THE LAW OF THE SIMILARS.
BY ADOLPH LIPPE, M.D., PHILADELPHIA.
Read before the Philadelphia Homoeopathic Medical Society, Dec. 13th, 187 7.
A NATURAL law is an established order of the universe. In nature’s laws, strictly speaking, there is neither injunction or precept, nor the possibility of infraction. They are, indeed, generalized facts—causes and effects—some of which are known to all, some only to a few; many, doubtless, have yet to be discovered, but all of them are indissolubly connected, each to each. Take the law of gravitation for example, it neither commands nor forbids, but simply announces the fact of the earth’s attraction, and the consequences which it involves. As physicians, it becomes our duty to pursue an intelligent study of natural laws, that is, of the inexorable succession of causes and effects, that upon them we may found reasonable and wise rules of practice. Natural laws will carry with them the weight of authority, and will exert a powerful influence over our practice when we had studied their origin, and found them to be built upon nothing less firm than the rock of natural law, to overthrow which all the storms of human passion and the united force of human endeavor are equally unavailing.
It is now our object to show that the law of the similars is a law of nature, that this law has been applied by the founder of our healing-art as a guide in practice, without a possibility of infraction.
The law of the similars is a law of nature. The knowledge of its existence comes to us without resorting to deep abstractive reasoning; we find this law by solely looking at every day’s observations and experiences. It is the language of nature, ever friendly, leading us like a trusted guide through the labyrinths of life; she teaches us in a language we all know : how the similar befriends the similar, how the similar spontaneously defines the similar, that the similar cures the similar. The truth-inspired poet sang it (Homer’s Odyssey, 217-18); it was taught by the philosophers, by Plato, and based on experience; it is spoken of through the “vox populi.”
Similars are apprehended by similars, is one of the oldest axioms. Sextus Empiricus describes it as an old dogma held by the ancients, and it is traced to Pythagoras; and one of his followers, Philolaos, is said to have secured its recognition at the time of Socrates. Anaximander from Miletus explains the creation, and traces it to an amalgamation of heterogeneous substances, to a separation of the similars from the dissimilars; and the creation of existing things is a result of a reciprocal combination of naturally related objects, because the similar is attracted by and moves towards the similar, and strives for a union.
Democritus of Abdera said : “The similar only affects the similar, and suffers with the similar; and even dissimilar things, should they affect one another, must have some similarity between themselves, because the passive and operative are in reality of the same nature.”
Empedocles of Agrigentum says : “In the same proportion as the dissimilars flee one another or repel one another, do the similars seek one another, and are attracted one to the other.”
Aristotle tells us : “If similars affect similars, we perceive finally through this reciprocal action a cessation, an annihilation of the original qualities and generations of a different condition, which really forms the contrariety of the previously existing condition. Wine diminishes the bodily heat through its own inherent heat; and as the more powerful fire extinguishes the less powerful fire, so wine overpowers and annihilates the more active heat of the body; and so it is explained that drunkards find their death from the abstraction of the natural bodily heat. (Paraphrast terms this condition “refrigeration.”)
History teaches that the law of the similars has guided the thoughtful physician from the very beginning of medical history; some had an indistinct presentiment, others a distinct knowledge of its existence. History proves that the actual application of the homoeopathic principles counts as many days as medicine itself. A presentiment of the principle existed long before light was shed over the mysterious recoveries from sickness. The old Greeks thought to exhaust their conception of it in the word “sympathy”, and the antidotal power of the similar acting was of such high esteem, that Plinius, in astonishment over the results, exclaimed, “Whoever believes that this discovery was accidentally made by men, conceives the benevolence of the gods in an ungrateful manner.”
The first practical application of the law of the similars was made by the father of medicine, Hippocrates. Before we proceed to, illustrate this assertion by quotations from his writings, it is welI to show first that the assertion that Hippocrates was guided by the law of the contraries is erroneous, and it is erroneous to ascribe to him the establishment of the indication, “Contraria contrariis opponenda.” The Allopathic school quote the 22nd aphorism of the Second Book, in order to establish the fact that he was advocating the law of the contraries. This aphorism reads thus : “The sickness which arises from repletion is cured by evacuation, and that which arises from evacuation by repletion. Thus opposites are counteractive of each other.“ When we consider that this great healer always considered it his highest and leading airy “to listen. to the laws of nature, and be guided by them in action”,
it becomes obvious that he by no means associates with this aphorism any therapeutic means; he does not say by what means the healer is to cure either sickness arising from repletion, or sickness arising from evacuation; all he does say is, that evacuation will take place and cure when the sickness arises from repletion, and that repletion will take place and cure when sickness arises from evacuation. He states the final internal subjective causes of the healing process; he does not state by what means these healing effects of nature must or can be produced.
