In our last lecture we studied Nature’s Law of Cure, which states:
A weaker dynamic affection is permanently extinguished in the living organism by a stronger one, if the latter (whilst differing in kind) is very similar to the former in its manifestations.
After explaining Nature’s Law of Cure in aphorism 26 and stating that homeopathy medicines also cure because they work according to nature’s law, it was time to explain how and why homeopathic remedies cure diseases. This Dr. Hahnemann does in the next two aphorisms.
Hahnemann had always believed that it is better to focus on practical aspects of sickness with the help of the changes one can perceive through his senses and that empty theoretical speculation should be avoided. In the introduction to the Organon of Medicine, he states:
The partisans of the old school of medicine flattered themselves that they could justly claim for it alone the title of rational medicine, because they alone sought for and strove to remove the cause of disease, and followed the method employed by nature in diseases.
Tolle causam! They cried incessantly. But they went no further than this empty exclamation. They only fancied that they could discover the cause of disease; they did not discover it, however, as it is not perceptible and not discoverable. For as far the greatest number of diseases are of dynamic origin and dynamic nature, their cause is therefore not perceptible to the senses; so they exerted themselves to imagine one, and from a survey of the parts of the normal, inanimate human body (anatomy), compared with the visible changes of the same internal parts in persons who had died of diseases (pathological anatomy), as also from what they could deduce from a comparison of the phenomena and functions in healthy life (physiology) with their endless alterations in the innumerable morbid states (pathology, semeiotics), to draw conclusions relative to the invisible process whereby the changes which take place in the inward being of man in diseases are affected – a dim picture of the imagination, which theoretical medicine regarded as its prima causa morbi;*
So you can see Hahnemann was clearly against putting up theoretical constructs to explain how medicines work. He was more concerned about the practical application of the remedies to cure the sick. Yet, there were people who wanted to know how homeopathic remedies worked. And there still are lots of such people, who cannot believe their own senses till somebody comes up with a scientific explanation of what they perceive. So Hahnemann did give an explanation in aphorism 29. But before that he placed a warning in aphorism 28 for the kind of people mentioned above. Let’s see what he said:
As this natural law of cure manifests itself in every pure experiment and every true observation in the world, the fact is consequently established; it matters little what may be scientific explanation of how it takes place; and I do not attach much importance to the attempts made to explain it. But the following view seems to commend itself as the most probable one, as it is founded on premises derived from experience.
So he says that when the truth is so clearly visible to our senses, he does not attach much importance to how the internal dynamics of the body and the remedy are working and interacting. Hahnemann knew that creating empty speculations here would have opened up a Pandora’s box – everybody would have come up with his own hypothesis. Hahnemann wanted everyone to focus on the clinical application of the remedies.
But times have changed now. It has been nearly 200 years since Hahnemann wrote those lines and today Homeopathy not only enjoys a wide and growing user base, but its clinical efficacy is also fairly well documented. The ‘rational medicine’ (allopathy) of Hahnemann’s time has also become much more sophisticated in this time, with a much better understanding of the ‘material’ tolle causam. I personally feel that if Homeopathy has to take the next big leap, we will need to answer two fundamental questions:
1. How is information stored and transmitted in homeopathic remedies?
2. How do the remedies interact with biological systems?
Until we do this, homeopathy will continue to remain on the fringes of medical science. The good thing is that now lot of people are making great efforts to find out the answers to these questions. Leading physicists and scientists like Prof. Rustom Roy, Prof. Iris Bell, Dr. Alex Hankey, Dr. Lionel Milgrom, Dr. Martin Chaplin and many others have created an increasing knowledge base to find out the underlying cause and effect of the homeopathic remedies. Also, there is an ever-increasing group of people focusing on the clinical research. Next month, that is November 2009, we are going to publish a special issue of Homeopathy for Everyone that will focus on all these scientific developments.
Having said that, I must reiterate that Hahnemann was very wise in putting up this warning. He knew where his priorities lay and what was in the best interest of this new system of medicine. So after giving this warning, Hahnemann did give an explanation to answer the people, who always wanted to know how homeopathic remedies worked. Let us read aphorism 29 and find out what Hahnemann said:
As every disease (not entirely surgical) consists only in a special, morbid, dynamic alteration of our vital energy (of the principle of life) manifested in sensation and motion, so in every homoeopathic cure this principle of life dynamically altered by natural disease is seized through the administration of medicinal potency selected exactly according to symptom-similarity by a somewhat stronger, similar artificial disease-manifestation. By this the feeling of the natural (weaker) dynamic disease-manifestation ceases and disappears. This disease-manifestation no longer exists for the principle of life, which is now occupied and governed merely by the stronger, artificial disease-manifestation. This artificial disease-manifestation has soon spent its force and leaves the patient free from disease, cured. The dynamis, thus freed, can now continue to carry life on in health. This most highly probable process rests upon the following propositions.
Hahnemann is saying that diseases are primarily of two types – surgical and dynamic. Dynamic diseases are those that start with the derangement of the vital force, or as I would say, disturbance in the biological thermodynamic equilibrium. We have already discussed that the curative power of homeopathic medicines lies in their ability to produce similar symptoms. So when a homeopathic remedy is administered, it produces symptoms similar to the existing disease condition. Hahnemann says that when the body is affected by a similar but stronger dynamic disturbance, the weaker dynamic disturbance ceases to have an effect on the body and disappears. But how does this happen? Let me try to give an explanation.
Suppose a dynamic disturbance is affecting a body to a level ‘a’. The body is putting in ‘x’ resources to get the equilibrium back. Obviously the ‘x’ resources are not sufficient because the vital force is deranged and it needs more effort to get rid of the disturbance ‘a’. Hence the disease state is persisting. Now we give a homeopathic remedy that produces a similar but stronger state ‘A’ in the body. The body now perceives this as a greater threat and mounts greater defense using its reserves. The new defense’X’ would be stronger than the previous one. If the new defense is sufficient to get rid of the disturbance ‘a’, ‘a’ would cease to exist. Now what would happen to the artificial disturbance ‘A’? This being produced by controlled application of medicines, is short lived and disappears on its own and the body is now healthy once again.
This is a basic explanation for Hahnemann’s words, but please remember that Hahnemann’s words and my explanation of them still constitute a hypothesis. We do need to prove it. But if you are a homeopath, don’t feel restricted by the lack of scientific explanations. Let the physicists work on these questions and they will sure find the answers for us someday. As a clinician put all your energies into ‘experiencing’ the truth of homeopathy. The proof of the pudding, lies in its eating!
Now, one last food for thought before we end this lecture. When we ‘prove’ a medicine, the medicine does not seem to work unconditionally. It will prove on some and not on others, depending upon the sensitivity and the susceptibility of the person. But when a person is sick and in need of a particular medicine, it nearly always works – seemingly unconditionally. Have you ever wondered why? We will answer this question in our next lecture. Till then, enjoy homeopathy!