Psora – 2
by Samuel Hahnemann
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But even if, by any means, such a secondary eruption might, after a fashion, be produced, and even were it in our power to retain it on the skin for a longer period, we cannot at all count on it for assistance in the cure of the whole psoric malady.*
It remains, therefore, an established truth, that the cure of the entire destructive Psora through antipsoric remedies is effected most easily only while the original eruption of itch is still present. From this it again appears how unconscionable it is of the allopathic physicians, to destroy the primitive itch eruption through local applications instead of completely eradicating this grave disease from the whole living organism by a cure from within, which at that stage is as yet very easy, and by thus choking off in advance all the wretched consequences that we must expect from this malady if uncured; i.e., all the secondary, chronic, nameless sufferings which follow it.
(* There was a time when, not yet fully convinced of this fact, I thought that the cure of the entire psora might be rendered easier by an artificial renewal of the cutaneous eruption effected through a sort of checking of the perspiratory function of the skin, so as to excite it homoeopathically to the reproduction of the eruption. For this purpose I found most serviceable the wearing of a plaster mostly on the back (but where practicable also on other portions of the skin); the plaster was prepared by gently heating six ounces of Burgundy pitch, into which, after removing it from the fire, an ounce of turpentine produced from the larch-tree (called Venetian turpentine) was stirred until it was perfectly mixed. A portion of this was spread on a chamois skin (as being the softest), and laid on while still warm. Instead of this, there might also be used so-called tree-wax (made of yellow wax and common turpentine), or also taffeta covered with elastic resin; showing that the itching eruption evolved is not due to any irritation caused by the substance applied; nor does the psora first mentioned cause either eruption or itching on the skin of a person who is not psoric. I discovered that this method is the most effective to cause such an activity of the skin. Yet despite of all the patience of the sick persons (no matter how much they might internally be affected with the psora), I never could evolve a complete eruption of itch, least of all one that would remain for a time on the skin. What could be effected was only that some itching pustules appeared, which soon vanished again, when the plaster was left off. More frequently there ensued a moist soreness of the skin, or at best a more or less violent, itching of the skin, which in rare cases extended also to the other parts not covered by the plaster. This, indeed, would cause for a time a striking alleviation of even the most severe chronic diseases flowing from a psoric source; e.g., suppuration of the lungs. But this much could not be attained on the skin of many patients (frequently all that could be attained was a moderate or small amount of itching), or again, if I could produce a violent itching, this frequently became too unbearable for the patient to sustain it for a time sufficient to produce an internal cure. When the plaster then was removed in order to relieve him, even the most violent itching, together with the eruption present, disappeared very soon, and the cure had not been essentially advanced by it; this confirms the observation made above, that the eruption if evolved a second time (and so also the itching reproduced) had not by any means the full characteristics of the eruption of the itch which had originally been repressed, and was therefore of little assistance in the real advancement of a thorough cure of the psora through internal remedies, while the little aid afforded loses all value owing to the often unbearable infliction of the artificially produced eruption and itching of the skin, and the weakening of the whole body which is inseparable from the titillating pain.)
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The excuse of the private physician (for the physician at the hospital has no excuse at all) amounts to nothing. He will say, indeed: If it is not known – and hardly ever does it become demonstrably known – where, when, at what occasion and from what person avowedly suffering from itch the infection has been derived, then he could not discover from the present, and often insignificant little eruption whether it was real itch; so he was not to be blamed for the evil consequences, if he supposed it to be something else and endeavored to remove it from the skin as soon as possible by a lotion of lead solution, or an ointment of cadmia, or white precipitate of mercury, according to the wishes of the aristocratic parents.
This excuse, as above said, amounts to nothing. For, first of all, no cutaneous eruption of whatever kind it may be, ought to be expelled through external means by any physician who wishes to act conscientiously and rationally.* The human skin does not evolve of itself, without the co-operation of the rest of the living whole, any eruption, nor does it become sick in any way, without being induced and compelled to it by the general diseased state, by the lack of normality in the whole organism. In every case there is at the bottom a disorderly state of the whole internal living organism, which state must first be considered; and therefore the eruption is only to be removed by internal healing and curative remedies which change the state of the whole; then also the eruption which is based on the internal disease will be cured and healed of itself, without the help of any external remedy, and frequently more quickly than it could be done by external remedies.
