Philosophy & Perspective
Homeopathy is more than a health care system. It is also a perspective on the world with implications for far-flung topics ranging from the politics of health care to evolutionary theory. In addition to opening discussion of clinical topics of interest to the experienced as well as the novice practitioner, the purpose of this blog is to open and expand philosophical discussion of homeopathy within a broad range of areas.
Homeopathy as it is Most Widely Practiced
Homeopathy is the second most widely practiced form of medicine in the world according to the World Health Organization, an integral component of the national health cares system of many countries.. In the US it is recognized by the FDA as a form of pharmaceutical care on par with conventional drugs, albeit not as well known. Although commonly used to resolve acute conditions, homeopathy’s most transformative expression is its constitutional (or classical) form, typically applied for the sake of reversing the course of chronic illness. Constitutional homeopathy is homeopathy at its best, as well as the first and most powerful version of a nano-medical system.
The Law of Similars
Homeopathy’s central dictum, the Law of Similars, “Use like to cure like,” may be restated:
In the appropriate situation, illness or disease symptoms are effectively addressed by a substance whose normal toxic effect is to produce equivalent similar symptoms.
Homeopathy as “Antivenom”
A version of the Law of Similars underlies production of drugs known as antivenoms. Homeopathic medicines may therefore be compared to antivenom used to protect against snakebites. Here, the venom of a poisonous snake is collected and in a non-lethal amount, injected into a large mammal such as a horse. By way of combatting the venom’s toxicity, the horse’s immune system produces antibodies. These are harvested from the horse’s blood serum in order to produce the antivenom administered to a human bitten by the same snake. While antivenom for snake bites only works when made from the specific venom, homeopathic medicines have a much broader sphere of action. A homeopathic medicine can be used for any condition similar to one that the full-strength starting substance could create.
Homeopathy Bypasses the Middleman
In this case the middle horse. Homeopathic medicines can be prepared from a dilution of the same snake venom and directly administered to an individual suffering from symptoms closely akin to those caused by the snakebite. So long as homeopathic medicines are prescribed in accordance with the Law of Similars, the Food and Drug Administration considers them drugs with greater official standing than nutritional supplements and herbs.
Commonly known as remedies) homeopathics can address psychological symptoms unrelated to the original starting substance. For example, Natrum muriaticum (or Nat. mur. for short, made from sodium chloride or common table salt) is well known in homeopathy for its ability to release people from “silent grief ” (as in, “my husband died and I never shed a tear”). How can table salt help with longheld, unexpressed grief?
When table salt — or any substance — is put through the special homeopathic manufacturing process known as “dynamization” or “potentization”, it develops the ability to heal on mental, emotional, energetic, behavioral and even spiritual levels. It also develops the ability to heal physical conditions that could never be treated with table salt; in the case of Nat. mur. these include conditions of dryness (dry mouth, dry skin) or water retention.
Homeopaths know which symptoms match each remedy because of a process called a “proving” in which a group of healthy people take the remedy and observe any changes. These observations are collected and become part of what we know about the remedy. As homeopaths use it and share their success stories, their clinical experience rounds out the “picture of the remedy”. Nat. mur., for example, is known to work well for thyroid conditions,even though thyroid conditions would never show up in a proving.
Similarity Versus Identity
The Law of Similar’s idea of “like” conveys “akin to,” and not “identical to.” This is because the practice of homeopathy requires similarity as opposed to duplication. When the principle relies on “identity” rather than “similarity” such as in treatment of an actual snakebite with the same snake’s toxin, such treatment goes by another name, tautopathy. An example of tautopathy is when the medicine Rhus tox. works quickly and effectively to quell the itching of a skin rash resulting from exposure to the same poison ivy plant, the dilution from which the Rhus tox remedy has been made..
Homeopathy as Nanomedicine
Information from the medicinal substance is stored in the water by creating formations like ice crystals or snowflakes, the shape of each one determined by the starting substance. The resulting formations store medicinal information, somewhat like the new nanotechnology computer chips that store information in tiny compounds only one molecule wide.
The dilution process makes the medicines safe. (They are diluted to such an extent that according to the laws of conventional chemistry, there should be no molecules of the starting substance in the dilution; cutting-edge research in the realm of ultra-dilution physics has demonstrated that in fact there are molecules even highly diluted homeopathic remedies).
Recent developments within science—for example, the work of the 2008 Nobel Prize–winning virologist Luc Montagnier—indicate that homeopathic effects reflect the ability of water molecules to retain memory of a diluted substance’s imprint.
(Montagnier, Luc, Jamal Aissa, Stéphane Ferris, Jean-Luc Montagnier, and Claude Lavallee. 2009. “Electromagnetic Signals Are Produced by Aqueous Nanostructures Derived from Bacterial DNA Sequences.” Interdiscip. Sci. Comput. Life. Sci. 1: 81–90.
The original research in chemistry and physics documenting this phenomenon is difficult for the layperson to follow, however it is well summarized by Dana Ullman in his Huffington Post articles on research about homeopathy. New studies are coming out almost monthly and Ullman’s posts stay current with the latest ones.
