Every agent that acts upon the vitality, every medicine, deranges more or less the vital force, and causes a certain alteration in the health of the individual for a longer or a shorter period. This is termed PRIMARY ACTION. Although a product of the medicinal and vital powers conjointly, it is principally due to the former power. To its action our vital force endeavors to oppose its own energy. This resistent action is a property, is indeed an automatic action of our life-preserving power, which goes by the name of SECONDARY ACTION or COUNTERACTION.


During the primary action of the artificial morbific agents (medicines) on our healthy body, as seen in the following examples, our vital force seems to conduct itself merely in a passive (receptive) manner, and appears, so to say, compelled to permit the impressions of the artificial power acting from without to take place in it and thereby alter its state of health; it then, however, appears to rouse itself again, as it were, and to develop (A) the exact opposite condition of health (COUNTERACTION, SECONDARY ACTION) to this effect (PRIMARY ACTION) produced upon it, if there be such an opposite, and that in as great a degree as was the effect (PRIMARY ACTION) of the artificial morbific or medicinal agent on it, and proportionate to its own energy;—or (B) if there be not in nature a state exactly the opposite of the primary action, it appears to endeavor to indifferentiate itself, that is, to make its superior power available in the extinction of the change wrought in it from without (by the medicine), in the place of which it substitutes its normal state (SECONDARY ACTION, CURATIVE ACTION).


Examples of (A) are familiar to all. A hand bathed in hot water is at first much warmer than the other hand that has not been so treated (primary action); but when it is withdraw from the hot water and again thoroughly dried, it becomes in a short time cold, and at length much colder than the other (secondary action). A person heated by violent exercise (primary action) is afterwards affected with chilliness and shivering (secondary-action). To one who was yesterday heated by drinking much wine (primary action), today every breath of air feels too cold (counter-action of the organism, secondary action). An arm that has been kept long in very cold water is at first much paler and colder (primary action) than the other; but removed from the cold water and dried, it subsequently becomes not only warmer than the other, but even hot, red and inflamed (secondary action, reaction of the vital force). Excessive vivacity follows the use of strong coffee (primary action), but sluggishness and drowsiness remain for a long time afterwards (reaction, secondary action), if this be not always again removed for a short time by imbibing fresh supplies of coffee (palliative). After the profound stupefied sleep caused by opium (primary action), the following night will be all the more sleepless (reaction, secondary action). After the constipation produced by opium (primary action), diarrhoea ensues (secondary action); and after purgation with medicines that irritate the bowels, constipation of several days’ duration ensues (secondary action). And in like manner it always happens, after the primary action of a medicine that produces in large doses a great change in the health of a healthy person, that its exact opposite, when, as has been observed, there is actually such a thing, is produced in the secondary action by our vital force.


An obvious antagonistic secondary action, however, is, as may readily be conceived, not to be noticed from the action of quite minute homeopathic doses of the deranging agents on the healthy body. A small dose of every one of them certainly produces a primary action that is perceptible to a sufficiently attentive observer; but the living organism employs against it only so much reaction (secondary action) as is necessary for the restoration of the normal condition.


These incontrovertible truths, which spontaneously offer themselves to our notice in nature and experience, explain to us the beneficial action that takes place under homeopathic treatment; whilst, on the other hand, they demonstrate the perversity of the antipathic and palliative treatment of diseases with antagonistically acting medicines.


In HOMEOPATHIC cures experience teaches us that from the uncommonly small doses of medicine (§275-287) required in this method of treatment, which are just sufficient, by the similarity of their symptoms, to overpower and remove from the sensation of the life principle the similar natural disease, there certainly remains, after the destruction of the latter, at first a certain amount of medicinal disease alone in the organism, but, on account of the extraordinary minuteness of the dose, it is so transient, so slight, and disappears so rapidly of its own accord, that the vital force has no need to employ, against this small artificial derangement of its health, any more considerable reaction than will suffice to elevate its present state of health up to the healthy point—that is, than will suffice to effect complete recovery, for which, after the extinction of the previous morbid derangement but little effort is required (§ 64, B).


