|Homeopathy - Diseases|
A therapeutic system founded by the German doctor Samuel Christian F. Hahnemann1, Meissen, Germany 1755 – Paris, 1843.
The law of similars: ‘similia similibus curentur.’
This system is based mainly on the principle that the cure for a particular disease is achieved through the use of pharmaceutical substances that, when administered to a healthy person, produce the similar symptoms as those of the disease in question. For example, it is well known that Belladonna causes mydriasis , that is to say dilation of the pupil of the eye. In a case of mydriasis the homeopathic doctor will probably give Belladonna, in a highly diluted potency, in order to restore the pupil to its normal state. Another example is digitalis2 which, whereas it is used in conventional medicine to suppress episodes of paroxysmic ventricular tachycardia is, however, and precisely because of this action, made use of in homeopathy for the cure of bradycardia, with a weak pulse and a tendency to faint, irregular breathing, general exhaustion, anorexia, tendency to vomit, and vomiting that does not relieve sick feeling, sensitivity in the epigastrium., cold skin etc… this can be a symptomatology that fits not only with heart disease but with a chronic disturbance of the liver or an infectious hepatitis or an asthmatic crisis etc.
This principle was formulated by Hahnemann with the Latin motto ‘simila similibus curentur’. Similars are cured with similars. Hahnemann believed this to be one of the fundamental laws of cure. The idea had first been mentioned by Hippocrates3, then by Paracelsus, and later by others.
And while conventional medicine believes that it must fight the disease bearing factor which it sees as the main cause for disease, homeopathy believes that it must strengthen the organism’s defence mechanism in order to be able to fight the imbalance.4
Proving the remedies
In order to ascertain the therapeutic qualities of pharmaceutical substances, Hahnemann carried out provings of the remedies on healthy persons of both sexes in increased dosages, though not beyond the toxic levels.5
The reactions to the pharmaceutical substances gained in this manner were recorded in minute detail.
This list of ‘remedy symptoms’, incurred on relatively healthy organisms, having been repeatedly ascertained, together with the toxological symptoms of various substances, known from existing medical writings, were combined to form a valuable part of the homeopathic pharmacology, otherwise known as the ‘Materia Medica’.
Hahnemann’s main theories
On the basis of the law of similars and pharmacological provings on healthy individuals, Hahnemann proceeded to develop an entire medical system.
He published a complete account of his theories for the first time in his book Organon of the Art of Healing in 1810. The book contains 294 aphorisms within which he develops the laws of his medical system. Later he published the book Materia Medica Pura in which all the pharmacological substances that he and his students had proved on themselves and to others were included.
He also published the book Chronic diseases in which he maintained that all chronic diseases are a result of the suppression either of skin diseases of the skin or syphilis or gonorrhea. That is to say that if these three categories of diseases are treated wrongly, they remain within the organism in a suppressed state, in a changed form and finally they reappear as various kinds of chronic diseases.
Hahnemann named these three initial forms of disease the miasms of Psora, Syphilis and Sycosis (meaning gonorrhea).
Hahnemann was heavily criticised for his theories, even by some of his supporters, who while declaring these ideas useless nevertheless continued to practise homeopathy.
Some of the essential points of homeopathy, which complete the ‘law of similars’ are:
Individualising each case
An important idea introduced by Hahnemann and which causes homeopathy to differ from conventional medicine is individualising. He maintained that there are no diseases, but only patients, and therefore a treatment must aim at treating the individual rather than the disease.
According to this idea, ten patients suffering from the same ‘disease’, for example epilepsy, will probably each require a separate pharmaceutical substance, unless the symptoms of two or three of them are identical down to the last detail, a rare but not impossible situation.
The defence system
The complex mechanism of the organism’s defence system was named ‘vital force’ by Hahnemann. This phrase expresses the idea that there is a form of ‘energy’ behind the defence mechanism, a ‘power with mind’ which directs and coordinates the organism’s reactions.
The logic behind this idea, according to homeopaths, lies in the understanding that symptoms are nothing more than the expressions of the human organism’s defence mechanism. For example, the body’s temperature increases – fever – in order to suppress the disease factor, bacteria, viruses, fungi etc… therefore the organism needs support in its therapeutic efforts, rather than a suppression of the fever. Homeopaths believe that, by giving a remedy, which is capable of causing symptoms in a healthy individual that are identical to those present in the patient, they are in reality stimulating and providing support for the defence mechanism in its attempt to rid itself of the disease.
Homeopaths maintain that the true reason for disease is not infection by a disease element but rather the innate weakness of the defence mechanism and its inability to face up to the invasion and to neutralise it. By strengthening the defence mechanism, without killing the microbes, homeopaths believe that they can to a greater extent influence the return to health of the diseased organism.
Opponents of homeopathy maintain that homeopaths do not look for the true cause of an illness, and that they only treat the symptoms. Homeopaths consider that by strengthening the defence mechanism, they essentially enter more deeply into the true cause of the organism’s imbalance, which is the weakness of the constitution and its inability to fight the disease unaided. Moreover they maintain that in most cases of chronic disease the cause of the illness is unknown and therefore hard to locate and eradicate with conventional medicines.
