By: Iman Navab
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Iman Navab explains how legislation helped legitimize homeopathy in 19th Century Ontario.
Prior to the year 1815, there was no legislation for the medical profession in Ontario, Canada. In that era this province was separated from the rest of the British North American possessions, and declared a distinct province, under the name of Upper Canada, on December 26th 1791, with Colonel John Simcoe as its first Lieutenant-Governor. He called his parliament to meet for the first time in the little village of Newark, on the Niagara River, September 17th, 1792. Among its first Acts was one formally introducing and establishing English law in the province. In the absence of medical legislation, the profession would be governed by the laws of the mother country, and so for the following twenty-four years, the only people legally qualified to practice medicine in this province were those duly licensed by British authority.
As the country became better settled, it was deemed necessarily to take some legislative action. The population of Upper Canada had reached 95,000, a number sufficiently large to justify some regulation of the medical profession. Therefore, the first Medical Act was passed in March of 1815. According to this Act, “no one who shall or may hereafter come into this province shall be permitted to prescribe for sick persons, or practice physic, surgery, or midwifery, within the province for profit, until such person or persons shall be duly examined and approved of by a Board of Surgeons.” The second clause declared for the appointment of this Board by the Governor. It was to consist of the senior medical officer in the army resident in the province, all regimental and navy surgeons, and all staff surgeons doing duty in the province.
For nearly fifty years this Act formed the basis of all medical legislation in Upper Canada. A few amended acts were passed but these simply modified some of the details, and provided for their more effectual enforcement.
In the meantime, practitioners of Homeopathy were making their appearance in the province of Ontario. The first to introduce the homeopathic system into Upper Canada was Dr. J. Lancaster, who began practicing homeopathy in 1846. Another well known name was Dr. D. Campbell, a homeopath in Toronto. The number of homeopathic practitioners grew rapidly but most of them were not able to practice legally in Ontario. However, due to public demand and increased support for homeopathy, in 1859 Parliament found a remedy by passing a bill entitled “An Act respecting Homoeopathy”, which placed homeopath physicians in a position to become licensed, and to stand on legal equality with other health care providers.
By this measure, the following homeopaths, Dr. Campbell, Dr. Lancaster, Dr. Greenleaf, Dr. Bull, and Dr. Hall, were appointed the first members of a Board of Examiners for those who might desire to be licensed as Homeopathic physicians. The term of office of the Board was two years, three members to retire the first year. The successors to the members first appointed were to be elected by such Homeopathic physicians as might be present in Toronto, and cast their votes at the January meeting of the Board each year.
This was the first medical act in this province which laid down a curriculum for students. In all previous legislation, this matter was left solely to the discretion of the Board of Examiners. Hence the homeopathic physicians adopted the highest standard of education attainable at that time.
Prior to 1865 there was no association for Homeopaths in Canada. In the negotiations necessary to secure favorable legislation, the few members of the profession consulted each other, and then on September 20th of 1865 they formed an association in Ontario.
As the number of physicians from different schools of medicines in Ontario increased, it became apparent that in the interest of public safety, some steps should be taken to secure a standard of education, and one of a higher level than that which was accepted as sufficient, either by colleges or boards. Therefore a bill was introduced into the Canadian Parliament in 1866 to establish a Council of Education and Registration for the province. This council consisted of twelve members, to be elected by the licensed physicians. The elected Council had power to fix a curriculum for Canadian colleges, which should be obligatory on them as soon as approved by the Governor-in-Council. Applicants who had not attended a Canadian school had to attend a similar course and an examination.
Soon after the passing of the Act it became evident that there were differences of opinion as to how it related to Homeopaths. After considerable discussion and negotiation with all parties interested, a measure of compromise was taken, and the Ontario Medical Act passed at the session of 1869. This Act incorporated the entire medical profession of the province as “The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario” with a representative governing body that was named as the Medical Council. Of this Council, twelve were elected by the profession; the various universities and medical schools were given one each, and the Homeopaths and Eclectics five each. The first meeting of this Council was held in Toronto on the second Wednesday in July 1869. The five Homeopathic Representatives were: Dr. D. Campbell, Dr. G. Field, Dr. H.Allen, Dr. J. Adams, and Dr. W. Springer.
The second general election was held in 1872 and one of the homeopaths, Dr. Campbell, was elected as Vice-President.
Here is an interesting quote by Dr. Campbell: “It is the very nature of truth to have no toleration for error. There are no degrees of comparison for the adjective “true”. A thing must be either true or not true. Compromises in politics are said to be necessary at times but compromises in science must be always unsatisfactory, for the reason that a scientific truth cannot compromise with an unscientific error.” – Dr. D. Campbell, 1892.
Iman Navab presents a brief reflection on trituration and succussion:
My beloved teacher, the late Vaikunthanath Kaviraj (author of Homeopathy for Farm and Garden) often expressed his deep concern and frustration that homeopaths still do not grasp the depth and significance of trituration and succussion that are crucial steps in making homeopathic medicine. Homeopaths in general appreciate their importance, but Kaviraj’s apprehension was due to the lack of high quality research in these procedures, which could help us move the science of homeopathy forward. To understand the gravity of his point, let us explore very briefly the history of trituration and succussion.
