A History of Homeopathy
The founder of homeopathy, and the man who coined its name, is Samuel Hahnemann. He was a physician, chemist, linguist, translator and father of ten children who was born in Leipzig, Germany in 1755. The famous story is told of how he was translating a book called the Treatise on Materia Medica, by William Cullen, a professor of medicine at the University of Edinburgh in Germany, in which the author stated that the reason China or Cinchona Bark cured malaria was that it was a tonic to the stomach. This explanation seemed rather simplistic to the brilliant Hahnemann, so he decided to find out the real truth for himself by gaining first hand experience of the properties of this substance.
He proceeded to ingest the China himself, and he became promptly sick with symptoms that were similar to malaria. Once he discontinued taking it the symptoms subsided. From this he concluded that the reason China cures malaria was that it caused symptoms that were similar to the disease malaria. He then formulated the concept of like cures like. Medicines heal when the symptoms they produce on healthy people are similar to the symptoms of the sick person who takes them. The symptoms of the medicines or their healing properties are determined by conducting provings in which healthy people ingest minute quantities of the substance and note the alterations in health on the mental, emotional and physical planes that they experience. When the sick person takes the medicine he comes under the influence of the medicinal substance, which is more powerful than his own disease and displaces it. The medicinal disease is short-lived, and when the medicinal symptoms pass the patient no longer experiences the symptoms for which he sought treatment. He is restored to health.
Homeopathic Potencies and Methods of Taking the Remedy
Hahnemann also found that natural substances ingested in their crude form could have toxic side effects, so he developed a method whereby he could reduce the toxic effects and augment the power of the medicine to heal. This method is known as potentization. In potentization a substance is diluted from a few to many thousands of times and succussed or vigorously banged between dilutions to release the electromagnetic energy of the substance. The more times the substance has been put through this process the greater its strength, duration of action and depth of action.
The most common potencies prescribed are the 6C, 12C, 30C, 200C, 1M, 10M, LM and CM strengths. These are known as centesimal scale remedies. In the 6C dilution, for example, the substance has been diluted according to the ratio of one part substance to 100 parts water six times. By the time a substance has been potentized to the 12C dilution, the Avogadro number has been passed. This is the number beyond which any trace of the original substance will no longer be visible under an electron microscope.
Decimal scale remedies are also available in the same sequence listed above. In this scale one part of the original substance is diluted in ten parts of water. The decimal scale remedies are not as strong as the corresponding centesimal scale remedy.
As you move into the higher potencies on the centesimal and decimal scale, the remedies have to be repeated with caution, as the doses can hold for many months to many years, and it is not advisable to interrupt a dose that is actively working. For example I had an eleven-year-old boy in my office last year to whom I had prescribed Sulphur 1M on December 12, 2004. He came to see me exactly three years to the day since he took the one and only dose of that remedy. He came for the visit, because he developed a rash in the armpit area and his mother wanted him to be treated for that. All his other health complaints, such as headaches, stomachaches, and attention deficit disorder had disappeared on the first dose. I received a call from his mother a week after we repeated the Sulphur 1M, and she told me that she took her son to a dermatologist on the same day that she saw me and he prescribed antibiotic cream and hydrocortisone to put on his skin as it was a staph infection. She tried to apply what the dermatologist had prescribed, but the boy refused it as it burned his skin, so instead she gave him the dose of Sulphur 1M and applied Calendula cream topically. She was very excited to let me know that everything cleared within two days. I am mentioning this case so you see the great power and duration of action of homeopathic remedies. That first dose held the boy three years. Homeopathic remedies need to be treated with respect and repeated only when symptoms that have improved begin to relapse for a while.
So far we have learned these facts about homeopathy:
1) Like cures like. Remedies are chosen for their similarity to the symptoms of the patient as determined by the provings.
2) Homeopathic remedies are given in potentized or highly dilute and dynamized form.
A third way the remedies can be administered and prepared is in the LM potency form, sometimes known as Sixth Edition Prescribing, as this was the method Hahnemann recommended in the Sixth Edition of the Organon of the Medicinal Art, newly translated by Wenda Brewster O’Reilly, Ph.D. This is a form of the remedy that can be taken in water on a daily, every other day, or as needed basis. In this method a tiny amount of a natural substance is triturated, which means ground in a mortar and pestle, for three hours and then further diluted and succussed till it has been raised to a dilution of one part substance to 50,000 parts dilutant. This will be the LM1 strength. This is then applied to poppy seed granules impregnated with the remedy, and is also available in liquid form. If in granules the homeopath will dissolve one or two granules in a 110 ml. or 4 oz. bottle. The patient will then succuss the bottle a specified number of times, such as 5, 8 or 10 times. After that he will take a teaspoon from the stock bottle, add it to 4 oz. of water in a cup, stir and drink a teaspoon, or specified quantity from the liquid in the cup.