In the antipathic (palliative) mode of treatment, however, precisely the reverse of this takes place. The medicinal symptom which the physician opposes to the disease symptom (for example, the insensibility and stupefaction caused by opium in its primary action to acute pain) is certainly not alien, not wholly allopathic to the latter; there is a manifest relation of the medicinal symptom to the disease symptom, but it is the REVERSE of what should be; it is here intended that the annihilation of the disease symptom shall be effected by an OPPOSITE medicinal symptom, which is nevertheless impossible. No doubt the antipathically chosen medicine touches precisely the same diseased point in the organism as the homeopathic medicine chosen on account of the similar affection it produces; but the former covers but lightly the opposite symptom of the disease only as an opposite, and makes it unobservable to our life principle for a short time only, so that in the first period of the action of the antagonistic palliative the vital force perceives nothing disagreeable from either of the two (neither from the disease symptom nor from the medicinal symptom), as they seem both to have mutually removed and dynamically neutralized one another as it were (for example, the stupefying power of opium does this to the pain). In the first minutes the vital force feels quite well, and perceives neither the stupefaction of the opium nor the pain of the disease. But as the antagonistic medicinal symptom cannot (as in the homeopathic treatment) occupy the place of the morbid derangement present in the organism in the sensation of the life principle as a SIMILAR, STRONGER (artificial) disease, and cannot, therefore like a homeopathic medicine, affect the vital force with a similar artificial disease, so as to be able to step into the place of the original natural morbid derangement, the palliative medicine must, as a thing totally differing from, and the opposite of the disease derangement, leave the latter uneradicated; it renders it, as before said, by a semblance of dynamic neutralization  at first unfelt by the vital force, but, like every medicinal disease, it is soon spontaneously extinguished, and not only leaves the disease behind, just as it was, but compels the vital force (as it must, like all palliatives, be given in large doses in order to effect the apparent removal) to produce an opposite condition (§63,64) to this palliative medicine, the reverse of the medicinal action, consequently the analogue of the still present, undestroyed, natural morbid derangement, which is necessarily strengthened and increased  by this addition (reaction against the palliative) produced by the vital force. THE DISEASE SYMPTOM (this single part of the disease) CONSEQUENTLY BECOMES WORSE AFTER THE TERM OF THE ACTION OF THE PALLIATIVE HAS EXPIRED; WORSE IN PROPORTION TO THE MAGNITUDE OF THE DOSE OF THE PALLIATIVE. Accordingly (to keep to the same example) the larger the dose of opium given to allay the pain, so much the more does the pain increase beyond its original intensity as soon as the opium has exhausted its action.


From what has been already adduced we cannot fail to draw the following inferences:

  • That everything of a really morbid character and which ought to be cured that the physician can discover in diseases consists solely of the sufferings of the patient, and the sensible alterations in his health, in a word, solely of the totality of the symptoms, by means of which the disease demands the medicine requisite for its relief; whilst, on the other hand, every internal cause attributed to it, every occult quality or imaginary material morbific principle, is nothing but an idle dream;
  • That this derangement of the state of health, which we term disease, can only be converted into health by another revolution effected in the state of health by means of medicines, whose sole curative power, consequently, can only consist in altering man’s state of health—that is to say, in a peculiar excitation of morbid symptoms, and is learned with most distinctness and purity by testing them on the healthy body;
  • That, according to all experience, a natural disease can never be cured by medicines that possess the power of producing in the healthy individual an alien morbid state (dissimilar morbid symptoms) DIFFERING from that of the disease to be cured (never, therefore, by an allopathic mode of treatment), and that even in nature no cure ever takes place in which an inherent disease is removed, annihilated and cured by the addition of another disease dissimilar to it, be the new one ever so strong;
  • That, moreover, all experience proves that, by means of medicines which have a tendency to produce in the healthy individual an artificial morbid symptom, ANTAGONISTIC to the single symptom of disease sought to be cured, the cure of a long-standing affection will never be effected, but merely a very transient alleviation, always followed by its aggravation; and that, in a word, this antipathic and merely palliative treatment in long-standing diseases of a serious character is absolutely inefficacious;
  • That, however, the third and only other possible mode of treatment (the HOMEOPATHIC), in which there is employed FOR THE TOTALITY OF THE SYMPTOMS of a natural disease a medicine capable of producing the most similar symptoms possible in the healthy individual, given in suitable dose, is the only efficacious remedial method whereby diseases, which are purely dynamic deranging irritations of the vital force, are overpowered, and being thus easily, perfectly and permanently extinguished, must necessarily cease to exist. This is brought about by means of the stronger similar deranging irritations of the homeopathic medicine in the sensation of the life principle. For this mode of procedure we have the example of unfettered Nature herself, when to an old disease there is added a new one similar to the first, whereby the new one is rapidly and forever annihilated and cured.


As it is now no longer a matter of doubt that the diseases of mankind consist merely of groups of certain symptoms, and may be annihilated and transformed into health by medicinal substances, but only by such as are capable of artificially producing similar morbid symptoms (and such is the process in all genuine cures), hence the operation of curing is comprised in the three following points:

  • How is the physician to ascertain what is necessary to be known in order to cure the disease?
  • How is he to gain a knowledge of the instruments adapted for the cure of the natural disease, the pathogenetic powers of the medicines?
  • What is the most suitable method of employing these artificial morbific agents (medicines) for the cure of natural disease?
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