Dr. Robert T. Cooper, an Irish physician born in 1844, was renowned both for his iconoclastic methods and his success in treating serious pathological conditions, especially cancer. A graduate of Trinity College in Dublin with a number of degrees that made him “one of the most qualified physicians of that period”1, Cooper established a practice in London, worked at the London Homeopathic Hospital and wrote a number of books and articles.
Although considered a homeopath both during his day and now, Cooper was not an orthodox one. He was an original thinker who drew on various sources of medical knowledge and, most importantly, based his therapy on his own experience. Of his methods, he wrote that he had “no intention of initiating a new system of medicine”, yet he also maintained that “my researches have been in no way directed to the furtherance or sustainment of existing systems of medicine.”
In a word, he was his own man who developed his own approach that cannot be easily categorized into one particular school of medicine. This earned him the enmity of many of his colleagues, especially the homeopaths who believed that he transgressed against the orthodoxy of their methodological principles. Despite this, he was steadfast in his singular pursuit of an effective treatment for serious pathological conditions.
“All I lay claim to is an honest and practical inquiry into the curative actions of certain remedial agents upon what were hitherto supposed to be incurable diseases, and with the results I am proud to admit myself fully satisfied.”
The uniqueness of Cooper’s approach begins with the way in which he prepared medicines. Homeopathic remedies are made via a system of ‘serial dilutions’. That is, one part of a crude substance – an herbal tincture or mineral powder – is diluted with ninety-nine parts water, and then one drop of the resulting solutions is further diluted by another ninety-nine parts water. This process is repeated anywhere from three to many thousands of time, depending on the ‘potency’ that the practitioner wishes to use.
Around the time when Cooper practiced, there was a great schism in the homeopathic movement between the ‘low potency’ prescribers who generally used remedy preparations diluted anywhere from three to thirty times and the ‘high potency’ prescribers who used remedies of diluted from thirty times upwards into the thousands. The low potency people believed that the high potencies were too dilute to have any true medicinal action, while the high potency practitioners regarded the low potencies as too crude, too close to the material form of the remedy to have a deep acting energetic impact on the patient.
Cooper, when he did use traditional homeopathic preparations, worked with very low potencies. But he seems to have chiefly employed preparations made quite differently. Putting parts of live plants in ‘proof spirit’ (alcohol of certain proof), he would expose the solution to sunlight for a certain period of time. To describe this process, he coined the term ‘heliosthened’.
This will sound familiar to anyone somewhat knowledgeable about flower essences. And it is not a coincidence. Dr. Edward Bach, 1886-1936, famous for ‘Bach Flower Essences’ and the originator of this type of remedy, was a younger contemporary and colleague of Cooper. Together they made up two of the four members of the ‘Cooper Club’, a group of renowned British homeopaths who met weekly in London for nearly two decades to share ideas.
Cooper always had a special connection to plants. He was described as ‘a plant lover and tree lover’, and wrote of studying their habits as well as their ‘minds’. His fascination with botany led him to found of the Irish Forestry Society. So, it is not surprising that he had an especial interest in using plant based medicines. This by itself distinguished him from more orthodox homeopaths, who used remedies derived from mineral and animals substances as well as plants.
Cooper believed – or sensed - that plants had a distinctive vital energy to them that could be harnessed to create very potent medicines: “My contention, in a word, is this, that in the living plants we get a force which, if applied in accordance with the laws of Life to disease, will arrest its progress, and even cause its dispersal… To this force I gave the name arborivital, and the action that results therefrom Arborivital Action.”
While the Flower Essences of Edward Bach were designed to be used on the basis of the emotional state of the patient, Cooper employed Arborivital Medicines for diseases, often very severe ones. What further distinguishes his methodology was the small and infrequent dosages he prescribed. He would give a patient a single drop of his medicine and allow it to act for months on end without repeating the dose or introducing other medications. By this method he was able to cure many cases of cancer, amongst other illnesses.
