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The Homeopathic Classification of Disease of Samuel Hahnemann

When Hahnemann discovered the basic natural law Similia Similibus Curentur in the year 1796 he created a starting point for a revolutionary medical system which he named homeopathy. In the early years of homeopathy these diseases were only treated with remedies from the plant and animal kingdom. Acute diseases are characterised by the fact that they are just a temporary disturbance of the health of the patient.

When Hahnemann discovered the basic natural law Similia Similibus Curentur in the year 1796 he created a starting point for a revolutionary medical system which he named homeopathy and which kept him occupied for the rest of his life.

From the starting point of discovery onward Hahnemann had to defend his new medical system against all kind of adversaries be it allopaths  or even homeopaths.

It seemed that everyone was entitled to have an opinion about the new homeopathic method and had the right to create and practice his own kind of homeopathy, almost as if homeopathy does not obey natural law. This was quite the opposite to Hahnemann’s call to copy his line of work exactly, “Mach es nach aber mach es genau nach”, and so homeopathy has eventually developed along quite a diversity of different lines.  Nowadays there are so many different ways of practicing homeopathy that Hahnemann’s way may be considered nearly totally forgotten or subdued.

We homeopaths have to know our own history, we have to know our sources and study not only The Organon but also the Chronic Diseases very thoroughly to create a clear overview of the working field and the way of practicing homeopathy as it is scientifically founded by Hahnemann. The foundation on which Hahnemann based his homeopathy is like solid rock.

When we are discussing homeopathy, we are discussing the polarity of health versus disease and how to cure scientifically.

In the beginning of Hahnemann’s homeopathic practice every disease was treated as an entity within itself, as a matter of fact, as an acute disease. Acute diseases are characterised by the fact that they are just a temporary disturbance of the health of the patient.

During the early years of homeopathy these diseases were only treated with remedies from the plant and animal kingdom.

After the year in which the law of similars was discovered, 1796, it took Hahnemann 14 years to publish the first edition of The Organon (1810).  In the following years he tried to explore and develop homeopathy further, although he eventually became disappointed with the limited results of his new homeopathic method.

He found limitation, mainly in the treatment of chronic diseases, and it bothered him very much.

Chronic diseases page 4

This was, and remained, the quicker or slower process in such treatments in all non-venereal, severe chronic diseases, even when these were treated in exact accordance with the Homeopathic art as hitherto known. Their beginning was promising, the continuation less favorable, the outcome hopeless.

According to Hahnemann, according to his experience the acute diseases caused by exogenous causes are, with a few exceptions which he mentions, to be treated by plant and animal remedies.

The acute disease forms according to Hahnemann are primarily : Incidents, epidemics, and the acute miasmatic diseases. They are primarily caused or triggered by the life circumstances of the patient.

Chronic diseases page 112-113

I now pass to the other hindrances to the cure of chronic diseases which must be avoided as far as possible.

All those events in human life which can bring the psora latent and slumbering within, which has hitherto manifested itself only by some of the signs mentioned above, wherein the patient varies from a state of health, so as to break out into open chronic diseases, these same events if they occur to an already chronic patient may not only augment his disease and increase the difficulty of curing it, but, if they break in on him violently, may make his disease incurable, if the untoward circumstances are not suddenly changed for the better.

Such events are, however, of very various nature, and therefore of different degrees of injurious influence.

Excessive hardships, laboring in swamps, great bodily injuries and wounds, excess of cold or heat, and even the unsatisfied hunger of poverty and its unwholesome foods, etc., are not by any means very powerful in causing the fearful malady of psora which lies in ambush, lurking in secret to break forth into serious chronic diseases, nor of great consequence in aggravating a chronic disease already present; yea, an innocent man can, with less injury to his life, pass ten years in bodily torments in the bastille or on the galleys rather than pass some months in all bodily comfort in an unhappy marriage or with a remorseful conscience. A psora slumbering within, which still allows the favorite of a prince to live with the appearance of almost blooming health unfolds quickly into a chronic ailment of the body, or distracts his mental organs into insanity, when by a change of fortune he is hurled from his brilliant pinnacle and is exposed to contempt and poverty. The sudden death of a son causes the tender mother, already in ill health an incurable suppuration of the lungs or a cancer of the breast. A young, affectionate maiden, already hysterical, is thrown into melancholy by a disappointment in love.

