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Nosodes in Homoeopathy

Nosodes in Homoeopathy. One of the direct consequences of the publication of The Chronic Diseases was the development of the use of miasmic organisms as potentized homoeopathic remedies. The earliest experiments with nosodes were carried out by Constantine Hering while he was in Surinam, Guiana, South America between 1827 and 1833.

The Development of Nosodes

The advent of Hahnemann’s theory of the miasms caused great interest in the chronic diseases and their anti-miasmatic remedies. One of the direct consequences of the publication of The Chronic Diseases was the development of the use of miasmic organisms as potentized homoeopathic remedies. The earliest experiments with nosodes were carried out by Constantine Hering while he was in Surinam, Guiana, South America between 1827 and 1833. In the five years Hering spent studying plant and animal species, he paid special attention to the virulent snake and spider poisons as well as miasmic substances. This was the time period when Hering captured the Bush Master snake that supplied the first venom for the proving of Lachesis. In 1832 Hering said:

“During the experiments on the serpent poison, I have given out the idea that the hydrophobic virus should be a powerful pathological agent. I presented the same hypotheses regarding the virus of variola [small pox]. I expect no less as regards the psoric virus, and I invited my colleagues to make provings.”

It seems that shortly after Hahnemann published his chronic disease theory, Hering performed the first proving of Psorinum on himself. Hering originated the method of using a miasmic agent as a basis for a remedy and it was he who coined the term “nosode”. The Greek word Noso is a prefix which is added to give the idea of a disease indicating its morbid root. This term is also connected with the Latin word “noxa”, the root of the term noxious or damaged. This implies the use of potentially dangerous noxious materials as a basis for a potentized remedy.

Hering is responsible for greatly expanding the materia medica of homoeopathy and adding seven (7) new categories of potentized remedies*. At the same time, he was one of the true defenders of the four cardinal rules of Homoeopathy: similars cure similars, the single remedy, the minimal dose and the potentized remedy. Hering’s 7 uses of idem in Homoeopathy include:

1. The use of poisons taken from insects, snakes, and other venomous creatures (Animal poisons).

2. The use of remedies made from miasmas (Nosodes).

3. The introduction of potentized miasmas and morbid secretions taken directly from the patient’s body (Auto-nosodes).

4. The use of homologous organs, tissues and secretions (Sarcodes).

5. The use of potentized miasmic products as nosodes for the prevention of infectious diseases (Nosode prophylaxis).

6. The use of chemical and nutritional elements innate to the human organism (Chemical and elemental relationships).

7. The use of potentized genus groups as curative and preventative remedies for individuals, groups, and habitats. Hering suggests potentized seed of weeds or dangerous plants to eradicate and destroy those plants and potentized insects or animals to remove and prevent infestations of dangerous species (Isodes).

*Lectures on the Theory & Practice of Homoeopathy, R.E. Dudgeon, B. Jain Publishers (P) Ltd, Lecture VI, Isopathy, pages 141-175.

Hering continued to experiment with nosodes of acute and chronic miasms and invited others to conduct provings. He recommended the use of potentized watery excrements of cholera, the black vomit of yellow fever, the desquamated skin of malignant scarlet fever, to bind bags of milk sugar in contact with the skin of typhus patients, the use of leucorrhoeal matter, etc., as well as psorine (Psorinum) gleet-matter (Medorrhinum), pthisine (Tuberculinum) and syphiline (Syphilinum). Many ancient isopathic remedies were introduced into the Homoeopathic Materia Medica by dedicated homoeopaths of the 19th century. Constantine Hering, W. Gross, Wilhelm Lux, Father Collet, Swan and Burnett immediately come to mind.

After Hering’s introduction of the nosodes, Johann Joseph Wilhelm Lux, a well known homoeopathic veterinarian, began to conduct experiments with the isopathic use of disease materials in potencies. In December, 1831, Lux was asked if he knew any homoeopathic remedies for the treatment of bovine plague and anthrax. Lux replied that he could not suggest any remedies off hand but he offered the following suggestion. He told the person to take a drop of blood of an animal infected with anthrax, and a drop of the nasal mucous of a cow with the plague, and prepare a 30c potency of the material. During the epidemic in 1832 many veterinarians relied on the complementary use of the nosodes and standard remedies to treat the animals under their care.

On December 24, 1835, Jolly of Constantinople reported to Hahnemann that Russian doctors had cured a number of cases of bubonic plague with a 30c nosode prepared from the serous exudation of plague buboes. Hahnemann was interested in the new nosode movement on the basis of these clinical experiences but he was concerned because most of these nosodes were not being proved. So in this way the revolutionary ideas contained within the 1828 edition of The Chronic Diseases changed the way people thought about contagious disease and stimulated the integration of nosodes into the homoeopathic pharmacopoeia.

