Caries Of Spine Cured By Syphilinum.
By THOMAS SKINNER, M.D.
Read before the Liverpool Homoeopathic Medico-Chirurgical Society, 5th April, 1876.
MY colleague, Dr. Hayward, last session, asked me to bring before the Society a good and substantial case of disease cured by high potencies. By a good and substantial disease, I presume he means a case where the scalpel of the pathologist would find, post-mortem, such an amount of “tissue change”, such a disorganization of the natural structure of the parts, as would entitle it to be called a substantial disease. Although Dr. Hayward and I differ in our ideas of what constitutes a substantial disease, I have, in the present instance, endeavoured to suit his views of substantiality, and to comply with his suggestion. I trust that Dr. Hayward, and all who think as he does, will agree with me in considering caries of the dorsal vertebrae, with Pott’s curvature, and two psoas abscesses, a substantial disease, and a sufficient test of the value of Syphilinum and high potencies.
So far as Allopathy is concerned, the medical treatment of this wasting and terrible disease is barren in the extreme, and is limited to what is called constitutional treatment, which means, cod-liver oil ad nauseam, and quinine and iron, and such like, ad libitum. How different is the treatment in the hands of the Homoeopathic physician, who, in the language of HAHNEMANN) feels that “The highest aim of healing is the speedy, gentle, and permanent restitution of health, or alleviation and obliteration of disease in its entire extent, in the shortest, most reliable, and safest manner, according to clearly intelligible reasons.”
If we look into the past and present of Homoeopathy, we shall find that we do not, like our weaker brethren of Allopathy, fall into the slough of despond, into the groove of routine, and rot our useful lives away. If we look behind or before, we see a constant state of transition—like our potencies, our discoveries are capable of infinite progression—and if there is one discovery in medicine more truly wonderful than another, it is the discovery and application to disease of the nosode Syphilinum. If there be one man more entitled than another to the praise due for the development of the uses of this therapeutic agent, it is to my much-esteemed and enterprising friend, Dr. Samuel Swan, of New York.
It may be objected, that Syphilinum is an unproven agent, and, consequently, that it is an empirical practice to treat disease with Syphilinum. This is altogether groundless. Syphilinum, and many other nosodes, have been proven by Dr. Swan and his friends; and whilst I was his guest in New York, last summer, I had the pleasure and great satisfaction of reading many of the provings, more especially of the four most remarkable, namely, Syphilinum, Medorrhinum, and Lac-Caninum. Besides, the whole history of Syphilis, as well as the faithful picture which HAHNEMANN has given us of its symptomatology in the first volume of his Chronic Diseases, and in the Organon, is a sound pathogenesis of Syphilinum, which is not Syphilis, but Syphiline. On the present occasion it would be foreign to my purpose to say one word about these provings; suffice it then, you must take my word for it, that Syphilinum has been proven, and it has already given those who have studied it, pathogenetically and clinically, a mine of rare symptoms pointing to the cure of diseases thought to be perfectly incurable, both by Allopathists and by Homoeopathists, the present case of cure being a proof of this.
With these preliminary observations, I have much pleasure in submitting one of the many remarkable cures effected in chronic constitutional disease by this silent, but miracle-working Dynamis.
Whilst I was attending a lady, in April, 1876, and having afforded her great relief to an old-standing uterine disease of a psoric character by means of Sepia Cm. (Fincke), and which was effected by means of one dose; it looked to her so much like a miracle, she begged of me to accompany her up stairs to see her son, who, she told me, was suffering terrible agony from disease of the spine. When I heard the nature of the disease, and that he had been confined to his back for years, I made all kinds of excuses on the point of etiquette, et cetera, knowing that a neighboring Allopathic physician was in attendance, and the first surgeon in Liverpool when occasion required. It was of no use; a mother’s affection and natural instinct were not to be baulked, and I consented to see him.
