By Luc Chaltin, ND DIHom
The prescribing of homeopathic remedies is guided by what is known as the Law of Similars. This law states that the remedy prescribed for a particular illness in a patient should cover the patient’s symptoms as closely as possible and presumes two facts: That the remedy has a number of known effects when ingested by the patient, and that the patient’s disease will show the kind of symptoms that allow for the recognition of the corresponding homeopathic remedy.
The effects attributed to a remedy are investigated in different ways in tests done with the remedy on healthy but sensitive people. This definition of the choice of the kind of people to test the remedy on was established by Hahnemann. It is still the rule today to establish the symptoms that will guide the practitioner in the choice of the remedy. Before a new homeopathic remedy is accepted by the American Homeopathic Pharmacopoeia, it has been tested in the so-called provings many times by different researchers and on different people. The fact that the choice of the test persons is limited to the characteristics of healthy but sensitive is of some concern: What about the symptoms that a healthy test person cannot show because he or she is healthy?
Another problem is that the response to the tested remedy in a sick person could be very different. As long as homeopathy was used to treat acute diseases, the reactions of the healthy but sensitive test persons covered fairly well all the symptoms needed for this kind of condition and allow for the correct prescription of a remedy. As soon as we enter the domain of chronic diseases though, the symptoms are no longer accurate, and the symptoms no longer cover the complete picture. This was the reason that Hahnemann wrote that chronic diseases are incurable because the remedies no longer had the expected effect.
Considering the chronically ill patient, there is another problem. In an acute disease, we are confronted with a strong reacting immune system with clear symptoms, such as high fever, intense pain, fear, etc. But a chronic disease is a metabolic disease that starts insidiously and imperceptibly, until it causes some discomfort. No strong reaction here, no fever, not even serious pain, at least in the beginning. For instance, a patient with allergies suffers from effects such as a runny nose, tearing eyes, fatigue, and lack of appetite, but not pain or high fever. The disease seems not serious, until the patient starts to look for help because the problems don’t go away and seem to become worse with time.
She then discovers that there is very little that can be done for the problem and that the problem is connected to much more than the sinuses and the eyes. The underlying metabolic problems are causing the reaction to the allergens, but the allergens are not the cause, only the triggering factors for the symptoms. It takes a clinical approach to be able to detect the metabolic factors behind the allergy symptoms or any other chronic disease. What is happening is that the metabolism is weakened by a malfunctioning liver, or a deficiency caused by lack of absorption of vitamins and minerals by the intestines, or a toxic environment in the connective tissues caused by the accumulation of toxic substances such as pesticides and food additives, or a combination of the above factors.
These issues cannot be addressed by the tests with healthy but sensitive people as Hahnemann established it. We cannot blame him for that. What he did allow for was a great start with a new, powerful and harmless kind of medicine. In Hahnemann’s time there was no science of biology, immunology organic chemistry, etc. Still he tried courageously to master the difficult chronic diseases. He even changed the rules of prescribing in the battle against chronic diseases. He did this by prescribing the remedies more often, by explaining his theory about miasms, and by looking for ways to avoid healing crises. Healing crises are one of the sure symptoms that there is the beginning of a chronic disease that underlies the symptoms observed.
After Hahnemann’s death, some of his French homeopathic followers continued to try to solve the difficult problem of the chronic diseases. The first scientific help came when Claude Bernard, a French physiologist of the previous century, discovered the function of the liver as the detoxifying organ with a very important role and a decisive function in keeping the body healthy. This brought the French homeopaths to begin treatment for chronic diseases with one or more liver remedies, meaning remedies that stimulate the detoxifying function of the liver. This was the first step to solving the problem of the deficient metabolism as the cause of chronic diseases.
In the 20th century, followers of the Hahnemannian school in France and Switzerland started working on another approach: the concept of constitutional typology as a way to clinically determine the remedies best suited for a patient. It started with Nebel, a Swiss homeopath, who described three basic types: Carbonic, Fluoric, and Phosphoric. Leon Vannier, a famous French homeopath of the beginning of this century, agreed with the same three types. It was Henri Bernard who eventually established constitutional typology as a valuable diagnostic tool by determining that the Sulfur Type was the healthy form.
He accepted the three types determined by Nebel and Vannier as the basic types related to the Sulfur Type and showed how metabolic and hormonal differences created the different basic types. He also showed how the three Hahnemannian miasmic influences created more mixed types beyond the basic types. These discoveries helped form a powerful diagnostic tool and allowed for invaluable insight into the evolution of chronic disease previously unknown.
Constitutional typology helped homeopathic practitioners understand the role of metabolism, as well. It eventually became a guide for diagnosing different types of people because their constitutional tendencies predicted the kind of diseases they would develop if their metabolisms became impaired. For example, the Carbonic Type will develop sclerosis of the tissues if the liver is deficient. This means that this type will gain weight, will easily develop arteriosclerosis, retain toxins in the connective tissues that are not excreted by the liver, and start retaining water when the intoxication reaches a critical level (i.e. hydrogenoidism).
An opposite type is Natrum muriaticum, a lean type that has poor metabolic action because of tuberculinism, a concept developed by Bernard that widens the Hahnemannian concept of the psora, or first miasm. The Natrum muriaticum patient has a deficient metabolism and liver, but is unable to generate the sclerotic defense in the connective tissue and thus accumulates the toxins that the liver cannot excrete in the blood and the lymph. This causes an acute awareness of illness with almost no clues to what may cause the problem, as well as multiple underlying symptoms of intestinal, respiratory or sinus problems or a mixture of these problems.
Bernard established about a dozen basic and mixed constitutional types. I explain most of this approach in my course about clinical homeopathy. It is clear that the similimum in modern homeopathic diagnosis in chronic diseases cannot be applied successfully until a person is brought back to a state of health where a true acute disease exists, just like in the early years of Hahnemann.