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.
Homoeopathy knows nothing of the expectant method. Every manifestation of disease is treated according to its symptoms, by positive remedies.
Nor does homoeopathy know anything of a particular treatment for convalescent patients. The efforts of the homoeopathic physician are directed against the disease itself, without poisoning the organism, as is done in old-school treatment, by excessive doses of medicine, frequently ingrafting upon the organism an artificial disease that is much more violent, and lasts much longer than the natural disease. Homoeopathy does not use any depletory processes; hence the patient is not weakened by homoeopathic treatment, and there is no necessity for any of those medicines which are required for the debility consequent upon the employment of the allopathic revulsive treatment. Suffice it to mention the cure of inflammation by repeated bleedings, or the treatment of typhoid fevers with excitants and a variety of other drugs in large doses, the use of which is generally followed by a period of convalescence lasting as long as the original disease; the treatment of febris pituitosa, which generally leaves a deranged state of the mucous membranes and dropsical conditions, etc.
After these preliminary pathological and therapeutic observations we come to state the fourth cardinal principle of homoeopathic practice: Give the specific remedy in a sufficient quantity to excite the curative reaction of the organism, without occasioning any unnecessary aggravation of the symptoms, which would only serve to impede the cure. According to Hahnemann the homoeopathic dose may be ever so minute it will succeed in improving, curing, or even annihilating the disease. His idea was that the exciting causes of disease possess only a subordinate and limited power to disturb the organism, but the remedial agents possess this power in an absolute, and, therefore, supreme degree, at the same time as they are capable of affecting the diseased organ in such a manner as will restore the harmony of the whole organism. A few hours after exhibiting his remedy Hahnemann frequently noticed new symptoms evoked by the medicine (medicinal aggravation); he therefore concluded that the dose was still too powerful for the disturbed organism, and was led in the course of time to carry all his remedies up to the 30th degree of dynamization. He was rejoiced at witnessing the effect, the pure dynamis of his immaterial doses, and the power which even the highest potencies still possessed to cure disease. He even thought that those highest dynamizations were frequently too powerful, especially in chronic diseases, and he therefore introduced the method of simply smelling a few pellets moistened with the medicine. Afterwards he thought that even olfaction was too powerful for certain delicate organisms, and he advised such patients to dissolve a few pellets of the medicine in half a tumblerful of water, and of taking a tablespoonful every day, or every two or three days. According to Baenning-hausen's communication in the New Archive, first and second number, Hahnemann has carried his dynamizations still higher, and since his death the highest dynamizations have been vaunted in such extravagant terms that the student of homoeopathy must fairly lose his senses in that labyrinth of strange and unheard-of relations. There are as yet no fixed rules for the magnitude of a dose or the employment of particular potencies; every physician uses those potencies which seem to him best, and if he succeeds in curing his patient, he considers that potency the best which has effected the cure, and advocates it as such, upon the ground of experience. Nothing positive can be said about a point of doctrine which has given rise to so many different opinions. It will not do either to contradict or to blindly believe the results said to have been obtained by other physicians. We ought to verify them in our own practice, although neither a few successes nor failures are a sufficient evidence either for or against the statements and inferences of other practitioners. If it were true that in treating a case of disease the principal thing is to give the homoeopathic specific, and that the dose is of minor importance, we might dismiss the subject without any further remark. The dose, however, is of some importance, and we therefore beg leave to express our own opinion in respect to doses, without desiring, however, to bias any practitioner's mind in favour of our ideas.
