I am certain that I’m not the only homeopath contemplating the issue of whether the so-named Covid-19 pandemic is laying the foundations for our next major homeopathic miasm. Over the past year or more, the influence of ‘the virus’ has certainly had a global impact upon the day-to-day lives of people across the world, and not least upon most aspects of their psyche. Political and media coverage has been extensive, if not invasive, and restrictions and limits imposed upon individuals everywhere have been rigid if not forceful.
There has also been what can be regarded as an unhealthy intersection of ‘politics’ and ‘science’ to confound the whole equation and, homeopathically speaking, we are left with a confused, multi-layered entity to unravel in terms of its implications and impact upon our own and our patients’ health and wellbeing. This applies in terms of both the short-term and long-term impact Covid-19 is having and will have upon our immunity and levels of physical and mental health generally.
In 2019 I published an article in the journal of the Alliance of Registered Homeopaths, Homeopathy in Practice, on the broader nature of the 5 main miasma in the light of contributions from some of the modern-day homeopathic thinkers of the science of epigenetics and of homotoxicology.
At this moment in time it perhaps worth reflecting upon the current Covid-19 world situation that is affecting all of us and possibly considering what the keynotes will be that will become established and accepted as part of a potential Covid-19 miasm.
Much of the article will be reproduced here as a framework for this exercise and to serve as a reminder that we need to refresh our concepts of what a miasm actually represents to us as homeopathic practitioners, without going into the origins of the virus itself or the technologies used in the making of the various vaccines intended to ‘protect’ us from its effects.
A Recap of Traditional Thinking on the 5 Main Miasms
I have deliberately avoided repeating and reiterating old concepts of these 5 cornerstones of homeopathic theory, but I have summarised the main points for clarity and so that we can see some of the implications this train of thought presents in a modern light.
When we consider ‘the miasms’ in usual practice today, it is usually in a negative way. What they represent to us as practitioners normally involves some sort of block to cure that has to be dealt with by prescribing an ‘anti-miasmatic’ remedy.
We are commonly taught that miasms are inherited and acquired health susceptibilities that the Vital Force sometimes cannot deal with without help from a related nosode, and that the miasms have their roots in diseases that are or were prevalent in society at certain times in the history and development of personkind.
As we know, the word itself comes from the Greek miainein, meaning to pollute or stain and its meaning in ordinary English refers to rotting organic matter or foul mists, neither of which are appealing concepts to begin with!
In the 21st century, it is reasonable to assume that everyone will carry a varied miasmatic load simply because miasmatic influences have been around us and embedded within us over such a long time and over several generations.
Indeed, practitioners can often forget that it is not a case of which miasms may be active (as opposed to dormant) but also to what extent and how they are impacting upon the patient in front of us and their curative journey.
Originally Hahnemann recognised and identified the existence and importance to chronic health and dis-ease of the three major miasms that were around in his day – Psora, Syphilis and Sycosis.
Also, crucially, he acknowledged the impact of an unhealthy lifestyle and bad medical practice upon people’s health and wellbeing. In later years, the Tubercular and Cancer miasms were identified as prevalent dis-eases whilst society’s concerns and issues changed and moved on – and more illness and dis-ease bearing a stigma came into being.
We must remember too, that in Hahnemann’s time there was a great deal of research into the development of germ theory and prophylactic vaccination, notably the work of Edward Jenner who was a contemporary of Hahnemann’s.
His work would have tinted the lens of scientific thinking of the time and it is reasonable to assume that this historical backdrop, together with societal and global stigmas attached to the dis-eases themselves have contributed largely to the dominant view today that the miasms constitute a negative influence upon our health and are viewed as an enemy of the body that needs to be driven out and eradicated.
Knock-on effects of this thinking in practice may mean that we neglect to treat the patient herself and concentrate on eradicating her miasmatic influences, or we can end up at the other end of spectrum and omit this factor completely from a case.
