Is Pure Homeopathy, Alone and Unaided, Able to Cope with, and Overcome Puerperal Disorders and Complications?
by Joseph C. Guernsey, M.D.
This paper of Joseph C. Guernsey was presented before the Philadelphia County Homoeopathic Medical Society in 1887. Joseph C. was the son of the great homeopathic obstetrician, Henry Newell Guernsey, who had passed away two years previously. One of the important points made by Guernsey in this paper is that when we fail in a curable case, we must not abandon the case to other methods. We must explain the situation to the patient and must persist in searching for a better comprehension of the case and its match in our materia medica. Many difficult cases have been thus resolved, sometimes after several years of perseverance.
"The proof of the pudding is in the eating," and "We never know what we can do until we try," are two well-known aphorisms. Many a skeptic has, on investigating the subject of his incredulity, become its zealous advocate. Homeopathy has enrolled among her ablest champions and representatives, many who, disbelieving in her tenets and claims, studied into them for the purpose of proving them false. In just this way no less devoted a lover fell a prey to her charms and spent a long life in her service, than the renowned Constantine Hering, M. D. Believing in all honesty that homeopathy was a delusion and a snare, he determined to fully acquaint himself with her doctrines that he might intelligently and exhaustively write them down and smash them.
In our own day, and right here in this city, you and I know lots of professing homeopaths who practice in only a half-hearted manner—here a little homeopathy, there a little allopathy, and anon a little eclecticism. And yet we cannot condemn these practitioners as being wholly dishonest, or intentionally false to their principles. By their own confession many of them practice homeopathy as far as they understand it, or as far as they believe in it, and there they stop. Their fault lies in not following out homeopathy through her whole beneficent length. It is their want of complete faith in, and their lack of knowledge of, the full curative power and healing ability of homeopathy, alone and unaided, that cause them to digress from the straight and narrow way. Yea, and more, it is the want of experience in homeopathy. I have the most abiding and the strongest possible faith in the law of the similars because I have personally experienced in my own practice, and have witnessed in the practice of my superiors, what an almost unlimited amount of curative power homeopathy, purely and strictly practiced, can accomplish.
In no field of her empire has she won grander and more convincing proofs of her efficacy and superiority over all other methods of practice than in the puerperal state of womanhood. The postpartum ills, such as hemorrhage, convulsions, fever, phlegmasia dolens, mania—any and all of them, yield to her searching treatment, as the snowflakes melt before the burning sun, or as the ripened grain falls beneath the keen sickle. I make a broad statement, I know, and perhaps you think I claim too much. Let us examine closely and see how we are to obtain all these successes. They do not happen spontaneously; they only come in response to the proper seeking after. This proper manner involves the hard work of studying our cases with the utmost care:
- In procuring all the symptoms, or departures from the normal standard of health, and estimating each one at its proper value. And here, as in all prescribing, for whatever manner of sickness, the mental symptoms lead the way and are of the most value.
Having obtained the symptoms, our next duty is to ascertain what remedy we must give. This, of course, must be the simillimum, the one which covers most symptoms of the case.
We are to give that remedy, the simillimum only; we are not to alternate it with any other or others.
We are to give the least possible amount of that remedy which will cure—the minimum dose.
To any one who doubts or denies the ability of homeopathy, pure and simple, to successfully cope with puerperal convulsions, hemorrhage, mania, etc., I ask, "Have you tried faithfully in case after case, to cure according to the above rules?" If you have so tried one, two or three times, and have each time failed, have you thought how likely it is that the failure was due rather to yourself than to homeopathy? We are all fallible and prone to error; we are much more likely to err than is homeopathy. I know I have often failed to cure cases after trying my very best, and after exhausting all I knew about homeopathy. And then I have gone to Dr. Constantine Hering, to Dr. Raue, or to my father [Henry Newell Guernsey], and they have shown me my error and found the proper remedy with which I cured my case. I have even known all the above named physicians, including Drs. A. Lippe, C. C. Smith, and other able representatives of our school fail to cure a case.
It was one I was deeply interested in, and I determined homeopathy should cure, for I knew it could. So I went to New York and saw Dr. Carroll Dunham, to whom I carefully described the symptoms. He said, "Let me study it over to night, and I will report tomorrow." The next day, he said, "The remedy must be Berberis. Has it been given?" Berberis 40 M did cure that case and the sufferer was profoundly grateful. The circumstances of this case I well know, for I myself was the patient.
