Mrs. Beeton's Book of Household Management/Chapter LXXIII



The Principles, Practice and Advantages of Homœopathy, with Prescriptions for the Homœopathic Treatment of Disease

Homœopathy Defined.—In a work in which it is sought to give information on every branch of Household Management, and in which even the treatment of diseases and their prevention and cure must of necessity be briefly discussed, it is manifest that the important mode and means of medical treatment known as Homœopathy must not be ignored. In order to arrive at a correct idea of what Homœopathy is, it is necessary first of all to ascertain the meaning of the word itself, and to understand why it is used to designate that form of medical practice to which it was applied by the founder of this system of medicine, Dr. Samuel Hahnemann, who first announced his discovery to the medical world in 1796. Theory, generally speaking, forms the basis of practice in art and science, and in no science is this more perceptible than in the science of medicine. Thus in medical practice it has arisen that there are two great and opposing schools of medicine, each of which is based on a widely different theory; that of the ordinary medical practitioner being Contraria contrariis curantur, which means "Opposites are cured by opposites"; and that of the homœopathic practitioner, Similia similibus curantur, which means "Likes are cured by likes." Going a little deeper into the matter the first of these sentences implies that in the treatment of any disease, be it what it may, drugs should be used which will produce in the body of the patient a condition opposite to that induced by the disease to be cured, or in other words that it is needful to counteract the disease and arrest its progress by the administration of medicines that will produce effects different from those resulting from the disease itself. The second, on the contrary, implies that in the treatment of any disease, be it what it may, drugs should be used which would produce in a healthy person symptoms resembling or like to those occasioned by the disease by which the patient is affected. Hence Hahnemann was led to apply to the generally accepted mode of medical treatment the term Allopathy from two Greek words, allos, another, and pathos, suffering; and to his own method the term Homœopathy also from two Greek words, homoios, similar or like, and pathos, suffering.

The Principle of Homœopathy.—It is possible that some persons may entertain an idea that the medicines given by the homœopathist would produce in a healthy person precisely the same diseases as those which they are given to counteract in any one suffering from disease. This is altogether erroneous, for the symptoms produced by any particular drug or medicine in a healthy person are only similar or like those resulting from the disease itself, and not in any way the same as the symptoms excited by the disease or identical with them. It must be noted that the great principle of homœopathy is that Likes cure likes, not that Identicals cure identicals, and this must never be lost sight of. The morbific matter, state or condition, call it which you will, which has caused the disease, or generated the sickly state into which the patient has lapsed, is counteracted and neutralized by the action of the drug which, in a healthy person, would produce symptoms similar to, but not identical with, those which are excited by the disease.

The Principle Supported—The principle of homœopathy having been enunciated, it is now desirable to see if any results of general experience can be cited in its support. In the case, for example, of a severe burn, is it the custom to apply cooling lotions or any substance that happens to be a good conductor of heat to the part affected? Certainly not, must be the reply; for although cooling applications of any kind may be soothing for a time and a source of comfort to the sufferer, it is well known that they tend to increase inflammation in the long run and to render the pain of the burn more acutely felt. Then the theory that, "Opposites are cured by opposites," does not hold good in this case. No; but the contrary theory that "Likes are cured by likes" does most assuredly, for such burns are most quickly cured by the application of oil of turpentine or heated spirits of wine, both of which, when applied to the skin, cause a burning or tingling sensation, and by wrapping the part affected with wadding or cotton wool, which is a non-conductor of heat, and maintains warmth in the part burnt, preventing the access of air to it. Again, in cases of frost-bite the best thing to be done is to rub the part that is frost-bitten with snow, which is frozen water, and not to hold it to the fire or bathe it with warm water, which would spoil any chance that might otherwise exist of restoring the injured part to its former condition. Now what are these but direct evidence in favour of the homœopathic theory "Likes are cured by likes," and in opposition to the allopathic theory that "Opposites are cured by opposites."