Alternatively, perhaps we might regard germs, bacteria and viruses as invaders, lurgies and bugs – things that are ‘out there to harm us’ and wreck our good health. I have known of some homeopaths who are reluctant to prescribe the miasmatic nosodes even when well-indicated, particularly Syphilinum and Carcinosin; and of course, the source materials are not exactly desirable substances! These are unhelpful inaccuracies which can mislead practitioner and patient alike and skew a case outcome.
More crucially perhaps, is that many of the traditional, negative conceptions of the miasms can result in the use of an allopathic frame of reference for a case. This, in turn calls out for the need for a truly holistic and precise consideration of the miasmatic impact upon us. Undoubtedly, the miasmatic nosodes are deep-acting remedies and this, I feel, can be simply explained by the fact (see earlier) that miasmatic influences and polychrests have become entrenched in us and in our societies’ psyche as well as our well-being on a global scale and for so many generations.
Further, one of the laws of nature dictates that every negative must have a positive, so how else can we perceive the miasma and what can we add to this landscape in the light of the present day?
Some of The Newer Theories & Additions
Rajan Sankaran (1999 and 2005) in his books The Substance of Homeopathy and The Sensation in Homeopathy identifies a further five miasma amongst the traditional Psora, Syphilis, Sycosis, Tubercular and Cancer.
These are Acute, Typhoid, Malaria, Ringworm and Leprosy. (Note that they are all rather nasty diseases – again). Briefly, Sankaran’s Acute corresponds to a pre-Psoric state of instinctive reaction and Typhoid to a post Psora, pre-Sycotic state of realisation that proper handling of a crisis situation will result in its resolution. Ringworm and Malaria are post-Sycotic, pre-Cancer states representing struggle and persecution, Leprosy is post-Tubercular with feelings of isolation and oppression.
Without wishing to be arrogant, I do feel that the extra groupings over-complicate the picture somewhat, for myself anyway, but the crucial and valuable point here is that Sankaran perceives the miasma to be the degree and level (“depth, pace and perception”) of self to which a person experiences their central sensation and their life.
Clues to this are found in the words that patients use to express themselves when describing their symptom experiences. Sankaran has also broadened out the miasms as well as the number of associated remedies by linking them up with the biological kingdoms or phylums and the mineral world. Indeed, his Sensation Method of case-taking is a post-graduate study in itself.
The late Melissa Assilem (1990) proposed the existence of an entrenched Folliculinum or a Follicular miasm because of the prevalence and over-use of the Oral Contraceptive Pill (OCP) and other artificial hormonal methods of pregnancy and birth control such as Diesthylstilbestrol (DES). The so-called ‘morning-after pill is also made from DES and a similar (also artificial) hormone called norethisterone, and is widely used to delay the onset of a period.
We have a virtually worldwide situation now where several generations of mothers will have been on the pill at least for some of their (reproductive) lives and there have been numerous reports of traces of the synthetic hormones in question being present in water supplies and in rivers, with the feminisation of some species of male fish being held responsible in the latter case.
Further synthetic hormone abuse continues in later life when one considers the number of older women who choose to use HRT (Hormone Replacement Therapy) in the hopes of easing some of the symptoms associated with the menopause. A final point to take into account here is that it is not just female patients who benefit from the remedy Folliculinum, where it is indicated.
Maria Jevtik (2017) describes the origins of the homeopathic miasms through the lens of social evolution, linking the aetiology of each miasm to huge shifts in subjective and objective societal experience.
She holds that each miasm and its susceptibility, disease stimulus and maintaining causes can be explained by the collective evolution of the roles of nutrition, pathology, social history, religious practices as well as technological advances though the ages.
Colin Griffith (2005) maintains that as opposed to being positive or negative phenomena, miasms are simply forces of nature that are expressed by humanity, in other words a facet of us and how we experience our health and wellbeing.
