When you see a Homeopath for a full consultation you will be asked about your medical history, as well as your family history of illness and disease. We do this to get a picture of patterns of disease, and inherited tendency to disease.
Samuel Hahnemann was a man well ahead of his time. He recognised that family history impacted a person’s health over a hundred years before genetics was considered in conventional medicine. He called this his Theory of Miasms, and wrote about it in his book Chronic Diseases, published in 1828.
Hahnemann wrote about three miasms:
Psora, Sycosis and Syphilis.
Two other miasms were later added to these, Tuberculosis, by Dr Samuel Swan in the 1870s, and Cancer by Dr Donald Foubister in the mid 20th century.
Since then there have been a number of other miasms suggested, which have come with different theories of homeopathy and homeopathic remedies.
This week I want to explore miasmatic theory. If you are not a Homeopath this is probably a completely new concept, and is certainly one that is unique to Homeopathy. It is something though that underpins a lot of chronic treatment, and Hahnemann believed to cure a chronic condition you had to address the miasmatic load. He believed that by suppressing acute disease it could be driven inwards to cause a chronic disease.
Confusingly, there are lists of remedies that fit them into which miasm, and there are overlaps, with remedies fitting into more than one miasm. You can also use the remedy from that disease as a remedy in its own right, or to support other constitutional treatment. The remedies are Psorinum for Psora, Medorrhinum for Sycosis, Syphilinum for Syphilis, Tuberculinum for Tuberculosis and Carcinosin for Cancer.
As an aside, in 1942 an embryologist named Conrad Waddington coined the term “epigenetics” which considers how the environment can influence genes being switched on and off, and change patterns of disease. Homeopathy has been shown to have a direct effect on gene expression, and turn on or off the appropriate genes. Epigenetics explains how trauma and inheritance can cause changes at this microscopic level, and homeopathy has always taken into account “ailments from” a trauma or illness, sometimes noted as “NBWS” standing for “never been well since”. While miasms do not equate directly with epigenetics, with both there is inheritance and the interplay of environment with the expression of genes and therefore disease.
So, once we know about miasms, how do we apply this? There are different methods, and it always depends on the individual and the Homeopath – Homeopathy is about individual experiences and treatment can be different for 10 different people with the same diagnosed condition.
Sometimes the nosode will be used as a remedy. This will be because the symptoms fit the remedy picture, much like choosing another remedy.
Other reasons include:
When conditions relapse, and symptoms return after a short period of time. Sometimes it may come back with a slightly different picture which is also only relieved by an appropriate remedy for a short time.
If remedies that should have worked fail to act. Miasms can inhibit the action of indicated remedies, so a nosode could be considered if remedies that were well selected do not work.
When acute disease lingers on and they don’t return to full health. Examples of this are glandular fever or influenza.
Miasmatic theory has had over a hundred years for Homeopaths to expand on Hahnemann’s theories. Two Homeopaths whose work I want to briefly touch on today are Francisco Eizayaga and Ian Watson. During the week I will also discuss the work of other Homeopaths, namely Peter Fraser, who has books on different remedy families, miasms and the AIDS miasm, Jeremy Sherr who has more experience with AIDS than probably any other Homeopath today through his work in Africa, and postulates a new miasm for these times, Rajan Sankaran, well known for his sensation system, and with that has developed a theory on a number of other miasms, and Louis Klein, who has written two excellent texts on Nosodes and Miasms, and expanded Sankaran’s ten miasms to eighteen in order to fit with Jan Scholten’s stages of the periodic table.
In July I discussed Eizayaga’s Layers theory, and how he particularly suggests treating miasmatically after a patient is cured so as to reduce the chance of reoccurrence. He also talks about the Dormant, Active and Exposed miasm layers – the exposed miasm being when the remedy presenting is that of the miasm, like Tuberculinum for the tubercular miasm. The Active miasm is the one that is producing the recurrence of disease being seen currently, and for this he recommends intercurrent treatment. A Dormant miasm is one that is indicated by the family history, but for which there are no symptoms or indication that it is active. In this case do not treat, but leave it alone.
Ian Watson is a British Homeopath with a fantastic book on miasms, titled “The Homeopthic Miasms, A Modern View”, and if you are a student or Homeopath then I highly recommend this book for a different perspective. Among other things he says that the miasms are not an ailment to get rid of, like an allopath would use antibiotics, but a reflection of the challenges that person is facing in their life. The tendencies to these miasms are latent in all of us, and may be activated by the circumstances we are exposed to. It is certainly an important viewpoint to consider when you are studying miasmatic theory, and something I will come back to when discussing the five major miasms over the next five days.
When I decided to write about miasms in July I intended to write a single post about why we even ask about family history in Homeopathy. My problem is I like to be thorough, so I needed to write about each of the 5 miasms that are commonly accepted. Once I started though I didn’t want to finish the series without discussing newer miasms, and other theories, and my 1 post became 1 week, then 8 days, 9 days and finally 10 days.
The poets over the next 9 days are Psora on Tuesday, Sycosis on Wednesday, Syphilitic miasm on Thursday, the Tubercular miasm on Friday, Cancer on Saturday, and then we start to get into other theories. Sunday is the AIDS, Radiation and FARC, Monday we look at other miasms and Drug miasms, Tuesday is a different approach with Sankaran’s ten miasms for his Sensation method, and to finish on Wednesday with Klein’s eighteen stages of the periodic table and the corresponding miasms.