Dr. Caroll Dunham: My First Case With a 200 D
One day early in September 1989 at about 9 p.m., I received a call from the family doctor of one of my patients. He conveyed to me that our mutual patient, a 72 y.o. woman, was suffering from a sudden and serious attack of cardiac arrhythmia and that she was requesting my assistance. I immediately left for her home with among other things, my set of Dunham's two-hundredths.
The patient was sitting on her couch with her family doctor (of over 40 years) sitting by her side, listening to her heart. I was struck by her facial expression. She looked sick and as if deprived of all energy. Her eyes were half open. She was seeking air by taking deep breaths which seems to require great effort. She had much nausea which was worse by any motion.
Her blood pressure was 210 over about 100. Her pulse at the wrist was regular at 35. Paradoxically her heart rate was regular but very rapid at about 140. The heart sounds at the tricuspid area consisted of a loud first sound followed by three rapid, less loud, almost fleeing sounds, a type of galloping. Her family doctor was ready to administer an i.v. injection of Ouabain which is a powerful cardiotonic (a glycoside from Strophanthus) "with immediate action." Indeed immediate action was needed. I suggested that first she be given a dose of a homeopathic remedy, which was also what the patient requested. I pulled out a one dram vial with only the bottom filled with old brown #10 pellets. I put in her mouth about 5 of these tiny pellets, screwed the cap back on the vial, turned sideways to deposit it, then turned back to the patient to take her pulse. At this moment the older doctor who had just started to auscultate her heart again-at the most 5 seconds after the intake of the remedy-loudly exclaimed "It's normal. The heart is normal. It's incredible; it became normal immediately. It's incredible-it was immediate." Indeed I immediately felt the normalcy of the pulse at the wrist. It was 72. The patient also said immediately "I feel better." Indeed she looked as if revived. The pressure slowly came down to 135 over 70.
I waited there for another 30 minutes. The older doctor asked me if he could keep my little vial of medicine. I explained to him that I could prepare a vial (a graft) from a few pellets of the original vial. He insisted that he wanted the original, to be used with other patients needing a powerful cardiotonic. I explained to him that the remedy administered didn't act on the patient's heart but that the patient's reaction to the remedy reestablished the normal function. For such a beneficial reaction the remedy had to be prescribed on the principle of similia. It was not a miraculous cardiotonic. As I was about to leave the patient's blood pressure was starting to climb again, to around 180 over 90, a chronic condition, among others, for which this patient had been under my care. A dose of her chronic remedy (Pulsatilla) in the 10 M was administered with a favorable response.
Some history behind the famous Dunham's two-hundredths.
Carroll Dunham had visited Bœnninghausen in Germany and witnessed the efficacy of the two-hundredths commonly used by this accomplished homeopath. On his return to the U.S.A., in 1851, he decided to make his own remedies to satisfy three questions he had: "1. Will bona fide centesimal high potencies act upon the sick people? 2. Does great force, applied to the succussion, add to the efficiency of potencies, whether high or low? 3. Is any force (?) added to remedies by the personality of the succussor; or would potencies, whether high or low, prepared by machinery act as well as if made by hand?" He described the process of making his now famous two-hundredths in a letter to his senior, Dr. Adolph Lippe.
"Hoping to gain some light on these points, which then were more seriously regarded and discussed than they now are, I prepared my remedies as follows:
Determined to use machinery for succussion, . . . and to use a force far exceeding the brachial power of any man [Jenichen] . . . I availed myself of an abandoned oil mill, in which, by water-power, four stampers, consisting of large oak timbers, eight inches square and eighteen feet long, were, by a cam movement, lifted and let fall a distance of eighteen inches. By means of strong, oaken receptacles, firmly bolted to these stampers, 120 vials (more or less), were succussed at one time, and thus that number of remedies was, by a single operation, advanced one degree in the scale of potentization, a great economy of time. The force with which the succussions were made was considerably more than that of a half ton falling eighteen inches; greater therefore, (by a rough computation) than that of six Jenichens (or 10 Finckes) falling bodily, bottle and all, through a space of an arm-shake. One hundred and twenty-five such succussions were given to each potency."
Samuel Jones told us about an "inside story" narrated to him by Dunham in an after-dinner talk. Jones was smoking one of Dunham's cigars so Dunham could "smell it." Jones wrote that "Dunham's father assisted him in making these potencies. The ‘bottle-washing' took them a whole week. They got done on the middle of a Saturday afternoon. Said he; ‘The stampers had fallen for the last time. After an arduous week's work, countless bottle-emptyings and bottle fillings, there were the two-hundredths' before us. It was all silence in the old mill. We neither spake a word; we looked up into each others face, burst out into simultaneous laughter, peal upon upon peal, and laughing rolled upon the floor."
In his letter to Lippe, Dunham shares his conclusions after having used his own remedies for seventeen years: "If force in succussion were of any great value, my preparations ought to be superior to others.
"If the ‘magnetism' of the maker, imparted by the hand while succussing, were essential to the action of the potency, they should be good for nothing; for they were made by machinery. Questions No.2 and 3 receive some light from my experiments; while, as regards No.1, I can only say that, to me, they prove that the remedies in the 200th centesimal potency, using terms as Hahnemann used them, are efficacious in medical practice; for, with them, I remove disease, both acute and chronic, every week, month and year.
"Such was my method. I do not defend nor recommend it, but Crypto-pharmacy being repugnant to my feelings, I frankly state it.
"Such are my ‘potencies.' As I have not made merchandize of them, I do not offer them for sale, nor profit by them pecuniarily. I have no temptation to ‘hawk my wares,' nor to extol them. I simply say that-the list comprising most of our polychrests and many drugs beside-I have, since 1851-for seventeen years-used them constantly, and with few exceptions, exclusively, in my practice; used both high and low; for several years the low almost exclusively, then gradually the higher, and now, in most cases, the 200th. Whatever I have accomplished in treating the sick with drugs, has been done with these potencies thus prepared."
By the way the remedy administered to our cardiac patient was Digitalis 200 D and was still darn good after 138 years.