People are making dreadful prescribing mistakes in homeopathy simply because they haven’t read The Organon by Homeopathy’s founder, Samuel Hahnemann, MD.
Vamsi (our Career Day Contest winner!) wrote to me asking why I always say to put 2 remedy pellets in a small bottle of water and succuss (pound) the bottle 5 times before each dose? She ended by saying, “No one in India does that!” I showed her Aphorism 247 from The Organon and it plainly states:
“It is inadmissible to repeat, even once, exactly the same dose of medicine without modifying it … The vital principle [what Traditional Chinese Medicine calls “chi”] does not accept such identical doses without opposition, i.e. without bringing out other symptoms of the medicine. … Therefore, no progress toward cure but only a real aggravation of the case can result. But if one slightly modifies the potency of each new dose by dynamizing it to a somewhat higher degree, the sick vital principle allows itself to be altered further by the same medicine without ill effect.”
Whoa! Vamsi was shocked! “I never read that before!” she said. “I wonder why no one is aware of that?”
“Well, I don’t know,” I told her; “except to say that apparently no one has read The Organon!”
I have heard, “Why should I read The Organon? My teacher read it!” Or, “It’s boring!”
I think there’s some sort of “Organo-Phobia” sweeping across the land: fear of archaic language, fear of anything old-fashioned, fear of run-on sentences. But with the Kunzli translation, you have nothing to fear! It’s very easy to read! Here’s what his translation looks like:
“If you’re sure of your prescription, you can go high!”
Have you heard people say that? I hear it so often, it may be accepted dogma by now! Is that now the criterion for potency selection–how sure you are? Nothing to do with the patient’s sensitivity or how recent or chronic or intense the complaint is? It’s all about you and how you feel? Interesting! Who knew? Actually, none of us should ever be so “sure” of anything! For one thing, you don’t know what information your patient has withheld from you!
I have also heard, “If the case is mental, you should go high, if it’s physical, you go low.” Or, “If the case has a delusion, you go high.” Here is what The Organon actually says. (And by the way, words in brackets [ ] are mine, but underlines are Hahnemann’s)
Aphorism 275 and 276, Kunzli translation (It’s easy to read, trust me!):
“…A medicine given in too large a dose though completely homeopathic to the case [the simillimum] … will still harm the patient by its quantity and unnecessarily strong action on the vital force… For this reason, a medicine … does harm when it is given in overdose. In strong doses, the more homeopathic the medicine and the higher the potency, the more harm it does.”
Oh my gosh! This is the exact opposite to the pronouncement, “If you’re sure of your remedy, you can go high!” Then he talks about Unnecessary Repetitions (Aph. 276):
“Excessively large doses of an accurately selected homeopathic medicine, especially if frequently repeated, are, as a rule, very destructive. Not infrequently, they endanger a patient’s life or make his disease almost incurable.”
Yikes! We’re always saying homeopathy is so safe! Yes, if prescribed according to The Organon, it is! But, I have seen many of these desperately ill patients! They find me because they’ve done a google search for something pertaining to homeopathic aggravations; so, they find “The Aggravation Zapper” (which is on my website and I HOPE you will incorporate it into your practice) and they say, “I was told to take [remedy] over and over again for 6 months” or, “I took [remedy] for an allergy and then afterwards I felt better, but my homeopath told me to keep taking it and now I’m worse than before!”
The world of homeopathy is filled with these embarrassing and horrifying stories! I’m guessing that no one is aware of:
As long as there is a marked, obviously progressing improvement during treatment, no more medicine of any kind must be given…
What is to not understand here? If you are strikingly better, STOP DOSING!!!!!! What I commonly hear about is a typical allopathic dosing schedule–three to five pellets, three times a day for two weeks or a month, etc., and what does The Organon actually say about this? See Aph. 278 below:
“Now the question arises [as to] what this ideal degree of smallness is, the degree that is certain and gentle in its remedial effect: how small should the dose of a given correctly chosen homeopathic medicine be to cure a case of disease in the best way? To solve this problem, to determine for a given medicine used in homeopathic practice what dose would be sufficient and at the same time small enough to effect the gentlest, quickest cure, is not a matter of theoretical conjecture, as one can easily understand. Theorizing and specious sophistry cannot enlighten us on this subject, nor can every possible eventuality be tabulated in advance. Only pure experiment, the meticulous observation of the sensitivity of each patient, and sound experience can determine this in each individual case.”
