How you practice homeopathy will be based on your philosophy of homeopathy. You need to be a diligent, unprejudiced observer of all phenomena. You also need to be open to all phenomena. But most phenomena are hidden from us and we only get a glimpse of them. So we need to be humble. Dogmatism is an obstacle to practicing homeopathy. Unfortunately, homeopathy seems to attract a fringe, who have their own pet theories.
Philosophy is literally the "love of wisdom." What is wisdom? It is the knowledge of what is true or right, knowing what is appropriate to each situation. The wise person discerns the right action in each situation. There is only one way out of the labyrinth. We need a philosophy of medicine, a way to study nature that will give a direction to our practice. An allopathic book, Introduction to the Philosophy of Medicine, written in 1994, said that modern medicine lacks a philosophy.
Medicine is the art and science that aims at the maintenance, promotion, and recovery of health. There are three branches of medicine: prophylaxis, diagnosis, and therapeutics. Prophylaxis is the promotion of health and prevention of disease. It includes hygiene. Diagnosis is the understanding of the whole phenomenon of disease from beginning to end. Therapeutics is the treatment of disease with the aim of restoring health.
There are five basic principles of common sense medicine:
- Prevention. One should teach a lifestyle conducive to health.
- Primum non noncere or do no harm. This principle comes from Hippocrates. The fourth largest cause of death today is prescription drugs and medical error. Approximately 100,000 people die in the U.S. every year, or about 300 every day, the equivalent of two 737s crashing. In 1980 a study was done where 800 medical patients from three medical wards were followed for three months. Thirty one percent developed iatrogenic diseases. (Diseases caused by medical treatment). Eleven percent almost died and two percent died from medical error. Steroids are used to treat injuries, but steroids destroy cartilage. After five years on steroids, a patient will need surgery to replace the joint. Steroids also cause intestinal bleeding. Almost three thousand people die from steroids each year!
- Tolle causam. Remove the cause of disease instead of just treating the symptoms.
- Vis medicatrix naturae or the healing power of nature. The only way a person can heal disease is through their own healing power. The forces of healing can be used to help the organism to heal itself.
- Holism. The person must be seen as a whole. A person is not an aggregation of organs. The sick person is not a diseased organ but a person with a history and in interaction with their environment.
We need to determine what system of medicine abides by these five principles. Why don't doctors follow these principles? Because there is no money in it!
The word physician comes from physis, which means nature. So a physician is someone who understands the laws of nature. In the early nineteenth century it took its current meaning of doctor.
The word doctor comes from docere, which means to teach. The first generation of homeopaths, like Hahnemann and Boeninghausen, were natural scientists. To be a good homeopath you must know nature and science.
The first two aphorisms of the Organon say that the mission of the physician is to promote health. First, the physician needs to educate and guide people in a lifestyle that meets their psychological and physiological needs. Second, the physician needs to help the patient to restore him or herself to health in the optimal way.
Aphorism 3 of the Organon says that in order for the physician to achieve these goals the physician must know how to use and apply the forces of nature, that is, know medicines and their actions, and know how to use the heal disease gently and effectively.
The physician needs to understand all aspects of human nature, from the gene to the psyche, and must be able to understand the phenomena of disease from beginning to end.
The physician must understand the vital force. It is the force in a person that keeps them alive and passes life to the next generation. It is the force that heals and which maintains the healthy body. Its nature is a mystery. The vital force is not a material substance, since the substance of the body does not change at death. The vital force is described in aphorism nine.
What is health? Health is homeostasis, or a state of balance. The function of the organism is to maintain this balance, so you aren't aware of yourself. When we stand we are in constant motion to maintain our balance. When we lose the ability to reestablish this healthy balance we are ill. When we are in a state of emotional upset, we should be able to reestablish an emotional balance. We should feel right or at peace. We should be able to use our mental faculty properly. Health is a state of global balance within oneself and with the environment.
What factors determine the state of health of the person? Heredity is the most important factor in health. Approximately 80% of the state of health is determined by genetics and 20% from the environment. This was established through studies of identical twins separated at birth. Lifestyle is the next most important factor. One's emotional needs must also be met. We have a need to be part of a group. Heredity, lifestyle, hygiene, and how we use our mind are the most important factors in health.
