The Connection Between Apparently Unconnected Symptoms.
The connection between everything in the human, from
emotions and intellect to fluids and organs, is the Vital Force,
the conductor and coordinator of all functions and sensations in
the human body. So if the vital force expresses a dry mouth and
we stop that sensation with some emulsifier or other lubricant,
the vital force still needs to make an expression of dryness to
show its mistunement. It will give us the sensation of dryness in
the throat, a slightly deeper level. If we take something to prevent
this expression the vital force will then go deeper and express
it as, for example, a cough. If again this is suppressed the vital
force will find another outlet or vent for its expression. This
could be in a different system and appear not connected anatomically
but it is connected through the power of the vital force. If the
person now got anaemia, "dryness of the blood", there
would be seen to be no anatomical connection between that and a
cough, but for the homeopath, the vital force is the connection.
The proof of this is that when treated the person should go backwards
in reverse order of appearance of symptoms. So in this case the
patient would express the symptoms suppressed in reverse order ie,
cough, throat, mouth etc. This serves as confirmation that the vital
force has been tuned and that it no longer needs to express its
This whole process of getting sick can take years
to develop, but when we look back and trace the history, it should
become apparent. From first simple beginnings, although each symptom
treated with conventional medicine has gradually yielded to treatment,
the overall picture is clearly worse after five or twenty years.
Usually the process involves two main factors. The first is that
the intensity of the symptom gradually increases over time. This
time scale may be months or even years. It may not have been apparent
except for the need for stronger treatment, often in the form of
tablets, over the years. The second aspect is that the symptom increases
in frequency; what began as once a year in autumn or spring becomes
once a month or two or three times a year. This slowly develops
into once a month or even more frequently. When combined with the
increased intensity it calls for attention. With the correct treatment
therefore the symptoms should become less intense and less frequent.
This is another sign that the treatment is taking the right course.
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Live to Eat or Eat to Live?
There is a plethora of information in the media about
what we should or should not eat. Scientists decide which foods
are the today’s “must eat” and these soon become
tomorrow’s poison. The hapless individual is left increasingly
confused. This article will attempt to provide some sound principles
to help you decide what to eat, always bearing in mind the value
of a good dollop of common sense.
The word diet comes from the Greek meaning “manner of living”
and this etymology implies it is more than merely what we eat and
digest. In the broadest sense of the word, it implies what we nourish
and support ourselves with, what we take from the outside world
to sustain life and nurture. This definition is not solely concerned
with the digestive level. It might be helpful to try and identify
what it is in our lives that we surround ourselves with, as part
of our life support and contact network – not only in terms
of food and drink, but also in terms of our friends, social activities,
hobbies and interests.
The act of eating is essentially an act of transformation –
we take something that is not us, which comes to us from the outside
and during its passage through the digestive system, it becomes
akin to us. We transform it into something that the Vital Force
will recognise and be able to use to sustain growth and life and
nurture and nourish us.
Perhaps therefore one idea to help us decide what is “good”
for us to eat or not is to eat food which wants to be eaten by us,
eat food that likes you, that supports your health. In other words,
when you eat a particular food, does it sit well in the digestive
system and is its transformation into the building blocks of life
smooth and symptom free?
Our relationship to food can be healthy and positive or quite the
opposite, just as our relationships with other people and the world
around us. It depends on whether we control the food or it controls
us. A few examples may serve to clarify this. We see 3 people eating
a slice of chocolate cake. Is this healthy or unhealthy? The answer
for each person will be different because the question of health
does not reside in the cake, but in the person. Person A eats the
cake, enjoys it and does not suffer any adverse effects afterwards.
Person B eats the cake, regrets it all day and spends hours in the
gym working off the calories. Person C eats the cake, immediately
feels sick and vomits.
What is the relationship of these 3 people to the cake? For person
A, the eating of the cake is nourishing because her relationship
to the cake is healthy. The cake is neither good nor bad, fattening
nor slimming; the cake is just the cake. Person B is not quite so
healthy; she can eat the cake but must have a strategy to compensate
for the guilt which the eating of the cake has produced. The person’s
health has diminished, so the influence on her of the cake has increased.
Person C can eat the cake but suffers. The only compensation she
has is to vomit. She is less healthy and so the negative effect
of the cake has further increased. There is, however, a fourth example.
Person D longs to eat the cake but will not. She spends all day
dreaming of the cake. She is the least healthy of the 4 examples
and thus the cake rules her. This illustrates that it is the overall
health of the person that determines the ability to digest the cake,
but we can equally apply this principle in all aspects of life.
The importance of diet is, of course, nothing new. Hahnemann, in
the Organon of Medicine, places considerable importance on ascertaining
the details of the patient’s diet. He counsels a diet that
is “strictly regulated; it should be as much as possible destitute
of spices, of a purely nutritious and simple character” (Organon
paragraph 125). How much more important this advice is now, in the
21st century, with ever increasing levels of contaminants in the
food we eat and the emphasis on sensory stimulation on all levels
in selecting our food.
There is also the question of dietary supplements, which are commonly
used as drugs to make up for an apparent deficiency. It needs to
be borne in mind that by giving these substances to an already suffering
body, the natural ability of the body to cleanse is therefore further
reduced and these supplements thus act in a suppressive manner.
They are not conducive to greater health and freedom but work to
further mask or alter the true nature of the person’s condition.
We should also remember that the amount of vitamin C, for example,
occurring naturally in an orange is a fraction of what is to be
found in a vitamin C tablet – something around 15-20 oranges.
Imagine the time and effort it would take to buy, store, peel and
consume that quantity of oranges daily. The vitamins that are found
in the orange occur in combination with a range of other trace elements.
By taking the tablets we are side stepping the natural product and
overloading the system with an unrealistic quantity of one isolated
element, to say nothing of its potentially suppressive effect.
We can leave the last word to Hahnemann who, in Chronic Disease,
offers the wisest counsel: “moderation in all things, even
in harmless ones, is the chief duty of chronic patients”.
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How People are Made Sick
In my experience it is very clear how many people become ill. Patients
will have one symptom or another treated medically or otherwise
and soon afterwards serious illness begins. But it seems often the
connection is not made. It appears there is a common blind spot
that prevents seeing this simple idea of one thing leading to another.
Time and time again patients report other symptoms starting after
taking this or that treatment. They become tired, depressed or other
symptoms now appear or trouble them. Symptoms that occurred once
a month now occur more often. Their general health is worse. With
this similar onset occurring so many times, surely alarm bells should
ring. But no-one is collecting all this information together and
making the connections. In other words, the effects aren’t
being properly monitored or reported. If they were, it would become
clear that short term relief is leading to more serious
long term suffering in possibly millions of patients. The
more successful treatment is at removing symptoms, the more treatment
will be required to treat further sickness. But this idea has still
not been understood or put into practice in general medicine. More
and more money is spent on treatments that create further sickness.
The news, information and education systems all continue to shout
loudly about the short term success of each treatment. Through habit
and ignorance the long term problems that result are not observed.
Billions are spent in promoting this effort to find further treatments
for sick parts or disease names. In the general clamour the homeopath
can only whisper that there is a better, cheaper and more effective
Short term or long term
When we suddenly become ill immediately after having a medicine,
then the cause is obvious. But sometimes this general deterioration
in health does not happen so quickly. Initially symptoms may seem
to disappear; only later does the deterioration in health become
clear. By then it is forgotten how it all started and how it occurred.
When given time to consider, a patient will often say “Yes,
of course, now I see! Since I took that treatment things have got
worse,” or “Yes, of course. I haven’t been well
since I took this or that medicine”. If we go back to the
beginning it becomes clear.
Whole picture, not just a part
The cause of this further suffering is treating one symptom of
the disease. It is like pushing a balloon on one side and ignoring
the shift to the other side. Only the person who can see the whole
balloon can see that the problem is still there. When we change
symptoms or treat them, we need to know how it is going to affect
everything else. Any action we take has consequences. Any treatment
we take has consequences too. Symptoms being treated or removed
cause the general health to deteriorate in the long term. This explains
stories such as; they did everything they could for him but he didn’t
survive: or they went in for a minor procedure but caught a serious
A Homeopathic Response
A homeopath’s work is often to antidote the treatments that
have caused problems and side effects for the patient. Their role
is to return them to their previous state and then cure them of
their original sickness. Detailed assessment is made over the long
and short term. Each patient is treated as a whole including physical,
mental and emotional imbalances. In this way we can understand all
changes and understand how health problems have started and developed.
Once understood, a clear plan of homeopathic treatment is needed,
over the short and long term, in order to return them completely
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Wherever we see compromise, sooner or later we see suffering. By compromise
we mean going against our conscience. As every one has a different
conscience, what may be a compromise for one person will not be for
another and vice versa. If we perceive a truth, not only for our own
sake but also for everyone else especially our patients, we must observe
it or suffer. Compromises have always existed throughout the history
of mankind. For example, we see quarrelling, but everybody when asked
privately wishes in his true heart for quiet. In our own lives we
also compromise, but as we perceive more, so we suffer more for our
Kent, the American homeopath, talks about compromise or doing things
against one’s conscience. He always talks about the homeopath
who compromises his principles for his wallet, for fame or for honour.
Examples are abundant everywhere in everyday life. There is always
a small amount of truth mixed in with the compromise, which hides
it from those who do not perceive. The power to mix the right amount
of truth with the false to give it the appearance of truth to the
outside world is extremely dangerous. The greater our understanding
and knowledge of truth, the higher is our responsibility to use
it for the good. We must always battle not to allow ourselves to
misuse this precious gift we have been given. We must as homeopaths
strive to be above these things and never compromise the principles
we know to be true.
Sometimes on a lower level it is possible to compromise, as for
example, socially. If someone wants to meet us at 3 p.m. and we
would rather meet them at 4 p.m., of course we can compromise and
meet at 3.30 p.m. without compromising our principles. But in our
practice we must never compromise any of our doctrines. We must
always seek the simillimum. If a patient needs Ignatia, no other
remedy can do its work. We cannot compromise and prescribe Natrum
Muriaticum on a few keynotes and ignore the guiding and differentiating
general modalities of Ignatia. The patients must know that with
their homeopath there are no compromises and no ‘little games’.
They are consulting someone who strives to live homeopathy in all
areas of his life, not someone who practises so-called homeopathy
in his office but at home lives a different life. This is why Hahnemann
suggested to a prince that he should observe what the homeopath
does in his spare time before choosing him as his physician. We
all know the stories of doctors who are very happy to prescribe
drugs for their patients but they are not willing to inflict them
on their own family. This level of work is very damaging. I have
more respect for the doctor who practises what he preaches than
for the one who preaches one law for himself and another for his
As I see it, the mission of the homeopath and indeed of all people
on this earth can be summed up by quoting the magnificent first
paragraph of Hahnemann’s preface to the first edition of The
Chronic Diseases: “to become better myself as far as possible
and to make better everything around me that is within my power
Every time we compromise in our personal lives, and therefore also
in the treatment and subsequent health of our patients, we deny
ourselves the possibility of improving. This stage, where we either
change or compromise, is very difficult because we are reaching
our level of saturation and to protect ourselves we start to blame
the external. We all do this, and I am sure that if you have not
already observed, you will observe it more and more as your perception
This means that our responsibility as a physician is very high
because we have the responsibility in life not only of improving
ourselves but also choosing to help those who wish to be helped.
It is only possible for us to perceive the sickness of people if
we ourselves do not suffer the same or a worse level of sickness.
