Homeopathy Papers

The Reply to “A Response to Robin Murphy”

Elaine defends her interview with Robin from last month’s issue.

Editor’s Note: Elaine responds to Edward’s response to Robin Murphy’s interview.  This is an interesting and passionate discussion—not just about Murphy’s interview but about how homeopathy is practiced at large.  We invite readers to post their comments in the comments section below, or send your thoughts to us at [email protected]


Edward De Beukelaer has written a response to Robin Murphy’s interview that we published last month.  Robin has not been able to respond because he is very much on the go!  So I will try to respond as best I can.  My comments to Edward’s article are in blue and bold.

It was with great interest that I read Robin Murphy’s interview in the December 2010 E-zine. His passionate plea for homeopaths to tackle all problems that are thrown at them is very welcome and is indeed important for the survival and even progress of homeopathy.  His willingness, and the efforts he makes to spread the word to all those interested, are a credit to him.  His suggestion that we should learn from a number of different homeopathic schools is indeed very good advice.

Nevertheless, after reading the interview, there are a few points I would like to open up for discussion.  I think they are important points for the understanding and progressive discussion between homeopaths from different schools and for the general presentation of homeopathy towards the official channels of medicine, which of course is nowadays mainly controlled by orthodox medicine, also called modern medicine or scientific medicine.

Scientific medicine?  I don’t think so!  Guess who conducts the highly vaunted clinical “trials” everyone is so taken with?  The drug companies that stand to profit from them!  And what else?  There’s no consensus on what a placebo is or ought to be—it could be anything at all and it doesn’t have to be revealed to the public!  We think it’s a sugar pill, but, sometimes it’s actually another drug!  

No surgical procedure has ever been subjected to a trial.  There have never been any chemotherapy trials or vaccine trials (in the sense that: here is the unvaccinated group, and here is the vaccinated group, now let’s follow them over a period of years and compare their health status). 

Let’s take the average drug trial:  If the drug succeeds in the limited way it purports to, but ruins the patient’s health, that drug trial is a “success”.  Everything else is a “side effect”, including death itself.  There are only a few drugs in use 30 years ago that are still in use today!  What does that mean?  That the clinical trials of the drugs that are no longer in use were wrongly decided?  Full of flaws?  How then can future and present trial results be trusted?  In homeopathy, we’re using the same remedies today that Hahnemann used 200 years ago!  Which system would seem more valid?


Before I start, I will briefly explain my background.  I am a conventionally educated vet who still practises conventional medicine for a good part of his time.  Luckily, I started studying homeopathy many years ago.  Studying and practising homeopathy has certainly allowed me to become a much better conventional vet and it has of course also given me a fantastic tool (homeopathy) allowing me to help patients beyond that which conventional medicine cannot even dream of.

The type of homeopathy I was first taught was a mixture of Kentian homeopathy, clinical prescribing, French pluralism and a form of complexism (Kollitch).  I learned to use the repertory and I walked away with lists of diseases and the remedies that were most likely indicated in these diseases.  But none of my initial attempts to use homeopathy made much difference to my patients.  Although I had understood and sensed the value and importance of homeopathy as a medical technique, after 3-4 years I had not got it, the remedies were nothing but lists of symptoms.  Maybe this was because I did not study enough at the time.  I certainly don’t have a very good memory for static information and I was probably too naive about all the new things I learned in the course.

Through luck, I stumbled into a school run by a vet (Mark Brunson) who gave me the keys to move forward.  His way of studying remedies and of retaining a dynamic that allows the remedy to be used in various situations has been indisputably the principal factor that I still practise homeopathy.  I walked away with a much better technique of repertorisation and armfuls of nuggets of knowledge about homeopathy in the real world.  I started to produce the odd result and little by little I evolved by listening to many others to arrive at my current situation where clients come back or send their friends.

My patients don’t believe in homeopathy, and a number of my clients don’t either.  In a way I purposely stayed in conventional medicine to make sure that when I practise homeopathy, results are not dependant on my clients beliefs, but because my patients clearly get better.

One thing that I never do is to prescribe conventional medicine and homeopathy within the same consultation.  This has allowed me to progress in homeopathy and make a clear distinction between improvement of the patient due to any modern medication that may already be taken or due to my homeopathic prescription.  Good homeopathic success usually allows many of the modern prescriptions to be dropped.

The first point I would like to pick up in Murphy’s interview is ‘philosophy’.

Firstly, I don’t think it is helpful to say that conventional medicine is devoid of philosophies.  The problem is that it may have two philosophies.

I agree that modern medicine may have two philosophies and here they are:

1. Symptoms must be stopped, whatever it takes.  It’s a little crazy because they know that the symptom is the body’s effort to heal itself or adapt to an underlying disorder, but, apparently they don’t take the underlying disorder very seriously, putting symptom management at the top of the list.

2.  The second philosophy is to make money.  Whatever it takes to do that: look the other way, advertise Rx drugs directly to consumers, shun every and any natural approach that works, conduct clinical trials only on synthetic chemicals, persecute parents who want to use non-drug treatments for their children…at the bottom of all these behaviors is the need to protect the power and profit interests of the medical/hospital complex.