By taking the remedy in water and adding succussions to the stock bottle the strength of the remedy is gradually increased or plussed. In this way the stimulus given to the patient is slightly different each time he takes it. The patient can take frequent doses of the remedy, which Hahnemann believed hastened the healing process along. My own experience with clients using the LM potencies is that in sensitive individuals one needs to be cautious with frequency of repetition, and only repeat when there is evidence that the last dose is wearing out, apparent by a return or worsening of symptoms that had been better.
I usually prescribe LM potencies to people who are taking many supplements, or are on prescription medications. It is also useful for people with deep pathology, or weakened vital forces. For people who are not taking any other medications, and have strong vital forces, I prefer to use the centesimal scale remedies as they are easier to use, and patients usually experience fewer day to day fluctuations in their symptoms than with the LM potencies. Centesimal scale remedies set up a healing process where you may have a brief intensification of symptoms in the beginning followed by long-term amelioration, and the time-line for when changes can be expected is more predictable. To learn more about LM potencies, please refer to Aphorism 270 in the Organon of the Medical Art by Samuel Hahnemann.
Other methods of taking the remedy, which I am gaining more and more respect for are: by olfaction and by proximity (or what I call “the pillow dose.”) In the olfactory method one holds the medicine bottle containing the dry pellets under one’s nose and inhales over it several times; or one can dissolve a few pellets in water in a glass jar, succuss it and inhale for a few seconds over the bottle. This is an excellent method that I often use during acute illnesses.
To administer a pillow dose, I put a few pellets of the remedy in a small coin envelope, which I then place under the sick person’s pillow. I recommend that the person lay or sleep on top of it for half an hour, an hour, several hours or even over night. I recently helped an autistic child overcome his severe dromomania or running away behavior with a dose of Iodium 1M under his pillow.
From this case you can see that the pillow dose should be given its due respect. I often use the pillow dose method for people who are doing well on a constitutional remedy, but then catch a cold, flu or other acute disease, and they need an energetic stimulus to help them recover. The pillow dose method works beautifully in this situation. There are also some people who are afraid to ingest homeopathic remedies, but are willing to take the remedy via pillow dose, and luckily it works. I have not been able to detect any evidence that this is less powerful than ingesting the remedy. I believe the mechanism by which this works is that rather than taking the energetic field of the remedy into oneself, which is what happens when we ingest the remedy, we enter into the energetic field of the remedy itself, via the pillow dose. Either way, the energetic exchange takes place.
Adding to our knowledge, we have learned:
3) The difference between centesimal, and decimal scale remedies and LM potencies. We also learned different ways to administer the remedy.
One Remedy at a Time
Hahnemann stressed the importance of giving only one remedy at a time to the patient. The reason for this is that the remedies are proven one at a time, and our knowledge of the remedies is based on the provings. Since the remedies are not proven in combination, we would not be able to predict what a combination remedy would do. Many homeopaths believe that the job of the homeopath is to find the single substance in nature that is expressing itself in the symptoms of the patient. Sankaran says that disease is the non-human element, or the non-human song, which is playing itself in the instrument of the patient, but is out of place there. The patient’s symptoms, sensations, attitudes, and delusions point the way to that single substance in nature. When the perfect fit has been found, there will be a resonance, which will silence that non-human element, which is out of place and free the patient to be the healthy person he or she is meant to be. What distinguishes a classical homeopath from a non-classical homeopath is adherence to the rule of one remedy at a time.
Where Remedies Come From
Now I want to talk about where remedies come from. Hahnemann and his colleagues proved over one hundred remedies on themselves. Since then thousands of remedies have been added to the Homeopathic Pharmacopeia. The Homeopathic Pharmacopeia of the United States is the official compendium for homeopathic remedies in the U.S. Provings of new remedies are being conducted all over the world, making homeopathy a very dynamic and endlessly evolving science. As I have said before, the remedies come from the animal, mineral, and plant kingdoms. Some people recognize five or six kingdoms rather than the traditional three, and count algae, bacteria, and fungi as kingdoms in their own right, rather than including them with the plant or animal kingdoms. The nosodes would be classed with the bacterial kingdom. Nosodes are remedies that are made from disease substances, such as Tuberculinum, Carcinosin and Medorrhinum.
Homeopaths since Hahnemann’s time have attempted to make the study of remedies easier by grouping the remedies according to their botanical classification and comparing them to see if they have similar properties. This has been a very popular trend in the last twenty years, and Sankaran and others have gone a long way toward mapping plant sensations to help make the selection of remedies derived from plants more scientific.