He was then seventeen years of age, but disease had so dwarfed and reduced him, as to give him the appearance of a boy of twelve years. I found that he had been confined to his couch for about three years, more or less, and that for about one year he had scarcely ever been off his back. I found that the couch on which he lay was a spinal-couch, specially made and ingeniously padded to suit his wants. There was an opening through the bottom of it, and through the mattress, to enable the motions to pass without disturbing him, as the least motion gave him great pain by day and terrific pain by night. With a little care we got him gently turned over, and the spine examined. At once I saw that the lad was suffering from caries of the dorsal vertebrae, with acute curvature—Pott’s disease. There were numerous cloacae communicating with the diseased bones—and one, much larger than the rest, exuding a sanious and offensive pus—at times sanguinolent. The largest one was surrounded with proud flesh. There was great thickening and induration of the surrounding parts from effusion of lymph—a kind of protective lymphy callus. Percussion and pressure were not endurable; and as for any attempt at probing to ascertain the nature of the disease, or the exact extent of the mischief, it was not only unnecessary, but in my estimation it would have been cruel, if not criminal, to have done so. On further examination, I found that two abscesses had come to light, one pointing in either groin. One was opened in March, 1875, about a year before I saw him; this was in the left groin. The one in the right groin was opened a year later, namely, in March, 1876, about one month before my visit. I was informed that when the second abscess was opened, the first began to run more freely—most likely the two communicated. That both abscesses were of the nature of psoas abscesses, and that they were in connection with the diseased bones, there can be no doubt whatever. Such has been the opinion of all who have seen the patient.
Looking at his general physique, there was great attenuation of the soft parts throughout—spare and hollow—and no wonder, when we take into consideration the wasting nature of the disease, and the following subjective symptoms : —Total loss of appetite for months, but which before his illness was generally ravenous. Now little or nothing suffices to satisfy him. For five months before I saw him he had suffered every night without fail from the most intense neuralgic pains, commencing generally from 5 to 7 p.m., and never terminating until daylight, or about 5 a.m. The pain was situated in the muscles of the loins of the left side, and at times in the right side. He characterized them as sharp, cutting spawns, terrible to bear, and forcing him to “sing out.” The pains were aggravated by the least motion, and were limited in time to the hours above stated. As regards relief, nothing afforded any, except warm poultices, but which relief was, to use the patient’s own words, “more in name than in reality.” Allopathic palliatives had been tried in vain, and had been given up as more hurtful than otherwise long before I visited the patient. (He had taken no medicine for a month or more.)
When I prescribed, I was ignorant of the provings of Syphilinum, and the entire of my knowledge of it was the following characteristic key-note, which I had received from Dr. Swan, along with a phial of his Cm. potency : — “Aggravations, no matter what the disease, if they occur at night, Syphilinum will relieve, and frequently it will cure.” The experience I have had of Syphilinum, since this case came under my observation, and which will be made the subject of a future paper, leads me to the conclusion that this key-note of Dr. Swan is a little exaggerated, somewhat too sweeping, which I am inclined to think he will modify in the future. On the head of this key-note of Syphilinum, I gave one dose dry on the tongue one hour before tea. It was not repeated for ten days. That night the neuralgic, or sharp cutting spasms, never occurred, arid, what is more, they have never returned, except slightly on the evening of the ninth day, which made me give another dose; since which there, has been no nocturnal aggravation of any kind. By the 25th of April, 1876, I had given him three doses at intervals of about ten days. During this time remarkable changes were going forward. His sleep returned; his appetite and digestion came back; and in the short space of three weeks or so, I was able to examine his back with freedom. I percussed and succussed it without his wincing but I did it gently and cautiously at first, gradually increasing the force until I thumped it. I did what he never could have borne before he took the first dose of Syphilinum. I found that all the phenomena of inflammation had taken their departure from the seat of the disease; the cloacae were all dried up and healed; and this day, the 4th April, 1877 (a full year from the reading of this paper, April, 1876), I have received a letter from the young man’s mother, stating that they remain perfectly healed as then. All redness, swelling, and tenderness were also gone. What is still more strange, without the slightest exercise, the soft parts, the muscles of the extremities in particular, became fleshy and filled up.. From a state of marasmus they became plump, certainly in less than six weeks—that would be after four powders of the Cm. (Swan) in all.