Aqualia Aqualibus Curentur

All of this was going quite well until Lux decided that the healing law was not “similars cure similars” but “same cures same”. With this in mind he declared that “idem” not “similars” was the key to the healing arts and coined the term “Aqualia Aqualibus Curentur” in place of “Similia Similibus Curentur”. This, of course, was exactly what Samuel Hahnemann was afraid would happen so he became quite defensive of Homoeopathy and critical of crude isopathy. Even before Lux’s statements upset the climate of the research into the nosodes, Hahnemann felt that Psorinum should be proven more completely before being included in the materia medica section of The Chronic Diseases. In Hahnemann’s mind the idea of using unproved disease substances on patients just because they suffered from the same contagion was far too limited.

Hahnemann felt that the isopathy of Lux was in truth only part of a greater homeopathic principle because all the remedies were potentized to at least the 30c dynamization. If it was potentized energy how could one call it the same thing as the original diseased substance? Hahnemann thought that under these conditions:

“….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 had already in his body as an idem is without effect on him. But the dynamization or potentizing changes it and modifies it”.

In the light of Hahnemann’s logic the use of the miasmic material without potentization was crude isopathy, and as Lux himself was using homoeopathic potencies, his treatment was still within the realm of Homoeopathy. Vide The Chronic Diseases, the chapter called “The Medicines”.

“Thus potentized and modified also, the itch substance (psorin) when taken is no more an idem (the same) with the crude original itch substance, but only a simillimum (thing most similar). For between IDEM and SIMILLIMUM there is no intermediate for any one that can think; or in other words between idem and simile only simillimum can be intermediate. Isopathic and aquale are equivocal expressions, which if they should signify anything reliable can only signify simillimum because they are not idem.”

The major difference between isopathy and Homoeopathy is that a homoeopathic remedy is proven and based on symptoms brought out in patients so it has a much wider application because its symptomatic picture is much more expanded. The simple isopathic prescription can only be used for the same condition it causes. If the miasmic substance is not potentized, or transmuted in some way, it is often an extremely dangerous method. The modern vaccines have more in common with crude isopathy than Homoeopathy because they are unpotentized. This limits their usage to the treatment and prevention of one single disease condition. On the contrary, a homoeopathic nosode has been proven so it can be used as part of the greater materia medica. This allows it to be prescribed more accurately as well as to be applied in many different situations.

The first generation of homeopaths who introduced the use of the nosodes were Hahnemann, Hering, Lux, Gross, and Stapf. Hering gathered a tremendous amount of first hand experience in proving and using nosodes and applying idem remedies to acute and chronic diseases in the field. Hering introduced all these new remedies yet he clearly pointed out their limitations when used by idem. All these idem preparations cannot be regarded as absolute specifics, but only as chronic intercurrent remedies, which serve to stir up the diseases, and render the reaction to the subsequently administered homoeopathic remedy more permanent.

In 1836, Hering stated that:


This statement was made after 7 years of rigorous clinical trials. He gave a perfect example of the proper use of idem in a case of suppressed syphilis which would not respond to antisyphilitic remedies like Mercury so he used Syphiline (his syphilinum) as an intercurrent. This brought out the cutaneous eruption and chancre which was then perfectly cured by Mercury followed by Lachesis. He had many similar cases. Without constitutional treatment it is impossible to perform the perfect cure.

The nosodes are only curative by themselves when they are administered by the totality of the symptoms. Then they are the constitutional simillimum.


The Homoeopathic Uses of the Nosodes

When a nosode is administered by the totality of the symptoms it is a constitutional simillimum just like the mineral, plant and animal remedies. The nosodes belong to a genus of primitive miasms which are the first life forms on our planet and symbiotically related to the development of the first plant algae. Viruses, bacteria and fungi are ancient genus groups and some produce disease in human beings. The minerals are the first remedies on the developmental chain followed by the miasms, fungi, lichens, fern allies, ferns, gymnosperms, dicotyledons and monocotyledons, and finally, the animal remedies. The nosode genus group has a very special place in Classical Homoeopathy.

Hahnemann wanted the nosodes to be well proven before they are entered in the materia medica. He was quite concerned that Homoeopathy might become mixed with isopathy which gives remedies solely by causation. Swan, who is given credit for introducing contemporary Medorrhinum and Syphilinum, was asked if it was correct to use unproven nosodes. He replied that 100’s of years of suffering these genus diseases, and their complications, provided a “natural proving”.

