"certain remedies such as Sepia, Pulsatilla nigricans, Platina, Cimicifuga, Lilium tigrinum, Sabina and Secale appear to have a focus on female related symptoms. We see statements declaring 'this is a women's remedy...." (The fairer sex)
It's a shame but it's true. The other day I heard a practitioner call Sepia the "lesbian remedy". Not only do I find that insulting to homosexual women (in this day and age, are we really going to insinuate that homosexuality is a pathological process?), but it's also completely inaccurate. The first prover of Sepia was male!
He meant "infectious agent". Pretty simple.
Miasms were not invented by Hahnemann. During Hahnemann's time, there was a debate raging about the origins of disease. There was a miasma theory and the germ theory, which eventually was proved by microbiology, as we all know. "In miasma theory, diseases were caused by the presence in the air of a miasma, a poisonous vapour in which were suspended particles of decaying matter that was characterised by its foul smell. The theory originated in the Middle Ages and endured for several centuries. That a killer disease like malaria is so named - from the Italian mala ‘bad’ and aria ‘air’ - is evidence of its suspected miasmic origins" (Science Museum's History of Medicine ).
Hahnemann in his lesser writings writes the essay "Appeal to thinking philanthropists respecting the mode of propagation of the asiatic cholera" on how cholera spreads from town to town. People who believed in the miasma theory believed the infection to be spread through the air, but he disagrees and says:
"in those confined spaces [ships], filled with moldy vapors, the cholera miasm find a favorable element for its multiplication and grows into an enormously increased brood of those excessively minute, invisible, living creatures so inimical to human life, of which the contagious matter of the cholera most probably consists....this concentrated aggravated miasm kills several of the crew; the others, however, being frequently exposed to the danger of infection and thus gradually habituated to it at length become fortified against it and no longer liable to be infected. These individuals, apparently in good health, go ashore and are received by the inhabitants without hesitation into their cottages, and...those who have approached nearest to them are suddenly carried off by the cholera. The cause of this is undoubtedly the invisible cloud...composed of probably millions of those miasmatic animated beings" (Hahnemann's Lesser Writings, page 758) Italics mine.
This passage clearly describes almost the exact same process that happens in infectious diseases, now proven by microbiology (which of course didn't exist when he was writing this). From this passage, his use of the word "miasm" clearly means an infectious disease agent like a virus or bacteria. Therefore his theory on chronic disease does not mean he was thinking about our genetic or epigenetic lineage (those are not infectious diseases) nor does it mean you treat the chronic disease with the infectious disease the caused the miasm (e.g. treat a tubercular miasm with tuberculinum) because that would be isopathy, not homeopathy. He thought that chronic disease was caused by an infectious disease agent that created subtle disease symptoms over decades that would get worse slowly (think of Herpes Zoster/Shingles - the virus infects us when we are children but lays dormant for decades and can manifest in many different ways).
Therefore the different theories on miasms are not in accordance with Hahnemann's original meaning of miasm, and should be called something else in order to avoid confusion (e.g. "symptom patterns" "patterns of presenting illnesses"). The interesting question though, is how much of his theory should we use at all. After all, we now have microbiology, genetic, and epigenetics to draw information from. The possibility exists that this knowledge could make us better homeopaths.
Prescribing based on Kingdoms is too close for comfort to the doctrine of signatures.
Doctrine of signatures is an idea that a remedy source will tell you what diseases it can treat. For example, a plant that has yellow flowers will treat liver issues. This kind of thinking is common in folk medicines, and especially in Christian and Muslim traditions; in traditionally Muslim or Christian nations, folk healers believed Allah/God deliberately made plants look like the parts of the body the plant could heal.
