Nosology

Last modified on January 11th, 2019

The classification of diseases adopted by Hahnemann includes acute and chronic. Acute diseases originate from deficient hygiene, dietary errors, physical agents, and bacterial infections. Chronic diseases as such, consist of infections from various sources and moreover, the vital powers unaided are unable to extinguish them.

A physician deals with disease. Disease is altered life. The causes, reasons, and laws to explain this phenomena of life constitute medical philosophy. It is a search into the reason and nature of things and is further quite personal and theoretical. Medical teaching has left this subject severely alone, being satisfied with the materialistic study of agents which can alter life. The modus of such operations being hidden from the microscope and test tube are, therefore, not suitable material for teaching and demonstration.

So long as a therapeutic action can be explained on this demonstrable plane it is a satisfactory and practical medical philosophy. If a therapeutic action can not be explained by this ocular method, a new philosophy that will explain it must be sought.

Hahnemann’s philosophy was created to explain certain new effects. Thus, the efficiency of attenuated drugs, the successful application of the principle of similars were the two facts. Medical philosophy as then understood did not help him, hence the need of a new conception of vital processes.

The fact that in Homoeopathy we do not treat the part, but the whole, was probably the starting point of his thinking. Hahnemann was a vitalist. He saw in the body but an organism made up of the material particles, in themselves dead but vivified and adapted to the real living man, the spirit within. The connection between this spiritual and immaterial being, on one hand, and physiologic function, on the other, was accomplished by the supposition that there existed a vital force which he designates “Dynamis.”

Dynamis, then, is the formative force of the organism, the immediate cause of every functional activity and of all metabolism. Altered or deranged dynamis is the immediate cause of every malfunction or changed metabolism – in other words, disease. Only the vital principle thus disturbed can give to the organism its abnormal sensations and incline it to the irregular action we call disease.

If this be so then, to really treat the cause of disease we must treat the dynamic of vital force and, this having been adjusted, functional and organic cure automatically follows. According to this conception we see the folly of trying to adjust this intangible dynamis with crude physiologic medication aimed at gross results of disease. At the same time, we have a theoretical conception of why attenuated drugs are able to set in motion great bodily changes; presumably, they adjust the dynamis and, hence start a natural curative cycle.

Thus, we say that, according to Hahnemann’s philosophy, causes are invisible, results are visible. If we wish to treat the cause of disease, we must seek an agent delicate enough and individually specific. The Homoeopathic potencies fulfil the first qualification and the application of the law of similars the second, always assuming that there is an adequate symptomatology on which to select the latter.

Hahnemann’s Nosology

The classification of diseases adopted by Hahnemann includes two types: acute and chronic.

Acute – Acute diseases originate from deficient hygiene, dietary errors, physical agents, and bacterial infections.

Chronic – Chronic diseases as such, consist of infections from various sources and moreover, the vital powers unaided are unable to extinguish them. The three most importance causes of chronic disease according to Hahnemann are :

1. Psora.

2. Sycosis.

3. Syphilis.

Psora is a symptom syndrome resulting from long standing non-venereal infection which shows a skin phase in favorable cases and failing this is the cause of various organic diseases.

Homoeopathy has certain remedies which are termed ” antipsoric” and whose favorable action is often manifested by the appearance of eruption or discharge. We regard either of the latter as a favorable development construing it as a sign that nature is making an effort to localize on the outside of the body the morbid agent. We may observe in passing that recent work has shown that the skin is an important factor in elaborating protective bodies.

The thought that we are dealing with Psora and hence need an antipsoric remedy is brought about by certain observations and deductions which regardless of theory have a practical value in treatment thus :

1. We observe that the regular clinical course or convalescence of a disease is being distorted and complicated by factors not readily apparent.

2. Remedies, apparently indicated according to the principle of similars, fail to accomplish what as a rule they ought.

3. Previous history of severe infection, ill effects of inoculation, suspected, but unidentified, focal infection.

Given any one of these factors to start with, the physician does well to pause for the moment and consider whether or not constitutional medication by means of the so-called antipsoric drugs might not be a sound therapeutic measure. The following, though not a complete list, are the chief antipsoric drugs used for this type of constitutional medication : Sulphur, Calcarea, Lycopodium, Sepia, Silicea, Natrum mur., Graphites, Arsenicum.