This rather controversial answer does have some merit. It is obvious, however, that the most characteristic indications of the nosodes are those that have come out in provings or on patients under treatment. Nevertheless, there are specific ways that the miasms disease-tune the vital force producing a characteristic group of symptoms. Hering noticed that certain characteristic symptoms are associated with the indications of miasmic intercurrents and nosodes. Just as the homoeopath who works with families of remedies recognizes the symptoms of the plant, mineral and animal remedies, Hering recognized the characteristics of the nosode family picture. These characteristics includes indications of the miasms concomitant to lack of vital reaction to well chosen remedies; constant changing of symptoms after administering remedies; fragmented pictures of several constitutional remedies and one-sided miasmic pathology with few characteristic symptoms.

Such individuals often have a sense of being tainted, guilty, dirty or feel like life is a burden, they never feel comfortable or satisfied in any environment, they have discolored complexions and a look of suffering in the face when relaxed, and they are prone to self-destructive impulses, cravings and habits. A differential analysis of the rest of the mental and general symptoms will immediately uncover which chronic miasm and therapeutic nosode is at the root of the picture.

Making a comparative study of the plant, mineral, animal and nosode group symptoms is very helpful. The symptoms of the nosode group are indications to study the case from the miasmic point of view. From a study of the totality of the available symptoms one can uncover which miasm is active or which nosode the vital force is calling to one’s attention. At such a time an intercurrent may be useful in removing obstructions to the cure or bringing out a clearer picture. All miasmic intercurrents should be complemented by constitutional remedies at the appropriate time to complete the cure.

One’s attention may be called to the use of a nosode when the patient no longer progresses under the influence of a constitutional remedy because well chosen remedies do not act, hold or only change the symptoms. Another important indication for the nosodes is a ‘never well since syndrome’ when it can be traced to a chronic miasm such as suppressed gonorrhea or a suppressed skin disorder, etc. A miasmic block in the case can also produce one-sided states with a lack of symptoms yet the general history or indication of the miasms is in the background.

The nosode group characteristics are a signal to investigate the chronic miasms and map their signs and symptoms as well as looking closely for the symptoms of the major nosodes and anti-miasmic remedies. Normally one will find objective signs and subjective symptoms that will individualize the remedy if it is indicated. Over the years the use of nosodes as chronic intercurrents has proved of assistance to constitutional treatment if used correctly.

I would advise students of Homoeopathy to study the use of chronic remedies deeply and integrate intercurrent remedies carefully into practice when needed to assist the cure. The isopathic concept seems so easy (using the same against the same) that many star-struck beginners think they have found a short-cut way to do Homoeopathy. They do not have enough experience in the more traditional approach to Homoeopathy to understand those special moments when intercurrents are complementary to constitutional treatment. Others are prone to falling into old allopathic thinking combined with new homeopathic remedies. This leads to the abuse of idem in potency and can cause the disruption of the constitutional state. In the name of treating layers, removing drugs and blockages, some practitioners give too many remedies by idem while ignoring the totality of the symptoms of the patient.

A Synopsis of Nine Ways to Administer the Nosodes

1. The first indication for the nosodes is when the mentals, physical generals and particular symptoms are characteristic of the proving of the remedy. This makes the nosode a CONSTITUTIONAL REMEDY. An example of this would be the use of Syphilinum in a person who fears the night because of the suffering it brings, fears going insane, despairs of recovery, has delusions that they are dirty, tainted, or impure causing them to compulsively wash their hands, etc. The symptoms confirm both the miasmic diagnosis and the simillimum. In such cases the derangement of the vital force occurs in such a manner that it takes the symptoms of the nosode. In some cases this state may or may not be directly linkable to the corresponding miasma. Others are born with this tendency due to the inherited miasms.

2. The second condition for using a nosode is when WELL CHOSEN REMEDIES DO NOT ACT, HOLD, OR JUST CHANGE THE SYMPTOMS. This is usually caused by the chronic miasms such as psora, sycosis, pseudopsora, and syphilis. This is one of the reasons why it is important to know what miasms are in the background of a constitutional syndrome. Otherwise the prescriber may think they are choosing the wrong remedies and further confuse the situation by picking more and more new ones. An example of this usage of a nosode is Psorinum’s keynotes: Lack of reaction; when well-chosen remedies fail to act, especially in those who are extremely sensitive to cold, suffer from profuse sweating, filthy smell, dirty looking skin, and tend to be very pessimistic about their recovery, etc. Another example of this rubric is Tuberculinum’s keynote: When symptoms are constantly changing and well-selected remedies do not improve, especially in those who have light complexion, narrow chest, lax fiber, low recuperative powers and constantly catch cold. There may also be fear of cats, dogs, and animals in general, a desire to travel, and a deep discontented state with a tendency to curse, swear, and a desire to break things, etc.