If we are jealous, then we are unable to recognise a jealous complaint
of the patient and therefore may not be able to help him. On the
contrary, we now come to another level of compromise. The poor patient
is suffering so much they are pleading for help and indeed their
story can pull at your heartstrings, but unless the case is fully
understood, it is impossible to prescribe for this patient. Any
prescription will be what Kent calls a shot in the dark, and if
it cures it is only a lucky hit. This is no way to run a practice.
It is not moral to prescribe any remedy before the case is fully
understood. How can anyone take a fee for uncertain work? Hahnemann
did not write the Organon without reason. It must be read and re-read,
understood and followed. Hahnemann and Kent both knew how crucial
Similarly, with our instructions to patients, we must be careful
how we compromise. On the one hand we know that our instruction
should be followed for the patient to improve, but on the other
hand we must remember that the patient is sick and needs not only
judgement but also the quality of mercy. So at first, in certain
cases, we can compromise on our instructions, as otherwise the patient
will not wish to continue. The art is to judge to what degree we
can compromise without compromising the health of the patient. The
patient should realise that if he does not follow the instructions,
then we cannot continue to treat him or her. We can allow them to
disobey once, but then we must dismiss them. A patient who truly
wants to be cured will do everything in his power to achieve that.
These patients we can help, and this must be our level of practice,
and all those who come for help must know that it is not easy and
that they must be responsible for themselves.
Kent repeats again and again that we must do what we know is right.
He complains that the only reason for not doing this is for fame,
honour, position and wealth. Money must be seen as a result and
not as a motive. Our motive must be to strive for the love of our
patient; then we can solve cases, find the remedy and finally receive
our fee. If this process does not flow in the correct order, then
we will suffer and have less and less ability to treat our patients
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Most of us are quick to take the credit for anything that goes
well in our life, and just as quick to put the blame elsewhere for
everything unacceptable, unpleasant or tragic that affects us. People
blame their parents, their schooling, their employers, their neighbours,
the Government, anyone but themselves.
We live in what has been called the “blame” society,
and certainly it is increasingly litigious. We hear daily of cases
brought to court in an attempt to offload blame and seek compensation,
many of which seem absurd, like the man who sued McDonalds for his
obesity or the woman who sued the baker’s after catching her
hand in the door. This is deeply worrying, as this attitude is becoming
embedded in the general consciousness. By seeking continually to
put the blame elsewhere and to find justifications for our actions,
we are denying our own autonomy. In effect we are saying that we
are not responsible for what we do, and thus may behave in any way
we want. Perhaps this could be at the root of much of the immoral
and anti-social behaviour we see around us.
The alternative, that is to accept responsibility for all our actions,
is often difficult and even uncomfortable. Each person comes to
this world with his individual path to follow, and we are all involved
at all times in our own destiny. We choose the path we take in life
and every choice brings consequences that are often not exactly
what we wanted or planned, yet are often what we need at the time.
It is said that an accident happens when someone is in the wrong
place at the wrong time. However when a traffic accident occurs,
blame is nearly always apportioned to one or other party. Whose
fault was it? It seems clear to all appearances that the driver
who pulled out without looking or who ran into the back of the car
in front was to blame. Yet how was it that the other car was there
exactly in the place to be hit? Both drivers are implicated; the
situation is reciprocal.
In the case of a burglary, the person who has his belongings stolen
is as much involved in the event as the burglar himself. The burglar
is behaving in an immoral and certainly illegal way. But there is
some reason why the person he burgled attracted the loss. Why did
the burglar choose that house, that time, those goods to take?
Thinking this way means we cannot entirely absolve ourselves from
responsibility for the situations in which we find ourselves. It
is a question of balance. We must take responsibility for our part,
and realize that other people are responsible for theirs .If we
blame ourselves for everything, we run the risk of thinking we are
directing the whole universe. Yet, if we fail to accept our responsibility,
we then behave with no restraint of conscience or moral.
Somewhere there is a reason for everything that comes our way,
and it is important to examine our part in it, before we dismiss
it as not being our fault at all. This kind of self-examination
is not always comfortable. Sometimes the reason is very hard to
see, and indeed it may be beyond our comprehension at that time,
though with treatment we may be better able to understand.
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An Introduction to Hering's Law of Cure
Homeopathy is based on law. At every stage of treatment the true
homeopath is able to use certain laws in order to understand and
assess whether the disease, along with its symptoms, is going in
the right direction i.e. the direction leading to cure. Based on
this, Hahnemann understood the prognosis. He noted, as he followed
his cases, that the oldest complaints were the last to cease. He
recognized the direction of cure, which established the principles
of cure. Dr. Hering followed the teachings and experiences of Hahnemann
in order to establish his law.
Constantine Hering was born on January 1, 1800 in the town of Oschatz,
Saxony (now in Germany). He grew up in a religious household and
in 1817 he attended the Surgical Academy of Dresden and then went
to study medicine at Leipzig University. At Leipzig he was the student-assistant
of a Dr. Robbi who was an antagonist of homeopathy. Robbi had been
approached by a local publisher to write a book about the homeopathic
"heresy" but due to lack of time he referred the publisher
to Hering, who enthusiastically pursued this task and studied all
of Hahnemann's published works. He also undertook his own experiments.
His mission was to disprove homeopathy, as we still see scientists
and doctors trying to do today. During this period, Hering received
a wound from doing dissections, that became inflamed and infected
and on examination he was told by the medical profession that he
would have to have his hand amputated. Instead he decided he would
try homeopathy. As a result of this homeopathic treatment which
saved his hand, he had a complete change of heart. He continued
to research homeopathy and obtained more personal experience of
it and as a result he transferred his allegiance. He graduated as
an M.D. from the University of Leipzig in 1826. In his doctoral
thesis, which was entitled "On the Medicine of the Future,"
Hering declared himself to be a homeopath! He was to become one
of the most influential homeopaths of all times; his published works
are still widely used today.
Homeopathy is holistic and so pays heed to the interconnection
of all the symptoms. In the natural course of disease, the vital
force expresses disease by producing symptoms in the lowest, least
important and outermost levels that it can, so as to protect levels
that are more internal and precious. But when the person suppresses
his symptoms and disturbs this protective arrangement, it may have
to express them in higher, more important and more inner levels
e.g. from an unsightly skin eruption on the outside, to eruptions
in the lungs which may impede breathing.
Like Hahnemann before him, Hering observed that cure occurs in
a consistent manner. He described this pattern in the form of three
basic laws which homeopaths use to assess whether or not cure is
- A true cure takes place from within to without and
from the more important organs to the less important. For
example, if a patient is suffering from anxiety and producing
respiratory problems, during the process of healing the anxiety
and respiratory problems will be cured and an eruption may appear
on the skin. This means that cure takes place from the deepest
part of the person, which is the mental and emotional level to
the physical parts; from the inner vital organs to the outer skin
and extremities, all of which are closely interconnected. In other
words, the expression of the disease moves from the centre of
the person to the circumference. This is demonstrated when, after
the initial aggravation of the remedy, the mental and general
symptoms of a patient are the first to ameliorate, but along with
this the related physical symptoms may begin to aggravate more.
This is a sign that the physical symptoms will get better, even
if they seem worse for the moment, due to the primary action of
the remedy. Once the curative, secondary action of the life force
is complete, the physical symptoms will also be ameliorated or
removed, when they are no longer needed to safeguard the person.
This may occur after several remedies.
- A true cure takes place from above to below,
i.e. from the upper levels to the lower parts of the body. For
instance, a person with a rheumatic knee may find that the rheumatism
in the knee will feel better after a homeopathic remedy but the
pain may descend to the foot. If the rheumatic symptoms move from
the knee to the heart, this would be opposite to cure and opposite
to Hering's Law. The main vital organs are situated in the top
half of our body i.e. brain, heart, lungs, and as we move down
through the body the parts become less vital to life i.e. arms,
fingers, feet, toes. Both of these directions (inner to outer
and from above down) are clearly life-saving directions.
- The vital force makes symptoms disappear in the reverse
order of their development. Homeopaths have consistently
observed that their patients re-experience symptoms from past
conditions. When a person has suffered from a few consecutive
symptoms and now he comes for treatment complaining of the most
recent ones, while the others have disappeared, with correct homeopathic
treatment his former symptoms will reappear. In this way, the
most recent symptoms will be the first to leave and the last symptoms
to be cured will be those that came first. So we see the symptoms
disappearing in the reverse order of their arrival. This process
of cure will take the person back to the beginning of his sickness,
to the root cause, so that this can be cured in time. These three
principles constitute the Law of Cure.
As the symptoms change in accordance with Hering's Law, it is common
for individual symptoms to become worse than they had been before
treatment. If healing is truly in progress, the patient feels stronger
and generally better in himself, in spite of this aggravation. Before
long, the symptoms of the aggravation will pass and the person will
be left healthier on all levels. There are, however, exceptions
to the rule that can disrupt the natural process of cure. If the
natural course of the disease has been altered by suppression e.g.
by drugs, the symptoms are likely to have found expression on more
internal and higher levels of the person and so will have taken
an unnatural course, which will need to be antidoted.
Kent sums it up for us when he says "The only cure known to
man is from above down, from within out, and in the reverse order
of coming. When it is otherwise, there is only improvement, not
cure. When the symptoms return there is hope; that is the road to
cure and there is no other."
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How Samuel Hahnemann Discovered the Cause of Sickness
Why is it that health matters appear so complicated? Every day
there are new discoveries and ideas concerning our health. New hopes
and new efficient methods replace old theories and medicines. But
true homeopathy hasn't changed since Hahnemann
first practised it 160 years ago. Our medicines remain the same
today as they were then and the principles upon which they are used
haven't changed either. Homeopathy is just as effective now as it
was in Hahnemann's day.
Hahnemann searched through thousands of cases of sickness over
a period of 11 years. He gradually began to see a pattern connecting
the huge variety of illnesses of his patients. He discovered
there was a common root to all sickness. This discovery
is fundamental to our understanding of health. We have been educated
to think there are many different unconnected kinds and forms of
disease. But Hahnemann showed that all these diseases came from
the same origin. Today, unfortunately, much of our health treatment
is dedicated to specialists fighting ‘different diseases’
that ‘appear’ to exist separately. This is a myth and
Hahnemann understood that there was a common root to all illness
and found medicines that could be specifically used to reverse the
process of chronic disease. He understood that chronic disease is
present in all of us and that it starts in early life and, if left
untreated progresses through life until we die.
The following are some of the conclusions of Hahnemann's work:
- We all have our own unique form of chronic disease.
- Symptoms in childhood are the beginnings of chronic disease
and warning signs of disease to come later in life.
- Each symptom is a small part of the bigger part of our chronic
- Symptoms are connected to each other; they are all part of
the same chronic disease.
- Removing or treating one part only accelerates the chronic
disease in other parts.
- Treatment should be towards removing the total picture of chronic
disease rather than separate parts.
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Treating the Person
It can often seem as if homeopaths are playing with words when
they say: “We treat the person, not the symptoms.” It
appears that if the symptoms disappear, then surely it must have
been the symptoms that were treated. However it is not possible
for one medicine, prescribed homeopathically, to remove so many
various symptoms by direct action. The medicine is instead directed
to the centre. The centre is the person whom we can only know by
the symptoms they narrate and display. That central, spiritual point
- the person - we cannot know. We can only know his outwardly reflected
picture, portrayed by his character, his demeanour, his physical
characteristics and his individual suffering. So when the homeopath,
guided by the symptoms alone, gives the medicine to the person,
the person is ‘tuned’, put into order, and as a result
the parts will start to function in harmony, i.e. the symptoms will
So homeopaths should not claim to treat particular symptoms, diseases
or conditions. These are used only to understand what central disturbance
the person has. And it is at this central disturbance that the remedy
is aimed. Not at the symptoms themselves.