In Jay Yasgur’s Homeopathic Dictionary (ISBN 1-886149-04-6), these two terms are defined as:
Trituration – the reduction of a substance to a minute state or division by means of long, continued rubbing or grinding.
Succussion – the process of potentization; vigorously shaking with impact the properly diluted homeopathic remedy.
History reveals that Trituration in medicine (pulverizing in a mortar) is as old as the practice of Indian Medicine (5000 BC) also known as Ayurveda (Science of Life). In one recent study published by the International Research Journal of Pharmacy, scientists at the Mittal Punarvasu Ayurved College, Mumbai, demonstrated a pharmaceutical approach to making pearl into a bio-safe nano-medicine (ISSN 2230-8407). Why pearl? This gem is a valuable and highly regarded remedy in most of the Ayurvedic texts. In this research, pearl underwent the process of trituration 6 hours daily for 21 days. Through this, its particle size was reduced to the extremely minute nano-particles, which means the pearl transformed into nano-medicine, and this facilitates its intracellular activities. Advanced equipment was used in this study that clearly demonstrates the importance of trituration in significant reduction of particle size to increase its bioavailability (which refers to the presence of medicine where it is needed in the body). Keep in mind that in the drug industry each year, more than $65 billion is wasted due to poor bioavailability of medicines.
As I mentioned, trituration has been in use by Ayurveda from ancient times till now. Traditional Chinese Medicine (since 2700 BC) is also uses this process, triturating herbs for days! Different methodologies of trituration are now utilized in laboratories, but all for the same purpose, reduction of particle size.
The art of Trituration is a natural behavior known to all animals; our teeth grind and reduce food particles for better digestion. While this procedure was not invented by homeopathy, it was the genius of Dr. Christian Friedrich Samuel Hahnemann (April 10, 1755 – July 2, 1843) a German physician and scientist who detailed a precise standard operational procedure for the trituration process.
Dr. Hahnemann also shed light on the importance of succussion in the process of potentizing homeopathic medicine. That is, briskly shaking the liquid to create friction.
On a separate note, I would like to mention here that some biased medical-bigots ridicule and discredit Hahnemann, and they hold an opinion that these methods are irrational. I have to say, shame on them, as they mislead the general public by their ignorance. As a brilliant chemist of his time, Hahnemann said: “Far be it from me to prefer irrational quackery to the well-considered medicine.”I used the term ‘brilliant’ chemist because Hahnemann contributed to many branches of science including chemistry. Johann Friedrich Göttling was an outstanding chemist and pharmacist. He was the teacher of great chemists in history. He was appointed as an extraordinary professor of philosophy and chemistry in the University of Jena. In 1794, Professor Göttling said: “Chemistry has to thank Samuel Hahnemann for many important discoveries.”
The process of vigorous-shaking was known to Hahnemann before he systemized homoeopathy. But why did he use the term succussion instead of simply calling it shaking? History reveals that the term ‘succussion’ was used in the era of Hippocrates (460 BC – 377 BC), the Greek Physician regarded as Father of Medicine. Succussion was described by Hippocrates as a technique that consisted of shaking a patient to detect any fluid in the cavities of the body, particularly the lungs. Hippocrates insisted that the succussion process must be a firm and sudden shake; each shake should be equal in the extent of force, and those who perform it must be well trained. So how did Hippocrates came up with his technique of succussion? The answer is in his careful observation of the mechanism of cough! It is known that cough and its succussive mechanism has a forceful speed up to 50 miles per hour (about 80 Km/h).
Thus Dr. Hahnemann used the term succussion to convey the essence of vigorous force that is needed in shaking the liquid to create the friction and kinetic energy that is needed for potentization.
In a book about experimental chemistry, titled “The Sceptical Chymist” by Robert Boyle, published in London in the year 166, I found this remarkable thought-provoking statement: “A few drops of the compound being shaken into a pretty quantity of the infusion.” This procedure suggests that the importance of succussion was known to chemists before Hahnemann. Dr. Hahnemann is guiding us in his book Organon of Medicine that “Succussion is nothing less than a Trituration of liquid substances”. After each series of succussions, comes the dilution step; these are crucial procedures. Dilution without succussion adds no kinetic energy to liquid, while succussion without an increase in dilution raises the level of potency in liquid only by one potency, regardless of how many times it is carried out.
It is indisputable that ongoing, unbiased high quality research studies with advanced technology are needed to further investigate this science so we can truly understand how molecules and of a substance behave during their transformation in trituration, succusion and dilution.
So far we can observe that nature teaches us that grinding food into minute nutrients by the teeth is similar to the trituration process. Also, the mechanism of a forceful cough could be the origin of the succussion method. In regards to dilution, I wish to use the following example to express a point. It is known by science that for human conception, in one ejaculation a male may send as many as 500 million sperm to the vagina. That transfers about 15,875 Gigabyte (GB) of data, equivalent to the capacity that is in about 7,000 computers. However, out of so many sperm, only one will fertilize an ovum. This single tiny sperm contains about 37.5 Megabytes (MB) of DNA information. You may find this example as irrelevant to the dilution process in preparation of homeopathic medicine; however it may serve as food for thought to explore the potentials (in terms of information) that is in a single drop of homeopathic medicine.
