Creating Waves of Awareness
GREAT BOOKS…That Are SELDOM CONSULTED
Dr. M. A. Usmani
Copyright 2011-13/All rights reserved © Dr Usmani
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Records of civilizations are preserved in arts, architecture, and books. Some pieces of arts and some books are the result of much industry and persistent labor. But all products of the ‘labor of love’ are not essentially of equal abiding value. There were certainly many other paintings of true values, but Mona Lisa of Leonardo da Vinci stood the test of immortality, and universal popularity.
Similarly there are many books in homeopathy, as are in many other branches of knowledge, which were produced as the result of life-long labor and persistent industry; but could not get currency and popularity, either because the subject was not of such vital importance or the knowledge has advanced to those frontiers, that their subject matter has been superseded, and made redundant. One such book is the Dictionary of Sens ations “As If”. This book became the occasion and impetus for my writing this article.
The Unabridged Dictionary of Sensations “As If,” is a great book, written by Dr. James W. Ward. He wrote it so consummately and so diligently, by devoting a long period of his precious life. The book is so beautiful that one at once feels enticed to buy it. Its beauty and comprehensiveness outweighed the book, on similar subject and with similar title, written by Herbert A. Roberts. I bought Ward’s book in 1973. It has two parts: Pathogenetic, and Clinical.
Such books are written to facilitate the search for that rare and controversial bird called the Similimum. It is no doubt a great help. In spite of this immense usefulness, it is wonder that I consulted this book as many times as can be counted on fingers, during this long duration of two score years. For the search of the similimum there is another more comprehensive and more versatile book. It is Gentry’s Concordance.
The Concordance Repertory of The Materia Medica, by William D. Gentry. This great book is a compilation of materia medica in the format of a sort of repertory. It consists of six volumes, some 850 pages each—thus coming up to almost 5100 pages; while the ‘Sensation As If’ spreads over 1637 pages. Gentry’s book came into my collection in May, 1987. This book is based on the schema of Cruden’s Concordance of the Bible. It is a great treatise, the outcome of life-long patient work and mental alacrity for collecting and arranging and cross-referring the whole material. It will certainly help find queer and strange symptoms that may be troubling the patient, (and, of course, the physician also), where the ordinary repertories do not help. Gentry gives an illustration by mentioning a symptom: viz. “Constant, dull frontal headache with aching in the umbilicus”. A very strange symptom indeed, a queer extension from brain (or Head) to umbilicus; perhaps only a Hindu sage can explain as to how the Crown-chakra tried to inundate the Solar-plexus chakra or Sacral-chakra. Had any patient conveyed to me such an unheard of symptom, I would have ordered him to lie down on the examining bed, and let me palpate his abdomen for the source of his abdominal complaint, independently of his head symptoms. As concomitant we would have accepted it without knowing the cause and the remedy. But the remedy came out to be Leptendra, (cf. Gentry’s Volume 1, page 287, in the section: Head and Scalp, under sub-heading UMB.). It is vouchsafed by Hering in his Condensed Materia Medica. So we condone both the symptom and the remedy as genuine. To find the significance of this queer symptom we have to go to the pathogenetic source. The best source is T. F. Allen’s Encyclopedia of Pure Materia Medica, which I bought in 1988, preferring it to The Guiding Symptoms of Hering. Leptendra is mentioned in the 5th Volume, of Encyclopedia, reading which I found that frontal headache and umbilical pains remained a concurrent theme constantly for many days, in a very conspicuous way during the provings of Leptendra.
Pathogenetic source books are usually required to know the real importance of any symptom of the materia medica. A good book for this purpose is T. F. Allen’s Encyclopedia. It is in 12 volumes. Richard Hughes, Hering and Carl Dunham were among the contributors to this magnum opus.
