Hahnemanns insight into blood letting.

We present this quote and observation from Richard Haehl on the life and times of Samuel Hahnemann. It is interesting to note that even Hahnemann’s colleagues were not convinced of the uselessness of bloodletting. Hahnemann was a man before his time. By observation alone he was able to determine what was useful for a patients recovery and what was detrimental to his health.

 

‘ NEGLECT ” OF BLOOD-LETTING

samuel_hahnemann_sSince illness was to him nothing material, but a dynamic discord of the life force which is so closely dependent on the blood, every removal of blood seemed to him to be sheer dissipation of the life force necessary for the recovery of equilibrium in the  physical  state.   In  opposition  to such  wastage  he  demands  the strengthening of the blood by suitable medicines, acting moderately, so that it may overcome the disease.  The blood, the vital fluid,  must at most be improved by regularised mode of life and suitable nutriment.   Hahnemann can never express strongly enough his indignation against the misuse of the life force as practised by his opponents, particularly when dealing with the idiotic procedure of Broussais’ phlebotomy in chronic diseases.

The ” discharges and secretions brought on by nature left to herself (the  apparent crises) in chronic diseases,” he characterises as ” merely palliative relief of  short duration,  which  contributes little  to a real cure, but rather aggravates the original internal disease by dissipating the energy and fluids of the  body ” (“Organon “).  He attacks Broussais with particular fierceness, although he allows him the credit of ” having opposed senseless mixing of several drugs in prescriptions  and  of having made an end of them in France.”  His method of unlimited blood-letting he opposes as a method of curing, which will not effectively decrease the sufferings of patients and will not permanently prevent a  more  violent return  of all their  troubles.   He had  found the easier  way  ” of gradually appeasing  more and more the patients’ sufferings at the expense of their life and finally of totally extinguish- ing sufferings and life—a method of curing, which unfortunately satisfied his shortsighted  contemporaries ” (2l6). ” The gentlemen of the new hybrid sects,” the semi-homceopaths, are by no means spared these reproaches.  Indeed, it is particularly  to them, to whom the selection of the homceopathic medicine is too laborious or who will not rely on its therapeutic effect alone, that he speaks the truth so bluntly (2I7).

This  resolute and  unconditional  rejection  of  phlebotomy,  etc.,  was bound  to lead to violent counter-attacks by the opposition.  The battle was not always  conducted  in the   fairest  spirit.  Is  it very surprising  that Hahnemann, the butt not merely of scientific disputations but also of savage scandals affecting his honour as a man and a physician, should often lose his sense of  balance and (as in  his  lectures  at Leipsic  University)  launch into unmeasured terms of castigation ?  One reproach hurled at him was to the effect that he had tried to  obtain relief for his wife in her last  illness by blood-letting and  that,  similarly,  he  himself  had  recourse to  the  same measure.  This libel was able to find credence even in homceopathic circles, who were all involved in the prevalent confusion.   From the adversaries’ side reproaches and insults rained on him and his theory (2lS).

Even Hufeland, who had to  confess that he had seen the completion of many successful and even extremely  surprising cures with homoeopathy—chiefly in the case of chronic nervous diseases—makes the remark :

Their (homoeopathy’s)  main  tenet is the rejection of the two  most important measures for saving life—blood-letting and emetics—which, it is well known, cannot be replaced.

 

A shrewd judge of  homceopathv, Professor Riecke of Tubingen, thinks

” Homoeopathy  commits  in  this  case many  sins  of omission, allowing people to die  for fear of shedding blood, whilst the allopath not infrequently  kill in their lust for blood.  .   .   .”  But he hopes that ” in time the homoeopaths will return to the blood evacuations.”

They have not returned to them in spite of all the persecutions endured on that  account.  Summonses  in  court for not practising  phlebotomy, such as Hornburg had to fight in Leipsic, Trinks and Wolf in  Dresden and Baumgarten in Magdeburg, were not able to turn them from their advanced views.   On  the  contrary,  under  the compelling force of homoeopathic examples, the apparently immovable  faith  in the wonders of  phlebotomy, purgatives and emetics has been made to vacillate in  the course of years by  reason  of the people’s apathy ;  the  more  serious-minded and reflective physicians have  been stimulated to  research,  the  results of  which  have  completely confirmed the assertions of Hahnemann and his pupils.

One of  the first to be convinced from his own experiments of the uselessness of blood- letting  was the famous Viennese physician, Dietl.  In the years 1842-1846 he treated pneumonia patients in his hospital with and without  phlebotomy. Of the former, 85 in number, he lost 17  by death (20 per cent.) ;  of the latter, 175 all told, only  12 (7 per cent.) !   In spite of all attacks he had the courage  to confess that he had arrived at this  bloodless  treatment of pneumonia through homoeopathy. And  to-day ?  To-day, phlebotomy,  scarification, regular dosing with purgatives and emetics represent  something of the past both for allopaths and for homoeopaths.

Until the end Hahnemann was attacked for his principles and not  until much later times were he and his theories given their due regard.

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