So what he’s saying is…
You can’t have a “theory” about dosing, nor a dosing “protocol”!!!!!
There can be no dogma, no postulate, no dosing “schedule”, as EVERY CASE is different! The only principle that applies to you is “the minimum dose” (only the amount of dosing that’s necessary), because what you’re shooting for is both “remediation” but “gentleness” as well! Cure, yes; but there is no cure, according to Hahnemann, if it is not done GENTLY! (Which reminds me of our editor, Alan Schmukler’s, very aptly-named website: www.HealGently.com . Way ta go, Alan!) And people ask me, “When should I give the remedy again?” or, “How many times a day for how many days?”, etc. and I always say, “How should I know! I don’t even know what the first dose is going to do! What if you get completely better after the first dose? Why would I give the remedy again, for what reason? I have to see what the first dose is going to do before I can do or say anything else! And similarly, what if the first dose makes you worse? Why would I repeat it?”
The idea is to start the case, not to attempt to have the whole thing mapped out in advance or to try to hit a home-run right out of the box!
(Which seems to be what most people are attempting.) What does Hahnemann say in Aphorism 279 about that?
“Pure experience absolutely proves that even in a chronic or complicated disease…the dose of the highly potentized homeopathic remedy…can, as a rule, not be made so small that it is not stronger than the natural disease, that it cannot at least partially overcome it, that it cannot at least partially extinguish it in the feelings of the vital principle, that it cannot start the process of cure.”
So the idea is that your job is to “start” the healing process. Just starting is good enough, helping the patient to feel somewhat improved, partially better–slow and steady is the idea– because that is the GENTLE idea! He keeps using the word “small”. This is something most of us are not thinking about. “Go HIGH! Go HIGH!” is what we’re always hearing, and Hahnemann keeps saying, “small”, what is the right amount of “smallness”?
Through EXPERIMENT, and using your EXPERIENCE, find the dose that’s effective but GENTLE. Now how does this translate into actual practice? It might be that you dissolve 2 6C pellets into a bottle of water, give a sip, wait 24 hours and ask the patient what he felt. If he says he feels strikingly better, no need to redose unless he starts to relapse! If he says he felt maybe 10% better, you might conclude you need to give this remedy three times a day with 5 succussions before each dose and tell the patient to keep you posted as to improvement so that you will know when going up to 9C might be necessary, or changing the remedy to something else to vanquish an acute might be necessary, or when to cut back to once or twice a day because of how much improvement has been made. You are constantly re-evaluating your dosing schedule and potency selection based on the feedback you’re getting from your patient. No, 6C is most likely not going to cure the whole case, but it’s a place to start that won’t harm the patient. You learn from starting small what you need to do next.
I had an allergy client once whose terrible itching wasn’t made better by Wyethia until she got to 1M which is a very high potency! But because we’re not psychics and can’t possibly know these things in advance, we started at 6C three times a day. When we saw that the results were not strong enough, we went up to 9C, then 12C, then 30C, then 200C… Ultimately, it wasn’t until we reached 1M that we were satisfied that the allergy was gone.
“But we heard you’re supposed to get an aggravation first, and that it’s a really good sign!”
Gee, that doesn’t seem to be what Hahnemann is saying at all. Here’s what he says in Aphorism 280 (see how easy reading the Kunzli translation of The Organon is?):
“One continues to give a medicine as long as it continues to benefit the patient and does not give rise to any new troublesome complaints [aggravations] and one gradually increases the dose [for example, raising the number of succussions or the amount of water swallowed, etc.] until the patient, while feeling generally better, begins once again to experience one or more of his old original symptoms to a moderate degree. If the remedy has been modified each time by succussion (par. 247) and the very moderate doses have been gradually increased, this return of old symptoms indicates that the cure is imminent, and that the vital principle has no more need to be affected by the similar [remedy].”