One can even argue that there is a third philosophy: the philosophy of ‘business’ which has nothing to do with modern medicine but is how many medical professionals (and businesses) have appropriated the results of modern medicine’s efforts to tackle (word used on purpose) disease and respond to the demands of modern society. Suggesting that this third philosophy is central to modern medicine is a big mistake: it is certainly a by-product of modern society and its efforts to look for solutions on the medical front and is a driving force in the production of medicines, diagnostic tools, procedures and other medical organisations and businesses, but it is not central to it. The fact that it has developed some very skewed and damaging forms of medicine does not change this. The discussion on this subject should be taking place in socio-economical, political and philosophical contexts and are food for journalists and ethical committees.  Of course I don’t expect many of these to start making much wind for the time being. Heavy economical pressures do weigh in here.  Also, society wants top notch technical modern medicine which is very expensive to develop and use in any way. This is not a black and white issue.

But, let’s go back to the basic philosophies of modern medicine:

The first and central one is that before a disease can be treated, it must be scientifically examined and understood in such a way that a medicine and/or a technique can be developed

So, you’re saying their first philosophy is:  understand, categorize and give a name to a condition so that a drug can be created for it.  OK, I hear you so far.

that can be explained and proven to be efficient in that particular disease.  To achieve this, all modern scientific tools available should be used.  This driving force or central philosophy which was the start of modern medicine came about at the same time (or just a little before) that Hahnemann developed homeopathy as a medical principle, as a reaction (just like Hahnemann) against charlatan type medicine.

Because the scientific tools used for learning about life and disease have for a long time been like using boxing gloves to do lace embroidery by a poorly sighted person, the results of the scientific research did not benefit the refined intricate details and complexities of each individual patient.  In the last ten or twenty years, some of the tools used have become much more refined, and some of medicine’s modern findings are approaching the need for individual treatment for each patient that can begin to compete with the individuality principle which is central to homeopathy.  The problem is that the economical side-kick of modern medicine has lost interest in this progress because it may not be (is not) affordable for society or business or by the individual (or rather a mixture of these three) to develop this new, more individual, approach of modern medicine into practice (develop into treatments).  There is no doubt in the world that we have made enormous progress in the knowledge of health and disease.  This has led to a huge amount of progress in a number of narrow fields but were medicine has not made much progress is in the understanding of health and disease.

This takes us to the second philosophy of modern medicine, which in one way we could call the rescue philosophy of modern medicine.  Because, even when we cannot scientifically determine what the best treatment is, it is possible to ‘discover’ a medicine (by accident or any poaching means) and through statistical analysis (and sometimes manipulation) determine in what condition(s) this medicine can be used so that sufficient patients can benefit from it.  This happens while we wait (!?) for better answers from all the scientist who spend their entire lives, and more, on pushing modern research to more and more complex levels whilst many patients have so far not received any help at all.

Upon reflection, maybe I have this wrong: this second one is not really a philosophy, is it? This is more a convention between the governments who make the rules and the salesmen who sell the cures: if you can prove it works you can use it.  In other words, they are the modern version of the old travelling salesmen of elixirs now working with a license given to them by society.

Well, help!  Because I didn’t understand what you just said at all:  The second philosophy is … discovering the use of medicines by accident?  Is that what you said?  Let me think about this.  Philosophy #1:  Make a drug based on the understanding of a disease.  (Remember, I think their “understanding” is limited to the symptoms and not what’s causing them since that doesn’t help them make a drug).  Philosophy #2:  “Discover” a drug for a disease by accident.  OK, I guess it’s probably safe to say that a number of drugs have been discovered by accident.  Like Penicillin, for example.

What is the philosophy of homeopathy?

The philosophy of homeopathy is: the law of similars, the minimum dose, Hering’s Law of cure and potentization.

It is important to be clear about this when we criticise modern medicine to make sure we don’t make similar mistakes in our philosophical approach to the patient and prescriptions.

Edward, so far I haven’t heard you give a better definition of modern medicine’s “philosophy” than the one I gave at the top of the page, namely:  manage the symptom picture and make money for the medical/hospital complex (which means, oppose any discovery that compromises established interests). 

All you have said about modern medicine’s “philosophy” so far is that “Diseases are to be studied so that a proper drug can be made to counteract them.”  Well, for all their studying, they do predictably the same thing every time:  suppress symptoms and ignore the underlying cause.  And why?  Because the underlying disorder is usually something that requires a lifestyle change (stop the junk food, eat more vegetables, more fiber), no one makes money that way—except the organic farmer!  So that’s out of the question!  So no matter what or how hard they “study”, it comes down to “symptom-management” every time!

“Disease” means something completely different to us.  It’s how it’s expressed physically, mentally and emotionally.  To a homeopath, no two patients have the same disease, even when they do have the same disease; because they have it “differently”!  In fact, disease, to us, can be expressed in 5 words:  Etiology, Sensation, Location, Modalities and Concomitants.  Little Johnny’s intestinal colic forces him to bend double while Mary’s forces her to stretch back.  And while that means nothing to a doctor, to us it means John has a Colocynth disease and Mary has a Dioscorea disease.

I suppose not many people will disagree when I say that the philosophy of homeopathy is individuality, similitude, minimum dose and remedy (medicine) testing on healthy provers (people).

Thank you, I forgot: testing on healthy subjects and individualization — as I said, to a homeopath, no two people have exactly the same disease.

