Nature of Chronic Diseases
by Samuel Hahnemann
The Homoeopathic healing art, as taught in my own writings and in those of my pupils, when faithfully followed, has hitherto shown its natural superiority over any allopathic treatment in a very decided and striking manner; and this not only in those diseases which suddenly attack men (the acute diseases), but also in epidemic diseases and in sporadic fevers.
Venereal diseases also have been radically healed by Homoeopathy much more surely, with less trouble and without any sequelae; for without disturbing or destroying the local manifestation it heals the internal fundamental disease from within only, through the best specific remedy. But the number of the other chronic diseases on this great earth has been immeasurably greater, and remains so.
Treatment by allopathic physicians hitherto merely served to increase the distress from this kind of disease; for this treatment consisted of a whole multitude of nauseous mixtures (compounded by the druggist from violently acting medicines in large doses, of whose separate true effects they were ignorant), together with the use of manifold baths, the sudorific and salivating remedies, the, pain-killing narcotics, the injections, fomentations, fumigations, the blistering plasters, the exutories and fontanelles, but especially the everlasting laxatives, leeches, cuppings and starving treatments, or whatever names may be given to all these medicinal torments, which continually varied like the fashions. By these means the disease was either aggravated and the vital force, spite of so-called tonics used at intervals, was more and more diminished; or, if any striking change was produced by them, instead of the former. sufferings, there appeared a worse state nameless diseases caused by medicine, far worse and more incurable than the original natural one – while the physician consoled the patient with the words: The former sickness I have been fortunate enough to remove; it is a great pity that a new (?) disease has appeared, but I hope to be as successful in removing this latter as in the former. And so, while the same disease assumed various forms, and while new diseases were being added by the use of improper, injurious medicines, the sufferings of the patient were continually aggravated until his pitiable lamentations were hushed forever with his dying breath, and the relatives were soothed with the comforting pretence: Everything imaginable has been used and applied in the case of the deceased.
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It is not so with Homoeopathy, the great gift of God!
Even in these other kinds of chronic diseases, its disciples, by following the teachings presented in my former writings and my former oral lectures, accomplished far more than all the afore-mentioned methods of curing; i. e., when they found the patient not too much run down and spoiled by allopathic treatment, as was unfortunately too often the case where the patient had any money to spend.
Using the more natural treatment, Homoeopathic physicians have frequently been able in a short time to remove the chronic disease which they had before them, after examining it according to all the symptoms perceptibly to the senses; and the means of cure were the most suitable among the Homoeopathic remedies, used in their smallest doses which had been so far proved as to their pure, true effects. And all this was done without robbing the patient of his fluids and strength, as is done by the allopathy of the common physicians; so that the patient, fully healed, could again enjoy gladsome days. These cures indeed have far excelled all that allopathists had ever – in rare cases – been able to effect by a lucky grab into their medicine chests.
The complaints yielded for the most part to very small doses of that remedy which had proved its ability to produce the same series of morbid symptoms in the healthy body; and, if the disease was not altogether too inveterate and had not been too much and in too great a degree mismanaged by allopathy, it often yielded for a considerable time, so that mankind had good reason to deem itself fortunate even for that much help, and, indeed, it often proclaimed its thankfulness. A patient thus treated might and often did consider himself in pretty good health, when he fairly judged of his present improved state and compared it with his far more painful condition before Homoeopathy had afforded him its help.*
(* Of this kind were the cures of diseases caused by a psora not yet fully developed, which had been treated by my followers with remedies which did not belong to the number of those which, later, proved to be the chief anti-psora remedies; because these remedies were not yet known. They had been merely treated with such medicines as Homoeopathically best covered and temporarily removed the then apparent moderate symptoms, thus causing a kind of a cure which brought back the manifest psora into a latent condition and thus produced a kind of healthy condition, especially with young, vigorous persons, such as would appear as real health to every observer who did not examine accurately; and this state often lasted for many years. But with chronic diseases caused by a psora already fully developed, the medicines which were then known never sufficed for a complete cure, any more than these same medicines suffice at the present time.)
