SIR,—Naturally doctors protest at anything connected with " patent medicines," but, although many doctors are very genuine and are hard-working and longsuffering, there are also many doctors who reap a comfortable living, and do not give their best.
I personally know four doctors who have been quite wrong in several simple diagnoses, and in one instance much to the detriment of the patient, my young daughter—causing me endless trouble and expense afterwards, having endangered her very life.
Also, no doctor has been able to cure me of severe nervous headaches—I think I must have consulted a round dozen, and taken bottles of really nasty medicines, but the sneered-at " patent medicines " have at least given me temporary relief without in any way endangering my health or heart. I know only too well that many " patent medicines " injure both, but there arc some which deserve a good word.
Now, however, I have given up my pet patent medicine in favour of herbs, perfectly harmless herbs, which have not only ridded me temporarily of my trouble, but have practically eliminated it from my days, and also given me much better health and enabled mc to continue " burning the candle at both ends," which, I am sorry to say, is a necessity by the exigencies of my life as wife and mother, and writer— for the time being.
You are quite right in your comments (2) that it is much more simple to pay a shilling or two for a patent medicine which one knows works somehow, than to risk a much larger amount in going to a doctor, whom one does not know one can rely on. It is because I could not afford five shillings after five shillings, without adequate results, that I took the law into my own hands, with happy results for me—and had it not been for advertising I should not have known of either the patent remedy or the herbal one.
One has to take all advertisements with a " grain of salt." It is childish to believe everything a man says when he wants to sell something, but one can at least rely On the fact that anybody with a good, well-known name will not risk it lightly by selling what is either harmful, not genuine, or in any other way abusive of public confidence.
Your medical correspondents, too, forget that there are very many places all over the British Isles (1 don't know enough about foreign countries to mention them) where humble people live far from a doctor and cannot always get one in their need. But even small village shops may get a licence to stock patent medicines (or so 1 believe) and, anyway, they can buy them by post. This is a very real point which 1, as a correspondent columnist, know from the many hundreds of letters I have received and answered, whose writers have told me " we cannot get a doctor except in great emergency. He lives too far and charges too much."
contend that the management of a paper can only do their utmost to eliminate harmful or false representations and that then the onus is on the reader.
Another point is that there should be some standardisation of ordinary general practitioners. A member of the Medical Board denounced some of them in a daily paper recently, and stated, what I know for truth, that many practising doctors should not be allowed to practice. If a doctor cannot diagnose heart trouble sufficiently to recommend his patient to see a specialist, and if he confuses rheumatic trouble and scarlet fever, and if he sends a patient with slight fever and rash into a fever hospital as having scarlet fever— which was afterwards found to be incorrect—do you blame the general public for doubting the ability of some general practitioners? And how is one to know which are the right ones? Just having the letters necessary after his name are not enough. Health is a matter on which the public are roost easily exploited—alas, that it should be so, with one's most precious earthly possession.
MARY V. ANGEL (MRS.).
" Silver Ley," Oakley Read, Upper Warlingham, Surrey.
SR,-1n reply to your comments on my letter published on June 17, may I take your second point first? No one wishes people to consult doctors for trivial com plaints. Any reputable chemist supplies simple remedies and mixtures of known content, made up according to recognised prescriptions. And this brings me to your other criticism. All patent medicines are to a greater or lesser extent fraudulent and worthless because (1) they all have a secret " composition which on analysis is found to be either a minute quantity of a simple remedy or to be without any action; (2) they claim to cure not one but every disease; (3) their price is out of all proportion to their cost, as witness the profits made by all such companies.
Belief in their efficacy is due to the decay of real thinking and reason so prevalent today. The public can always be defrauded by the unscrupulous manufacturer. Surely the CATHOLIC HERALD, which is a champion of clear thought and social justice, should protect its readers? The Guild of St. Luke would be only too ready to advise on individual advertisements.
Too Late for the Doctor
Sun—Your editorial comment on the letters of " Medicus " and "Doctor " is, to put it mildly, far from reassuring. You state that " the practical choice is between a couple of shillings spent on a bottle of patent medicine and about ten shillings for medical advice plus a bottle of much the same kind of medicine "!! (italics, etc., mine).
Yet most of our patients come to us after wasting much more than a couple of shillings on patent medicines, which, if they happen to he harmless or even beneficial in some cases of minor malady, are as often as not contra-indicated even in " simple matters." And how is the patient who takes the risk of " doctoring himself" to know what is a " simple matter "? Early diagnosis (on which curative treatment depends), of incipient grave disease, is too often hindered by the blind faith of the public in such advertisements. I say " blind faith " rather than " gullibility " because readers expect a higher sense of responsibility in the CAI HOL IC HER ALD than in the "lay " Press.
WINIERF DE M . FISH, lvl.R.C.S., L.R.C.P., D.O.MS.
Kilronan, Aran Isles, Eire.
SIR, —Under the heading " Medical Treatment," " Medicus " writes: "From whatever a source a valuable discovery arises, it will be welcomed by the medical profession." I wonder if he has heard of "Chiropractic," the method of healing first discovered by Mr. Palmer in America some forty years ago?
For the benefit of those who are not familiar with this wonderful system of health, I would like to suggest that they read a pamphlet called " The Right of the Sick to Get Well," by Fr. Thomas J. S. McGrath, Si., of America, or write to: British Chiropractors Association, 84, Regent Street, London..
The human body functions under the control of the nervous system; while there is no interference with the nerves the whole body is at ease; should the flow of energy through the nerves be in any way reduced or stopped, DIS-EASE will ensue.
Chiropractors, after a two or three years' course of intensive study and by the aid of the NeurocaIometer are able to discover and relieve nerve pressure. X-ray photographs are taken which, in conjunction with the scientific instrument mentioned above, confirm the place at which nerve pressure is taking place.
The chiropractor proceeds to relieve this pressure, the body starts to function normally, the symptoms of dis-ease disappear and in a relatively short time the patient is enjoying better health than he (or she) has done, Well do the medical profession welcome this? Do they, with exceptions, look into the question? No.
As in other things, this England of ours is smug and self-satisfied.
R. N. CLARK. The Hermitage, Callow End, Worcester,