Dear Friends, today we have with us in our Hot-seat, none other than the very famous Jeremy Sherr (applause, applause!). Jeremy needs no introduction but I would still like to say that he is known as a strong proponent of homeopathy, an excellent teacher and as the person who has revived the art of homeopathic provings. This interview takes place after Jeremy’s wind up speech of the LINKS conference at Heidelberg.
Jeremy, welcome to the Hpathy Hot-seat for this month! There are now 24,000 people waiting to hear you speak and enlighten them. So where do we start?
JS: Thank you for inviting me here. Last month I received a mail from your site about the possibility of having more than one simillimum. I wanted to reply to that. So maybe we can begin with that.
MB: Ok! Let’s begin with that. I have been talking with so many people, and what I have experienced so far is that when I talk to Rajan, or when I talk to Jan, you all have different approaches. As you said in your wind up speech at the conference, if you have a hammer, then everything looks like a nail. So if there is a phase when Jan is working on mineral remedies, then he will be looking for cases where he can give those remedies; if you are proving Chocolate, you would be looking for cases where that proving theme fits; if Sankaran is working on plant classification, he would be inclined to give those remedies to support his work. We have seen many video cases in conferences but if one of those patients comes to you, would you be prescribing the same remedies? Probably not!
I have also seen that there is a huge difference in the remedies being used across various continents. In India, most homeopaths are still often working with the remedies given by Hahnemann, Hering and Allen; your remedies are not easily available in India whereas you often prescribe the remedies that you have proved. Jan often prescribes remedies from the mineral kingdom which are very difficult to source in other parts of the world. In spite of these differences we are all successful at some level. So my question is –
Can there be more than one simillimum?
JS: I have a lot to say about this. Your observation is very correct. If homeopathy worked only by one simillimum, there would be no homeopathy. We would all be out of business. Even if it worked with only five remedies for a patient, we would still be out of business. After 25 years of teaching and presenting cases, I know that in a class of twenty students you can get fifteen different suggestions for a case. Then the teacher says that I gave this particular remedy and the whole class thinks, ‘Oh! I am wrong because the remedy mentioned worked and the teacher must be right’. And therefore it propagates this thing about the simillimum. I think that quite a big range of remedies can work for each patient. I have traveled across the world and have seen how different homeopaths give different remedies and get results. Like you said, everybody is successful to some degree. This is so important. For instance, if in a class, your suggestion is different from the teachers, you should not lose confidence and think that he was right and you were wrong. It could be that your suggestion is right as well. That is one ramification of it.
The next ramification of it is that building up materia medica from cases is very secondary, of much less importance than provings. Because you can say that you saw three or four cases of a certain remedy, but in those cases the remedy could really be just a similar or partially similar. Then you are including all the data from these partial cases into the essence of the remedy, but I don’t think that all the data necessarily belongs to that remedy. Even if you give a partially similar remedy it has the power to sweep away many symptoms in the case that do not belong to the remedy. To know whether a remedy is the simillimum or not, there is a very strict criterion. For instance Kent gave the definition that if you give the simillimum, then there should be an aggravation of the existing symptoms, then the symptoms should get better and then there should be a relapse of the original symptoms.
So now let’s look back at what Hahnemann has said. Hahnemann definitely said that there is no such thing as the simillimum. He said that the simillimum is a theoretical concept. In Paragraph 156, he says you can not fit a remedy to a case like two triangles with equal angles and equal sides. This will not happen. There can not be ‘a’ simillimum. Because by definition if you say ‘this simillimum’, there could be only one remedy that will work for the case. But if you give Pulsatilla nigricans, maybe Pulsatilla nutalliana could be more similar, or maybe Pulsatilla from some other continent would be better, or perhaps a spider remedy we don’t know. All these remedies could help to different degrees, but logically you can never tell if there is a better remedy round the corner.
Remedies are like poems. Some touch you more and some less, but you can never say that there is one ultimate poem to touch a person, there might always be a better one.
