By Luc Chaltin, ND DIHom
When Hahnemann established the rules of the similimum, which is the single remedy prescribed for all the symptoms of the patient, it was at a time when most diseases were acute in nature. Diseases such as fevers appeared in a strongly reacting patient that was fighting an infection such as typhus, or a viral infection like the common cold. The patients that he saw at that time were German peasants, of the 18th and early 19th century, who lived simple lives and ate simple diets. They were mostly healthy and strong and rarely became sick. When they became sick they were affected by acute diseases such as a fever, dermatitis or a cold, and they presented clear symptoms that were relatively easy to diagnose.
He also encountered other patients who presented some chronic diseases that were not easy to diagnose and did not react well to homeopathy. If the patients improved, the disease reappeared after a while and the doctor had to start all over again. This frustrated Hahnemann to the point that he wrote a book about chronic diseases, stating that chronic diseases were incurable and that they were caused by an inherited malfunctioning of the metabolism that he called a miasm.
Many years later he married a French noble woman and moved to Paris. There he started treating members of the French noble population of Paris whose diseases were completely different from the simple peasants of Germany. These people were rich, and ate a rich diet, high in protein, and drank lots of wine. This type of diet caused their livers to be overloaded, or worse, develop cirrhosis, a chronic liver disease that causes multiple problems with metabolism. Hahnemann, being the trained observer he was, recognized the difference in the diseases and rapidly changed his approach in prescribing for these kinds of patients. He reasoned that these patients were toxic and needed a detoxifying, or drainer remedy.
For that purpose, Hahnemann chose Sulfur, reasoning that Sulfur worked to remove the first miasm, or psora, as explained in his book The Chronic Diseases. He also discovered that these types of patients did not react well to a single remedy and that he had to prescribe two or more remedies, given weekly or even daily, because they had multiple symptoms that could not be covered with only one remedy, the similimum.
He worked with this approach for several years before he died in Paris, but he never published any book or wrote about this new approach. The only proof of his change in approach, to the treatment of chronic diseases, is found referenced in his patients’ reports that still exist. It is because of the efforts of Riley, in her excellent book about Hahnemann, A Homeopathic Love Story (North Atlantic Books, Berkeley, California), that we know about these facts.
When I came in contact with the French school of homeopathy in 1965, I found out after some time that there was a remarkable difference in approach between different French homeopathic doctors. It took me quite some time to discover that there were two groups of homeopaths. One group had followed up on the change in prescribing for chronic diseases that Hahnemann had used during his life in Paris. The other group of French doctors were the followers of Kentism, the classical homeopaths. If you think about it, it is ironic that the Kentists claimed to be the real followers of Hahnemann, even when they ignored that Hahnemann had changed his mind about chronic diseases. We see today that we have to deal with chronic diseases all of the time because they far outnumber the acute diseases. It is a pity that the knowledge of Hahnemann’s approach was lost to the classical homeopaths.
The French doctors that followed the Hahnemannian approach, although a minority in their country, further developed the treatment of chronic diseases. They proceeded from where Hahnemann had stopped when he died. Soon, these homeopaths discovered that a better kind of drainer to eliminate toxins consisted of liver remedies such as Chelidonium, Solidago, Taraxacum, and Berberis or even polychrests such as Bryonia and Nux vomica. By the beginning of this century (20th Century), a group of doctors, lead by the then famous Doctor Léon Vannier, had evolved quite far in curing chronic disease. They routinely cured tuberculosis with homeopathy as early as 1912.
Vannier’s book, Les Tuberculiniques, explains his successful method to treat tuberculosis, a method that is applicable to all chronic diseases. In his book he states that: “In order to treat a chronic disease successfully, the homeopath needs to address all the symptoms, including the underlying, hidden symptoms, to be successful.” This means that, in the case of a chronic disease, a similimum cannot exist, a fact that Hahnemann had already established when he practiced in Paris. The hidden, underlying symptoms cannot be diagnosed by looking up the symptoms of the similimum, but are deduced from clinical observations of all the affected organs and the remedies that are connected to these organs. Vannier gave about 23 examples of remedies connected in clinical ways to chronic diseases of organs. I discovered many more by continuing to study this approach for more than 30 years, since 1965.
Because of the multiple remedies that had to be prescribed in this method, the patients needed to take several remedies during the day, every day. This was found to be difficult to follow when they needed to take several remedies. For instance, one remedy before breakfast and another before dinner, one more in the afternoon and again one before lunch or before retiring. Often patients forgot to take the remedies, which had to be taken to their job and might be forgotten at home, etc. Due to this concern, some pragmatic French doctors started prescribing all the remedies in one multiple formula, called a magistral prescription. It turned out that this system was not only more practical, but in many cases it worked even better, because of a synergetic action of the different remedies in the body.
The next step was to prescribe two complexes: a ‘drainer’ or detoxification complex to excrete accumulated toxins and a magistral complex adapted to the disease of the patient. This brought the number of remedies to take back to two: one before retiring at night, and one before breakfast in the morning.