Secondly, even if the physician should not have presented to him the original, undestroyed form of the eruption, – i.e., the pustule of itch which in the beginning is transparent, then quickly filled with pus, with a narrow red margin all around it, even if the eruption should consist only of small granules like the miliary eruption, or appear like scattered little pimples or little scabs, still he cannot for a moment be in doubt as to whether the eruption is itch, if the child or even the suckling only a few days old, uninterruptedly rubs and scratches the spot, or, if it is an adult, when he complains of the titillation of a voluptuously itching eruption (or even only a few pimples) which is unbearable without scratching, especially in the evening and at night, and when this is followed by a burning pain. In such a case we can never doubt as to the infection with itch, though in genteel and wealthy families we can seldom secure the information and the certainty as to how, where and from whom the infection has been derived; for there are innumerable imperceptible occasions whereby this infection may be received, as taught above.
(*See Organon of the Healing Art, fifth edition, §187-203.)
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Now when the family physician notices this in time, then without any external application, the simple dose of one or two pills as large as poppy-seeds, moistened with the potentized sulphur in alcohol, as described below, will fully and abundantly suffice to cure a child and to deliver it from the entire disease of itch, both the eruption and the internal itch malady (psora).
The homoeopathic physician in his private practice seldom gets to see and to treat an eruption of itch spread over a considerable part of the skin and coming from a fresh infection. The patients on account of the intolerable itching either apply to some old woman, or to the druggist or the barber, who, one and all, come to their aid with a remedy which, as they suppose, is immediately effective (e.g., lard mixed with flowers of sulphur). Only in the practice of the barracks, of prisons, hospitals, penitentiaries and orphan asylums those infected have to apply to the resident physician, if the surgeon of the house does not anticipate him.
Even in the most ancient times when itch occurred, for it did not everywhere degenerate into leprosy, it was acknowledged that there was a sort of specific virtue against itch in sulphur; but they knew of no other way of applying it, but to destroy the itch through an external application of it, even as is done now by the greater part of the modem physicians of the old school. A. C. Celsus has several ointments and salves (V.28) some of which consist merely of sulphur mixed with tar, while others contain also compounds of copper and other substances; these he prescribes for the expulsion of itch, and this he supposes to be its cure. So also the most ancient physicians, like the moderns, prescribed for their itch patients baths of warm sulphurous mineral water. Such patients are usually also delivered from their eruption by these external sulphur remedies. But that their patients were not really cured thereby, became manifest, even to them, from the more severe ailments that followed, such as general dropsy, with which an Athenian was afflicted when he drove out his severe eruption of itch by bathing in the warm sulphur baths of the island of Melos (now called Milo), and of which he died. This is recorded by the author of Book V. Epidemion, which has been received among the writings of Hippocrates (some three hundred years before Celsus).
Internally the ancient physicians gave no sulphur in itch, because they, like the moderns, did not see that this miasmatic disease was, at the same time and especially, an internal disease.
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Modern physicians have never given sulphur only, and internally, to cure the itch, because they have never recognized the itch-disease as being also an internal and, indeed, chiefly internal disease. They only gave it in connection with the external means of driving away the itch, and, indeed, in doses which would act as purgatives, – ten, twenty and thirty grains at a dose, frequently repeated, – so that it never became manifest how useful or how injurious this internal application of such large doses, in connection with the external application, had been; at least the whole itch-disease (psora) could never be thoroughly healed thereby. The external driving out of the eruption was simply advanced by it as by any other purgative, and with the same injurious effects as if no sulphur at all had been used internally. For even if sulphur is used only internally, but in the above described large doses, without any external destructive means, it can never thoroughly heal a psora; partly because in order to cure as an antipsoric and homoeopathic medicine, it must be given only in the smallest doses of a potentized preparation, while in larger and more frequent doses the crude sulphur* in some cases increases the malady or at least adds a new malady; partly because the vital force expels it as a violently aggressive remedy through purging stools or by means of vomiting, without having put its healing power to any use.
(*Here it is proper to subjoin the words of an impartial and even practical connoisseur of Homoeopathy, the deep-thinking, many-sided scholar and indefatigable investigator of truth, Count Buquoy, in his Anregungen fur ph. w. Forschungen (Leipzig, 1825, P.386 sgg.). After assuming that a drug, which in a normal state of health causes the symptoms a, b, g, – in analogy with other physiological phenomena, produces the symptoms x, y, z, which appear in an abnormal state of health – can act upon this abnormal state in such a way that the disease-symptoms x, y, z, are transformed into the drug symptoms a, b, g, which latter have the peculiar characteristic of temporariness or transitoriness; he then continues: This transitory character belongs to the group of symptoms of the medicine a, b, g, which is substituted for the group of symptoms belonging to the disease, merely because the medicine is used in an extraordinarily small dose. Should the homoeopathic physician give the patient too large a dose of the homoeopathic remedy indicated, the disease x, y, z may indeed be transformed into the other, i.e., into a, b, g – but the new disease now just sits as firmly fixed as the former x, y, z; so that the organism can just as little free itself from the disease a, b, g, as it was able to throw off the original disease x, y, z. If a very large dose is given, then a new often very dangerous disease is produced, or the organism does its utmost to free itself very quickly from the poison (through diarrhoea, vomiting, etc.).)
