Specific Topics

  1. Specific Topics
    1. 1.  Aggravation
    2. 2.  A Healing Crisis
    3. 3.  Suppression
    4. 4.  Some Obstacles to Cure
    5. 5.  The Second Prescription
    6. 6.  Palliative Care

This section of the site deals with some issues that can come up during the healing process. I do suggest that the reader familiarize him/herself with the Basic Info and Expanded Info sections to help clarify some of the information presented here.

1.  Aggravation

ometimes a patient's symptoms become temporarily more intense after taking a homeopathic remedy. This is known as an aggravation. When this happens, it is a sign that the choice of remedy was correct, but that the dose was too high or was repeated too frequently. Most cures are effected without aggravation, but when it does occur it is not a bad sign. The homeopath simply adjusts the dose and/or the frequency of administration. Even if the homeopath were to do nothing, an aggravation typically will last from a few hours to a day or so.

If a client's chief complaint was primarily physical, she will report feeling better when the physical symptoms aggravate. This sounds paradoxical, but as she reports that her hot flashes are more intense, she will also report that she is sleeping better, having positive dreams, feeling more optimistic, has better energy levels, etc. Homeopathic remedies work in this way: acting first on the deeper mental and emotional levels and then moving symptoms outward to the more peripheral/superficial physical levels.

There is an interesting parallel here with another energy-based treatment: Therapeutic Touch. When I treat someone with TT who has, for example, just jammed her finger in a kitchen drawer, I always explain that the pain in her finger will probably get more intense for a minute or so. I can attest to this scenario because I have observed it numerous times: the pain briefly intensifies as I work on the hand and then, over a treatment of about five minutes, it completely disappears. It is as if the finger had never been jammed in the first place. I can't explain it. It just seems that energy works that way.

2.  A Healing Crisis

 healing crisis is not the same thing as an aggravation. An aggravation is caused by the remedy. A healing crisis is caused by the person's Vital Force. When the Vital Force pushes a disease outward from the body's core to the periphery, the body sometimes expresses this as an exteriorization in the form of skin rashes, joint pain, or discharges. Healing crisis symptoms should not be interfered with, homeopathically or otherwise. They are a sure sign that a cure is well on its way.

3.  Suppression

his is a rather difficult topic to present without watering down the information, because we live in an era where most of us have had suppressive medical treatments since childhood. In the past, much disease had clear-cut causes such as poor sanitation and hygiene. Ironically, in our modern society much chronic disease is actually caused by suppressive medical interventions.

So what is suppression? Keep in mind that a healthy Vital Force will strive to move disease from the interior to the exterior. The result is symptoms. From a homeopathic perspective of disease and healing, symptoms are expressions of this outward push. They are observable manifestations of an underlying problem. "When the patient is treated so that some (not all) of the symptoms disappear while the underlying disorder is not addressed, the result is suppression, i.e., the illusion of cure while actually intensifying the internal disease by blocking some of its natural outlets." (De Schepper, p. 251)

A suppression can also occur naturally or accidentally. Normal bodily functions such as menses, sleep, perspiration, lactation, etc., can be retarded or cease entirely, to the detriment of that person's health, from the influence of an emotional trauma. Fright, grief, anger, vexation, sudden shock, humiliation, overwork, hearing bad news, etc., can literally shock the body. Homeopathic remedy descriptions are replete with symptoms such as "Menses suppressed from grief." In such a case, the homeopath must prescribe on the totality of symptoms. If he were to choose a remedy on the basis of the above physical symptom only, i.e., suppressed menses, then the treatment would probably not cure, but only palliate. He must take into account the suppressive agent in his remedy selection, namely "grief."

Specializations that cause the most suppressions are dermatology and gynecology. It is not uncommon at all for anxiety and depression to be a consequence of suppressing psoriasis with a zinc spray. When the mental-emotional symptoms are treated homeopathically, the psoriasis will return for a short time before all symptoms are cured. Should the patient suppress the healing crisis on his skin with more zinc medication, the anxiety and/or depression will return. This is not theory. This is what homeopaths routinely see in their practices.

Treating Suppression:

A suppressed symptom always drives disease to a deeper level. For example, eczema and asthma are generally viewed as two distinct diseases. Clinical experience has led homeopathy to call eczema the disease and asthma as its suppressed form. Eczema is an inflammation of the outer lining of the body, the skin. Treating eczema with cortisone creams blocks the Vital Force in its efforts to rid the body of this problem by pushing it outward. When the most benign avenue to do this (the skin) is suppressed, the body will look at its options and choose the next best one, namely the outer lining of the lungs. The result?: asthma. The homeopath begins by treating the asthma. That she is on the right curative track will be confirmed if the patient's eczema returns. A complete cure is the result after the eczema is treated homeopathically.

