The Choice of the Remedy
— C. V Boenninghausen
Address delivered before the Meeting of the Homeopathic Physicians of Rhineland and Westphalia, at Dortmund, July 28, 1859.
The choice of the remedy in any concrete case of disease can not be made too carefully or too cautiously. No less in the healing art than in morals, the motto holds good: “Bonum ex omni parte, malum ex quorumque defectu.” Many failures occur, especially with unpracticed beginners, because in examining the symptoms the one or the other was overlooked. Even with the older and more experienced homeopathic physicians, especially such as are very busy, such an occurrence occasionally takes place.
This cannot, however, prove either the insufficiency of Homeopathy in general nor the inadequacy of the small and rare doses, and the experienced practitioner, who always looks with suspicion on such excuses, will in such cases first of all subject the image of the disease which he has formed to a new revision, and look for the lack of his success in his medication first in this direction.
It is not, indeed, my intention to offer anything new here to the practiced and experienced physicians. But it does seem to me as if an incidental warning to such as are about to enter on this field might not be altogether superfluous, and I consider it on that account allowable to introduce a case that happened lately, and which will put what I desire to say into its proper light. I do not intend to speak here of curing merely by the name of the disease, the so called “Medicina nominalis”, which is altogether a different matter, and which is still doing untold mischief, for such a treatment is very acme of irrational and unconscionable routine, and warning against such a practice would justly be considered an insult even by the youngest of our colleagues.
Merchant Ph. M., thirty years of age, had caught a cold last winter while traveling; he did not at first pay any attention to it, but the increasing ailment demanded medical assistance. Treatment by an allopath had remained without effect; in fact, during this treatment, lasting three months, nearly all the symptoms had grown considerably worse, so that now, as is so frequently done, the homeopath was called for aid. The following symptom formed the image of the disease:
For the last three or four weeks there has been a hollow, dry cough with hoarseness and much toughness in the larynx, most violent during night. Constriction of the chest with stitches in the left side while lying on that side. Internal heat, without thirst. Severe exhausting perspiration. Striking timidity. great drowsiness, but restless sleep, waking up frequently, while an internal anxiety prevents his going to sleep again. The face pale and collapsed, with a circumscribed redness of cheeks. Pressure in the stomach after eating especially after eating, especially after milk, often with vomiting, first of ingesta and then of gall. Augmented, watery urine. Extraordinary emaciation. He prefers warmth, and it agrees best with him. he feels better in moderate motion than in continuous rest. He had never been unwell much, and had never been actually sick He could take a deep breath without any trouble, and frequently he felt impelled thereto. I could not find out anything about the allopathic remedies which he had used.”
After careful consideration and a protracted comparison of all the symptoms present with our matera medica, every homeopath will agree with me that Phosphorus seemed most indicated of all the remedies, and this so decidedly that none of the other remedies could at all compare with it. I, therefore, felt no hesitation at all to give to my patient my usual dose (a high potency 200c) of this very efficient remedy, and to direct its administration in the usual manner (dissolved in water), recommending to him the usual diet, and directing him to report to me in person in two weeks.
But I was cruelly and painfully disappointed when the patient after this period appeared before me, for he was not improved in any respect; on the contrary, his sickly appearance and the threatening redness of the cheeks had increased and the feverish symptoms had been suspiciously augmented. In the meantime the remedy had been used exactly according to my directions, and nothing had been overlooked either in diet or in his mode of life. What then had been the reason for my total failure? Under such circumstances the only reason could be the defective or incorrect examination of the symptoms, so I went over them again carefully, one by one.
The mistake then appeared in the feverish symptoms, which were only superficially indicated, and which in the patient had an unusual and, therefore, unrecognized form, which was at the same time very characteristic. For while sleeping he was suffering continually from a dry, burning heat, which on his waking up immediately passed into a very profuse perspiration, which continued without interruption while he was awake, until he fell asleep again, when at once the dry heat reappeared.
Thus the conundrum was solved. This symptom is found only in Sambucus, while in Phosphorus just the opposite is found. Since all the other symptoms coincided my patient received at once a dose of the high potency I usually employ, and the result was then so complete that in two weeks he was freed from all his ailments and felt as well as ever before.