50 Reasons For Being A Homeopath: Part 24 (coughs)

50 Reasons For Being a Homeopath’ is a lovely little book. It consists of 50 letters from the famous homeopathic doctor J. Compton Burnett to a young skeptic ‘Dr T.A.K’ & was written around 1888. It still shines with truth today.

Part: 24

I am very anxious to show the difference between curing a case emperically and doing so scientifically – that is to say, homeopathically; and a paper I once published on Aralia will do this, and also be my twenty-fourth reason for being a homeopath. I choose this because you seem to think my singly given cases “isolated”.

The Cough Of Aralia

Aralia racemosa is not an accepted homeopathic remedy, and Dr Allen did not insert Dr Jone’s little proving in his encyclopaedia, but he has now put it in the appendix.

Dr Hughes has also now added it to the list in his well-known Pharmacodynamics, but only as a supplementary remedy. So it seems to be just timidly peeping into our big drug house. I know of no clinical experience with it beyond what we find in Hale’s Therapeutics.

It appears that the plant has a great reputation in the United States as a cough medicine, and Professor E M Hale very properly says that this warrants us in expecting that it has at least some specific affinity for the respiratory organs. The common people in some way found out that the “spikenard” is good for coughs; Hale comes and makes a note of it. A step farther is made by Dr S A Jones, who made a proving of it in 1870, and this lifted the popular cough medicine out of useful empiricism on to the scientific basis of Hahnemann’s induction.

I happened to read Jones’s proving in Hale’s New Remedies six or seven years ago, and I was much struck by the character of the cough. I fancy the thing that helped to impress it upon my mind was the fact that I had had just at that period a lady under my care who was suffering from a cough that came on after lying down at night. I had been tinkering away at this cough, and could not cure it; so I blamed the damp house in which the lady resided, and it’s proximity to a brook prettily hidden among the willows close by. Hyoscyamous, Digitalis, and a number of other remedies came into play, but the cough would not budge a bit. Need I tell the heart-rending tale that the patient lost faith in her doctor (the writer) and in his much-vaunted pathy, and set about healing herself with quack medicines and orthodox sedative cough mixtures? Of course, I felt humiliated, and I therefore made up my mind to read my materia medica a little more diligently. It was quite evident that the cough was a curable one, for the most careful physical examination failed to detect anything besides a few moist rales that tallied with the moderate amount of expectoration. Failures are very instructive at times.

Just after receiving my ‘conge’ from this lady, I was reading Hale’s New Remedies, and came across Dr S A Jone’s proving…”At 3pm I took 10 drops of the mother tincture in two ounces of water. An interesting book caused me to forget my ‘dose’. The events of the night jogged my memory very effectually.”

He goes on to say that he retired to rest at midnight, feeling as well as ever, but he “had no sooner lain down than he was seized by a fit of asthma.”

I put down the book – Hale’s New Remedies was not quite so thick then as it is now – and said to myself, “That’s Mrs N’s cough, that is just how she goes. She lies down and forthwith begins to cough, to get laboured breathing, and to make her poor hard-toiling husband wish he were a bachelor.” At least he might have wished it, for ought I know to the contrary.

A little time elapsed, and the writer was sent for to see one of this coughing lady’s children with eczema. The bairn’s common integument having been prescribed for, I timidly enquired about the cough. “oh”, said Mrs N, “it is as bad as ever; I have tried everything, and do not know what to do.” I sat down & wrote:

R Tc Aralia racemosa 2, and it cured, and that not because Aralia is good for coughs, and has an affinity for the respiratory organs merely, but because it is capable of causing a cough like the one that was to be cured.

This happened somewhere about six or seven years ago, and I have since cured this kind of cough with Aralia whenever I have come across it, and at a rough guess I should say that would be thirty or forty times.

Case II – Tussis Araliae – A lady came under my observation last summer. She resides in the West End of London, and had been under competent homeopathic treatment for her throat, and had certainly derived benefit, but still her cough did not leave her, so that she was on the point of removing from London and going to the South, whereof she is native, she and her friends having become apprehensive lest her chest should become affected. Her cough was not identical to Mrs N’s, but the only difference was that it did not come on till after a first sleep of not long duration. Patient would go to bed quite well and lie down and go to sleep, and after a short sleep, would wake up with a severe fit of coughing that would last an hour or more.

Aralia 3 cured it entirely in a few days, and she gave up all idea of returning to the South.

Case III – Tussis Aralia – A child of not quite six gets croupy coughs in damp weather that usually yields to Dulcamara. Occasionally, however, there remains the kind of nocturnal cough described in Case II, viz. she will go to bed, lie down, fall off to sleep, and presently wake with a violent bout of coughing. Originally, before thinking or Aralia, I had in vain given Hyoscyamus, Gelsemium, Aconitum, Spongia, Hepar, Dulcamara, Phosphorus, and Bryonia. Then the early nocturnal character of the cough determined me to try Aralia, and with prompt effect.

Case IV – Tussis Aralia – An asthmatic gentleman of 50 years of age with moderate emphysema of the lungs, has long been under my care. At first he was almost always short of breath on exertion, and had bad noctural attacks of dyspnoea and cough. A prolonged course of constitutional treatment has at last partially cured him, but when he catches a cold he gets an attack of bronchial catarrh with early nocturnal cough.

It would be tedious to give the treatment of his whole case, but it will suffice to say it consisted principally of antipsorics and hepatics.

One day this gentleman said he wished I could give him a medicine for his cough, to have by his bedside at night, because otherwise when he caught cold (as at this time) he would go to bed quite well, fall aslep, and presently awake with a violent fit of asthma that would last from one to two hours, more or less; then he would get up a little phlegm and go to sleep again.

I prescribed one-drop powders of Aralia 3X, pro ve nata. The next time I had occasion to see this gentleman he exclaimed, “I thought those powders would have killed me. I took one as you directed, when my cough became much more violent than I had ever known it, but it soon ceased, and has never returned.”

He keeps some of these powders by his bedside ever since, and on various occasions they have helped him, thus far unfailingly. He has not had an aggravation since the first time of using them.

These cases are examples only, but they teach a useful lesson: to give more than these would be irksome.

It will be seen that Aralia, although a new remedy, is a comparitively old friend of mine, and I can confidently commend it for early nocturnal cough that occurs either immediately on lying down, or MORE COMMONLY after a first fore-midnightly sleep.

Prof Samuel Jone’s cough was immediately after he had lain down, but it will be noted that he did not retire until midnight, whereas all my patients, I believe, went to bed before. From a fairly extensive experience of Aralia as a cough remedy I have formed the conclusion that it is homeopathic to it’s cough by reason of it’s time and patient’s recumbent position.

It is no good, I believe, in cough occurring at any time on lying down; neither does it avail in a cough caused by a relaxed uvula; neither will it, as far as I’m aware, cure any lung lesion whatsoever beyong bronchial irritation and catarrh. And most positively it is no good at all in the after midnightly or 2 -3 am dyspnoea and cough of genuine asthma. In such cases I have given it in vain. But for the previously described variety of cough it is a remedium probatissimum. Here, for the thousandth time, we see the exactness of our homeopathic science. In conclusion, my thanks to Professor Hale for introducing our now dear friend, Aralia, and my still greater gratitude to Professor Samuel Jones for the more intimate scientific acquaintance. As homeopaths we owe a deep debt of gratitude to drug provers.

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