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Now if, as experience teaches, not even the fresh itch-disease which is the most easy to cure of all, i.e., the internal, recently formed psora together with the external, recent eruption, can be thoroughly healed by external applications accompanied with large quantities of flowers of sulphur, it may easily be seen, that the psora, after it has been deprived of its eruption and has become merely internal and inveterate, having developed secondary ailments and thus having change into chronic diseases of various kinds, for the same reason can be just as little cured by a quantity of sulphur flowers, or by a number of baths in sulphurous mineral waters, or on the other hand by simultaneously drinking the same or a similar water; in a word, it cannot be cured by a superabundance and frequent repetition of this remedy, although it is of itself antipsoric.* It is true that many such chronic patients by the first treatment at the baths seem to get rid for some time of the symptoms of their disease (therefore we see an incredible throng of many thousands, suffering from innumerable different chronic ailments at Teplitz, Baden, Aix-la-Chapelle, Neundorf, Warmbrunn, etc.); yet they are not on that account restored to health, but instead of the original chronic (psoric) disease, they have for a time come under the dominion of a sulphur-disease (another, perhaps more bearable, malady). This in time passes away, when the psora again lifts its head, either with the same morbid symptoms as before, or with others similar but gradually more troublesome than the first, or with symptoms developing in nobler parts of the organism. Ignorant persons will rejoice in the latter case, that their former disease at least has passed away, and they hope that the new disease also may be removed by another journey to the same baths. They do not know, that their changed morbid state is merely a transformation of the same psora; but they always find out by experience, that their second tour to the baths causes even less alleviation, or, indeed, if the sulphur-baths are used in still greater number, that the second trial causes aggravation.
Thus we see that either the excessive use of sulphur in all its forms, or the frequent repetition of its use by allopathic physicians in the treatment of a multitude of chronic diseases (the secondary psoric ailments) have taken away from it all value and use; and we may well assert that, to this day, hardly anything but injury has been done by allopathic physicians through the use of sulphur.
(*Used in small doses, sulphur as one of the antipsoric remedies will not fail to make a brief beginning of a cure of the chronic (non-venereal and therefore psoric) diseases. I know a physician in Saxony who gained a great reputation by merely adding to his prescriptions in nearly all chronic diseases flowers of sulphur, and this without knowing a reason for it. This in the beginning of such treatments is wont to produce a strikingly beneficent effect, but of course only in the beginning, and therefore after that his help was at an end.)
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But even supposing that anyone should desire to make the only correct use of sulphur in this kind of disease, it will seldom be possible to do this with the same desired success as where the homoeopathic physician finds a recent case of the itch-disease with its still existing eruption. Even when, owing to its undeniable anti-psoric effects, sulphur may be able of itself to make the beginning of a cure, after the external expulsion of the eruption, either with the still hidden and latent psora or when this has more or less developed and broken out into its varied chronic diseases, it can nevertheless be but rarely made use of for this purpose, because its powers have usually been already exhausted, because it has been given to the patient already before by allopathic physicians for one purpose or another, perhaps has been given already repeatedly; but sulphur, like most of the antipsoric remedies in the treatment of a developed psora that has become chronic, can hardly be used three or four times (even after the intervening use of other antipsoric remedies) without causing the cure to retrograde.
The cure of an old psora that has been deprived of its eruption, whether it may be latent and quiescent, or already broken out into chronic diseases, can never be accomplished with sulphur alone, nor with sulphur-baths either natural or artificial.
Here I may mention the curious circumstance that in general with the exception of the recent itch-disease still attended with its unrepressed cutaneous eruption, and which is so easily cured from within* – every other psoric diathesis, i.e., the psora that is still latent within, as well as the psora that has developed into one of the innumerable chronic diseases springing from it, is very seldom cured by any single anti-psoric remedy, but requires the use of several of these remedies – in the worst cases the use of quite a number of them – one after the other, for its perfect cure.