Other homeopathic researchers have been doing the same thing with the mineral kingdom. Jan Scholten, Rajan Sankaran, Roger Morrison, Louis Klein and others have pioneered this work with the mineral kingdom, showing us that minerals on the same row on the periodic table of the elements share fundamental qualities, as do those on the same column. Homeopaths are exploring the idea that the periodic table of the elements is a map of human development from conception through the highest states of human development.
Much research has been done by homeopaths, such as Jonathan Shore, who wrote a book called, “Birds Homeopathic Remedies from the Avian Realm,” and Nancy Herrick, who wrote “Animal Minds, Human Voices,” to increase our knowledge of the remedies from the animal kingdom. All of this research on the various kingdoms has extremely practical application in clinical practice, as it helps homeopaths determine what kingdom the patient falls into–animal, plant, mineral, and then to make appropriate selections within the kingdom, so that they can make accurate prescriptions for their patients.
Thanks to the efforts of the homeopathic light-bearers, the work of all homeopaths is becoming more scientifically based, and the practice of prescribing more accurate. The other marvelous thing about this is that the remedy names that we see in our repertories and materia medicas are now coming to life for us, as we begin to connect them in our minds to the substances from which they come. To be a great homeopath, one must understand botany, chemistry, physics, psychology, the nature of consciousness, human disease, the therapeutic action of homeopathic remedies and so much more. It is truly a very rewarding lifetime study.
Miasms in homeopathy
I would be remiss to end this introduction to homeopathy without talking about the concept of miasms. Samuel Hahnemann introduced this term to homeopathy in his little book called, “Chronic Diseases.” It took him twelve years of study to write this book. He wanted to understand how come many patients were not responding to what he considered to be well chosen remedies. He decided that the reason was the presence of a miasmatic or genetic taint, which was getting in the way of their healing. He identified three primary miasms or genetic taints at that time: psora, or the suppressed itch, which he called the mother of all disease, and syphilis and sycosis. The last two come from sexually transmitted diseases. Other miasms could be created from combinations of these three miasms. The Tuberculosis miasm was a combination of psora and syphilis. Cancer was a trimiasmatic disease, as all three miasms had to be present to create this condition. Hahnemann recommended prescribing intercurrent doses of nosodes in cases that were not progressing to help remove the genetic taint.
Rajan Sankaran has taken Hahnemann’s work and expanded the three original miasms to ten miasms. I would not be mentioning this concept except for the fact that knowledge of the miasms has made prescribing remedies far more accurate for me. In Sankaran’s system miasms represent a fundamental attitude toward life and pace of disease. This attitude is elicited from the client by asking him to tell you what his attitude is toward the chief complaint. If the homeopathic practitioner can identify that attitude and the pace of the disease he is far more likely to prescribe accurately,
Not long ago I had the opportunity to give a demonstration of how the miasms worked at the fall retreat of Integrated Healing Arts, a health center in Palo Alto, California that I am affiliated with. There was a woman there who had experienced hearing loss, and I wanted to demonstrate to the group how homeopathy worked by using her case as an example. I explained that in order to hone in on the remedy, it would be very helpful to understand her attitude and the pace of her disease. That information would bring us to the miasm that she fell into. Once we knew the miasm the remedy selection process would become much easier, as this would help to narrow down the range of possible remedies. I will list the miasms below and tell you what her attitude would be if she fell into that miasm:
The Acute Miasm: “This hearing loss has come on suddenly and it is a sudden and immediate threat to my survival. I am alarmed by it and in a state of panic. I am terrified that I will not regain my hearing.” The acute miasm is like a sudden storm. You react to it with instinctive terror. Either you survive the storm or it takes you down. Some of our well-known remedies from the acute miasm are Belladonna and Aconite. In this example the woman is in a panic state about her hearing loss. This is an alarming situation.
The Typhoid Miasm: If the woman in our example needed a remedy from the typhoid miasm, she would view her illness as an emergency, and may even go to the hospital. This is a sub-acute, rather than an acute situation. It is a crisis that needs to be overcome, a critical situation that demands immediate attention. Once it is overcome she will be fine. The typhoid miasm is characterized by a sense of urgency and impatience. There is hope that with the proper effort and care, she will recover. Nux vomica, Bryonia, and Rhus toxicodendron are well known remedies from the typhoid miasm.
The Psoric Miasm: There is a basic optimism in the attitude of people who fall into the psoric miasm. This is the healthiest miasmatic type, as the attitude to life is the healthiest. In the example of the woman with hearing loss, she would feel optimistic about her prognosis. “I will recover.” I have to make an effort, but the situation is solvable. Healthy children often need remedies from the psoric miasm, such as Calcarea carbonica, Sulphur and Lycopodium.
