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action of the medicine manifesting itself by a visible primary effect. The sanative principle remains passive; but seemingly revolting against the aggravating influence of the remedy, produces a reaction, perceptible by a change of disposition totally opposite to the former, and in a degree proportionate to its own power and the action of the medicine.
The value and importance of this law, discovered as it has been by the exercise of unexampled zeal and perseverance in making experiments upon every medicinal substance, is unquestionable; and we think it is not impossible to afford such an explanation of it as will reconcile it
There is a property or power in the human organism by which, whenever it is modified or injured by the introduction or contact of a foreign substance, an action is exerted of a kind diametrically opposed to the primary action, or first effect produced by the foreign agent. This is called vital reaction-the reaction of the organism.
A very imperfect illustration of this reaction of the organism against external influence, may be derived from mechanics.
When a steel spring is fixed at one end, forced into a curve by the pressure at the other end, and then suddenly released, the free extremity of the spring will not merely recover its former place, in opposition to the force which acted upon it, but will be thrown beyond it.
According to this law of reaction, it is evidently im
possible that any medicament should cure any disease by its primitive effect, since this is always followed by an opposite effect; the final result of every medicine being directly opposed to its primitive action. The cure, consequently, can be produced only by the secondary action, or more strictly speaking, by the vital reaction already described. We may here cite one or two examples in explanation of this proporty: When any part of the body, but more particularly an extremity, is immersed for some time in extremely cold water, the skin gradually becomes paled, sensibility diminishes, circulation languishes, scarcely any blood vessels are perceptible on the surface, and the temperature is considerably lowered. Such is the primitive effect of the immersion. When the limb is withdrawn from the water, and carefully wiped, effects diametrically opposite will be shortly observed. The skin slowly assumes a greater degree of redness than it usually exhibits; it becomes warmed; numerous blood vessels re-appear on the surface; and extreme sensitiveness, and often sharp pricking pain is oxperienced. In proportion to the coldness of the water, will be the degree of heat which the returning circulation developes. In this second action, lifo exerts all its strongth to overcome the external agency which had depressed its natural action.
The primitive or secondary phenomena, or in other words, the action of the external foreign power or agent, and the reaction of the organism, are invariably re-produced as often as a foreign agent is brought to act upon
the human frame, unless, indeed, the agent be so violent as to destroy life.
The reaction consequent upon the primitive effect of a remedy is not always perceptible; for, according to this rule, the use of sudorifics ought to produce dryness of the skin. Emetics should leave the bowols relaxed, and mercurial salivation should be followed up by a dissimilar secretion of saliva, which is not always the case. The abuse of sudorifics causes a habitual tendency to sweatings: and those who have been frequently salivated, suffer often many months after, from an increased secretion of saliva. This arises principally from the too powerful primitive effect of doses immoderately repeated, or of immoderate quantities, and by which the sensibility of the organs and the energy of the body become exhausted and paralysed, and many persons have thrown themselves, by this injurious prac-. tice, into an almost helpless condition. The only means left for the present, is to set aside all kind of drugs, and re-animate their bodily energy by a most simple diet, and proceed, after, on a more proper plan.
The primary and secondary effect of every medicine, are opposed in their appearances and in contrary degrees, that if the primary effect be but slight, and imperceptible, the secondary is the more vehement, and vice versa.
The action of opium* furnishes us with another instance
Willis says-(Pharm., chap. I., sect. 7, p. 193) Opiata dolores atrocissimos plerumque sedant atque indolentiam....pro curant, eamque... aliquamdiu: et pro stato quodam tempore continuant, quo spatio elapso, dolores mox recru
of these phenomena. Its direct action deadens sensibility, tranquilizes pain, and induces sleep. When these effects have passed away, the reaction of the system infallibly occasions an increase of sensibility, pain, and sleeplessness. Individuals who have recourse to this drug to alleviate pain or to procure sleep, are forced gradually to augment the doses, not as they believe because they habituate themselves to the medicine, but, really, because the reaction more and more increasing the disease, they are compelled to oppose the increased pain and sleeplessness by doses of increased strength, in order to obtain the desired result.
Wines and spirituous liquors, when taken too copiously, develop an increased action in all the functions, both mental and corporeal; but this excitement is speedily followed by a corresponding degree of lassitude, or the reaction of the organism.
Coffee also communicates increased vivacity to the mental and corporeal functions; but these phenomena, which are the consequence of the primitive action, are succeeded by others, especially with nervous persons, of
descunt et brevi ad solitam ferociam augentur; and, p. 295: Exactis opii viribus illico redeunt tormina, nec atrocitatem suam remittunt, nisi dum ab eodem pharmaco rursus incantantur.
I. Hunter (in his treatise on the Veneral Disease, p. 13,) says, that wine increases the energy of persons who are weak, without bestowing on them any real vigor; and that the vital powers sink afterwards in the same proportion as they have been, so that the patient gains nothing by it, but, on the contrary, looses the greater part of his strength.
quite an opposite character, such as mental depression,. torpidity, etc.
If an improper remedy be prescribed, which stands in no relation to the disease, it will produce a second disease, which will go on its separate course, without interfering with the other.
If a remedy produces symptoms contrary to those exhibited by the sick organs, it will, for a short time, suppress some of the natural symptoms; it will act as a paliative.
If the primary effect of a medicine be to produce in the diseased organs an affection similar to the complaint, its application will, for the moment, aggravate the latter, which is called the homeopathic aggravation; but the reaction of the organs, supported by the consequent opposite secondary effect of the remedy, then removes the disease. In a word, whenever a medicine is administered, of which the primitive or direct effect resembles the symptoms. of the complaint itself, that medicine will excite the curative reaction of the organism..
Under favorable circumstances, the tone of the organs is often sufficient, by its natural tendency to reaction, to restore the stato of health. Under unfavorable circumstances, it is often insufficient, and so enfeebled as either to offer no resistance, or to make only an ineffective strug