(A Public Lecture, delivered by Dr. Ed. Schepens, Vice-President for Belgium of the International Homoeopathic League, during the 17th International Homoeopathic Congress, held at Brussels, 23rd-28th June, 1953).
It is a therapeutic method based on the law of similitudes, which is expressed in the adage “similia similibus curentur.” or “Like may be cured by likes.”
One sees evidence of this law in nature, and certain cures come about spontaneously.
An existing malady, perhaps suppressed by a similar illness, may unexpectedly appear in the same person; for example, vaccination against smallpox, which has become notorious on account of serious encephalitis which it has provoked, can cure an original case of encephalitis.
Herpes zoster, an illness characterised by the appearance of umbilicated vesicles, similar to those of vaccination, is rapidly cured by anti-smallpox vaccination.
The cough of whooping-cough is very similar to that in measles. It has been observed in certain epidemics of measles existing at the same time as one of whooping-cough that the children with measles were immune to the whooping-cough. Unfortunately, these spontaneous cures arc not utilisable in practice. It is not possible to give measles to children in order to save them from whooping-cough. Besides, there arc only a small number of illnesses which arc similar to others to such a degree that they could
be used as a basis for a system of practical therapeutics.
Hahnemann solved this problem in a striking manner. He experimented with drugs on himself, his household and his pupils. He studied with the greatest care the symptoms produced, and thus obtained a series of morbid symptoms which were nothing but the manifestations of sufferings and of the defence of the organism under the effect of the poison produced. It must be
understood that the doses given were of a magnitude that would not subject those experimented on to any risk.
In this way he studied the action of 164 drugs and established
a collection of artificial illnesses capable of being used to counter-
act existing natural illnesses.
He was thus able to succour the infinitely varied ills of suffering humanity. One cannot sufficiently emphasize the care which Hahnemann exercised in the establishment of these pathogeneses. He attached the greatest importance to psychic and subjective symptoms, to reactions to environment, without omitting functional and organic indications. He created a picture as complete as possible, not of the illness thus produced, but of the suffering individual.
On comparing this artificial picture with that of the sick in-
dividual to be treated, he was able to match the two pictures, and
prescribe with certainty. He established a truly humane system of
Some examples will enable you to understand better the
mechanism of this method.
The cook who peels onions knows tl~e action of the juice of this vegetable: the eyes water, the nose runs with a corrosive liquid which irritates the nostrils and the upper lip and provokes spasms of sneezing. In sensitive people it also provokes a sore throat and a real attack of asthma can be produced. You all know the similarity between this artificial illness and hay fever, which sometimes complicates attacks of asthma. Thus a dilution of fresh juice of onion alleviates and even cures attacks of hay fever or asthma.
The sting of a bee, besides the local burn which it produces, causes in some sensitive people red, slightly raised papules on the skin which are extremely irritating, like urticaria. If the sensitivity of the subject is very great it produces in various parts of the body a considerable painless swelling, which mayor may not be irritating and is similar to the oedema of Quincke. If this oedema occurs in the throat it may produce suffocation. Thus the diluted poison of the bee has to its credit innumerable cures of urticaria, oedema.
of Quincke, and severe swelling of the throat.
If we leave everyday life in order to explore the domain of veritable poisonings, we discover amongst them not only examples of very serious illness, but their remedies. In a case of criminal poisoning by mercury cyanide the doctors called to the case thought they were in the presence of a very severe casc of diphtheria. The sick man was prostrated and his throat was inflamed showing the presence of false grey and bleeding membrane, accompanied by excessive salivation and extreme offensiveness of
the mouth, characteristic of severe diphtheria. The sick man died from toxic failure of the heart, such as is produced by the above mentioned illness. This illness occurred before the introduction into medicine of bacteriological examination. It was only at the post-mortem that the chemical analysis enabled the doctors to arrive at the real and criminal cause of this death. Thus cyanide of mercury is shown to be very valuable in the treatment of diphtheria presenting these symptoms.
Gelsemiurn is a shrub, the juice of which, taken in sufficient
dose produces violent headaches, fever with prostration, stiffness
in the back of the neck and such general weakness as to amount
almost to a paralysis. This remedy accordingly gives great service
in certain cases of influenza, and even in infantile paralysis, if
taken in the early stages. One could multiply these examples to
Bryonia produces and cures acute articular rheumatism and bronchitis; Phosphorus, pulmonary congestion and pneumonia; Cantharides, nephritis, etc., etc.
This statement might make you think that Homoeopathy produces a remedy for every illness, that it is sufficient to know the name of the illness in order to find, automatically, its remedy; but alas! this easy procedure docs not succeed, because every ‘sick person portrays his illness according to his nature or temperament. The circumstances in which it is produced will modify its behaviour. Let us take two people suffering from pneumonia; the
one, a plethoric individual who had been exposed to a dry and cold wind during a severe winter, suddenly developed a temperature of 104, was very agitated, anxious and oppressed, complained of insupportable pain in the chest with a racking cough, and above all was terribly nervous and fearful of imminent death. Aconite will soothe him in a few hours. On the other hand, there is another man who will have contracted pneumonia in cold, damp weather, will have first a mild fever gradually increasing, feels depressed and in pain, and holds himself immobile in bed because the least movement makes him worse; he wants to be left alone. The pains, like the stabbing of a knife, which he experiences in the affected lung, are agggravated when he moves or breathes. He lies on the affected side in order to compress it.