As I was to sail on the 23rd of May, 1876, for “The World’s Homoeopathic Convention” I introduced my friend and colleague, Dr. Simpson, of Waterloo, to the family, for two reasons. (1) That he might see the case, and hear the report of the facts from the patient and the mother, and to examine the case so as to be a witness of such stupendous facts, in themselves difficult of belief. (2) To look after the case in my absence. During my sojourn in the United States, fearing to continue the Syphilinum, I put him upon Calcarea phosphorica 3, which he took daily until my return; but, as he had left his home for the country, I did not see him again until the 24th of August, 1876.
I may just as well mention, that before I left for the States, and before my patient touched the Calc phos., he was up and walking daily (with the aid of a steel spinal support, which he had used at the commencement of his illness), that is, within six weeks of the first dose of Syphilinum.
Since my return, he has taken Syphilinum in still higher powers, namely, the Mm., the 10 Mm., and the 50 Mm. (Swan.) In using high dynamizations, it is wise to go to a higher power when the course has been interrupted by another medicine, or when the power in use is ceasing to improve. At times I have tried to stop the abscesses with Sulphur, Silicea, and Hepar, but they all disagreed with him in powers of from 30 to the Mm. The Sulphur did some good, but only temporary. Silicea Cm. induced loss of appetite and nausea, necessitating it to be antidoted by Fluoric-acid Cm. Hepar 30 and Mm. provoked morning diarrhea after every dose, so that I determined to keep to Syphilinum, even for the cure of the psoas abscesses. The second abscess, which was opened in March, 1876, ceased discharging about the end of last October (1876); but, strange to say, it broke out again whilst I was giving either the Silicea or the Hepar, and is now again diminishing under the influence of Syphilinum in a higher power, namely, 50 Mm. (Swan.) The quantity of discharge from either abscess is, at the present, a mere “weeping”, a few drops of a morning.
Whilst taking the Syphilinum once a week, he has never really required any other medicine, except Pulsatilla Mm., which was given him on account of a pretty smart attack of pleurodynia, from exposure, and which relieved him in a few doses.
My patient still continues to take the Syphilinum 50 Mm. once in eight days, and he will continue to take it until I am satisfied that the abscesses are fairly and constitutionally healed, which may take some months yet, as the lad is growing much since the disease was checked. He regards the Syphilinum in the light of “a powerful tonic, and the best he ever took in his life.” His mother says, “that it seems to act the part of a tonic, and to sustain him in a marvelous manner. No medicine agrees with him or props him up like these powders.” (Syphilinum.)
There is a great lesson to be learned from the above facts, and I must not lose the opportunity of drawing attention to it—I mean the unmistakably syphilitic origin of the disease in this instance. An eminent, practical, and advanced Allopathician, Dr. Latham, has said : “After all, remedies are the great analyzers of disease.” Never was there a greater truth spoken or written, and especially true is it when they are given in single file. That the case was chronic no one can doubt; being so, it must necessarily owe its origin to one or more of the three Hahnemannian miasms, namely, Psora, Syphilis, or Sycosis. That psora was not the fons et origo mali, we have the fact that the best-selected antipsorics all disagreed with the patient in various potencies, even those which are generally considered so eminent in ulceration of bone; I mean Silicea, which had actually to be antidoted. Hepar, which is so famous in its control over the suppurative process, provoked morning diarrhea after every dose, a new symptom in the pathogenesis of Hepar. Sulphur 30 was the only antipsoric which did not disagree, and beyond slightly improving the appetite, it did the patient no good. Here is the conclusive point in the differential diagnosis of the real nature of the malady. Whilst the patient was taking the best known antipsorics, Silicea and Hepar, to aid the closing of the abscesses first began by the Syphilinum, the second abscess immediately broke out again, but began speedily to diminish on resuming the Syphilinum. This is a most important lesson to have learned. If Silicea, Calcarea, Sulphur, Fluoric-acid, and their like, cure CARIES, then we conclude that we most likely have had PSORA to deal with; if Syphilinum and its auxiliaries, Mercurius, Lachesis, Aurum, Nitric-acid, and their like, do good and cure, then as certainly and most likely have we had SYPHILIS to deal with.
