Homoeopathy – Roots and Branches – 3 Homoeopathic Ideas on Health and Disease

During his long years of experimentation with tiny amounts of medicinal substances Samuel Hahnemann developed the view that the best way to stimulate the body to heal itself is to use one single medicine at a time and observe its effects throughout the whole ‘organism’. The full range of a substances medicinal power needs to be known and the choice of a remedy is made on a complex choice of the presenting and secondary symptoms present throughout the whole body, including small variations in such things as temperament and likes and dislikes.Hahnemann felt so strongly about the use of one remedy at a time that he made this a ‘Law’ and where possible ‘Classical Homoeopaths’ today follow his instructions. In these days of the multi-prescription of medicinal substances in large doses, this aspect of the homoeopathic approach is unusual.An essential part of homoeopathic philosophy is an understanding of what constitutes good health, and what we mean by disease. Here are some ideas and opinions about the nature of health.George Vithoulkas, a well known Greek Homoeopath, said in his book The Science of Homoeopathy that health may be understood by examining the mental, emotional, and physical levels of an individual in relation to what we deem to be healthy. However, although we can theoretically examine each level separately, they are not in reality separate but interact totally.Mental PlaneIn homoeopathy this is considered to be the most crucial level for the individual’s existence. It includes the essence of the person, their spirituality. A person reflects health by displaying:1. Clarity (Intuitive wisdom).
2. Rationality.
3. Creative service.Vithoulkas says “A person can continue to live, be happy and be of creative service to others and to himself, with a crippled body, the loss of limbs or even the loss of sight or hearing”.For example Beethoven composed beautiful music when he was deaf. However, serious disturbance of the mental plane can lead to symptoms such as senility, imbecility, schizophrenia and violent behaviour – all of these conditions greatly limit the possibility of personal fulfillment for the afflicted individual.Emotional PlaneEmotional good health is considered to include calmness, love for self and others and the environment, and a sense of unification with others and with the world. Poor emotional health is observed in negative feelings such as envy, hatred, jealousy, suspicion, prolonged anguish or grief, depression, obsessiveness and poor self image.The degree of disturbance on the emotional level is reflected in:1. The amount of time a person is preoccupied with negative feelings.
2. The intensity of the feelings.
3. Their sense of isolation and separation.
4. In the extreme it will be shown as desire for death.Our emotional health begins at conception and is linked during those nine months with the emotional well being of our mother. Then from birth the quality of our nurturing and bonding with both parents generally lays the bedrock for a stable emotional life. In those early years we learn boundaries, trust and independence and begin to develop our own self image. Around the ages of 12 -17 years there is an awakening of sexual instincts and we experience feelings such as falling in love and start to appreciate concepts such as freedom and justice.However, as we all know, life is rarely as smooth as this and often we find that people have a weak, undernourished and vulnerable emotional life. Society and peers put emphasis on conformity, normality and competition. Emotions are often channeled away from their positive development and maturity.In society this is can often be seen to be reflected in our attitudes to such things as hardened or suppressed emotions where people cannot say what they are feeling, and distorted goals, such as cut throat business practices which applaud greed at the expense of others’ well being. Thus anxiety, irritability, depression, suicide, violence and apathy are common signs of poor health but are often accepted as a part of life to be accepted and tolerated.Physical PlaneThe physical body and its organs, in a sense could be seen to constitute the least important level of being. Consequently we see more symptoms on this physical level because the “Vital Force”, or life force, attempts to deal with imbalances which have arisen on the emotional and mental levels by channelling disturbances through it. This may seem to be quite a radical idea, but as we develop your knowledge and understanding of homoeopathic philosophy and its approach to understanding health, the idea will make more and more sense to you.Here is George Vithoulkas’ definition of ‘health’.”Health is freedom from pain in the physical body, having attained a state of well being; freedom from passion on the emotional level having as result a dynamic state of serenity and calm; and freedom from selfishness on the mental sphere having as a result total unification with truth.”Please note that when he speaks of ‘freedom from passion’ on the emotional level he does not imply a state where there is “lack of feeling arising out of intellectual disciplines designed to control emotion; it is rather a state of being capable of freely feeling the full range of human emotions, without being enslaved by them from moment to moment”.On the mental plane, what does Vithoulkas mean by ‘unification with truth’. This will mean different things for different people. It may mean seeing everyone as equal, cultivating selflessness, caring about the welfare of ourselves and others equally, unconditional happiness, being in touch with and feeling free to fulfil one’s purpose in life.Hahnemann’s own definition of health is found in his book, The Organon. In this book he sets out in Aphorisms, or in paragraphs, the fundamentals of Homoeopathy. Just to give a taste of his rather archaic language here is Aphorism 9.”In the healthy condition of man, the spiritual vital force, the dynamis that animates the material body, 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 spirit can freely employ this living, healthy instrument for the higher purposes of our existence”.The Homoeopathic View of DiseaseIn Homoeopathic practice disease is not seen as a local problem. Disease involves disturbance of the whole person. Every person is a unique individual and expresses disease in an individual way. It is obvious to anyone who has seen two patients with the same diagnostic label, that treating according to that diagnostic label alone can never address the person as a whole. Two patients for instance with either migraine or diabetes, will have different histories, different symptoms and very different personalities.For example in migraine, except for the intensity of the pain, sufferers often report quite different sets of symptoms. The pain often comes on as a result of different circumstances. There are different situations that help the person to feel more comfortable – such as lying down in a dark room or sitting up, lying on one side or another, with or without a cold compress on the head. What triggers the migraine will also vary. It may be associated with stress or anger, or with the menstrual cycle or a particular food. The variations are enormous and yet it is labeled migraine and the same drug given to each patient.Similarly, people with a local complaint such as asthma will not always respond to the one Homoeopathic medicine. We must find out about each patient and what makes each different from the other, in order to treat them as individuals. We must find out the totality of the symptoms. Rajan Sankaran, an Indian Homoeopath wrote “There is no medicine for any particular disease but there is a medicine for the patient who is suffering in disease. A good Homoeopath learns to perceive disease as a continually evolving process which begins in the womb and unless arrested and cured, ends in the tomb”.These mental, emotional and general physical symptoms are what individualise the person and lead us to the correct medicine. The most marked difference between two individuals suffering from the same condition lies not in their local symptoms of asthma, but in their mental state and in their general symptoms such as response to temperature, food desires, sleep characteristics, etc. These, even though far removed from the seat of the pathology, are much more useful since they are most characteristic of the patient.This is a brief glimpse at some of the fundamental ideas that inform homoeopathy as a medical system. I hope it will stimulate your curiosity to find out more.