Barbara Roberts, Homeopath

Dr James Compton Burnett

On this day, 20 July 1840, James Compton Burnett was born in Redlynch, near Salisbury, England.

Dr Compton Burnett was an allopathic doctor who trained in Vienna and Glasgow, and then completed his internship at a hospital and asylum in Glasgow. He was an amazing Homeopath who contributed much to the modality.

It was during his internship that he was introduced to Homeopathy, after the death of an orphan who caught a cold, and then pleurisy. Dr Compton Burnett believed if only he could have stopped the initial fever he would have lived, and even though three other doctors had all treated this boy, he really felt the weight of his inability to save the child.

After a colleague mentioned it, he studied Homeopathy himself and learnt of Aconite, so developed an experiment. This is what he had to say:

“I had some of Fleming’s Tincture of Aconite in my surgery, and of this I put a few drops into a large bottle of water and gave it to the nurse of said children’s ward , with instructions to administer of it to all the cases on one side of the ward as soon as they were brought in. Those on the other side were not to have the Aconite solution, but we’re to be treated in the authorised orthodox way, as was therefore customary. At my next morning visit I found nearly all the youngsters on the Aconite side feverless, and mostly at play in their beds. But one had Measles and had to be sent to the proper ward: I found that Aconite did not cure Measles: the others remained a day or two and were then returned whence they had originally came.

Those on the non-Aconite orthodox side were worse, or about the same, and had to be sent into hospital – mostly with localised inflammations, or catarrhs, measles etc

And so it went on day after day, day after day: those that got Aconite were generally convalescent in twenty-four or forty-eight hours, except in the comparatively seldom cases where the seemingly simple chill was the prodromal stage of a specific disease such as measles, scarlatina, rheumatic fever: these were barely influenced by the Aconite. But the great bulk of the cases were all genuine chills and the Aconite cured the greater part right off, though the little folks were usually pale, and had perspired, as I subsequently learned, needlessly much.

I had told the nurse nothing about they contents of my big bottle, but she soon baptised it “Dr Burnett’s Fever Bottle”.

For a little while I was simply dumbfounded, and I spent much of my nights studying homeopathy: I had no time during the day.

One day I was unable to go my usual rounds through the wards; in fact I think I was absent two days – from Saturday till Tuesday – and on entering the said children’s ward the next time in the early morning the nurse seemed rather quiet, and informed me, with a certain forced dutifulness, that all the cases, might, she thought, be dismissed.

“Indeed”, said I, “how’s that?”

“Well, Doctor, as you did not come round on Sunday and yesterday, I gave your fever medicine to them all; and, indeed, I had not the heart to see you go on with your cruel experiments any longer; you are like all the young doctors that come here – you are only trying experiments!”

I merely said “Very well, nurse; give the medicine in future to all that come in.”

This was done till I left the place, and the result of this Aconite medication for chills and febricula was usually rapid defervescence, followed by convalescene…..

….Aconite in febricula was, and is, my first reason for being a Homeopath.”

This anecdote comes from his book Fifty Reasons for Being a Homeopath, which was written in 1888 in response to a challenge by orthodox doctors that to be a Homeopath is to be a “quack” and he should justify his reasons for practicing Homeopathy.

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