Like Cures Like
Going by the Law of Similars, a healthy person who takes a dose of Arsenic, (not large enough to kill him) would develop symptoms like vomiting, diarrhea of rice-water stools, cold skin, anxious look, rapid pulse, weakness etc. In smaller doses, or when taken for a longer time, the person would develop running nose, heavy head, coughing, bronchial catarrh and later specific disturbances in the skin and nerves. He will have burning all over which is relieved by warmth, frequent thirst for sips of water, fear of death, restlessness and a worsening of symptoms at noon and at midnight.
According to the law of ‘like cures like’, numerous patients displaying such symptoms have been cured by Arsenic, irrespective of the name of the disease (cholera, colds, eczema, asthma etc).
Man as a Whole
Unlike other systems of medicine, Homoeopathy does not look at the diseased person in parts, i.e. it does not give different medicines for headache and stomachache to the same person. Instead it gives one medicine for the whole individual. It is being increasingly acknowledged these days that the mind and body are inter-linked. We now see the rapid rise of the holistic concept of disease with an emphasis on its psychosomatic and psychosocial aspects.
The body is born as one, functions as one and reacts as one. It is unity. When affected by sickness, it reacts as a whole. The symptoms which represent this reaction are found all over the body and also in the patient’s mental state. Thus, if we want to get a true and complete picture of the sickness, we must not only consider the chief complaint of the patient, but also the symptoms of all parts of the body and the mind. All troubles of the patient arise from one basic disorder. Homoeopathy gives one single medicine to the patient and not a separate one for each of his body parts. This single medicine affects the whole individual and treats all his troubles.
No two persons are alike. Similarly, no two persons react alike in sickness. Though suffering from the same ailment, the symptoms of one person may differ completely from the symptoms of another. Homoeopathy being a holistic science (treating man as a whole) considers everything in a person right from the chief complaint to his reactive pattern, to his state of mind and the experience with this complaint. As a result, everything that sets apart the suffering individual from another person having the same complaint is studied and analyzed. The prescription is then based on the entire portrait of the suffering person rather than the manifest symptoms for which he approaches the doctor.
This concept of treating the person based on his individual features has been recognized by many renowned experts in the domain. Dr. Alexis Carrel, Nobel Prize winner, in his book ‘Man, the Unknown’ writes, “A disease is not an entity. Disease is a personal event. It consists of the individual himself. There are as many different diseases as the patients.
The science of man is the most difficult of all sciences… The physician’s role is to discover characteristics of the sick man’s individuality. He must study the individual as well as the disease. Medicine has to take into account the nature of man, of his unity, and of his uniqueness.
The physicians must enter a different world. They must use the expedient of indiscriminately applying their scientific knowledge to each patient, as, for instance a salesman trying to fit the same ready-made coat to people of different sizes. But they do not really fulfill their duty unless they discover the specific peculiarities of each patient. Their success depends not only on their knowledge, but also on their ability to grasp the characteristics which make each human being an individual”.
The Healer Within: Interplay of Well-being and Disease
The human body is subjected to a number of insults at every moment, changes in temperature and strains, physical trauma and the wear-and-tear being a few among those.
At every moment we come in contact with countless germs. They are in the air we breathe, in every pore of our skin, in every fold of our intestine. In spite of all this, we rarely fall ill. And even if we do, we automatically get well most of the time. We cannot escape the conclusion that there is within each of us a force, a force that co-ordinates our system.
The force that keeps a balance between us and our surroundings. The power that defends us from invading agents. The energy that fights to get well when we are sick. The force that makes repairs of our damaged tissues, makes us grow and develop. Hahnemann recognized it as function of life itself and called it Life Force or Vital Force.
If this life force prevails unchallenged, it maintains co-ordination in our system, and helps us maintain a balance between us and the surroundings, protecting us from external harmful agents. It maintains the body in perfect ‘health’.
Consequently, the disease is not tonsillitis or headache or diarrhoea. These are all effects or end-products of disease. The real sickness is the disturbance in the normal functioning of the vitality. Disease is not a thing but the condition of the body. It is like a sitar whose correct tuning has been disturbed. Naturally, all the notes from this sitar will be off-key and non-melodious.
There is no use trying to correct the individual notes because the disturbance in the tuning has to be found and corrected. In doing so, the tuner has added nothing and taken away nothing, yet has restored the harmony.
While treating a person, the symptoms are to be seen as signs of an internal turmoil. They are to be utilized to recognize the nature of the disturbance. The disturbance has to be treated, not the symptoms. The aim of the treatment has to be to treat the cause and thus restore health. Homoeopathic medicines aim at correcting the disturbance to restore normal health. They treat the main cause, in the process of which the effects automatically disappear.
Homoeopathy is directed in the same direction as the bodily reaction. It aims not to suppress, but acts by stimulating the powerful healing reaction of the body. Hence, the dose required is minimum. This is in accordance to the Arndt/Schulz law which states that where the largest doses are lethal, small doses of the same drug stimulate the organism.
So, in Homoeopathy, the Law of Minimum dose directs the use of “the smallest amount necessary to effect the desired result”. And this logic is not unique only to Homoeopathy. It is seen as a basic principle in engineering, economics, and even in strategic planning for war times. The small dose of the homoeopathic medicine works by stimulating the doctor within each of us. As the renowned physician, Albert Schweitzer of Lambarene puts it, “Each patient carries his own doctor inside him. They come to us not knowing the truth. We are at our best when we give the doctor who resides within each patient a chance to go to work”.
This concept of minimum dose also eliminates the possibilities of side effects seen due to the administration of large doses.
Hahnemann’s scientific experiments led him to the process of potentisation. A step by step dilution and jerking of the drug makes it extremely powerful and at the same time renders it harmless.
The first potency of any remedy consists of 1 drop of remedy in 99 drops of water. This will be equal to 1 drop of remedy in the first bottle full of water. The higher the potency, the greater the dilution. The 2nd and 3rd potencies will contain, 1 drop of water in the two and three bottles full of water respectively. The 200th potency will be approximately 1 drop of medicine in a swimming pool full of water and the 50,000th potency will be approximately 1 drop of medicine diluted in a one lake full of water.
No one has been able to explain how medicines can act when diluted to enormous limits. Yet, the potencies are found to act very powerfully. It seems that in the process of potentisation, stored up energy of the drug is released. Through this process, insoluble, inert and poisonous substances are converted into powerful healing agents.