The following two letters were received in response to Jeremy Sherr’s interview published in November 07. Jeremy’s replies follow the original letters.
Having read Sherr’s interview and the comments of many readers, the impression one gets is that a case may be tackled with a number of different remedies and yet be cured.
To quote Sherr:
“I think that quite a big range of remedies can work for each patient”.
If by work he means a series of partial responses, then that is a common observation.
But if he implies a cure: a definite improvement in energy with reduced suceptibility to disease, then I am confused.
I understand that most cases need several remedies over years to progress to a higher level of health. But those remedies must be very closely matched to the case at every step if they are to work beneficially.
Patients respond to many remedies but how many of those responses are favourable in the long term?
If I have a case of arthritis and I think that the patient needs Silicea but I begin with Carcinosin instead, (or with Arsenicum), and then follow up with anything but Silicea, can I ‘zig zag’ my way to a cure?
As I understand, when Burnett mentioned chess as an analogy, he referred to cases where a paucity of symptoms or advanced organ pathology demanded a localized approach. This would lead to more broadly acting remedies later as the case yielded to ‘local’ remedies. I have seen Burnett’s approach validated in specific cases and there are not a few of those.
On the other hand, while there are instances where remedies that are close enough ameliorate some symptoms, do they really alter the energy of the patient? I know of many cases that were ‘zig zagged’ for years and came to me with drug symptoms mixed with those of their original complaints.
Some may argue that the multiple approach is valid only for those who know what they are doing, but if they did, would they be dabbling around or would they go straight for the indicated remedy or remedies as the case may be?
I agee that we do not live in a perfect world and that many cases present with a picture where the remedy is very hard to discern. Nevertheless, do such cases really lead to a cure or to temporary relief of some symptoms when various remedies are thrown at them?
In one of the responses to Sherr’s interview, Yekkirala mentions a conference where a woman with baldness was treated unsuccessfully with various remedies for a year until it was realized that she needed Chocolate. Is it likely that treatment with Saccharum, Lac humanum, Hydrogen or anything else would have lead to restoration of her hair?
In acute infections, one can see a case of typhoid respond to Baptisia in 5 days where Pyrogenicum would cure in 48 hours. (I have had typhoid on four occasions and treated myself with the latter remedy during the last episode).
Likewise, you may give Cantharis CM to a woman with UTI who needs Staphysagria (or even Anthracinum). The acute episode will be relieved but is her health really altered and her susceptibility to subsequent infections reduced?
In my experience, she will keep coming back. In fact, the simillimum may even bring back the UTI.
What if her symptoms are relieved and she later returns with a pyelonephritis or hydronephrosis? Similarly, how long would you zig zag with an acute pneumonia? If we restrict our argument to chronic disease only, can a case of eczema in an infant that repertorizes clearly to Arsenicum be cured with Graphites? What if the infant comes back as a toddler with asthma?
No matter what remedies a case may be begun with, unless the drug appropriate to that case is ultimately given, will such patient be amenable to cure? How then can a “broad range of remedies” work? If this is not the case, should not we have much more success with our difficult cases? In practice, we could start anywhere but ultimately end up with a cure. Or discover years later that the cured case ended up in a hospital with terminal ilness.
I may have misunderstood Sherr. He may have implied something else that I did not comprehend. But if I have understood him correctly, then I do not agree with him.
There is also a tendency to interpret homeopathy through various belief systems or spiritual perspectives.
Sherr refers briefly to Buddhist concepts of “various lifetimes” and “lessons to be learned” when he speaks about Aurum. Some homeopaths hunt for Christian concepts and I have colleagues back home who think that Hahnemann would have made an excellent Muslim.
It may help some to reconcile their faith or beliefs with medical practice and I have no objecion to that. However, homeopathy would be best taught to students if its own principles were explained without the amalgamation of spiritual speculation.
I enjoyed the articles. However, I don’t know if I’m convinced with J. Sherr’s philosophy that an individual’s remedy changes so frequently and everyone doesn’t have a simillium. It’s a bit too different from what I’ve been taught. I can’t see if a person’s remedy picture has been consistent since their birth how this remedy picture could change so rapidly.
Reply from Jeremy Sherr
In response to the letters from your readers Rafeez and mmtT, I will answer briefly, and leave the rest for Hahnemann and Kent, who I think we can consider classical enough.
- It would be wonderfully neat if everyone had just one remedy that worked well as a total simillimum.
- Or it would not be so wonderful, because if that was the case homoeopathy would die out very quickly, because it is very common for two or more practitioners to choose different remedies for a case- just visit any live clinic or travel the world and sit in with a few different homoeopaths- you will see the wide and different range of remedies used.
- Have you ever had cases of Pomegranate, Sapphire, Jade, Wild rice, Damselfly, Americium nitricum, Argon or Krypton? I mention these as a few of the remedies I have proved but, alas, not yet published (sorry!). I have had cases of all these remedies, which others could not prescribe for yet without guessing. But what about the all the remedies we don’t know about: There are Billions of possible provings out there: how do you function meanwhile? What did Hahnemann do before Hering proved Lachesis? What did Herring prescribe for his Androc tonus cases? What did Kent do before the proving of Ozone? Do you think they never saw cases that needed these remedies as the closest similar? And maybe there are even closer remedies we don’t even know about. What have you given your cases of Fungi, such as Cryptococcus (My latest proving)?
- To sum up: Neither Hahnemann, nor Kent, nor Lippe, nor Hering, nor any other classical homoeopath ever said there was only one simillimum for a case. They all taught the second prescription. There are 7 billion people on the planet, and most homoeopaths use far less than 500 remedies. But homoeopathy works and has survived. Of course some remedies are closer then others, but you can never prove that the remedy you gave is the one and only simillimum. There can always be a closer remedy out there somewhere.
