The MacDim System - a new approach to a modern problem
"The doctor of the future will give no medicine, but will interest his patients in the care of the human frame, in diet, and in the cause and prevention of disease." - Thomas Edison
"Unless the inner nature of the remedy corresponds with the inner nature of the disease, the remedy will not cure but simply remove the symptoms" - James Tyler Kent
Homeopathy has for many years been touted as a highly effective alternative to traditional (allopathic) medicine. Supporters of homeopathic remedies believe that the essence of successful treatment does not lie in aggressive and highly damaging drug treatments. Rather, they believe in the application of gentler methods, in line with Samuel Hahnemann's understanding of the law of similars, and an understanding of the human system as a whole. Despite the mocking scorn of the disbelievers, homeopaths have continued to treat ailments from allergy to various zoonoses by the application of a simple principle; namely that a minuscule amount of a substance that causes a symptom in the body, strengthens the body's ability to fight a disease that causes the same symptom.
The method depends on diluting the medical principle in solution, over and over again, and homeopaths themselves pour scorn on those who point out that in most of their medicines, there must be a vanishingly small probability of finding even one molecule of the medicine in a single treatment.
Recently, an exciting new development in homeopathic medicine has surfaced, which could have a major impact on the successful treatment of gunshot victims. Treating the inner nature of these unfortunates became a new challenge for the beleaguered medical discipline, and brought with it a new hope.
The story begins in 1999, when Ed MacDim, a homeopathic research fellow at the American Institute of Homeopathy in Alexandria, Virginia, was stunned after his 20-year-old son Michael died soon after being shot in the face in a hunting accident. Unhappy with the treatment Mike received, and disgusted with the outcome, he persuaded other researchers to assist him in developing a treatment that would allow gunshot victims a better chance of survival and a higher rate of recovery. "I was astonished that these so-called doctors pretty much just sewed him up and left him without helping his body's natural healing", he told me recently. "They insisted on pumping all sorts of things into his already-ravaged body, and that's hardly helpful to someone who is already suffering from being actually shot. In the face."
As Ed was himself also a rifleman and hunter, he and his team decided to create a field research program to investigate the causes of gunshot injury on coyotes shot at a local farm. Armed with his Ruger Mini-14 and a field autopsy unit, they began the work of investigating the causes of injury.
Immediately, they faced a number of problems, some of which seemed insurmountable at the time. It quickly became apparent to them that one of the major symptoms of a gunshot wound was involved with the wound channel, and the massive bleeding caused by the physical passage of the projectile as it passed through the victim. In addition to blood loss there was (depending on a number of variables such as bullet calibre, wind shear and luck) damage to major organs, arteries and credulity. As series of initial experiments indicated that damage to the aorta, heart or brain caused such damage as to practically guarantee that death would occur very quickly, either through massive blood loss or the shutdown of vital systems, causing a rapid onset of death, often within a matter of a few seconds.
Undeterred by their early findings, they decided to focus on the treatment of bleeding through application of the principle of similia similibus curentur (namely, that like cures like). they began to examine a wide range of treatments, and finally settled on three.
The first they chose was ipecac, which, in addition to its use as an allopathic emetic was a proven homeopathic way of treating profuse bleeding, having been used to control nosebleeds for many years. As it also has the effect of reducing nausea and vomiting in the homeopathic system, it was felt that it would be an ideal candidate for treating gunshot victims, who in addition to the physical trauma, were also in great psychic shock. A further secondary benefit was seen to be ipecac's ability to treat coughing, and the team decided that this would be an important step toward wellness for the injured party. Lengthy research into the treatment of gunshot victims in old Westerns suggested that the onset of coughing (oft exacerbated by the victim being given a cigarette) was likely to bring on a quicker death.
The second leg of the homeopathy treatment tripod was to be Sangre De Drago, or Dragon's Blood. This South American tree has seen many uses; treating disorders of the skin, bleeding (especially from peptic ulcer) as well as having antibacterial properties. It was felt that especially where there were wounds to the stomach, this would be highly effective, but the main reason that it was to be recommended was in its ability to heal skin and prevent infection.
The final component, picked for deep wound treatment, was Bellis perennis, the common daisy, which has been in use for millennia. Roman surgeons would have slaves pick the flowers and make an unction, which would be applied to the bandages used to treat deep sword and spear cuts.
