Strictly speaking, isopathic therapy involves the use of remedies made from the substance involved in the cause of a disease, or products of the disease. The word itself means, equal disease, and the use of these medicines was frowned upon by Samual Hahnemann. However, many well-respected homeopaths use various aspects of this form of prescribing.
There are essentially 2 forms of isopathics- sarcodes and nosodes, and the following should give you a fairly clear idea of what they’re about.
Sarcodes are remedies made from normal biological materials. In terms of clinical application, these materials have immense potential. They’re normally isolated from the source (which is usually a pig) freeze-dried and then triturated and potencies made from the triturate, as per the normal method of manufacturing insoluble substances into homeopathic medicines.
Sarcodes are made from hormones, organs, and other physiologically useful bits and pieces and appear to have the capacity to exert a direct effect upon the materials from which they’ve been derived. They’ve been in use for generations and even the highly esteemed Constantine Hering advocated their use as early as 18343
Are they homeopathic?
Mostly not. Any substance can be used homeopathically as long as that substance is applied according to the conventional techniques of case taking and repertorisation. Most of the sarcodes however, have not been proved and are prescribed clinically rather than homeopathically, but there are some exceptions.
The kinds of things frequently found in bodies that have been proved are Corticotrophin (ACTH) proved by Templeton in 19561, Cortisone, also proved by Templeton in 19632, DNA, proved by Julian in 19722. Histamine, RNA, and Thyroidinum have also been subjected to provings2 and so can be used in accordance with homeopathic principles if need be, although they seldom are.
How are they used?
Traditionally, only 3 different potencies of these remedies are used. 5 or 6C potencies tend to stimulate the activity of the tissue, cell type or hormone from which the remedy is derived, 7C potencies provide a normalising effect and the 9C potency appears to inhibit.
They’re normally used as a means of improving the functional capacity or activity of the material from which they’re derived, but can also increase the response to things such as herbs and nutritional products. They’ve also been used prior to prescribing the similimum and have been found by some to improve its action in recalcitrant cases. As cellular stimulants they’re also very handy, partly due to the fact that unlike herbs and nutrients they have no mass that the patients’ already taxed organs have to process.
The ultimate contemporary authority on the subject of sarcodes is Dr Max Tetau, a French homeopathic physician whose seminal work, Dynamised Organotherapy, contains most of what’s available on the topic. As he points out, the main requirement for the successful use of these medicines is an understanding of the pathology involved in the disease being addressed.
As an example of how these products can be used, most forms of arthritis involve some aspect of cartilage breakdown. This being the case, a 5 or 6c preparation of the cartilage will help to correct the problem by stimulating the regeneration of the cartilage within the affected joint.
Max Tetau advocates the use of bone marrow in a 4C or 5C potency as a means of regulating bone metabolism and osteoblast/osteoclast equilibrium. Recently, a well-known South Australian practitioner has successfully assisted the recovery of a patient with multiple myeloma through the use of bone marrow 5C.
I’ve used quite a lot of sarcodes in conjunction with nutritional and herbal medicines over the years, and have found the appropriate remedy to significantly improve the uptake of both nutrients and herbs. A case in point involved a lady I was treating for hyperthyroidism several years ago, before I had started to use homeopathy exclusively. Despite a subtotal thyroidectomy having been performed on her, the condition was still present when I saw her. I’d been treating her with an herbal mixture of Lycopus (Bugle Weed), Urtica (Stinging Nettle), Achillea (Yarrow) and Melissa (Lemon balm) dietary modification, B complex vitamins and Zinc and Calcium. This was a combination that had provided good results for this condition in the past, and I was confident that it would have worked in this instance.
A month or so went by without any change in the clinical picture, until we introduced Thyroidinum 9C, the inhibitory potency made from the Thyroid gland. This changed the picture dramatically and we were eventually able to all reduce the dose and frequency of all medicines and maintain relatively normal thyroid function with low levels of B complex vitamins and occasional use of the Lycopus and Thyroidinum 9C. Interestingly, Lycopus without the Thyroidinum had no effect at all.
