Wednesday, September 5, 2012

VII

1.

"So much for modern science. Everybody is busy discovering new diseases or re-inventing old ones which have been forgotten, trumpeting some patent remedy or another; and yet a state of total ignorance prevails. Not that it matters much. You might as well remain ignorant, since the pharmacological side is getting so complicated that no doctor can be sure of having his prescriptions made up twice in the same way. Let me give you an example. At present, syrup of white poppy, the Diacodia of the old pharmacopoeia, has been abolished. It is now manufactured using laudanum and sugar cane. Not at all the same thing.



We have got to the stage that we no longer prescribe specific medicines with specific dosages, we rely on the off-the-peg remedies instead, the ones whose advertisements are plastered over the inside page of all the magazines. It's a real hit-or-miss form of consultation, a democratic medicine: one cure fits all. 
And now every physician has to be a specialist too. Oculists treat only the eyes and, in order to effect a cure, will administer without a qualm what is a poison to the rest of the body. How many people's health complaints, suppressing the symptoms of eczema in old people who, as soon as they are proclaimed well, suddenly find themselves incapable of looking after themselves or dangerous lunatics. There is no longer any professional solidarity; each group attacks the other as it sees fit. Everything is completely out of control. My respectable colleagues are utterly at sea, mesmerized by one proprietary medication after another, none of which they know how to use. Take antipyrine, for example. This is one of the very few active ingredients that the chemists have come up with in a long time. Well, how many doctors are aware that, applied by means of a compress of cold, iodized Bondonneau spring water, antipyrine combats that supposedly incurable disease: cancer? It may seem incredible, but I assure you that it is true.

2.

"Do you really believe the physicians of old were better versed in the art of healing?"

"Yes, because they knew by heart the effects of all the natural remedies. Obviously, when old ParĂ© advocated "medicine-bags" ordering his patients to carry around with them powdered medicaments in a little sack of varying shape depending on which organ was diseased, some sort of cap for the head, a bagpipe for the stomach, an ox-tongue for the spleen, his results cannot have been very spectacular His claim to have cured grastalgia by the application of a powder made up of red roses, coral and mastic, wormwood and mint, aniseed and nutmegs, does not stand serious scrutiny; but he had other regimes, and he often affected a cure, because he knew all about Simple, a knowledge which has now been lost. 




The medical profession still shrugs its shoulders when the name of Ambroise Pare is mentioned but then the medical profession used to pour scorn on the alchemists' belief that gold had a curative effect; none of which prevents it from being used in the form of salts and fillings as an alternative treatment today. Concentrated gold arsenate is employed in the cure of anemia in women; gold chloride in the treatment of syphilis; cyanide of gold for menstrual discharge and scrofula; and sodium and gold chloride in the case of persistent ulcers. 

Sometimes it can be quite repugnant to be a physician; despite the fact that I hold a doctorate in science and have worked in hospital for years, I am altogether at a disadvantage to humble country herborists, those solitary ramblers, who understand a great deal more than I do, a matter I freely admit. 

3.

"What about Homeopathy?"

It has some good qualities and some bad ones. It alleviates the symptoms, sometimes just repressing them, without curing the disease; but in grave or acute cases it is worse than useless, just like this Mattei system, which is totally impotent when it comes to averting a major crisis. True, it can be effective as a stop-gap, even staving off less serious anti-scrofular, anti-angioedema, anti-cancerous - it sometimes moderates morbid states in which other methods are of no avail. For instance, it permits a patient whose kidneys have been weakened by potassium iodide to gain time and recuperate so that he can safely begin to drink iodide again.



I should add that those terrific shooting paints, against which even chloroform and morphine often offer no relief, sometimes surrender as a result of an application of green electricity. If you ask me, though, of what this liquid electricity constituted, I would have to answer that I haven't a clue Mattei claims that, in his globules and fluids, he has managed to capture the electrical properties of certain plans; but he has never explained how it is done, and so he can make up whatever stories about it he lies. Perhaps the most curious aspect of it all is that this system, though invented and developed by a Roman Catholic count, is mainly used and discussed by protestant pastors, who innate stupidity manifests itself in the unbelievable homilies which accompany their medical writings."



1 comment:

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