“Never accept a drink from a urologist.”
Erma Bombeck’s Father
Hahnemann’s practice of testing substances on healthy people to determine their specific symptom pictures is called “proving.” Hahnemann proved around 100 substances during his career. His students and followers continued the process, and approximately two thousand substances have been proven in this fashion. Because homeopathic practitioners didn’t always know what to prove, all kinds of unlikely substances found their way into our Materia Medica books, the collection of information on remedy pictures. Some of the most unlikely are our most valuable remedies today. Homeopathic remedies come from plant, animal and mineral sources. Some of them are strong poisons, some are inert substances in their crude form. When properly prepared a (process that will be discussed in the next chapter), they lose their toxic potential and acquire the ability to heal.
An extreme example of an unlikely substance becoming a powerful homeopathic medicine is Pyrogenium. This substance is derived from raw meat that is left in the sun until it rots. If a healthy person ate this meat, he or she would develop severe symptoms: diarrhea, vomiting, fevers with foul smelling sweat, restlessness, body aches. In short, he or she would feel, well, rotten.
A patient who has not ingested rotten meat, but has these symptoms for some other reason, will be helped by Pyrogenium. Of course, a homeopathic practitioner would not recommend eating rotten meat. Pyrogenium is prepared in the standard homeopathic way, which is discussed in the next chapter.
We don’t often see patients with typhoid or other intestinal conditions that cause such symptoms. Nevertheless, while working for a local HMO a few years ago, I saw a fifty-year-old man who had developed a “cold” that just wouldn’t go away. He had constant fevers, foul smelling sweats, restlessness, terrible mouth odor and other symptoms associated with Pyrogenium. It had already been three weeks, and he was not getting better. I even gave him a strong antibiotic but, as I feared, it didn’t alleviate the symptoms. The man had influenza, a viral condition, so of course, antibiotics couldn’t help. I tried them only out of desperation. I considered admitting him to the hospital and ran some blood tests in preparation. In the meantime, I asked him to go to the store that sells homeopathic remedies and buy Pyrogenium 30c. I doubted it would help, but it couldn’t hurt! He was to take three granules every two hours and report to me in two days.
Two days passed and his blood test results came back. One look at them made me shiver. It seemed the virus had affected his red blood cells. They were hemolyzing (decomposing), and hemoglobin, the normal constituent of red blood cells, was spilling into the blood and trying to come through his kidneys to be eliminated in his urine. In the process, the hemoglobin had plugged the kidney’s delicate filtering mechanism and early signs of kidney shutdown were already apparent in the results. The patient was definitely headed for close monitoring in an intensive care unit. He would have to get vigorous intravenous hydration and could end up on dialysis.
A few hours after I read the results, the patient came in. Before I could say anything he told me, “Doc, I feel thirty percent better.” He looked a little better too. I didn’t know what to say. He wasn’t supposed to be improving; he should have felt worse and possibly stopped producing urine. He defied the rules, so I decided to defy mine and wait a bit longer. After all, I was treating a patient, not a statistic on some report. Still, I drew blood for more tests.
Another two days passed, and the latest blood test results showed a slight improvement. The patient came in and said, “Doc, it’s working. I’m seventy percent better now.” He continued his steady improvement and the blood abnormalities resolved as well. He was completely well in a couple of weeks.
A week later he came back for an urgent visit for an acute gout attack in one of his joints. This development made me even happier. He’d had these gout attacks previously and a temporary return of old symptoms in the face of overall improvement is the best sign we can see (a phenomenon I’ll explain in the Payment chapter).
I advised him to take a pain reliever for pain and eventually, the gout attack resolved on its own. I saw him a few months later when he invited me to a car demolition derby where he was one of the drivers. Needless to say, at this time he was completely well. This case illustrates a classic response to a well-chosen homeopathic remedy. We don’t always see such textbook cases, but they are by no means uncommon.