(* Recent itch-disease with its still present cutaneous eruption has been cured at times without any external remedy by even one very small dose of a properly potentized preparation of sulphur and thus within two, three or four weeks; once a dose of 1/2 grain of carbo vegetabilis potentized a million fold sufficed for a family of seven persons, and three times a like dose of as highly potentized sepia was sufficient.)
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This circumstance need not astonish us when we consider that the psora is a chronic miasma of quite peculiar and especial character which in several thousands of years has passed through several millions of human organisms, and must have assumed such a vast extension of varied symptoms, – the elements of those innumerable, chronic, non-venereal ailments, under which mankind now groans, and could transmute itself into such an indefinite multitude of forms differing from one another as it gradually ultimated itself in the various bodily constitutions of individual men who differed from one another in their domiciles, their climatic peculiarities, their education, habits, occupations,* modes of life and of diet, and was moulded by varying bodily and psychic relations. It is, therefore, not strange, that one single and only medicine is insufficient to heal the entire psora and all its forms, and that it requires several medicines in order to respond, by the artificial morbid effects peculiar to each, to the unnumbered host of psora symptoms, and thus to those of all chronic (non venereal) diseases, and to the entire psora, and to do this in a curative homoeopathic manner.
It is only, therefore, as already mentioned, when the eruption of itch is still in its prime and the infection is in consequence still recent, that the complete cure can be effected by sulphur alone, and then at times with but a single dose. I leave it undecided, whether this can be done in every case of itch still in full eruption on the skin, because the ages of the eruption of itch infecting patients is quite various. For if the eruption has been on the skin for some time (although it may not have been treated with external repressive remedies) it will of itself begin to recede gradually from the skin. Then the internal psora has already in part gained the upper hand; the cutaneous eruption is then no more so completely vicarious, and ailments of another kind appear, partly as the signs of a latent psora, partly as chronic diseases developed from the internal psora. In such a case sulphur alone (as little as any other single antipsoric remedy) is usually no longer sufficient to produce a complete cure, and the other antipsoric remedies, one or another according to the remaining symptoms, must be called upon to give their homoeopathic aid.
The homoeopathic medical treatment of the countless chronic diseases (non-venereal and therefore of psoric origin) agrees essentially in its general features with the homoeopathic treatment of human diseases as taught in the Organon of the Art of Healing; I shall now indicate what is especially to be considered in the treatment of chronic diseases.
(* I.e., occupations which called more fully into play one or another of the body, one or another function of the spirit and mind.)
(I refrain from hinting through what exertions and through how many careful observations, investigations, reflections and varied experiments I have finally succeeded after eleven years in filling up the great chasm in the edifice of the homoeopathic healing art, the cure of the innumerable chronic diseases, and thus in completing as far as possible the blessings which this art has in store for suffering humanity.)
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As to the diet and mode of living of patients of this kind I shall only make some general remarks, leaving the special application in any particular case to the judgment of the homoeopathic practitioner. Of course everything that would hinder the cure must also in these cases be removed. But since we have here to treat lingering, sometimes very tedious diseases which cannot be quickly removed, and since we often have cases of persons in middle life and also in old age, in various relations of life which can seldom be totally changed, either in the case of rich people or in the case of persons of small means, or even with the poor, therefore limitations and modifications of the strict mode of life as regularly prescribed by Homoeopathy must be allowed, in order to make possible the cure of such tedious diseases with individuals so very different. A strict, homoeopathic diet and mode of living does not cure chronic patients as our opponents pretend in order to diminish the merits of Homoeopathy, but the main cause is the medical treatment. This may be seen in the case of the many patients who trusting these false allegations have for years observed the most strict homoeopathic diet without being able thereby to diminish appreciably their chronic disease; this rather increasing in spite of the diet, as all diseases of a chronic miasmatic nature do from their nature.
Owing to these causes, therefore, and in order to make the cure possible, the homoeopathic practitioner must yield to circumstances in his prescriptions as to diet and mode of living, and in so doing he will much more surly, and therefore more completely, reach the aim of healing, than by an obstinate insistence on strict rules which in many cases cannot be obeyed.
The daily laborer, if his strength allows, should continue his labor; the artisan his handiwork; the farmer, so far as he is able, his field work; the mother of the family her domestic occupations according to her strength; only labors that would interfere with the health of healthy persons should be interdicted. This must be left to the intelligence of the rational physician.
The class of men who are usually occupied, not with bodily labor, but with fine work in their rooms, usually with sedentary work, should be directed during their cure to walk more in the open air, without, on that account, setting their work altogether aside.