Success seemed to be close. "Of course, it's hard to administer the pills to a wounded coyote", he admitted. "They will thrash around, and often either spit the pills out or swallow them, rather than letting them dissolve slowly under the tongue". The treatments, whilst not guaranteeing the survival of their canine patients, were encouraging enough, and they were hoping to find a new delivery system before moving to human patients, as MacDim believed that it the treatments would be immensely more effective if the pills were allowed to dissolve slowly. This was not to be, and so the team considered ways of improving success rates through even more experimentation.
The Magic Bullet
Despite some small success in prolonging the lives of the maimed coyotes, MacDim decided that more action needed to be taken to reduce the impact of a shooting. Casting around for ideas, the he spoke to his old professor, who pointed out that the one thing that was lacking was a treatment for the bullet itself. MacDim had the brainwave to incorporate lead into the treatment system. Early on, he ruled out tetraethyl lead, the important component of leaded petrol, after learning that it was harmful to children. It would also have been difficult, given that it was not readily soluble in water. "Using petroleum spirit as a solvent is not in the spirit of homeopathy", he said.
Finally, he settled on lead acetate as an alternative, noting that its slightly sweet flavour was in harmony with his goals. "A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down", he said, "and this is already sweet, so it must be a valuable medicine for bullet wounds. He and his colleagues started a new series of trials, and they were pleased to note that there was a small improvement in the survival rate of the victims.
So with this final component, it was felt that the treatment methodology was complete, and the next step was to test it out on human gunshot patients. But first, he needed to gain the confidence of the scientific community and the public at large. It was time for publicity.
Trials and Tribulations
Excited by their progress, MacDim and his team wrote a series of papers for publication in medical journals. Sadly, despite their optimism and detailed experimental results, they were stymied in their efforts to get published. "The mainstream scientific world is clearly not ready for this", he announced. For the next four years, they scoured the country in search of enlightened folk who would help them make public this new treatment regime. Finally, in 2006, they found a group of medical students in Berkeley who were prepared to support their cause, and to publish their findings.
Things did not go well. The Berkeley students did indeed publish, in line with their promise, but unbeknownst to MacDim had treated the whole thing as a joke. After seeing one of his papers published in the Berkeley humour magazine Heuristic Squelch, he was devastated. "When they told me the name of the magazine, I thought it was called 'Holistic Creche', and agreed that they should go ahead", he said to me. "It sounded just right, a name that conjured up images of good, people-oriented medicine being nurtured."
The following year, adding insult to injury, a group of paramedics in Oakland contacted him, letting him know that they would conduct trials on his system. He duly sent them a supply of the sugar pills containing the dilutions, and awaited their feedback. In due course, they made an announcement to the local press that they would be administering the MacDim System to gunshot victims. The press release was dated 1 April.
It was the final straw for MacDim. The debacle of two public humiliations led to his being stripped of his dilution bottles, and his expulsion from the Institute. He dropped out of public life, and moved to Idaho, where he joined a survivalist group. He became more and more reclusive, and in fact it took me several weeks to track him down to his remote compound in Northern Idaho. Before the interview, he made me swear not to reveal the precise location, and I am only too pleased to do so. He is a shadow of his former self, barricaded both literally and figuratively from the rest of the world.
The world is happy with that situation, it seems. Apart from his companions inside the compound, he is viewed with pity at best, scorn at worst. The middle of the bell curve of opinion seems to be in line with my driver/bodyguard, who, after this interview, described him as a "barmy git". So it goes, but it is a sad end for this once-hopeful and optimistic enthusiast.
Many thanks to my personal homeopathic physician, who is successfully treating my memory failings with 60X dilutions of aluminium salts and the snake venom Lachesis. Thanks also to The Liberal Gun Club for unwittingly putting me on track for this article, and a cartoon at xkcd.com for helping me realise the direction it should take. And honestly, the Heuristic Squelch is a real magazine. In fact, it's the only real thing in here. Except maybe Oakland.
Rootbeer277 pointed out a wonderful film of Homeopathic Emergency Treatment. Thank you.
Astonishingly, I did find a serious article that suggested calendula as a homeopathic treatment for gunshots.