The Practice of Homœopathy.—The homœopathic method of procedure with any drug is first to "prove" it on a number of healthy people, and so find out what symptoms it produces. These symptoms are called the "provings" of a drug, and they are a guide to the selection of that drug when produced by disease. All poisonings by drugs are of similar use to the homœopath, and the homœopathic materia medica is made up from these two sources. A large number of drugs have been thus proved, and the exact use of any new drug can thus be easily ascertained. At the introduction of homœopathy it was the general practice of medical men who adopted the new theory to give medicines in the doses usually employed, but it was found that these acted too powerfully and caused aggravations, because the law of cure adopted led to the selection of a medicine which acted on exactly the tissues of the patient which were diseased, and it can be easily understood that a diseased tissue is much more sensitive than a healthy one, consequently a much smaller dose is necessary to act on a diseased than on a healthy tissue. Thus it is that small doses have become the rule in homœopathic practice. These remarks also dispose of the fallacy, often urged against homœopathy, of supposing that doses too small to harm the healthy, can do no good to the sick.

The Practice Supported.—"The proof of the pudding is in the eating," and the value of homœopathy has been proved in giving a much lower death-rate in all the most severe diseases, i.e., cholera, yellow fever, typhoid fever, small-pox, pneumonia, and lately in plague, than the allopathic method. The success of homœopathy in cholera in Austria in 1836 led to the repeal of the law prohibiting its practice in that country. And if it can more successfully combat such severe diseases as those mentioned, it can more successfully combat also mild ones.

Preparation of Homœopathic Medicines.—These are supplied in pilules, tinctures, or tablets. Soluble drugs are prepared homœeopathically by what is termed succussion or shaking, that is to say a mode of treatment which effects the dispersion of a drug through liquid, generally alcohol, until the drug is equally diffused through the whole of the liquid; and insoluble drugs by trituration, or rubbing up in some vehicle, generally sugar of milk, until the whole of the vehicle used is equally and thoroughly permeated by it. It is argued that the active power of any drug is enormously increased by this so-called extension of surface, as mercury, which may be taken in large quantities almost with impunity, has its active properties marvellously increased by rubbing it up with some vehicle so as to procure its equal subdivision or, in other words, extension of surface. It is, then, from this extension of surface that homœopathic medicines derive their power and active properties. By the process of repeated sub-division dynamic properties of drugs are developed which are not obtained in the crude form, and thus many substances like flint, salt, chalk, which in their crude form are practically inert, become potent medicines.

The strongest preparation of each drug is called the "mother" (∅) tincture or trituration, from which succeeding potencies are made, 1x, 2x, etc. (i.e., 1 in 10, 1 in 100, etc.), or 1, 2, 3 (representing dilutions 1 in 100, 1 in 10,000, etc.).

Great care is needed in the preparation of homœopathic medicines, and it is consequently important to get them from a good source, such as Messrs. Epps and Co., of 48, Threadneedle Street, E.C.; those usually sold by allopathic chemists are quite unreliable.

Advantages of Homœopathy.—Apart from the fact that homœopathic medicines are much more easily taken, which is a great advantage, especially in the case of children, the homœopath has always a safe guide in the selection of a medicine for any patient in the law similia similibus curantur, whereas the allopath has in most cases no such guide, and can only guess, since most symptoms have no opposite, but all can have a similar produced by drugs.

Medicines used in Homœopathy.—For home treatment medicine chests are supplied by all homœopathic chemists. The following is the list of medicines most useful in home practice, and the potencies in which they should be used:—

Aconitum napellus, 3 or 6.
Antimonium tartaricum, 3x.
Arnica montana, 3.
Arsenicum album, 6.
Belladonna, 3.
Bryonia, 3x.
Chamomilla, 1x or 12.
China, φ, 1x.
Cina, 1x, 6.
Coffea cruda, 6.
Cuprum, 6.
Drosera, 12.
Dulcamara, 3.
Hepar Sulphuris, 6.
Ignatia, 6.
Ipecacuanha, 3.
Mercurius, 3.
Nux vomica, 6 or 30.
Opium, 30.
Pulsatilla, 3x or 30.
Rhus toxicodendron, 3x.
Spongia, 3x.
Sulphur, 6 or 30.