In the first place we ought to have a proper understanding of the term dynamization. Hahnemann gave this name to every attenuation of a drug, which he considered a development and increase of the power of the drug, until the material substratum should be entirely destroyed and the attenuated agent should act as a purely dynamic power. The term "dynamization or potentialization" is certainly the best that can be applied to the attenuations of mineral and metallic substances, inasmuch as the process of trituration discloses and developes their latent powers and raises the drugs to the rank of true curative agents. It is only by triturating those crude substances that they become like medicinal agents which, even in their natural state and divided into very minute parts, possess so great a power of disturbing the organism that it is not advisable to use them except highly diluted. The former substances are dynamized by trituration, the latter weakened by dilution. We do not know very positively how far crude drugs require to be dynamized before their medicinal virtues are properly disclosed; but we may suppose that this result is obtained as soon as the triturated substance manifests the power of morbidly affecting the organism. Any farther attenuation of the drug would not be a dynamization but a dilution. If the successive attenuations of a drug were so many dynamizations, why does not the dynamic power of the drug increase by attenuation, whereas Hahnemann thinks that it decreases. However, our intention is not to criticize, but simply to state the view which we take of dynamization and dilution. We understand the thing differently from Hahnemann, but, if we mean to obtain a rational opinion of the power of his small doses we have to understand the attenuating process as he does. He supposed that the dynamic power of ponderable bodies might be excited by peculiar manipulations like that of imponderable substances, and that the dynamic power of those substances might be separated from its material substratum and transferred to a neutral vehicle by means of which it might be made to act upon the affected organism like electricity, magnetism, etc. The correctness of the views which Hahnemann has promulgated about the dynamizing power of the processes of trituration and succussion, cannot be denied, nor will it be denied by any one who is familiar with homoeopathic practice, and has used the 30th, 40th, and 60th potency of Arsenic, Belladonna, etc., with the same happy results as we have done in our practice. Latterly, however, the process of dynamization has been carried much farther than it ever had been before, and with so much enthusiasm that it is impossible to foresee its ultimate boundaries. The advocates of the doctrine of dynamization have now become convinced that the whole secret of the curative effects of one, two or three pellets is explained by the peculiar mode in which the medicine has been triturated and succussed. They carry a remedy up to the 800th, 1000th, and even 2000rh potency,* and imagine that those high potencies still produce pathogenetic symptoms. If this game, which is particularly exciting to laymen, and in which physicians become so easily interested, is carried much farther, the end of it cannot possibly be foreseen, and it may become true what some of our opponents have said of us, that in homoeopathic practice nature triumphs both over the disease and the physician! We will not decide whether the introduction of the highest potencies has or has not been a scientific progress; but we confess that those potencies, which we have used in many cases with the honest intention of testing their real value, have not answered our expectations as well as they have those of Stapf, Gross, Boenninghausen, and other enthusiastic admirers. We still recollect the time when Hahnemann supposed that all chronic diseases originated in the use of coffee, until the psora theory furnished him a new clue for those diseases. Many homoeopathic physicians have implicit confidence in the psora-doctrine. They likewise believed in the limit which Hahnemann had marked out in the preface to every remedy contained in the first edition of the Materia Medica Pura as the highest degree of power of which that remedy was susceptible. And who will deny that beautiful cures were wrought by these pretended highest potencies which were supposed to be the most suitable to the susceptibility of the disturbed organism. But even at that time we frequently succeeded in curing with a lower potency where the higher had no effect. No one thought in those cases of ascending the scale, and an attempt made by Korsakoff to carry our remedies up to the 1500th potency was rejected as absurd by those who were satisfied with the results of their present experience; it was supposed that those potencies had no curative power whatsoever, and that the patient who was treated with them received no medicine at all. It is but a few years since the lowest potencies were recommended as the most suitable in the treatment of disease, and employed by a great number of physicians. What causes all those changes? Have the drugs become more powerful? Have the highest potencies been made or used improperly? Have we obtained a deeper insight into the spirit of our doctrine! Are we desirous of showing to the world that homoeopathy is yet susceptible of many improvements? Certainly homoeopathy is susceptible of improvement, but it strikes us that it ought to be effected by a different road than that of the highest potencies. The probability is, that if Hahnemann had lived and had remained in possession of his vigorous intellect, he would have made changes in the preparation and administration of our medicines, and would always have recommended the last change as the best. This is our opinion of the highest potencies; they may afford advantages in certain cases, but will probably be superseded one day by a new method of exhibiting our remedial agents, which will be advocated with the same enthusiasm by its friends.