This section is from the book "Hartmann's Theory Acute Diseases And Their Homoeopathic Treatment", by Charles J. Hempel. Also available from Amazon: Theory of acute diseases, and their homoeopathic treatment.
The prophylactic treatment is another species of treatment which the homoeopathic physician is frequently called upon to employ.
The prophylactic treatment is generally employed in cases where diseases can be prevented by specific remedies, for instance scarlatina and hydrophobia by a few small dozes of Belladonna at suitable intervals; purpura miliaria by Aconite; varicella and measles by Pulsatilla; the consequences of chagrin by Chamomilla (or rather by Colocynth, which is in many cases sufficient to remove the most violent symptoms occasioned by chagrin); the morbid phenomena resulting from fright by Aconite, etc.
These few examples sufficiently show that the homoeopathic method of cure is a better prophylactic method than the method of the old school. We inquire with much more minuteness into the natural susceptibility of a patient to this or that disease; our knowledge of the curative virtues of drugs is not derived from unfounded theories, but it is based upon pure experience and careful observation; such things as spring or milk-cures can never occur in homoeopathic practice.
The homoeopathic physician acknowledges also a sort of prophylactic hygiene which it is the business of the government to protect. Under this category belongs Hahnemann's remark in the preface to Ledum palustre,* that this powerful substance is frequently mixed with beer by interested and unprincipled brewers for the purpose of imparting intoxicating qualities to that beverage, thus making it very injurious to health.
However strange it may appear to speak of palliative treatment in connection with homoeopathy, yet that treatment is employed under certain circumstances even by those who have practised homoeopathy for years past. A physician must be very unfeeling if he would refuse to palliate the troublesome or dangerous symptoms in cases where they are owing to the presence of an exciting cause, or when the case is hopeless and the curative treatment is of no avail. Every good physician will endeavour to palliate his patient's sufferings until his death, in all cases where a cure is out of the question. This rule of conduct, which is deeply written in the human heart, is not only true in incurable but also in very painful diseases. This maxim prevails alike in the homoeopathic as well as the allopathic practice, with this difference, that in the latter practice palliatives are frequently resorted to for the purpose of subduing a single symptom, even if the totality of the symptoms should indicate a totally different remedy, (we merely mention the abuse which is made of opium, the sudden suppression of salutary evacuations, the pellentia and exsiccantia in chronic local affections, etc.)
In treating a case, the homoeopathic physician employs remedies which not only correspond to the troublesome symptom, but to the whole group. In palliating acute pain or incurable affections, the homoeopathic physician ought constantly to act in accordance with that rule. He will accomplish that palliation by frequently repeating the suitable remedies, for instance: Belladonna, Chamom., Ignat., Ipec, etc., in violent spasmodic diseases; Carbo anim., Staphys., Thuja, Secale corn., Puls., Bell., etc., in cancer of the womb. There are many more examples, all of which show that the principle "similia similibus," if employed as the rule in the palliative treatment, accomplishes the object of that treatment much better than the empirical practice of the old school. We invite our opponents to try our law of cure as a palliative means in organic malformations, and to compare the results thus obtained with the results obtained by their ordinary means.
* See Hahnemann's Materia Medica Pura, by Charles J. Hempel, M.D.
There is another kind of palliative means of which we avail ourselves in our practice and which have not, it is true, any homoeopathic relation to the disease, but by no means interfere with the homoeopathic treatment. Who does not know that the troublesome dry cough in tuberculous phthisis is moderated by inhaling the vapour of warm water, or that spasms of the respiratory organs may be soothed by warm fomentations of the chest? Who is unacquainted with the beneficent influence of animal magnetism in asthmatic complaints and spasms? Who does not use warm poultices of milk and oatmeal, bran, or linseed, to soften hard and painful abscesses, or to cover large ulcerated surfaces which are very painful and deprive the patient of his strength? Who does not cover open abscesses with bands of linen slightly covered with an ointment of althea? Do we not apply carrot and potato poultices to painful cancerous ulcers and to bedsores which threaten to become gangrenous? Do we not bathe inflamed portions of the periosteum during a long confinement in bed with washes of lemon-juice and dilute tincture of Arnica? Who does not give anxious patients, if they should wish to be relieved of an obstinate obstruction of the bowels, an injection of tepid water, or milk and water, milk and molasses, soap-water and linseed-oil, or mere cold water? Do we not know that in typhus fever great relief may be afforded to the patient by washing certain parts of the body with warm vinegar? Have we forgotten the relief which may be obtained by rubbing with a piece of flannel limbs that are affected with rheumatism; is not the pain in acute rheumatism and ascites relieved by friction with warm oil? Are not warm baths excellent palliatives in many cases? Should it be contrary to our art to apply in many cases of incipient or perfectly developed encephalitis cold water, snow or ice to the head, knowing as we do that those applications have a soothing and even curative effect in the headache occurring in that disease and arising from violent congestion of blood? Are not gargles of milk and althea-root boiled together, frequently useful in angina faucium? Is not the pain in violent inflammation or suppuration of the internal ear relieved by the vapours of warm milk? Is not the painful otalgia of children relieved by twisting a sulphur thread around the external ear? Are not habitually cold feet relieved by bathing them in cold water? Is not the agony in croup mitigated by applying a sponge dipped in warm water to the larynx? *