First published in Homeopathy in Practice, Autumn/Winter 2019
Constantine Hering (1800-1880) will go down in the history books of homeopathy for his invaluable ‘Law of Cure’. What is much less well-known about him, but just as significant, is his perspective on the excessive consumption of sugar. In fact, Boericke (1980) says:
According to the great Dr Hering, a large proportion of chronic diseases of women and children are developed by using too much sugar.
Judging by his own long lifespan, especially for those days, Hering may have adhered to this principle in his chosen habits, even though he is not reported to have extended this recommendation to men – perhaps as they were perceived to be the stronger gender.
When considering the amount of foodstuffs being produced today – even those of a savoury nature – many contain hidden amounts of sugar. This is completely unnecessary and panders to what the industry assumes appeals to the palate of the consumer.
At the same time, the incidence of diabetes has become a global epidemic which affects increasingly younger people. The link between sugar and diabetes is evidenced by the rising amount of obesity across the age spectrum witnessed at large in society today.
In fact, this tendency is creeping into more traditional cultures as they unwittingly adopt the Western diet. This is in the ill-founded aspiration to emulate the modern lifestyle which is portrayed in such a glamorous way.
One only has to look at today’s marketplace to observe the popularity of not only alcohol, which contains a high amount of sugar, but also confectionery as well as sweetened drinks. When giving up alcohol in the process of cure, the addict often resorts to sugar in other forms as the grip of dependence is loosened.
It is paradoxical that sugar holds such temptation while, at the same time, acting as such a strong poison. It is no coincidence that cola has become such an iconic substance on a global level ever since it first made its appearance on the world stage more than a century ago.
In the pathogenesis of the remedy Saccharum album (also known as Saccharum officinale), derived from cane sugar, the major target of the fundamental distress is levelled at the gut ecology (more recently known as the ‘microbiome’).
This manifests in the form of putrefaction, indicating that when sugar is imbibed to excess it can cause pathological changes in the immune system. This is due to the creation of an acid imbalance. This is anathema to the variety of the microbiome’s healthy population of bacteria, fungi, viruses and so on, which is vital to optimise its full functioning.
Saccharum album, a highly syphilitic remedy, acts unrelentingly on the organism and penetrates it profoundly. Deep cases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease can be observed to be eased by way of promoting more diversity in the microbiome with the application of Saccharum.
This could be the case with any indicated remedy but, when such toxicity has created this type of pathology, this remedy should be considered to match the rather extreme picture manifesting in this very distinctive way.
In the background of this remedy on a constitutional level is a history of deprivation. It is as if a primal ‘rupture’ occurred in the early phase of development of the patient (an early lack of symbiosis with a birth mother leaves an indelible imprint). This could apply to any of the following:
- Early severance from the birth mother in the form of adoption
- Early severance from the birth mother in the form of incubation – this could be due to compromised health as a result of premature birth
- Caesarean birth where there has been no struggle through the birth canal
- Abuse of alcohol, drugs, or sugar by either the patient or their parent.
When considering the mood that contributes to sugar craving, one cannot ignore the search for love and security which often triggers it when, for example, the cry for a hug or heart-to-heart sharing has been denied. This illustrates that oxytocin, known as the ‘cuddle hormone’, represents more than just safety but is also a stress-handling hormone (Carter and Porges, 2013).
The proving of Saccharum album illustrates the connection between the consumption of sugar and the production of dopamine (the ‘reward neurotransmitter’). This is stimulated through the microbiome where it mainly resides (along with serotonin, the ‘feel-good neurotransmitter’).
It is the vagus nerve which relays this message to the brain through its action on the autonomic nervous system and its unique ability to cut across the blood-brain barrier. This is how addiction is born and shows how it can rapidly take over the organism as increasing amounts of the much sought after dopamine are used up through the habit.
Of course, this represents an unconscious drive on the part of the individual. As the habit deepens, without the intervention of the simillimum, heroin addiction can supplant the lesser addictions of alcohol or sugar. There is an association between sugar craving and heroin addiction due to their joint connection to lack of dopamine.
Sugar is said to be eight times more addictive than cocaine, which suggests Saccharum album could be a much overlooked and underused remedy for any major addiction, whatever its source (Ahmed, 2009). This demonstrates how deeply syphilitic this remedy is in its progression of disease and how the limbic system becomes so easily swamped.
