Aphorisms 1-18 of the Organon
- Totality of symptoms
- Law of similars
- Vital force
- Law of minimal dose, single remedy and single dose
- Law of Cure
“First do no harm” is the ethic by which orthodox physicians practice healing and indeed, the homeopathic physician’s highest and only calling is to make the sick healthy – to cure!
“Ask not what kind of illness the patient has; ask what kind of patient has the illness” (Richardson, 1988:12).
The Homeopath should first ‘ascertain the occasion and fundamental cause of disease’. In these investigations, the homeopath should take into account the patient’s: physical constitution, mental and emotional character, occupations, lifestyle and habits, relationships (in and outside the home), age and overall energy.
In looking at the symptoms of a patient, consider that the person is an integrated whole being acting all the time through three distinct levels: the mental, the emotional, the physical, with the mental being the most important and the physical the least important. If there is an imbalance in any or all of these levels, signs and symptoms will present themselves being labeled as ‘disease’. The 'totality of symptoms' is the reflected image of the inner essence of the disease, that is, the suffering of the life force. The totality of symptoms must be the principle or the only thing whereby the disease can make discernible what remedy (cure) it requires. Therefore, the totality of symptoms must be the most important, indeed the only thing in every case of disease which the homeopath has to discern and clear away, by means of his/her art, so that the disease shall be cured and health and vitality return.’ (Organon : 64).
Too often physicians and patients assume that the person’s symptoms are the disease and the cure is in treating these symptoms. Symptoms are a sign or signal of something else happening in the person, and treating them does not fix the source of the problem. It is important to recognise that symptoms are efforts of the body to defend itself. Many conventional drugs are used to specifically control or suppress these symptoms. As a result of this, these drugs inhibit the body’s defense and immune processes.
It is commonly accepted that every plant, mineral, and chemical can cause in overdose its own unique set of physical, emotional and mental symptoms. It is also acknowledged that individuals, when ill, have their own idiosyncratic physical, emotional, and mental patterns, even when people have the same ‘disease’.
Homeopathic medicine is a natural pharmaceutical science in which a practitioner looks to find a remedy which given in overdose (in it's crude form) would cause similar symptoms to those that an ill person is experiencing. This matching process is called the ‘Law of Similars’, Similia Similibus Curentur or like cures like. This law is not new. Paracelsus (a 15th century physician and alchemist) used the law of similars extensively in practice and referred to it in his writings. He affirmed, ‘You bring together the anatomy of the herbs and the same anatomy of the illness into one order. This simile gives you understanding of the way in which you shall heal’. If a substance has the ability to produce symptoms in a healthy person, it can also cure those symptoms in the sick. It is not the remedy that is homeopathic, but the reason for prescribing it. Any therapy may be homeopathic if it can also cause similar symptoms.
To find out what a substance can cure, it is given in overdose to healthy people until their health is disturbed and symptoms are produced. This is called ‘PROVING’. Symptoms produced in provings are then listed in detail as the symptom picture of the remedy. Since these are the symptoms that it can cause, they are also the symptoms it can cure.
The task of the homeopath is to extract from the patient as many detailed symptoms as possible, then to match these to the remedy that matches those symptoms. This is referred to as the totality of symptoms (as discussed earlier).
Orthodox medicine also uses homeopathic-like therapy eg; radiation therapy for cancer treatment (radiation causes cancer), digitalis for heart conditions (also causes heart conditions) and immunisations are some examples. Modern allergy treatments also use the homeopathic approach by using small doses of allergens to create an antibody response. However, these medical treatments do not utilise the homeopathic law of similars, nor do they follow the other fundamental principles of homeopathy. The treatments are not prescribed in a similar, safe, extremely small dose. The wonderful thing about the law of similars is that it not only heals but encourages a respect for the body’s innate wisdom. It teaches us to avoid therapies that suppress symptoms and to seek treatments that truly cure.
The living body, human or animal, radiates warmth and energy. This energy is the life force itself. This life force energy is called Vital Force. Vital Force is the energy, air, breath, wind, vitality – the activating energy of the universe. When Vital Force departs the living body, life has departed.
People and animals are more than physical matter. We have a dense physical body that comes equipped with our five senses, but we also have three other bodies known as our mental, emotional and spiritual selves. These invisible, non physical bodies are comprised of energy - Vital Force, and direct the state of the physical body. It is our Vital Force which animates, guides, and balances the body on all levels in both health and disease. In health, the Life Force keeps all parts of the body in harmony. Disease then, is the response of the body to an assault on the Vital Force; in other words, when the mental and emotional energies are disturbed, physical disease is not far away. Therefore disease is not considered an inwardly hidden entity separate from the living whole. Disease only occurs and can only be cured through dynamic impingement upon the Vital Force. If the stimuli or environmental stressors are greater than the vital force then the defense mechanism comes into play as signs and symptoms. Any therapy then, which is to be effective, must act on the dynamic plane or Vital Force as a totality thereby directly stimulating the defense mechanism.