Ian Watson (2009) takes this theme further and views the miasma as personal challenges, as well as a means of providing us with opportunities in life from which we can learn. Therefore, it is more fruitful to regard the miasms in a neutral light in order to understand them fully and to receive their message. Thus, to confirm an earlier point, every negative has a positive face and active miasms may also be expressed in an uncomplicated and healthy manner. (Table 1 below illustrates).
Misha Norland and the UK-based School of Homeopathy proved AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome) in 1998 and 1994. The condition acquired a highly stigmatised reputation during the 1980s, mostly because it was first diagnosed in gay men and in drug users and it is sexually transmitted.
It was said to have reached epidemic proportions in certain parts of the globe, especially after it was also found in quite a number of heterosexuals (causing even more moral panic) and so it is not hard to follow the logic of viewing AIDS as an additional, post-Cancer miasm.
Also, we find the Carcinosin issue of their view of self in relation to others to be extended in the AIDS picture to a (distorted) perspective of self in relation to society as a whole. Thus, the limits of one’s own body and immunity are embraced in this.
Before turning to two other paradigms that illustrate commonalities and parallels with homeopathic theory, it’s worthwhile including a summary table to tie everything together:
Table 1 Interpretations of the 5 Major Miasma
|MAJOR MIASM||TRADITIONAL CENTRAL KEYNOTE||POSITIVE, UNCOMPLICATED EXPRESSION||SANKARAN’S VERBAL EXPRESSION||PHYSICAL SYMPTOMS||MIND|
|Psoric||Under-production||Survival, security||“If I struggle, I’ll be able to cope”||Skin eruptions, itching, slow healing||Insufficiency, forsaken-ness|
|Syphilitic||Destruction||Ability to let go & move on anew||“I can’t get out of this, its fixed so I’ll seek revenge”||Caries, ulceration, pains, congenital conditions||Self-sabotage, revenge, destruction|
|Sycotic||Over-production||Growth, generosity||“I can’t get over it so I can live with it or cover it up”||Overgrowth, cysts, genital
& urinary, inflammation
|Confusion extremes, unreality|
|Tubercular||Restlessness||Creativity, integration||“I can’t cover up so I must keep changing”||Asthma, allergies, changing symptoms||Unfulfilled, must move on|
|Cancer||Suppression||Self-identity, boundaries||“I may just manage but I’m on the verge of being lost”
|Multiple allergies, ‘auto-immune’ conditions, cancers||Putting self last, loss of personal identity|
Epigenetics & Miasmatic Thought
The fast-increasing body of work in the field of epigenetics that mirrors homeopathic theory gives us a bio-social perspective on what we inherit and demonstrates that our genetic inheritance does not merely consist of biological DNA but there is an integral memory factor that is passed down too.
We inherit our grandparents’ life experiences, both good and bad, as well as physiological features such as eye and hair colouring, bone structures etc., not to mention our health susceptibilities and patterns. Epigenetics has become a big player in the field of the nurture vs nature debate.
In 2006, a BBC tv programme entitled ‘A Ghost in Your Genes’ reported on the first research evidence that an environmental effect can be inherited in humans, conducted by researched by Marcus Pembrey and Lars Olov Bygren in 2005.
They examined registry entries of births and deaths and detailed local harvest records of a remote town in northern Sweden and found clear evidence in these of an environmental effect being passed down the generations. They showed that a famine at critical times during the lives of grandparents affected the life expectancy of their grandchildren. (The psoric miasm springs to mind here with its characteristic worries about insufficiencies).
Further epigenetic research has now led to other proposals that there is a type of gene which can be switched on or off via environmental triggers and furthermore, that the actual switch itself can be inherited. A detailed article by Manish Bhatia (2008) explains the complex mechanisms of this process and summarises further epigenetic research investigating conditions such as IVF, bi-polar disorder and schizophrenia.
Anke Zimermann (2017 ) has since suggested that rather than inherited effects being passed on to just a couple of generations, a more accurate estimate would be that these effects would be likely to affect up to 14 subsequent generations.
