So Boris Johnson, the now ex-UK Foreign Secretary, is related to a 300 year old mummy that was recently dug up from under a church in Switzerland, we heard recently. Genetic testing revealed that she was apparently his great great great great great great grandmother. God bless her and may she rest in peace.
Interestingly her body was preserved for posterity and for all of us to see, not by a loving family moved to embalm her, but by the large amounts of mercury she had absorbed, apparently given to the poor woman during her lifetime to try and cure her syphilis, ultimately the cause of her death. Do I mean the syphilis or the mercury? Well both could have done for her, but more than likely it was the mercury; syphilis takes a long time to kill you, Mercury, being a toxic metal, not so long.
What Boris' ancestor reminds me of is how crucial the study of Syphilis was to the progress of modern medicine's understanding of disease. No small part of that work was done by the founder of homeopathy, but it has all but been airbrushed out of the story.
Most physicians in the late 18th century believed syphilis to be an infection of the skin caught from a syphilitic 'chancre sore' during sexual contact that then traveled inward. If the doctor was able to get in quick and cut out your first resulting skin ulcer at its first appearance, smother it with Mercury ointment, then hey presto, you were cured, or at least stood the best chance.
It was a nice theory but thousands of documented cases show that over time the syphilis would erupt again, and this time show signs of spread into the bones and eventually brain, with mental symptoms of megalomania, paranoia, depression and aggression. Each episode needed more and more doses of mercury applied, or inhaled or even swallowed to suppress it until the patient eventually died.
This got one humble German GP, Samuel Hahnemann, who was around at that time thinking. What if the chancre wasn't the problem, the 'entry point', but just a symptom? What if the disease had already got inside, obviously transmitted during sexual intercourse, but with the chancre simply being the first external expression of a deeper internal disease?
It's an obvious thought to us in the 21st century with all our knowledge of viruses and bacteria and systemic disease, but back then it was pure dynamite. Remember that the bacterium Treponema pallidum that causes Syphilis wasn't identified until nearly three quarters of a century later in 1905 by Fritz Schaudinn and Erich Hoffman.
More radically Hahnemann went on to argue that if you leave the chancre sore where it is (albeit highly uncomfortable), allow the body to express the disease locally but treat the disease internally, might the patient stand a better chance of survival? It turned out to be true but few were prepared to live with a genital ulcer on the family jewels for the rest of their life. I don't blame them. And how did Hahnemann plan to dose someone internally with toxic Mercury without killing them? This is where the homeopathic bit comes in.
He was no stranger to the toxic effects of mercury (and most of the other medicines available to him at the time) and had already taken it upon himself to find the smallest effective dose. Experimenting with ultra high dilution beyond Avogadro's number, he discovered that less is more and administered Mercury in what he called a 'homeopathic' dose. The results were spectacular - chancre gone in two weeks and no relapse, in other words a cure. And if 'cure' is too strong a word for you, let's settle on 'lifetime remission'.
What is astonishing is that Hahnemann's great observations on syphilis are not common knowledge. He proved beyond doubt that suppressing symptoms on the outside is like fiddling while Rome burns on the inside. He also proved that homeopathy works.
You won't find his name mentioned once on the Syphilis info pages of the likes of Wikipedia. Neither will you find his methods adopted by any NHS STD clinics any time soon. It's a shame really. A 'lifetime remission' side effect free treatment with no scars, and only a few pence a pop? IMHO that's got to be better than a dose of heavy intramuscular antibiotics, the modern and rather more expensive 'cure'.
My head is filled with pictures of Boris Johnson standing beside the Brexit bus, offering to save us £350 million for the NHS if we vote to leave the EU. I am sure his many generations past Swiss grandmother might have had a thing or two to say if she'd been there on the day.
You can read all about Hahnemann's discoveries regarding syphilis and homeopathic doses of mercury in his book The Chronic Diseases Part One (1846) although I'd advise saving it for a rainy day. Hahnemann was a much better doctor than he was a writer.
[Reprinted from Steemit 25/01/2018]