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Even some gross errors of diet, taking cold, the appearance of weather especially rough, wet and cold or stormy, or even the approach of autumn, if ever so mild, but, more yet, winter and a wintry spring, and then some violent exertion of the body or mind, but particularly some shock to the health caused by some severe external injury, or a very sad event that bowed down the soul, repeated fright, great grief, sorrow and continuous vexation, often caused in a weakened body the re-appearance of one or more of the ailments which seemed to have been already overcome; and this new condition was often aggravated by some quite new concomitants, which if not more threatening than the former ones which had been removed homoeopathically were often just as troublesome and now more obstinate. This would be especially the case whenever the seemingly cured disease had for its foundation a psora which had been more fully developed. When such a relapse would take place the Homoeopathic physician would give the remedy most fitting among the medicines then known, as if directed against a new disease, and this would again be attended by a pretty good success, which for the time would again bring the patient into a better state. In the former case, however, in which merely the troubles which seemed to have been removed were renewed, the remedy which had been serviceable the first time would prove less useful, and when repeated again it would help still less. Then perhaps, even under the operation of the Homoeopathic remedy which seemed best adapted, and even where the mode of living had been quite correct new symptoms of disease would be added which could be removed only inadequately and imperfectly; yea, these new symptoms were at times not at all improved, especially when some of the obstacles above mentioned hindered the recovery.
Some joyous occurrence, or an external condition of circumstances improved by fortune, a pleasant journey, a favorable season or a dry, uniform temperature, might occasionally produce a remarkable pause of shorter or longer duration in the disease of the patient, during which the Homoeopath might consider him as fairly recovered; and the patient himself, if he good-naturedly overlooked some passable moderate ailments, might consider himself as healthy. Still such a favorable pause would never be of long duration, and the return and repeated returns of the complaints in the end left even the best selected Homoeopathic remedies then known, and given in the most appropriate doses, the less effective the oftener they were repeated. They served at last hardly even as weak palliatives. But usually, after repeated attempts to conquer the disease which appeared in a form always somewhat changed, residual complaints appeared which the Homoeopathic medicines hitherto proved, though not few, had to leave uneradicated, yea, often undiminished. Thus there ever followed varying complaints ever more troublesome, and, as time proceeded, more threatening, and this even while the mode of living was correct and with a punctual observance of directions. The chronic disease could, despite all efforts, be but little delayed in its progress by the Homoeopathic physician and grew worse from year to year.
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This was, and remained, the quicker or slower process in such treatments in all non-venereal, severe chronic diseases, even when these were treated in exact accordance with the Homoeopathic, art as hitherto known. Their beginning was promising, the continuation less favorable, the outcome hopeless.
Nevertheless this teaching was founded upon the steadfast pillar of truth and will evermore be so. The attestation of its excellence, yea, of its infallibility (so far as this can be predicated of human affairs), it has laid before the eyes of the world through facts.
Homoeopathy alone taught first of all how to heal the well-defined idiopathic diseases, the old, smooth scarlet fever of Sydenham, the more recent purples, whooping cough, croup, sycosis, and autumnal dysenteries, by means of the specifically aiding Homoeopathic remedies. Even acute pleurisy, and typhous contagious epidemics must now allow themselves to be speedily turned into health by a few small doses of rightly-selected Homoeopathic medicine.
Whence then this less favorable, this unfavorable, result of the continued treatment of the non-venereal chronic diseases even by Homoeopathy? What was the reason of the thousands of unsuccessful endeavors to heal the other diseases of a chronic nature so that lasting health might result? Might this be caused, perhaps, by the still too small number of Homoeopathic remedial means that have so far been proved as to their pure action? The followers of Homoeopathy have hitherto thus consoled themselves; but this excuse, or so-called consolation, never satisfied the founder of Homoeopathy – particularly because even the new additions of proved valuable medicines, increasing from year to year, have not advanced the healing of chronic (non-venereal) diseases by a single step, while acute diseases (unless these, at their commencement, threaten unavoidable death) are not only passably removed, by means of a correct; application of homoeopathic remedies, but with the assistance of the never-resting, preservative vital force in our organism, find a speedy and complete cure.