Worryingly, she also writes that apart from being mindful of sustainable agricultural and environmental practices “we would be wise to consider how the conditions to which we subject our bodies—the pollution and toxicants which permeate the landscape and pervade our bodies, the nutrient-devoid soil that engenders micronutrient-poor food, the disruptions to our circadian rhythm due to the ubiquity of electronic devices, our divorce from nature and the demise of our tribal affiliations—may translate into ill health effects and diminished quality of life for a previously unfathomed number of subsequent generations.”
I need hardly reiterate that the impact of (over-) vaccination upon the health and development of not only the present generation but also upon past and future cohorts is a huge area of concern in the homeopathic world, and increasingly so in 2021.
In the mental/emotional context, Elizabeth Adalian (2018) has done much work on how transgenerational trauma patterns from the past can so frequently form the roots of present-day distress and her multidisciplinary approach to addressing this with homeopathy includes a consideration of the miasmatic epigenetic role and the need to elicit as much detail as possible of a patient’s inheritance of past family trauma in order to obtain a complete case history.
Homotoxicology in a Miasmatic Frame
Homotoxicology was formulated by Hans-Heinrich Reckeweg in 1952, combining classical homeopathy and medical science to provide a bridge between homeopathy and conventional medicine. It has become a well-researched medical practice that studies the effects of various toxic substances on the human body, integrating pathology, toxicology, biology, enzymology, and immunology with homeopathic principles of treatment.
In short, dis-ease is said to be caused by a build-up of toxins in the body and symptoms of dis-ease therefore represent evidence of the body’s defence mechanisms at work to eliminate these.
So, physical expressions of chronic states reflect the body’s ability (or not) to deal with its toxins (Caroline Waldron 2007). Hence, the physical symptoms of the five miasms and how they manifest in a patient can provide us with some useful pointers for any organotherapy or drainage, where a particular organ or system of the body is obviously malfunctioning. Of course, these physical manifestations are also invariably mirrored in the emotional symptoms and major issues of worry relating to the nosodes themselves.
From this, we can now make the following physical associations:
Psora: As the base for all the miasms; provided all the organs of elimination of the body are functioning properly, all is well. Psoric underfunction reflects adverse reactions of the body upon exposure to environmental or external stimuli (e.g. noise or light) resulting in functional disturbances such as headache, nausea, or general discomfort.
Sycosis: When metabolic by-products and toxins become stuck in our system, our tissues protect the body by hiding and enclosing them in various systems of the body in the form of benign cysts and skin overgrowths, lumps and bumps. Joints become inflamed, lots of mucus is produced.
Syphilis: This represents the body’s inability to release these enclosed toxins and so they turn inwards and cause deterioration and destruction in the body such as caries, osteoporosis, ulceration, heart weakness.
Tubercular: Wandering symptoms, allergies, profuse sweating especially at night (seen as the body’s attempt to throw off this miasm). We see a prone-ness to stubborn, recurrent chest and respiratory infections, allergies, connective tissue infections.
Cancer: A weakened immune system, suppression. The body is unable to eliminate its toxins and so suppresses them, denying that a problem exists. (This would explain why a cancer diagnosis is so often a surprise, but ‘never having a day’s illness in their life’ can be due to an immune system that cannot express itself adequately, rather than an absence of dis-ease).
Linking Up With the Bowel Nosodes
Continuing along the elimination and balance route, John Saxton (2012) associates some of the bowel nosodes with the miasms, very much in line with the thinking of one of the pioneers in this field, John Paterson.
His work in the early 1950s on the role of the bowel nosodes in chronic health was also closely allied to the original Hahnemannian concept of chronic health reflecting miasmatic disturbance.
Saxton’s links are collated below on Table 2. [I have used thick, red type to indicate the strongest association, blue italics for a medium-weight link and green for the loosest]. Again, we can trace how the emotional states typically associated with the miasmatic nosodes are reflected by these bowel nosode affiliations here.
