Current perspectives in conventional medicine are moving towards a holistic model that supports the MICH understanding of pathogenesis. This will be elaborated in the article, Bringing Homeopathy to New Depths. Perhaps even more importantly, these conventional perspectives are driving research towards discovering possible mechanisms by which homeopathic treatment affects the organism.
This article illustrates why it is timely for homeopathy to be recognized and take its rightful place as the medicine of the new millennium. As a seamless integration of leading edge homeopathy and leading edge research begins to emerge, plausible explanations of its nature and actions begin to unfold. We will examine the principles laid out by Hahnemann, first in the light of Quantum Physics and field theory, then Evolutionary theory and Holism, and finally, the most recent conclusions from leading edge research with regards to the causes of chronic disease. Not only do these modern innovations support and further develop homeopathic principles, but they indicate the possible mechanisms through which homeopathy influences the healing response of living organisms.
More and more of Hahnemann’s futuristic vision can finally be vindicated with recent research. Rather than undermine his proposals, we have found that this century’s discoveries have served to reinforce and more fully develop his insights. Hahnemann’s genius shines even more brightly in the light of current findings.
Building on Hahnemann’s Genius
Embracing homeopathy’s full potential requires following Hahnemann’s insightful genius along the same lines and direction as his thinking. Of particular value in the current scientific context, are Hahnemann’s own explanations of how homeopathy works and his peculiar (given his era) fascination with electricity, magnetism and field effects.
Take for example, Hahnemann’s explanation of the action of homeopathy in Aphorism 11 of Hahnemann’s Organon of the Medical Art : “The dynamic powers of medicine … are as utterly non-material, non-mechanical as the power of a bar magnet is when it forcibly attracts to itself a piece of iron or steel lying next to it…” In Aphorism 10, he illustrates his use of the word “dynamic” to describe how the remedy influences the life force by again using the example of a magnet: “The magnet invisibly (dynamically) transmits magnetic energy to the steel without touching it….”
In the footnote of Aphorism 11, when Hahnemann asks: “What is dynamic influence, dynamic power?” He uses the only example of a physical field effect that could be observable at his time: “We perceive that, by some secret invisible force our earth conducts its moon around itself …and the moon raises our northern seas to flood tide at set hours…We see this and are amazed because our senses do not perceive how this happens.”
In all his examples, Hahnemann uses field effects (both magnetic and gravitational) to illustrate the action of his remedies. Even though Hahnemann was a chemist, he purposely did not explain the action of homeopathic remedies chemically. He purposely chose the very new, and barely explored domain of electromagnetics to explain his “dynamically acting” medicines. As he says in aphorism 11 “Obviously this does not happen through material instruments, nor through mechanical arrangements…”
In the same aphorism, Hahnemann describes the vital force or Life Principle as: “a power wesen invisible in itself, only discernible by its effects via the organism.” Today we understand that this is the only way to measure a field. The word “field” is used in physics to denote “something beyond the physical, invisible, and observable only through the behavior of an object under its influence.”
Hahnemann’s Investigations of Electricity, Magnetism and the Human Energy Field
It is clear that Hahnemann used every means he could to negate any idea of a mechanical, chemical action of homeopathically-prepared remedies. And, it is clear through his personal provings of electricity and magnetism, both the north and south poles, that he was fascinated by, and saw the enormous potential of this new dimension of reality. So much so, that he devoted an entire chapter in the Organon, Chapter XII, to the “Dynamic Power of Magnets, Electricity and Magnetism. In aphorisms 288-290, Hahnemann explains some important principles of what we would call “energy work” or the “Therapeutic Touch” developed by Dr. Dolores Krieger, Professor Emerita of Nursing Science. Hahnemann included such details as to the importance of leaving one’s ego aside when doing such work, as well as the importance of direction of movement of the hands, the distance to hold the hands from the body and of not wearing silk. etc. The fact that he personally examined and even provided instruction on how to use the human energy field to heal others, demonstrates his understanding of the energetic level of organization in the human being.
Aphorism 16 underlines the important role of the nervous system in registering the remedies energetic effect, which can today be understood through the operation of the mitochondria in nerve cells (Please refer to the section below).
That Hahnemann would even consider proving electricity and magnetism and creating these potentized medicines illustrates how much ahead of his time he was, and the potential he saw in this dimension of the material world.
Holism and Homeopathy
Homeopathy is truly holistic, able to address the living organism as a whole, and in particular, the very complex human organism whose “wholeness”, integrity or health involves not only physical factors, but mental, emotional and spiritual factors.
Eminent medical university training centers such as Harvard, Yale, Stanford, John Hopkins, UCLA, UCSF and many others have been collaborating to develop an “integrative” patient-focused approach for many years. The current trend in leading health care centers is towards a holistic perspective.