Arnica φ, Calendula φ, and Rhus φ are often used for external application.


In so brief a notice of the principles and practice of homœopathy, we can only deal with a few of the more common diseases, and indicate the medicines most often needed in their treatment.

In the following sections the dose, unless otherwise stated, should be two drops of tincture in a dessertspoonful of water, or 2 pilules or one tablet.

Appetite, Failure of.—For loss of appetite, accompanied by constipation of the bowels, pain in the stomach, especially a feeling of fulness at the pit of the stomach after eating, with broken and unrefreshing sleep, Nux vomica is needed, which may be taken in alternation with Sulphur every three hours.

For simple loss of appetite, China φ 2 or 3 drops before meals is useful.

Abscess and Boils.—In the early stage Bell. 1x, a drop every hour sometimes cuts it short. If it fails Silica 6, 3 times a day, especially useful for abscess near the anus.

For recurrent boils or abscesses Hepar 30 a drop once a day, or Silica 30 in the same way.

Asthma.—For the asthmatic paroxysm the medicines most often required are Arsenicum Ipecacuanha or Antimonium Tart. With Arsenicum there is great anguish and restlessness, and the attacks are worse after midnight. With Ipecacuanha there is wheezing and rattling of mucus, and the cough causes gagging and vomiting. If Ipecacuanha seems indicated and fails, Antimonium Tart, should be substituted, especially if there is much blueness of lips, and cold sweat. If the mucus is very viscid Lobelia 3x may be indicated. If the attacks are accompanied by gastric disturbance and worse after eating, Nux vomica is called for.

In each case repeat dose every half-hour till relief is obtained.

For the cure of the asthmatic tendency, Psorinum 30 or 200 is often useful, given in infrequent doses once a week only. Similarly for asthma worse from damp weather, Natrum Sulphur 6, a dose daily; and for those which are better in damp weather, Hepar 30, a dose every 4 days, may act curatively.

Biliousness.—For an ordinary bilious attack which frequently follows indulgence in what is called good eating and drinking, and is often the outcome of sedentary occupations, the usual remedies are Mercrius and Nux vomica in alternation every 2 hours till relief is obtained. Pulsatilla is prescribed for persons of fair complexion, especially women, instead of Nux vomica. The ordinary symptoms of such an attack are a foul tongue with nausea and, frequently, actual vomiting.

For bilious attacks which recur at more or less regular intervals, independently of errors in diet, Iris 2x 1 or 2 drops 3 times a day is often curative.

Bronchitis.—For acute cases Aconite and Bryonia, as indicated under "Cough." Follow with Ipecacuanha every 2 hours if there is much wheezing and rattling, or if these symptoms are accompanied by blueness, Antimonium Tart. For chronic cases, if the cough is dry and hard, Bryonia; if much rattling, specially in old people, Antimonium Tart. If the phlegm is very stringy, and cough worse in early morning, Kali bichromicum. Repeat doses every 2 hours in acute cases; 3 times a day in chronic.

Bruises.—For simple bruises and contusions make a lotion of 30 drops of Arnica tincture to 4 tablespoonfuls of water, and apply to the part affected on lint doubled twice or thrice and soaked in the lotion. Cover with oiled silk, and change the lint or renew the dipping as soon as the lint is dry. It must on no account be used if the skin is broken. In this case Calendula (30 drops) should be used in the same way.

Catarrh, or Cold in the Head.—As soon as one is conscious of having taken cold, through feeling chilly and shivery, a camphor pilule should be taken every ¼ hour till chill passes off. Aconite should then be given every hour till perspiration occurs. If the attack begins with feverishness Aconite should be taken at once. This must be succeeded by one of the following remedies, according to the symptoms: For running of nose and eyes, Euphrasia 1x every 2 hours. For thick discharge from nose, unirritating. Mercurius, If discharge is very irritating, and nose becomes sore, Arsenicum. If discharge is very profuse, running like a tap, Kali hydriodicum 2x. Every 2 hours in each case.