So for that reason we have to build on the base of provings. Because a proving creates a positive effect where, once you have eliminated the random non proving related symptoms, you definitely know that the symptoms produced belong to the proving. In a proving you get the positive effect of a substance on 20 people, which is much more precise than gathering symptoms from a few odd cases. Provings provide a solid base from which you can go on working clinically.
It can easily happen that people outside homoeopathy might say, “If there is not one simillimum, homeopathy is not a science. Science should just give one answer.” But that is not the issue. The science of homeopathy is not about giving the first remedy. The science of homeopathy is about giving the first remedy and then follow-up and the next – into the 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th prescription, which is the best way to cure the patient entirely. One can start anywhere at the bottom of the mountain and move up. You can choose a good path or you can choose a more difficult path. But when you move up the first step, i.e. the first prescription, you have to follow on intelligently till the next base, then the next base and so on …till you reach the top. There are many paths to the top. The science of homeopathy lies in understanding the second prescription and its principles; and moving on from there and managing the case long term all the way to cure. But most teachings focus solely on the first prescription.
MB: But we never get to see this aspect of homeopathy presented in any seminar or conferences. It is never shown that even the masters go from this to that before a case is cured. What is shown is that a single remedy works for two years for all chronic and acute complaints. And that is so very difficult to attain in the actual clinical practice.
JS: You are absolutely right. Most teachers like to show video cases, and of course they will choose their best cases. Personally I prefer to work with long term live cases. Usually my students follow my cases for 3 years.
But if I am teaching at a conference, I am not going to choose my Nat-mur case. I am not going to choose a long term case with many follow ups either, because people are not going to sit there and look at all the follow-ups of a case. There is no time and no patience for that. In a conference, people come to see one remedy, one picture and the result. So I will choose my best cases of wonderful remedies. But that gives a wrong impression.
And then they go home and they feel this is the way practice is. But the reality is different, that is not the way it happens in practice.
MB: For me it’s like ‘been there, done that’. When I was a student, I would go to a Sankaran seminar and would feel so inspired that this is the way magical cures are done. I will come back home and try to work similarly, but it never worked that way for me.
JS: Most of the time it never works for anybody. I have talked to hundreds of people and it never is like that, except in the few odd miracle cases. Remedies change. And you don’t always get the best one the first time. That’s the way it is with homeopathy. If you ask any practitioner and you ask how many patients have you kept on one remedy for five years? The number would be quite small. Let me ask you Manish, how many cases do you have, where a patient has been kept on a single remedy for 5 or 10 years. I guess very few.
MB: Yes very few.
JS: Less than 5%?
MB: Yes probably less than 5%
JS: That is the same answer I get from most people. So people say, how can this be?
MB: Yes, especially for the young students. Those who are into clinical practice for some years can actually judge, that what is being shown in the seminars is not the whole truth. But for the young students it becomes very confusing.
JS: It is. And the reason for this is that there are commercial reasons, entertainment and that the students demand a happy seminar. You do not want it to become tedious. That’s a deficiency with the conferences. You get 45 minutes and you have to show your best merchandise.
I have a 3 year course and I only do live cases, hardly any video cases, because I want the students to see the good, the bad and the ugly. I want them to see the things in the long run. And, more than anything, I want them to see the second prescription. Because that’s where the real art and science lie for me.
Put it like this. You choose your best first remedy and maybe it works wonderfully and then you say that I want it to work for a long-long time, maybe forever. Actually I don’t. I want to see that remedy finish its work in one or two years. Why? Because let’s say that this patient is Aurum. They come to life to learn a lesson about climbing high and then falling down and climbing again and falling again. That is their karma. That’s their lesson. That is why they are stuck in this life. So you give them Aurum and they do well, great! But at some point you want this lesson to finish, you want them to learn their lesson and move on to the next one. If they haven’t learnt their lesson, they still need the same remedy. It means that somehow we have not completed our job.
If the Aurum was good, you should see that after three years, they stop needing to climb high, they stop needing to fall down and they finish learning that lesson. And if you give one extra dose, and then they start to prove it, then you know that they are ready to move forward to the next lesson.