How difficult it is, and how seldom will the best antipsoric treatment do anything to relieve such unfortunates!

In the Chronic Diseases on page 131 Hahnemann mentions about 25 plant remedies and their indications to cure these so called ‘mishaps’ or incidents. He only mentions two mineral remedies as exceptions. These plant remedies should be prescribed as soon as possible during the incident to neutralize its pathological effect in order not to disturb or slow down the treatment of the underlying chronic disease. So Hahnemann makes a definite distinction or classification between the different remedy groups also. Plant and animal remedies for the acute, and the mineral remedies for the treatment of chronic diseases. Quite different disease forms obviously indicate quite different remedy groups. This is a further subtle distinction in the application of the law of similars in accordance with different disease forms.

About the chronic miasms.

According to Hahnemann’s line of thinking there are only three basic miasmatic constitutional disturbances possible. In the determination of the term chronic miasm Hahnemann described the basic possibilities of the vital force or dynamis itself to become disturbed. In the case of chronic miasmatic diseases the dynamis itself is disturbed in a manner that the homeostasis, the healthy balance cannot be restored. The power to react, the self healing power of the dynamis is imbalanced. The miasmatic disturbance is expressing itself in the disease dynamics in every single case.

Chronic Diseases page 105:

Here I may mention the curious circumstance that in general – with the exception of the recent itch-disease still attended with its unrepressed cutaneous eruption, and which is so easily cured from within – every other psoric diathesis, i.e. the psora that is still latent within, as well as the psora that has developed into one of the innumerable chronic diseases springing from it, is very seldom cured by any single anti-psoric remedy, but requires the use of several of these remedies -in the worst cases the use of quite a number of them- one after the other, for its perfect cure.

The Psoric miasm.

Psora is slowing the self healing power down and making the response possibilities of the dynamis incomplete. The psoric disease symptoms tend to disappear temporarily, spontaneously and become latent as a result of the pathological lack of energy. Symptoms get easily subdued as if they are not there anymore. The patient gets gradually worse and worse very often without a very great symptomatology.

Because of this slowing down of the whole human economy Hahnemann called psora the most fundamental cause of disease.

The Sycotic miasm.

Sycosis is hurrying up and speeding up the reaction of the dynamis to excess and in a pathological manner.

Sycosis produces inflammation with a lot of pus. Burnett calls Medorrhinum the mother of pus. Symptoms are very often quite clear and there is a lot of energy to respond to the curative power of remedies.

The Syphilitic miasm.

Syphilis is creating a destructive responding dynamis which creates autoimmune disease for instance. It is the destruction or necrosis and subsequent degeneration of tissue as a result of the pathological reaction of the dynamis itself. The disease process is a quick one. A lot of energy is present that may kill the patient but under the use of a homeopathic remedy turn into a healing power. The patient reacts quickly to the prescription.

These are the three possible basic disturbances in the functioning of the dynamis. Every other pathological tendency exists because of a combination of these basic miasms and should therefore be referred to as a pathological tendency and not miasm.

Tubercular pathological tendency.

In the Tubercular pathological tendency we primarily see inflammation and eventually an inflammatory or Sycotic reaction and secondly a destructive or Syphilitic reaction incorporated.

The Carcinogenic pathological tendency.

In the Carcinogenic tendency we see primarily a destructive reaction on the qualities typical for cellular behaviour in the destruction of the nucleus of the cell. Secondly as a result of this destruction, the cells are excessively growing out of control and invading the surrounding tissue. First we see destructive reaction of the nucleus or Syphilis, and as a result excessive proliferative reaction or Sycosis.

