I was asked to discuss the specific treatment of acute articular rheumatism or that kind of treatment which is supposed to combat the cause or neutralize the toxins of the disease.
Unless we know the cause of a disease, and are convinced that a certain remedy destroys that cause or neutralizes it, we can not call a remedy a specific. Therapeutists, however, were certain that mercury was a specific for syphilis and quinin for malaria before all this information had been obtained in regard to these diseases. As yet we have not the requisite knowledge of the cause of rheumatism which would enable us to say with positiveness that there is a specific for the disease, although the salicylates possess many of the attributes of one.
Almost from the time that rheumatism was clearly recognized its cause has been believed to be a noxious foreign agent in the blood and
DAVIS NS. THE TREATMENT OF RHEUMATISM BY SPECIFICS.. JAMA. 1907;XLIX(25):2053-2059. doi:10.1001/jama.1907.25320250005001a