Colic, or Pain in the Bowels.—The sufferer should have a warm bath, and be well covered up with clothes in bed, and have flannels, plunged in hot water and wrung out as dry as possible, applied to the bowels. If the pain makes the patient double up, especially if accompanied by diarrhœa, Colocynth 3; if the pain is accompanied by cold sweat on forehead, Veratrum album 6. In each case the medicine should be given hourly till relief is obtained. For colic accompanied by severe spasmodic pains, Belladonna is required; for colic arising from partaking of food too plentifully, Nux vomica; for intensification of pain at night, with nausea and loose greenish evacuations, Mercurius; for spasms and pain mainly caused by indigestion, Mercurius; for colic in infants, Chamomilla.

Constipation.—Where the constipation is habitual and obstinate an enema of warm water or of warm water gruel is of great assistance. For persons who have a bilious temperament and suffer from rheumatism, or when the constipation is accompanied by a chilly feeling, Bryonia is desirable; for constipation that is occasioned by sedentary occupation and accompanied by headache and a tendency to piles, Nux vomica is indicated, in alternation with Sulphur where constipation is habitual. Opium is useful when, with great difficulty of evacuation, there is absence of inclination and the stools are small and dark; when even a soft stool is passed with difficulty, Alumina 12. In each case a dose night and morning is sufficient.

Cough.—For a hard, dry cough, Aconitum napellus is required in the early stage, followed by Bryonia if necessary; for a cough with wheezing, difficulty of expectoration and need of keeping the head high in bed, Antimonium tartaricum; for a dry, spasmodic cough, with sore throat and thirst, Belladonna, or for a nervous cough, Hyoscyamus 3x; for cough with expectoration and pain in the side or in the head, or between the shoulders when coughing, Bryonia; for cough accompanied by constipation and fulness at the pit of the stomach, or for cough worse after meals, Nux vomica; for hard cough, with oppression or soreness on the chest, Phosphorus; for a loose rattling cough, Ipecacuanha. The dose may be repeated every 2, 3, or 4 hours, as needful. (See also "Whooping Cough.")

Diarrhœa.—For this disorder, when accompanied by great pain in the stomach and bowels, watery stools, and exhaustion, Arsenicum is required; when caused by drinking cold water when heated, Bryonia; for griping pains and indications of dysentery, Mercurius (when there is great straining not relieved by stool, Mercurius corrosivus 3 should be substituted); when caused by indigestion and indulgence in rich food and pastry, Pulsatilla. For diarrhœa in teething children, Chamomilla is a useful remedy. For painless diarrhœa, with much flatulence and weakness, China 1x; for painless diarrhœa in early morning, Podophyllum 3; for urgent diarrhœa, worse between 5 and 10 a.m., Aloes 6; for watery diarrhœa, with cold sweat on forehead and great pain, Verat alb. 6. The dose should be repeated after each evacuation as it occurs.

Fever.—For simple feverish attacks Aconitum napellus is indicated, when there is dry heat, restlessness and anxiety, give every 15 minutes till skin becomes moist. For fever with moist skin, Ferrum Phosphoricum 6x every hour or two. For fever with trembling and prostration, Gelsemium every 2 hours. For fever with flushed face, dry skin, muscular twitchings, Belladonna every hour (Belladonna is also the best medicine for scarlatina). For fever of a dangerous character, Bryonia, Rhus toxicodendron and Arsenicum are the remedies, with Belladonna, Mercurius and Sulphur in scarlet fever.

Gastritis (inflammation of the stomach).—When there is pain in the stomach, which is aggravated by least food or drink, which is vomited soon after it is taken, Arsenicum 2 hours.

Gout.—For acute attack, Urtica wrens ∅ 5 drops every 4 hours in a wineglassful of warm water. If inflammation rapidly shifts from joint to joint, Colch. 3x every 2 hours, or Pulsatilla in the same way. For more chronic forms, Ledum 3x every 4 hours.

Gravel. When accompanied by flatulence and constipation, Lycopodium 6 3 times a day. When accompanied by pain in the back, reddish urine, Thlaspi 1x 2 drops 3 or 4 times a day. If these fail, Sarsaparilla 6 3 times a day.