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When you visit the doctor and receive a prescription, you may be
asked to come back if the condition persists. However, when you
receive a medicine from your homeopath, you are asked to send regular
reports at clearly defined intervals. Why?
The first few reports enable the homeopath to assess the patient’s
reaction to the medicine and also to ensure the medicine’s
suitability for that patient. If for some reason the prescription
is not suitable, an antidote can be administered quickly. This is
important to prevent any unnecessary suffering.
With subsequent reports, the homeopath can study the course of
the healing process in each individual case and have a clearer idea
of when the next prescription may be needed. In a chronic case,
an improvement in the general state may be expected in a few weeks,
though it can take a couple of months. The general picture during
this time can often be very dynamic, with interchanging spells of
improvement and worsening. This is a good indication of the remedy
working. In an acute case however the pace is much quicker and improvement
may occur in just a few minutes or even seconds.
If no reports are sent, and at a later stage the patient contacts
his homeopath with a problem, it is considerably more difficult
to assess this new problem in the light of the previous prescription.
It may be part of the healing process, or it could be a new picture
emerging. The homeopath needs these progress reports to answer any
questions that may suddenly arise.
What should these reports contain?
All reports should be clearly dated. To begin with you may be asked
to send reports after a few days, and then weekly. You are asked
to describe what has happened since taking the medicine. This may
include physical, intellectual or emotional symptoms, dreams, sleep
patterns, etc. Wherever possible as much detail about each symptom
should be given: when it occurred, exactly where, what it felt like,
how long it lasted, any accompanying phenomena. Also it is useful
to note if anything made it better or worse: change of position,
heat or cold, moving around, staying still, eating or drinking,
times of day, etc. Sometimes a symptom can be brought on by a preceding
phenomenon or event, so if you can report what was going on prior
to the appearance of the symptom, this information will help the
homeopath. Always mention if you have had the symptom in the past,
whether recently or many years ago. You should also note any changes
in your life that occur following the time when you took your medicine,
even if you feel that they have no connection at all with your treatment.
Changes in our personal relationships or in our work, problems with
the car, the house, the washing machine, unexpected events: all
these may be connected to our health.
After a month or two you may be asked to send a summary every four
to six weeks. For this it is often helpful to keep a diary, making
notes of anything that occurs as it happens. Then you can look back
over these and make a summary of progress since the last report.
The same details should be given.
However difficult this task of report-writing may seem at first,
it is always worth remembering how important it is for the success
of your treatment. This feedback is essential for monitoring progress.
And with time the task becomes easier.
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Hahnemann says that the homeopathic physician is "a preserver
of health if he knows the things that derange health and cause disease
and how to remove them from persons in health." He is saying
that it is not sufficient for the homeopath to take the case, work
on it and then prescribe the correct remedy. In some cases, if this
were all the homeopath did, even if it were the correct remedy,
the treatment would not be successful. It is the responsibility
of the homeopath to ensure that any obstacles to cure are removed.
Hahnemann also tells us that there are certain diseases that are
inappropriately named chronic disease. There are two types of chronic
diseases, one that is a true natural disease, and one that is not.
The artificial man-made diseases are caused from exposure to influences
that damage the health of the patient. If the period of exposure
has not been too long, it is possible that when the influence is
removed the patient's health will be restored. However, if the patient
has been exposed to the poisonous agent for a longer time, it may
be that the person's vitality has been so weakened that it will
not be able to restore itself to its previous state without assistance
from a remedy. Not all people will be affected to the same degree
or by the same influences. This will depend on the individual's
susceptibility. All of these influences can be avoided. If they
are not they can act like a fuel to the disease, just like petrol
dripping on a fire maintains the burning of a fire, but as soon
as this is stopped the fire goes out.
So what are these poisonous influences? Hahnemann, who lived in
the 1800's, warns about living in unhealthy places such as marshy
districts, cellars and confined spaces. He warns of the damage that
is done from the over indulgence in alcohol from lack of exercise
and fresh air and from overexertion of the mind or body. All of
these still apply today. However, as society has become more "civilised"
there has been a huge increase in these noxious influences. Civilisation
has brought about intensive farming along with the use of chemicals
and sprays. Industrialisation has increased pollution in our crowded
cities and increased exposure to radioactive contaminants. Radiation
is everywhere, even in our homes, from computers, television and
microwaves etc. Continued exposure to most of these maintaining
causes of disease, especially in large doses, can lead to death.
Ralph Waldo Emerson, a 19th century American poet, lecturer and
essayist, said that, "The end of the human race will be that
it will eventually die of civilisation."
People today are addicted to many things, from drugs, alcohol and
chocolate to sex, stealing or earning money and gambling, to less
obvious things such as reading the morning paper or going to the
gym. Such addictions can also be maintaining causes.
Most addictions are self-destructive. When you are addicted to
something you give yourself up to the thing and begin to lose who
you are as well as control over your life. The thing you are addicted
to now controls you. An inanimate thing such as a drink or a food
etc. can have power over us. As soon as a person desires something
that is destructive, the love for their life and for their own self-preservation
begins to disappear. Man has two choices in his life, to make himself
and things around him either better or worse. The healthier a man
is, the more he will improve himself and the things around him;
the sicker he is, the more he and the things around him will deteriorate.
Certain ways of life can also be maintaining causes to disease.
For instance, working nights which can upset the natural cycles
that work within us, not eating correct food, living in cramped
conditions or not having a home at all, continued worry or stress,
a bad relationship etc.
It is very often the things that man loves that maintain his disease.
Not all the "bad" things that are part of our lives are
maintaining causes. Many of them are symptoms that are necessary
for us at the time in order for the correct remedy to be found and
which will gradually disappear through the process of cure. It can
be dangerous to take away something from a man's life at the wrong
time. Your homeopath will always advice you on these issues.
It is man's nature to desire things that are harmful to him. If
it wasn't we would never become sick in the first place. Many times
we are not aware of these things ourselves. This is why our homeopath
draws them to our attention to ensure that we receive the most rapid,
gentle and permanent cure in the most reliable and most harmless
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The Homeopathic Consultation
The homeopathic consultation can be a profound experience for the
patient. It is the moment when they can tell their story in full
often for the first time. There are several principles behind the
homeopathic consultation that can make this possible.
A first principle in homeopathy is to listen and work without prejudice
or preconceived ideas. In the consultation this is about listening
without any comment or judgment. The homeopath’s role is to
be a clear receiver of the information given by the patient. The
more receptive the homeopath can be the more at ease the patient
will be to tell their tale and give their full story. Inherent within
this principle is the need to make the patient comfortable and at
ease to talk and give their case. It requires the homeopath to be
able to talk to anyone and be adaptable to each patient. They generally
wait quietly to hear what the patient has to say about their story
of health and life and write down accurately what the patient has
said. It is quite an art just to note down what the person has said
in the way they say it. If this occurs it is likely the patient
will be able to talk about themselves in a more detailed light than
ever before often about things they have never told anyone else.
Time is an important factor in a homeopathic consultation. Homeopathic
consultations allow each patient the time they need to relax and
express their innermost thoughts and feelings. Sometimes it takes
a while for someone to think more deeply before they answer a question
about themselves and express what they remember or feel. To talk
without such a pressure on time allows the person to talk more freely
and easily and share their thoughts and feelings at their own pace.
Unpressured time allows each of us to express deep or inner feelings
and explore the innermost of ourselves.
A homeopathic consultation involves gathering information about
the totality of the patient. It covers all aspects of health which
means emotional, intellectual and physical areas. By considering
the whole patient we mean everything that is in their life. The
principle involved here is that each of us work as an integrated
whole. We can’t be unwell in one part of our lives or body
without also being affected in many other areas. In order to understand
the total picture of dis-ease we need to know all the areas that
The homeopathic consultation is about the individual and their
whole particular experience in health and life. Every homeopathic
consultation is different because each patient is a unique individual
with their own very different story to tell. The combination of
symptoms each person experiences does not occur in anyone else in
the same way. The homeopathic consultation then is about the person
not the parts or any named disease and is also unique because of
In conclusion the homeopathic consultation is about a shared time
where one person really talks and the other person really listens.
It is a place where the space and time is allowed to get in touch
with the deeper issues of health and life in a safe and supported
environment. With all these factors in place it is possible to get
a full picture of all the individual problems a person is experiencing
and look at these as a whole experience. The homeopathic consultation
then fulfils its function to be the beginning of a true healing
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What is a Drug?
Nowadays the understanding of what is a drug is very unclear. There
is wide debate about cannabis and alcohol. Why is one legal and
the other not? Substances in this world are either nutritional or
poisonous. Some substances are poisonous but through culinary expertise
they can be brought to a state of nutrition, e.g. red kidney beans
must be boiled for a minimum period of time or they remain poisonous.
Other substances were thought to have no effect but were later found
to be poisonous, e.g. the pollen of the moss Lycopodium was once
used to coat medicines that were sticky.
There is classification of drugs into good drugs and bad drugs.
This is very misleading and comes from a lack of understanding of
the relationship between poisonous substances and human beings.
Medicines are poisonous substances. These, because of their ability
to alter the healthy state of the healthy individual, are termed
medicinal substances or agents. Human beings’ response to
the same poisonous substance is varied. Rarely are the responses
the same. The same poisonous substance may excite little or no response
from one human being and in another cause death. Between these two
are a great range of responses. This varied response is dependent
Just because one person is not harmed by a substance does not mean
it is harmless for everyone; it just means that that particular
person is not affected by the medicinal substance, he is not susceptible.
Similarly, if one person is affected by a medicinal substance it
does not mean that everyone will be affected. However, if continually
repeated it will, sooner or later, have some effect on everyone.
What are nutritional substances? They are those substances that
allow a person to continue their life. They also satisfy the appetite.
Everything else is poisonous i.e. changes or alters the healthy
state of the healthy individual. A medicinal agent should only be
used to change the healthy condition of the state of health of the
diseased individual, i.e. to restore the sick to health. Medicinal
agents should only be used to medicate a human being to bring about
a restored condition of health. Any other use is potentially as
dangerous as the person is susceptible.
It does not matter if it is a small dose, a “mild”
dose, a leisure drug, a legal drug, a prescribed drug or an illegal
drug. The title does not make a human being react differently. They
are all poisonous and will affect each individual according to their
Alcohol, whether beer, wine or spirits; tobacco, herbs such as
Echinacea or chamomile, vitamins, antibiotics or painkillers are
all medicinal agents. They may sometimes be disguised in the form
of a hot drink or sweets, but they are still medicinal agents.
Use of such medicinal agents should be according to a thorough
knowledge of their actions. These actions are always on the emotions,
the intellect or understanding, the fluids of the body, the internal
organs and the external organs. It is NOT possible to affect just
one single part.
The variations of response to medicinal agents are in relation
to susceptibility. The scale of response to a single dose can be
from zero, because one is too sick to respond, through all degrees
of response until at the other end of the scale there is again no
response because the person is in such good health.