More proof of Hahnemann’s genius lies in his understanding of the holistic nature of the organism. In Aphorism 7 of the Organon, Hahnemann insists that the “only thing in every case of disease, [in order to cure] is the totality of symptoms”10. The word gesammtheit means symptom complex as a collective whole which forms one single “outwardly reflected image of the inner wesen” This requirement to perceive the disease state as a whole rather than in parts (as we usually do) is a process that can be facilitated by an in-depth understanding of Holism.
Central precepts of Holism
Holism was originally introduced by Jan Christian Smuts in 1926, in a book called “Holism and Evolution“. Having read and fully integrated Charles Darwin’s Theory of Evolution and Einstein’s Theory of General Relativity, Smuts recognized that there was a force behind evolution and the tendency to create wholes, which he called “Holism”. Holism is not a concept or a philosophy, it is a meta-philosophy that explains not only the origins of life, but the purpose of life. Holism provides a much more suitable vehicle for homeopathy than the current Mechanism of Science, which is too limited of a context to hold Homeopathy.
Smuts recognized that the theory of evolution and quantum physics required a complete revolution in our idea of matter. Smuts saw that the Theory of Relativity was a beginning to a revolutionary understanding of matter as not “dead, lifeless stuff” but rather an expression of a wildly dynamic medium called a “field”, whose properties and characteristics we are only beginning to understand.
Smuts, like Hahnemann recognized the limitations of a materialistic, mechanistic view of living organisms. Like Hahnemann, he recognized an immaterial “cause” underlying the physical manifestations. In Aphorism 10, Hahnemann states: “The material organism, thought of without life force is capable of no sensibility, no activity, no self preservation. It derives all sensibility and produces its life functions solely by means of the immaterial wesen (the life principle, the life force) that enlivens the material organism in health and in disease.”
In Smuts’ words: “In mechanical composites, each element in operation or action has its own effect and is a separate cause; and the final result is the resultant blending of all these separate effects. In the whole, as we have seen, there is not this individual separate action of the parts; there is a synthesis which makes the elements or parts act as one or holistically; and the action or function is an inseparable holistic unity…”
Limiting the scientific method to strict analytical empiricism which focuses on parts, and splitting wholes into parts, not only leads to analytical error and oversight, but limits the ability of science to consider the role of the immaterial dimension as an artifact rather than the very essence of the formative forces of creation.
Disease: a Response of the Organism as a Whole
For both Hahnemann and Smuts, the effect of a stimulus on an organism cannot be compared or thought of as mechanical. An external influence is integrated in a synergistic fashion by the organism, becoming a dynamic part of its inner organization. This is by definition susceptibility: to take up and sustain. Susceptibility is a necessary part of the process for food to be ingested and assimilated, for example. Exaggerated susceptibility which is what leads to disease, is due to a lack of discernment, or an inability of the organism to maintain a degree of unique wholeness after the stimulus. A measure of health is an organism’s innate tendency to preserve the integrity of its unique flavor of wholeness, also described by both Hahnemann and Smuts.
Hahnemann explains that during the primary action of morbific agents our vital force seems to conduct itself merely in a passive (receptive) manner, and appears to permit the impressions of the power acting from without to take place in it and thereby alter its state of health.
It is important to note that Hahnemann considered the vital force and the disease to form one whole. In Aphorism 15 he says that the suffering of the mistuned life force enlivening our body from the interior and the complex of the outwardly perceptible symptoms, portraying the present malady, which are ORGANIZED by the life force form a whole. “They are one and the same.”
He then proposes a type of counter-action of the life force as an automatic function of the sustentative power of life, where the vital force endeavors to in-differentiate itself as a whole: “to make its superior power available in the extinction of the change wrought in it from without, in the place of which it substitutes its normal [whole] state.”
In Smuts words: “When a stimulus is applied to an organism, a whole is set in motion, and the response which results is not merely an affair of the original stimulus, but of the entire whole in all its unique complication of parts and functions which has been set in motion. The comparatively simple, isolable phenomenon of causation as observed in the interaction of material bodies undergoes a complete and radical transformation when observed in the case of an organism; and the difference is deducible from the nature of the whole as exemplified by an organism.”
We find that Hahnemann’s postulates are illuminated by Smuts: “The whole, therefore, completely transforms the concept of Causality. When an external cause acts on a whole, the resultant effect is not merely traceable to the cause, but has become transformed in the process. The whole seems to absorb and metabolise the external stimulus and to assimilate it into its own activity; and the resultant response is no longer the passive effect of the stimulus or cause, but appears as the activity of the whole. This holistic transformation of causality takes place in all organic stimuli and responses. The cause or stimulus applied does not issue in its own passive effect, but in an active response which seems more clearly traceable to the organism or whole itself. In fact the physical category of ”cause” undergoes a far-reaching change in its application to organisms or wholes generally. The whole appears as the real cause of the response, and not the external stimulus, which seems to play the quite minor role of a mere excitant or condition.”
We have found Holism of utmost utility in providing a modern context for Hahnemann’s art and science. Holism is the perfect container from which to understand the profound changes that homeopathy can elicit when making full use of its potential.