Disease is not a separate entity from the person. Hahnemann says so in aphorism 13. People should not write articles with titles like "The Homeopathic Treatment of Cancer." The metabolic processes present in disease are the same as those present in health, except that they are unbalanced. Disease is not an entity, but the expression of an organism out of balance. Hahnemann uses the term "untunement," or out of tune, for disease in aphorisms 11 and 12. As aphorisms 6 and 15 say, disease is associated with disagreeable sensations and abnormal functions. There are subjective symptoms, what the patient feels, objective symptoms, what others can see, and incidental symptoms, the circumstances causing the other symptoms.
Disease can be classified by lesion (tissue change), cause, or organ affected. Disease classifications are for our convenience and do not describe the reality of the disease. The process of aging is not a disease. However, aging can by accelerated or retarded by lifestyle.
Acute disease is described in aphorism 72 of the Organon. Aphorism 73 describes the divisions of acute disease. There are harmful external influences that affect the individual. For example, there is a one percent increase in skin cancer for a one percent increase in the exposure to ultraviolet rays. There are sporadic diseases that affect individuals who are susceptible in various ways, like the flu. And there are epidemic diseases that affect most persons. The genius of the epidemic are the symptoms of the disease common to all. (The totality of symptoms in all the patients susceptible to the epidemic.) Once the genius of an epidemic is known, we are better able to control it.
The Organon discusses real versus apparent disease. Real disease is an untunement of the vital force. Apparent disease is due to some external cause, such as coffee causing insomnia. When the cause is removed, the disease is gone. This distinction is only made by Hahnemann. Artificial disease is caused by drugs or remedies. A homeopathic proving is an example of an artificial disease Iatrogenic diseases caused by drugs are also artificial diseases. Artificial diseases, can eliminate natural diseases if their symptoms are similar. This is the basis of homeopathiic medicine.
Disease is most often, but not always, multifactoral. Unifactoral disease is the exception. The causes can be classified by importance. The most important cause is called the primary cause. The primary cause of disease in an infection is a susceptibility, as a rule. So why give an antibiotic?
Susceptibility is either hereditary or acquired. There are certain aspects of susceptibility which are common to the species. Distemper is a disease specific to dogs, and syphilis to man. Susceptibility can be specific to a race, family, or individual. Susceptibility can also be acquired. For example, through exposure to toxic chemicals one becomes sensitive to further exposure.
We cannot measure untunement of the vital force, only see its manifestations. This untunement can be transferred from one generation to another. Psychological disturbance can also disregulate the vital force.
Exogenous causes of disease include cosmic rays, weather, social causes, toxins, microorganisms, and the way we live. Then there are mediate versus immediate causes of disease. We need to understand what is the original cause of disease. For example, the excess of stomach acid in an ulcer is not the original cause of the ulcer.
There are different kinds of intervention in disease. Prevention is obviously the best. Palliation does not remove the cause and is not very effective. Curative intervention is effective and does remove the cause. Supportive speeds up the body's natural curative powers. Suppressive intervention removes symptoms, but often leads to worse problems. Disruptive intervention does not help and disrupts the body's normal functions. For example one course of antibiotics can disturb the body's natural flora for life. There are more bacteria in the body than cells. So we want to treat the patient in the least disruptive and suppressive way and most preventative and curative, or at least supportive.
According to Carol Dunham, homeopathy is the art of therapeutics. Hahnemann lays out the principles of homeopathy in his work The Organon of the Rational Healing Art. Hahnemann published his work in the major medical journals of his time. He began teaching medicine in Leipzig in 1811. Homeopathy was defined by Hahnemann and must be practiced according to the principles he described. These are:
- The law of similars, or similia similibus curantur. The sick are most easily, mildly, and permanently cured by the most similar medicine. For example, podophylum causes and cures diarrhea. This principle is established by treatment and not hypothesis. Homeopathy is the only system of medicine where all treatment is lawful.
- The fundamental, intrinsic cause of real disease is the untunement of the vital force. This only applies to dynamic disease.
- The change and morbid condition of function of tissue and organs in real disease are the result of dynamic disturbance and are not the cause of disease.
- The totality of the symptoms, objective and subjective, as well as etiologic factors and characteristics of the person are the sole indication for choice of the remedy. Medicine cannot be based on opinion or hypothesis. Medicine has usually been deductive, not inductive.