Complex disease forms.

The Tubercular and the Carcinogenic pathological tendencies are therefore not the basic miasmatic disturbances as seen, philosophically concluded on and subsequently described by Hahnemann. They are complexes of pathological health-disturbing energy based on the underlying Psora, Sycotic and Syphilitic chronic basic miasmatic disturbances.

The chronic latent psoric state as a ‘sleeping’ chronic disease can be awakened by incidents and life circumstances like: Excessive hardships, labouring in swamps, great bodily injuries and wounds, excess of cold or heat, and even the unsatisfied hunger of poverty and its unwholesome foods.  But much more injurious and triggering the latent psoric state to the outbreak of chronic disease manifestations, are emotional disturbances or incidents such as an unhappy marriage or a remorseful conscience,  a change of fortune and being exposed to contempt and poverty. The sudden death of a son or melancholy from a disappointment in love. These disrupting incidents ask for plant remedies like for instance Staphysagria or Ignatia to cure the acute stage, which is quite different from the internal chronic state. The incident is due to the life circumstances of the patient and the chronic state is due to the patient’s constitutional predisposition and the inherited pathological miasmatic tendencies.

The diseases caused by the endogenous miasmatic disturbed dynamis are to be cured by mineral remedies. (The antipsoric, antisyphilitic etc.) In these cases the vital force itself is diseased, the basic natural law of action/reaction is disturbed  and therefore the vital force cannot create a new healthy balance. It takes a mineral remedy to cure this chronic disease on a permanent basis.

The Nosodes.

Besides the already mentioned plant, animal and mineral remedies we have the nosodes which are indicated when a certain disease has not effectively been cured by the dynamis. As a result of this failure of creating immunity in a certain disease, a chronic state arises which can be transferred to the next generation. Hahnemann did not have much experience with the use of nosodes.

The Chronic disease page 152.

The antipsoric medicines treated of in what follows contain no so-called idiopathic medicines, since their pure effects, even those of the potentized miasma of itch (Psorinum) have not been proved enough, by far, that a safe homeopathic use might be made of it. I say homeopathic use, for it does not remain idem (the same); even if the prepared itch substance should be given to the same patient from whom it was taken, it would not remain idem (the same), as it could only be useful to him in a potentized state, since crude itch substance which he has already in his body as an idem is without effect on him. But the dynamization or potentizing changes it and modifies it; just as gold leaf after potentizing is no more crude gold leaf inert in the human body, but in every stage of dynamization it is more and more modified and changed.

In the nosodes we find the possibility to neutralise the underlying inherited pathological tendencies. Hahnemann only had Psorinum at his disposal and had not enough life time left to work to enhance this topic further. We owe a lot of respect to a group of English homeopaths, mainly Compton Burnett in this matter as he developed the indications and use of nosodes. The disease classification as described by Hahnemann gives us a very clear insight in the different disease forms and how to treat them.

Every symptom the patient produces can be traced back to its source be it exogenous or endogenous, be it of epidemic origin or psoric etc. etc.

Every symptom asks after this process of classifying a remedy of a certain group to eventually effect real cure.

The classification gives us a very clear practical, consistent and effective tool in practice, and this approach can be very clearly taught. In Holland a growing number of Homeopaths work along these Hahnemannian guidelines.

The approach using the Hahnemannian disease classification also creates a very clear hierarchy in the remedy groups to be prescribed in the different disease forms.

Studying Hahnemann very thoroughly created more topics to be taken in consideration. For instance the use of LM potency’s, using the olfactory mode of prescribing; the use of intercurrent remedies etc. etc.

All these topics are dealt with in the book ‘Understanding Hahnemann’ written by Ewald Stoeteler which will be released in due time by Emryss Publishers, Haarlem, The Netherlands.


Ewald Stoeteler, homeopath

The Netherlands.

About the author

Ewald Stoteler

Ewald Stoteler, homeopath

The Netherlands.

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