It is like a baby learning to walk. Once they learn to walk you don’t want to teach them walking again. Now you can teach them how to talk.
People ask, “Is there one remedy for life?” It’s a very common question.
It depends on how you look at life. We see there are a lot of cases where the person needs the same remedy throughout their life. They needed the Aurum when they were conceived and they needed the Aurum till the day you see them. Now they come to see you and you give then Aurum once, twice, 5 times, 10 times. Now they should finish that lesson, and move to the next lesson. When that lesson is over, it is like that life is over. So what you do is that you speed up the process of learning. What they might have learnt in 5000 life times, with the remedy they learn in 3 years. That is what homeopathy does.
Homeopathy says, let’s do it quickly, lesson one, and then lesson two. Now the trick in the science of the second prescription is how to move on in the right direction, like navigating a boat. If you want to win the race; you have to be very efficient. People in a boat race do that. They are calculating the angles precisely. They move from one tack to another tack. That’s what you are looking for. How to move from one tack to another, so that you are moving forward in the most efficient way.
In Chronic Diseases, Hahnemann, after 20 years of practice, wondered why the patients whom he treated for some years were coming back again. He asked himself: What am I not curing? He was very self critical. He realized that something was wrong. That’s why half of Chronic Diseases is dealing with miasms and the other half he is dealing with follow up prescription and case management; how to navigate the boat all the way home. And that is the story. You are not going to teach that in a conference. And that’s ok, that’s the way a conference is. But the result is that most teaching is focused as if there is only one remedy …and that’s not the way in practice.
It could be there are a few geniuses, who are much cleverer than me and are able to base their whole practice on ten year cases with the same remedy. But the majority are not able to do that.
MB: It’s just not possible. Massimo is said to have that gold standard of at least two years on the same remedy and even the acutes should be covered by it. But if all the acutes are to be managed by the chronic simillimum, then what is the need for all the acute remedies that are listed in our books.
JS: I do not agree that acute diseases need the same remedy as the chronic remedy. And this is very clear in paragraph 72. Hahnemann says acute and chronic are two opposite and diverse diseases.
This is such an important topic to understand philosophically. Acute disease is a move towards death or cure. Chronic disease is a slow progressive downfall into the oblivion leading to the demise of the patient. So chronic disease is sliding down the hill and acute disease is attempting to climb the mountain to death or cure. In acutes either they will die, or they will recover and they win. With chronics they just deteriorate. So they are diametrically opposite. So how it is that some people say that the chronic remedy works in the acute? They will help to a degree, but not in the most efficient way. If you are growing tomatoes, and they are attacked by some fly, then you can help the crop by removing the weeds. But in the acute disease, it is better to deal with the fly.
The second thing is, there is not generally a clarity in differentiating between a real acutes and the acute exacerbation of a chronic disease. So a lot of these so called acutes are really acute exacerbations of the chronic disease and not true inflammatory febrile diseases. True inflammatory febrile diseases are usually the inverse of the chronic disease. For example, Belladonna is an inverse of Calcarea carbonica. Chamomilla is an inverse of Magnesia carbonica. All the complementary remedies have an acute-chronic relationship. Complementary remedies in their pure form represent an acute-chronic relationship. If you take Pulsatilla-Silicea, Mag-carb-Chamomilla, Sulphur-Nux v, Nat-mur-Ignatia, these are inside-out of each other. This is a very profound study of materia medica, because if you study both together, you get both the inside and out and you understand how the symptoms flip over from one another.
As you say, these acute remedies have a role. And they are fantastic in acute disease. And part of the case management is in knowing when to move into an acute remedy, and when the acute is over, and therefore time to move back into the chronic disease. These diseases represent different totalities.
MB: There is another common concept, that when you give a chronic remedy and after that an acute comes up, it is often a healing reaction of the body and it should not be touched. Do you agree with that?