- By constant individualization we treat the patient and not the disease.
- In order to secure the best practical results, medicines must be administered singly. Without systematic application of the inductive method, you will not get far.
- The only remedy that merits preference is always the one that is most similar to the characteristic symptoms of the disease. There are only degrees of similarity, not an absolute. If the the degree of similarity is high enough, the result will be good. This is explained in aphorisms 154 and 258 of the Organon.
- This single remedy will be prescribed for its dynamic property in an optimal posology. For example, salt (natrum muriaticum) in its crude form is not a remedy. It must be potentized to be effective.
- To ascertain the sick making properties of medicine, they must first be proven in the healthy and second be confirmed in curing the sick. Only remedies that have been proven and confirmed should be used. The doctrine of signatures is deductive and is not part of homeopathy. We cannot base a practice that determines life or death on a hypothesis.
- Like prevents like. A remedy that is given in advance of illness will prevent the disease it will cure. This is homeopathic prophylaxis.
What are the scope, limits, and possibilities of homeopathy? A similar influence will help or prevent a similar disease. Any disease that falls under this situation is in the scope of homeopathy. If a medicine produces a hallucination or fear, it can cure or prevent it.
There are two aspects to prophylaxis. As a person is treated with homeopathy, their state of health will increase with time. There is also prophylaxis for a specific event. A person who is sick will respond to good homeopathic treatment unless proven otherwise. This includes heart failure or kidney failure. As long as there is life, there is hope. This is only applicable to real disease, not to apparent disease or a product of imagination.
The susceptibility and the exciting causes, such as wrong lifestyle, are the factors give rise to the disease. If the exciting cause is great, it overwhelms the susceptibility, so homeopathy will not work. The more susceptibility is the primary factor, the greater the success of homeopathy. If the disease is caused by a lack of hygiene, homeopathy will not be effective. This is stated in aphorism 77 of the Organon. In this case, susceptibility is overwhelmed by the exciting cause. The well rounded physician knows the role of hygiene and therapy.
In the case of traumatic disease, you will see the recovery of health faster than normal. It is almost a para-physiological reaction. In cases where the causus officianalis cannot be removed, homeopathy can be used, but will only be palliative. If there is an irreversible lesion, you can only palliate. If someone has brain damage such as cerebral palsy, symptoms related to the lesion can only be palliated. Similarly with Parkinson's and Alzheimer's disease.
What factors limit the success of homeopathy? The greatest limitation is the ignorance of the physician. The lack of self-knowledge is the greatest limitation of the physician. A physician must be aware of his or her own weaknesses. The biggest problem is a lack of objectivity. The more the physician is prejudiced, the worse the results. To understand nature, a physician must know himself. Inscribed on the temple of Delphi was the saying, "If you understand yourself, you will understand nature." The understanding of nature comes from knowledge and experience. Without these, one lacks self-confidence. With success comes confidence, intuition, and good judgement. To be a good physician one must have the mental capacity to learn, to be patient, and to be a good communicator.
The second limitation is the patient. The more the condition is due to the untunement of the vital force, the greater the success of homeopathy. If the exciting cause is not removed, the physician can only palliate. Aphorism 224 of the Organon talks about illness arising from bad habits of living, from poor upbringing, prejudice, or lack of discipline. For example, swearing can be cured if it is the result of a disturbance of the vital force and not if it is the result of bad upbringing. The other limitation within the patient is the degree of reversibility of the condition in nature. A condition can only be healed by homeopathy if the body can heal it by its innate healing power. Everything that is dynamic can be affected by the remedy. Sometimes lesions are reversible, but the patient does not have the capability to accomplish it.
In the history of homeopathy we hear that certain conditions are irreversible and untreatable, but with further experience they become treatable. For example, the late stage of yellow fever was once thought to be untreatable, but then it was recognized that the symptoms matched those of Crotalus Horridus. Rattlesnake venom causes its victim to bleed from all orifices, which is similar to the symptoms of yellow fever. Bubonic disease was once considered untreatable by homeopathy until homeopaths discovered Naja produces similar symptoms. There are certain diseases with which homeopathy will have little success, such as ALS, Tourette's Syndrome and other rare genetic disease. Until recently I would have said the same about autism, but recently I have treated a case with much success.