Some of his observations and statements of his experience show very clearly that his therapeutics were based on the laws of the similars. Aphorism 46 of the Second Book reads : “Two, painful sensations arriving at the same time, though not in the same place, the greater obscures the less.” This is in harmony with the 22nd paragraph of the Organon. In the Fifth Book of the Aphorisms, we find the 17th read : “Excess of cold induces convulsions, tetanus, petechiae, and febrile rigors; “and the 21st reads : “When tetanus takes place, without previous ulcer, in the middle of summer, in those of full habits, cold affusions serve to recall the absent heat, and thereby terminate the disease.”
Aphorism 24 reads : “Cold applications, such as snow and ice, are injurious to the breast, producing cough, catarrh, and hemorrhage; “and Aphorism 23 : “In those instances where hemorrhage takes place, or is about to take place, the application of cold water is necessary.” In section 5, “De internis affectionibus”, we find him say : “Wine (mixed with honey) is recommended in liver diseases, notwithstanding the observation that wine causes atrophy of the liver and spleen.” In the same book we find, “If one has drank hastily and frequently of stagnant water after a long fatiguing march in summer, and becomes dropsical, he will find the most efficacious remedy in drinking heavily of the same water, which causes him to have diarrhoea, and pass an abundance of urine.”
In the book, “De morbo sacro” (epilepsy); we find this axiom, “Diseases are generally cured by the very thing that caused them.” A further explanation of this axiom is given in the book, “De locis in homine”, where he says, “Similars cause and cure diseases.” “That which causes strangury, cough, diarrhea and vomiting, is also able to cure these evils.”
These quotations might be multiplied to show that the Father of Medicine, who so carefully listened to the laws of nature, and who considered experience the highest and deciding tribunal, really was guided by the law of the similars, and by no other law. The fundamental principle of the school promoted by Galen, and governing for over fifteen hundred years all medical schools, was, “Contraria contraries curentur”, and it became as it were a self-evident axiom. This axiom could never become a true guide in therapeutics, as, to every thinker, it must become self-evident that it finds no application in medicine. What are contraries? Surely pain and painlessness are not contraries; painlessness is but a normal condition of health, and pain a normal condition in sickness; therefore pain is only a deviation from, not the contrary of, painlessness. The same thing can be said of almost all internal diseases, such as inflammations, fever, nervous irritations, functional disturbances of organs and tissues; we surely have no contrary to these often dangerous conditions. This law of cure can only be applied to single separate symptoms of the complex of manifestations of functional disturbances; for instance, heat against coldness and, chills, cooling things against heat, purgatives against constipation, and astringents against diarrhoea. This fallacious law of cure finally led to the abominable polypharmacy of the symptomatic treatment. It was really believe by these scientific men that the combination of drugs, each of which was supposed to affect one of the symptoms contrarily, would, after having gone into the stomach, be sent out, each of it to his post, and there conquer the enemy.
The only reliable law of cure was, and always will be, the law of the similars, and it was left to the genius of HAHNEMANN to establish this only law by which therapeutics can be governed.
HAHNEMANN showed first that all and every cure over made was owing to the accidental application of this law, and gave very numerous quotations to prove the correctness of his assertions.
When he found by actual experiment that medicinal substances were able to produce on the human organism symptoms resembling those occurring during sickness, he applied the law of the similars, by administering to the sick such remedies as he knew had caused similar symptoms on well persons, and, by the invariably favourable results following such treatment, he established. the law of the similars as the only reliable guide in therapeutics.
The Allopathic School did, and does now, claim to know the causes of diseases; their diagnosis of diseases was, and still is, based on a presumptive knowledge of the changed and altered conditions of organs and tissues in disease; and this • hypothesis, to them, shows also the cause of the disease. HAHNEMANN discarded all hypothesis; and this conscientious observer did see in these altered or changed conditions of organs and tissues, not the disease itself, Fait the result of an already previously existing disturbance of the organism; he observed all subjective and objective symptoms of which the sick complained, or were on him discernible. The supposed cause of the disease forms the basis of Allopathic treatment; the totality of all discernible symptoms is, to the Homoeopathist, the only basis of therapeutics. It is, therefore, our aim to find for each individual case of sickness such a similar remedy as we know has caused similar symptoms on the well person.
It becomes obvious that we cannot apply the law of the similars successfully if we attempt first to find the so-called pathological condition of the sick by the aid of physiology and pathology.
