Reform Measures in Germany
Editor Ellingwood's Therapeutist:
The medical situation in Germany is different in a great many respects from that in America. Here we have only State Universities, at which regulars only teach. There is no chair of homeopathy in any of them and the name eclecticism is as far I know unknown here. Still there is a great movement in this country against the dosing of the old regular school and its serum therapy. It was originated by a layman, Vincenz Priessnitz, who first brought the so-called natural factors of water, diet, air and sun-baths, massage and exercise into a system and used them to the exclusion of drugs. The physicians remained skeptical for a long time, so the laiety took up the movement and formed associations for the spreading of these teachings.
The physicians were obstinate, so there sprang up a multitude of lay or irregular practitioners, who had not graduated from one of the recognized medical schools, but were self-taught or instructed by other irregular practitioners. This was possible here, as the profession of medicine was by law declared to be a free craft, i. e., one which may be practiced by any person who registers as a practitioner; the law does not require that this person like any other tradesman shall have passed through a prescribed course of study. Still only graduated physicians were enabled to sign death certificates or hold official positions.
The physicians fought hard against the "Naturheilbewegung" (naturopathy), but in vain; the journal of the association, Der Naturarzt, is at present published in about 100,000 copies. Gradually physicians joined the ranks of the movement and became prominent in it. They were shunned by their colleagues, no consultation was given them, etc., but their number grew and is still growing. At first the new movement was radically opposed to any and all drugs, but gradually they came to remember the old home remedies, and Father Kneipp did much to make them popular.
After him a former lawyer, M. Gluenicke, made the systematic use of herbs the prominent feature of his "system of cure." So that nowadays the use of herbs is a recognized feature of the movement; most of the liberal physicians now use them in one form or the other, a few make them a prominent feature of their therapeutics.
Under the pressure of public opinion even the orthodox physicians took up the water-cure; so that now we find chairs for hydrotherapy and massage in all the larger universities, and a vegetation diet is recommended as a curative factor in certain selected cases by many an orthodox professor. Some of them even prescribe teas made from herbs that a few years ago were considered as entirely obsolete and useless.
That is in short the situation in this country. You see specific medicines and specific medication are practically unknown here. I have never seen those two words mentioned in print. I shall use specific medicines, and have the co-operation of Dr. K. Kahnt and of the "Verein für Pflanzenheilkunde," an association comprising about 3,000 members. I shall also try to interest other physicians, but it will naturally be very slow work.
In our practice we use besides the other so-called natural factors, herbs only, and these in the form of watery extracts made in a percolator under pressure. The extracts are then sterilized and sealed, and come in bottles of 200 gr. each. (There are plenty of people who would not consult again a Physician who would prescribe mercury, or iodides, or salicylates, etc., for them.) ,
The herbs are combined so that they act as alteratives in a milder or stronger way and on the different organs of the body. They are taken in small doses frequently during the day diluted with water and with the addition of the juice of one lemon and some sugar. At the same time rectal injections are used two or three times a week with another compound extract. This course of treatment (I have not mentioned water applications, diet, etc.) is used mostly in chronic diseases and with excellent results.
Hoping that this letter is not altogether too long and that what I have written may interest your readers
I am very sincerely yours,
C. D. ISENBERG, M. D., Hamburg, Germany.