Both the too sick and the healthy person can usually finally be
affected if the dose of medicine is repeated sufficiently. Similarly,
according to individual susceptibility, the recovery rate from stopping
the repeated dose can be either short and quickly thrown off or
take much longer. Some people may even not be able to throw off
the influence of the medicinal agent for the remainder of their
The principal idea behind understanding drugs is individuality
and susceptibility. It is extremely misleading and potentially damaging
to generalise drug response.
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Homeopathy: The Exclusive Treatment
Patients sometimes ask about having other kinds of treatment while
they are under homeopathic treatment.
Genuine homeopathy is a complete system of medicine in itself and
as such does not need to be mixed with or supported by other systems,
whether conventional medicine, psychotherapy, or alternative or
complementary treatments and dietary supplementing. In this respect,
it is exclusive.
Unlike almost all other treatments, homeopathy does not set out
to remove the symptoms directly, but rather to address the underlying
cause of the symptoms. This may seem like nit picking, but what
it means in essence is that the success of treatment depends on
a very clear picture of all the symptoms. This is essential as an
indicator of both the progress of the action of the remedy given
as well as the nature of the next prescription needed.
Furthermore, without interference, the symptoms fall into a natural
order, a condition which is easier to treat and more likely of success.
Therefore any other treatment which in some way affects the symptoms,
which by their nature all treatments must do, will interfere with
the clarity and order of this picture and consequently will interfere
with the process of treatment. The degree to which this other treatment
alters or even removes the symptoms will reflect the degree to which
the homeopathic process will be affected. A radical surgical operation,
like organ removal or transplant, clearly has a much greater effect
than a daily cup of chamomile tea.
If the treatment is very invasive or powerful, or even if it is
regularly repeated, the action of the homeopathic remedy may be
interfered with or suspended. In some cases it can be antidoted,
which would then entail waiting a considerable time in order to
be able to assess the case clearly enough to prescribe again.
Homeopathic treatment may still be possible, but its outcome will
not be as successful or rapid as it might have been if the process
had not been disturbed.
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Advice to Patients
Patients are often surprised and perhaps even irritated by the
advice given by their homeopath when they come to take their remedy.
It can seem like an unnecessarily long list of prohibitions. In
all his work, the homeopath’s over-riding concern should be
the best possible treatment for his patients, and this advice is
only given to ensure that the optimum conditions for taking a medicine
are obtained in order that the treatment can be as effective as
There are three main issues to consider:
First, there are specific antidotes to the particular remedy prescribed,
and the homeopath will pay special attention to these. It could
be coffee, camphor, vinegar, chamomile, etc. These should obviously
be avoided, since they could interfere with the remedy working.
Secondly, there are medicinal substances, that is to say, substances
which alter the state of health of a person. In this category I
would place coffee, tea, herbal teas known for their medicinal properties,
alcohol, spices, as well as ‘natural’ remedies, dietary
supplements, and tonics. I would also include anything else that
is used for medicinal purposes, so other therapies which are intended
to change physical and mental symptoms should be avoided. The reason
for this is to enable the true effect of the medicine given to be
assessed without interference from other sources. As the homeopath
charts the progress of the treatment from the patient’s reports,
he examines carefully each symptom in turn in order to assess the
effect of the remedy. If a symptom has been modified in any way,
whether it is a back pain eased by massage, a toothache relieved
by clove oil, or insomnia masked by chamomile tea, the total picture
may be distorted.
Thirdly, there is the question of advice concerning diet and life-style.
It is generally suggested that a person who has just taken a remedy
should avoid excessive physical and mental sensations, which may
over stimulate the mind or body. This could be a particularly strenuous
game of squash, a visit to a perfume store, a rich meal, a horror
film or a thriller, an all-night party, a bungee jump etc. The idea
is to put as little strain as possible on the vitality at this sensitive
time. It is not so much the activity or substance in itself, but
rather the effect it has on the individual. It is therefore impossible
to issue a definitive list, since it is different for each person.
However, if the avoidance of any particular substance or activity
presents a problem, further advice should be sought from your homeopath.
The main consideration in all of this is moderation, a recurring
theme in Hahnemann’s extensive writing on matters of health
and life-style. In earlier times doctors would prescribe this kind
of simple nutritious diet and gentle quiet regime for those convalescing
from illness, since the body’s extraordinary ability to heal
itself in the right conditions was recognised.
I would like to stress that these are no more than guidelines,
to enable a person to gain the most benefit from the treatment.
It is an integral part of a homeopath’s responsibility to
offer the best possible advice to his patients. It is up to the
patient what he does with this advice.
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The Vital Force and Prana
The concept of the Vital Force comes from the homeopathic lexicon
and that of prana from the yoga tradition. In this article, I want
to briefly explore the use and meaning of these two terms to try
and understand their similarities and differences.
The term the Vital Force is used in homeopathy to describe an energy
whose essential characteristics are described by Dr. Samuel Hahnemann,
the founder of homeopathy, in his Organon of Medicine, aphorism
9. “In the healthy condition of man, the spiritual Vital Force
(autocracy), the dynamis that animates the material body (organism),
rules with unbounded sway, and retains all the parts of the organism
in admirable, harmonious vital operation, as regards both sensations
and functions, so that our indwelling, reason-gifted mind can freely
employ this living, healthy instrument for the higher purposes of
Thus, without the Vital Force, the physical body would remain inanimate;
in fact what distinguishes the living body from a dead one is the
presence of the Vital Force. The action of the Vital Force is to
keep the organism operating with “unbounded sway” and
ideally no matter what challenge is presented to the Vital Force
from the outside world, One could compare the Vital Force to the
conductor of an orchestra, whose job it is to keep the different
instruments in tune, playing the right note at the right time at
the right volume. No one instrument is allowed to take control and
run its own agenda and the result is beautiful music, rather than
a cacophony of sound. So too the Vital Force as it maintains the
whole organism in “admirable harmonious vital operation”
The Vital Force is the energetic link which connects the individual
with the universal, so that the individual can achieve the “higher
purpose of existence”. Hahnemann does not elaborate here as
to what this purpose might be and it is beyond the scope of this
article to explore this further, but his use of the word “spiritual”
[Vital Force] as opposed to “material body” may give
us a clue. The material body is merely an instrument or tool to
be used by the individual in pursuit of the spiritual path.
When an individual becomes ill, it is due to the inability of the
Vital Force to provide an equal and opposite answer to the external
world, resulting in the display of signs and symptoms. So we can
see that the primary disturbance occurs on an energetic or Vital
Force level, followed by suffering on a material level - emotional
or physical. It is when the person loses their spiritual connection
that symptoms arise.
In yoga, the concept of Prana is analogous to that of the Vital
Force, as this quote from the Prasna Upanishad shows:
“Prana burns as fire; he shines as the sun;
He rains as the clouds; he blows as the wind;
He crashes as the thunder in the sky.
He is the earth; he has form and no form;
Prana is immortality.
Everything rests in prana, as spokes rest in the hub of the wheel.”
(The Upanishads 1987 Penguin Arkana, Eknath Easwaran, Prasna
Upanishad II.5&6, page 160)
Prana is described as an animating principle, infusing all living
things with vitality and strength. This Upanishad, one of the great
classic yoga texts dating back some 2 millennia, compares Prana
to the sun whose life-giving rays bring life to all it touches,
without discrimination. It is all pervading, supreme, sustains life
and, like the Vital Force, differentiates between life and death.
It is a constant, given force, which cannot be diminished or die.
“As when the queen bee goes out, all the bees go out and when
she returns all return”, so too do the senses depart when
Prana departs and likewise return.
A modern yogi, Andre van Lysebeth, describes Prana as “cosmic
energy in its entirety, ...Undifferentiated universal energy…everything
in the universe that moves is a manifestation of Prana; thanks to
Prana the wind blows, the earth trembles, an axe falls, an aeroplane
takes off, a star explodes, a philosopher thinks. …Prana exists
in our food, water, sunlight, but it is neither vitamin nor warmth
nor ultraviolet rays. Air, water, food, sunlight: all convey Prana
on which all animal and vegetable life depends. Prana penetrates
the whole body, even where the air cannot reach. Prana is our true
nourishment, for without Prana there can be no life. Vitality itself
is no more than a special and subtle form of Prana, which fills
the whole universe. To make itself manifest on the material plane,
the spirit uses Prana to animate the body and its organs.”
Interestingly, van Lysebeth quotes extensively in his book from
Dr. C. de Hufeland’s The Art of Prolonging the Life of
Man, about the Vital Force when explaining Prana. De Hufeland
was a contemporary of Hahnemann’s, a personal friend and in
his journal, Hahnemann published some of his articles about homeopathy,
which back in the 1800’s was still in its infancy. So it seems
that more learned scholars than this writer had made the connection
between the Vital Force and Prana.
Another modern master, B.K.S. Iyengar describes Prana as “the
energy permeating the universe at all levels. It is physical, mental,
intellectual, sexual, spiritual and cosmic energy. Prana is the
hub of the Wheel of Life.”
In common with homeopathy, the practice of yoga works on the energetic
plane, on the pranic level, to reduce and eliminate blockages and
disturbances so that the person can achieve a greater sense of freedom
and ease in their life and increase their connection to the spiritual
We can say that both yoga and homeopathy affirm the concept of
an animating, life giving energy, without which the manifest world
as we know it would not exist. There is a universal Prana or Vital
Force and out of that comes the material world in all its myriad
manifestations. We can call it a spiritual energy, from which source
all life flows and on which all life depends.
Both disciplines hold in common the aim of reducing suffering,
increasing the freedom of the individual in their life and expanding
their spiritual connections.
Let us leave the last word to the Bhagavad Gita, dating from the
fifth century BCE to second century CE (scholars cannot agree),
where Krishna explains to Arjuna the philosophical vision which
underpins the practice of yoga and with which I am sure no homeopath
“Freedom from fear, purity of heart, constancy in sacred
learning and contemplation, generosity, self-harmony, adoration,
study of the scriptures, austerity, righteousness;
Non violence, truth, freedom from anger, renunciation, serenity,
aversion to fault finding, sympathy for all beings, peace from greedy
cravings, gentleness, modesty, steadiness;
Energy, forgiveness, fortitude, purity, a good will, freedom from
pride- these are the treasures of the man who is born for heaven.”
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Why Are Fevers Good For Us?
Patients who undergo homoeopathic treatment are advised not to
take anything medicinal, as this may interfere with their treatment.
A question that is often asked, therefore, especially by parents
of young children, is "What should I do if my child gets a
high temperature?" The average temperature of the body in health
can range between 98.4º and 99.5 º F (36.9º and 37.5º
C) Body temperature varies naturally when we are digesting food,
exercising and when it adapts to the temperature of our surroundings.
It is naturally lower after midnight until we wake and highest in
late afternoon and evening when the liver is doing most of its processing.
A fever is a rising of this temperature above the normal level.
It is one of the most common accompaniments to illnesses in general.
The process generally starts with a sensation of coldness, a fever
usually follows and perspiration may then occur which can give relief.
After reaching a peak the fever will usually then decrease. After
two or three days of allowing this natural process to take place
the individual feels better. The raised temperature is often accompanied
by hot sweats and/or shivering. Shivering is the body's way of elevating
the temperature and sweating cools it. Headache aches and pains,
rapid breathing and rapid heartbeat may also accompany it.
Adults do not always have the vitality to produce high fevers,
neither do children who have had suppression and who have a low
vitality. But those who do have the vitality to produce a high fever
will have the ability to overcome it in a short time. Children with
high fever can look quite ill, even when it is just from a cold,
and because of this it is often the mother who "suffers"
more than the children. However, a little patience will allow the
body's natural defence mechanism to do its work and as a result
of its efforts the immune system will be strengthened and, therefore,
more equipped to handle any situations in the future. We know from
our own lives that if we always have help to do things or never
use our own powers we will naturally become lazy and hence weaker.