Still on the thyroid theme, I’ve had similar experiences with people who’ve exhibited the signs and symptoms of an underactive thyroid gland who were unresponsive the standard methods of treatment until they began using 5C potencies of Thyroidinum.
Folliculinum, another sarcode, is a remedy made from Oestrone, an oestrogenic hormone found in the ovaries. 9C potencies of Folliculinum have been used on numerous occasions by prescribers to treat PMS, and researchers at the Dolisos laboratories in France (no reference available) carried out a trial using the remedy on 30 women who exhibited signs and symptoms of PMS. Using this remedy on the 7th and 21st days of the menstrual cycle for 2 months led to a physician assessed response of very good results for 48% of the subjects, good results with 45% and 7% returning with medium results.
Whilst this system is certainly not homeopathic, sarcodes can play a useful role as metabolic rate mediators and are well suited to practitioners who are prepared to be pragmatic about their prescribing preferences.
Nosodes are remedies made from the substance involved in the cause of a disease, or products of the disease. The word nosode means “from disease”3, and the use of these medicines was advocated by Samuel Hahnemann. If fact he was one of the first to make one of these preparations, Psorinum, made from material collected from a scabies vesicle. Orthodox medical vaccines could be seen to be applying the same principles as those sometimes used in nosode therapy, although Hahnemann would have thought that this medical application was a little shallow. It’s rumoured that he was in favour of Smallpox vaccinations, but I’ve yet to find a source to validate the rumour. Over the last 200 years, nosodes have been made from bacteria, viruses, fungi, parasites and all manner of infectious agents as well as the tissues and body fluids affected by them. Nosodes are also manufactured from commercially produced vaccines, such as Polio vaccines and the Triple Antigen vaccine, and have also been made from things such as arthritic joints.
How are they used?
Nosodes can be used in a number of ways.
1. Miasmatic Clearance The principal use of these medicines is for the clearance of a miasm or inherited disease trait. The principle miasms are Psoric (the nosode for which is Psorinum), Sycotic (the nosode for which is Medhorrinum) Syphylitic (the nosode for which is Syphilinum) and Tubercular (the nosode for which is Tuberculinum). Some people working in this area also claim that cancer has produced its own miasm, for which the remedy Carcinosin is sometimes used. In this instance these medicines are prescribed on the basis of the patients’ signs and symptoms and family history, which may be indicative of the presence of a miasmatic influence on the patient’s health, and not on the basis of a diagnosed disease.
2. Intercurrent Another common method of using nosodes is as intercurrent remedies, after the application of the simillimum, where this remedy has failed to work or has only produced a partial recovery from the illness in question. The prescription is made on the understanding that the disease afflicting the patient has its origins in one of the 4 miasms.
3. “Never Well Since” Nosodes are often used where an individual has failed to recover from a disease, and all of their present symptoms can be attributed to that event. This “never well since” scenario in the case of Influenza for example, may be treated with one or several doses of the nosode, Influenzinum. Similarly, the nosode made from Epstein Barr virus is often used for those who’ve never properly recovered from a case of Glandular Fever.
4. Disease Specific An increasingly common method of nosode application is as a disease specific remedy. An increasingly popular example of this in Australia is the use of the remedy made from the Ross River fever virus, for the treatment of Ross River Fever. All of the different classes of nosodes can be used in this way, and the normal procedure is to use a daily dose of a 30C potency, often for 5 to 10 days, ceasing treatment on recovery from the condition. Arguments have been mounted against this form of therapy that this is not Homoeopathic which it clearly is not, but it does seem to provide relief. Homoeopaths also argue that this circumvention of the normal Homoeopathic prescribing principles may have a suppressive rather than a curative effect, thus leading to more chronic disease. Whilst this is theoretically possible, I’ve not seen this in my own practice and not seen any other convincing evidence that this does occur.