The smallest possible dose: preparation-dosage
There are several methods for the preparation of homeopathic remedies, which were used at various times by Hahnemann.
The chief method used by homeopaths today is the centesimal and is produced thus: One part of the mother tincture of the active ingredient which is to be prepared is taken and diluted in 99 parts of inert substance. This can be milk-sugar, sterilised water or pure alcohol. If the substance is diluted in water, the mixture is subjected to at least ten strong succussions and this dilution is called the 1st potentization. A part of this potentization is taken and diluted with a further 99 parts of inert substance and the new mixture is then again subjected to ten strong succussions. This is the 2nd potentization of the remedy, and in the same manner further potentizations are achieved by diluting and ‘potentizing’ the remedy until very great dilutions are achieved, having continued the above procedure ten, twenty, thirty or more times.
For metals which cannot be diluted in water the method of pulverisation is used, in the same proportions: one part of powdered metal is mixed with 99 parts milk-sugar. The mixture is subjected to powerful pounding – in a mortar – for an hour and this is continued up to the 6th potency, after which the mixture thus obtained is considered a mixture diluted with water and the diluting procedure is used thereafter.
The conflict between homeopathic and conventional doctors
The greatest conflict concerning homeopathy lies in the quantities of the doses used, which according to conventional doctors is infinitely small and is not justified in having any action at all.
High dilutions, which greatly exceed ‘Avogadro’s number’, according to which there should not be even one molecule of active ingredient within such a diluted substance, cause these doctors to look upon homeopathy with a great deal of scepticism.
Homeopaths on the other hand maintain that their experience shows that high potencies (multiple dilutions) have even better therapeutic results and that the action of the pharmaceutical substance is probably due to the appearance of a ‘new refined form of energy’6 that appears during the potentization procedure. Therefore we are not dealing with a remedy that acts at a chemical level, but rather at an ‘energetic’ level7.
Many dissenting voices maintain that the results that are achieved by homeopaths are a form of self-suggestion, known to medicine as the placebo effect, particularly in cases when the patient believes that he is taking a ‘magic’ medicine.
Homeopaths reply that they obtain the best results with babies, small children and animals, where the possibility of self-suggestion is discounted.
Opponents maintain that the system is antiquated and that it has no place in modern medical practice.
Homeopaths maintain that the steady therapeutic results obtained over the course of more than two centuries form proof of homeopathy’s timelessness rather than its decline.
Opponents maintain that, even accepting that homeopathy does have certain results, there are not enough double blind experiments indicating the type and extent of the results.
Homeopathy’s supporters say that such research does exist, although not in great quantities, as homeopathy presents certain difficulties in these experiments, since it requires that each patient be given a separate remedy, which is incompatible with double blind experiments, where all patients take the same medicine for the duration of the experiment.
Over the last few years the conflict has grown, including between scientists from other branches that are beginning to show an interest in the area of homeopathy.8 Some people believe that the therapeutic force is transmitted with the potentizing procedure and the powerful succussion of the remedies to the water molecules which thus contain the ‘memory’ of a new energetic state. Others attempt to explain the action of homeopathic medicines by the ‘small clusters’ theory. Yet others maintain that their action is due to the change in structure of the water molecules under the influence of the substance with which it comes into substance, as well as to the powerful succussions to which the dilution is subjected, and therefore that the dilution of the water becomes organically active.
These theories are naturally far from being generally accepted.
Conflicts between homeopaths
Conflicts are even to be found among the supporters of Hahnemann’s theories, and particularly among those who faithfully follow his principles and only administer one remedy to each stage of an illness, known as ‘classical homeopaths’, and others, the ‘eclectics’ or followers of polypharmacy, who administer many remedies each time. The first group believes that there is only one remedy that can cure the patient and that it cannot be replaced by any other similar one. Therefore he must look for the correct remedy in each case via a complex and undeniably lengthy procedure.
The second group deems this to be utopian, and that it is difficult to discover the remedy that is truly indicated and that it is easier and quicker to administer 3, 4 or even more remedies at a time, in the hope that they will include the correct one.
Are both medical approaches necessary?
They certainly are. There is no doubt that there has been a misunderstanding in relation to the therapeutic limits of each method. This has occurred for many reasons, mainly however due to attempts made by homeopaths to make the new approach known. For this reason the results of cures have been exaggerated by homeopaths in order to impress. There is however another far more serious reason. Since the area around this new approach is somewhat turgid, many have abused it to their own advantage, promising that they can cure everything, such as cancer, schizophrenia, AIDS, obesity or smoking. All these announcements take place either in public or in private medicine, in order to attract a greater number of patients. For this reason homeopathy has been presented as unreliable, with the result that an undeclared war broke out among the two approaches, and both sides ended up by having recourse to extreme arguments.