So if the immune system is allowed to work it will grow stronger.
This is especially important in young children in order to allow
their immune system to go through the natural education and learning
curve and to be "exercised."
External symptoms indicate that the vital force is taking care of
the person and working on his or her behalf. An increase in the
body's normal temperature is a natural process and is produced by
the vitality as a response to infection. A fever helps the body
to fight off the infection. "When a poison enters Man, his
system goes into a state of emergency, and only those who are strong
are able to overcome it. The body must neutralise the toxins, and
it does this by using proteins. These proteins are produced in the
liver with the help of a high temperature (fever). If the fever
is then suppressed, the result will be an interruption in the protein
production. The consequence of this interruption is an accumulation
of proteins, which there is no possibility of excreting from the
body, as the information does not exist."¹
During a fever a person should rest quietly and drink tepid water.
If there is no desire to drink sipping small amounts can be encouraged.
Don’t try to bring the temperature down by cold sponging or
taking a cold bath, or even a hot bath. Stay away from draughts
and don’t uncover or wrap up excessively. In other words avoid
trying to force any change of temperature on the organism as this
can interfere with the natural process that is taking place.
“After children have gone through "children's diseases"
that are accompanied with high fever, they become immune to those
diseases for their whole life. (Dr. Voegeli)." ² Since
a fever is the body's natural response to infection it is better
to allow the natural process to happen, especially if our children
are to grow up with strengthened immune systems. As with other challenges
in life, it is more advantageous to have short-term suffering while
resolving the problem rather than putting it off and then enduring
greater suffering in the long run. Letting nature take its course
will be of benefit in the long run when we see children grow up
to be more vital and healthy adults.
¹ & ² 24 Chapters in Homeopathy - J. Reves.
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The Most Precious Gift of Health
Our most precious gift is health. However we don’t always appreciate
how important it is until we lose it. When sick we are not able to
do all those things we can usually do, we may be confined to bed or
need to sleep or rest. Plans, occupations, relationships etc have
to go on hold and our freedom to do what we want is restricted. Hahnemann
gave instructions for protecting and conserving our health and preventing
risks. Some of these risks may be eating the wrong things, drinking
too much or not managing emotional stress such as grief or relationship
difficulties. With these influences our health can begin to break
down quickly or more often, so our first priority then must be to
conserve and protect it before we even think of improving it further.
The Signs of Losing our Health
Symptoms begin as our health starts to be out of balance. At the
beginning these symptoms may be quite subtle and gentle but as the
sickness develops symptoms increase and change to reflect this.
These symptoms show us there is something wrong and action needs
to be taken. If we take heed of them we can often avoid further
suffering by paying more attention to our health. If we don’t
listen to these warnings further symptoms arrive as a reminder.
We perhaps all know the scenario where we are feeling unwell but
have work we feel we must do. That conflict between our health and
what we feel we should do can mean we don’t always listen
to our health and the warnings it is giving. Quite often that means
we take a longer time in bed once our work is done.
Prevention is the first step
So what can we do to protect our health? There are some really
common sense approaches that will help us stay well. A healthy diet
and lifestyle will help; the less vital we are the healthier should
be the food we eat and water we drink. Fresh clean air and fresh
clean water are a necessity. Trying to live according to the natural
rhythms of day and night and the seasons mean we are also listening
to our own rhythms and needs. Having some sort of exercise every
day such as walking in fresh air for half an hour is a good habit
to develop and being active in the day but slowing down in the evening
and quietening as we approach sleep is helpful.
Another side of preserving our health is avoiding those influences
that are harmful. We can start by avoiding putting into our body
things that make us sick. These could be over processed foods with
little or no goodness, foods that are over spiced or sprayed with
toxic pesticides, medicines that keep us going but ignore the underlying
causes of why we have become sick, toxic drugs or stimulants that
give us a buzz initially but deplete the vitality in the long term.
Uplifting, restful and inspiring influences are helpful to maintain
health. Long periods of time spent in front of television or computer
screens or on mobile phones can have a detrimental effect.
With all this in mind there is one final aspect which is exclusively
homeopathic about protecting health and that is homeopathy itself.
Used in the right way your homeopath can help you to detect early
signs of sickness and act before disease develops further. A homeopathic
medicine (stitch) in time saves you from nine stitches later on.
Children and adults treated in time will prevent many of the illnesses
and sicknesses that would occur otherwise. Homeopathy is first and
foremost in protecting the health you have and then improving it.
Our most precious gift is the health we have now.
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Why Do Homeopaths Use Potencies?
Homeopathy is based on the law of similars. Traditional medicine
mostly uses the law of opposites; hence the suffix to many groups
of medicines is anti, i.e. against or opposite.
Amongst the many things a homeopath has to take into account during
his or her work are:
a) The similarity between the symptoms of the Materia Medica of
a medicine and the symptoms produced by the sick person, and
b) The similarity or suitability of the potency or strength of the
medicine to be given. That is the medicine must be as subtle as
the sickness of the patient.
Here I want to talk about the second part, the selection of the
potency. The lowest potency is what is called mother tincture, the
material substance itself. As we rise in potency we enter into a
realm of intangibility which can be represented in the human being
by the sphere of the understanding and will. Even those who call
for all things to be measured will not deny love exists or even
that a will exists, variously described as either weak or strong.
There are no machines that can measure this energy but despite this,
the will, love and understanding are undeniable.
Next we move to the sphere where there is clear differentiation
between what people will accept and will not - the sphere of the
spiritual world. The materialist finds no evidence, from machines
or even in his or her own feeling, to support the existence of a
spiritual world. The homeopath believes there is a spiritual world
and that it is an integral part of the health and sickness of humans.
With reference to the law of similars and the relationship between
potency and depth of sickness, if the sickness is deemed to be purely
physical then in order for a so-called homeopath to prescribe the
similar, a material medicine must be given. If the level of sickness
starts in the mind then the medicine given must have that degree
of subtlety. If the real disturbance is spiritual and the sphere
of the mind and physical body are just a reflection of this, then
we must find a medicine that is similar in potency to the spiritual
level of sickness the person is suffering.
Hahnemann recognised this and therefore potentised medicine through
dilution and shaking medicines thoroughly, (called succussion).
Up to the production of a 12C potency there is still some material
basis. Above this potency there is probably no material basis to
the medicine. We are now in the field of immaterial or spirit, or
for the materialist the world of non-existence.
How can we measure if there is nothing or something there?
Experience alone can show and Hahnemann recognised that only pure
experience and accurate observation would reveal whether there was
something in the so-called ‘nothing’ of the potentised
What should the accurate observation be based upon? Most certainly
not on single symptoms, but surely on the totality of symptoms.
This totality represents the person’s suffering and therefore
the potentised medicine given. What should we observe? – A
whole cascade of changes, which are all inter-related, though when
observed materially, may not appear to be related.
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I am sometimes asked what is different about “your type of homeopathy?”
Or someone will say that he or she has been to a homeopath and was
given a remedy to take every day or given many bottles of various
pills. There are many different ways in which “homeopathy”
is practised, some of which bear no resemblance to the homeopathy
I know. However generally speaking some homeopaths will give one remedy
and wait, others will give a remedy in repeated doses and some even
give two or three remedies at a time.
I would like to talk about my reasons for giving one remedy at
a time in a single dose and observing the reaction before prescribing
again. It all comes down to two basic principles of homeopathy:
1. The concept of the Vital Force
2. The necessity of testing of medicines
To understand why only one remedy at a time is given it is necessary
to explain how a substance becomes a homeopathic remedy and how
its healing properties are revealed. Each substance in the homeopathic
pharmacopoeia has been tested to reveal its healing potential. This
testing method is called a proving. A group of healthy people are
given a single substance in a controlled dose and are asked to note
down everything they experience over a set period of time; how they
feel emotionally, mentally and physically, any accidents or shocks
received during this time and any other phenomena. These responses
are gathered together and collated to form a “symptom picture”
which shows how this substance uniquely affects human beings.
This proved substance can now be added to the homeopathic materia
medica and used homeopathically to treat an individual expressing
a similar symptom picture according to the “law of similars”.
The law of similars similia similibus curentur is the cornerstone
of homeopathy and states that a substance that can produce a range
of symptoms in a healthy person can cure a similar set of symptoms
in a sick person.
Only one substance is proved at a time and therefore there
is no information relating to how two or more substances given together
alter the health of a human being. Thus it follows, for me, that
only one closely similar remedy, whose effects are known (the simillimum)
can be given at one time
2. The reason for giving one dose of the remedy and observing the
reaction comes from the concept of the Vital Force. Samuel Hahnemann,
the founder of homeopathy says that health is a dynamic state of
continuous adaptability and harmonious function with unrestricted
operation. In other words to remain healthy we need to adapt to
changes and react to challenges without too much disturbance and
restriction in our lives. He maintains that we are helped in this
task by an instinctive life preserving energy which he terms the
Vital Force. When we are thrown off balance it is the Vital Force,
which produces symptoms (in an attempt to minimise damage), and
when we take a remedy it is this force which responds and sets the
healing process in motion.
From the moment of taking the remedy your vital force is very busy,
usually there will be an initial increase in symptoms (an aggravation)
then a gradual improvement with a few ups and downs, old symptoms
may return and then disappear as part of the healing process. It
is a very active and dynamic time and a critical one for observation.
The response of the Vital Force may last for hours, days, weeks,
months or in some cases years. If another remedy is given before
the reaction is complete the healing process may be disrupted and
the action of the remedy unclear. (Maybe it could be likened to
eating a meal when you are still half full from a previous meal
and your food is not fully digested, your system will be confused
and could end up over stimulated)
It is the vital force which responds when we take a remedy and
guides the healing process, so in my view it must be carefully monitored
and allowed to complete its action before giving another remedy.
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What is a Symptom?
Homeopathy treats both the material and the immaterial aspects
of health, so when a person describes their sufferings to the homeopath
they not only need to tell of their physical problems but also their
mental and emotional difficulties and tendencies. It is relatively
easy to describe physical problems. After all, this is what is expected
in the doctor’s surgery. It may be harder though to talk about
what thoughts we have or to describe our feelings towards other
Every part of our lives may indicate symptoms, not just headaches,
constipation, asthma, or a twisted ankle, but also a new job, an
accident, a burglary, a puncture in the car or a leaking roof. We
cannot detach ourselves from anything that happens around us. These
life circumstances and occurrences are relevant to the homeopath
in developing an image of the sickness, especially in regard to
the patient’s reaction to them.
This image of the individual’s sickness is vital in finding
the most similar remedy and it is one of the things that differentiate
homeopathy from other treatments. The chemist sells the same painkillers
for any headache. For a homeopath, however, this symptom on its
own is of no value until it is made individual. No one person’s
headache is like another’s. We need to know where exactly
it hurts, what the pain is like, when does it occur, how often,
what makes it feel better or worse. All these details are essential
in individualizing a case. It may also be useful to relate what
was happening or what you were feeling when the headache began.
There are over 250 remedies that could be used to treat a headache,
but only one remedy is indicated for the very specific symptom:
‘pain in the forehead when leaning forward, while sewing’.
