266 was 'the finer ash from Mount Hecla, falling in distant localities'. All other references in the literature go back to the letter Dr J. J. Garth Wilkinson wrote to Wm. H. Holcombe in New Orleans. There has been no drug proving so far. Iceland scientists have established that the poisoning of grazing animals was due to the fluoride content of volcanic ash from Hecla and other volcanoes. Fluorides are highly water-soluble, however, and therefore soon washed away by the frequent rains. Apart from a few case histories, those poisoning symptoms are the only foundation for the medicinal use of Hecla lava. The question is, was the starting material lava, flesh ash, or leached-out ash? Zschr Klass Homop 1993; 37: 28-31.
Genuine cures? K. v. P E T Z I N G E R Reports that drug side effects killed 8,800 people within a year in Germany (Prof. Schoenhoefer) are alarming. At the same time there is a cost explosion in conventional medicine, due not only to the high price of drugs but also to the costly diagnostic procedures used before drugs are prescribed which are effective for a time but do not achieve a real cure. The author recalls being a young medical student and concerned that the introduction of insulin would limit the area of usefulness for homceopathy. His father, who was his greatest teacher, asked him if insulin would actually cure diabetes, and told him that innovations like this, which did not effect a cure, did not in any way affect the significance of homoeopathy. The only real danger to homoeopathy, he said, came from the hom0eopathic physicians themselves. In the author's view, the only way out of the dilemma of modern medicine was a return to the physician's original function, which is to heal the sick the natural way and not make them permanent consumers of drugs with numerous side effects. It means turning away from generalization and towards individualization, a method represented in its ideal form in homoeopathy. Dr von Petzinger feels concerned that integration into the main stream of medicine and the medical school curriculum would lead to demands for the kind of proof of efficacy which is the norm in conventional medicine. 'Homoeopathic medicines will only cure sick-
Britishltoma~opathicJournal ness, however; they have no other effects. They may therefore also be withdrawn as 'ineffective', as was the case with many natural medicines in 1991. To support such a development would be to betray homeeopathy, the art of healing, and I would have no part in this!' The editors have added a postscript with two comments: 1) Not every physician can be a true master of the art of healing, for this requires a particular gift as well as knowledge. 2) No one would treat certain diseases such as syphilis and malaria homceopathically today; this would be tantamount to malpractice because conventional medicine is superior in this area. Hom0eopathic follow-up treatment may, of course, always be considered. Allg Horn Ztg 1993; 238: 3-12.
Rise and fall of the American School of Homeopathy R. SCHUEPPEL The causes of the rapid rise and subsequent decline of American homceopathy are many and varied. Homoeopathy depended and will continue to depend on many factors, including recognition by society, political support, the quality of education and training, clinical results and adequate research. The enormous pressure which came with the flowering of modern science caused many American homoeopaths to come a long way away from the original teaching of hom~eopathy. The basic principles must however always be followed. Hom0eopathy must find a place in the existing medical schools. It will be difficult, but ghetto mentality precludes all further development. Contact with scientists from different disciplines, the encounter with medical students, and continuous dialogue with hom0eopathic practitioners are essential for real progress, so that Hahnemann's demand as to the true and only vocation of a physician may be met. Allg Hom Ztg 1993; 238: 47-53. Handwriting as a symptom H. V. M U E L L E R The author, who has published papers and a book (in German) on patients' favourite colours as an aid to drug diagnosis, has also been considering other 'symptoms' which