A Patient’s Perspective
*Article taken from 2014 publication Natural Kingdoms: Healing With Homeoapthy by Dr. Rajan Sankaran
The Law of Similars
Homeopathic medicine is a medical art based upon fundamental principles that have been effectively used for healing for hundreds of years.
A German physician, Dr Christian Friedrich Samuel Hahnemann (1755–1843), who was totally unhappy with the orthodox medical practice of the eighteenth century, discovered something unique which he called the ‘Law of Similars’.
In his attempts to discover why cinchona, the bitter red bark of a tropical tree, was an effective medicine for malaria, he experimented by taking the medicine himself. He developed symptoms of periodic fever and chills, headaches, vertigo, and many symptoms similar to malaria. This led him to postulate that, ‘A disease will be cured by a substance that can create a similar state in a person.’ This was the birth of the Law of Similars.
This idea can be understood through a very simple example. If a person has recently gone through some tragedy, or the loss of a near one, then his grief is best healed by meeting people in a situation similar to his.
In short, the idea is that a disease can be healed by something that can produce a similar disease. In other words, homeopathy is a system of medicine based on the principle of ‘like cures like’.
For example, if a healthy person takes a dose of arsenic not large enough to kill him, he would develop symptoms of vomiting, diarrhoea, cold skin, anxiety, rapid pulse rate, and weakness. In smaller doses, when taken over a long time, he would develop a running nose, heavy head, coughing, bronchial catarrh, and later specific disturbances in the skin and nerves. He will have burning all over—which could be relieved by warmth—frequent thirst for sips of water, fear of death, restlessness, and a worsening of symptoms at noon and midnight.
According to the homeopathic law of ‘like cures like’, countless patients displaying such symptoms have been cured by the homeopathically prepared medicine Arsenicum album. This was irrespective of the disease name, be it cholera, colds, eczema, asthma, and so on.
In order to understand what a homeopathic medicine can cure, we must know what symptoms that medicine produces in a healthy human being. ‘Provings’ are the scientific way in which homeopathic medicines are tested.
In a proving, a homeopathic medicine is administered to healthy volunteers who carefully note down in simple, non-technical language the symptoms that are being experienced and produced after taking the medicine. Both physical and mental symptoms are recorded.
These symptoms are then recorded and arranged, and added to the Homeopathic Materia Medica, an extensive encyclopedia of medicines along with their respective symptoms.
In simpler terms, the Materia Medica contains the pure effects of the various homeopathic medicines on healthy persons. The symptoms are very precisely described. These are then systematically recorded and indexed in volumes of books called ‘repertories’.
It is not merely written that Belladonna produces a headache. It is written that Belladonna produces ‘aching pain in the right temporal region, which on leaning the head on the hand changes to bursting pain, and extends to the right frontal protuberance’.
This is just one of Belladonna’s 1440 symptoms.
There are no simplifications, no presumptions—only exact, meticulous and concrete facts.
One may ask: Why test the medicine on healthy human beings and not on animals?
Simply put, disease has two diverse means of expression. The first is what can be visibly seen, the changes in a person’s appearance or in the tissues of their body. These are termed objective symptoms. The second is what is felt. These are termed subjective symptoms, which include types of pain, emotions and other sensations experienced by individuals. These subjective symptoms are enormously significant because they appear before the objective changes and they help individualize a patient in a disease. This is why Dr Hahnemann felt it necessary to test the medicines on healthy human beings.
Dr Hahnemann himself individually tested and recorded the effects of ninety-nine medicines. This has been described as the largest, most accurate and most extensive of investigations into medicinal action made by any single observer throughout the annals of medical history.
Homeopathy uses remedies from the plant, mineral and animal kingdoms and each remedy is tested on healthy volunteers. As mentioned earlier, the symptoms of the body and mind are carefully noted the Materia Medica and indexed in the repertories. When a patient comes for treatment, the symptoms of his body and mind state are carefully noted and then a comparison is made between his symptoms and the symptoms of the various remedies, to find one remedy that most closely matches his symptoms. The remedy is then administered in an ultra-diluted form, known as ‘potency’.
Hahnemann aspired to prove and utilize medicines that were beneficial but known to be fatal or poisonous when ingested in large doses. He discovered a solution to this problem, by reducing the quantity of the drug. As he did this, he found that the destructive or poisonous effects were lessened but, more importantly, the smaller quantity provided a more curative effect.
Progressively, he started bringing down the dose more and more, and started diluting the medicine with a seemingly lifeless medium like water or alcohol. He discovered that when the medicines were so diluted, they not only became completely unharmful, but they acted on the disease even better. He had made another great discovery. In addition to the Law of Similars, he had found immense power in the ‘small dose’.
These dilutions are called homeopathic potencies. These potencies are prepared in a very specific and meticulous way.
If the drug is from a liquid, one drop of the drug is mixed in 99 drops of alcohol. This mixture is given ten jerks or hits (called succussions). This represents the 1st potency of the drug. One drop of the first potency is mixed with another 99 drops of alcohol and given another ten jerks. This represents the 2nd potency of the drug. Subsequent potencies are prepared in a similar manner.
Hahnemann used both soluble and insoluble substances, like gold, copper, silver and mercury, to prepare the solutions. He named the entire process of preparing a homeopathic medicine trituration. By pounding and pulverizing and then mixing with alcohol and water, he produced a solution of these substances.