This idea has often proved useful in folk medicine, however it has no place in homeopathy. Homeopathy, as stated before, is matching a proving symptom to the symptom of the patient. Where the remedy is derived from has no implications for its prescription. Prescribing based on which kingdom the remedy comes from or where the remedy comes from in the periodic table directly implies that a remedy's source can tell us its use. For example: a mineral is structured, therefore the person who needs a remedy prepared from a mineral will have structural issues. This is a vast generalization, and there are many exceptions to such generalizations:
Phosphorus, a remedy made from the mineral phosphorus, produces symptoms of incredible sensitivity and hypersexuality, but sensitivity is associated with plants and hypersexuality is associated with animals. Hyoscyamus niger (a plant) produces some of the most intense sexual mania seen in the materia medica. However hypersexuality is, again, supposedly, a symptom associated with the "animal" symptom. The classic example of a "split in two" personality (a symptom associated with animals) is Anacardium orientale, another plant remedy. Even generalizing based on plant families can lead us astray. The solanaceae family includes the highly poisonous Datura stramonium, Atropa belladonna, (both lethal in small doses) but also potatoes, eggplants and tomatoes. Attempting to generalize based on remedy source will filter the remedies into artificial categories that can easily confuse a remedy prescription.
Hahnemann in Essay on a New Principle (Hahnemann's Lesser Writings, page 249) explains that we cannot generalize based on the remedy's origins (although such connections can be useful in memorizing), but rather we must pay attention to the proving symptoms in determining prescriptions.
Generalizing in this way is detrimental in another way: it's a generalization. My interpretation of the people I meet in the field of alternative health, and homeopathy especially, is that they want a repose from the de-humanizing categorizations and disease labels given to patients by the conventional medical profession. One of the virtues of homeopathy, supposedly, is that it is the only system of medicine that does not categorize people but keeps them as true individuals. This is different from Ayurveda and TCM, which also put people into the categories of "spleen qi deficient" or "vata". If homeopathy puts its patients into these kingdom and miasm boxes, are we not doing exactly the same thing?
Additionally, the definition of homeopathy matching patient symptoms (this does not include normal attributes of your personality) with the symptoms that arose from a proving. Note that in this process, there is no theorizing about the patient nor about the remedy; the process is a simple matching of one set of facts to another set of facts. If we match patient attributes to kingdom traits, we are in fact not practicing homeopathy.
Abstract: Homeopathy. 2006 Oct;95(4):237-44. Heuristics and bias in homeopathy. Souter K.
"The practice of Homeopathy ought to be strictly logical. In the Organon Samuel Hahnemann gives the impression that the unprejudiced observer should be able to follow an algorithmic route to the simillimum in every case. Judgement and Decision Research, however, indicates that when people grapple with complex systems like homeopathy they are more likely to use heuristics or empirical rules to help them reach a solution. Thus Hahnemann's concept of the unprejudiced observer is virtually impossible to attain. There is inevitable bias in both case-taking and remedy selection. Understanding the types of bias may enable the practitioner to reduce his/her own bias."
All practitioners must actively work to discover their own bias. As with all areas of homeopathic study, no shortcut to mastery exists.
In Anshutz's New Remedies you can find the original proving of Chionanthus virginica. For those new to homeopathic language, a proving is when a healthy person takes a dose of a medicine in order to understand the effects that medicine has on the body. Every remedy should be tested in this way before being given to patients. Many provings were done during Hahnemann's time (mid nineteenth century) and the original results have been lost; we only have access to secondary sources: compilations of of the original results with the intent to allow homeopaths to prescribe remedies based on the data.
Recently I went through the original proving of Chionanthus viriginica and I encourage others to do the same. The exercise raised more questions than it answered. How do you decide on time modalities? If someone wakes at 4am, is the symptom: worse at 4am OR is it because the prover took the tincture three hours previously? How many of the symptoms in this one proving characteristic (common and consistent) and how many are specific to this individual prover?
Our materia medica was put into perspective for me; it's a compilation of symptoms that are not as concrete and discreet as they seem. Additionally it became apparent that symptoms can only become concrete and discreet after many provings have been done.
This is the most common question people ask me. The philosophy behind both forms of medicine are relatively similar. They both aim to find the root cause of disease and remove it and stimulate the body to heal itself. There is one difference: Homeopaths only use homeopathy and maybe some lifestyle counselling. Naturopaths use many different types of medicine, such as acupuncture, Chinese medicine, herbal therapies, vitamin therapies, lifestyle counselling and homeopathy.