This sick man will be relieved by Brvonia. In both cases we have a person suffering from pneumonia’ of one lobe of the lung, as shown by auscultation. percussion and even radiographic examination, but the individuals react differently according to their nature, their temperament and the circumstances under which the malady developed. They therefore require a different remedy not for the illness, but for the sick man. depending on the individual reactions of the person.
Homoeopathy takes no notice of the illness but of the sick
Another example, taken this time from chronic illnesses, allows us to realise the importance which the homoeopathic physician attaches to the reactions proper to the subject, his temperament and to his psychic state.
Two sick people suffering from chronic recurrent boils: the
hrst congestive, red, plethoric, and always too hot. He dresses
very lightly and throws off the bedclothes. He perspires profusely,
the sweat smells unpleasant. even if he takes great pains with his
toilet. He is a heavy cater, loves fat and spiced foods and drinks
alcoholic liquid freely. lIe suffers from engorgement of the liver
and bleeding piles. ITis skin is rough and predisposed to eruptions
of all kinds. He is grandiloquent, puffed up with self-importance
and yery egotistic. The remedy which suits him is Sulphur. It will
improve his general state, his abdominal circulation will be made
easier, his liver will function more freely, his digestion will act
more smoothlv, his skin also will cease to react and his boils will
gradually disappear.The second individual, on the other hand, is lymphatic,
chilly, tending to obesity although eating quite sparingly. His atonic liver makes his digestion slow, his bile flows freely and there is a predisposition to attacks of biliary colic. He perspires profusely and the sweat has an acid odour. He cools off quickly. Although he perspires freely he loves to cover himself up warmly for his peripheral circulation is poor. His skin reacts with eruptions varying from impetigo to eczema, developing even into very large abscesses. As a child he plays little, but curls up in a corner with a book or toy. As an adult he works slowly and takes very little interest in affairs. This collection of symptoms will require Calcarea carbonica, which will not only free him of his boils, but will help all his functions, digestive, glandular, circulatory, and will increase his resistance. The staphylococcus, an organism detrimental to the skin, the casual agent of boils, will be unable
to invade his tissues and the boils will disappear.
In a word, the homoeopathic physician docs not try to suppress a troublesome symptom during an attack of boils without modifying the fundamental cause of this illness. On the contrary, he tries to alter at first the total working of the organism and secondarily to alleviate the illness from which he suffers. He tries to put right the total working of the organism, and often sees the sick person cured in a definitive manner.
In order to aehievc this end he gives the remedy which in a
healthy person would provoke a condition similar to that which
he tries to cure in his patient.
He looks after the sick person, and so the sickness from
which he suffers is ultimately cured. In this way the homoeopathic
therapeutic is causative and not palliative.
In ordinary medicine, on the contrary, the great bulk of treatment is purely palliative. For instance, arc you decalcified? You will be given calcium by the mouth or by injection and Vitamin B in the hope, often a vain one, of seeing it fixed. Are you anaemic? You will be given iron or calves’ liver or Vitamin B 12. Is your thyroid failing? You will be given extract of thyroid. Is it too active? It will have the brake applied by the use of thiouracil. Is your blood too thick, and likely to cause thrombosis or an embolism? You will be given products to make your blood thinner. The human body is treated as if it were a subject for a laboratory test. If these treatments can be very useful and can modify the causes of the situation. In a word, these treatments are
palliative, and the effects usually of very short duration, since the morbid cause continues to function.
In the treatment of acute illnesses of microbic origin this appears still more clearly since the general use of antibiotics. These very potent remedies which have saved many human lives act by direct effect on the invading microbes, arresting their multiplication or, rarely, destroying them without helping the patient’s own defence in any way. But, you may object, since the antibiotic combats the microbe, the cause of the illness, surely it has a curative and not a palliative effect. In reality, the microbe is only the secondary cause of the illness, the real and fundamental cause of the infectious illness is the lack of defensive mechanisms of the patient. In an epidemic of influenza the whole population is infected, but only a limited number of the people become ill only those who have allowed their internal “police” to be over- powered by the invading organism.
Everybody has, on his skin, the staphylococcus – the infecting agent of boils – but few persons are affected with them. We all carry in our digestive tract millions of colon bacilli, but cystitis
Health is a state of unstable equilibrium, a fight between the
organism defending itself and the microbes which try to invade
the tissues and destroy them.
It follows from this that an organism in perfect health does
not contract infectious diseases because the defence is functioning
harmoniously and it docs not permit an invasion to occur. The
homceopathic remedy, while increasing the defences of the indi-
vidual, is acting directly on the fundamental cause of the illness,
and it can act thus both as a prophylactic as well as in a curative
The antibiotic, on the contrary, acts on the microbes, but
does not stimulate the defences of the individual. As soon as its
action ceases to have an effect, the sick individual is again at the
mercy of a fresh microbic attack; he is susceptible to recurrences.
This fact is often verified. The protection which the antibiotic
confers lasts only a few hours.
By contrast, the sick individual cured only by the homoeopathic method has been able to subdue the microbe only because his self-defence has been increased. If he has, by his own powers, been able to conquer an enemy already introduced into the body, it stands to very good reason that in the future he will be able to defend his frontiers: his defence will be lasting.
Source: The Layman Speaks, January 1954.