HAHNEMANN’S DOCTRINE OF PSORA IN
THE TREATMENT OF DISEASE IN CHILDREN.
William BOERICKE, M.D., (H. M., August, 1894)
It was Constantine HERING, I think, who said that whatever HAHNEMANN brought forward as a fact has been found to be a fact, and whatever theory he promulgated remains still a theory and like the Scotch verdict, is not proven. HAHNEMANN’s doctrine of Psora includes both facts and theories, and the history of the school shows that while the former are accepted the latter are rejected in toto by a large part of his followers and by the rest accepted only as modified by more or less individual interpretation. But it cannot be denied that HAHNEMANN’S doctrine of CHRONIC DISEASES has exerted the greatest possible practical influence on our treatment of disease and has led to the introduction of an entirely new class of remedies and a broader conception and study of our Materia Medica.
My apology for bringing before a gathering of practical physicians a subject savoring so largely of theory is this practical side of it; this alone is its passport to the general practitioner whose aim should always be to cure radically rather than merely palliate. The facts of the psoric conception are priceless, their recognition is the mark of genius; the theory about the precise nature of Psora is of comparatively little importance and may or may not be true. That it is nothing but suppressed itch, very few nowadays admit; that, however, suppressed skin affections in a wider sense than what is at present understood by itch is an indubitable factor in the production of many forms of obstinate and occult chronic suffering far removed from local skin manifestation is certainly a frequently observed fact, if not an established truth. Again, it is a fact that most chronic diseases at some time of their history have a skin phase or a discharge from a mucous membrane.
The appearance of the morbid state on the skin or mucous membrane shows that it is located on the outskirts of the body, removed as far as possible from the more vital and more truly human parts of the organism. The Vital Force, in the exercise of its protecting function, has removed the Miasm to those tissues and parts where it can do least harm to the life of the organism. Therefore forcing it back into the interior by strong local treatment must necessarily work detrimentally to a radical cure.
The readiness with which skin diseases are treated exclusively by local measures, the readiness with which we dry up discharges from mucous surfaces, the immense development of local, mechanical and surgical treatment to the neglect of purely constitutional and internal medication, the increase in all kinds of specialists whose tendency is to suppress local manifestations, has driven the Psora within to more vital organs and regions has led, therefore, to the great increase of incurable chronic maladies that affect mankind. For many of these so-called distinct maladies are but manifestations of this underlying disturbing factor which is the real first cause of most chronic diseases.
It seems to me that the underlying facts pertaining to the psoric theory are undeniable. What are they?
1. In many patients the even and regular course of diseases is from some cause or other within themselves interfered with.
2. Remedies apparently indicated fail to accomplish what, as a rule and according to the Law of Similars, they ought to do.
3. Frequently the suppression or disappearance of a skin disease is followed by serious mischief in more vital organs, as Asthma or other respiratory troubles after Eczema. There seems to be a reciprocal relation between the skin and internal organs.
The principal forms of the psoric manifestation are the tubercular, scrofular and rachitic diatheses. We are all familiar with these types as they are met with in children.
Often the disease tendency develops as a sequel to Pertussis, Measles, Grippe, etc., and it is in the treatment of these acute diseases and especially in their convalescence that anti-psoric remedies should be permanent. The scrofulous diathesis is akin pathologically to two diatheses to the Bacillus Tuberculosis and acknowledges that cases of Tuberculosis recover spontaneously. Why? The fact is that bacilli may indeed find lodgment, for all are tuberculizable under special favoring circumstances, but unless the conditions for their growth and development are favorable by the presence of Psora, which prepares for the germs a suitable soil, the growth remains local and tends to heal spontaneously. Anti-psoric treatment changes the soil and secures immunity.
Psora causes a vulnerability of tissue, undermines the tissue resistance to foreign invasion, lessens the germ-destroying property possessed by certain cells, by the white-blood globules, blood serum, etc. Anti-psoric remedies restore this property and thus guard the organism against attacks from without.
One of the most common manifestations of Psora, especially in children, is an abnormal course run by acute diseases; they run a masked course, and, apparently, well-chosen remedies fail to act. Diseases will take on sudden, rapid and dangerous development. The proper way to treat these, according to the light of Homœopathy, is to select our remedy from the anti-psoric part of the Materia Medica and find the similar here. Frequently, instead of Aconite, Bryonia, or other polychrest, so constantly employed, it may be Sulphur or Calcarea or Lycopodium, that will correspond not only to the acute form but to the underlying dyscrasic factor. The little patient will then not only recover more quickly, but with the tedious convalescence, and certainly without sequelae, that are all too common in other methods of treatment. Slow convalescence after specific diseases is always a sign of the psoric influence and a guide for anti-psoric remedies. The child is reduced by the struggle with the illness, the latent tendencies come to the surface, and his recuperative powers are feeble. In short, anaemia, weakness, atrophy, mal-nutrition, are some of the most marked features of the protean character of this psoric diathesis and it may be said to consist of the “sum of all the biological obstacles which resist, deface, complicate and alter the natural cause of diseases.” In this wider sense as indicating dyscrasia, the psoric theory is true. Now, no matter how first caused, its greatest evil is that it made organic and rendered a permanent factor in the human family by hereditary transmission.
It is this fact of heredity and the pollution of the vital fluids that gives it a permanent field for chronic diseases. Heredity influences the soil and favors the development of certain bodily constitutions, and probably our remedies do so likewise. That Psora may originally have been caused by the suppression of skin disease and by heredity transmission appear as a polyform pathological fact, finds its analogy in Gout, which is recognized as a food diathesis, but which becomes capable of transmission from parent to child, and is prone to receive important modifications in such inheritance.
Every practitioner of experience sooner or later learns, that in order to get a true understanding of the course of diseases in children, the ground, the bodily organization of our little patients, as modified more or less by heredity, must be the special object of our therapeutic measures. Here is the battlefield of the morbific germs from without combining with the impurities within, and the nature of this soil determines the course and issue of the struggle. Now, the practical part of our doctrine is here; without the anti-psoric remedies we will never succeed in changing the character of this soil, and will most assuredly have to rest satisfied with mere palliation. This is the shortcoming of old-school treatment. It is anti-bacillary, anti-septic. By inhalation, or subcutaneously, or directly into the local lesion, it seeks to destroy the disease-germs, but it is powerless aside from its influence against secondary infection.
The treatment of Homœopathy certainly is more rational. Its anti-psoric measures tend to improve the soil, free the system of its Miasm, and thus gives little chance for the development of disease-germs. This in conjunction with all sanitary, climatic, hygienic and dietetic measures, all of which work in the same direction, promise the most satisfactory results, and the clinical experience of the school justifies the correctness of our position. My paper becomes a plea, therefore, for the more general use of anti-psorics in the treatment of all diseases, especially in children, where opportunity to modify inherited tendencies is so constantly offered. Given the psoric taint, anti-psoric medication even of acute diseases, alone promises the best results. A superficial matching of symptoms differs but little in its results from the palliative measures so popular in the old school, albeit without the ill effects of the latter. Anti-psoric treatment, commencing at the ante-natal period if possible, is the special field for Homœopathy. It gets at the stream at its fountain-head before it has gained momentum. Here in the eradication of chronic disease and hereditary taints, Homœopathy promises to the patient investigator its most brilliant results. Guided by the Law of Cure and the peculiar Hahnemannian Pathology, we can select medicines of Homœopathy. There is no doubt that such preventive, genuine homœopathic treatment lessens forever the sum total of sickness in the world; lessens the load mankind has to carry from that source, and tends to make the new generation physically better than the old.