Our knowledge of drug-action and of their sick-making power is limited to the symptoms observed by the prover; and to draw from these so observed symptoms a deduction similar to that which the Allopathic School does draw from the symptoms of the sick, and by the aid of physiology attempt to find changed and altered conditions of organs and tissues on which to base our therapeutics, would make us apply the law of the similars to the hypothesis of a natural disease and a hypothesis of an artificial disease.
Neither of them really exist. Natural diseases continuously change; even the same form of a disease exhibits similar but different symptoms in various localities, and at various times, and still more varying symptoms in different persons, of different ages, temperaments, and constitutions. Were we to attempt to apply the law of the similars to diseases as we find them classified, to a certain extent, in -modern pathology, we would, by inference, accept this pathology as our basis for therapeutics.
If, then, diseases so called, even arising from the same presumptive cause, or appearing in the form of an epidemic, always show different symptoms on differently constituted persons, their individuality governing the difference of the symptoms, we can never find their similar if we presume to be able to find the true ‘similar remedy under the provings of drugs by us also classified so as to correspond with the pathological hypothesis. The law of the similars can therefore only be applied by accepting the totality of symptoms observable as the only manifestation of disease to us revealed and comprehensible; we must, by necessity, drop all hypothesis, and apply the law of the similars to the case of sickness by that true and only knowledge we have of it—its discernible symptoms.
The law of the similars is applicable to all cases of nonsurgical disorders and ailments. Under surgical cases we understand all possible mechanical injuries; they come under the mechanical laws, and the, law of the similars becomes of necessity applicable to the results arising from them; applicable to the disturbances of the organism after the mechanical aid has been rendered, which liability to disturbances increases by means of previous ill-health and various miasms in the organism, latent and slumbering disorders, and is modified by the individuality of the person. Even in cases of voluntary, involuntary, or scientific poisoning, in which we apply chemical antidotes in appreciable and crude doses, the law of similars prevails.
If the axiom which was proclaimed by the ancients, and has never yet been contradicted by chemistry is true, that similars attract one another, and contraries repel one another, then by administering a chemical antidote we administer a substance which attracts the poison we wish to destroy; and the process of attraction could not take place, did not two similars meet, and having met, act one on another according to the chemical laws governing inorganic bodies. Did the antidote act under the laws of the contraries, then the two substances, the poison and the supposed antidote, would repel one another, would never be attracted one to another, and the two could not possibly affect one another. After the chemical laws governing inorganic bodies have accomplished the neutralization of the poison, there will at best remain a changed and altered condition of organs and tissues caused by the absorption of very small particles or parts of the poison; these following disturbances are not within the reach of the laws governing inorganic bodies, and a further application of our law of the similars will eventually restore to full health the chemically-affected, poisoned organism, by administering to the now remaining dynamical ailment; dynamic remedies.
If our proposition, that the axiom that similars attract one another, and contraries repel one another, is accepted as a natural law, that law becomes an established order of the universe.
When daily experience teaches us that the sick are restored to health by administering to them similars, that is, remedies possessing a similar sick-making power, then the formula we have adopted, “Similia similibus curentur”, becomes also a natural law, which must then by necessity be beyond the possibility of infraction. This natural law must, by logical necessity, be applicable in all and every case of non-surgical disease, or else it could never be a natural law; and if, properly applied to all cases of sickness, it proves to be correct and reliable because of its infallibility as a natural law, then no other, but least of all the law of the contraries, could under any circumstances be substituted for it.
The law of the contraries is just the opposite of the law of the similars, and is not competent to take the place of, or be used as, a substitute for that natural law governing our therapeutics. It is not possible for both of these axioms to be true; opposites repel one another, and as truth and error as opposites will never attract one another, and can therefore never co-exist together, so neither can the formula, “Contraria contrariis curentur”, which guides the Allopathic School, co-exist with the formula, “Similia similibus curentur.“
There will and must for ever exist attraction of the similars; and repulsion of the opposites; and the two schools of medicine being opposite, that repulsion, which is also a natural law governing the opposites, will forever exist, and exert its legitimate results, up to the time when medical schools return again to the simple and only safe pursuit followed by Hippocrates and HAHNEMANN of listening attentively to nature, and accept it as a duty to be guided by her safe teachings. Then, and not till then, will we cease to hear of propositions to “amalgamate”, to attempt to force truth and error to be wedded and harmoniously exist together; then, and not till then, will the medical world accept the law of the similars as the only guide in therapeutics, and learn to heal the sick according to an infallible natural law; and that law is, the law of the similars; it is “OUR LAW.”