Equally (as illustrated above), addiction cases, as they respond to homeopathic treatment, can replace the deeper addiction with a lesser one as they start to recover. This is also driven by the unconscious as the substance loosens its grip on them. This could otherwise be perceived by the practitioner as a retrograde step in the ‘Law of Cure’.
Isolation is a major theme of this remedy and is reflected widely in today’s society. When women are feeling pre-menstrual, they often crave sugar. After all, it is a time of pent-up stress and frustration and can distance the sufferer from their family members.
As a result of this feeling, the patient, whether a pre-menstrual woman or a petulant child, will push all the boundaries to breaking point.
Tinus Smits in his proving of the remedy described the Saccharum patient thus ‘He is like a perforated bucket, you can put all the water you want in it, but the bucket will empty itself constantly’. He continues: ‘There is a fundamental and profound hurt from early life that cannot be satisfied at the level of actual life – only a deep transformation can help such a person, and homeopathy can be a very effective tool for this’ (www.tinussmits.com).
Also, they will seek sugar as a compensation for the lack of love they experience. Of course, this only goes to compound their very testing behaviour which forms the bedrock of this manifestation.
The craving for sugar is part of the ‘fight or flight’ response which acts to prepare one for running from or fighting a threat – the latter often in the form of being chased by a wild beast.
In one case where I treated a child with a tragically life-limiting genetic disease, the mother very understandably gave in to him. Each morning when he woke up, he demanded Smarties before getting out of bed. After giving him Saccharum, the child no longer needed to rely on this ‘fix’ as his microbiome became less compromised.
It also acted to slow down the progression of the disease despite the heavy allopathic medication he was exposed to at the same time. Saccharum album children are reputed to be ‘large- limbed, fat, and bloated with the remedy’s close relationship with Calcarea carbonicum’ (Clarke, 2005). However, as in this case, they can also present with emaciation. In my experience it is more about assimilation than specific body type.
My research for this article has reminded me of the need to emphasise to our patients the actual hazards of consuming sugar, even in minimal amounts. This applies across the board and not just in cases calling for this choice of remedy.
Wherever pathology has arisen or to prevent it from occurring in the first place, I would recommend sugar is removed completely from the patient’s diet. After all, it takes some build-up before a state develops. It is a vicious circle, as the more someone feels deprived, the more likely they are to fall into the trap of self-reward in this way.
In any other case requiring this remedy, an early lack of symbiosis with a birth mother leaves an indelible imprint. If sugar has been substituted for true affection, the child grows up with this association in their psyche and this can translate into eating disorders as the child develops (Adalian, 2017).
In the context of this article, a recipient of the Nobel Prize and long-term director of the Max Planck Institute for Cell Physiology in Berlin-Dahlem – Otto Heinrich Warburg – gave a lecture in 1966 where he is quoted as saying:
‘Cancer, above all other diseases, has countless secondary causes. But, even for cancer, there is only one prime cause. Summarised in a few words, the prime cause of cancer is the replacement of the respiration of oxygen in normal body cells by a fermentation of sugar.’
He continues: ‘oxygen, the donor of energy in plants and animals, is dethroned in the cancer cells and replaced by an energy-yielding reaction to the lowest living forms, namely a fermentation of glucose. All normal body cells meet their energy needs by respiration of oxygen, whereas cancer cells meet their energy needs in great part by fermentation.’
This was a visionary perspective at the time which, unfortunately, lost momentum at the end of this scientist’s life. His reclusive life style may explain why it remained obscured during his lifetime and it is only today that his revolutionary theory has caught on.
A ‘strange, rare, and peculiar’ symptom of this remedy is painlessness – a symptom it shares with Opium and Stramonium, both also remedies with a history of extreme trauma.
It is as if the organism has been so brutalised in these cases that it has become anaesthetised to pain as a defence mechanism. This could relate to a condition called ‘alexithymia’ which, in Greek, literally means there are no words for feelings.
The patient is so cut off from their feelings that their inability to sense emotional pain is transferred onto their physical structure. By the time the patient realises they have marked symptoms, the danger is that pathology may have set in, especially in a deeply syphilitic remedy like Saccharum album.
