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The Art of Disease Classification

Hpathy Ezine, September, 2011 | Print This Post Print This Post |

The author discusses and clarifies Hahnemann’s classification of diseases.


The basic rules for homeopathic treatment we can find in Hahnemann’s “Organon of medicine” and “Chronic diseases”. To me it is still amazing how brilliant and complete Hahnemann’s homeopathic solutions are for today’s health problems.

But it is rather difficult to discover the main path of Hahnemann’s philosophy. Possibly the first one who discovered it was H.A. Roberts, who was also the first one to use the term “disease classification”. (01)

In general the theory can be found in “Organon” and the application in “Chronic diseases.” The main distinction is between acute and chronic diseases. This is essential to realize a good plan of treatment. Acute diseases are fast and intense, chronic illnesses come on slowly, almost sneakily in the beginning, with a slow progress to more and more discomfort.

In the following I will discuss this distinction on the basis of Hahnemann’s system, called Disease Classification. It is important to emphasize that Hahnemann’s first focus was on the disease, not on the diseased, which is an essential part of the disease classification method.

Starting with par. 71 (02), of the Organon of Medicine, Hahnemann has three important questions:

    1. How is the physician to ascertain what is necessary to be known in order to cure disease?
    2. How is he to gain knowledge of the instrument adapted for the cure of the natural disease, the pathogenetic powers of the medicines?
    3. What is the most suitable method of employing these artificial morbific agents (medicine) for the cure of natural disease ?


In this essay we will concentrate on the first question. Finally, you will find a scheme of how this works in practice.

I. What is necessary to know to cure a disease ?

(Par. 72, regarding the first question)

“The following will serve as a general preliminary view.

The diseases to which man is liable are:

    • (acute disease) either rapid morbid processes of the abnormally deranged vital force…………….
    • (chronic disease)…….or they are diseases of such a character that, with small often imperceptible beginnings, dynamically derange the living organism, each in its own peculiar manner, and cause it gradually to deviate from the healthy condition, in such a way that the automatic life energy, called vital force, whose office is to preserve the health, only opposes to them at the commencement and during their progress can offer only imperfect, unsuitable, useless resistance, but is unable of itself to extinguish them, but must helplessly suffer to be ever more and more abnormally deranged, until at length the organism is destroyed. These are termed chronic diseases. Causation: a dynamic infection with a chronic miasm.”


Comment on Acute dis-ease

An acute dis-ease comes and goes fast. The course is intense, with high fevers, diarrhoea, etc.. Acute diseases disappear without interference if the patient is healthy. In fact it is a natural response to a potential harmful virus or bacteria. When the intestines are infected by food poisoning, diarrhoea will occur and clear the intestines effectively of the bad bacteria.

When in a healthy state, our immune system is a wonderful system, called the immuno-neuro-response system, which detects in seconds a potential harmful “invader” and creates the most effective response. Our body has evolved to defend 15,000 “attacks” of free radicals every day. If somebody is smoking cigarettes he or she quite easily exceeds this limit. Unhealthy eating habits, alcohol and environmental pollution makes us exceed the limit more easily, causing more health problems (03) Acute diseases are, according to Hahnemann, subdivided into:

  1. Individual diseases:

1. Acute brief physical affections: The patient has become ill because of harmful influences, such as excesses or insufficient supply of food, trauma, chills, poisoning, overheating, exhaustion, etc.

2. acute psychic illnesses;

3. acute infections of a latent miasmatic disease: a dormant, not active, miasm (inherited chronic disease) can become active through an incident (in most cases a stressful situation). When the stress is over the disease goes into a dormant state again. Actually these flare ups get continually worse.

  1. Collective diseases:
    1. epidemics;
    2. acute recurrent miasmatic diseases, which may be either a onetime event such as small pox, measles, whooping cough etc., or recurrent such as yellow fever, cholera, etc.

2. Chronic diseases

Hahnemann on Chronic diseases

(par. 72)….or they are diseases of such a character that, with small often imperceptible beginnings, dynamically derange the living organism, each in its own particular manner, and cause it gradually to deviate from the healthy condition…but is unable to extinguish them…

78: the true natural chronic diseases are those that arise from chronic miasms, which when left to themselves and unchecked by the employment of those remedies that are specific for them (nosodes, see Chronic Diseases, CvdM)), always go on increasing and growing worse, notwithstanding the best mental and corporal regimen, and torment the patient to the end of his life with ever aggravated sufferings.

103: Remedy picture

“the miasmatic chronic maladies remain the same in their essential nature, especially the psora, and must be investigated as to the whole of their symptoms… patient only exhibits a portion of their symptoms……..the whole array of the symptoms belonging to such a miasmatic, chronic disease and especially psora, can only be ascertained from the observation of very many single patients affected with such a chronic disease and without a complete survey and collective picture of these symptoms the medicines capable of curing the whole malady homeopathically cannot be discovered; and these medicines are, at the same time, the true remedies of the patients suffering from such chronic affections.”