Hughes himself, separately, compiled a magnum opus on pathogenesis, entitled: A Cyclopedia of Drug Pathogenesy. It is in four volumes. Drs. Drysdale, Dudgeon, Pope and Cowperthwaite, among others, helped the production and publication of this book. Hughes criticized T. F. Allen’s book as wide of mark. But the profession did not accept his book whole-heartedly. It rather suffered a total neglect from the profession. Kent rejected it outright as absolutely useless. The Pathogenetic material in this book is cursory, and more stress is given to poisonings. But the description of poisoning even is very superficial and limited. Another topic of animal experimentation has been inducted, but that is also very perfunctory and not so much informing. Hughes himself had never tasted higher homeopathy. He could not jump over or circumvent Avogadro’s block. He kept himself confined to drug action of the remedies, and seldom observed the vital response of the organism in unburdening itself in an orderly manner; he could not discover the personality of the drugs as it is revealed when they work curatively. Read, as an example, the article on Arnica Motana, in the first volume of his Pathogenesy, from p. 379. What Hughes has written there about Arnica, could have been written about Rhus-tox, as they both are vulneraries. Arnica was a folk-lore medicine, in Germany, for injuries and bruises. People used to take concoction of its flowers and other parts of the plant, sometimes to the extent of causing poisoning that created accidental provings. Most of its actions were on the skin causing erysipelas, erythema etc. The vulnerary complaints of Arnica, as sprains, contusions, fractures and erysipelas, etc. are just the same as are met with Rhus-tox. You can easily supplant one for the other in Hughes’ Pahogenesy. But the personality of Arnica, as we know it, is nowhere revealed. We can’t tell Arnica from Rhus-tox. It was owing to this, and suchlike shortcomings, that Kent regarded it as a useless book.
The Cyclopedia of Drug Pathogenesy could not become a source book. Nor was it so comprehensive. But a source book is always required for the true understanding of the materia medica, and the exact importance of the symptoms as they are divulged through the process of pathogenetic provings. Two source books were before me: one, 10 volumes of Constantine Hering’s Guiding Symptoms of Our Materia Medica; and 12 volumes of T. F. Allen’s Encyclopedia of Pue Materia Medica. Hering did not solve my purpose because it was not in the format of provings. But that of Allen’s was very near to this format, though not in the format of the original diaries, as they were kept during the process of provings by the individual provers, with all the record of the volunteers with data of time and dates. Without this book I could never know the concurrence of head symptoms with the umbilical pain, in Gentry’s example cited above. Hughes’ criticism of Allen is quite uncalled for and misplaced. One wonders how people like Cowperthwaite, Drysdale and Dudgeon, especially Cowperthwaite collaborated with him. The latter is an author of a fine Mateia Medica, which is a must for every body who wants to know the patho-physiologic importance of the drugs.
DR. Hering’s Condensed Materia Medica I did buy, to know and confirm as to what he says regarding a particular medicine. It is said and claimed that every symptom of this condensed body of knowledge is clinically proved. T. F. Allen’s Handbook of Materia Medica is also a good condensed knowledge. But the Encyclopedia has its undeniable worth, in spite of the fact that it is not oft consulted book.
Homeopathy is much ‘Allenoid’ body of knowledge; by which I mean that there are many Allens who have so enriched it. We have just talked about T. F. Allen, and his great voluminous work. There is another great Allen who has produced a milestone epitome (in two volumes) in the field of miasms. He is J. Henry Allen, and his immortal book is: The Chronic Miasms, full of his visionary knowledge on Psora, Pseudo-Psora, And Syphilis (Vol.I), and Sycocsis (Vol.II). Then there is our popular Allen, the illustrious H. C. Allen, Great author of: Keynotes of Materia Medica, popularly known as Allen’s Keynotes. He is the author of a very great book: The Therapeutics of Fevers, published in Philadelphia, by Boericke & Tafel, in 1928, consisting 572 pages. I bought it in 1968, and I used it as vade macum for many years. I treated all sorts of fevers successfully with it, till I made Jahr, with his 40 Years’ Practice, my mentor. The Therapeutics of Fevers has lost its value and relevance with the state of affairs in modern medicine. It is the least consulted book now. The therapeutic of fever of the dominant school has taken possession the mind of the modern man. Anti-pyretics with anti-biotics have become the sole therapeutics of fevers of present state of medicine. No homeopaths except the masters of their field can withstand the pressure of the clientele. Nobody practically subscribes to the idea of fever being the tool or agency of the immune system. Cf. my article: Worship the Fever.