Table 2: Miasms &the Bowel Nosodes
|Psora||Bacilllus No.7; Dysco; Gaertner; Morgan-Gaertner; Morgan-P|
|Sycotic||Bacillus No. 7; Bacillus No. 7; Coccal Co; Dysco; Faecalis; Morgan Gaertner; Morgan P; Proteus; Sycotic Co|
|Syphilitic||Bacillus No 7; Bacillus No. 10; Dysco; Coccal Co; Dysco; Coccal Co; Gartner Bach;
|Tubercular||Bacillus No 7; Gaertner Bach; Morgan-P; Mutabile; Sycotic Co|
|Cancer||Bacillus No 10; Dysco; Faecalis; Gaertner-Bach|
Adapted from Saxton (2012)
So, What Exactly is a Miasm?
We can see that the miasma are not just physical phenomena or inherited health susceptibilities and that their interpretation needs to embrace a variety of issues. This then calls for a broader conceptualisation than traditional analyses provide.
However, it can be concluded that the miasms have always been reflective of the various influences on society of major pandemic dis-eases and what they have meant to all of us, and hence do indeed echo societies’ major pre-occupations and associated behaviours over time.
All aspects therefore have a place in the miasmatic landscape and it is also fair to say that the miasma pose both personal and global challenges to us all. This means providing us with opportunities for change – whether that change is in terms of practice methodology or homeopathic philosophy – or both.
Whether or not miasms are neutral influences that embrace both positive and negative aspects of wellbeing and health is a highly subjective matter(!) and I do believe that the major miasms continue to reflect major drug over-and mis-use, as well as suppression, as per Hahnemann’s original concept of ‘bad medicine’.
Are We Experiencing the Formation Of A Covid-19 Miasm?
So again, in terms of practice it is not just a case of determining which miasms are at work but choosing the most dominant miasm/s and establishing what its influences are doing TO and FOR the patient in front of us, not to mention HOW. Could the ‘anti-miasmatic’ remedies and nosodes themselves be reframed as ‘re-balancers’ and the miasms themselves be viewed as being indications (for practitioners and patients alike) as both positive and negative influences to work with and learn from, rather than factors to be negated or eradicated?
What will be the legacy of Covid-19 and what will its keynotes be for homeopathy? I would welcome comments and viewpoints from fellow practitioners as to how the article has resonated with their thoughts and experiences.
REFERENCES & BIBLIOGRAPHY
Adalian, Elizabeth (2017): Touching Base with Trauma Reaching Across Generations: A Three-Dimensional Homeopathic Perspective, Writersworld
Assilem, Melissa (1990): Folliculinum: Mist or Miasm? Paper presented at the Society of Homeopaths Seventh International Conference, University of Nottingham, September 1990.
Griffith, Colin (2005): The Companion to Homeopathy: The Practitioners Guide, Watkins Publishing, London
Javtik, Maria (2007): From Cave to Computer: A New Perspective on the Homeopathic Miasms, Winter Press
Sankaran, Rajan (1999): The Substance of Homeopathy, Homoeopathic Medical Publishers, Mumbai
Sankaran, Rajan (2005): The Sensation in Homeopathy, Narayana Verlag GmBH, Kandern, Germany
Saxton, John (2012): Bowel Nosodes in Homeopathic Practice, 2nd edition, Saltire Books, Glasgow
Smith, Sue (2012): Homeopathy & our psyche Pt 2, Homeopathy in Practice, Spring 2012
Smith, Sue (2019): Revisiting and refreshing the five main miasms, Homeopathy in Practice Spring/Summer 2019
Walrad, Caroline (2007): Homotoxicology & Miasmatic Theories, http://carolinewalrad.com/
Watson Ian (2009): The Homeopathic Miasms: A Modern View, Cutting Edge Publications, Devon, England
Zimmerman, Anke (2017): Homeopathy and Epigenetics in https://www.ankezimmermann.net/blog-vaccines-homeopathy-autism-nutrition/category/epigenetics