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When chemistry, under the old name of alchemy, began to develop, its
first study was of minerals, and just as soon as a body of knowledge
was acquired chemistry was applied to medicine. All the investigators
were engaged in searching for the philosopher's stone, the substance
by means of which it was hoped to change base metals into precious. It
was generally believed that when this substance was found, it would
have wonderful applications to human diseases and would transmute
diseased tissues into healthy tissues in the same way that it
transformed metals. It was felt that the philosopher's stone would be
an elixir of life as well as a master of secrets for wealth. This
would seem amusingly childish to us were it not for the fact that in
radium we, too, seem to have discovered a philosopher's stone--a
substance that transmutes elements. For some years after its discovery
we were inclined to think that it must have some wonderful
application in medicine and in surgery, and we actually secured many
good results until its suggestive value wore off.

The fact that much had been learned about chemicals persuaded men that
they must be beneficial to human beings. Thus they were taken with
confidence and produced good results. When our modern chemistry
developed out of alchemy a great variety of drugs began to be used,
and long, complex, many-ingrediented prescriptions were written.
Polypharmacy became such an abuse that the time was ripe for
Hahnemann, whose principles, if carried to their legitimate
conclusions, would require his disciples to give practically nothing
to patients and treat them entirely by suggestion.

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