If we try to word this, one should say the following in order to understand better what these principles mean: first, substances have to be tested on healthy people and then studied to understand their homeopathic activity = indication/ effect/ nature/ essence/ picture or in one word: dynamic.  When we want to help/treat a patient we have to prescribe a substance that is capable of causing a homeopathic activity or better dynamic when administered that is similar to the one present in the patient: the dynamic that determines the expression of the ‘disease’, symptoms and or suffering of the patient.  The key to the dynamic in the patient and the key to the dynamic of a substance lies in the homeopathic symptoms that we and the patient (and/or the prover of a remedy) discover through careful observation and examination. This is the concept of homeopathic medicine.

This is where homeopathy is so different from conventional medicine: the examination of the patient is not aimed at understanding the disease and making a diagnosis which will determine the treatment but at finding the (homeopathic) symptoms that will direct the practitioner to find the best possible prescription for the patient/case out of the remedies that have been tested and are known to the practitioner/homeopathic community. Similarity between remedy dynamic and patient/disease dynamic is required for a remedy to be curative in a given case.

I pointed out earlier how modern medicine has made much progress in the understanding of disease. However a gap between this understanding, the possibilities arising from it, and the need to treat patients has created the need for (and a way of) developing/commercialising treatments irrespective of essential research into the understanding of disease.

As I said earlier, what modern medicine knows and what it does are two different things.

What they do at all times is prescribe drugs that oppose the symptom even when they know better, even when they know the drugs don’t work or are inappropriate.  For example, they know antibiotics don’t work on viruses but they prescribe them anyway.  They know people commonly get addicted to their nasal sprays but they prescribe them anyway.  They know that ear infection outcomes are the same whether antibiotics are prescribed or not but they give them anyway.

We have to acknowledge here, and start from the premise, that their fundamental foundation, if you will, is wrong.  Opposing or “managing” symptoms does not cure, it palliates and then aggravates.  So if your foundation is wrong, everything that springs from it is wrong. 

You’ve got a situation where they’ll do something brilliant in the life-saving arena and then blow it in the follow-up because all they know are toxic interventions: antibiotics, anti-inflammatories, anti-this and anti-that, de-natured “foods”….the patient spirals downward, and the next thing you know, he’s back in the ER again.  

This preoccupation with drug “therapy” is solely the manifestation of their money-making “philosophy”, which you seem to agree with Murphy prevents any real life-sustaining support to occur—because it’s unprofitable.

One can say that a similar gap exists in homeopathy:

No, I don’t think so.  You can’t say that homeopaths know something to be true and then do just the opposite; as in, we know that “like cures like” but we give Tylenol for fever anyway.  We may make lots of mistakes, but doing just the opposite of what we learned in homeopathy school shouldn’t be one of them!

a gap between the simple and profoundly efficient principle of using ‘like cures like’ and determining how to study remedies, how to remember them, how to distinguish between different remedies,

Edward, God knows we make mistakes!  We’ve got a lot to learn!  But it’s not the same as being taught and agreeing that symptoms are the body’s effort at self-healing, and then turning around and snuffing them out!  It’s basically like saying, “Sure, we have knowledge about disease; but, we don’t really have the tools to do anything with our knowledge, because all we’re allowed to do is suppress symptoms!”

and which symptoms in the patient will guide one to the best possible remedy. This has led to the development of many different prescription techniques.  At the two extreme ends of the scale these techniques range from prescribing remedies based on their herbal indications (like arnica for bruising for instance: very little individuality, just empiric experience), to the techniques where similarity is pushed as far as possible, to obtain the best possible similarity between case and remedy.

Well, this is a really good point because when the etiology is strong, as it is in blunt trauma, individuality becomes less important.  You do not need to take a two hour case of a blunt trauma, you simply need to give Arnica and then see what’s left afterwards, if anything!  You may need to follow with another remedy; but, everyone with blunt trauma is going to have bruising and swelling, hence Arnica!

Furthermore, to understand how much better the patient is doing after a prescription, homeopathy needs a philosophy of the patient and his or her disease.

This is where Hering’s Law comes in.  How well is the patient doing after the prescription?  An improvement on the mental plane coupled with an aggravation on a superficial plane means definitely the remedy was correctly chosen and healing is taking place as per Hering’s Law.  This is why Hering’s Law is so important to us –otherwise we might say, “Oh no!  Wrong remedy!  Find something else!  Patient is getting worse!” and we’d be making a big mistake.

A disease in the sense of modern medicine is a reasonably well (?) defined descriptive set of symptoms and diagnostic parameters.  Disease in homeopathy is more a description of the state of the patient which is a mixture of the diagnosis (disease as defined by modern medicine) and other signs, symptoms and sufferings the patient presents, now and (possibly) in the past.  Here a big evolution has taken place over homeopathic history from looking at the patient of the moment to looking at the patient in time (patient with their past).

Well, I just don’t understand this at all.  After giving a remedy, we are looking for the signs of health; and this is what I learned from Robin Murphy.  What are the signs of health?

1.  Clarity of mind.

2.  A feeling of calm.

3.  Appetite and thirst return to normal.

4.  Sleep is peaceful.

5.  Pain lessens.

6.  Copes better with stress/adjusts to change.

7.  Energy normalizes, sense of humor returns.

If we see this after giving a remedy, we stay with it, as this is proof that the remedy is working, even if a worsening is noticed on a superficial plane—we know it’s only temporary.