Naturopaths' large toolbox gives them a unique ability to determine what therapy is best for you and if one therapy doesn't work, they have lots of others to try. However the breadth of their knowledge does not always translate into a depth of knowledge. The homeopathic schools I know in Ontario teach 10 times the amount of information on homeopathy than a Naturopathic college does, with hundreds of hours of clinical, homeopathic, experience included in the degree. Therefore if you know you would like to try homeopathy, I suggest finding a licensed homeopath. Regulations are always changing and different in every country/state/province, so I can't recommend a universally good place to look for a homeopath. If you are in Ontario, as I am, then you want to see a homeopath that is licensed by the Ontario College of Homeopathic Medicine.
For people new to homeopathic preparations: a homeopathic remedy is made by taking a substance and diluting it in water many hundreds or thousands of times. Before each dilution, the substance is vigorously shaken (succussed), which is thought to strengthen the power of the medicine. Unfortunately we don't understand much about how/why this process works, so research like this is of vital importance.
More information found on the HRI website and the full text article is also available.
In homeopathy, a symptom is cured by a medicine that creates that same symptom. For example Poison Ivy creates a raised, itchy rash with vesicles. If someone comes into a homeopath's office and has a raised, itchy rash with vesicles, the homeopath will give them Poison Ivy (note that if someone gets a rash from Poison Ivy, the homeopath will not give the person more Poison Ivy. That method of treatment is called Isopathy). This law of cure is termed "like cures like".
"Like cures like" is hard to wrap your head around. The way I like to think about it is that your body is telling you what it needs. If you get abnormally hot, your body is saying it wants something that makes it hot. If you get muscle aches, your body is telling you it wants something that gives you muscle aches.
Therefore homeopathy is personal and simple; all that is needed for cure is careful observation of yourself.
Homeopathy is not using diluted medicines. Homeopathy can be practiced with non-diluted medicines. Therefore, homeopathy is not energy medicine. If you believe diluted medicines work because of energetic qualities (for me the jury is still out on that point), then homeopathy is the utilization of this energy medicine according to clearly defined principles.
Homeopathy is a law of cure; in other words, the word "homeopathy" means cure is accomplished by using medicines in a specific manner.
A homeopathic remedy from arnica, marigold, St. John's wort and comfrey accelerates in vitro wound scratch closure of NIH 3T3 fibroblasts
Hostanska K1, Rostock M, Melzer J, Baumgartner S, Saller R.
BACKGROUND:Drugs of plant origin such as Arnica montana, Calendula officinalis or Hypericum perforatum have been frequently used to promote wound healing. While their effect on wound healing using preparations at pharmacological concentrations was supported by several in vitro and clinical studies, investigations of herbal homeopathic remedies on wound healing process are rare. The objective of this study was to investigate the effect of a commercial low potency homeopathic remedy Similasan® Arnica plus Spray on wound closure in a controlled, blind trial in vitro.
METHODS:We investigated the effect of an ethanolic preparation composed of equal parts of Arnica montana 4x, Calendula officinalis 4x, Hypericum perforatum 4x and Symphytum officinale 6x (0712-2), its succussed hydroalcoholic solvent (0712-1) and unsuccussed solvent (0712-3) on NIH 3T3 fibroblasts. Cell viability was determined by WST-1 assay, cell growth using BrdU uptake, cell migration by chemotaxis assay and wound closure by CytoSelect ™Wound Healing Assay Kit which generated a defined "wound field". All assays were performed in three independent controlled experiments.
RESULTS:None of the three substances affected cell viability and none showed a stimulating effect on cell proliferation. Preparation (0712-2) exerted a stimulating effect on fibroblast migration (31.9%) vs 14.7% with succussed solvent (0712-1) at 1:100 dilutions (p < 0.001). Unsuccussed solvent (0712-3) had no influence on cell migration (6.3%; p > 0.05). Preparation (0712-2) at a dilution of 1:100 promoted in vitro wound closure by 59.5% and differed significantly (p < 0.001) from succussed solvent (0712-1), which caused 22.1% wound closure.
CONCLUSION:Results of this study showed that the low potency homeopathic remedy (0712-2) exerted in vitro wound closure potential in NIH 3T3 fibroblasts. This effect resulted from stimulation of fibroblasts motility rather than of their mitosis.