Poor expression of emotions is also seen in the remedies Chelidonium, Mercurius vivus, and Natrum sulphuricum. However, these three remedies conversely do feel physical pain even if they cannot articulate it verbally and it is projected onto the somatic level.
In conclusion, I believe that the microbiome will come increasingly under the microscope as long as this innocuously presenting toxin (sugar) pervades our food and drink supply and cannot be conceptualised for what it truly represents – an assault on the immune system – as its effects build up over time. Given the way sugar is marketed and perceived by a captive audience, it is extremely hard to change this entrenched mindset.
John Henry Clarke, in his exposé of this remedy, mentions a colleague of his (Swan) who observed a patient who accidentally discovered, after 25 years of suffering, that the cause of his trouble was sugar.
All the symptoms disappeared when he abstained from sugar in food or drink, and only reappeared when he took it again by way of experiment. Swan observed in another case that, after taking the remedy, the patient lost their taste for sugar and could not even bear the sight of it thereafter (Clarke, 2005).
Nowadays, as members of the public are becoming increasingly aware of the extremely toxic effects of the consumption of sugar, we should embrace Constantine Hering’s vital stance on sugar more than ever. Had this been elevated to the ‘Second Law of Cure’ at the time, and the message thereby infiltrated the mainstream, a marked upsurge in disease states which have consequently become rife in the world today may have been stemmed.
As homeopaths, therefore, I believe we need to call sugar out and express this in no uncertain terms as a significant maintaining cause to our patients. After all, this may be the most damaging substance humans voluntarily (and sometimes involuntarily) imbibe, often to the point of oblivion, despite our intellectual awareness of its potential danger.
I dedicate this article to the memory of Constantine Hering.
Adalian E (2017) Touching Base with Trauma: Reaching Across the Generations – a Three-Dimensional Homeopathic Perspective. Writersworld
Ahmed S (2009) ‘Is Sugar as Addictive as Cocaine?’ Journal of Food and Addiction, 139: 620-22
Boericke W (1980) Pocket Manual of Materia Media & Repertory and a Chapter on Rare and Uncommon Remedies. B Jain Publishers
Carter S and Porges S (2013) The Biochemistry of Love: An Oxytocin Hypothesis. EMBO Report (1), 12-16 14.1.2013
Clarke J (2005) A Dictionary of Practical Materia Media. B Jain Publishers
Warburg O (1966) On the Primary Causes and on the Secondary Causes of Cancer, Lecture Director Max Planck Institute for Cell Physiology, Berlin-Dahlem
Elizabeth Adalian can be contacted at [email protected].
Case of a six-year old girl
She was adopted at the age of two and her history up to that time was of a tenuous relationship with her birth mother. She has remained with the same family since that time.
Her adoptive parents received a report of lack of boundaries with other children in the school playground. This comprised crowding their space in an intrusive way and needing supervision. Her adoptive parents decided to bring her for homeopathic treatment as they recognised this type of behaviour in the home environment too.
She was very manipulative and would push the boundaries all the time. She had a cunning intelligence which duped those around her with this persistent type of behaviour. Her presenting physical symptoms were rhinitis and catarrhal infections.
After a split dose of Saccharum album 200c, there was a shift in the child’s behaviour. She no longer displayed the intrusive behaviour and could be left unsupervised in the school playground. At the same time, she became more at ease in family relationships and friendships at home. Her tendency to rhinitis and catarrhal infections gradually ceased to affect her and resolved in tune with the emotional shift which was needed.
Case of a 42-year old woman
She had presented with petulance in relationships, preventing anyone persisting in their commitment to her. This meant she had missed out on having children as she had not resolved her neediness from what she described as ‘malignant parenting’ of her own parents. Her presenting physical symptoms concerned a compromised gut with haphazard eating (reflecting her out-of-control emotions).
I initially prescribed Magnesium carbonicum but she relapsed. Her appetite had improved on the Mag carb but now needed stabilising to avoid hypoglycaemia which was affecting her. After a split dose of Saccharum 1M, she presented in a much more integrated way. Her partner observed she no longer pushed him to the limit and was much more in control of her emotions. At the same time, she started to devote time to taking care of her diet and cooking proper meals which she had not done before. She even contemplated parenthood although she was aware that her age could be a deterrent and her own childhood was so dysfunctional.