Headache.—There are many kinds of headache, excited by various causes and presenting various symptoms, but the most common are headache proceeding from indigestion, nervous headache and sick headache. For the first of these the remedy is Nux vomica or Pulsatilla; for the second, Ignatia; and for the third, Kali carb. 6, also Ipecacuanha or Iris when the headache is accompanied by nausea or vomiting. For congestive headaches with flushed face, worse on lying down, Belladonna. For bursting headaches, coming in waves, Glonoin 3. For more or less constant headache with which the patient wakes in the morning, Natrum mur. 30. Dose, repeat every hour during attack, night and morning, as a preventive.

Heart.—Palpitation from nervous causes, Lycopus 3x 3 times a day; also Ignatia 3x may be useful.

Hysteria.—For hysterical attacks, Moschus 6 every hour or two. For the tendency and general nervous condition, Ignatia 3 times a day.

Indigestion.—For this complaint in nervous and hypochondriacal patients, Arnica montana is usually prescribed; in bilious and rheumatic patients, Bryonia; for chronic dyspepsia, Hepar Sulphuris; and for indigestion produced by over-eating or sedentary occupation, Nux vomica. For pain in stomach and between shoulders 2 to 2 hours after food, Nux vomica; for great flatulence as soon as one eats, Lycopdium for heavy dull pain in chest like a weight, Bryonia or Pulsatilta; when nausea is the prominent symptom, Ipecacuanha. Repeat dose 3 times a day before food.

Influenza.—In ordinary cases for the aching pains, headache and lassitude, begin with Gelsemium every 2 hours. If bone pains are marked, substitute Eupatorium perf. 3x. If the pains produce great restlessness, Rhus Tox. If there is much headache with pains behind the eyes, Cimicifuga. If much sneezing and running of nose with irritating discharge, or if there is great prostration and restlessness, Arsenicum is indicated.

Liver.—Enlarged, with pain behind right shoulder blade, with or without jaundice, Chelidonium 2x; dull pain in liver with jaundice and depression, Mercurius; liver sluggish with morning diarrhœa, Podophyllum 6x; dose, repeat 3 times a day.

Neuralgia.—Right-sided, relieved by heat, Magnesium Phosphoricum 6x. Left side of face and eye, Spigelia 3x. Chronic periodical, Arsenicum. Recent cases due to cold or draught, Aconite. Dose, repeat every half-hour during attacks.

Pleurisy.Aconite and Bryonia are the most frequently needed medicines, given hourly in alternation.

Pneumonia.—In early stage, Aconite, followed by Ferrum Phosphoricum every hour; when fully established, Phosphorus 6 every 2 or 3 hours.

Rheumatism.—In acute case begin with Aconite every hour or two. If relief is not obtained in 12 hours, give Bryonia if patient wants to be quite still; Rhus if patient still feels restless and desires to be moved. In chronic cases, Bryonia if the pains are relieved by rest. Rhus if they are relieved by continued motion. Dulcamara if markedly aggravated by damp.

Rickets.—In fat flabby children with cold clammy feet, Calcarea carb 30 2 or 3 times a day will do wonders; in thin children Calc. Phos. 6x 3 times a day; in fair children with sweaty heads, Silica 30 once a day.

Sore Throat.—Simple cases, throat feels dry, looks red, pain on swallowing, Belladonna every hour; if it begins left side, Lachesis 30; if tonsils enlarged and dotted over with small white spots, Phytolacca 1x.

Teething.—For teething, when they are very fretful and want to be nursed all the time, Chamomilla every hour or two; when the teeth decay soon after they are cut, Kreasote 6 twice a day.

Whooping Cough.—In the early stage Aconite every 2 hours, when dry, teasing cough; when cough becomes spasmodic, Ipecacuanha after each attack; when whoop is developed, Drosera 6 unless following indications present. If child cries before each fit of coughing, Arnica 6; if there is vomiting of thick mucous with cough specially in morning, or if urine deposits red sand, Coccus cacti 6; if spasms very severe, turns black in face with them, Cuprum 6. In each case repeat dose after each spasm.