In the field of general therapeutics there was a great book: The Practice of Medicine, by Wm. C. Goodno. It has two volumes, pages one thousand each, large scale paper, pub. by Hahnemann Press, Philadelphia, in 1895. It came into my library in July, 1973. Vol. I, concerns specific infectious diseases, and diseases of the nervous system. Vol. II , for diseases of circulatory, respiratory, urinary, and digestive systems; diseases of the blood and constitutional and parasitic diseases. This book I used much. Now almost for twenty years I’ve not touched it. Jahr obviated its use in daily practice. It must have been a coveted book in its own days, and it would have been prestigious to possess it. Now, no more. Its therapeutics may still be relevant.
In specific therapeutic, there was Guerensey’s great book: OBSTETRICS. Spreads on 1004 pages, with fine illustrations and diagrams, it must be the rage in its own times. It went into three editions, viz. 1866, 1870, and 1886. Now the advancement in knowledge and technology in maternity practice and obstetrics has rendered it redundant. Gynecology and obstetrics is now considered the sole concern of hospitals. Antenatal and neonatal services are provided in the hospitals and gynecological indoor clinics; and now even people don’t think of any alternative. Their sure methods and techniques have left no niche for uncertain methodology and compunction ridden prescriptions of homeopathy. I’m full of veneration for this branch of allopathy. We shouldn’t have any prejudice, and acknowledge, without grudge, the advancements in knowledge and technology.
So Guerensey’s book, once a rage, in its own times, has met a clear demise. It was the book on the force of which I once thought of opening an antenatal clinic to cater the need of my area. All the midwifery was done at home as a rule in those days. Hospitalization meant that the case might be of surgery. All the lady health-visitors and nurses used to come to me to discuss labor complications. Most of the problems I used to solve with homeopathic doses. I had instructed the above mentioned staff to consult me and bring their problems to me, in case of complicacies. But the times changed imperceptibly. Now people go to maternity hospitals and indoor clinics. It is considered backwardness not to register with any maternity hospital. One must admit that the rate of maternity deaths has sharply declined, and fears and anxieties incident to this period have lessened to almost nil. Knowledge must go on increasing and fads and obsolete knowledge must go on being shed as one casts off ones worn out clothes. New vistas should sharpen our inquisitiveness and fill our hearts with allurement. So no mourning on the demise of Guerensey’s book, and no breast beating on the exclusion of homeopaths from this branch of medicine. If knowledge and technology should grow, old books and antediluvian methods must suffer death and be done away with, since this matter belongs to science, not to arts. Mona Lisa will surely live for ever.
The most consulted books in homeopathy are Boericke’s Pocket Manual of Homeopathic Materia Medica. And when you need more explanation about some remedy, consult Clarke’s Dictionary. And if you want to know the real significance of a certain symptom, go to T. F. Allen’s Encyclopedia. The Pocket Manual of Boericke is a pocketbook, easy to handle, but not ‘know-all’ companion. Sometimes even all the symptoms that you require of a remedy are nowhere to be found, in spite of the remedy being there. Take, for example, a flash repertorization, of an already running case:
Pain knee, rheumatic Right * --
Now before prescribing, one wants to read the remedy in a materia medica. You’ll find the remedy in Boericke, but not a single symptom, detailed above, would be there. For this you would have to go for a detailed MM. Clarke’s Dictionary of Practical Materia Medica, or Murphy’s Guide should be consulted.
As among the materia medicas, Boerice’s Pocket Manual of HomeopathicMateria Medica is the most consulted book in homeopathy, among the Repertories the Kent’s Repertory of Homeopathic Materia Medica is most consulted book. Most of the new repertories, viz.
are in fact Kent’s repertories. Their basic matter has been drawn from the parent repertory, and their format is more or less the same. Boenninghausen’s Therapeutic Pocket Book is much less popular than Kent’s. Knerr’s Repertory of Hering’s Guiding Symptoms is the least consulted repertory. But it is a mine of knowledge, it will never happen that you read few pages of this repertory and are not benefited thereby.