This, of course, was not a puerperal case, and I instance it merely to illustrate the fact that the science of homeopathy was not at fault, when able physicians failed—it only needed the proper application of the law of the similars to effect the cure. Therefore when one of us fails, don't let us blame homeopathy, but rather let us blame ourselves. Excuse my mentioning it, but it is a common remark that an incompetent workman always blames his tools. When we fail, we must not give up homeopathy, but must seek the advice and help of those who are abler and wiser than ourselves. Homeopathy when properly represented will vindicate herself, and will produce the good results we desire.
I have seen profuse and dangerous postpartum hemorrhages speedily cured; writhing convulsions occurring in the puerperal state made to cease; the rigid os to soften and yield; the burning fever to cool and the delirium to become quiet; and the puerperal maniac restored to reason by no other means than the strictest homeopathic treatment—where the carefully selected remedy, given in high potency, has done quicker and more satisfactory work than any other means that could be employed.
I have a patient who, in her last two pregnancies has been decidedly crazy. She broods, is sullen or fitful and angry by turns. From a loving and exceedingly affectionate wife, she becomes hateful and hating. Yet in her worst moods the simillimum will bring her to herself beautifully. Ignatia 34 M, Lachesis CM and Platina 50 M are her chief remedies, and their effect upon her is really magical.
Decidedly the worst case of hemorrhage I ever saw, occurred in my practice last autumn. I had just delivered a large-sized baby, and turned from the bed, when the patient told me she was flooding. I turned back the bedclothes and there I saw the blood jetting, and pumping up as if from a hydraulic ram. I was terribly scared, and at first could not decide what to do. Then I rehearsed to myself the indications of the remedies; sat down beside her bed and asked for symptoms. From the time I saw the spouting hemorrhage until I had her indications was almost no time. She said, "I have a constant bearing down sensation, as though everything was coming through the vulva. Every few seconds this bearing down is suddenly and violently increased and I feel the hot blood spurt."
I gave Belladonna 40 M every 3 to 5 minutes for a little while and then lengthened the interval, as she seemed better. The excessive flow was speedily checked, and very soon she was flowing no more than was natural.
I know that time is very precious and that every second is of importance when the life current is pouring away. But it need take no longer to ascertain the character of the hemorrhage and concomitant symptoms, than it would require fitting up and applying some mechanical measure. To forcibly grip, pinch and "knead" a sore, tender and bleeding uterus I cannot regard with favor; it cannot be regarded as scientific or advantageous treatment. The homeopathic treatment is the best of all methods in that it does the patient no harm, but good. Much is said now of the danger of septic poisoning. Surely great risk is run in damming up the vulva with tampons—hastily constructed as they usually are from the first thing that comes to hand—a silk handkerchief, etc. Advice is also given to insert the hand into the bleeding womb and scratch the sides, or try to promote contraction. How about septic poisoning from the dirty fingernails? Just think of the danger.
It is too often the custom in puerperal convulsions to give ether or chloroform. I have known this to be done in some cases, and at the next confinement, one, or three years later, the convulsions returned. I have seen puerperal convulsions cured by the simillimum. And I consider it safe to assert that if every case were so treated, a woman would never have puerperal convulsions more than once.
In the hot summer of 1879, I had a very bad case of puerperal fever, with its usual train of symptoms. The pulse and temperature ranged high, and the urine was almost entirely suppressed. The patient passed but about a thimbleful a day for two days. She had different remedies for a time until I found the simillimum to be Kreosotum. This I gave in the one thousandth potency. All went well until the early morning of the tenth day, when my patient had a heavy chill, and I was hastily sent for. I gave one dose of Nux vomica 50 M, and there were no more chills; the patient recovered rapidly with no further trouble.
Erysipelas in childbed is universally regarded as a dangerous complication. A few years ago I had such a case. I was engaged to attend a lady in confinement, and a day or two before she was delivered, erysipelas broke out in her head and face. She was very sick from it. The fever was very high, the erysipelas very severe, she was mildly delirious, wished to kill her baby, etc. The erysipelas was so very hard to the touch that I decided on Bryonia. This remedy, in the 70 M potency, cured the case speedily, the milk came all right, and there was no further trouble.
If we will all be true to homeopathy, and will prescribe the most similar drug, the single remedy, and the minimum dose, we will achieve results which will answer affirmatively that pure homeopathy, alone and unaided, is able to successfully cope with and overcome puerperal disorders and complications.
When we do individually fail, let us first blame ourselves and not homeopathy. Let us give homeopathy a fair chance, and seek the advice of those who are abler, and wise
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