Simply Homeopathy: Exploring Further

Levels of Treatment

As human beings we share certain common characteristics but also have our own unique qualities and way of expression. When we become ill we may sometimes suffer similar symptoms to other people or exhibit our own individual symptoms. Homeopathy is a system of medicine which has the flexibility to treat each of us as an individual whilst recognising our links with other human beings, society and our environment.

Throughout our lives we encounter situations which demand us to respond, these may vary from the simplest thing, such as adapting to changes in weather or temperature, to the most complex, such as dealing with a major accident or emotional trauma. Some of these challenges only involve ourselves while others also affect people around us to a greater or lesser extent. The healthier we are the easier we can adapt but when we are less healthy we find situations more difficult to deal with and consequently produce symptoms. Symptoms warn us that we are not fully functioning and in homeopathic terms they are a protection from continuing down a path which could be harmful to us. This view is a cornerstone of the homeopathic approach; although undesirable, symptoms are not there simply to be removed but also to be studied in context of an individual’s whole life, in order to effect a deeper and more holistic healing action. Sometimes symptoms arise and subside quickly and we go on our way; at other times however we produce symptoms that stay with us and affect our journey through life and consequently affect other people and our environment. Homeopathy argues that we do not enter this life with a completely clean slate but with inherited tendencies which will influence the direction we take in our lives. Moreover, in some cases we are born with symptoms. All these variables are taken into account in a homeopathic prescription because, just as there are different levels of ill health, there are also different levels of treatment.

Acute treatment

The first level of homeopathic treatment is very individual and is known as acute. This is appropriate when the situation demands fairly rapid treatment. An acute episode is generally triggered by circumstances, such as getting cold, an emotional shock or upset, an accident, eating unwisely etc. It is generally self-limiting i.e. there is a trigger, symptoms are produced, a crisis (peak) is reached and then recovery occurs over a period of time, or in some severe cases death. Treatment is not always needed and will depend on the severity of the symptoms. Sometimes this acute is a ‘one-off’ occurrence and never recurs.

However sometimes someone may suffer periodic headaches or repeated bouts of ‘flu’ or such like, or they may have a tendency to injure themselves. When these apparent acutes are repeated, it is then necessary to take a wider view and look at what is lying underneath. In homeopathic terms this person has ’susceptibility’ (tendency) to produce these symptoms because of a deeper level of underlying illness which is termed chronic.

Chronic treatment

This is similar to the acute level in the fact that there is also a trigger (or in homeopathic terms an “exciting cause” – that which excites symptoms to arise), just as you would get in the acute but the result is not self-limiting and will continue to affect the individual throughout his or her life. This might be an injury from years ago whose consequences are still apparent, or an emotional trauma many years previously which still has a knock-on affect and makes someone sensitive to certain situations, producing emotional and sometimes physical symptoms. In the moment of an original traumatic event the individual is “sensitised” and produces symptoms. For example, a child is exposed to the extreme anger of a parent and develops a crippling stomach pain as a result of this shock. As an adult this person may react to any situation where someone is very angry by producing stomach pains and is unable to react differently. This will have an effect on relationships with others so this chronic level of ill heath is not only individual but affects how we are in society. A pattern has developed and will be repeated until a suitable remedy is given.

When Dr Samuel Hahnemann the founder of homeopathy discovered the similars (like cures like) way of treatment he was very excited by the success he had in treating what appeared to be isolated incidents of illness. However, over a longer period of time, he was disappointed to find that although the presenting symptoms were successfully resolved people’s overall level of health was not improving. At first he could not understand why this was happening because he was convinced that the method was valid. He then spent 12 years in detailed study and careful observation of all his cases and came to the conclusion that there was an even deeper level of illness that needed to be treated which was lying underneath. Hahnemann realised that acute and chronic occurrences are not isolated incidents in a person’s life but are in fact expressions of three deeper and broader underlying illnesses which he called miasms. This means that from Hahnemann’s point of view we are all suffering from one or a combination of two or three basic miasms from which all our individual illnesses spring. So from a homeopathic point of view illnesses come from a common source. Hahnemann observed that as human beings we are naturally susceptible to illness, he saw it as part of the human condition. The miasmatic level connects us all closely because it is something we all have in common.

Miasmatic treatment

This is the deepest level of treatment. A chronic miasmatic situation does not have an exciting cause, it is not self-limiting, and it starts before the birth i.e. the individual is born with the susceptibility which may continue to the next generation if untreated. If someone says during a consultation “I have such and such symptom and my grandmother also suffered from that” the homeopath will be alerted to the fact that this may be a miasmatic symptom. Likewise, if a chronic situation is not resolving then it may be that the illness has its roots in a deeper soil, which is the miasmatic level. In looking at the three levels of treatment just discussed it may be useful to think of the analogy of weeds in the garden; if you cut the tops off (acute treatment) they will disappear for a while but may come back another time, if you pull up the roots (chronic treatment) they will disappear for longer but if they have already spread their seeds far and wide you may need to change the soil (miasmatic treatment).

Epidemic treatment

There is one more occurrence of illness which comes from the miasmatic level and affects many people with a similar susceptibility who are exposed to the same exciting cause. The result is that many people become ill with common symptoms from a shared exciting cause such as natural disasters, wars, poisonings etc. The outbreaks may be sporadic i.e. affecting groups of individuals here and there, or epidemic i.e. affecting many people in an area, or even pandemic which means it will affect a large proportion of the population worldwide. An epidemic outbreak comes directly from the miasmatic level although the resulting symptoms will often be acute. This situation will require an “acute/miasmatic” remedy and from a homeopathic point of view it is an opportunity to reach this deep underlying miasmatic level. An epidemic situation is the only time that many people suffering from the same condition may need the same remedy.

Summary

The homeopathic approach is a holistic one; Hahnemann says that as human beings we are all susceptible to becoming ill. As individuals we are born with our unique susceptibility to certain circumstances which will result in symptoms, be they spiritual, emotional or physical. On top of this we acquire other susceptibilities throughout our lives through traumatic or significant events. During the course of treatment the level at which the remedy is aimed will vary according to the circumstances. We may need acute treatment first, followed by a related chronic remedy, or chronic treatment followed by miasmatic, or an acute situation may arise during the course of chronic treatment which may need an immediate remedy. Some people may choose to have only acute treatment and others may wish to go deeper. The deeper the treatment the closer we get to “health” which in homeopathic terms is best summed up by Hahnemann in paragraph 9 of the Organon of Medicine: “In the healthy condition of man, the spiritual vital force ... rules with unbounded sway and retains all the parts of the organism in harmonious vital operation... so that our indwelling, reason-gifted mind can freely employ this living, healthy instrument for the higher purposes of our existence”.

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