Last month we discussed the formation and treatment of complex diseases, where both the diseases were natural in origin. In my last lecture I had said that young students often wonder why the cures in the books of our old masters look so simple, while it is not so easy to cure in practice. I had said that the reason for this is that most people today suffer from complex diseases, either of natural origin or created by the suppressive conventional treatment.
We saw that Hahnemann has also written that it is more difficult to treat complex diseases and remedies sometimes need to be changed according to the changing symptom picture.
In the next two aphorisms, Hahnemann also says that the complex diseases arising from suppressive treatment are far more common than the formation of natural complex diseases. Let’s read aphorism 41:
§ 41 Sixth Edition
Much more frequent than the natural diseases associating with and complicating one another in the same body are the morbid complication resulting from the art of the ordinary practitioner, which the inappropriate medical treatment (the allopathic method) is apt to produce by the long-continued employment of unsuitable drugs. To the natural disease, which it is proposed to cure, there are then added, by the constant repetition of the unsuitable medical agent, the new, often very tedious, morbid conditions corresponding to the nature of this agent; these gradually coalesce with and complicate the chronic malady which is dissimilar to them (which they were unable to cure by similarity of action, that is, homoeopathically), adding to the old disease a new, dissimilar, artificial malady of a chronic nature, and thus give the patient a double in place of a single disease, that is to say, render him much worse and more difficult to cure, often quite incurable. Many of the cases for which advice is asked in medical journals, as also the records of other cases in medical writings, attest the truth of this. Of a similar character are the frequent cases in which the venereal chancrous disease, complicated especially with psora or with dyscrasia of condylomatous gonorrhoea, is not cured by long-continued or frequently repeated treatment with large doses of unsuitable mercurial preparations, but assumes its place in the organism beside the chronic mercurial affection1 that has been in the meantime gradually developed, and thus along with it often forms a hideous monster of complicated disease (under the general name of masked venereal disease), which then, when not quite incurable, can only be transformed into health with the greatest difficulty.
1 For mercury, besides the morbid symptoms which by virtue of similarity can cure the venereal disease homoeopathically, has among its effects many others unlike those of syphilis, for instance, swelling and ulceration of bones, which, if it be employed in large doses, causes new maladies and commit great ravages in the body, especially when complicated with psora, as is so frequently the case.
The summary of this aphorism has already been made clear. Now let us explore some key points as well as try to understand things in modern terms. The key statement here is “morbid complications… which the inappropriate medical treatment (the allopathic method) is apt to produce by the long-continued employment of unsuitable drugs”
So the basic requirements for an artificial complex disease to form are:
- The treatment used should be inappropriate or allopathic
- The drugs used should be unsuitable, that is unable to cure.
- The drugs should be employed for long time
Now allopathic treatment does not mean only those drugs that are prescribed by conventional medicine. Any drug, whose mode of action is allopathic, be it used in conventional medicine or ayurveda or the unani system of medicine, is capable of producing a dissimilar artificial disease that can form a complex with the natural disease. Even most homeopathic complexes and mother tinctures are ‘allopathic’ in their action because they are primarily used for their primary physiological action. When such drugs are used for a short while, they often palliate the presenting symptoms of the illness. Any undesirable effects of such treatment are put away, calling them as ‘side-effects’. The palliation works well if the patient is vitally strong and can shrug off the effect of the treatment in a few days. But if the treatment is very strong, the drug is very broad and deep acting or if it is used for too long, it can either suppress the disease and can lead to graver pathologies, or it can insidiously create a morbid layer of new symptoms that seem to be part of the disease progression.
The suppression is often clearly visible in acute cases and also in chronic cases of children. It is not rare to see patients, who get a running cold, suppress the discharge with some anti-allergic drugs and then have sinusitis. Other similar patients often report dry cough/bronchitis for weeks after treatment of colds. Suppression of diarrhoea often leads to indigestion and loss of appetite. Suppression of fever can lead to convulsions. Such effects are visible immediately after treatment.
In chronic cases though, it often takes years to appreciate the progression of disease due to suppressive treatment. Most children given frequent antibiotics for recurring cold or topical steroids for atopic dermatitis, become asthmatic in a few years. So antipathic/allopathic treatment has the potential to suppress the disease to a deeper plane. But this aphorism is not about suppression. Hahnemann has written elsewhere about it. This aphorism is about the artificial disease state created by the long-term use of such drugs.