Homeopathy’s law of similars and treating the totality of symptoms can be readily understood and accepted by most people; however, its unique pharmaceutical process is its most controversial aspect. This process is called ‘potentisation’ and refers to a specific procedure of serial dilution. This is a process whereby one part of a medicinal substance (in its crude form) is diluted with 99 parts distilled water or ethyl alcohol which is then vigorously shaken. One part of this solution is diluted further using the same process and shaken again. This process of dilution with shaking may be continued to different strengths, most commonly 3, 6, 9, 12, 30, 200, 1,000, 10,000, 50,000 or 100,000.
It is difficult for the scientific mind to understand how medicines that have been diluted so many times can still be effective. It has also been observed that the more a medicine has been potentised, the longer it generally acts, the deeper it usually heals, and fewer doses tend to be needed.
In homeopathy, a remedy is chosen for its similarity to the totality of the patients symptoms. When this similarity exists, a patient has a hypersensitivity to the substance. In this way, small doses work by some biological version of resonance. The resonance of this microdose is then thought to affect the resonance of the patient’s life force. In the mind of the orthodox physician, it would be argued that when a substance has been diluted that many times, there is no molecule of the original substance remaining, so how can that work? Homeopaths would agree, but they assert that “something” does remain:, the essence of the substance, its resonance, its energy, its pattern. So, although the homeopathic remedy may be so dilute as not to have any molecules of the original substance, a pattern of the substance remains.
One of the most basic fundamental principles of homeopathy is that of prescribing only one remedy at a time. I feel that this principle is obvious by the fact that if more than one remedy is prescribed, any beneficial or adverse effects cannot possibly be evaluated with accuracy. If more than one remedy is given, there is no way to decide which of the components of a combination has worked. It also makes it impossible to predict the interactions which might occur between a combination of remedies.
Remedies are proven in the context of separate, carefully conducted provings. If a specific remedy acts in a particular manner when given singularly, who can say what it might do after being given in a combination? This principle is mostly relevant to constitutional prescribing. The whole point of homeopathy is to find the remedy with the vibrational frequency most closely matching the resonant frequency of the vital force of the patient. Combination prescribing then, in this context can only produce confusion in trying to restore balance.
So far we have minimum dose and single remedy. For the purpose of total cure the homeopath also administers the remedy in single dose. This way, if the correct remedy is chosen, then you have the cure. Sometimes, it may take a while for the remedy to do the work that it needs to do, and in giving a single dose, the homeopath can observe the changes in the patient and decide whether to continue to let the remedy work or perhaps revise the symptoms again. Not always is the patient clear in describing symptoms and it can sometimes be difficult to get the total symptom picture in the first consultation. However, according to the principles of homeopathy, if the remedy equals that of the totality of symptoms then a single dose can cure.
In some cases, after a remedy is taken, an aggravation may take place. Since the simillimum is given for the totality of symptoms, it can sometimes cause a degree of aggravation of either existing symptoms or resurrect some old ones. In homeopathy, this usually indicates that the correct remedy has been administered and is seen as a positive result. It is in fact, through the law of cure that the remedy is working. It is then important to understand that we cannot interfere with this process, as to do so will only suppress the disease which we are trying to cure.
As discussed earlier, the human being lives on three levels of experience – the physical, emotional and mental. Homeopaths recognise that within these levels of experience, there is also a predictable hierarchy by which any cure of illness takes place. Generally, the mental symptoms are regarded as the most important and most difficult to cure in an individual. Emotional symptoms are next, and then the physical symptoms are least important.
The degree or severity of symptoms affecting a person’s health is determined by its severity, frequency, and degree of impact it has on the individual. Therefore, persistent physical symptoms can be considered the most important symptoms if they threaten basic survival.
Constantine Hering, M.D. (1800-1880), the father of American homeopathy, was one of the first to observe and catagorise the healing process. This was consequently called the “Hering’s Law of Cure”. Hering observed that the cure for disease proceeds from above downwards, from within outwards and from the most important organ to the least important organ, in reverse order of onset.
To the homeopath, these observations of the healing process act as general guiding principles that help in determining if health is returning in the individual. Some examples of Hering’s Law would be if a person with arthritis in many joints will generally notice relief in the upper part of the body first then the lower body (from above downwards). Or a person with asthma may develop a skin rash as part of the curative process (aggravation) – (from within outwards and from most important organ to least important organ). In reverse order of onset suggests that the most recent symptoms experienced will generally be the first to be healed. It is important for the homeopath and patient understand that by this process, the patient may sometimes re-experience symptoms that he/she previously suffered from (suppressed), and this is seen as positive. These symptoms are only experienced for a short period of time and it is essential that these symptoms are not interfered with in order to obtain the desired outcome of cure for the whole person.
A homeopath understands first and foremost, that when disease occurs, the first disturbance occurs on the dynamic plane or vital force and to cure, we must address the totality of symptoms manifested by this disturbance.