Holism is the important bridge explaining the functioning of the life force within the wholeness making force of evolution, the challenge of evolution and how disease is an adaptation to this challenge towards greater wholeness, and the role of meaning and purpose in life.
Incorporating the understanding that Holism offers into homeopathy brings us to discover and explain the mechanism by which a homeopathic remedy acts on an organism.
The Cause and Treatment of Chronic Disease
Current leading edge medical research is finally concurring with Hahnemann’s understanding that there is no single material cause to disease, and that the organism must be in a state of exaggerated susceptibility for disease to occur. As he states in Aphorism 31: “We become diseased by [morbid influences] only when our organism is just exactly and sufficiently disposed and laid open to be assailed … and to be altered in its condition, mistuned and displaced into abnormal feelings and functions. Hence, inimical influences do not make everyone sick every time.”
Roberts, in the Principles and Art of Cure by Homeopathy, furthers our understanding with his explanation: “ … in sickness susceptibility is exaggerated and we must be very careful to do nothing to impair it, for it is through this exaggerated reaction that we find our clue to the similar remedy… All our efforts must be gauged by this one question: Does the remedy satisfy the demands of this exaggerated susceptibility?”
“[when] the susceptibility is not met, Nature steps in with the laws of susceptibility and an influence is attracted which blooms forth as an infectious or contagious disease, so as to most fully satisfy this susceptibility. When the susceptibility of this particular state has once been satisfied by an expression of the similar condition, a partial cure has taken place and they can no more develop the reaction to a similar infection. The homœopathic drug is so similar to the natural disease that it meets with no resistance, because the affected organs and tissues are open precisely to the specific spheres of its action.”
Thus, the exaggerated susceptibility is what must be treated, for it is the exaggerated susceptibility that is the immaterial cause of disease. The question is: “How does exaggerated susceptibility become disease?” The answer to this question lies in very recent research into mitochondria, the cellular organelles that are responsible for every vital function such as the utilisation of Oxygen, metabolism, producing energy and structural changes, cellular division and even apoptosis. There are many reasons to conclude that mitochondria are the most likely mechanism of response to homeopathic remedies.
Mitochondria: the Organelles of Susceptibility
In recent years, mitochondrial research has revealed the key role that mitochondria play in epigenetics, turning on genes in the nuclear DNA, and reconfiguring the body’s structure and function in accordance to what the mitochondria judge to be the required adaptation to whatever internal and external stressors are present. This mechanism of adaptation to stress is central to the process of evolution. More importantly, it has been established that evolution has only been possible since the appearance of mitochondria.
The areas of research most relevant to homeopathy are those that have been examining the effects of stress on the organism and its relationship to disease.
Stress, in its simplest form, is the application of, or resistance to, a force. Stress, by definition, is the process through which adaptation and evolution occur in response to externally and internally driven forces. Life is movement, a dynamic interaction of forces. Stress can be environmentally-induced or self-induced. Self-induced stress can be experienced in one or both of two forms: a resistance to the force of evolution or Holism as a force of life (ego resistance), or the individual striving for an ideal that puts exaggerated demands on the organism.
Current scientific research by Harvard, Columbia and in particular, the Rochester Institute and others has established that the ultimate cause of chronic disease can be attributed to stress in over 95% of cases in North America.
Let’s first review some facts about stress. Stress can have a positive effect if the stressor represents real physical danger and the individual can act on it: fight, run away, physically defend or attack. Under stress, the body is primed for physical action such as running very fast, or fighting for life or death: very intense movement for just a short period of time.
If however, the stressor does not represent a physical danger, but constitutes a perceived danger, there is no physical action the individual can take and therefore no way to reduce the stress. This internally induced stress is registered by the mitochondria, and is directly linked to the expression of metabolic diseases such as diabetes, auto-immune diseases, cardiovascular disease, diseases linked to the central nervous system (including depression), and other chronic disease. Thus perceived stress has a greater tendency to lead to chronic disease.
Research and Key Indications in Homeopathic Treatment
This is exciting in that research is supplying key indications for what must be understood in any particular case of chronic disease in order to decipher the true cause to be treated in chronic disease. Details as to how this is incorporated into case taking can be found in the article Bringing Homeopathy to New Depths. We can now understand exaggerated susceptibility as the individual process of adaptation and evolution. And these processes are orchestrated by the mitochondria of every cell.
It is the mitochondria that “pick up” subtle signals of what is happening inside the whole organism, as a whole. Physical changes in the mitochondria have been observed whenever there is a change in concentration of any of the biomarkers that indicate stress (and possible ensuing chronic disease). Almost every form of chronic disease can be related to “allostatic” or ‘allodynamic”
mitochondrial overload due to the stress response as illustrated in this chart by Dr. Bruce McEwen (2006a).
In relation to stress, mitochondria have been regarded as a key component of the stress response, largely due to their role in energy production and their capacity to generate cellular signals that promote cellular adaptation.