Not everybody agrees with this evolution of the conception of homeopathy which is fine as long as this is made clear.

Although I very much agree with many things Robin Murphy explained in his interview, he is not always clear where his concept of homeopathy is in relation to the above.

I don’t know what the “above” is.  Do you mean Robin isn’t clear about whether he looks at the patient in the moment or over time?  He looks for the signs of health, as I just said.  We all should.  I wouldn’t know what else to look for.

This leads to confusion between the technique of making a prescription and the concept of homeopathic medicine/thinking which can be shared with as many homeopaths possible and also those people who do not practise homeopathy.  When Robin Murphy explains how hygiene, nutritional and herbal techniques come into play in his daily practice this is an explanation of how one’s medical practice functions, not how to practise homeopathy.

According to The Organon, the homeopath must do more than just give a remedy.  Look at aphorism 4:  The physician has to know the things that disturb health and how to remove them.  What does that mean?  That giving a remedy isn’t enough.  It means warning people about life-style, food choices and things they should avoid, toxic things in their environment.

Why am I making this fuss?

I don’t know!

Because it is important that homeopathy becomes a clear medical principle to all (in and out of the homeopathic world) and that everyone understands that differences between schools only exist because of the difficulty in applying this principle which gives way to the various attempts of many to create practical systems to make (successful) homeopathic prescriptions or even successful (helpful) medical practice. Is what the old masters did the only way of practising homeopathy?  I don’t think so. Within the old masters there are differences in how they used homeopathic remedies just as nowadays there are differences between various schools in how they use remedies.  That is why I agree with Robin Murphy when he says that it is important not to study one school only and to be sure to listen what others have to say and, from understanding their clearly explained concepts (which are not always available), decide how to best use various ideas to progress one’s own work.

Homeopathy in Haiti or the big town?

In any given situation one has to deal with what is presented: in Haiti you treat the people in Haiti with their problems in their situation and with the possibilities available.  In the big town you prescribe for the people in the big town with their problems in their situation and with the possibilities available there.  Surely one can learn much from prescribing in an area such as Haiti and apply it in the big town, and in a perfect world a whole homeopath should be capable of working in both situations.  There are no grounds here to argue that homeopathy should not try to progress towards techniques that are more individual than those used by our predecessors: the only thing we do is push the boundaries of individualism or in other words develop/ refine the concept of homeopathy.

It is possible to practice good homeopathy with 75 remedies, but extending this number to 400 or even 3000 through improvement of the understanding of individuality of patients and the individuality of remedies can only benefit patients.  This will place extra demands on the homeopath, but do we not owe this to the patient?  For my own sake, life would be easier if I could stick to just 75 remedies.  I would spend much less time studying and going to meetings and conferences.  My experience is that one fails too many patients by so doing.

Robin Murphy is correct to say that one has to master as many prescription techniques as possible, but of course the modern additions to homeopathy are just extra tools one can learn and master.

Over a period of time, some of these newer approaches will prove to be merely new ideas, whilst others will be called progress of homeopathy by future generations.

Constitutional homeopathy and a few other loose observations.

I am not sure I really like the use of this word, as if there can be a difference between homeopathy and homeopathy. Is this not about opinions and arguments about what symptoms on which to prescribe and how to assess homeopathic improvement of the patient? Is this not just about trying to help the patient rather than solely address the reason for which he/she comes to see us; offer the patient more than maybe he/she expected because homeopathy is capable of doing more.  Is this not about reducing the need for the patient to come and see us again the following month?  Trying to make the cure as long lasting as possible, helping the patient to thrive within their situation?

If a patient comes with a gangrenous toe and that is what needs prescribing on because that is where the crux of the case is, of course one should prescribe for the toe.

You’re saying “of course” here, Edward; but, actually, we had a case in the ezine once where a patient with gangrene was given Veratrum alb. because he was thought to be “that” kind of person, a “Veratrum” person.  When that didn’t work, only then was he given the proper remedy for a gangrenous toe—Secale!  Why didn’t he get Secale right away?  Because people are accustomed to thinking now that we have to find the constitutional remedy in every case!  Robin is here to implore us to be more clinical.  More often than not, a person who comes to us has a “condition” of some sort, some pathology, like a gangrenous toe.  We have to let people know that in these cases, we have a “reverse hierarchy”!  The top of the case is not the mentals anymore—unless they’re peculiar and came with the chief complaint.  The top of the hierarchy is the pathology. 

So, I’ll give you an example of this.  Andre Saine was lecturing about a cancer case of his, a man named John.  Andre was dismayed that the family had stopped consulting with him, wasn’t keeping him apprised of what was going on, so he went to the house, and all the relatives were there, they were on a death-watch, waiting for John to die so they could arrange for the funeral, etc.  So, Andre goes up to the bedroom by himself to see John, and John is in a coma.  He’s lying in bed naked and has thrown the covers off.  So, does Andre give a cancer remedy?  No, he gives Hyoscyamus!  Why?  Shamelessness and “wants to be naked”.  Well, guess what?  The next thing you know, John has gone back to work!  He completely recovered!  Why?  The mentals were peculiar!  