Homeopathy is indeed waiting for science to catch-up. Let me conclude with Hahnemann’s quote: “It is infinitely easier to contradict than to investigate.”
Certainly, God is omniscient.
Iman Navab explains how knowledge of the action of Acetylsalicylic has evolved over many years.
It took more than 200 years to explain the mechanism of action of acetylsalicylic acid. Acetylsalicylic acid, also known as Aspirin, is one of the most widely used medications in the world. This drug was derived from the barks of willow trees. A stone tablet of medical text dated ca. 2000 BC, lists willow among plant-based remedies. In ancient times, Sumerians and Egyptians, as well as Hippocrates, Celsus, and Galen used this plant for pain, fever and inflammation.
Willow bark (Salix alba) preparations became a standard part of the Materia Medica of Western medicine; the Greek physician Hippocrates recommended it (in the fifth century BC) to ease the pain of child-bearing and to reduce fever. Celsus in his De Medicina of ca. 30 AD suggested willow leaf extract to treat the four signs of inflammation: redness, heat, swelling and pain. By the time of Galen, willow was commonly used throughout the world as a small part of a large, growing botanical pharmacopoeia.
The major turning point for Acetylsalicylic acid medicines came in 1763, when a letter from English chaplain Edward Stone was read at a meeting of the Royal Society describing the dramatic power of willow bark extract to cure a group of symptoms, including intermittent fever, pain, and fatigue that was primarily called Malaria. Inspired by the doctrine of signatures, Edward Stone had tasted the bark of a willow tree in 1758 and noticed astringency reminiscent of the standard Malaria cure of Peruvian bark. He collected, dried, and powdered a substantial amount of willow bark, and over the next five years tested it on a number of people sick with fever and malaria. In his letter, Stone reported consistent success, describing willow extract’s effects as identical to Peruvian bark, though a little less potent. The difference is that the active constituent of Peruvian bark is quinine, which was believed to attack the infectious cause of malaria. However the active constituent of Willow extract is salicin, which relieved the symptoms of malaria but could not cure it.
In the 19th century, as the young discipline of organic chemistry began to grow in Europe, scientists attempted to isolate and purify the active components of many medicines, including Willow bark. After unsuccessful attempts by Italian chemists Brugnatelli and Fontana in 1826, Joseph Buchner obtained relatively pure salicin crystals in 1828; the following year, Henri Leroux developed a better procedure for extracting modest yields of salicin. By 1838, Italian chemist Raffaele Piria found a method of obtaining a more potent acid form of Willow extract, which he named salicylic acid.The German chemist who had been working to identify the Spiraea extract, Karl Jacob Löwig, soon realized that it was in fact the same salicylic acid that Raffaele Piria had found.
Through the middle decades of the 19th century, the use of salicylate medicines including salicin, salicylic acid, and sodium salicylate, grew significantly, and physicians increasingly knew what to expect from prescribing these medicines: reduction of pain, fever, and inflammation. However, the unpleasant side effects, particularly gastric irritation, limited their usefulness.
It is important to note that the mechanism of acetylsalicylic acid (aspirin’s) analgesic, anti-inflammatory and antipyretic properties was unknown through the early- to mid-twentieth century. Initial explanation, widely accepted since the drug was first brought to market, was that aspirin relieved pain by acting on the central nervous system. In 1958 Harry Collier, a biochemist in the London laboratory of a pharmaceutical company, began investigating the effects of aspirin. In tests on guinea pigs, Harry Collier realized that cutting the guinea pigs’ pneumogastric nerve (vagus nerve) did not affect the inhibitory effect of aspirin – thus aspirin worked locally to combat pain and inflammation, rather than on the central nervous system. In 1963, Collier began working with University of London pharmacology graduate student Priscilla Piper to determine the precise mechanism of aspirin’s effects. However, it was difficult to pin down the precise biochemical goings-on in live research animals.
After five years of collaboration, Harry Collier arranged for Priscilla Piper to work with pharmacologist John Vane at the Royal College of Surgeons of England, in order to learn Vane’s new bioassay methods. They found that aspirin inhibited the release of an unidentified chemical generated by guinea pig lungs, a chemical that caused rabbit tissue to contract. In a June 23, 1971 paper in the Nature journal, John Vane and Priscilla Piper suggested that aspirin worked by blocking the production of prostaglandins (the prostaglandins are a group of hormone-like lipid compounds in the body). Later research showed that aspirin worked by inhibiting Cyclooxygenase, the enzyme responsible for converting Arachidonic acid into a prostaglandin.
To conclude – we can be optimistic that one day soon, the medical community worldwide will understand and acknowledge the mechanism of action of homeopathic medicine through the language of science. This is achievable with advancement of nano-technology. It took such a long time in the history of medicine to explain Aspirin’s mechanism of action in the body, and as science is evolving, the current explanation may one day be revised and updated with a newer explanation that would satisfy the human’s limited logic for that time. So there is hope for homeopathy!
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