JS: Yes. But it has to be more refined than that. An acute, as I have said before, is a step towards healing. Let me give you an example that goes a bit deeper into the philosophy of it. Calcarea carbonica patient gets a Belladonna acute. What is a common exciting cause of a Belladonna fever? One of the exciting causes is getting your head wet. Now the chronic of Belladonna is Calcarea. The Calcarea patient is walking along in the rain with a wet head and then that night they have the fever. And they start to burn out. That is, the wet head state of Calcarea flips over into a dry hot head Belladonna state. Why? Because the wet head from the rain is similar to Calcarea which has perspiration on head. It hits the susceptibility. They had too much water on the head; now after the rain they have more water on their head and they flip over from Calcarea to Belladonna.
That Belladonna is curative to Calcarea because it has lots of dry heat in the head…it’s like drying up the head. Every real acute disease is an attempt to cure a chronic disease. It’s like a pressure cooker. You have a pressure cooker, that’s the chronic disease. Every time the valve goes up, you see the steam – that is inflammation, that is the acute disease and it’s taking the pressure out of the pressure cooker. And that happens in a very systematic way so can you see a reversal of symptoms and modalities between chronic and acute. It’s very clear when you study the complementary remedies.
So, likewise, if you give a Calcarea patient a dose of Calcarea 10m and the next day they develop a Belladonna fever, that’s excellent. Because you know that the body is doing its best to recover, and that should not be touched. They are rolling in a curative direction, and in 98% of cases there is no danger with the fever, because it is an intelligent response. Even if the fever is quite high, it is an intelligent response of the body. The vital force is saying; ok we have got the right remedy, let’s have a party now. However, if you give a remedy and a month and a half later, the patient has an exciting cause and they get a disease, then you have to treat it as a separate acute, because it’s not a direct result of the remedy.
MB: So if you are able to identify an exciting cause you give a remedy, otherwise not.
JS: It also depends upon the time. How much time has passed after you gave the chronic remedy? If time has passed and it’s not serious, don’t touch it. If time has passed, there is a clear exciting cause and the acute is bad enough to deserve attention, then give the remedy.
MB: Can we say the same thing about the acute epidemic diseases?
JS: An acute epidemic is exactly the same as an acute individual, except that it is collective. An acute epidemic is an attempt to cure the collective Psora. As you know there is a lot of congestion on this planet, over population. Hahnemann says that epidemics occur when there is lot of thickly populated masses of human beings. That means there is a basic miasmatic soil problem. There is pressure, there is over population, there is lack of resources. Now the vital force of the collective has to deal with this congestion some how. And it deals with the pressure by bringing up an acute- war or epidemic.
Epidemic is an attempt to cure by letting the steam out and at the same time by reducing the population. But if there were no underlying miasm, there would be no overpopulation and no need for war or epidemics.
MB: Continuing in the same thought, can you share your thoughts about homeoprophylaxis.
JS: Homeopathy prophylaxis definitely works. It has been used all through our history, or let me say the first 100 years of our history, and then it fell in disrepute. People are not so sure about this now, but in the past they would say similar similibus preventur. It’s easier to prevent disease than it is to cure disease. We have this technique to prophylactically give homeopathic remedies, but this is not just a matter of giving a remedy made from Whooping Cough vaccine and Tetanus vaccine. That is the lowest form of prophylaxis, and does not fit with homeopathic thinking
So when is prophylaxis permissible? When there is clear and imminent danger. That is, the epidemic is definitely coming. Now if an epidemic of cholera comes, kids can die in four hours. You don’t have time to treat everybody. You need to control the epidemic. So you want to give the prophylactic remedy. In the old days, the villages with a homeopath suffered 10%, or less mortality, as opposed to villages without a homeopath, having only allopathic care, with 60- 90% mortality. And much of this was due to prophylaxis.
For prophylaxis, which remedy should you use? The best remedy to use is the current Genus epidemicus. Find the genus remedy; you know what works in the majority of people. That works the best. Second best is to give the common remedy for that disease, like Drosera for whooping cough or Pulsatilla for mumps. Third best is to give a nosode like Pertussin. And the least homeopathic of all, is to follow the allopathic vaccination paradigm of giving remedies made from vaccines routinely according to the allopathic format. That is prostitution to conventional medicine. Some people come to a homeopath and say they need a prophylactic remedy for whooping cough for a 3 month old. That is not homeopathy. There has to be clear cut danger and then you can prevent the worst of the epidemic from happening.