3. The third way to use a nosode is when there is a LACK OF SYMPTOMS. There are times when there are very few symptoms by which to prescribe. These are often one-sided cases where a strong inherited or acquired miasm has repressed the ability of the constitution to show symptoms. Other than the signs related to the pathology of one or another of the miasms, the symptoms in these cases are not very characteristic of any chronic remedies. This may be a chronic state caused by a miasmic dyscrasia. Vide the discussion of Tuberculinum in Kent’s Lectures: “It seems from looking over the record of many cures that this remedy has been given many times for just that state on a paucity of symptoms, and if the records can be believed, it has many times balanced up to the constitution in that anemic state, where the inheritance has been phthisis. It is not the best indication for Tuberc., but where the symptoms agree in addition to that inheritance, then you may have indication for the remedy.”. There are two things that may happen after the ingestion of a nosode for such a condition. First of all, the symptoms may improve and bring the constitution toward the state of health. Second, the symptoms of the patient may become more plentiful as the suspended layers within the constitution become more active. The new state allows the homoeopathic practitioner to prescribe a chronic remedy based on the newly arising syndrome and advance the case forward.

4. The fourth condition for using a nosode is when a person has not recovered from a miasmic infection, and its suppression. This state is called “THE NEVER WELL SINCE SYNDROME” (NWS). An example of this condition is the use of Medorrhinum in a person who has a history of sycosis from which they have never recovered. Perhaps a new layer of disease has been added to their constitution by a suppressed gonorrhea that changed both their physical health and personality. They no longer manifest the symptoms of a constitutional remedy because the acquired miasm has become the active layer and suppressed their natural temperament. Once they may have been of sharp intellect, clear memory, and of a calm nature, but all that has changed for the worse. Now they have become very hurried as if time passes too slowly, they can’t follow the thread of a conversation because they are losing their memory, and they’ve become fearful of the dark, superstitious, and suffer from delusions that someone or something is always behind them. This last symptom is very indicative of the paranoid suspicious state of sycosis as it represents a subconscious fear that something is going on “behind their back” and is about to “get them”.

The never-well-since syndrome can also be applied to acute miasms. There are times when a person has never fully recovered from an acute illness or miasm. The unresolved acute state still has an effect on the vital force as it has formed a layer within the constitution. If this imbalance is strong it will become the dominant layer and repress the older weaker symptoms. This is often caused by acute miasms like influenza, diphtheria, measles, mononucleosis, and whooping cough from which the patient never really recovered. Of course, a proper chronic remedy may remove the effects of an unresolved acute miasm, but when it does not, a nosode of the offending miasm will often cure. Nosodes for these acute miasms are available from homoeopathic pharmacies under names like Influenzinum, Diphtherinum, Morbillinum, Pertussin, etc.

5. The fifth way to use a nosode is WHEN PARTIAL PICTURES OF THE CONSTITUTIONAL REMEDIES MANIFEST YET NO ONE REMEDY COMPLETELY FITS THE CASE. Such cases seem to be fragmented and disorganized, but in actuality, this pattern is characteristic of the miasms and nosode group. An investigation of the miasms behind the fragmented picture may reveal the symptoms of the nosode family. Differential analysis will quickly show which miasm is involved and what nosode may remove the state. Such an intercurrent often improves the state of health and regularizes the natural symptoms pattern. After the nosode has done all it can do the symptoms will point more clearly toward a constitutional or anti-miasmic remedy. In this way a nosode can bring order out of chaos and clarity out of confusion.

6. The sixth way for using a nosode is WHEN A MIASMIC LAYER OBSTRUCTS THE PROGRESS OF A CONSTITUTIONAL REMEDY that was improving the patient. This use of a nosode is called a miasmic intercurrent. Suppose one has a patient whose symptoms point to an inherited pseudopsoric miasm and the case works out to fit Pulsatilla perfectly. This is all coherent because Pulsatilla is a strongly anti-tuberculin medicine as well as the individual’s constitutional remedy. After several months of solid improvement the patient begins to relapse with the same symptoms, and to one’s great surprise, the Pulsatilla no longer works. Although there is no change of symptoms calling for a new remedy, the old remedy has become completely ineffective. If the underlying symptomatology shows the tubercular miasm, the homoeopath can try to unlock the blocked case with a tubercular nosode, such as Tuberculinum. In the above example the tubercular nosode sets the stage for the reintroduction of the Pulsatilla by re-sensitizing the vital force.

