Alcoholism and Homoeopathy

I present for the student of the I.H.M a treatise from Boenninghausen regarding the treatment of alcohol problems using remedies. Now that everyone is back on track and focused, we will discuss this in full next week.

The Greeks of old denoted by Philoposia pretty much what we call mania for drinking, and they distinguished between it and between drunkenness and thirst. The Latin tongue, however, has no similar expression, and has to use, like the French language, a circumlocution. Is it possible that they had no knowledge of it? We may well presuppose that a brief communication on this subject may deserve a place in this Journal, since the subject itself is of considerable importance and of general use, and no one can deny that the mania for drinking is a real disease, and therefore its cure must fall in the province of the physician and of science. We refrain from describing this passion which occurs only too frequently, as well as the frightful consequence which it inflicts not only on the drunkard himself but also on his whole family. Every one knows from examples from his own proximate surroundings the one as well as the other, and he knows how rare are the cases where even in the twelfth hour after the loss of health and of property a salvation generally too late has been effected.

So also we would only in passing mention in a few words what every Homoeopath knows or has to know; namely, how a drunken person is to be treated. Concerning this subject I have given more particular directions in my “Domestic Physician.” Even if this name had not been handed down to us from antiquity, and is, therefore, to be considered classic, it would yet have to be acknowledged, since it is customary and permitted to create learned designations by compounding Greek words, while this is not customary with Latin words (or only exceptionally, as in the objectionable word: abiturient).

The quickest and surest relief from Intoxication:

(a) When caused by beer, supposing this beer to have been pure and not adulterated and poisoned with medicinal substance;

  • the abundant drinking of Chinese tea
  • and afterwards according to the indications, either Rhus or Nux vom.

(b) When caused by drinking brandy;

  • drink salt water and later take Pulsatilla.

(c) When caused by wine;

  • first a bitter almond,
  • and afterwards Nux vom.,
  • unless after wines containing acids: Antimonium crud. better corresponds to the indications.

 Only in the case where the drunken person is lying with a dark red face, staring eyes and twitching in the muscles of the face;

  • in such a case give every quarter of an hour in alternation Opium and Belladonna until he recovers, and then whatever the symptoms call for.

In the same way will be found in the before mentioned pamphlet more in detail the treatment of delirium tremens,

  • in which first Hyoscyamus, Opium, Nux vom. and Stramonium,
  • but in other cases also Anacardium, Aurum, Belladonna and Thuja will be found suitable and useful.

Different from all the preceding is real philoposia, i. e., that disease, the essence of which lies in the moral and physical necessity of a new falling into the vice of drunkenness, as soon as the previous intoxication has passed off, and a relaxation of mind and body has come on, which obliges the drunkard irresistibly to a renewal of the use of spirituous liquors, as experience has taught him that only thus can he, though only temporarily, gain a relief from his wretched and unbearable state. In this desire for drink, which has with him become a real passion, is found the greatest difficulty of curing this philoposia; since in spite of all warnings and all better knowledge it has finally become impossible to him to endure the state of sobriety, and at the same time the power of the will is paralyzed, which might enable him with courage and firmness to bring those initial sacrifices, without which it is impossible to attain his end. The physician, therefore, in this case has to solve the double problem of first improving the bodily condition, and then causing an antipathy to spirituous liquors in general.

With respect to the first problem, i. e., the cure of the bodily mania for drinking, there is no doubt that

  • Poppy-juice (Opium) stands at the head of all the remedies of this class.

The resultsof the provings of this very vigorous substance give us an image of this disease with respect to both the body and to the soul, such as no other medicine affords. With incipient drinkers the repeated use of this remedy alone will give great results, as in such cases it is sufficient of itself to extinguish not only the ill effects of intoxication, but also to induce a sort of repugnance to spirituous liquors in general.

The Orient furnishes us with a striking proof of the truth of Homoeopathy. For here among the numerous opium eaters and opium-smokers we never find a man who is given to the use of spirituous drinks. On the contrary, all testify the most pronounced aversion, although they are lavish enough in the use of sharp spices of all kinds as condiments to their food, so that this aversion is not merely dependent on their overstimulated palate.

The author of this article has in consequence succeeded in delivering several persons, who could already be numbered in the class of habitual drunkards, by merely giving them

  • two or three drops at a dose of the Tinctura Opii, while they were unconscious of it, since such persons are mostly averse to taking medicine this dose was administered in their morning cup of coffee.

This remedy, however, leaving out of view the disadvantage which the continued use of such powerful medicines would unfailingly produce, is not of lasting or even of long continued use, and, therefore, least of all in the case of persons who, in company of other friends devoted to drink, are continually anew seduced to the use of spirituous liquors. Even if the Poppy-juice at the first relapses in their vice might still prove of use, its beneficent effects would-as is the case in all such remedies-gradually grow ever weaker and more transitory, and in the end it would cease entirely, and this even if the doses should continually be increased.

Under such circumstances, which are by on means rare, we have to take our refuge in a dietetic remedy, and one, indeed, which continued for a length of time, continually increases the aversion to spirituous drinks, without in the least injuring the health. This remedy is milk!

Every Homoeopath knows, or ought to know, that every remedy which has aversion to spirituous liquors among its indications also shows aversion to milk or troubles from its use, and vice versa. We know this experimentally and with certainty of

  • Arnica,
  • Arsenic,
  • Bovista,
  • Bryonia,
  • Calcarea,
  • Carbo veg.,
  • China,
  • Ignatia,
  • Lachesis,
  • Mercurius,
  • Natrum mur.,
  • Nuxmosch.,
  • Nux vom.,
  • Pulsatilla,
  • Rhus,
  • Sepia,
  • Silicea,
  • and Sulphur. ac.,

and as to others we have a good reason to suppose it. It is with this as with the peculiarity of some diseases which do not bear the use of certain otherwise quite unmedicinal and therefore quite harmless articles of food and drink, and which show quite considerable aggravations from their use. We would only mention here bread, meat, eggs and vegetables of various kinds, potatoes, pulse, and even pure water, which can not be borne by some patients, while healthy persons and even those sick of other diseases do not feel the slightest ill effects from them.

This might be called a sort of idosyncracy in a more extended sense, which, indeed, has no relation to the greater or less degree of danger in the disease, but the knowledge of which is of the greatest use to the physician, who knows how to make use of such indications, especially in cases where other usable symptoms are lacking

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One response to “Alcoholism and Homoeopathy

  1. Has anyone tried the milk prescription mentioned in the article? Or the opium?
    It is very interesting what Boen. says about the medicines that produce the aversion to alcohol also have aversion to milk, or problems with it. Also that every homeopath should know this…

    I had a drunkard friend who called me one evening saying he was going to shoot himself if I didn’t come out and talk to him. I could hear him loading a gun. When I arrived at his house he was sitting on a wall in his front yard. How he was conscious I don’t know because I found he had drunk almost a liter of bourbon… in the last 4 hrs or so. I had a dropper bottle of Nux vomica 30c with me so I squirted a dropper full in his mouth. As we talked I would plus the remedy and squirt some in every few minutes. In about 1 hour he was completely sober! And really pissed off that I had done that to him too. I had also gotten his gun and disposed of it…

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