it's been some time since I have realized why many homeopaths do not have the practical success they wish and expect. In my opinion, the most important reason, beside many bigger or smaller issues, is insufficient understanding of the basic law of homeopathy – the law of similarity.
Funnily enough, EVERYBODY (even the most pathetic skeptics) seem to be confident they DO understand this one, not to speak of homeopaths, who would be rightly ridiculed should they admit otherwise. The therapeutic law or the principle of Similia Similibus Curantur or LIKE CURES LIKE (some argue that it is a practical rule rather than a law, hence the arguments of using Curentur instead of Curantur, but this is not what I wish to focus on here) seems pristine clear and self-evident enough.
Whatever symptoms (or alterations of state of health) a substance can cause (especially) in a healthy person, it can also cure in a sick person. Or as Hahnemann puts it in simple terms of his Organon, paragraph 21, 6th Ed. :-P
"Now, as it is undeniable that the curative principle in medicines is not in itself perceptible, and as in pure experiments with medicines conducted by the most accurate observers, nothing can be observed that can constitute them medicines or remedies except that power of causing distinct alterations in the state of health of the human body, and particularly in that of the healthy individual, and of exciting in him various definite morbid symptoms; so it follows that when medicines act as remedies, they can only bring their curative property into play by means of this their power of altering man’s state of health by the production of peculiar symptoms; and that, therefore, we have only to rely on the morbid phenomena which the medicines produce in the healthy body as the sole possible revelation of their in-dwelling curative power, in order to learn what disease-producing power, and at the same time what disease-curing power, each individual medicine possesses."
Mentally, it seems clear enough, but mental understanding is hardly sufficient for the practical understanding of the principle in play here, unless you have suffered similarly i.e. conducted a proving of your own AND been observant enough to note the peculiar changes of health a substance is able to cause.
For example, I, personally, have a long and happy history of abusing chili pepper (which is taxonomically assigned to Capsicum annuum L., a differentiation pitifully insufficient to appreciate the fine shades of various burning qualities caused by varieties of chili; for example ordinary Mexican chili causes a burning in your mouth while killing the sense of taste at the same time; Thai variety of chili, on the other hand, causes a similar (not quite the same) type of burning, but you can still feel the taste of the meal, no matter how much your mouth burns – a difference which should be better appreciated not only by chili aficionados, but by homeopaths too! Of course, you won't read about it in any of our materia medica, and even if you did, there is no homeopathic Capsicum annuum prepared specifically from Mexican or Thai variety; this being said, it is now also quite clear Hahnemann had no other way to express all the nuances of the homeopathic art of healing than to use his longish footnotes ;-), so I had plenty of opportunities to study its effects on my health which, luckily enough, are very few, yet unmistakably distinct.
As anyone who has attempted to accurately observe the effects of a substance on one's health can appreciate, there is no problem in recognizing the altered state caused by a substance, once you are familiar with it, but there is a considerable difficulty in describing the same, so others could have an idea how to use the substance homeopathically. You recognize various strange sensations in your body, but finding the words to describe them seems so impossible... Once you've realized this problem and pondered upon it, you have seen the light and you are now able to recognize the problem of matching the actual altered state of health as caused by the substance to the written records of the same (provided by our materia medica) and further difficulty of matching THAT to the symptoms presented by the patient desirous of a cure.
Doing my involuntary provings of chili, the only symptoms I have experienced with consistency are related to stool. Checking the records of available materia medica, I was not happy to discover my experience is only superficially covered in the available records and the general idea of what is happening, is not precisely convened, leading, necessarily, to insufficient understanding of this part of the substance's disease-causing properties.
Here is a list of my repeatedly proven stool symptoms of chili:
- The stool is unformed, somewhat diarrheic, but not quite, it is a brown pappy loose soft stool, but not like water, it consists of many small chunks.
- The stool is NOT coming out forcefully as in some diarrheas, but rather pouring out quite lazily, or at most with medium intensity.
- Usually, and quite contrary to my usual experience of a quick problem-free stool, I find myself obliged to spend some 10-15 minutes on the toilet, due to the fact of stool coming out in rather small parts with some delay before the next sequence comes and accompanied with a quite unpleasant painful sensation in the intestines (region of abdomen below the navel) that I would describe as labour-like, although being a man, I have only second-hand experience of what labour pains feel like (but you CAN feel someone else's pain if you are attuned and sensitive enough). I believe this sensation is usually described as TENESMUS, although this word has two distinct meanings, only one of which applies here, more on that later. The sensation feels like a prolonged pressure or contraction, not urgently painful, but quite unpleasant, it incites a tendency to sigh, pressure of hands makes it somewhat more bearable.
- This tenesmus sensation includes a sensation that the intestines have not been completely emptied, hence I feel obliged to sit it out and patiently wait for the next batch that falls out lazily. Forceful straining does not speed up the process, it feels like the batch comes at its own time.
- After several batches, then comes the sensation of relief, as it should after the stool and I pronounce the process finished, although sometimes it renews after a time lapse and I need to go again.
- There is a considerable burning in the anus, but I would not emphasize this part as it is the crudest symptom of the substance and not very important, in my opinion.
- There is a labour-like state of consciousness connected with the stool, it's quite distinct. If you have the opportunity to witness a woman during her labour contractions in the first stage of the labour (when the neck dilates, not during the pushing stage), it is pretty much the same process on a much smaller scale.
When comparing my experience with the records of materia medica, these are the parts I find matching:
- Stools: frequent, small, with tenesmus and burning in rectum.
- After stool: tenesmus; burning at anus.
- Biting-stinging pain in anus, with diarrhea-like stool.
- Violent tenesmus.
- Diarrhea, then empty tenesmus.
Unfortunately, the word tenesmus has two distinct meanings.
1. Tenesmus is the feeling of constantly needing to pass stools (or, in the less common sense, urine), even if the bowels (or bladder) are already empty. It can involve pain, straining, and cramping. Tenesmus is a spurious feeling of the need to evacuate the bowels, with little or no stool passed.
2. Painful spasm of the anal sphincter along with an urgent desire to defecate without the significant production of feces.
Studying materia medica, it seems both meanings of the word are used, which does not facilitate the understanding of the true symptom.
Concluding this article, I would like to emphasize the need of really studying the symptoms of our materia medica in order to facilitate the understanding of the real altered state as caused by the substance, trying hard, in the most vivid way, to imagine the symptoms and sensations recorded. This is how von Boenninghausen studied his remedies and this well may be the prime reason why he's considered among the most successful prescribers in the history of homeopathy.
Question for André Saine
Q: Can you recommend any literature where we can best learn what are common symptoms in various diseases or pathological states?
A: It depends if the disease is one that has been known for a long time or one that has been identified lately. For the former one, I use Thomas Watson’s Lectures on the Principles and Practice of Physic,... Read the full answer »
Do you have a question of your own? You can submit it here.
Recommended article – Lippe's clinical observations
Keeping up the spirit of socially awkward but therapeutically important topic of stool alive, we call on no lesser man than famous Dr. Lippe to improve our precarious position and add his helping of stool cases involving gushing yellow stools, diarrheas etc. On a more serious note, please note the selection of remedies and the basis of it; he also uses the "tenesmus" symptom of Capsicum annuum, this time in the meaning of constriction of anus (which btw. I've never experienced after any dose of Caps.).
Read the article here. »
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