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Why then, cannot this vital force, efficiently affected through Homoeopathic medicine, produce any true and lasting recovery in these chronic maladies even with the aid of the Homoeopathic remedies which best cover their present symptoms; while this same force which is created for the restoration of our organism is nevertheless so indefatigably and successfully active in completing the recovery even in severe acute diseases? What is there to prevent this?
The answer to this question, which is so natural, inevitably led me to the discovery of the nature of these chronic diseases.
To find out then the reason why all the medicines known to Homoeopathy failed to bring a real cure in the above-mentioned diseases, and to gain an insight more nearly correct and, if possible, quite correct, into the true nature of the thousands of chronic diseases which still remain uncured, despite the incontestable truth of the Homoeopathic Law of Cure, this very serious task has occupied me since the years 1816 and 1817, night and day; and behold! the Giver of all good things permitted me within this space of time to gradually solve this sublime problem through unremitting thought, indefatigable inquiry, faithful observation and the most accurate experiments made for the welfare of humanity.*
(*Yet I did not allow any of these unintermitted endeavors to become known either to the world or to my followers, not, indeed, because the ingratitude so frequently shown to me prevented me, for I heed neither ingratitude nor persecutions on my troublous path of life, which yet has not proved altogether joyless, because of the great goal toward which I have striven. No, I left it unmentioned because it is improper, yea, hurtful to speak or write of things still immature. Not until the year I827 did I communicate the essentials of the discovery to two of my pupils, who had been of the greatest service to the art of Homoeopathy, for their own benefit and that of their patients, so that the whole discovery might not be lost to the world if perchance a higher call to eternity had called me away before the completion of the book – an event not so very improbable in my seventy-third year.)
It was a continually repeated fact that the non-venereal chronic diseases, after being time and again removed homoeopathically by the remedies fully proved up to the present time, always returned in a more or less varied form and with new symptoms, or reappeared annually with an increase of complaints. This fact gave me the first clew that the Homoeopathic physician with such a chronic (non-venereal) case, yea in all cases of (non-venereal) chronic disease, has not only to combat the disease presented before his eyes, and must not view and treat it as if it were a well-defined disease, to be speedily and permanently destroyed and healed by ordinary homoeopathic remedies but that he has always to encounter only some separate fragment of a more deep-seated original disease.
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The great extent of this is shown in the new symptoms appearing from time to time; so that the Homoeopathic physician must not hope to permanently heal the separate manifestations of this kind in the presumption, hitherto entertained, that they are well-defined, separately existing diseases which can be healed permanently and completely. He, therefore, must first find out as far as possible the whole extent of all the accidents and symptoms belonging, to the unknown Primitive malady before he can hope to discover one or more medicines which may homoeopathically cover the whole of the original disease by means of its peculiar symptoms. By this method he may then be able victoriously to heal and wipe out the malady in its whole extent, consequently also its separate members; that is, all the fragments of a disease appearing in so many various forms.
But that the original malady sought for must be also of a miasmatic, chronic nature clearly appeared to me from this circumstance, that after it has once advanced and developed to a certain degree it can never be removed by the strength of any robust constitution, it can never be overcome by the most wholesome diet and order of life, nor will it die out of itself. But it is evermore aggravated, from year to year, through a transition into other and more serious symptoms,* even till the end of man’s life, like every other chronic, miasmatic sickness; e. g., the venereal bubo which has not been healed from within by mercury, its specific remedy, but has passed over into venereal disease. This latter, also never passes away of itself, but, even with the most correct mode of life and with the most robust bodily constitution, increases every year and unfolds evermore into new and worse symptoms, and this, also, to the end of man’s life.