This then is a very particular symptom
The same individualizing is necessary when examining emotional
and intellectual symptoms. Many people complain of feeling anxious
or irritable or stressed. This on its own does not furnish the homeopath
with enough information. When do you get anxious? What makes you
anxious? Are you better if you go to bed or do you prefer to go
out for a walk? Are you better with people around you? Is it worse
in the morning or at night? Does it make you feel sick? Each person
has his or her own story to tell and this is what the homeopath
needs to hear.
But what are symptoms for? Clearly, from what we have seen so far,
symptoms are essential to direct the homeopath to find the curative
remedy. When there are no clear symptoms, it is impossible to develop
an image of the sickness and it is therefore impossible to prescribe.
But apart from this, symptoms have a vital function of protection.
The Vital Force, unaided cannot always overcome imbalances and dysfunctions
in the system. It can, however, produce symptoms that protect the
person from further or greater damage.
When a part of the body is injured or infected, inflammation occurs:
redness, swelling, heat and pain. This localized defence mechanism
is the body’s natural reaction to the injury and indicates
that it is dealing with the damage or infection. The production
of pus is a sign that the system is working effectively. But the
symptoms of inflammation also alert the person to the problem and
ensure that they are careful to avoid further damage until healing
is completed. Removal of these symptoms only delays or prevents
the process. It is interesting to note that early on in conventional
medical training the students are told about the benefits of the
natural immune response and yet later on are taught how to suppress
this same response.
Inflammation and pain of an arthritic knee protect the joint and
force the sufferer to take care. Anti-inflammatory drugs remove
this protection without curing the problem. A person hurts their
back and decides that, instead of resting, as the pain dictates,
they take some painkillers and get it fixed by an osteopath, so
that they can carry on with their life as before. They put themselves
in a potentially more dangerous situation. Perhaps they injure their
back again, but even more seriously; perhaps they get the sack at
work, or have an accident which would have been avoided had they
stayed at home. The process is not always obvious, but the idea
It can be difficult to accept that the purpose of symptoms, whatever
they are, is to protect us from greater evil. For this reason it
can be dangerous to eliminate them without addressing the root cause.
We have to accept that we cannot always understand the connections
nor find the answers to everything, but if we think about our symptoms
and concentrate on what we can understand, by putting our energies
into the right direction, and continuing our treatment, more answers
are sure to come.
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The Action of a Homeopathic Remedy
When a homeopathic remedy is taken, the first action that occurs
is called "primary action". This action is caused from
the introduction of a remedy which can produce similar suffering
to that which the patient already has, as proved in tests on healthy
people. This is one of the fundamental principles of homeopathic
treatment i.e. like cures like. When the patient takes the remedy
which best matches his symptom picture, the vital force, appears
to admit the remedy in a passive way. It appears to be passive because
when a human being receives any new stimulus, the vital force needs
time to study what it is, in order to know how to react to it. This
is what is occurring in the primary action.
If the remedy is similar to the person's disease, his vital force
will recognise it and will know how to deal with it because it is
already familiar with these symptoms. It almost welcomes it, as
we welcome our friends and family. The vital force feels that a
stronger "dose" of the familiar disease has been added
to it. This is why people experience aggravation i.e. a worsening
of their symptoms. Aggravation during the primary action is a good
sign to the homeopath. He knows that the remedy is correct and that
it has been prescribed according to the Law of Similars.
The vital force works to protect us as best it can. But when we
are sick, the vital force can only raise itself to keep us in balance
but by itself it cannot quite overcome the disease. If it could,
we would never get sick in the first place. When a remedy is prescribed
and the vital force has studied the new challenge posed by the remedy,
it then reacts to it. This is known as secondary reaction. The added
challenge of the remedy makes it think, as it were, that the person
has been infected with more disease, which stimulates the person's
vital energy to rise to overcome this. The matching remedy, however,
is a stronger artificial disease, not the real
disease that the person is suffering from and it only has a short
life. So when the power of the remedy disappears, it leaves the
patient with a raised vitality and consequently the ability to overcome
the original disease and hence cure takes place.
Paradoxically, the patient may initially experience his symptoms
becoming somewhat stronger in the phase of the primary action but
this is necessary so that the vital force feels it is challenged,
which makes it rise to the occasion. The secondary reaction is the
vital force overcoming the power of the remedy and in so doing,
curing the original disease. All primary and secondary actions are
opposite to one another and all medicines will excite these within
the person. The primary effect of drinking a cup of coffee is to
stimulate and make us feel more awake both mentally and physically,
but during the secondary reaction people become more tired than
they were originally and so we usually have another cup. This is
an example of primary and secondary action, when a stronger, dissimilar,
non-curative drug is given. If a person's similar remedy were Coffea
(made from the coffee bean) and he were given the potency, the primary
action would make him feel even less awake (aggravation),
but in the secondary reaction (curative action) he would feel more
awake and alert long term. The crude drug acts on the material level,
so the internal deficiency is not fulfilled at this level. In order
to cure, the medicine needs to be potentised so that a higher level
of information can be obtained. Crude drugs act opposite to the
potency. So with the use of the potency we see aggravation first
but it is only short term. The curative action has a long term beneficial
effect for the whole of the person.
Joseph Reves tell us in his explanation to Samuel Hahnemann’s
Organon that "The overcoming of suffering and the restoration
of health is only possible by "the homeopathic employment
of medicines according to similarity of symptoms". It
is true that the Homeopathic way of cure primarily brings suffering,
and that this suffering indicates the beginning of the correction
of the internal aberration of the health. Application of the practical
healing art, according to the Homeopathic doctrine, brings about
a short first aggravation, which is followed by a prolonged amelioration,
until the desired cure is accomplished. It is easier for a human
being to choose allopathy: it brings him immediate pleasure, while
the prolonged aggravation which follows is always forgotten; this
is the way of ignorance. The other way, which involves a short period
of suffering followed by permanent cure, is for the thinking mortal
who has long-sighted wisdom."
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What is the Homeopathic Aggravation?
I have often heard people say about homeopathy “Oh, that’s
where you get worse before you get better”. After taking a
homeopathic remedy, the patient may contact their practitioner to
report that some of their symptoms are worse and may be surprised
when the homeopath says “good, that is a positive sign”.
He or she may appear callous and indifferent to the person’s
suffering and will, after careful questioning, attempt to explain
this aggravation as a positive step towards cure. What is going
on here? Why this apparent increase in some symptoms and what does
it tell us about the curative process?
The selection of the simillimum or similar remedy is based
on the Law of Similars which states that a medicine which can produce
symptoms in a healthy individual will cure a similar set of symptoms
in a sick individual. As we know from earlier articles in the Homeopathic
Outlook, symptoms are produced by the Vital Force or life energy
in an attempt to maintain the best level of health possible in the
We need to remember that the similarity of the remedy depends not
only on its ability to produce symptoms in healthy people but also
in the level of potency that the practitioner selects. So we can
say that the simillimum represents the symptom picture
of the patient but in an amplified form. It is against this amplified
similarity that the Vital Force is encouraged to react and increase
its efforts in overcoming the weaker expression. In a sense, the
remedy holds up to the Vital Force a mirror image of the state it
is already in, but in a form that is stronger. It is therefore true
to say that the simillimum needs to be both similar and
stronger for it to have a curative effect.
It seems illogical that in order to move towards a more curative
state, there needs to be an aggravation first but many homeopathic
authors are quite clear that “the aggravation [is] a sign
that the curative process starts to take place”. J. Reves
24 Chapters in Homeopathy Homeopress Ltd. He goes on to
say that without it, there is no cure. George Vithoulkas in The
Science of Homeopathy says, “In order, therefore, to
produce a truly curative response, it is not only expected but desirable
that an aggravation of symptoms be produced after administration
of the correct remedy”. Dr. S. Hahnemann describes the aggravation,
which he likens to a medicinal disease, as a “very good prognostic”.
Organon of Medicine, Homeopress Ltd. paragraph 158.
The value of the homeopathic aggravation in assessing the curative
process underlines the importance of careful note taking and reporting
after a remedy has been taken. The homeopath is always looking out
for any signs of an aggravation, however slight, as this is the
first signpost of the remedy’s action. What may seem trivial
and incidental to the patient could be the very clue that the homeopath
The aggravation presents a challenge to the practitioner as well
as to the patient, in terms of mitigating its severity. J.T. Kent
in Lectures on Homeopathic Philosophy speaks from years of experience
when he says “sometimes the physician will be driven to his
wit’s end in dealing with these reactions”. The homeopath
will have taken into consideration the possibility of an aggravation
when selecting the similar remedy, in terms of the potency and the
time when the remedy should be taken. For example, if a child has
repeated nightmares, it would be advisable for the remedy to be
taken during the daytime and not at night, when the child is already
suffering. Likewise, if the patient presents with menstrual problems,
the best time to take the remedy would be once that time of the
month is over. The homeopath “hopes for” an aggravation
but wants to do everything possible to lessen its intensity.
Over and above the aggravation as a slight intensification of the
presenting symptoms following the administration of a curative remedy,
there is another meaning to the term. Stuart Close in The Genius
of Homeopathy” describes it thus: “…those
conditions in which, under the action of a deeply acting homeopathic
medicine, latent disease becomes active and expresses itself in
the return of the old symptoms or the appearance of new symptoms.
In such cases, it represents the reaction of the organism to the
stimulus of a well selected medicine and is generally curative
in its nature [my italics]”. From the patient’s
point of view, what is experienced is the worsening of some symptoms
but it is up to the practitioner to evaluate, after careful questioning,
the nature of the symptoms that have worsened. Of course, there
are any number of possibilities as to what gets worse, for how long,
when, etc but further discussion of the details of this is beyond
the scope of this article. What we can be certain of is that the
aggravation represents, in the main, a positive step on the road
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Acute Illness - a Few Pointers
Acute illness comes in all shapes and sizes: colds, ‘flu,
chicken-pox, fevers, gastric upsets, diarrhea to name a few. Acute
illness appears to be feared and misunderstood by many patients.
This article is an attempt to explain a few of the ideas around
The difference between acute disease and chronic illness is that
acute illness has a beginning, a middle and an end and is short
in duration. Chronic illness has a beginning and a middle but it
doesn’t end until life ends. Acute illness always develops
on top of an underlying chronic problem. It arrives to clear out
the system and to slow down the chronic. The symptoms of the chronic
are usually quiet and slow, often imperceptible, whilst acute illness
is more dramatic; it happens more quickly and can be more violent
Acute illness has several stages.
First stage - (Prodrome)
The first stage of acute is the build up to more severe symptoms.
This is called the prodrome. It can be for different lengths of
time. For instance the prodrome or incubation period for chicken
pox is 14-21 days. For measles it is 10 -15 days. Other acutes appear
more quickly or slowly.
In the prodrome the patient moves out of an underlying chronic
state into the acute. As this occurs behaviour may change and become
opposite to the usual. The person may have aversion to their usual
food or want something unusual. They may want heat when usually
they would want cold or vice versa. Just before they become ill
they may feel very well. Another sign of an acute is a reduction
in appetite. Small symptoms like a runny nose, change in behaviour
or sleep pattern are all possibly indicative. At this point it is
not clear and we usually need to wait and observe until the second
Second stage of - (Healing crisis)
The second stage of acute is called the healing crisis. This is
the more dramatic time of fever, sickness, and sometimes pain. A
healthy person will go through these symptoms quite quickly with
quick recovery, sometimes within 24 hours, with little or no loss
of strength. However, if symptoms continue and resolution is slow
the healing crisis can be drawn out and not conclusive. At this
point the body sacrifices more and more tissues in order to recover.