In the beginning, chronic diseases are steathily present and have little to no effects on our health system. The patient feels himself literally dis-eased. Sometimes the disease appears rather suddenly as a kind of acute illness, fading away with time. But, it does not really go away, rather it disappears under the surface. Again and again, and more often it reappears, disintegrating one’sr health more deeply. Homeopathically it is essential to notice that a chronic miasm is not the same as a chronic disease. In fact it is an inherited (genetic) predisposition passed down by one or more members of your family. Without the right miasmatic treatment, a chronic disease will bring your health system increasingly more out of balance.


Cor van der Meij

Cor van der Meij has been practicing homeopathy since he graduated as a classical homeopath in 1998. Afterwards he followed a master degree in Disease Classification at the Stichting Hahnemann Homeopathie. Cor was a member of the editorial staff for "Dynamis" a Dutch quarterly on homeopathy. He has written several articles and book reviews for Links, Homeopathy4 Everyone and Dynamis.


  1. Manish

    September 18, 2011

    Mr.Cor van der Meij deserves gratitude & thanks of high order. His discussion throws light on Vaccination & its side effects is one of its kind. I never saw any paper before. Ir males this article most useful to the recent pass outs. Thanks

  2. Dr.T.Diaz,India

    September 20, 2011


  3. Cor van der Meij

    September 23, 2011

    Dear dr. Diaz: thank you for your nice comment. Regarding diseases triggered by vaccination you can think of any kind of miasmatic chronic disease. In my opinion diabetes is a disease primarily caused by life style ( pseudo chronic) and not by a miasmatic cause. An exception is nephrogenic diabetes, which has a heriditary origin.

  4. Venkatesh KN

    September 29, 2011

    Drear Sir,
    You are right when you say that it was Roberts who used the term ‘disease classification’ for the first time, not Hahnemann.Hahnemann is remembered for his discovery of the principle of “similia similibus curantur” which was actually a revolutionary new idea and new insight into the mysteries of nature, and this discovery deserves the highest honor of mankind not his classification. There is nothing new in disease classification, it sounds like some Holistic healing system or Indian Ayurveda where slightly different types of disease classifications already existed.
    Also it is not possible and not advised by Hahnemann to make a pre-planned treatment, rather his teachings tell us not to be prejudiced or have any favoritism while selecting a remedy. the procedure is like when playing a game of chess, after making a move wait for the response of your opponent before making the next move.That way after the administration of a dose of the correct remedy, wait until the modified disease picture is clear again, then give the next remedy fitting the new totality of symptoms. The classification is not to be used as a pointer to any particular remedy. I could save the life of a cattle,4 months pregnant cow with a dose of calc carb on indications “dread of water & bathing” and aggravation coincided with fullmoon. Two vets had failed to make the cow stand up on its legs and nearly a month this condition lasted when my assistance was sought. A senile parkinsons patient who searched the house club in hand for an imaginary intruder who stood by the bedside, much improved after I gave a dose of medohhrinum 1M, referring the symptom in Kent Repertory. Disease classification was not relied on in both cases ! Only the symptom similarity was the guide in selecting those remedies. When diseases require more than one remedy also,Miasm is not the factor for selecting your second or subsequent remedies. Hahnemann had warned not to give the remedy you thought is the second most suited one, without again taking the case a fresh ! Hence no wonder if more rationally thinking homeopaths consider Disease classification as a unnecessary “Ritual” with little practical use. “Love of ease” on the part of a homeopath is one of the three mistakes he should avoid as per the Master.

    • Cor van der Meij

      September 29, 2011

      Dear Venkatesh,

      in my opinion I did not suggest that *disease classification* is something new.
      I simply pointed out that if you follow Hahnemanns intentions as mentioned in Organon and Chronic Diseases the result of your work is disease classification, according to Roberts. The term in itself is nothing more than a name for something Hahnemann did: he distinguished acute and chronic diseases and then he subdivided the chronic diseases. In his book *Chronic diseases* one can find very specific information on remedies to be used in acute and chronic cases.
      Furthermore your opinion that results can be realised with Kents repertory I can and will not deny, especially not in acute cases. The essential difference however is seen in chronic cases. Here Hahnemann himself came to the conclusion that it is not possible in chronic diseases to realise permanent cure with plant remedies. Most chronic diseases are based on one or more miasms. To have a realistic chance to cure these cases one has to use anti miasmatic remedies as Hahnemann has explained extensively in *Chronic diseases*.
      So I must conclude that disease classification as Hahnemann used is not a goal in itself, but a very helpful tool to cure the case.

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