(*Not unfrequently phthisis passes over into insanity; dried-up ulcers into dropsy or apoplexy; intermittent fever into asthma; affections of the abdomen into pains in the joints or paralysis; pains in the limbs into haemorrhage, etc., and it was not difficult to discover that the later must also have their foundation in the original malady and can only be a part of a far greater whole.)
I had come thus far in my investigations and observations with such non-venereal patients, when I discovered, even in the beginning, that the obstacle to the cure of many cases which seemed delusively like specific, well-defined diseases, and yet could not be cured in a Homoeopathic manner with the then proved medicines, seemed very often to lie in a former eruption of itch, which was not unfrequently confessed; and the beginning of all the subsequent sufferings usually dated from that time. So also with similar chronic patients who did not confess such an infection, or, what was probably more frequent, who had, from inattention, not perceived it,. or, at least, could not remember it. After a careful inquiry it usually turned out that little traces of it (small pustules of itch, herpes, etc.) had showed themselves with them from time to time, even if but rarely, as an indubitable sign of a former infection of this kind.
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These circumstances, in connection with the fact that innumerable observations of physicians,* and not infrequently my own experience, had shown that an eruption of itch suppressed by faulty practice or one which had disappeared from the skin through other means was evidently followed, in persons otherwise healthy, by the same or similar symptoms; these circumstances, I repeat, could leave no doubt in my mind as to the internal foe which I had to combat in my medical treatment of such cases.
(*So also, more lately, VON AUTENRIETH (in Tubitiger Blatter fur Naturwissenschaft and Arzneikunde, 2 vol., 2d part.))
Gradually I discovered more effective means against this original malady that caused so many complaints; against this malady which may be called by the general name of Psora; i. e., against the internal itch disease with or without its attendant eruption on the skin. It then became manifest to me, through the aid afforded when using these medicines in similar chronic diseases, in which the patient was unable to show a like cause, that also these cases in which the patient remembered no infection of this kind were of necessity caused by a Psora with which he had been infected, perhaps, even in his cradle, or in some other way that had escaped his memory; and this often received corroboration on a more careful inquiry with the parents or aged relatives.
Most painstaking observations as to the aid afforded by the anti-psoric remedies which were added in the first of these eleven years have taught me evermore, how frequently not only the moderate, but also the more severe and the most severe, chronic diseases are of this origin. This observation taught me that not only most of the many cutaneous eruptions which Willan distinguishes with such extreme care from one another, and which have received separate names, but also almost all adventitious formations, from the common wart on the finger up to the largest sarcomatous tumor, from the malformations of the finger-nails up to the swellings of the bones and the curvature of the spine, and many other softenings and deformities of the bones, both at an early and at a more advanced age, are caused by the Psora. So, also, frequent epistaxis, the accumulation of blood in the veins of the rectum and the anus, discharges of blood from the same (blind or flowing piles), haemoptysis, hematemesis, hematuria, and deficient as well as too frequent menstrual discharges, night-sweats of several years’ duration, parchment-like dryness of the skin, diarrhoea of many years, standing, as well as permanent constipation and difficult evacuation of the bowels, long-continued erratic pains, convulsions occurring repeatedly for a number of years, chronic ulcers and inflammations, sarcomatous enlargements and tumors, emaciation, excessive sensitiveness as well as deficiencies in the senses of seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting and feeling; excessive as well as extinguished sexual desire; diseases of the mind and of the soul, from imbecility up to ecstasy, from melancholy up to raging insanity; swoons and vertigo; the so-called diseases of the heart; abdominal complaints and all that is comprehended under hysteria and hypochondria – in short, thousands of tedious ailments of humanity called by pathology with various names, are, with few exceptions, true descendants of this many-formed Psora alone. I was thus instructed by my continued observations, comparisons and experiments in the last years, that the ailments and infirmities of body and soul which, in their manifest complaints, differ, so radically and which, with different patients, appear so very unlike (if they do not belong to the two venereal diseases, syphilis and sycosis), are but partial manifestations of the ancient miasma of leprosy and itch; i. e., merely descendants of one and the same vast original malady, the almost innumerable symptoms of which form but one whole and are to be regarded and to be medicinally treated as the parts of one and the same disease in the same way as in a great epidemic of typhus fever. Thus in the year 1813 one patient would be prostrated with only a few symptoms of this plague, a second patient showed only a few but different ailments, while a third, fourth, etc., would complain of still other ailments belonging to this epidemic disease, while they were, nevertheless, all sick with one and the same pestilential fever, and the entire and complete image of the typhus fever reigning at the time could Only be obtained by gathering together the symptoms of all, or at feast of many of these patients. Then the one or two remedies,* found to be Homoeopathic, healed the whole epidemy, and therefore showed themselves specifically helpful with every patient, though the one might be suffering from symptoms differing from those of others, and almost all seemed to be suffering from different diseases.