From Hahnemann Revisited:
"Clinical Case: A 12-year-old boy came to my office with a Chief Complaint of grand-mal seizures
occurring once a month. His history was revealing and a perfect example of the above principle. He was born with eczema due to medications his mother took while pregnant (... the eczema was the Vital Force's attempt to push the drugs to the exterior, the skin). The eczema was so severe that it took two years to suppress with cortisone. The moment his eczema disappeared asthma came up, and the cortisone creams were replaced with cortisone inhalers and oral steroids for frequent acute attacks. This continued until he was eleven years old. He had his last asthma attack in December of that year and his first seizure the next month. From then on he had one seizure a month and never another asthma attack. Each time a deeper illness took the place of the previous less dangerous one, because of continued suppression. This was proved to the parents when I treated the epilepsy and the asthma returned, to be replaced the eczema, which in turn cleared up. Five years later the boy has had no seizures, no asthma attacks and no signs of eczema." (De Schepper, p. 261-2)

4.  Some Obstacles to Cure

here are a multitude of factors that can stonewall a cure. Obvious ones such as an error on the part of the homeopath, or that important information is not provided by the patient, etc., will not be dealt with here. Instead I will provide two illustrative cases from Luc De Schepper's wonderful book Hahnemann Revisited along with some personal observations.

The first case describes a treatment scenario wherein a preliminary remedy prescription is indicated to clear a case before the client's constitutional remedy can be given. It also illustrates a healing crisis and its subsequent suppression.

"Clinical Case: A 30-year-old executive for a pharmaceutical company consulted me for hair loss. He led a disastrous life-style: partying, drinking, and using recreational drugs as well as medications. Nux Vomica was indicated for several reasons: not only for this Sulphur person's Nux Vomica life-style (competitive, ambitious, high-stress, dependent on stimulants), but also to counteract the bad effects of drugs and alcohol (Nux Vomica is a great liver cleanser). As Hering's Law would predict, within five days after the first LM doses, his body was covered with itchy eruptions. I explained the cleansing effect of the remedy and encouraged him to continue it, although with fewer succussions to slow down the process. To his amazement the rash disappeared. He felt so good that he stopped taking his remedy after three weeks (you can expect that from a Nux Vomica patient!). One month later when he started feeling bad again, I told him to resume the remedy. This time he broke out in an even worse rash, which prompted him to consult his physician at work... The physician had to administer three weeks of oral cortisone to 'cure' the eruptions. Obviously this patient was lost to homeopathy: every time I did the right thing, a rash would have to reappear." (p. 272)

Some disease in advanced stages in incurable. In such cases homeopathy can have a wonderful palliative effect. The following case indirectly shows how one's beliefs can influence healing.

"Clinical Case: A beautiful and lively 83-year-old Phosphorus lady consulted me after allopathic medicine gave up on her. After opening the abdomen and seeing how much her cancer had metastasized, her doctor simply closed her up and told her to go home as she only had three months to live. Yet she lived for another two years in excellent physical and emotional condition. I will never forget her smiling face as she came to consult, always nicely dressed up and flirting (like a true Phosphorus!) and loving her 'arsenic' as she called her remedy. She felt so good that she told me she planned to return for more tests, believing her cancer was gone. I knew otherwise and quietly took her daughter aside, advising her to take her mother shopping instead, which she still very much enjoyed. Repeated confirmation of the cancer could have led to a sudden downturn in her condition, as I have seen thousands when patients hear the 'bad news' of their cancer diagnosis and their health suddenly spirals downhill. Only when there was a perforation of the bladder and colon by the tumor did this patient die quickly in the hospital with only minimal suffering. But she lived those two years to the fullest extent." (p. 273-4)

The third obstacle to cure that I will present here is when there is a clearly causal influence on a disease state in a patient's life that must be removed or modified before a homeopathic remedy can be expected to do its work.

If a patient has a complaint of lower back pain or varicose veins from standing and/or stooping for a long shift in a kitchen or assembly line, perhaps the use of a stool or support stockings should be tried before homeopathic treatment.

Some people get sick because they are trapped in loveless and abusive relationships. Children are beaten down by terrible family situations and then, sometimes, further scarred when their needs are not addressed in a succession of foster/group home environments. Harassment and abuse in the workplace are not uncommon. Homeopathic remedies can palliate such cases by giving the person the energetic/emotional balance and strength to survive in a bad situation. What no remedy can do is to consistently cure complaints so long as the patient is exposed to the abuse or neglect that caused them in the first place.