Another limitation in the patient is a defective disease. That is, there are not enough symptoms for the doctor to perceive the remedy. This is often true in childhood leukemia. Or the patient may be noncompliant, or have a poor lifestyle, such as a drug addict. But these patients can still be cured.
The third limitation is imperfect materia medica. there are hundreds of venomous snakes and only about ten have been properly proven. There are thousands of scorpion venoms. There is a Chinese scorpion whose venom causes retinitis and another whose venom causes glomular nephritis.
The other forms of medical practice are:
Antipathy, the treatment of disease by a substance that causes opposite symptoms, such as an analgesic for pain relief.
Allopathy, the treatment of a disease by a method that is other than antipathic or homeopathic, such as using antibiotics.
Isopathy, the treatment of disease with the same substance that causes the disease or with a morbid substance from the disease (a nosode).
Antipathic treatment strengthens the symptom that it is trying to treat. Homeopathic treatment stimulates an opposite reaction. In antipathy the organism is passive, the drug is active and the action is temporary. Homeopathy treats the diseased organism. Isopathy is usually not as successful as homeopathy and it is not as universally applicable. Allopathy can be supportive, palliative or disruptive. So it is sometimes useful, as in the case of insulin for a diabetic. Allopathy does not refer to medical diagnosis, or biochemistry, but to a system of therapeutics.
How well does homeopathy meet the five principles of common sense medicine? Homeopathy is the only form of medicine that is preventative at each treatment by increasing health. Homeopathy does no harm when properly prescribed. Homeopathy removes the fundamental cause of disease, which is the susceptibility to disease. Homeopathy stimulates the healing power of nature. Homeopathy is holistic in considering the totality of symptoms. Evaluate all other therapies against these criteria and they fall short. Only the expert homeopath will know the proper role of other therapies. Homeopathy is the hub of the wheel. All other diagnostic procedures should be subservient. Many other therapies can be complementary to homeopathy. I refer to allopathic doctors for diagnostic purposes, but rarely for treatment.
What are the qualities of the homeopathic practitioner?
- A desire to help other people. Otherwise, one won't persevere through the hard work.
- One needs to be in good health.
- One needs to be in balance.
- One needs to be alert and a good listener.
- One needs confidence in one's judgements.
- One needs love.
- One needs knowledge, especially self knowledge.
Homeopathy brings warmth to the heart, challenge to the mind, and material success. If you practice homeopathy you will learn human nature.
To be a good homeopath you need a good basis in science and philosophy from a liberal arts education. Then you need to learn medical science, such as anatomy and physiology, to become a good diagnostician. The better a diagnostician you are, the better a homeopath you will be.
How should you study homeopathy? Become as good a diagnostician as possible. Learn as much about hygiene as possible. Follow the five principles of common sense medicine.
First, read the Organon. Lippe suggested reading it twice a year when a beginner and once a year thereafter. Lippe read the Organon a hundred times. Read Hahnemann's Chronic Diseases and Lesser Writings. Especially read his essay "The Genius of the Homeopathic Art" in it. Then read the Letters and Life of Hahnemann by Bradford and the Life and Work of Hahnemann by Heil. Read the works of Lippe, which are mostly only in the old journals. P. P. Wells also wrote very good articles in the journals. Read Boeninghausen's Lesser Writings and Carol Dunham's The Science of Therapeutics. Also Roberts book The Art and Science of Homeopathy is worth reading, as is Elizabeth Right Hubbard's Brief Study Course in Homeopathy. The following materia medica can be relied on: Nash's Leaders in Homeopathic Therapeutics, Tyler's Drug Pictures, Herring's Guiding Symptoms, Clark's Dictionary of Materia Medica, and Gibson's Materia Medica. The best repertories are the computer repertories. Use the most modern.
What is the place of hygiene? Part of the symptoms of disease are related to the vital force and others to poor hygiene. Hygiene has not been emphasized in the history of homeopathy. Hygiene will have to be addressed at some point in the treatment of the patient.
What is the place of complementary care? Physical therapy is useful, as is manipulation. But manipulation is overused. It should perhaps be used at five percent of the current level. It is a mistake to use complementary therapy to remove symptoms. This makes it difficult to perceive the symptom picture. Pharmacological doses of vitamins or other nutrients should be avoided. When treating patients, I don't change prescribed medication.
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