For the mentals to be useful in a pathological case, they have to be “strange/rare/peculiar/characteristic” as per paragraph 153 of The Organon.  So, we should be asking ourselves the question, “What remedies are known to cure this condition?  Breast cancer…hmm….Conium, Silica, Asterias Rubens, Phytolacca, Lac Caninum….”  Can you come up with these remedies through “totality of symptoms” repertorizing? 

If a breast cancer patient comes to you and you take a constitutional case, chances are you will come up with a remedy like Nat-mur, but that won’t cure her cancer.  In fact, I read a very badly reasoned case in “Simillimum” many years ago, the homeopath was proudly showing that even though he or she had failed to cure the patient’s breast cancer, the patient had, nonetheless, improved so well mentally and emotionally!  And this is what homeopathy can do, we were told!  Egads!  This practitioner gave the patient her constitutional remedy and was so proud of herself, and didn’t realize she could have cured her by giving the appropriate breast cancer remedy like Astarias Rubens, Conium, Silica or Phytolacca.  Which reminds me that Robin Murphy has a seminar on Breast Cancer which you can download:

Breast Cancer Research with ROBIN MURPHY, ND (11 1/2 hours) — Available for Streaming Only — No Shipping Costs!

If the improvement in the patient is not sufficient, another remedy can be found at a later date, if this is required (by the patient).

Should we distinguish between etiology and symptom?  Etiology and symptoms are no different the one from the other: one has to prescribe on what is homeopathic in the case: sometimes that is a particular symptom, sometimes that is the etiology.  A homeopath should always be a clinical homeopath, and a clinical homeopath who is going to give all the depth possible he can to the patient in the given situation.  Physical signs of a homeopathic quality (unusual, peculiar, striking) are often very reliable leads to find a very good remedy for the case.

Well, Edward, now you have really hit on something that you and Murphy definitely disagree with.  “Etiology over-rules symptomatology” is one of Murphy’s strongest statements and you will never talk him out of it.  What it means is that some remedies are extremely well-known for causation:  Ailments from fright—Aconite.  Ailments after head injury—Nat-sulph.  When you see this in a case, a clear etiology with limited remedy choices, see which one of them best matches your case.  You are on safer ground doing that than taking a two hour case and giving equal weight to all the symptoms.

I would have reservations about promoting a search amongst remedies classified under disease names.

Look, if we couldn’t do this, no acute prescribing book could ever be written.

Here there is a danger of falling into the conventional approach to medicine: the clinical diagnosis indicates a treatment.

No!  it means, of all the flu remedies listed here, which one matches your case the best?  “Well, let’s see, my patient is dull, dizzy, droopy, chilly, indifferent to offers of help/just wants to sleep… it looks like Gelsemium, and that’s in bold here, so, I’m going to go with Gelsemium.”  Otherwise, we could be picking Sepia for the same symptoms if we didn’t have some framework to go by, isn’t that right?  It’s very important to know that Sepia, for instance, is not a flu remedy.

Unless one is a homeopath of the stature of Robin Murphy, whose grip on remedies, I am sure, is excellent, there is a very serious danger of abandoning the concept of homeopathy (individuality, similitude).

No, then you’re over-simplifying this issue.  Again, no one would ever write an acute prescribing book if this were an illegitimate way of practicing; namely, considering the diagnosis in choice of remedy, or letting that be your jumping-off point.  You know, Edward, geez!  The one thing doctors sort of know how to do—make a diagnosis—and you’re saying it doesn’t matter?  Hey, we have to let them do something!

The concept of individuality of the patient is also often abandoned when practitioners prescribe for a given miasm they perceive in the patient: the prescription is made for the individual disease that is found in the patient and not the individual patient.

If a lesser individual type prescription makes us prescribe a remedy that is alien to the patient and which we keep on repeating because we are convinced that it is the right one, are we not likely to cause side effects from such a prescription, even when the patient initially may have been happy with the prescription?  It is not because this remedy is diluted homeopathically that it is incapable of causing side effects.  Can we say at the same time that homeopathically prepared substances are efficient and innocuous?

In any case a remedy only really becomes homeopathic when it is prescribed in a case where there is a similitude between the dynamic of the remedy and the dynamic of the patient. Otherwise a remedy is just a dilution of a substance made according to a particular rule.

Of course using this technique of prescribing for a disease (diagnosis, miasm) may well be very helpful in making progress with the patient but I find too little emphasis in writings differentiating between concept of homeopathy (homeopathic individuality as perceived by the writer) and the technique of his/her practice.

What if, by using a more ‘intellectual’ technique, one can speed up the healing process by finding a more individual remedy for the patient rather than ‘wandering from one level to the another level prescriptions’, using a number of remedies over a long period. I still know that if no good similimum comes up from the homeopathic consultation, I can use a less individual prescriptions based on any other technique and that at a later date, progress by me, the homeopath, and the patient may allow for a good (better) follow on prescription.

Materia medica.

Some (much) of the information in homeopathic materia medicas comes from accidental poisonings, cured cases and historical empirical type of prescriptions. This information is necessary and helpful to study the remedies (which is the purpose of the materia medica) but if we fall into the attraction of using remedies because of their previous successes in certain diseases or for certain symptoms for which they were previously effective, we may develop a non-homeopathic reflex prescription style: an empiric way of prescribing based on experience rather than good homeopathic remedy selection technique.  One can never caution the reader enough about how this path reduces the power of homeopathy. Even when such prescription lines are more popular and practical, I am not sure it is always in the interest of the patient and homeopathy to promote them without indicating its limitations.