A lengthy healing crisis can cause severe debility. It is often
at this point that it may be necessary for homeopathic intervention.
The Homeopath’s role is then to prevent continued pain, loss
of tissues and strength and promote a quick recovery. We are lucky
we have so many wonderful quick acting medicines for just this occurrence.
At times it may be important to consult your homeopath and see if
it is necessary to treat this acute.
Traumatic acute problems such as injuries and burns are altogether
another area. Where there are broken bones or open wounds or foreign
objects to be removed it is very clear that these need to be set,
sewn or removed. However, once the life threatening situation has
been dealt with it is important to look at the reasons such accidents
occurred and find a medicine, if necessary, to aid recovery and
3rd stage - (Recovery)
The third stage of the acute is the recovery phase. Signs of improvement
in an acute are the breaking out of a sweat, the return of appetite
and the person becoming more "himself". A rash or skin
eruption coming out usually means the patient is improving, especially
if it moves down the body. If the first two stages have been of
long duration or particularly severe then recovery may take a long
time. Homeopathy can prevent the unnecessary loss of strength and
vitality in stage 1 and 2. If the patient does not have the vitality
to recover quickly homeopathy can be used to return the patient
to health. It is always necessary to re-consult your homeopath after
an acute in order to treat the chronic disease at the root of all
acute illness. Otherwise further acutes will occur in time (and
may well be more severe).
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Levels of Treatment
The homeopath recognises that there are three types of diseases
and therefore three levels of treatment. We can suffer from acute,
chronic or miasmatic diseases. What is the difference between these
and how do they relate to our treatment?
Acute diseases are the most external layer and are the easiest
for the homeopath to treat as the picture of disease is on the external
and is clear. They are the diseases that develop rapidly. They are
an expression or a vent of the person's chronic state. Very often
an acute disease will be accompanied with a skin eruption or a fever,
but not always, or a discharge of some sort, which will alleviate
the chronic underlying state of the patient. Very often the symptoms
suffered during the acute stages of disease are opposite to those
we normally experience i.e. in our chronic state. For example, if
you are usually a "warm" person in your chronic state,
when you suffer from an acute, you will very often become a "cold"
person. It is a more intense situation than the chronic disease.
The time and pace of the acute is dependent on the person's vitality.
After the decline of the acute the chronic symptoms will manifest
With chronic diseases the progress is gradual and may take a few
years to develop. As they develop over the years and the danger
to life increases, the vital force will produce an acute disease,
which will act as a vent and ease the pressure of the build up of
the chronic disease. Without treatment chronic diseases develop
as we grow older. The difference between the acute and chronic diseases
is that the acute has a beginning, middle and end but the chronic
disease has a beginning and a middle but only ends with the death
of the individual.
Miasmatic diseases are those diseases that have been able to develop
in mankind as degradation has taken place through the generations
and are therefore an expression of the deepest sickness of Man.
Diseases have gone through many transformations as medicines have
"successfully" suppressed diseases over the years rather
than curing them. Miasmas are the inherited tendencies that affect
us all, those emotional, occupational, intellectual parts of us
that are passed on to us from previous generations. Chronic diseases
damage the individual throughout his lifetime but miasmatic diseases
have an effect over generations i.e. hundreds of years.
Joseph Reves, in his book 24 Chapters in Homeopathy, clearly
describes the effect these different diseases have on us and our
surroundings, he says that "In the miasma the manifestations
are deep, but cause man suffering that he is not conscious of. That
which suffers is his surroundings, his family and the whole world.
In chronic disease the people around the sick man suffer from
him; from his own miasmatic manifestations and in an acute disease
only the man suffers, the surroundings have a "rest" from
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A Clean Bill of Health
Every so often there is a headline or news article about someone
who was given a "clean bill of health" and then suddenly
died or were taken ill. Yet nobody seems to query how it is that
a person can be declared well and then turn out not to be. At other
times patients are given only a short time to live and yet manage
to continue for many years despite the initial poor prognosis. It
appears there is a difficulty in accurately assessing a patient’s
real state of health. Why was the assessment wrong?
Samuel Hahnemann, in his book the “Organon of Medicine”,
instructed homeopaths to investigate the constitution, character,
occupation, living habits, relations, age, sexual function etc.
when making a complete assessment of the health of the patient.
In addition, the family history, the history of previous treatments
and all the symptoms and illnesses that have made this person what
they are today are needed. Furthermore our physical, mental and
emotional states vary according to the time of the day, the season
and our stage of life. A more detailed reading needs to be taken
over time and in different locations, seasons etc to see the variation
From this we see that taking a few physical readings at any one
moment in time is a limited way of assessing health since it ignores
so many other factors that need to be included. Symptoms and patterns
of health often build up over years. A homeopath called James Tyler
Kent wrote in his Lectures on Homeopathic Philosophy: “…take
the nervous child. It has wild dreams, twitching, restless sleep,
nervous excitement, hysterical manifestations, but if we examine
all the organs of the body we will find nothing the matter with
them. This sickness, however, which is present, if allowed to go
on uncured, will in twenty or thirty years result in tissue change;
the organs will become affected and then it will be said the body
is diseased; but the individual has been sick from the beginning.”
It is then possible to understand how illnesses do not happen randomly
but have an order. We are able to see a build-up of disease over
time, progressing through different symptoms up to the point at
which we see the patient today. Some patients may have an increasing
tendency to accidents and traumas, each one being slightly stronger
than the previous one as their disease progresses. In others we
can track the progress of symptoms over years moving from a more
external organ deeper and deeper into the constitution of the patient.
A clean bill of health infers that we really know the true complete
state and prognosis for the patient. No one can ever know the entirety
of another’s health and condition. Even with such a detailed
assessment as we have described, we can never cover everything.
But we do have a better understanding of the general health state
of the patient.
Hahnemann explained that the most frequent aggravation of health
came from grief and emotional upset. How we feel has a potent and
powerful effect on our health. In order to know our patient we need
to know how they feel and are responding emotionally to their life.
Shock and upset can leave long term effects on us all. Worry and
anxiety can turn our digestion, circulation and coping abilities
into turmoil. A strong willed person will continue to survive where
others falter or fail.
A homeopathic approach is to assess the whole story over time,
to take what is called the “totality of symptoms”. The
totality means the emotional, intellectual and physical person as
a whole. Total good health and therefore ‘a clean bill of
health’ are reflected as a patient with no symptoms in any
area. It is a rare event to find that a patient is symptom-free.
This may mean that in homeopathy there is no such thing as a clean
bill of health, but rather that there is always room for further
improvement and hope for a better future.
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What is ‘Holistic’ Treatment?
In our world of instant mass communication and mindless sound bites,
we have developed a series of ‘shorthand’ words. By
this I mean words which have a huge loading of meaning, like for
example natural, organic, and now holistic. These
words are used indiscriminately with a “good” flag,
and as a result their true meaning can become diluted.
Holism is a relatively new word. It can also be spelt ‘wholism’
which gives an even clearer clue to its meaning. Originally it was
used to denote a philosophical theory that certain wholes are to
be regarded as greater than the sum of their parts. Medically speaking,
it means treating the whole person, including mental and social
factors, rather than just the specific symptoms of a disease.
It has now become so widespread that it is often no more than a
catch phrase. A police officer talking on the radio about the problem
of knife crime insisted that a holistic approach had to
be taken, and then referred to schools, communities and social conditions.
Its opposite is the extreme specialism of modern medicine, where
a physician is a specialist in the lungs but not the heart, or a
surgeon may operate only on hands. Patients frequently end up suffering
needlessly when different specialists prescribe drugs for different
conditions without ever looking at the potentially harmful cocktail
that may result. This must surely come from the often unchallenged
notion that a medicine can be directed to affect just one isolated
part of the body, as if when it is taken it has an address label
attached “for the right inner ear” or “for the
left knee”. This is clearly impossible.
Between these extremes are many varying shades of meaning, like
grey between black and white. Osteopaths use the word to indicate
that they are looking at the whole spine and its effects on the
whole body, not just at the particular disc that is causing the
trouble. Most practitioners use it to mean treating both the physical
and the mental/emotional aspects of a person. One healer claimed
to treat holistically by looking at the current situation, past
challenges and aspirations for future, thus introducing an element
of time as well.
It is rarely disputed that there is a manifest connection between
the physical and the mental/emotional states of a person. ‘Mind
over matter’ is a widely accepted concept. We talk about being
‘sick with worry ’, ‘blind with anger" or
having ‘butterflies in the stomach’. When someone is
anxious they may have diarrhoea or sweating palms.
A person is more than just their physical manifestation. It can
happen that someone with a terminal illness is told they have only
days to live yet will in fact go on to live for weeks and even months.
What is happening here? The doctors may talk of a ‘strong
will’. On the other hand, a person can turn their face to
the wall and die, when physically there is no indication that they
should do so. It is this inner part of the person that governs their
mind and body and must consequently be at the heart of a holistic
A truly holistic picture of a person must include every aspect
of their life. It is necessary to obtain information on:
- the physical body, not just what symptoms look like and what
they feel like, but also when and how often they occur, what makes
- intellectual function;
- relations with family, friends, at work, and how the person
relates to the world in general;
- what they like and what they dislike, not only in food but in
all aspects of life;
- their own life story and their family history;
- their hopes and aspirations for the future.
A consultation of this kind is thorough and may take some considerable
Some practitioners use a questionnaire to elicit information. This
is not satisfactory as the response can never be as individual.
The homeopath needs to know the relative importance of what the
person is feeling, what connections are made from one piece of information
to another, what they talk about first, etc. This can only be achieved
by allowing the patient to talk freely about their suffering.
This freedom of expression helps to build up a very individual
and particular picture of the person. If we demand that they talk
about their digestion when it is really their joints that are bothering
them most, or if we persist in questioning them about their work
colleagues when they want to rant about their neighbours, we are
skewing the picture. A truly holistic image must reflect this individuality.
It is one thing to examine all the different aspects of the person,
but what really matters is what is done with this information. The
different parts of the human organism can be seen like an orchestra
of brilliant musicians, which produces wonderful music when all
parts are in balance. The key to this perfect result is the conductor;
he controls the whole orchestra and makes sure they play properly
together. When the music is horrible, out of time, out of tune,
or the trumpets are drowning out the violins, it is clear that the
conductor is not doing his job properly, something is wrong with
him. So the best way to improve the situation would be to sort out
the conductor. There is no point just sacking the trumpet player.
Within the human there is also a conductor, the very inner part
of the person, which we call the Vital Force. We cannot see it but
can only know about it from the external manifestations –
all these physical, mental and emotional expressions. In the same
way, we can only know how good the conductor of the orchestra is
by listening to the music.
By examining all the information we can build up a picture that
represents this inner conductor. And it is this that needs treating.
When this inner conductor is treated, the external picture will
change. The different players will keep in time, the violins will
no longer be drowned out, and the whole orchestra will play in tune.
When someone says to me: can you treat my eczema/migraine/panic
attacks/stomach ulcer etc., my reply has to be: No, but I can treat
you. These different conditions or symptoms are expressions of the
internal distortion of the person and are only a part of the whole
picture that represents this inner distortion. The inner distortion
that produces the stomach ulcer must also produce symptoms in all
areas of the person’s life. Removing these expressions in
isolation puts the person in a worse situation.