5. Disease Clearance These remedies are sometimes used to re-ignite a disease that was suppressed by non-Homoeopathic therapies as a means of allowing the “vital force” to fully expunge the influence of the disease agent and thereby bring about a full recovery. A similar strategy is routinely employed by some Homoeopaths to start or finish a case, for the same reason.
6. Vaccination Nosodes are also often used as an alternative to medical vaccination. When doing this either a 30C, 200C or 1M potency is often given according to set protocols 4, 5. These protocols have been designed for use as alternatives to routine neonatal vaccination programs, and also as substitutes to vaccines for infectious diseases such as Influenza, Malaria, Dysentery and Meningitis, to name a few. It’s interesting to note the parallels between routine medical vaccination and the Homoepathic maxim, Similia Similibus Curantur (Let likes be cured by Likes), and interesting also to note that Edward Jenner, one of the pioneers of medical vaccination, was a contemporary of Samuel Hahnemann. One may wonder who influenced whom. The question of the effectiveness of such practices needs to be looked at, and from this springs the argument that the dangers inherent in normal medical vaccination may be worth the risk when weighed against the effects of the disease, but there’s little doubt that homoeopathic vaccinations offer far less iatrogenisis than their orthodox equivalent.
As to the proof of efficacy of this practice, Isaac Golden4 has been collecting data from those using his protocols for many years, and at a claimed protection level of 89%, compared to the claimed efficacy rate of orthodox vaccinations (75-95%)4 the results look quite good. More solace may be gained from 2 pilot studies published in the Mexican Homoeopathic Bulletin of 19975 which found antibody conversion to occur after exposure to 30C potencies of the infectious agent. Unfortunately these studies did not demonstrate any persistence of this seroconversion. Another study carried out in September 19997 showed that homoeopathic dilutions of Francisella tularensis provided protection against the disease caused by this organism in mice, but again, no long term protection was evident, and the level of protection conferred was less than that which would be expected using normal medical vaccination.
7. Repertorisation There is one more method of application of the nosodes, and that is via repertorisation. Berkely Squire, in his book, Repertory of Nosodes and Sarcodes8, advocates the use of nosodes via the use of his repertory in the same way that any normal remedy would be selected, but used following the simillimum rather than instead of it. The use of this book along with a standard repertory can produce some surprising results, and remedies you may not have thought to examine. Cross referencing the results in a good Materia Medica can lead to the discovery of some smaller remedies that would have been almost impossible to find without an encyclopaedic knowledge of all of the Materia Medica.
The fact that nosodes have the ability to resurrect previously suppressed diseases should indicate the need for caution in their use. Nosodes are excellent therapeutic tools and their judicious use can produce wonderful results, but they should not be used alone in preference to the simillimum if you have a choice. The main issue in Homoeopathy, given one’s level of experience and training, should be to select the best remedy for the individual via repertory and materia medica. Should the need for a nosode arise, be cautious about the potency with which it is given, and the repetition of dose, if it should be repeated at all and above all be aware of how and when it’s to be used.
1. Templeton WL, 1956, British Homoeopathic Journal, 45, 89-97.
2. Julian OA, Materia Medica of New Homoeopathic Remedies, 1990, Beaconsfield, Bucks, UK.
3. Yasgur J., Homeopathic Dictionary, 4th Edition, 1998, Van Hoy, Philadelphia, USA.
4. Golden I, Vaccination? A review of Risks and Alternatives, 5th Ed, 1998 (Self published).
5. Curtis S, A Handbook of Homoeopathic Alternatives to Immunisation, 1994, Winter Press, London UK.
6. Rosas-Landa V, Garcia M, Rodriguez R, Evidence for Homoeopathic Vaccination? Boletin Mexicano de Homeopatia, 1997, 30, 5-10.
7. Jonas WB, Do Homoeopathic Nosodes protect against Infection?, Alt Ther Health Med, 1999, Sept, 5, 5, 36-40.
8. Squire B, Repertory of Homoeopathic Nosodes and Sarcodes, 1997, B Jain, New Delhi, India.