Minimum dose.

I nearly forgot to touch on one thing: minimum dose.  That is of course about reducing side effects from administering medicines.  Here I applaud Robin Murphy’s advice that the concept of aggravation is not a necessity and needs to be approached with caution.

Hooray!  A note of agreement!  I want to thank Edward for taking the time to sit down and put his thoughts on paper for a useful discussion and I hope that our discussion will bring more clarity to many of the issues raised in Murphy’s interview which, by the way, is right here:

Robin Murphy

The minimum dose principle also underpins the individuality principle: of course the more individual the prescription, the less remedy is required. Would it then not be in every patient’s interest to find a remedy that needs very little repeating (minimum dose); a remedy that has a lasting and profound action? And again I repeat, the choice of the technique for the case is based on the circumstances and the type of results desired/needed.

When on the farm, the animals don’t respond (or not sufficiently) to the first aid classical, Bryonia, Belladonna, Pulsatilla and other common remedies, if I want to make a difference, I have to dig and dig until something unusual can be found which points to a remedy maybe never used in a farm situation before or about which I have never read any cases or even have little knowledge.  If the remedy’s dynamic is similar to the dynamic in the case, animals return to normal health and production. It may take me two, three, or sometimes more, attempts but it is more often than not worthwhile.  The prescription may well be based on one or two mind symptoms. My experience is that such situations are common and therefore it is important for all who use homeopathy to always be aware of this.  This should not stop anybody from using first line homeopathy, but it is important to always be aware of the limited nature of this approach.  Again, we owe it to the patients (and homeopathic medicine) to make sure we do as well as possible.

This is not only my personal experience.  A number of my colleagues in French speaking countries have the same experience. I have translated and edited many (101) of the veterinary cases they published over the years in a book called ‘Homeopathy. What to expect?’. For me, these cases represent real homeopathy: from a case of straight forward Bryonia for respiratory symptoms to Helleborus for a case of collapse in a cow. From Cannabis Indica for an over-grooming cat to cuprum for a feather-losing myna.


I have been pedantic in this article.  I have done so because it is my opinion that this discussion is necessary for the progress of homeopathy.  The message of homeopathy has to be taken out to the broader public for use ‘in the kitchen’. At the same time we also have to bring the message that homeopathy has a number of requirements which we have to always bear in mind if we want to serve the patient to the best of our abilities.  This may have a drawback in that it risks deterring those who only want simple solutions.  I am sure that they will eventually learn that such simple solutions are less likely to bring long term benefits.

About the author

Elaine Lewis

Elaine Lewis, D.Hom., C.Hom.
Elaine is a passionate homeopath, helping people offline as well as online. Contact her at [email protected]
Elaine is a graduate of Robin Murphy's Hahnemann Academy of North America and author of many articles on homeopathy including her monthly feature in the Hpathy ezine, "The Quiz". Visit her website at:
https://elainelewis.hpathy.com/ and TheSilhouettes.org


  • Another example of why I find what Elaine has to say helpful. Learning that “Etiology over-rules symptomatology” is when the proverbial light-bulb came on for me. Up until then, when faced with yet another acute family illness, I was too inexperienced in homeopathy to help. I would have likely given up trying to learn homeopathy in those early days as I wasn’t having much success. When Elaine gave me this tip, I became much more able to quickly find the correct remedy. Suddenly homeopathy made much more sense and I became a fairly decent layperson acute-prescriber. For me, it’s not about shortcuts, philosophy or style. It’s about what works.

  • Well this discussion makes one point clear to me: that Elaine knows a lot more about the science of homeopathy than our Vet friend Dr. De Beukelaer. The gap between allopathy and homeopathy is as old as the time of the Greeks: we are talking here about Empirical medicine and Rational nedicine (although the latter is simply a reflection of the old Newtonian principle while Homeopathy and TCM are Quantum medicines. This discussion is as old as mankind.And it wil never go away.

    Dr luc De Schepper

    • Thanking you so very much. Have a great day. I appreciate you so very much. Louis Dion & Robin Murphy led me to you. How blessed I am.

  • “The minimum dose principle also underpins the individuality principle: of course the more individual the prescription, the less remedy is required. Would it then not be in every patient’s interest to find a remedy that needs very little repeating (minimum dose)”

    This statement from Edward’s article, found right below Elaine’s final comment,seems confused/confusing. The “minimum dose” is not = the dose that needs very little repeating!In fact, the small, split dose allows for the repetition of the remedy – IF and when needed– to speed the cure.

    • Tricia makes a good point. Sorry I missed that, Tricia, but thank you for picking it up. “The more individual the Rx, the less remedy is required.” There’s a suggestion here that the right remedy, the simillimum, won’t have to be repeated, or rarely so. It is true that a “close” remedy will either not work at all or will relapse often and ultimately fail altogether. But it is also true that the correct remedy will need frequent repetition if the ideal potency is not available. For example, Ferrum phos. is absolutely the right remedy for the person’s sore throat; but, as the patient only has the 6X, it must be taken every 15 minutes or the case will relapse. Ideal would have been 30C which might have only been needed once.