How these medicines act when diluted to such unbelievable limits still is a confounding mystery that science has not been able to explain for the last 150 years. However, simply through experiments on healthy and sick human beings, it has been observed that potencies act very powerfully.
Through the process of potentization, insoluble substances like sand or common table salt, and poisonous substances like arsenic or nitric acid have been converted into powerful healing agents.
When the substance is potentized, and thus refined, then finer and finer qualities of the medicine are revealed. It is not only that a remedy produces broad symptoms like insanity, delirium or mania during testing, but a specific quality of emotions and feelings, which are then recorded diligently in precise detail. When a patient comes with similar symptoms, we choose a remedy matching that exact state of being.
The Force of Life
Hahnemann believed that a force, a vital force of life, which he termed Life Force or Vital Force, governs the human body.
This is the force that coordinates our systems, it has the power to defend us from invading agents, it helps us to fight back when we are sick, repairs our damaged tissues, and makes us grow and develop.
The body is subjected to a number of assaults at every moment and at every turn. Changes in the weather, changes in the strains of disease, physical and mental trauma, are just a few of them. In all instances we come in contact with innumerable germs. They are everywhere: in the air we breathe, in the pores of our skin and in every fold of our body.
This Life Force within each one of us organizes our system and helps preserve the equilibrium between us and our surroundings. It is our resistance power, our immunity, and our way to combat these assaults.
Homeopathic medicines aim to restore the overall health of the patient by treating the cause, not just eliminate the symptoms. When the patient becomes healthy, the symptoms disappear.
A migraine or dermatitis is not the disease, it is the end product of the disease. The real sickness is in the disturbance of the normal functioning of the vitality, the Vital Force. Homeopathic drugs correct this disturbance through treating the root cause.
How the Medicine Works
To understand how homeopathic medicine works, let us take an example. Imagine a patient who suffers from migraines. What we need to understand is that ‘migraine’ is just a name, or, in homeopathic terms, a local manifestation of a certain systemic problem. Basically, migraines are an affection of the nerves. In these patients, nervous sensitivities are very high and there are various triggering factors like stress, emotive factors, sunlight, motion, noise, etc. As a result of the nerves being oversensitive to certain triggers, they produce pain and headache. The oversensitive nature of the nerves is not an isolated phenomenon. It can be a part of the axis that controls the body, comprising namely the endocrine system (hormones), immunological system and the mind. These three form an axis that acts as a regulator of the body.
Disease exists only if there is a central disturbance of the axis. We have to identify what the central disturbance is in this person. Individually, how do the nervous system, endocrine system, immune system and the mind work? This gives us a picture of the central disturbance within the patient, and when that is accurately found and the appropriate remedy matched, the local expressions automatically disappear, because they are merely expressions of the central disturbance.
Holism and Individualism
Fundamental to homeopathic philosophy is the tenet that disease is not affection of the separate parts of the body but of a person as a whole, and that each person has his own individual disease or state, and the changes in the organs are only the result of this state.
The idea of holism suggests that the body is born as one, functions as one, reacts as one and dies as one. When affected by sickness, it reacts as a whole. The symptoms represent this very reaction and are found all over the body, and also in the patient’s mental state.
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 manifested in all parts of the body and mind. Homeopaths give a single medicine in order to heal the patient as a whole and to remove his ailments.
Homeopathy not only recognizes that the mind and body are two parts of a whole, but also that they are closely tied together.
A good homeopath learns to perceive disease as a continually evolving process, which begins in the womb and ends in the tomb. The homeopath will go into great details of each symptom at all stages in the patient’s development, physically and mentally, in an effort to find out what differentiates one patient from another.
The concept of individualization is very important in homeopathic medicine. No two people are alike. Similarly, no two people react alike in sickness, even if they suffer from the same complaint.
The patient’s language and speech, doodles, hand gestures, handwriting, manner of dressing, choice of profession, and the way he presents his complaints, all of these individualize him.
Homeopathy is essentially the treatment of the individual patient. The homeopath considers, studies and treats the patient individually.
A father and daughter once came to my clinic, both with a diagnosis of cervical spondylosis. The father’s pain worsened in winter and in the morning. He had constipation alternating with diarrhoea. His appetite was variable and he liked sweets. He felt no thirst, and experienced sleeplessness. Mentally, he was anxious, mild, preferred company, and wept easily. Conversely, the daughter’s pain was worse in summer and in the sun. Her appetite was lower than normal and she hated sweets. She was extremely irritable and preferred to remain alone.
Although the label of the disease was the same, the picture was vastly different. In fact, they each suffered from their own peculiar disease. Therefore, each one required a different medicine. Homeopathic medicine is prescribed on the basis of an individual patient’s troubles and not for the name of the disease he has. Thus, ten patients of asthma may require ten different medicines.
It is the inner disturbance or upsetting of the Vital Force that needs to be corrected and restored to a healthy balance. In homeopathy, disease is seen as an affection of the whole person, and so the treatment is holistic as well as individualistic. As Dr Hahnemann, the father of homeopathy, once said:
Now, as certainly as we should listen particularly to the patient’s description of his sufferings and sensations, and attach credence especially to his own expressions wherewith he endeavors to make us understand his ailments, so certainly, on the other hand, in all diseases. The investigation of the true, complete picture and its peculiarities demands especial circumspection, tact, knowledge of human nature, caution in conducting the inquiry and patience in an eminent degree.
Organon Sixth Edition, Aphorism 98
June 29, 2019
June 29, 2019
June 29, 2019