A stomach ulcer can’t exist separately from the person. It
is part of the person. If you remove the ulcer or mask the pain
from the ulcer, the internal distortion is not touched, but remains
in the person and will sooner or later be expressed again, either
as a return of the ulcer or perhaps as some other more dangerous
We can only know the nature of this inner core (and from this the
most suitable medicine for cure) by examining all aspects of the
person, not just his presenting condition, and from this creating
a totality, a complete picture of that person. By addressing this
total picture, a change can take place in the very internal of the
person, and there will no longer be the need to produce the symptom
or condition. This is a true holistic approach to health.
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The Homeopathic Remedies
Remedies used in homeopathy come mainly from the three natural
kingdoms: mineral, plant and animal. Most are from the mineral and
plant kingdoms; a few come from animals and very few from the human
being. Human life is closely linked with the “inanimate”
mineral kingdom and the living plant and animal kingdoms; we are
all part of a single creation and are all subject to universal laws.
The elements, minerals and metals broadly included in “the
mineral kingdom” are basic building blocks of life, each with
its own individual properties. Plants absorb nutrients from the
mineral kingdom, such as potassium and iron. In their turn, they
become food for animals and humans. We humans eat plants and animals
but usually do not eat minerals directly. Whenever any living creature
dies, the physical body decays and becomes nutrition for the next
The three kingdoms are closely interconnected with each other and
with man. Dr.J.T.Kent (1884-1916) wrote: “It is not generally
known that the three kingdoms exist, as to their interior, in the
image of man.” He urged us to behold the interior of nature
with “the interior eye,” as man’s diseases have
their likenesses in the substances that make up the natural kingdoms.
What we need to heal us when we are sick is available right here
in the three kingdoms. But first the healing substances need to
be unlocked, so to speak. That is where Dr. Samuel Hahnemann comes
Samuel Hahnemann (1755- 1843) acquired a broad background in the
mineral kingdom from studying chemistry and metallurgy. Learning
the healing properties of many minerals, plants and animals was
part of his medical degree. He translated books on chemistry and
medical treatises on how different natural substances could be used
to treat the sick. What sparked his discovery of the Law of Similars
in the 1790s was reading William Cullen’s work on Materia
Medica. Cullen described the symptoms he experienced when he took
doses of bark from the plant China officinalis, the source of quinine,
long prescribed for malarial fevers. Dr. Hahnemann could not wait
to test this plant on himself and, when he did, he experienced many
symptoms of intermittent fever (malaria- type symptoms). This is
how he discovered that the same substance that could cause certain
symptoms in a healthy person could cure a sick person suffering
similar symptoms. This is The Law of Similars. He had started with
a well-known healing plant.
He proceeded to carry out “provings” of other plants,
minerals and their salts and a few animal substances like oyster
shells and animal charcoal. He rigorously tested both established
substances and others whose full potential to cure those sick in
mind and body was only now revealed through his efforts. He established
protocols for grinding or triturating, diluting, and succussing
or vibrating each substance as appropriate in a process peculiar
to the preparation of homeopathic medicines. This is how he “potentized”
each substance to unlock its inherent powers to affect mind and
body. Internal qualities were revealed by proving among others,
potentized Sulphur and Aurum (gold) and from the plant kingdom Thuja
occidentalis (the tree of life or arbor vitae.) Alcohol was used
to prevent plants from spoiling and lactose (milk sugar) was used
to make dry tablets. Prescribing a single proved and potentized
remedy in a single dose according to the Law of Similars continues
to distinguish the homeopathic prescription of a mineral or plant
or other remedy from nutritional supplements or herbal medicines.
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What can homeopathy treat?
This is one of the most frequent questions that a homeopath has
to answer, and some reply with a list of diagnosed conditions.
But diagnosed conditions are of little help in way we work. After
all what does a named diagnosis relate to? It simply shows that
the person has a group of symptoms that are similar to every one
else with same diagnosis. As homeopaths, the diagnosis has no relevance
to the treatment we prescribe. We are looking for what is individual
to the person not common to the “named disease”.
Our understanding is that most conventional diagnoses are based
upon the secondary symptoms, the end products of disease.
“It becomes necessary, therefore in homeopathic prescribing
to carefully separate the primary, functional symptoms, from the
secondary symptoms which represent the pathological end products
of the disease. The gross tangible lesions and products in which
the disease ultimates are not the primary object of the homeopathic
Dr Stuart Close
The genuine homeopathic prescription is based on the “primary,
functional” symptoms which precede the organic or structural
changes. It is the function which creates the organ and it is then
the function which reveals the condition of the organ.
The definition of function is action, activity, performance and
adaptation. It is an expression of motion and change or something
that is dynamic.
In order to establish whether a patient can be treated the homeopath
has to assess the action that is taking place in their life and
their ability to withstand change. Where things are dynamic and
showing change and reaction there will generally be clear symptoms.
In our society symptoms are generally seen negatively as something
we have to remove. For a homeopath symptoms display the dynamic
of the person’s life, the relationship and reaction to the
world around them. It is these symptoms which then display the individual
nature of the person’s disease and guide the homeopath to
the correct remedy.
Homeopathy can treat so long as there are clear dynamic symptoms.
This doesn’t mean that we cannot treat when there are organic
or structural changes; if the functional disorder is corrected then
where the changes are reversible the structure can revert to its
original state. In some cases where the structural changes are not
reversible then the overall health of the person may improve increasing
their ability to adapt and interact. In some instances the structural
changes may have progressed to the point where the person may no
longer be able to withstand the change that can come with treatment
or there may no longer be clear symptoms to prescribe on.
So homeopathy can treat where there are clear individualising symptoms
which display the dynamic of the person’s life.
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Comparing Natural Immunity with Vaccination by
Trevor Gunn: A Review
There are lots of books about vaccination on the market, many of
which are worth reading if you are interested and have time to investigate
the subject fully. However for most people their interest in the
subject comes with the recent or imminent birth of a baby, when
time and brain space are at a premium.
What I love about Trevor Gunn’s book is that it is clear,
concise and easy to follow, and packs an awful lot into a short
volume. Despite a simplicity of style, the content really is thought-provoking
and challenges many beliefs we may not have thought to question
I particularly liked his exploration of Louis Pasteur’s germ
theory, which is the foundation block of modern medicine, and upon
which the idea of vaccination is based. Gunn compares Pasteur’s
theory to that of Antoine Bechamp, his contemporary, and from this
comparison we are led to consider whether Pasteur’s theory
really does make sense.
Gunn brings fantastic clarity to the working of the immune system.
He also discusses epidemiology and how statistics have been manipulated
to support vaccination schedules. He shows that diseases that are
vaccinated against were on the wane long before vaccine programmes
were introduced, and suggests that other factors were more likely
responsible for their demise.
He discusses the notion of susceptibility, and how good health,
and therefore a diminished susceptibility to disease, or a system
better able to “learn” from disease, is the best way
to avoid the possible dangerous consequences of these diseases.
This book is a great introduction to the subject of vaccination
and is comprehensive enough in its scope to stimulate thought and
assist in the process of making decisions on this highly-charged
The Informed Parent Publications, PO Box 4481, Worthing, West Sussex,
Tel: 01903 212969 www.informedparent.co.uk
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Letter from Hahnemann
Here is a letter written by Samuel Hahnemann in 1800 giving
suggestions for a healthy life-style. It is addressed to a patient,
an educated tailor, who, in spite of being delicate, reached the
age of ninety two years.
Man (the delicate human machine) is not constituted for overwork.
If he does so from ambition, love of gain, or other praiseworthy
or blameworthy motive, he sets himself in opposition to the order
of nature, and his body suffers injury or destruction. The more
so if his body is already in a weakened condition; then what you
cannot accomplish in a week you can do in two weeks. Your customers
may not be willing to wait, but they cannot reasonably expect that
you will make yourself ill and work to the grave for their sake,
leaving your wife a widow and your children orphans. It is not only
the greater bodily exertion that injures you, but even more the
attendant strain on the mind; the overwrought mind in turn affects
the body injuriously. If you do not assume an attitude of calm indifference,
adopting the principle of living first for yourself and only secondly
for others, then there is small chance of your recovery. When you
are in your grave, men will still be clothed, perhaps not so tastefully,
but still tolerably well.
If you are a philosopher you may become healthy, you may even attain
to old age.
If anything annoys you, ignore it, if anything is too much for
you, have nothing to do with it; if others seek to drive you, go
slowly and laugh at the fools who wish to worry you. What you can
do comfortably, that do; what you cannot accomplish, do not bother
yourself about, for our temporal circumstances are not improved
by over-pressure of work. You only spend proportionally more on
your domestic affairs, and so nothing is gained. Economy, limitation
of superfluities (of which the hard worker has often very few) place
us in a position to live with greater comfort - that is to say,
more rationally, more intelligently, more in accordance, more wisely
and more prudently than by working in a breathless hurry, with our
nerves constantly overstrung, to the destruction of the most precious
treasures of life, a peaceful life and good health. Be more prudent,
consider yourself first, let everything else be only of secondary
importance to you; and should they venture to assert that you are
in honour bound to do more that is good for your mental and physical
powers, even then do not, for God's sake, allow yourself to be driven
to do what is contrary to your own welfare. Remain deaf to the bribery
of praise, remain cold and pursue your own course slowly and quietly
like a wise and sensible man. To enjoy with tranquil mind and body
that is what man is in the world for, and to do only as much work
as will procure him the means of enjoyment - certainly not to let
himself be harassed and worn out with work.
The everlasting pushing and striving of short-sighted mortals in
order to gain so and so much, to secure some honour or other, to
do a service to this or that great personage - this is generally
fatal to our welfare, this is a common cause of young people ageing
and dying before their time.
The calm cool-headed man, who lets things glide softly, attains
the same object, lives more tranquilly and healthily, and reaches
a good old age; and this leisurely man sometimes lights upon a lucky
idea, the fruit of serious original thought, that will give much
more profitable impetus to his temporal affairs than can ever be
gained by the overwrought man who can never find time to collect
In order to win the race, speed alone will not suffice. Strive
to remain a little indifferent, to be cool and calm, then you will
be what I wish you to be. You will see marvellous things; you will
see how healthy you will become by following my advice. Then shall
your blood course through your veins calmly and sedately, without
effort and without heat. No horrible dreams disturb the sleep of
him who lies down to rest with calm nerves, and the man who is free
from care wakes in the morning without anxiety about the multifarious
occupation of the day. What does he care? The happiness of life
concerns him more than anything else. With fresh vigour he sets
about his moderate work, and at his meals nothing, no ebullitions
of blood, no cares, no solitude of mind hinders him from relishing
what the beneficent Preserver of Life sets before him; and so one
day follows another in quiet succession, until finally advanced
age brings him to the termination of a well-spent life, and he rests
serenely in another world, as he has calmly lived in this one.
Is not that more rational, more sensible? Let restless self-destroying
men act as irrationally, as injuriously towards themselves as they
please; let them be fools, but do you be wiser. Do not let me preach
this wisdom of life in vain. I mean well by you.
Farewell, follow my advice, and when all goes well with you, remember
Dr. S. Hahnemann.
P.S. Even should you be reduced to your last sixpence, remain cheerful
and happy. Providence watches over us, and lucky chance puts things
right again. How much do we need in order to live, to restore our
powers by food and drink, to shield ourselves from cold and heat?
Little more than courage; when we possess that, we can find the
minor essentials without much trouble. The wise man needs but little.
Conserved strength does not need to be renewed by medicine.
Extract from Samuel Hahnemann His Life and Work: Richard Haehl:
B. Jain. Vol 2: p51.
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