Let me give you some examples of modern day complex diseases, to understand this better. A few days back I saw a patient suffering from severe asthmatic bronchitis. That was her chief complaint. On inquiring further, I found out that her father passed away when she was sixteen year old. She did not cry at that time but fainted in the bathroom after two days. The doctors, suspecting a convulsion, put her on anti-epileptic drugs and she has been taking those drugs for the last 14 years without ever having any convulsion before or after! Now as a result of the side effects of those anti-epileptic drugs, her thyroid was not functioning properly, she had become obese and had menstrual problems. So she had two sets of problems, one that came naturally and another created by the long-term use of strong allopathic drugs.
In this aphorism, Hahnemann has also given an example of chronic mercury toxicity complicating cases of Syphilis and Gonorrhoea, in which Mercury salts were used to treat those conditions. The allopathic medicines have only become more potent and suppressive with more side effects since the time of Hahnemann. So we still see such examples often. But the effects of such treatment is so insidious that often the patient and the physician fail to see the new symptoms arising due to the ongoing treatment and as a result more medicines are added to counter the new symptoms.
I would also like to explain this phenomenon from the energetic point of view. Every drug (conventional) is basically a chemical compound. We call it a ‘medicine’ simply because we find some effects of that compound beneficial in countering some disease symptoms. But the truth is that all those drugs are chemicals, foreign to our body. When we take those drugs, our body, the immune system fights with them and tries to expel them, just as it does with other pathogens and toxins that are foreign to the body. And to do that it spends lot of energy. So if an unsuitable drug is taken for the long term, it produces a constant energy leak. It is very difficult to cure such patients unless that energy leak is plugged.
So, the next question is how do we do that? Most post-40 patients that we see these days are on some form of ‘regular’ medication. It could be a medicine for hypothyroidism or chronic acidity and indigestion or hypertension or coronary artery disease or asthma or arthritis or something else. Can we ask these patients to stop their medication to plug that leak? No, we cannot. It wouldn’t legally advisable. Even medically, it is not advisable that a drug being used for a long time, is withdrawn suddenly. The body always tries to create a new balance, a new compensated state to counter the effects of the drugs and maintain life. Sudden withdrawal of such drugs will only produce more mayhem! And even if you make such a suggestion, most patients would not follow your advice. They respect the words of their physician – that this drug has to be taken for life, and are often very afraid that something very wrong will happen if they do not take the drug regularly.
So what do we do? I personally begin the treatment with the totality of the case at hand. That is what Hahnemann has advised too. Take the complex as a whole. Some patients, who have very strong vitality and do not have very deep-seated pathologies, sometimes respond so well to the treatment, that they do not feel the need for taking any medicine after sometime. But most cases are not like that. With them you have to treat the presenting totality and as the case progresses and improves, after a certain point of time, I ask the patient to consult their general physician to reduce the dose/drugs of their conventional treatment. Sometimes I work with their physicians closely to achieve this. Lots of conventional medicine doctors understand the limitations of their system in bringing about a cure, and if something other than their medicine is working for their patient, they often do not discourage the patients. But then you have to be very honest with your patient. Such patients may need intermittent allopathic support during the course of treatment and any ego element, either on the side of homeopath or the allopath, would be detrimental for the patient.
Apart from the homeopathic medicines and reduction of the conventional drugs, a change in food habits, breathing and general exercises, yoga and meditation – all help to increase the vitality of the patient and help speed up the cure. The deeper the pathology, the lower the vitality and the more decompensated a state the patient is in – and more is the need for ancillary support in such patients to gradually nudge them towards better health. Remember, even Hahnemann has said that many patients are rendered incurable by such long-term suppressive therapy. So you will not be able to cure all such patients. With many, you will be able to just make them a bit more healthy and more functional. But even that effort and that result counts!
So do not get discouraged if you see your patient taking too many drugs. Just give your best in each case. Cure is the ideal, but every improvement in your patient’s health counts!
Now let us move to the next aphorism.
Nature herself permits, as has been stated, in some cases, the simultaneous occurrence of two (indeed, of three) natural diseases in one and the same body. This complication, however, it must be remarked, happens only in the case of two dissimilar diseases, which according to the eternal laws of nature do not remove, do not annihilate and cannot cure one another, but, as it seems, both (or all three) remain, as it were, separate in the organism, and each takes possession of the parts and systems peculiarly appropriate to it, which, on account of the want of resemblance of these maladies to each other, can very well happen without disparagement to the unity of life.
In this aphorism, Hahnemann is just restating that nature also permits the formation of complex diseases, but complex diseases only form if the two diseases are dissimilar in nature. In such cases they manifest more on the organs where their action is centered. We discussed in aphorism 36 that in most cases where two dissimilar diseases meet in the body, the later is usually repelled, especially if the former is stronger. And now we also know what happens when they form a complex disease.
In the next few aphorisms we will discuss what happens when two similar diseases meet in a body. So until then, goodbye!
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