In conclusion, I should like to take the wind out of the sails of some of my would-be critics, if I can.
Some will say, “And do you call that homoeopathy? I call it isopathy!” Some may call it what they please; I have cured the patient of one of the most terrible diseases that can afflict our race, and by what theory of cure it is to be classified, seems to me a secondary consideration. I do not believe in isopathy as a distinct doctrine of cure from homoeopathy. Such an idea is only held by the materialistic school of medical thought, and can only find a lodgment in such minds. It certainly was pooh-poohed by HAHNEMANN, who was no materialist. He says, in a note to §56 of the Organon, “The attempt is made by some to create a fourth mode of applying medicines in diseases, by means of isopathy, as it is called; that is, to cure an equal disease by an equal miasm. But supposing this were possible– and it would deserve the name of a wonderful discovery—the cure, in that case, could only be accomplished by opposing a simillimum to a simillimum, since isopathy administers only a highly potentiated, and, as it were, altered miasm to a patient.” HAHNEMANN has here hit the mark well. The dynamization of medicines, or of the materies morbi in the nosode, “alters” the drug or dynamis. This will be denied by some; but so long as I have HAHNEMANN to back me, I care not who is against me. I have unbounded confidence in SAMUEL HAHNEMANN and in his Organon of Medicine.
One word more. Seeing that Syphilinum has worked wonders in the cure of this case of Caries of the Spine, are we justified in concluding that Syphilinum is homoeopathic to all cases of the same disease? I think not.. It can only be homoeopathic to the variety arising from Syphilis, not from Psora. On looking over the provings of this nosode,’in the possession of Dr, Swan, I saw that, like all other similar substances, it necessarily has a specific or limited range or sphere of action, which can only be determined by its true pathogenesis, extended by clinical experience. A further extended clinical experience of Syphilinum in this disease, Caries of the Spine, can alone settle this knotty point; and in developing this knowledge, let us avoid empiricism. When I prescribed, I did not prescribe for Caries, or for any objective symptom whatever; I prescribed for a deranged vitality, as evidenced by the subjective symptom of pain, aggravated to agony every night, between the hours of 5 p.m. and 5 a.m. This has been proved beyond all doubt to be pathogenetically and clinically a characteristic symptom of Syphilinum, especially as regards neuralgic, rheumatic, and periostitic pains. Putting the greatest trust in the correctness of Dr. Swan’s observations, and in the justness of his key-notes in general, I put an end to the deranged vital action which gave rise to the neuralgia, and, in doing so, I found that Syphilinum could also cure the destructive ulceration of hone in this case, which, to say the least, is a great discovery, a mighty triumph, supposing there was never another similar cure.
Our great departed and much-loved Dr. Carroll Dunham, has said and written, “Shall any proving, however fragmentary, however impure, which yet puts it in the power of the physician to cure, even a single case of disease, be cast out from the Materia Medica? The answer must be, Let it remain for the sake of these rare cases, as a stimulus to pure and complete provings, as a contribution to the clinical, if not, in pedantic literalness, to the pathogenetic history of the .drug ), (American Homoeopathic Review, vol. iv., page 309.)
As I have now a large and increasing knowledge of this remarkable nosode, I shall feel obliged by my confreres sending me any clinical experience they may acquire from now, with full details of symptoms, conditions, etc. I am only sorry I cannot furnish them with fuller details of the pathogenesis. I have notes for my own use, but they are not by any means full enough, or in a satisfactory state for publication. Those who desire to read all that is as yet published will find a tolerable resume in Dr. Lilienthal’s lately published work on Diseases of the Skin, page 378.
I shall be glad to assist any one desirous of extending our glorious cause in this direction; but, before we begin, he must first of all get out of, and do away with, leading-strings; he must, of necessity, believe in the change effected by the dynamization of medicines, and he must agree to use these nosodes in high-powers, or let them alone; especially so is this true of the wonderful nosode, Syphilinum.
Note.—On revising proof for the press, 23rd November, 1877, I am glad to be able to say that the patient remains cured, one year and three quarters since my first prescription. Of course, with the ordinary and natural result, namely, more or less of a hunch-back.