|Acute and chronic|
In order to prepare for the treatment of chronic disease, it is essentially necessary for us to have a very clear idea as to what chronic disease is,-what exactly we are to understand by "chronic disease." Ordinary people would understand it to be a disease from which the patient is suffering for a long time. Thus, they understand a chronic disease to be an "old" disease, and an acute disease to be a "new" disease, i. e. from which the patient is suffering for a few days only. It is, therefore, the difference in the length of the period of suffering that makes a disease "chronic" or "acute" according to ordinary people, and this is the idea of all other systems of medicine than Homœopathy. Allopathy actually classifies diseases into three classes, according to this difference in the length of the period of suffering, e.g. , a particular disease is "acute" if the patient has been suffering from it for not more than six weeks; it is "sub-acute", if he has been suffering from it for more than six weeks, and it is "chronic", if he has been suffering from it for over two or three months. The length of the period of suffering is the only criterion by which Allopaths and others classify diseases into the above classes.
But Homœopathy has quite a different criterion for classifying diseases into "acute" and "chronic". The basis of time is too mechanical to be accepted as reasonable. We do not say that a disease is "acute" if the patient has been suffering from it for so many days only, and "chronic" if for more than so many days. According to us, a disease is chronic or acute by its nature-no matter what the length of the period of suffering from that disease may be. Thus, a chronic disease is chronic from the very beginning, even if the patient is suffering from it only for one day, and an acute disease is acute even if the patient is suffering from it for six months or more. But, what is the nature in the disease that makes it "chronic" or "acute"? What is there in a chronic disease, on account of the existence of which we call it "chronic," and what is there in an acute disease on account of the existence of which we call it "acute"?
If we examine a large number of patients suffering from various diseases for various lengths of time, we find that the diseases in some of those patients have the special characteristic of beginning, continuing and ending-ending either in recovery or in death, and in others, there is the special characteristic of ever continuing (until the patient dies),-i.e. without ending at any time. It is this characteristic of having a tendency to end that makes a disease "acute," and it is the characteristic of having a tendency to continue, without ending, that makes a disease "chronic." Thus, when a disease attacks a person, torments him for some time (no matter what the length of this "some time" is) and then passes off, of itself, it is an acute disease. It is quite possible that an acute disease is very severe at times and may kill the patient, but yet it is to be considered to be an acute disease, if only it has the inherent tendency of terminating. If, on the other hand, the disease that has attacked the patient is devoid of this tendency of terminating either in recovery or in death, but has instead a tendency to continue, i.e. not to leave the patient at all, it is chronic. It therefore comes to this: - An acute disease is that which tends to cease, and a chronic disease is that which tends to continue, and there is absolutely no question of the length of the period of suffering in either. It is the tendency, it is the inherent nature in the disease, that makes it acute or chronic. Suppose, one has got small-pox. This is a disease that begins with certain symptoms, torments the patient for some time, and then passes off. Now, the very nature of this disease is to cease after some time. It may of course end the patient altogether, and that only means that the attack has been very severe, but it has absolutely no tendency to continue in the said patient either in the shape of small-pox or in any other shape, and therefore it is an acute disease. But a chronic disease has not this tendency, but instead, the tendency of ever continuing. Now, suppose a patient is suffering from colic. You record his symptoms and find,-he has acidity, watering of the mouth, aggravation in the afternoon, in the winter, there are ring-worm and rhagades here and there in the body, colic relieved by eating and pressure on the abdomen, temper peevish, etc. etc. Now you prescribe Petroleum 1,000 on the basis of the law of Similars. The patient comes to you after 8 or 10 days and says, "Sir, the colic is much less no doubt, but I have got back that obnoxious disease "ring-worm" which was almost cured by an ointment". From this, you should at once understand that your prescription was correct. You now tell the patient that there is no anxiety for the ring-worm, and that ring-worm too will be cured, if the colic is gone, and you also warn him against the use of any ointment again, because in that