In general, these medicines show their greatest value in highly attenuated form and should not be frequently repeated. They are best given in the morning and no food or drink taken within a half hour. Menstruation is not a good period for such medication but pregnancy offers a most favorable time as the organism is then in a specially receptive state for the eradication of chronic disease.

Of late years, appreciation of the practical value of psora has been lacking. Modern Homoeopaths have justly discounted the itch mite as the causal factor of this complicated symptom syndrome and pointed out that such a condition might be expressed by any number of unrelated and separate diseases, chief among which are tuberculosis, focal infections, and so-called chronic intestinal intoxication.

Granting that this might be the case and that Hahnemann was mistaken in his original assumption, yet surely this does not invalidate his suggestion for treatment for it is a cardinal rule of Homoeopathy that the symptoms, not the disease, constitute the basis on which to select the drug. Now, the symptoms of psora exist today and will exist tomorrow. It matters not what labels are attached to these stigmata.

Hahnemann gave a general name to the obstacles retarding a cure and defined the obstacles in terms of symptoms. We recognize several disease entities as being casual factors but do well to apply his symptomatic therapeutics. Hahnemann worked 10 years before publishing the book on Chronic Diseases which came out in 1828 and it contained many new drugs for their treatment, some of which have already been mentioned.

Sycosis. This was the second cause of chronic disease according to Hahnemann and it, together with Syphilis, constitutes 1/8th of all chronic illness, the other 7/8ths having their origin in psora. Sycosis might be considered a chronic gonorrhoeal intoxication or cachexia. Specific urethritis is a comparatively mild disease but may become chronic depending on the patient but may become chronic depending on the patient and type of treatment.

We are led to think of sycosis as a cause when a specific history is admitted and also when the following objective symptom groups occur : Great muscular debility, anxiety, phobias, and depression. Also, when the well-known pathologic manifestations of this disease are present such as arthritis, salpingitis, sterility and certain types of dysmenorrhoea. Appendages are affected at times – Lack – lustre hair, distorted finger nails. This diathesis predisposes of condylomata which are an special hint for Thuja-the chief remedy for sycosis.

Syphilis. Hahnemann’s appreciation of the ravages of syphilis both in its acquired and hereditary form agree with modern facts and need not be discussed here. We take this opportunity, however, to state that Homoeopathic methods may be applied to the treatment of syphilis with benefit. So-called specific treatment by means of the arsenicals, mercury, bismuth, and iodines is not by any means completely satisfactory.

And indeed the increase of cardio-vascular lues since their introduction cannot but be suggestive. Speaking generally, we would say that the “Salvarsan fast” case, the hypersensitive case, and the tertiary lessons of neuro-syphilis offer definite Homoeopathic indications. In the first type Hepar sulphur is a rather empirical remedy and in the latter types the Homoeopathic anti-syphilitics.

General Suggestions for the Treatment of Chronic Diseases

1. Consider carefully whether the symptoms and signs present might not be attributed to the effect of previous drugs and medical treatment. If so we must be guided accordingly.

2. Rule out venereal infection.

3. Ascertain the influence of previous dietary and hygienic faults.

4. In those cases of chronic disease presenting only one or two prominent symptoms it is best to give a likely remedy bearing in mind that this drug will probably excite other symptoms which will appear in due course. The real prescription fitted to the case should be selected from this new totality of symptoms. In this way a Homoeopath often “clears his case” with drugs like Nux vomica, Sulphur, or Opium and then in the next visit takes the case in the manner indicated.

5. The progress of our patient is not always easy to analyze because these chronic cases will always have new symptoms and possibly old aggravations. Hering’s rule is always helpful to evaluate the significance of symptomatic developments. ” Symptoms should disappear from above downward, from within outward, and in the reverse order of their coming.” This means an orderly convalescence, though it be not obvious to the casual observer.

Also in these cases we distinguish between changes occurring in vital organs and those in superficial tissues and non-vital organs. Thus old skin eruptions and discharges may return or adenitis and previous rheumatic or joint pains are noticed – this is suggestive of true progress even though the patient may not realize it. But it physical symptoms disappear and vital organs show signs of advancing disease, then in spite of our medication we know that we have failed.

Thus in the prevailing treatment of syphilis-rash, angina, and malaise disappear to the patient’s great delight, but whether or not this is a true disappearance or merely a suppression which may return to do internal damage in later years by cardio-valvular and neuro-syphilis manifestations is a delicate question, especially with a persistent positive Wassermann.

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Garth Boericke

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