Introductory Note by H.P.B. on an article by Pandit Jaswant Roy Bhojapatra
The contribution of Pandit Prananath on the efficacy the charm-cure, or the writing of a quinque-angular figure on the extreme or proximal end of the limb bitten by a scorpion [see “Scorpion-bite,” The Theosophist, Dec., 1880], has, we are glad to find, induced the trial of similar experiments elsewhere; among others, by a surgeon of Jaulna, whose evidence was published in the January number, and with unvarying success [see “The Star-Charm for Scorpion-Bite”]. It, therefore, affords us gratification to notice by way of comment that the occult power of an impression, tactile or mental, has in no small number of authenticated cases, proved a blessing to the suffering. The sequence of a cure following a poison-bite, or, to say the least, the relief of agonizing pain suddenly caused by the sting of a venomous insect, through mental, or rather psychological, agency, is in itself no small gain to humanity. And if it could be established by experiments conducted elsewhere by faithful and unprejudiced practitioners, in all cases of scorpion-bites, we might by and by test the influence of psychological methods of cure in cases of stronger and more venenate poisons, like that of the snake.
The apparently real efficacy of the method of treatment attested to by three of our contributors naturally leads us to examine more closely the relations of the symptoms caused by scorpion-poisoning to the probable pathological condition temporarily induced by the poison; and to attempt the solution of a question which suggests itself regarding its intimate nature and action on man. We have first to determine whether it is a local irritant, spending its action on the nerves of the part, or a blood poison which produces the symptoms developed by the bite through the blood vessels of the bitten part.
To approach the solution of this problem, it is necessary to analyze the symptoms observed after the bite. Let us, therefore, see what they are. They are found to be an instantaneous feeling of severe burning in the part attacked, as if a live coal were placed on it; an aura proceeding from the part through the limb up to its further extremity, or as far as the junction of the limb with the trunk of the body; this further limit being the arm-pit if the bite was in the hand or the forearm, and the groin, if it was in the foot or leg. Then a general stunning of the system followed by cold perspiration all over the body, and a feeling of exhaustion or prostration, due to a shock to the nervous system as well as the mind. The above represents, indeed, the whole train of immediate symptoms following the bite. We need not here refer to the aftereffects, for they are nil in many cases. Most of them are indicative of local inflammation involving the absorbents where the bite is caused by a mature scorpion.
It suffices our present purpose to state that the influence of the poison does not travel beyond the nearest large plexus of lymphatics; and it is also probable that the poison is not immediately absorbed by the blood-vessels, for if it were, graver and even fatal symptoms would have more frequently ensued. It is true that no direct experiments have yet been made with the scorpion-poison, isolated like the snake poison, on the lower animals; and its venenosity and the mode of death have not been determined. But nevertheless we assume that its operation is that of an irritant and caustic attacking one or two of the tactile Pacenian corpuscles of the rete mucosum, or the true skin, which are highly endowed with sensitive nerves. The sudden shock caused by the injection of the poison in the intimate structure of the skin becomes intensified, it is probable, from these circumstances, viz., first, in the absence apparently of any visible cause, and secondly, under the wonted fear when the animal is observed, which popular knowledge connects with the action of a scorpion-bite. It is, therefore, apparent that any method which will divert the mind from such a notion will mitigate fear, and that that which also combines with it an opposite influence on the nervous currents, must for a time check the aura, neutralize the tendency to congestions, and allay the morbid muscular irritability, which shows itself in the temporary cramps accompanying the aura. Both these effects can be controlled by a strong, positive current artificially thrown over the part from the nearest nerve-centre downwards to the part attacked; hence it is probable that a healthy man with a strong will and determination to throw a current of his own vital magnetism on the bitten part must succeed in relieving pain and helping the absorbents to take an increased action and decompose the poison. The poison itself becomes in time chemically disintegrated and carried away through the system by absorbents. But this is an assumption which experiments conducted with the poison will alone separately determine. Relief from suffering, in the meanwhile, can therefore be most certainly derived by the help of the psychological tricks described by our contributors.
[Note: this was followed by notes by Dr. Bhojapatra on domestic remedies for Scorpion-stings.]