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(*In the typhus of 1813 bryonia and rhus toxicodendron were the specific remedies for all the patients.)
Just so, only upon a far larger scale, it is with the Psora, this fundamental disease of so many chronic maladies, each of which seems to be essentially different from the others, but really is not; as may readily be seen from the agreement of several symptoms common to them which appear as the disease runs its course, and also from their being healed through the same remedy.
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All chronic diseases of mankind, even those left to themselves, not aggravated by a perverted treatment, show, as said, such a constancy and perseverance, that as soon as they have developed and have not been thoroughly healed by the medical art, they evermore increase with the years, and during the whole of man’s lifetime; and they cannot be diminished by the strength belonging even to the most robust constitution. Still less can they be overcome and extinguished. Thus they never pass away of themselves, but increase and are aggravated even till death. They must therefore all have for their origin and foundation constant chronic miasms, whereby their parasitical existence in the human organism is enabled to continually rise and grow.
In Europe and also on the other continents so far as it is known, according to all investigations, only three chronic miasms are found, the diseases caused by which manifest themselves through local symptoms, and from which most, if not all, the chronic diseases originate; namely, first, SYPHILIS, which I have also called the venereal change disease; then sycosis, or the fig-wart disease, and finally the chronic disease which lies at the foundation of the eruption of itch; i. e., the PSORA; which I shall treat of first as the most important.
PSORA is that most ancient, most universal, most destructive, and yet most misapprehended chronic miasmatic disease which for many thousands of years has disfigured and tortured mankind, and which during the last centuries has become the mother of all the thousands of incredibly various (acute and) chronic (non-venereal) diseases, by which the whole civilized human race on the inhabited globe is being more and more afflicted.
PSORA is the oldest miasmatic chronic disease known to us. just as tedious as syphilis and sycosis, and therefore not to be extinguished before the last breath of the longest human life, unless it is thoroughly cured, since not even the most robust constitution is able to destroy and extinguish it by its own proper strength, Psora, or the Itch disease, is beside this the oldest and most hydra-headed of all the chronic miasmatic diseases.
(See Organon of the Healing Art, fifth edition, 1834, § 100 sq.)
In the many thousands of years during which it may have afflicted mankind, – for the most ancient history of the most ancient people does not reach to its origin, – it has so much increased in the extent of its pathological manifestations – an extent which may to some degree be explained by its increased development during such all inconceivable number of years in so many millions of organisms through which it has passed, – that its secondary symptoms are hardly to be numbered. And, if we except those diseases which have, been created by a perverse medical practice or by deleterious labors in quicksilver, lead, arsenic, etc., which appear in the common pathology under a hundred proper names as supposedly separate and well-defined diseases (and also those springing from syphilis and the still rarer ones springing from sycosis), all the remaining natural chronic diseases, whether with names or without them, find in PSORA their real origin, their only source.