1. ROBERT THOMAS COOPER [1844-1903] by Peter Morrell http://www.homeoint.org/morrell/articles/cooper.htm 2. Cancer And Cancer Symptoms By Robert T. Cooper, ReferenceWorks Pro 4.0 2006, San Rafael, CA
Here is an interesting case treated by Dr. Robert Cooper over a century ago in England. The patient was a forty-year old man with a long history of indigestion and stomach pains, who finally developed cancer of the pylorus (the part of the stomach closest to the small intestines).
After an initial misdiagnosis of cardiac problems and a stomach ulcer at one hospital, the severity of his pains landed him in another hospital where the diagnosis of cancer was made. The patient, named George Murrell, was promptly operated on, but the surgeons were not able to remove all the malignant tissue. Subsequently, a specialist was brought in to perform a second operation. But the specialist, on reviewing the case felt that there was nothing he could do surgically and removed himself from the case.
After a six-week stay in the hospital, Mr. Murrell was told there was nothing that could be done for him, that he had but a short time to live and was sent home. It was at this point that Dr. Cooper was called into the case.
Cooper visited the man at home, found in ‘writhing in agony on his bed’ with a visible bulge in his upper abdomen. After a careful evaluation of the Murrell’s condition, Cooper prescribed a single drop of a botanical medicine made from a plant commonly known as ‘Star of Bethlehem’. This was followed by a dramatic increase in pain that spiked in the middle of the night and again early the next afternoon.
Although Murrell began to take a different homeopathic preparation to relieve the pain, it was ineffective and soon discontinued. The next day, he reported to Cooper that a ‘black frothy substance comes up’ and that when it does, he feels greatly relieved.
Based on this information and the fact that the increase in pains that Murrell had experienced after the initial dose of the first medicine were not limited to his stomach region, but felt all over his body, Cooper was encouraged that the medicine was acting beneficially. But he was also concerned that the homeopathic remedy taken to quell the pain might have diminished the action of the initial dose. So, five days later, Murrell was given another drop of Star of Bethlehem.
Almost immediately on taking this second dose, Murrell began to bring up a ‘black jelly-like’ substance. This led to a great reduction in pain and a clear increase in his overall sense of wellbeing. Over the next month, Murrell continued to improve although he still had relatively minor complaints concerning his sleep and discomfort accompanied by swelling in his legs.
At this point, one more drop of the medicine was administered. This led to a gradual improvement in the sleep and reduction of the leg symptoms. Then approximately a month later the legs began to swell and again one more drop was given.
This last dose produced a dramatic reaction, causing his legs to swell terribly and producing large red streaks and patches running down them. Quite frightened by this latest turn of events, the patient called on Cooper who believed that these symptoms where “due to the rapid elimination of the cancer poison” and astonished the patient “by insisting upon his walking away without any medicine whatever.”
Those symptoms indeed faded away, and from that point onward. Murrell’s health improved steadily. Six months later he wrote to Cooper that, "My appetite is wonderfully good, and I can eat almost any kind of food, and am also able to enjoy my meals, which I had not done for many years; am able to get about well, and carry on my business without fatigue… I have never felt so well for nearly twenty years.”
We often conceive of cancer as an intractable foe: something against which we have to fight a war, something against which we have to combat with massive powerful armaments. Knives and radiation and chemicals are today’s normal. With non-conventional therapies, too, force of a different kind is usually the norm: large amounts of supplements, strong detoxification programs, or stringent dietary regimens are the norm.
Even homeopathic protocols, when it comes to treating cancer, tend to be more intensive than those for other conditions. In fact, Cooper’s methodology of employing a dose of a single drop prescribed at long intervals, was the object of strong criticism from his colleagues and led to ostracism by the homeopathic community at large.
But Cooper not only had an unyielding belief that plants possessed curative energies that could overcome even the most severe pathologies, he also insisted that these powers would only become fully manifested when allowed to develop slowly without any other interference – including that of frequent dosing. His results speak for themselves.
It is not a little disconcerting to realize that in today’s world a cure such as the one that Mr. Murrell experienced is rather unlikely to occur. How many people would be able to proceed through the curative stages of his recovery - the toxic discharges, the edema and the lymphatic inflammations - without some form of medical intervention that would no doubt have brought the process to an abrupt halt?
Reference: Cancer And Cancer Symptoms By Robert T. Cooper, ReferenceWorks Pro 4.0 2006, San Rafael, CA