  • Elaine Lewis is brilliant! There is something to learn from every sentence that she writes. She makes the often difficult science of homeopathy look easy without any bells and whistles. She is a classic homeopath to the bone and I love her articles. GO ELAINE!!!! Go Robin Murphy too!

  • I like the idea of passionate discussion, Alan. Good you posted here.
    I like Edward’s points, I tend to think in the same way from the clinical rather than philosophical standpoint.
    I enjoy Elaine’s passionate responses … and though I see her point of view as legitimate, sometimes its very hard for people to look at disease in the philosophical way we see it… but we can still hope they do. Still its important to realise, however much we may want to follow our philosophy, very often we end up unknowlingly being only “symptomatic prescribers” like modern medicine and suppressing almost as much as they do.
    dr. leela

  • Interesting discussion. Dr. Elaine is passionate while Dr. De Beukelaer seems to be sitting on a fence instead of on the ground.

  • I agree with Dr.Luc’s statement.. Elaine knows more about homeopathy than Edward. Dr.Leela’s fear that we may be suppressing when we prescribe based on patholgy is common among the ‘elite’ homeopaths, but the experience of thousands of normal homeopaths is that ‘it is not so’.

    I spend time in analysing the prescriptions of homeopaths and the response of the patient through various means..reading case histories, interacting with patients, interacting with physicians, and last but not the least by participating in discussions like this on various forums.

    During the span of the last 8 years or so, I have seen excellant results with NO SUPPRESSION what so ever, by simpler homeopathy as suggested by Elaine, Murphy, Ian Watson, just to name a few whom you may know.

    If one understands the concepts of aetiology, affinity,the sphere of action of the support remedies, the ideas behind the series of remedies,the posology aspect, and the criteria for assessing the action of the remedy, the suffering of the patient can be greatly alleviated by what seems to be a mechanical way of prescribing.

    As an example a case of spinal/back injury reminds me to look at Hypericum, Arnica, Rhustox, Bryonia, Ruta, Causticum, Calc. carb, Calc. flour, Calc. phos, Mag.phos and a few others known to have the ability to cure such injuries. 90 out of hundred cases get cured by this seemingly routine prescription.

    Arnica / Hypericum( in case spinal) followed by Rhustox/ Bryonia/ a few others depending on modalities, along with Mag.phos 6X/ calc.flour 6X/ calc.phos 6X for a few days never fails to bring appreciable relief to the patient. The lingering aspects are normally taken care by medicines like Calc. carb. You need to know about twenty medicines thoroughly to be able to help the injury to back/ spine cases.

    I know SPECIALISTS who take up only the back ache cases..with a sucess rate as high as 90%, and they get more and more patients by referal from their earlier patients. These are the ‘on the ground’facts.

    I know GYNECs who studied some 15 remedies thoroughly, and use them effectively in labour cases. They know nothing about treating back problems.

    I know that I am stirring a hornet’s net by claiming that you can SPECIALISE in homeopathy. I am ready to discuss further.


    • Murthy, you raise excellent points all around.

      I finally began to ‘get a grip’ on prescribing and case analysis ONLY after adopting Ian Watson’s suggestions [which it turns out are largely Clarke’s!- see his ‘Methodologies of Hom. and his Musculo-skeletal books] and later studying as much of Murphy’s as I can find/afford.

      Starting with therapeutics and aetiologies. Then working ‘backwards’ from this looking for the modalities and other confirmatory

      NOT as Elaine so clearly puts it, looking for your flu remedy from all 3,000.
      It is a plain and simple fact denied by too many without experience in both Kentian and traditional homeopathy.

      Kent was a master but the rigid theory he operated from has hurt Homeopathy more than we can ever discern. Unneeded aggravations, prescribing too deep, with too high a potency and then declaring a case incurable because you are prescribing 1 or many layers too deep.

      Constituitional Homeopathy is rarely appropriate Homeopathy. When it is nothing else will do. Thanks Elaine, Robin and everyone working so hard to bring us sourcebooks on 21st century practical Homeopathy!

  • Any therapeutic system attempts to do essentially only 2 things — 1) Symptom relief (2) Risk reduction. There are certain disorders that need only symptom relief eg migraine, depression, IBS etc and some others that need only risk reduction eg systemic hypertension, diabetes mellitus, dyslipidemia etc. Many illnesses need a combination of both — symptom relief and risk reduction. In my experience with conventional medicine and homeopathy, i find that conventional medicine does better in disorders needing risk reduction alone while homeopathy does better in disorders needing symptom relief alone. Those that need both, may benefit from both therapies. I dont know if the doctors posting here deal with in hospital cases like myocardial infarction, ARDS, sepsis, Acute renal failure, cancers etc — conventional treatment often saves lives. So lets not get into that “which is better” debate — there is no one answer — one has to choose the patient carefully for the appropriate treatment.

    • Dr. Habbu says, “Let’s not get into that ‘which is better’ debate.” OK, I won’t. I’ll let you decide for yourself after reading my interview with Ahmed Currim, MD, a homeopath who did a lot of work in the ER. Here in my interview with him, he shares his experiences as a homeopath in the Emergency Room. In the end you’ll ask yourself, “Is there anything homeopathy CAN’T do?”

  • I am somewhat disappointed that those who responded to my letter have not really understood what I was trying to say. Must I conclude that I was not clear enough, or is there too much emotion involved that a rational discussion is not possible?

    • Edward

      This has been your conclusion which summarises your views.