You can be less precise with the prophylactic remedy compared to when people are actually sick. That is because you are giving them prior information. It’s like giving inside information of the stock market. You say, look something is going to happen here. It might happen or not. We don’t know exactly what but it’s in that area… be ready. When the disease is there the vitality is low and the disease is strong and already taking hold, so you need to be more precise.
MB: There has been some research in the use of homeoprophylaxis in conditions that are not really epidemic at present…only sporadic. It’s like homeopathic vaccination, like giving Diphtherinum for diphtheria, Variolinum for chicken pox etc. There has been some research into this done by Isaac Golden from Australia .
JS: Maybe it works, but I can’t say. I have not seen the research. When we say something works, it’s very dangerous in homeopathy; because you can say surgery works, acupuncture works, osteopathy works, and homeopathy works…everything works. Works is not the way to define. We have to have an idea of where we are coming from and where we are going to.
Giving lots of remedies to prevent patients from getting various non-existent diseases comes from a mentality of fear, just like allopathy. In theory, you could get tetanus, you could get bankruptcy, you could get AIDS, and you could get a divorce. You can try to get vaccinated against all these. That is not a healthy approach to life. We need to work through positive health, not fearful mimicry of allopathic procedures.
Secondly, if these diseases are not present, then why do it? How do you know that when you give these remedies, you don’t get a proving of each one of them? Hahnemann says in Paragraph 156, 256, if you give a remedy and if it’s not precise, you will get a proving. So you give Diptherinum and two weeks later…the kid develops a cough and dyslexia. You are not going to connect it to the remedy. Your researcher is not looking for the proving symptoms. People see only what they are looking for. With these so called ‘vaccinations’ you just put a lot of stress on the organism. You are trying to prevent non-existent diphtheria and you might be getting a proving. Has the researcher taken a full case daily or weekly as a follow up, to ensure that there is no proving?
MB: I have discussed this with Isaac and he has been giving these nosodes in high potency and he has not noticed any proving symptoms.
JS: According to homeopathic philosophy, which I have verified thousands of times in practice, any remedy that is similar but not similar enough is going to develop a proving. Now in practice we know that not all remedies given are simillimums or even similar, but most practitioners do not notice provings unless they are aware of the philosophy. The patient comes after six weeks and they develop a skin eruption and the practitioner thinks that it’s an aggravation. They develop diarrhea and they say it’s a healing crisis. They give Phosphorus and the patient develops a nose bleed and they even forget to connect it to the medicine. Or after a remedy the patient was irritable for three days. Nobody connects it to the proving. Now if you give Diphtherinum to 20 people there is no chance that this remedy is a simillimum or even vaguely similar to all those people. Not even one in 10 million chance. So you are going to get provings, there is no doubt! So I must wonder if he had daily supervision and took the whole case.
Let me tell you an experience where I learnt a lot. When I proved Hydrogen the first time, I didn’t know much about provings. After three days all the students said that nothing happened. I said how could that be? Hahnemann says in Paragraph 32 that you give a remedy you are going to get something happening every time; you must get a proving. So then I said ok, I will send each one of you with a supervisor to go over the case. I was waiting. Two hours later they all came out and said ‘Oh my God! We got all these symptoms but we never noticed.’ People do not notice the provings symptoms easily. They do not see the changes unless they are supervised. First, they don’t connect whether they just had a bad day, an irritable day or a flu, and taking the remedy. And secondly, they are part of the proving so they don’t actually perceive that they are changing. So that’s when I realized that to understand a proving you need a daily supervision, which Hahnemann of course had realized right from the beginning. Without this supervision, provers say there is no proving, they are looking for something big with bells and whistles. Vithoulkas did a proving of Hydrogen, to see if it works or not. He got eight symptoms and I got 1000. So then they came out and said your proving is 10000 percent overproved and I said “No, your proving is 10000 percent underproved, because my proving has been clinically verified in hundreds of cases.”