What, in reality, are homeopathy’s prospects?
The question is: is there a way of avoiding these final stages? Is there any medicine which can bring the organism back to its state of balance, when it is still time, in order to prevent, for a long time at least, its weakening?
Homeopathy intervenes where conventional medicine can hardly do anything, at the outset of chronic disease, where the disturbance has mainly still a functional character. When it intervenes with the true homeopathic remedy it stops any further development of the disease. Conventional medicine with the chemical medicines at its disposal can suppress pains or suffering at the last stages without however being able to stop the debilitating progress of the disease.
Which diseases can homeopathy best be applied to?
At this point we must state that this area is unclear and that even homeopathic doctors themselves are not clear on this point. Therefore they often overestimate their ability to cure, and at other times have recourse to chemical medicines where in fact they could have found a solution with homeopathy, if they had had sufficient homeopathic knowledge.
The problem is that doctors have not had the possibility of obtaining full and precise homeopathic knowledge. This kind of education would make long-term demands on a doctor’s time, almost equal in length and quality to the initial six year course of basic medical training. And if a doctor should undertake to begin his homeopathic training after the ten years necessary for his specialisation, he would find himself in a state of exhaustion which would not be conducive for the absorption of new facts and new knowledge.
The main diseases that can be treated with homeopathy are as follows:
The types of conditions referred to below have a chance of reversal only if treatment is started during the very first stages.
Multiple sclerosis, grand Mal, acute psychotic episodes, psoriasis, collagen diseases, diabetes, endocarditis, Parkinson’s, benign myalgic encephalitis, or chronic fatigue syndrome.
For the above categories of diseases to reverse to an order of 60%, demands an extremely experienced and well trained homeopathic doctor.
What are homeopathy’s chances with reference to conditions in extremely advanced pathological states?
It is true that in a very few cases of advanced pathology, such as cancer, heart disease, neuromuscular diseases, paraplegia, spastic and autistic children, congenital or long term serious epileptic conditions, schizophrenia etc… homeopathy has shown a certain amount of positive action, without however ever bringing about a complete cure. These cases, very few in number, caused certain overenthusiastic but incompletely trained homeopathic doctors to believe or maintain that homeopathy can intervene in and cure such cases. This limited number of cases that reacted well with long-term homeopathic treatment belongs in a category for which the experienced homeopathic doctor is aware of certain defining parameters. It is very important for patients to have recourse to a homeopathic doctor right from the outset of their condition, at a time when homeopathy can show its best results, though it is even more important for the patient to have chosen a well-trained homeopathic doctor.
3.Hippocrates, ‘Peri topon ton kat’ anthropon’, 42. The law of similars is referred to thus: [dia ta omoia nousos gignetai, kai dia ta omoia prosferomena ek noseunton ygeienontai, dia tou emeein emetos payetai].
6.Taking into consideration the fact that all substances (from the simplest organism to the planet itself) have an electromagnetic field, we may say that whatever substance is administered to a human being has the possibility of affecting the organism in two ways: on the one hand it can act ‘chemically’, as is the case with foods, vitamins, medicines, tobacco, coffee etc..., on the other hand the electromagnetic field of the particular substance can react with the ‘electromagnetic’ field of the organism, particularly when the frequencies of the two fields is close enough for them to harmonize. For the production of the remedy and its correct potentization both dilution and succussion are necessary. The more a substance is diluted and succussed, the more its therapeutic action is increased, even beyond the point when no molecule at all of the original substance is left. Modern science has as yet found no explanation for this phenomenon. It would seem that some new form of energy is freed and transported to the molecules of the solvent.
7.The human body is an energy complex which produces all known types of energies – electric, magnetic, thermic, kinetic and electromagnetic – which can easily be traced using simple equipment. However, it also produces other types of refined energies, which have not yet been researched and which are fundamentally related to the intellectual, the emotional and the instinctual levels of the human being. The intellectual ‘power’ appears to be a specific energy with a particular frequency modulation, that is centred upon a mental centre, a ‘mental generator’ and it may be transmitted by energetic particles. Under certain conditions this kind of transmission can become the object of reception by other similar ‘mental equipment’, without the need for words. Many of us live in a continuous flow of thoughts, Most of our time awake centers around such a continuous production of mental patterns the fact that this type of energy has not yet been measured or defined with academic models does not mean that it does not exist...In other words, the organism has the ability to create complex energy planes fields according to the information which has been recorded on its inner codes (DNA, RNA, genes, chromosomes etc…) via its genetic predisposition and its personal experiences. The organism reacts with each illness in an entirely personal way and for this reason mass therapies usually disappoint both their supporters and patients, since the results obtained are superficial, short term and often harmful, particularly in the case of sensitive organisms which do not have a robust defence mechanism.
8.Davenas E, Poitevin B, Benveniste J, Effect of mouse peritoneal macrophages of orally administered very high dilutions of silica, Eur J Pharmacol., 1987, 135(3): 313-9.