Two things may happen after the introduction of the miasmic intercurrent. The nosode may move the case forward by removing the active symptoms. When this happens it is best to stay with the nosode as long as the improvement lasts. If this improvement ceases the remaining symptoms may be treated with the former chronic remedy. If the patient does not show any improvement on the nosode after a sufficient amount of time, the former chronic remedy should be re-introduced. Under these conditions the previous remedy often acts just as dramatically as it did the first time it was given. This effect has been witnessed by many experienced homoeopaths over and over again. Although the miasmic intercurrent may not radically improve the case by itself, it can cause the patient to become re-sensitized to their original constitutional remedy. There are times when this technique is extremely useful.

7. The seventh way for using a nosode is when the remedy is RELATED TO THE DISEASE GENUS. An example of this method is Clarke’s use of Pertussin (Coqueluchinum) against whooping cough. Clarke once wrote, “I have found in this nosode a specific for a large proportion of cases of this disease. It should be given every four hours to begin with, and if it does not cut short the case in a few days, or materially modify its severity, another remedy may be chosen from the following.”

Another area where the isode may be of use is in the case of complications caused by vaccines. In this case a nosode of the offending vaccination may be appropriate to remove the side-effects of an immunization. Closely aligned with using idem is the use of remedies to desensitize a person to specific allergies. Most individuals are allergenic to more than one antigen at a time so the chronic remedy, with or without a miasmic intercurrent, is usually much more effective. Nevertheless, in some very stubborn allergies where this is not the case, the isopathic method may prove a useful adjutant. The use of organs and glandular preparations (organotherapy & hormonotherapy) is also based on idem. This includes remedies like Thyroidinum, the dried thyroid of the sheep, and Adrenalin, the internal secretion of the suprarenal glands. This method has also proved useful in some cases of thyroid disease.

8. The eighth way of using a nosode is for HOMOEOPATHIC PROPHYLAXIS to prevent specific infectious diseases. An early example of this was Boenninghausen’s successful use of Variolinum to prevent smallpox. Nosodes may also be used as a method to protect children from the miasma they have inherited through their parents. James Kent stated in his Lectures on Homoeopathic Materia Medica: “If Tuberculinum Bovinum be given in 10m, 50m, Cm. potencies two doses of each potency at long intervals, all children and young people who have inherited tuberculosis may be immuned from their inheritance and their resiliency will be restored.”. This, of course, relates to children who show symptoms of the TB miasm such as nervousness, temper tantrums, emaciation, anemia, swollen glands, frequent colds, etc.

9. The ninth way of using a nosode is as a homoeopathic remedy made from the patient’s own disease substances. This is called the AUTO-NOSODE. This method has sometimes helped patients when nothing else seems to work. Hahnemann once had a patient suffering from phthisis that was not responding to well chosen remedies. This led him to prepare an auto-nosode made from the saliva of the patient. Auto-nosodes have been made from sputum, blood, urine, pus, leucorrhoea, exudates from skin eruptions, and microbes from cultures of the patient, etc. This is often tried when nothing else works. Nevertheless, with observation homoeopaths should be able to develop the characteristic symptoms of the auto-nosodes.

One can see from many of these indications that a good knowledge of the acute, half-acute and chronic miasms is very important in understanding the use of nosodes. As they are disease products knowledge of disease goes hand and hand with their usage. The study of the acute, half-acute and chronic miasms, and their action on the system of mass defense, is an important part of classical Homoeopathy. Some modern homoeopaths no longer pay any serious attention to the miasms and do not study the nine ways to use nosodes. Some are Neo-Kentian prescribers but they do not seem to understand that Kent studied the miasms and used nosodes in various ways depending on the circumstances. It seems at this time, however, the miasms are making a necessary come back as they are an integral part of homoeopathic pathology. Dare to Know!


David Little, H.O.E. 1996-2007, all rights reserved.
Homoeopathic Online Education – http://simillimum.com

About the author

David Little

David Little was born in the USA in 1948 and has been a student of Homeopathy since the early 1970s. He has studied Homeopathy in the USA and India. His first teacher was the late, great Dr Manning Strahl and he was a colleague of the late Dr Harimohan Choudhury. He started HOE, Homeopathic Online Education in 1999. David Little has recently published The Homoeopathic Compendium, a unique series of textbooks designed to provide a complete guide to Homoeopathy. This monumental work is presented in 6 volumes, with over 4,500 pages. To order online and for more information, including free chapters visit: www.friendsofhealth.com

1 Comment

  • With suppressed gonorrhea what can be used from the patient to make a remedy to cure the suppressed gonorrhea?

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