killing him - that will not be the greatest difficulty; but the increase of illness, apparently because of stopping the poisoning process, will be greater. What is called "the Weaning Brash" of the sucking is found in nearly all such cases. But this must be bravely met, if you would cure your patient. You may mitigate the "Brash" in various ways; but when you have done the best that can be done, patience and intelligent courage will be called for. Even the Tobacco victim, as he lies during the night in agony for want of "the pipe," and his tenderhearted wife begs him to take a smoke, must have courage for a little, and he will laugh at his anguish. So will the man who thought he would die if he did not get his drug. It is well worth while to "hold the fort" till deliverance comes.
Injecting Morphia under the skin is another form of using poison for the relief of pain. All pain is the result of something wrong and affecting the nerves of sensation so as to induce us to put that wrong to rights. The injection of Morphia does not in any case, right the wrong. At the very utmost it only silences the nerves which indicates the wrong. This drug, while it does not cure, or put the wrong right, causes such injury to the nerve system as constitutes, of itself, a very serious disease. A nerve that has been silenced by means of Opium, when it returns to activity does so in a sadly disordered condition. This has the effect of adding to the distress of the sufferer often very seriously. The addition, too, goes on increasing as the futile operation is repeated. It is thus that disease takes a mental form of the most dreadful character. The poor sufferer is made to endure horrors that never arise except through the use of some nerve-destroying agency. But the all important matter here is to know how to act when it is proposed in any case to inject any form of Opium, or any similar poison. The first thing to be understood clearly in all such cases is this - the medical attendant knows no real remedy for the pain or its cause, when he proposes to relieve in this way. Mark this well. It is of immense importance to understand the ignorance of your adviser in relation to cure in your case. A patient should remember that it by no means follows. because his physician knows no remedy. that there is none. We have seen cases in which such a remedy as this was proposed, in which all pain disappeared within half an hour, and did not return, by nothing further being done than a cold cloth being gently pressed over the root of the nerve, which was giving terrible pain. The medical man did not know that a gentle cooling of a particular spot would cure his patient; he only knew that a little Morphia injected would deaden the sensibility and give temporary relief. We could not imagine his doing as he proposed to do, if he had known how actually to cure his patients at first. In other cases he would visit day by day until his bill rose to a very heavy sum indeed, while, if he had only known, one visit or two at the utmost would have been amply sufficient. His ignorance was lucrative, perhaps you might be disposed to say; but it is the least that can be said that such ignorance is confessed the instant a medical man proposes to inject Morphia. He confesses that he knows nothing that can put the wrong afflicting you right, and that he can only silence the poor nerves that are complaining. If he is alive to this truth, and sees that you are alive to it also, it may stimulate his intelligence, and possibly lead him to seek about a little for a real remedy.
For example, you may be in torture by a pain in some part of your body. Your medical adviser knows the nerve that gives this pain. He proposes the injection of Morphia. He is ignorant of anything better than this miserable subterfuge in the way of cure. Suppose that you try a very hot application, say a hot Bran Poultice, to the roots of the nerves affected, if you can guess about where those roots are. The doctors should help you to know this much. The hot poultice is put on, we shall say it fails to relieve. Well, you put on a cold application at the same place. That relieves slightly. The hot one may have done so, or this may have done so. That will turn upon the nature of the wrong which is causing the pain. Observe this, that whichever of the applications relieves should be followed up vigorously. Do not say, "Oh, it gives relief for a little, and then the pain returns." Follow up the little relief, and change from heat to cold, as the pain or relief indicates. You can do no possible harm by such process, and in multitudes of cases all will soon be right, and no opiate required at all. But you must not think all remedies at an end when you have tried one or two singly, and relief does not yet come. The large, hot poultices may be put on the roots of the affected nerves, and ice cold cloths placed on the branches at the same time. Then ice cold may be placed on the roots and hot on the branches. The doctor, perhaps, has not thought of such things. He has only confessed his ignorance of all remedies; but that is no reason why you should not think of them. It seems to us rather a strong reason why you should think of something, when one who surely ought to know con-fesses that he does not. But remedies are not exhausted, by any means, when you have thought of two or three applications of heat and cold. The whole nerve system can, be influenced bv the rubbing of the head and spinal region, so as to wake up a. strong increase of vital action in the, nerve centres there. We have seen a patient who had been for months under medical treatment and in agony. except when deadened with narcotics, rendered independent of all such things bv a little skillful rubbing alone. Perhaps you object that these remedies are "very simple." Well, that would be no great harm; but if they are so simple you are surely a simpleton if you let your patients be killed with Morphia while such simple remedies are at hand. The whole Thomp-sonian or Physio-Medical system is simple and in this you will find its wonderful virtues.