By JAMES M. HOLE, M. D., Salem, Ohio.
Allow me to call your attention for a few moments to what is as I regard it an additional, important and rational method of treating disease, called the Dosimetric Method. We claim the "ecloge" or privilege of selecting or choosing the remedy in the management and treatment of disease, and that, too, independent of any school or sect of medicine.
In our examination of this new method of Dosimetry, we find that its author, Prof. Burggrave, does not, according to Dr. Castro's work on Dosimetry, attempt or design a new system of medicine, in the manner of hoisting a flag in opposition to Homeopathy, Allopathy, or any other "pathy." The word system implies the idea exclusiveness, and this is in formal opposition with the spirit of Dosimetry, which is, on the contrary, a method essentially the contrary—it is Eclectic; it acts according to the circumstances, and repudiates all systems. Prof. Burggrave has never neglected in a single instance to protest against calling this a "system of medicine," when there were present those who would not be informed that such was not the case, nor is he claiming any such premises. On the other hand, it is a better method, if you please, of the management of the sick, than has heretofore prevailed.
Prof. Burggrave was Chief Surgeon to the Hospital of Ghent, and many years ago was deeply impressed by the great mortality among those who had been operated upon. He observed that about two-thirds of them died in consequence, either of traumatism, or of purulent infection. Later on, the antiseptic dressing of Lister reduced the mortality to fifteen and twenty per cent. Subsequently, Dr. Burggrave, by his alkaloido-therapeutic treatment, both preventive and curative, brought the mortality to two and a half and five per cent., where it has since been maintained. He judged that the traumatic fever was due to a stoppage of blood in the capillaries, caused by a paralysis or a fatigue of the vaso-motor nerves which control the circulation. He thought that by restoring to these nerves their tone, and improving their vitality, he would bring back the circulation to its normal condition, and put a stop to that stagnation of the blood which is at first a source of heat, and then of inflammation, and thus becomes the origin of congestion, change of texture and finally of lesions.
He recalled to mind a successful treatment of intermittent fever and cholera in Russia, in 1832, by Dr. Mandt, of St. Petersburg, described in a Memoir upon Indian Cholera, which had been read in 1854, by Dr. Everard, before the Royal Academy of Medicine in Belgium. No attention, however, was paid to it, the cholera-epidemic having ceased. Dr. Burggrave found in this Memoir material for serious study, and he decided to try Dr. Mandt's method to fever-cases in the hospital of Ghent. He, however, substituted alkaloids for the extracts of plants which Dr. Mandt had used.
He gave his patients strychnia in small doses, repeated at short intervals, in order to give tone to the vaso-motor nerves, and thus to reestablish the circulation of blood. At the same time with the strychnia he gave small doses of aconitin and veratrin to lower the temperature and stop the fever. He thus made the discovery that it is sometimes possible to prevent the fever, and very often to jugulate it. In each disease he distinguished two periods; the first, dynamic, presenting only functional disturbance; the second, organic, accompanied by a change of tissue. It is in the first period that the physician should use the most active means possible to jugulate the disease, or cause it to abate. From this Dr. Burggrave adduced his rule to give an acute attack an acute treatment, and to repeat the small doses till the desired effect is obtained independently of the quantity of medicine administered. Then he sought to do away with the notions of maxima and minima, which have been regarded as axioms, especially when employing the alkaloids, which are as great hindrances to success as are the massive doses of certain drugs that are currently employed.
Small doses facilitate the absorption of the medicine, and make it certain that the needed quantity will not be exceeded. The disease may be considered in the light of a resistance to the remedy, or a resistance of the human organism, in a state of disease, to the remedy. The dose should, therefore, be adapted to the morbid resistance. This adaptation cannot be known beforehand; the organism and the condition of the patient alone can suggest it. The Dosimetric physician has thus the route which he is to follow, clearly traced before him by the imperative indications of the facts in the case. He is in no danger of imprudence by giving too much of the remedy, because he stops it or gives it less frequently, when the usual effect at which he is aiming, begins to be accomplished.
Again, the medicines should be chemically pure, which should command the careful and accurate pharmacist's closest attention in the preparation.
The Dosimetric Method, introduced by Prof. Burggrave, himself known as an eminent Professor of the University of Ghent, has been awakening the attention of many eminent physicians all over Europe, and also quite recently in this country, of medical men not heretofore identified with either Eclectic methods or the Homeopathic system of treating disease. Finding that this Dosimetric method was commanding the attention of such physicians as above referred to, we some years ago began an investigation of its tenets, and are yet greatly interested, as it takes for its "war-cry" the Eclectic methods, not claiming any new "system," but great superiority in the management of disease.
We obtained first the Dosimetric Medical Review, the only journal of the kind printed in the United States at this time. We also ordered and received the medicines and Therapy connected with them, and began with a cautious administration of them in cases where we felt it safe to treat in that manner, following the method as carefully as we could. We found to our surprise a greater certainty and more favorable results than we had anticipated. Indeed, we are glad thus far to have tried, to us, a somewhat new method of treating disease. We now can depend with greater certainty upon them and shall continue to prescribe and dispense them. The method has advantages over other systems or modes of treatment; the use of alkaloids principally, and very highly concentrated and chemically-pure liquids, and the time and dose of medicine, which may be continued till the desired results are manifested. Not expectant as are other methods, or systems of therapy, I am, therefore, quite a believer in this way of treating disease. Each case more and more confirms me in its great advantage in curing the sick. Of course, I have for years been practicing much upon this plan, or method, and have often jugulated fevers of various types. But till I had examined this method, I practiced with much larger doses and at longer intervals in giving them.
In order that some of our young brethren may have their attention called to the matter of why the Eclectic physician should and does command the confidence of the intelligent masses of our people, I will briefly give, as I think, the true status of Eclectic physicians. They are treating diseases, not upon any laid-down former system of medical practice, but upon the discovered and improved methods of such men as were not content with the system and routine of the fathers of the Healing Art. Not that there is a difference in the anatomical, physiological or other conditions of the human organism, nor yet in the medicines and their chemical combinations; not that there is in disease any difference in regard to whether an Allopathist, Homeopathist or Eclectic happens to be summoned to treat it; nor yet because it is an American, German, or Frenchman that has the "measles." To explain, a little girl told our High-School Superintendent the other day, when he enquired where her brother was, that he had not been at school, "Why," said she, "he has the Dutch measles." "Oh, no," said the Professor, "you mean French measles," as there were some of his scholars sick with them. "No, indeed," said she, "Johnny caught them of Barckhoff's, and they are Dutch."
Yet the complaint was measles all the same, and if an Allopathic physician had been called to treat it, the little girl's version would have been "Dutch Allopathic measles;" and this case would then come under the Allopathic code, and the modes of Allopathic medication strictly administered on the expectant plan; and the enquirer would be told that "if so and so did not occur, the case would get well."
Eclectics are not, therefore, bound to a system or a code when they are treating disease; as to the kind, quantity, quality or time of administering remedies; or whether the patient is Dutch, French, or any other nationality; or Allopathic, Homeopathic, male or female.
When called to the sick, the field of nature with all its surrounding air, water, fire, minerals, vegetables and animals, is at their command, and can be employed without let or hinderance by them in the relief of the sick and suffering as you may choose—no system to say nay. You have a grander, nobler and more God-like liberty, based upon, yes, upon the best methods known to medical literature, independent of systems, codes, or "pathys."
Transactions of the National Eclectic Medical Association, Vol. XVI, 1888-89, edited by Alexander Wilder.