The Ringworm Miasm: The woman in our example needing a remedy from the ringworm miasm would alternate in her attitude from acceptance that she has this condition to a desire to struggle against it. Basically she feels like she can live with it if she has to, though she would rather not. It is not a life threatening condition. At one moment she is hopeful that she will regain her hearing, in the next moment she gives up and resigns herself to it. Dulcamara, Calcarea sulfurica and Calcarea silicata are a few remedies from this miasm.
The Malaria Miasm: If the woman in our example needed a remedy from the malaria miasm, she would feel very unfortunate to have this problem, and harassed by the hearing loss. She would feel that it was impeding her ability to function. This incident of hearing loss may not be the first time she has experienced this complaint, as periodicity and intermittent attacks characterize this miasm. She may brood about the problem, or go into attacks of rage that she has this condition. Our two biggest remedies of the malaria miasm are Natrum muriaticum and China Officinalis.
The Sycotic Miasm: Our lady with the hearing loss would definitely not want anybody to know about this problem, if she needed a sycotic remedy. As long as she can keep her condition a secret from others, she is okay. If they find out they might think she is too old or unqualified to do her job. This is her hidden weakness, and it is a fixed problem that she has to accept, because it is not going away anytime soon. She has to avoid situations where her secret may be discovered, and she feels under qualified to do her job. Thuja, Silica and Medorrhinum are well-known remedies from the sycotic miasm.
The Cancer Miasm: The woman in our example would be very perfectionistic. Keeping in control of her life and all things in it would be her modus operandi. The hearing loss would mean loss of control to her, and she would feel a need to regain control over this situation as fast as possible, otherwise her life would fall apart and we would have utter chaos. She has set high standards for herself, which she feels are beyond her capacity to achieve. She may feel desperate to regain her hearing and therefore control over her life. The task may seem huge to her, but it is not a completely desperate situation. Some well-known remedies from the cancer miasm are Arsenicum album, Argentum nitricum, Carcinosin, Conium, and Ignatia amara.
The Tubercular Miasm: Taking our example of the woman with the hearing loss, if she needed a remedy from this miasm she would have a great love of travel. She could feel bored easily from staying in one place too long, and have a longing for freedom and change. She could feel trapped by the hearing loss, if she perceives it as curtailing her freedom. She may lead a very intense and hectic life as she prepares for her next adventure. Well-known remedies of this miasm are Tuberculinum, Tarentula, Phosphorus and Iodine.
The Leprosy Miasm: The woman in our example would feel like a leper, because of the hearing loss. She would feel like she has been outcasted by society and isolated, because of this problem. No one will want to be friends with her, because she can’t hear what they say properly. She will even possibly loath herself. She may feel less than others, dirty and disgusted with herself for having this problem. She may feel intensely hopeless that she will be able to find a solution to the hearing loss. The most well-known remedy of the Leprous miasm is Sepia. Some other remedies from this miasm are Aloe, and Secale.
The Syphilitic Miasm: As we move from the top of the list to the bottom of the list of miasms, we move from more healthy states to less healthy states, more optimistic attitudes to complete pessimism. The syphilitic miasm is the darkest of the miasms in terms of attitude. Here the feeling is of utter desperation, but she still must make an effort to try to recover. The woman in our example would feel that there is absolutely no hope, but still she has to try to be normal again. She may contemplate desperate solutions, and throw all caution to the wind. The syphilitic miasm is self destructive and destructive of others. Suicide and homicide can be contemplated and successfully executed in this miasm. Paranoid and psychotic states are also often present. The pathology itself may be very deep: ulceration and destruction of tissue may be taking place. Our heavy metals, such as Aurum metallicum, Mercurius and its salts, Plumbum metallicum and Platina fall into this miasm. Our poisonous snake remedies like Lachesis muta are also syphilitic remedies.
I am sure this is way more than you expected in an introduction to homeopathy, but if you have read all the way through, you now have a very good basis to understand homeopathy as it was conceived by Samuel Hahnemann and as it has been evolving in recent years.
Please remember that for constitutional homeopathic prescribing you should consult a professional homeopath or a doctor who is knowledgeable in homeopathy. Also remember that homeopathic remedies should be repeated with care and caution. It is very important to have a homeopath working with you who understands the power of homeopathic remedies, how to select them, and how and when to administer them, so that you have a safe and enjoyable experience with homeopathy,
Homeopathy is truly beautiful medicine, because its basis is scientific, the rules for its safe application are known, the guide for selecting remedies is given, and the remedies come from natural substances which are prepared in ways that make them safe to administer to sick people. Ultimately the best thing about it is that it works and it is reliable. You have taken the first step in making miracles happen for you and your family, you have discovered homeopathy.