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Persons belonging to the higher classes should also be urged to take walks more than is their custom. The physician may allow this class the innocent amusement of moderate and becoming dancing amusements in the country that are reconcilable with a strict diet, also social meetings with acquaintances, where conversation is the chief amusement; he will not keep them from enjoying harmless music or from listening to lectures which are not too fatiguing; he can permit the theatre only exceptionally, but he can never allow the playing of cards. The physician will moderate too frequent riding and driving, and should know how to banish intercourse which should prove to be morally and psychically injurious, as this is also physically injurious. The flirtations and empty excitations of sensuality between the sexes, the reading of indelicate novels and poems of a like character, as well as superstitious and enthusiastic books, are to be altogether interdicted.*
Scholars ought also to be induced to (moderately) exercise in the open air, and in bad weather to do some light mechanical work in doors; but during the medical treatment mental occupation should be limited to work from memory, since straining the head by reading is hardly ever to be allowed, or at least only with great limitation and a strict definition as to the quantity and quality of what is read, i.e., in treating any of the more severe chronic diseases. In mental disorders it can never be allowed.
All classes of chronic patients must be forbidden the use of any domestic remedies or the use of any medicines on their own account. With the higher classes, perfumeries, scented waters, tooth-powders and other medicines for the teeth must also be forbidden. If the patient has been accustomed for a long time to woollen under-clothing, the homoeopathic physician cannot suddenly make a change; but as the disease diminishes the woollen under-garments may in warm weather be first changed to cotton and then, in warm weather, the patient can pass to linen. Fontanelles can be stopped, in chronic diseases of any moment, only when the internal cure has already made progress, especially with patients of advanced age.
The physician cannot yield to the request of patients for the continuation of their customary home-baths; but a quick ablution, as much as cleanliness may demand from time to time, may be allowed; nor can he permit any venesection or cupping, however much the patient may declare that he has become accustomed thereto.
(* Physicians frequently wish to assume importance by forbidding without exception all sexual intercourse to chronic patients who are married. But if both parties are able and disposed to it, such an interdict is, to say the least, ridiculous, as it neither can nor will be obeyed (without causing a greater misfortune in the family). No legislature should give laws that cannot be kept nor controlled, or which would cause even greater mischief if kept. If one party is incapable of sexual intercourse this of itself will stop such intercourse. But of all functions in marriage such intercourse is what may least be commanded or forbidden. Homoeopathy only interferes in this matter through medicines, so as to make the party that is incapable of sexual intercourse capable of it, through antipsoric (or anti-syphilitic) remedies, or on the other hand to reduce an excitable consort’s morbidity to its natural tone.)
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As to diet, all classes of men who wish to be cured of a lingering disease; can suffer some limitation, if the chronic disease does not consist of an ailment of the abdomen; with the lower classes there need to be no very strict limitations, especially if the patient is able to remain at work in his trade, thus giving motion to the body. The poor man can recover health even with a diet of salt and bread, and neither the moderate use of potatoes, flour-porridge nor fresh cheese will binder his recovery; only let him limit the condiments of onions and pepper with his meagre diet.
He who cares for his recovery can find dishes, even at the king’s table, which answer all the requirements of a natural diet.
Most difficult for a homoeopathic physician is the decision as to drinks. Coffee has in great part the injurious effects on the health of body and soul which I have described in my little book (Wirkungen des Kaffees [Effects of Coffee], Leipzig, 1803); but it has become so much of a habit and a necessity to the greater part of the so-called enlightened nations that it will be as difficult to extirpate as prejudice and superstition, unless the homoeopathic physician in the cure of chronic diseases insists on a general, absolute interdict. Only young people up to the twentieth year, or at most up to the thirtieth, can be suddenly deprived of it without any particular disadvantage; but with persons over thirty and forty years, if they have used coffee from their childhood, it is better to propose to discontinue it gradually and every day to drink somewhat less; when lo and behold! most of them leave it off at once, and they will do so without any peculiar trouble (except, perhaps, for a few days at the commencement). As late as six years ago I still supposed that older persons who are unwilling to do without it, might be allowed to use it in a small quantity. But I have since then become convinced that even a long-continued habit cannot make it harmless, and as the physician can only permit what is best for his patient, it must remain as an established rule that chronic patients must altogether give up this part of their diet, which is insidiously injurious; and this the patients, high or low, who have the proper confidence in their physician, when it is properly represented to them, almost without exception, do willingly and gladly, to the great improvement of their health. Rye or wheat, roasted like coffee in a drum and then boiled and prepared like coffee, has both in smell and in taste much resemblance to coffee; and rich and poor are using this substitute willingly in several countries.