1800s was the most turbulent decade in the 18th century, when Homoeopathy was gaining momentum and getting its due value in the world, as a medical science. The story of homoeopathy began in the year 1796 when Hahnemann noticed that having Cinchona bark in considerable quantities produced malaria like symptoms in his body and cured the same too!! This and such other experiments by Hahnemann gave birth to the principle of ‘Similia smilibus curantur’… ‘Let likes be cured by likes’, practicing which, Hahnemann cured hundreds of people world over. Popularity brought with it, several additions, deletions and modifications to what is called ‘Classical’ or “Hahnemannian Homoeopathy’ and the world of Homoeopathy witnessed the mushrooming of many different schools, philosophies, principles and theories, each with their own advantages and deficiencies.
The present day world of alternative medicine encompasses all the different schools of thought and approaches to the practice of homoeopathy, which vary not only in their basic laws and principles, but also with respect to the choice of medicine, selection of potency as well as administration and repetition of the medicine prescribed. However, no one approach can be tagged as complete and perfect. Physicians of the homoeopathic school have always been and are still the legislators of their actions and thoughts. There has been no established rule in homoeopathy as to how should one go about, while treating a case. Books usually refer to Hahnemannian method of practice as the most reliable, most authoritative and a perfect method of practicing homoeopathy. But going by what Hahnemann wrote in the ‘Organon of Medicine’, “The highest ideal of cure is rapid, gentle and permanent restoration of the health, or removal and annihilation of the disease in its whole extent, in the shortest, most harmless way, and easily comprehensible principles. And that “the physician’s only aim is to restore the sick to health to cure”.
- The ‘Classical Homoeopathy’
Abiding strictly by the ‘classical’ method, as given by Hahnemann, three cardinal principles are to be followed in every case. These are:-
- Law of ‘similars’- Prescribe one medicine at a time which is most similar to the picture of the disease of the patient. This medicine is the ‘similimum’. Since there can be only one medicine which most suits the case, Hahnemann said there can be no substitute of this remedy.
- Law of ‘minimum’- The quantity of medicine which would produce the least possible excitation of the vital force, yet bring about cure in the most gentle and harmless way.
- Law of ‘simplex’ –Hahnemann emphasised on prescribing a single and simple medicinal substance at a time in a particular case for a mixture of two or more medicines would form a new medicine with new properties of its own.
Most of the homoeopathic medicines are prescribed according to the method laid by Dr. Hahnemann. Mental generals and physical generals are given importance besides the particular complaints of the patient and a portrait derived at. This is matched with the medicine and the ‘similimum’ prescribed on the basis of the ‘totality of symptoms’. The method of case taking remains the same in all cases irrespective of their duration and nature.
Besides detailed case taking and prescribing on ‘totality of symptoms’, red-line or keynote prescribing is a common practice, especially in acute cases or those requiring immediate effective treatment. Here, only the most marked and peculiar symptoms are pondered upon, and the most suitable remedy prescribed!
- The ‘Pluralist’ Homoeopathy
The ‘Pluralist’ or ‘Poly pharmacy’ approach came into being soon after emergence of keynote method of prescribing. Here, more than one medicine was prescribed simultaneously, in alternation or concurrently (keeping their relationship with each other in mind!). The method claims to treat several complaints of the patient at the same time, relieving him of his sufferings quickly. Though the approach does not rely upon the basic principles of homoeopathy, physicians practicing this method claim that there are cases where dual remedy method should be considered as perfectly homoeopathic. For example, very rapid acute diseases like Cholera where most appropriate medicines like Cuprum and Veratrum given in alteration, undeniably bring about the most rapid cures.
- The ‘Complex’ Homoeopathy
‘Complex Prescribing’ is another method prevalent in many parts of the world where homoeopathy is practiced. It involves prescribing mixtures of different medicines in different potencies, in one vial so that they give a combined effect on particular diseases. The classical practitioners do argue that no proving has been conducted on mixtures, so they cannot be prescribed in the name of homoeopathy. Yet there are several such products available and being prescribed by the followers of this school of thought. The efficiency of these mixtures cannot be commented upon as there have been mixed results.
- The ‘Biochemics’
Dr Wilhelm Heinrich Schussler, a German homoeopathic physician from Oldenburg, introduced the Homoeopathic world to an entirely new theory, stating that body was composed of many different mineral salts and an imbalance in the concentrations of any of them resulted in deficiencies and these then hampered the healthy functioning of the body. This concept led him to develop the idea of Biochemic tissue salts. He prepared 12 single biochemic medicines along with about 18 different combinations by trituration of the tissue salt with lactose and potentising them upto 6X potency and dispensed them as soft tablets. Soon they became a part of the then prevalent conventional homoeopathic practice and are no doubt still a much sought after method in the homoeopathic community, to furnish deficiencies in the body. Currently, biochemic tissue salts are available in potencies other than 6X, the most common being 3X and 12X. The twelve tissue salts are – Calcarea fluorica (calcium fluoride), Calcarea phosphorica (calcium phosphate), Calcarea sulphurica (calcium sulphate), Ferrum phosphoricum (iron phosphate), Kalium muriaticum (potassium chloride), Kalium phosphoricum (potassium phosphate), Kalium sulfuricum (potassium sulphate), Natrum muriaticum (sodium chloride), Natrum phosphorica (sodium phosphate), Natrum sulphuricum (sodium chloride), Silicea.