case the colic will not be cured. The patient goes back and is relieved of his colic altogether in a few days. But as ill luck would have it, he disregards your advice and applies that blessed ointment again, as soon as he is free from the colic. To his great surprise, the ring-worm is cured but the colic does not return this time, and he begins to think that your warning against the use of the ointment for the ring-worm was all rubbish. Full one year is gone since the use of ointment and his recovery from colic, and he comes back to you and complains, "Sir, I have got a cough, and I have consulted many a doctor for it without any benefit." You now refer to the record and find that Petroleum is again indicated, and the fact of the suppression of the ring-worm with ointment confirms your selection. If you now give Petroleum in high potency, the cough will disappear, and all the ring-worm that was suppressed with ointment will come out and be cured, and the patient restored to health. Now, the above is a case of chronic disease, because the tendency of the disease here is to continue to torment the patient, unlike the case of small-pox cited before. The characteristic of small-pox is to run out its course and end even of itself, but the characteristic of the disease in the above case is to continue in the patient in various forms one after another, unless and until knocked out of him. It begins as ring-worm, then it runs on to colic, then to cough-no tendency to cease, and it is made to go only when a powerful medicine (Petroleum) is used.
We now understand that a chronic disease is a disease that has a special tendency of ever continuing, though in different forms, unless and until removed by the aid of effective medicines, while an acute disease is a disease which has an inherent tendency of leaving the patient after it has run out its course, even without the aid of any medicine.
It may, however, be argued, that in many cases, though the patient has got an acute disease, as defined above, and has recovered from it, yet he continues to suffer from various diseases after his recovery. According to the classification of acute and chronic diseases, as explained above, such cases of acute disease should come under the category of "chronic", and it would seem that acute diseases too have a tendency to continue in different forms even inspite of medicines. But such arguments are altogether untenable. If we examine such cases with scrutiny, we shall always find that the subsequent sufferings of the patient after his recovery from an acute disease are invariably due to bad and unscientific treatment. It often happens that dysentery comes in after measles. This dysentery is explained by allopathic physicians as a "sequelæ" to measles. It may be a "sequelæ," but it is entirely due to bad treatment, and has been made to appear on that account and on that account only. Why should there be any dysentery after measles? There is no dysentery inherent in measles, as we understand it to be. If there has been a "sequelæ," it is due to bad treatment which might have compelled the disease-force to course inward giving rise to the so called "sequelæ," and if it continues, it is of course a fact that a chronic disease has been implanted upon the patient by the physician in his ignorance and incapacity, and that does not make the original disease (measles) chronic, because the special characteristic of a chronic disease is not there, and this chronic characteristic has only been imparted to it by the physician's art or want of art. A chronic disease is chronic by nature, and an acute disease is acute by nature. A cholera patient has no sequelæ if he is smoothly and correctly treated and cured, but there is bound to be sequelæ, when the patient is not cured, but only the disease-force is made to move on to some other organs.
From a study of the colic patient described above, it is clear that a chronic disease has a peculiar tendency of continuing in various forms, and that it can only be cured by another power (Dynamis) in the shape of medicine, and unless this is done, it will ever continue till the patient's death. If you cure the colic only it is no cure of the patient. The cure of the patient only can relieve him of the colic as also of the chronic disease (this will be dealt with later), or the chronic disease will ever travel from one organ to another. It was in the digestive tract in the shape of colic, and if you cure the colic only (without curing the patient), it will possibly move on to the lung and bring on phthisis, and then to the brain, resulting in insanity. Mere relief from the disease (without relief from the tendency for disease) is only diverting the course of the disease-force, and this process of diversion has an eternal law,-"from the less important to the more important organ, from the less internal and vital to the more." Let us understand that true cure does not lie in a mere removal of the disease symptoms or in their transfer from one organ to another, but in annihilating the very tendency for having disease.