      I have been pedantic in this article. I have done so because it is my opinion that this discussion is necessary for the progress of homeopathy. The message of homeopathy has to be taken out to the broader public for use ‘in the kitchen’. At the same time we also have to bring the message that homeopathy has a number of requirements which we have to always bear in mind if we want to serve the patient to the best of our abilities. This may have a drawback in that it risks deterring those who only want simple solutions. I am sure that they will eventually learn that such simple solutions are less likely to bring long term benefits.


      Your critics more or less are saying that

      Simple solutions within the philosophy of homeopathy is the need of the hour. In properly trained hands these simple solutions do give long term results.

      All of us believe in the basic tenants and philosophy of homeopathy. What we want to do is to erase the impression that homeopathy is difficult to practice. We also want to erase the impression you are trying to create that simple solutions wil always give temporary results. This is where we differ.

      Simple solutions when practiced in the way Murphy is saying(Also Burnett/ Boericke/Nash/AUR/Koppikar/Banerjee and many others said) will definitely yield positive long lasting results. We need a main homeopathic remedy, we also may need to give tissue salts simulataneously, we also may need to give a mother tincture too to support the weak organ. This will yield and is yielding positive long lasting results.

      It is a question of the training you get. Many persons like you are never trained in clinical situations, where 100 patiends a day is pretty common.
      It is no wonder that you can’t understand how to make homeopathy simple and effective too.

      I am glad Murphy took time to educate all of us and Elaine choose to tear apart your reservations in an apt way.


  • Murthy, there is a HUGE difference in what Elaine and Murphy are saying and what you are propagating. And what makes you point towards Edward’s lack of clinic experience? He is a medically trained Vet and has worked hard for homeopathy. His medical knowledge and passion for homeopathy is far more than yours and that of most Indian homeopaths who see 100 patients a day and literally throw remedies in the ring on every symptom.

    You can argue on such grounds with non-Indians but I am an Indian homeopath and I have seen the homeopathic practice here and its results from far closer view then you can ever do. During my student days I have assisted homeopaths who prescribed combinations, did polypharmacy and what not. And I know what their long-term results stand for. That is not ‘simple’ homeopathy. That is ‘kachra’ (garbage) homeopathy. That is allopathy in the guise of homeopathy. That is lack of diligence in offering treatment. They can often palliate but so does allopathy!

    Edward is NOT against common-sense prescriptions, not against using etiology. All he is saying is that if a patient and the root of his illness can be understood from a deeper perspective for a better long-lasting cure, then why do something else? Even Elaine and Murphy take such pains with their chronic patients.

    Elaine’s words against conventional medicine are passionate but from what I understood of Edwards words was that all he is saying is that don’t shun conventional medicine as all bad. There are good people there too working with good intentions. There are things that we can learn from them too. Even Hahnemann was not against using allopathic means in critical care. Why do we even need to find faults with others, when our own house is not in order?

    Elaine accuses conventional medicine following a philosophy of business. Well, can someone tell me what on earth homeopathic pharmacies like Heel, Boiron, Reckweg, SBL, Bakson and all other Indian homeopathic companies are doing? At least allopathic companies do a trial, even if they rig some of it. These homeopathic companies sell low trituration mixtures of often unproved remedies in an untested combination! Ethically it is more vulgar then what conventional medicine does.

    We should look inside before pointing fingers at others.

    Edward’s plea is only for diligence, giving time to the patient when it can help find a better simillimum. He is not against using keynotes or etiology to select a remedy when their are time constraints or when the situation demands it. But he is against creating those situations artificially or to promote it as the ideal. What’s wrong in that?

    • Thanks for that, Manish. Your comment does fill the gaps in my letter and hopefully makes the sense of it much clearer for all.
      Please all of you, continue practicing homeopathy based on local prescription/ethiology it can be very effective. When I get the occasion I do so myself. It is not unusual that a local pathology or an ethiolgy can lead you to a very good similimum, it is all about technique (I used the expression ‘Crux of the case’). It is also about knowing that when the local symptoms or ethiology are not homeopathic (or a prescription based on them don’t give ‘homeopathic results’) in the case, other ways are needed to find a good similimum, it is about knowing that homeopathy is a very demanding technique and making sure we don’t be too tempted to fall back on this for that condition reflexes, and …. not to fool ourselves.
      The second message was: be positive about modern science in the sense of make use of what we can learn from it (or how we can use it) for the patient.
      The letter talked about homeopathic philosophy/technique not about medical practice. One’s medical practice of course may/will include hygienic advise and maybe other prescription techniques. We equally than have to make sure that we use these other techniques to the nest standard possible.

      I should have written a longer comment in my previous post but I was too disappointed to do so. I apologise for this.

  • I am with you when you said all that allopathy does is build hospitals and make money and clinical trials is a sham, the most unscientific thing that happens in the name of science is this clinical trials.
    Thanks for the interview and rebuttal as is …
    It is not important what and how you do things .Ultimately the patient has to feel better .If by repertorization or clinical method or intuitive method .If a homoepath is curing 80-85 out of hundred people he is a great homoepath.
    Loved your discussion and loved the concept of knowledge to share concept of Robin MUrphy. Every big shot in homoeopathy should come forward and share his knowledge freely. No patents and kind of things.

    Thanks a lot for every thing

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