- The ‘Flower Remedy Therapy’
In 1934, an eminent immunologist Dr. Edward Bach established a healing centre in Mount Vernon, Oxfordshire, UK. Here he maintained a small botanical garden, where he grew wild specimens of several plants that he used for preparing his remedies. Though the medicines were prepared from the flowering parts of the plants according to the method of preparation laid by Hahnemann i.e. trituration and succussion, the aim was never to substitute the potentised medicines proper but just to use them in conjunction with the true homoeopathic medicines. The practice came somewhere between homoeopathy and herbalism. Flower remedy therapy was used to treat mental and emotional disturbances such as hysteria, depression, anxiety etc. The philosophy did not gain much popularity back then, but several homoeopathic physicians have now accepted it and are practicing this method by prescribing flower remedies along with the homoeopathic medicines for various psychosomatic ailments. Presently, we have a total of 38 flower remedies, classified into the following six groups:-
- Fear – Red chestnut, Mimulus, Aspen, Cherry plum, Rock rose
- Indecisiveness about his/her situations – Gentian, Hornbeam, Wild oat, Gorse, Cerato, Scleranthus
- Indifference to his/her circumstances – Clematis, Honeysuckle, Mustard, Olive, Chestnut, White Chestnut, Water Violet, Heather, wild Rose, Impatiens
- Oversensitivity to external influences – Argimony, Walnut, Holly, Centaury
- Caring excessively for others – Beech, Vine, Rock water, Vervain, Chicory
- Depression – Crab apple, Pine, Sweet chestnut, Elm, Star of Bethlehem, Willow, Larch, Oak
Dosage and repetition varies according to the case. Transient psychological disturbances call for a single dose of the appropriate medicine while, long standing and persistent ailments need frequent repetition. Many aroma-therapists also use the ‘flower remedy therapy’ to address complaints like insomnia and stress. An article in one of the reputed journals uncovered Jasmine polyanthum, lavender and gardenia as the best remedies for cases of insomnia.
- The ‘Predictive Homoeopathy’
A relatively new approach came into existence in 1995-96. This came to be known as predictive homoeopathy. It was started by Dr. Prafull Vijaykar in Mumbai. Dr Vijaykar’s philosophy is based somewhat upon Dr. Constantine Herring’s law of Cure, which states that “All cure starts from within out, from the head down and in reverse order as the symptoms have appeared or been suppressed”. The practitioners of this school of philosophy claim it to be no different from what Hahnemann and other eminent homoeopaths of his time practiced. They believe that when one physician is treating a large volume of patients at the same time, it is absolutely natural for him to become biased and a bit mechanical in his dealings with the patients. Thus, in the process of case taking, he tends to neglect the past illnesses of the patient. Dr. Vijaykar realised that every new illness was related to the previous illness of the patient. If this new illness appeared to be less dangerous than the previous one, it was a positive sign indicating recovery. But if the new illness was more dangerous than the previous one, it meant that the patient’s diseases were merely being suppressed. According to this school of thought, the Law of Cure given by Dr. Herring was nothing but an attempt to explain the direction of Cure, a direction that would help physicians in assessing the prognosis of the patient.
- The ‘Sensation’ Homoeopathy
Another ‘modern’ method of homoeopathic practice is called the ‘Sensation Method’. This approach addresses every complaint of the patient by a single question – How does the patient experience his/ her complaint? The aim is to find out which complaint of the patient is troubling him the most as this determines the weakest point of his vital force, and expresses itself in various spheres of his life. This way the remedy that has affinity for the affected spheres can be selected. Followers of this philosophy claim-“Since homoeopathy treats the person and not the disease, the most troublesome complaint of the patient would lead to the body/mind connection. When the patient is asked to describe his/her experience of the complaint and explore his own feelings regarding the evolution of the pathology, a path is created, tracking which, the physician reaches the bottom of the complaint, and this is the point where the patient’s mind, body and spirit meet.” This way the physician explores the patient’s underlying state, beyond his conscious level and matches it with the most suitable remedy. It is believed that this approach of homoeopathic practice encourages the patient to express the medicine that he needs the most, himself and that the physician has only to assist the patient in doing so, and cure will ‘naturally’ ensue, hence following the famous quote – “Viz Medicatrix Naturae”.
In the last 200 years, homoeopathy has witnessed the emergence of a range of different approaches (many that could not be elaborated here!), all with a single aim of seeking cure in the best possible manner….. And today we stand here, gazing intently at the horizon of the wide spectrum of practices in the homoeopathic world.