5.  The Second Prescription

aking a client's initial case, analyzing it and selecting an appropriate remedy, potency and dosage is a relatively straightforward, although time consuming, procedure for the homeopath. Where a practitioner shows that he is worth his salt is at the time of follow-up, the second prescription.

"What is more beautiful to look upon than the bud during its hourly changes to the rose in its bloom? This evolution has so often come to my mind when patiently awaiting the return of symptoms after the first prescription has exhausted its curative power. The return symptom-image unfolds the knowledge by which we know whether the first prescription was the specific or the palliative, i.e., we may know whether the remedy was deep enough to cure all the deranged vital wrong or simply a superficially acting remedy, capable of only temporary effect." (James Tyler Kent, Lesser Writings)

At follow-up a patient reports changes in her condition. The homeopath now must determine whether the initial remedy acted at all and, if it is acting, what adjustments in potency and/or dosage are indicated. Sometimes the appropriate course of action is to simply wait and let the Vital Force's response to the remedy continue. A common error of the inexperienced homeopath is to represcribe too quickly, thus unnecessarily complicating a case. If  indications are that treatment is on the right track, what is the prognosis? Can the practitioner predict a probable follow-up prescription that will compliment the first? This is where homeopathy becomes an art in the hands of a dedicated clinician.

6.  Palliative Care

"Palliative 1) tending to lessen or reduce pain or sickness when cure is no longer possible... In a terminally ill patient, homeopathy can be used to ease the patient's suffering. 2) reduction of a portion of the symptom picture without curing the entire picture, which can happen if the remedy is not the simillimum yet is similar enough." (L. pallium, 'cloak') (Yasgur's Homeopathic Dictionary)

hen severe chronic diseases such as cancer, TB, lupus (SLE), etc., reach their final stages, in other words, when they are beyond cure, a patient's Vital Force simply is too depleted to react curatively to the most appropriate remedies. The typical scenario is one of temporary improvement followed by a relapse after each prescription. In such cases, when a cure is highly improbable, homeopathic treatment can provide much comfort, both emotionally and physically, to the dying patient.

I have had the experience of watching the protracted and agonizing death of a family member from cancer. The medical interventions that he endured were in no small measure a direct cause of his suffering and were in no way curative. To this day, I am unaware of any rationale for these interventions or if there even was a logical basis for implementing them. It seemed to be a protocol that the medical system applied to the whole cluster of cases like his, without much consideration
about the quality of the consequences. To be blunt, it just appeared that the goal was not to allow him to die. In the final analysis, I believe that he suffered as much from a loss of dignity as from anything else.

So with homeopathy we can treat chronic diseases in two ways: to palliate or to cure. One only palliates when a case in incurable. Here, however, we are left with a pivotal question: What is an incurable case? "In general, the homeopath should always treat his case as if it were curable" (De Schepper, p. 309). The decision to palliate can be undertaken after all realistic hope of recovery is gone. But remember, homeopathy has a long history of curing cases that modern medicine has deemed hopeless.

By way of contrast, modern allopathic medicine makes no claim as to being able to cure much chronic disease. Its paradigm is to "control" such diseases, which is another way of saying it palliates by suppressing symptoms with pharmaceutical drugs. This has understandably led to a society that does not make a distinction between palliation and cure. I take a pill; my pain goes away for a while; I feel better; ergo, the treatment was a success. But this is not a cure. The patient still has the disease. She will need lifelong medication, often in ever-increasing doses, with the consequent problems inherent in that kind treatment.

"Even in these incurable cases homeopathy is superior to allopathy because the material dosesHypericum "St. John's Wort" of allopathic drugs have a pathogenic action. They produce new symptoms, euphemistically called side-effects... They compel  a defensive or eliminative reaction which exhausts the already weakened Vital Force. The material dose is a toxic dose... The result in an already terminal case is to... increase the patient's suffering. While allopathic drugs may sometimes give a temporary sense of comfort and well-being, this palliative effect is fleeting and deceptive. It is replaced by the weakness and irritability of the secondary action... If such drugs were really necessary, I would be the first to urge their use... homeopathy has painkillers far more effective than drugs. We have all seen Bryonia, Belladonna, Chamomilla or Hypericum instantly relieve pain which high doses of morphine could not touch. Further, as we have seen, the effects of opioids are suppressive and toxic. Remedies will not stupefy and dull the patient, cause constipation or depress the respiratory rate as opioids do." (De Schepper, pp. 309-11)

We are all going to die. I believe that there is such a thing as a "good death," a farewell without unnecessary pain, with peace and dignity.