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is thus that the homeopathic law involves the principle of specific action.
Finally, it must be remembered, that the diet which homœopathy prescribes, by rejecting the use of all substances which could exert any medicinal action, leaves to its minute doses, already so well calculated to act on an unerring principle, all the power which they, by their mode of preparation, possess.
The action of these doses on the nervous system.
The nervous system is the means by which all parts of the body are brought into communication with each other, in order to form one harmonious whole: and this system is evidently the means of transmitting the effects of the medicines which are administered in homeopathy.
It is well known that it has been, and still is, the practice of the old school, to exhibit large doses of medicine, and either (antipathically) to confide to the stomach the care of conveying them, by the slow process of digestion, absorption, and circulation, directly to that part of the body which is attacked by disease, or (allopathically) by disordering healthy parts to attack the disease indirectly. But by the homœopathic method, those medicaments, for which the system has the highest aptitude, are brought into contact with the papillæ of the tongue, which is found to be sufficient, in all cases, to produce the desired effect; and, in some, smelling alone is enough, They thus touch,
directly, the sentient root of the nervous tree, through which their power is conveyed to the whole system.
Mr. Walker, the author of an elaborate work on the nervous system, is of opinion that the homeopathic doses cannot act either on the nerves of taste, or those of common sensation in the tongue, (the lingual branches of the trifacial, and of the glosso-pharyngeal nerves), because it is the general characteristic of nerves of sensation passing toward the brain, to be accompanied by consciousness, and to terminate in perception, which is not the common effect of homoeopathic doses. He nevertheless thinks, that our want of consciousness, and perception of the action of these doses, is still no argument against their acting on the nervous system, because it is much more probable that they act on the nervous system of life, than on that of the mind, namely: on the branches of the great sympathetic. It is certain that this system, which has its centres in the trunk of the body, sends branches out of it, which accompany all the great vessels, and which may be easily seen on the external iliac arteries, where they become femoral.
The necessity for such accompaniment, he observes, is rendered remarkably evident, by branches of the nerve ascending from the trunk even to the brain, from which it is obvious, that if a cerebral nerve would have answered the purpose, it could have been far more easily supplied, But it is evident that the sympathetic and its branches, are everywhere the nerves of life, having their centres in
the trunk, as those of mind have them in the head; that these branches, as they accompany the great trunks of the arteries accompany also the minutest capillary arteries, to every surface of the body, and that it is their exupon tremities that the homoeopathic doses make those impressions of which, like all the acts of the vital system, we are necessarily unconscious.
Be this as it may, the proofs of the facts which I advance are furnished by observation and experience. By this alone can be demonstrated the form in which medicine is most efficient in conquering diseases. These alone can prove the action of medicaments; these alone can prove the mode in which they should be administered. The powerful effect of small doses, then, is a demonstrable fact, and their curative effect is also a fact which every one is at liberty to observe and verify. Whether this fact be singular and surprising, or whether it be in conformity or in contradiction to received medical doctrines, is not the question. New facts, new discoveries, overturn or modify hypotheses previously admitted, and harmonize with facts already known. Experience alone can be appealed to, to decide in such cases, and to experience we appeal for proof of the power of infinitesimal doses.
As connected with this portion of the homoeopathic doctrine, which regards the nervous system, I should here observe, that all who are acquainted with the history of the different schools of medicine, are aware that they form two great classes or systems, which have been named the
vital and the organic. The disciples of the former starting from the principle of the unity of life, and feeling deeply the importance of that unity as the great regulator of the functions of the human organism, pay little attention to the local changes which it undergoes: the followers of the latter, on the contrary, devoting their exclusive attention to the distinct function of each particular organ, think too little of the unity of life.
Hahnemann's doctrine embraces both of these views of the human economy. None of the physicians who have preceded him, have held the principle of life in higher estimation than he has done. He unceasingly reminds us of the singleness and complete unity of that vivifying principle; but at the same time he displays the most persevering anxiety that every change which takes place in each particular organ, should be carefully studied. The physician is thus in possession of that which effects the patient generally, and of that which affects the organ in particular; and his remedies, prescribed as I have indicated, reach, specifically, the whole organic system, and each particular organ.
The objections to infinitesimal doses answered. The extreme exiguity of our doses, for which no better term than infinitesimal, or atomic, has hitherto been found, has encountered much incredulity. Those who could invent nothing to oppose the doctrine that like cures like,
have made this second discovery of Hahnemann a subject of ridicule.
But are we to consider all things of which we have hitherto been ignorant, as a parodox or an absurdity? Is the activity of medicinal substances, or the doses which homeopathy prescribes, more repugnant to reason than the velocity with which light traverses space.* The remedies are merely stripped of their bodies, of their matter, that the spirit may be employed, and that they may be rendered palatable.
Are we not equally ignorant of the cause of the development of seeds committed to the earth; and do we, therefore, refuse to profit by the result? Certainly. An ob jection against the possibility of such doses being efficient, has been raised upon the influence of imagination, by those who pefer talking or writing about what they do not know, to that of experiment, which always confers the surest knowledge. But these arguers, in the warmth of their zeal, overlook or are ignorant of the fact, that these doses are peculiarly effective with children, and even with do mestic animals. It has, in the same spirit, and in the face of all facts, been asserted, that it is utterly impossible that medicaments so divided should produce any effect
By a calculation of the velocity of light, Syrius is supposed to be at least 54,224,000,000,000 miles from the earth. That which appears only like a thin and silvery cloud streaking the heavens, is, in effect, composed of innumerable clusters of suns, each shining with its own light, and illuminating numbers of planets that revolve around them. Millions and millions of suns are ranged around us, all attended by innumerable worlds, yet calm, regular, and harmo nious, all keeping the paths of immutable nécessity.