So what has he said here? For one thing, if an aggravation occurs, you have to stop dosing! You’re only supposed to persist as long as there are no aggravations, and coming to grips with that fact alone would improve the practice of many a homeopath! And when the return of old symptoms occurs, there should be, if you’ve been prescribing GENTLY all along, a general feeling of well-being! This is how you know it’s “return of old symptoms” and not just an acute illness occurring, because you’re feeling so much better on the inside. Plus, you should probably stop the remedy now because the case is most likely finished–at least that layer of the case, anyway.
Do we have to start acute cases with the lowest potencies too?
The minimum dose still applies! But it just so happens that by the very nature of acutes (being often sudden and intense–and this is where your EXPERIENCE comes in), 6C is often too weak a potency to have any impact on such cases. I have found that nothing smaller than a 30C makes an impression on acutes, sometimes 200C is more appropriate, less typically 1M and even occasionally 10M in a very severe case, like a bad injury, pneumonia, post-surgery pain and the like. Still, however, the minimum dose applies: are you going to give a 1M for a cold? Does that seem appropriate? Giving a 30C and observing for a few hours to see if anything changes will give you an idea of what to do next. You have to experiment and use your experience as a guide as Hahnemann said. It might even be that a very sensitive patient needs only a 6C in a large bottle of water with 2 succussions before each dose, 2 times a day for a cold. Every case is different, every patient is different. How do you decide what to do, when to repeat, when to change potencies? It’s all based on feed-back, you can’t know these things at the start! Is the patient considerably better? Stop dosing! Wait and watch! Is he getting worse? Is it an aggravation? Stop dosing! Was he better for a while but now relapsing? Give the remedy more often. Is increasing the number of repetitions failing to put the case back on track? Raise the potency. How much? Try to stay close to what was working and don’t jump too far ahead all at once. You can’t assume that because 9C twice a day was working that 200C will work 100 times better, it may conceivably not work at all! If 9C stops working, plus your bottle up to 12C or buy the 12C.
“I heard that all physical cases need low potencies because:
‘physical’ means ‘shallow’ and low potencies are ‘shallow’!”
Sure, give a 6C to a child with a Belladonna fever if you must and see where you get with that! If it works, then you did the right thing! But does EXPERIENCE tell us that 6C will work on a Belladonna fever? Belladonna fevers tend to be sudden and intense. What is more appropriate here? I would start with at least a 30C, and decide about the next dose based on what the first one did. The only “rules” are “the minimum dose” (which is always relative) and the rapid but gentle cure. Those are the only rules you can’t break!
I know someone’s going to say, “Isn’t there a book I can read that goes into this, gives examples, etc.?” Good question!!! One book that’s a must-have is Hahnemann Revisited by Dr. Luc De Schepper–
very easy to read, written in conversational, chatty English, no need to have a phobia about reading Hahnemann Revisited! Your school, by all rights, should be using this as a text book! Dr. Luc De Schepper is the author of many books on homeopathy, has made a study of Hahnemann’s cases, is a frequent presenter at conferences, travels to poor countries to offer his services in homeopathy for free, and there’s simply no one better qualified to teach us.
By all rights, if you’ve taken the trouble to read this article, your practice should completely change tomorrow! You should be putting your remedies in water, you should be succussing the bottle a few times before each dose, you should be starting your chronic cases with the lowest potencies and repeating or going up as feed-back directs. You should be stopping and waiting when an aggravation or striking improvement occurs and you should learn how to use “The Aggravation Zapper”
because your patients shouldn’t have to suffer with an unrelenting aggravation (plus forcing patients to suffer makes homeopathy look really bad!). I can hear a lot of you saying, “I threw out a lot of my 6C’s figuring they were useless.” Yeah, I know, I went through a phase like that too!
Read The Organon, people! Pretty much everything you’re doing is wrong!