Non-Homeopathic Versions of the Law of Similars
The Law of Similars does not belong exclusively to homeopaths. Vaccines capitalize on the idea of using one pathogen to provoke host immunity to another similar pathogen. Inoculation differs from homeopathy in that vaccines contain a greater amount of the original pathogenic substance. Also, as opposed to homeopathy’s customized method, vaccines use a one-size-fits-all approach.
Pediatricians invoke an untoward version of the Law of Similars when treating hyperactive children with the amphetamine-like drug Ritalin or methylphenidate. At least in the short run, Ritalin’s stimulant action produces the paradoxical effect of moderating hyperactive behavior. This is due to the drug’s being an agonist, a biochemical enabling agent. Ritalin’s binding to opiate receptors allows neurotransmitters such as dopamine and norepinephrine to avoid reuptake and linger in the synapse (neuron juncture). Desirable though temporary effects such as euphoria, better hearing, or strengthened focus result. Before long, the drug’s antagonistic and less desirable effects, including dazedness, aggression, a sense of being shut off from reality, and addictiveness, crop up.
The principle can be found at play outside of medicine. The expression “hair of the dog that bit me” refers to what drinkers do to ameliorate a morning-after hangover, imbibing a mini-dose of the alcoholic beverage that had intoxicated them the night before.
Psychological Extensions of the Law of Similars
As in Stockholm Syndrome, Like Inculcates Like
Stockholm syndrome is named after a hostage situation in Stockholm in 1973, in which four bank employees bonded with their captors, sided with them against police, and defended them later in court. Psychologists believe that this tendency to identify with someone who is actually abusive, threatening or dangerous is a coping mechanism in a situation when the victim cannot escape. Stockholm syndrome can also be acquired in consequence of one’s having experienced long-term abuse. Constitutional remedy states thus, reflect a mirroring of trauma’s effects.
In addition to predisposing us to ailments such as head pain, we find as with any acute emergency that chronic emotional states register—but also directly mirror–psychic trauma. As an example, the psyche of an individual subjected to longstanding belittlement by his parents comes to buy their argument that he is inferior, worthless, stupid or incompetent. As in Stockholm Syndrome he has adopted as his own, the perspective of his oppressors. In a case such as this the constitutional remedy Thuja is often prescribed.
Prescribe the Symptom
Using like to cure like is exploited within psychology by therapists such as Victor Frankl, Milton Erikson, and their disciples: A kind of reverse psychology is espoused whereini the very same symptom bedeviling a patient is prescribed. A patient thus encouraged to exaggerate and wallow in undesired behavior sheds its emotional charge. The symptom’s raison d’etre then dissipates.
A patient visiting a homeopath with a specific concern, migraine pain for example, may be startled to find the homeopath inspecting him with a wide-angle lens: not only his headaches but the totality of his symptoms, behaviors, and even beliefs are focused on. This is because additional symptoms, the context surrounding the patient’s headaches, provide a fertile ground within which the ailment can flourish. Lurking within this fertile ground is a covert issue, an existential question underlying the patient’s migraine headache susceptibility. Thus, to return to an earlier example, underlying the Nat mur remedy-state is an existential issue, a question containing powerful emotional charge: “Though the depth of my grief is apparent, I must keep keep consolation at arm’s length. How else to honor the depth of my great loss?” It is this conflict that lies at the heart of the patient’s migraine headaches.
Finding a Proper Constitutional Remedy
If the effectiveness of a homeopathic medicine hinges on its being accurately prescribed, what then determines its accuracy?
The first requirement is that an ideal match between the symptoms we wish to ameliorate and the substance associated with those very same symptoms is found. Invaluable to this matching game is solid knowledge concerning a remedy’s essence.
- The practitioner should be able to articulate the remedy’s key idea, meaning the specific existential problem with which her patient is grappling and that via conversion, somatizes as the patient’s symptoms;
- Characteristic polarities (strengths and weaknesses) within the remedy state (which Jerry Kantor has described in terms of Radical Disjunct);
- The terrain of action indicating chief mental or emotional features as well the principal body system or systems impacted.
The second requirement is that the substance will have been potentized. A key concept in the preparation of constitutional remedies, potentized means increased with regard to energy (at the same time that it is lessened with regard to its amount). Vigorous shaking (succussion) while systematically diluting the actual substance has been found to heighten the remedy’s effect. Is there an explanation? It seems that in its energized, as opposed to materially dense, form, the remedy registers within consciousness at a high level of function.
The resulting energized, microdosage of our original substance is called a homeopathic remedy. A constitutional homeopath specializes in finding a remedy maximally parallel to his or her patient. To succeed he or she must scrutinize a terrain encompassing the patient’s physical symptoms, cognition (mental features), and affect (characteristic emotional behavior). The homeopath’s holy grail is the similimum, a remedy ideally matched with the totality of symptoms exhibited by the patient.
Copyright Jerry M. Kantor