- As for mmtT’s assertions about remedies not changing, it is common for teachers and colleges to teach that there is only one remedy for life. And this is good. We need to start our study with the highest ideal- one remedy for life. We need to strive for the simillimum and paragraph 2 cures. But the reality of practice- the limited number of remedies and the difficult cases make the ideal of one remedy for life mostly un-attainable. We all have many good case that have done excellently for many years on one remedy, but far from all! As the students get beyond the initial stage, they begin to recognize that the second and next prescriptions are major parts of homoeopathy. That after 6 months or 2 years or ten years, the remedy will change, even if the patients had the same picture all their previous life. And this is great news, because if that picture was not cured, then we as homoeopaths are just blowing in the wind. It is precisely when the cure from the first remedy takes place that the remedy will change, meaning that the susceptibility has been eliminated, otherwise we are doomed to push the same stone up the same hill forever. But the fact is, that once we learn a lesson from the first remedy, we can move on to the next one.
I leave you with a few quotes from our masters, beginning with Hahnemann. The emphases are mine. It should be noted that not only the Organon, but the whole of Chronic Diseases, is dedicated to discussing remedy changes, partially due to similar prescriptions and partially due to the cure of one level before moving on to the next (e.g. syphilis moving to psora)
I wish you to always find the most similar remedy!
There is, however, almost no homoeopathic medicine, be it ever so suitably chosen, that, especially if it should be given in an insufficiently minute dose, will not produce, in very irritable and sensitive patients, at least one trifling, unusual disturbance, some slight new symptom whilst its action lasts; for it is next to impossible that medicine and disease should cover one another symptomatically as exactly as two triangles with equal sides and equal angles. But this (in ordinary circumstances) unimportant difference will be easily done away with by the potential activity (energy) of the living organism, and is not perceptible by patients not excessively delicate; the restoration goes forward, notwithstanding, to the goal of perfect recovery, if it be not prevented by the action of heterogeneous medicinal influences upon the patient, by errors of regimen or by excitement of the passions.
It sometimes happens, owing to the moderate number of medicines yet known with respect to their true, pure action, that but a portion of the symptoms of the disease under treatment are to be met with in the list of symptoms of the most appropriate medicine, consequently this imperfect medicinal morbific agent must be employed for lack of a more perfect one.
Thus if there occur, during the use of this imperfectly homoeopathic remedy first employed, accessory symptoms of some moment, then, in the case of acute diseases, we do not allow this first dose to exhaust its action, nor leave the patient to the full duration of the action of the remedy, but we investigate afresh the morbid state in its now altered condition, and add the remainder of the original symptoms to those newly developed in tracing a new picture of the disease.
We shall then be able much more readily to discover, among the known medicines, an analogue to the morbid state before us, a single dose of which if it does not entirely destroy the disease, will advance it considerably on the way to be cured. And thus we go on, if even this medicine be not quite sufficient to effect the restoration of health, examining again and again the morbid state that still remains, and selecting a homoeopathic medicine as suitable as possible for it, until our object, namely, putting the patient in the possession of perfect health, is accomplished.
Thus the imperfect selection of the medicament, which was in this case almost inevitable owing to the too limited number of the symptoms present, serves to complete the display of the symptoms of the disease, and in this way facilitates the discovery of a second, more accurately suitable, homoeopathic medicine.
Whenever, therefore, the dose of the first medicine ceases to have a beneficial effect, a new examination of the disease must be instituted, the status morbi as it now is must be noted down, and a second homoeopathic remedy selected in accordance with it, which shall exactly suit the present state, and one which shall be all the more appropriate can then be found, as the group of symptoms has become larger and more complete.
In like manner, after each new dose of medicine has exhausted its action, the state of the disease that still remains is to be noted anew with respect to its remaining symptoms, and another homoeopathic remedy sought for, as suitable as possible for the group of symptoms now observed, and so on until the recovery is complete.
Kent, Lesser Writings: Many chronic cases will require a series of carefully selected remedies to effect a cure, if the remedy is only partially similar; but the ideal in prescribing is to find that remedy similar enough to hold the case through a full series to the highest.
Kent, Lesser Writings: There is one point worthy of consideration; we are trying to make a distinction between the similar and the similimum, with which I do not agree. I have not any doubt, from experience, that two medicines may be similar enough to the totality of symptoms, and either may be the similimum, each would be similar enough to cure it; and how can you say both of these are, or either of them, is, the similimum. If you go into degrees you may consider it in this way: The medicine may be so dissimilar, that in dynamic power it would have little or no effect upon the disease; it then approaches it in a degree of similarity by becoming more and more similar. As it approaches in similarity it sustains an inability to change the symptoms that exist. It may be sufficiently similar to spoil it, to change and not effect a cure, until you have not improved the patient, but only changed the symptoms. … Medicines may be similar enough to effect curative results in a patient, and improve the health of that patient, improve the general condition whether an acute or chronic disease. When that medicine has done all the curing it is capable of, then its complementary will take up the work and go on with it. This is a matter of experience fully established by the Organon and every man’s experience, and it seems to me the paper does not call out anything new, for it is in keeping with every man’s experience.
And finally, regarding the use of spirituality in homoeopathy, a couple of quotes:
You cannot divorce Medicine and Theology. Man exists all the way down, from his innermost Spiritual, to his outermost Natural.
It is not so with Homoeopathy, the great gift of God!