One way to identify homoeopathy that has moved away from real homoeopathy is through the increasing use of treatment protocols. Patients often say they were told to take a remedy three times a day for four weeks, or that they were given a series of remedies to take over a period of time according to treatment protocols of taking several times a day. Typical in this form of prescribing is the absence of follow-up with the homoeopath during the protocol period, which means that changes in the patient’s state will go unnoted by the homoeopath until the next follow-up. A further aspect of this form of prescribing is that it is often therapeutic in nature – a series of remedies given for the treatment of cancer, for example, which do not necessarily correspond to the patient’s state, or more specifically, to the changes in the patient’s state during treatment.
Where the disease is acute and the pathology has been thoroughly investigated and is known to be common to all sufferers, a case may be made for this kind of prescribing. Boenninghausen utilized it in his treatment of croup (as described in “My Treatment of Membranous Croup” in his “Lesser Writings”). He could do so, due to his exact knowledge of the stages croup went through in its progress towards cure or worsening, and his virtually unparalleled knowledge of the curative powers of remedies. However, today it is utilized in a “one-size-fits-all” mode, without that in-depth knowledge of pathology, passed on from one “teacher” to another without sufficient questioning, and most importantly – without judging the practice against the central law on which homoeopathy stands and fails: Does this form of prescribing follow the Law of Similars?
Since, apart from lip service at initial stages of study, the Law of Similars is not taught as the linchpin it is in practice, many newly hatched “homoeopaths” begin practice with very limited certainty. Analysis of cases is based around seeing what words reoccur most frequently in the case-taking (which itself is poorly taught), references to miasms that are complex and often extremely creative, with the choice of remedy often stemming from dreams the patient had, how the patient’s face looks bird-like etc. In this stew where no ingredient is clear, treatment protocols beckon seductively, offering false promises of security and certainty. The patients like them too, as the protocols are reminiscent of the way medicines are prescribed in allopathic treatment. Occasionally there are results (which are accidental at best), often there is the gratification and false security in the knowledge that this protocol was taught by a world famous teacher. Sadly one of the skills students learn these days is how to convince themselves and their patients that a case is moving forward even if there is no real objective improvement. This skill is very useful in protocol-prescribing.
Security and certainty in prescribing is not unobtainable. As long as analysis and prescription are constantly judged according to the Law of Similars, as long as the remedy prescribed is known through provings to be able to produce symptoms similar to the disease, it will act towards curing the patient’s condition. It may not complete the case, but “will advance it considerably on the way to be cured. And thus we go on…examining again and again the morbid state that still remains, and selecting a homoeopathic medicine as suitable as possible for it…” (Aphorism 168).
In order to honestly assess the case, to reach the sense of certainty in prescribing that comes with virtuoso dedication and skill, it is necessary to question teachers regarding protocols, and to throw away the crutch of protocol prescribing. And any teacher who replies to the questioning student “I use it and it works, and I have X years of experience..” is most definitely, in my opinion, not worth his/her hire.
The only true basis for prescribing, for a real homoeopath, will always be the basic unchanging Law of Similars. And when prescribing based on an unchanging law of nature, with solid understanding of pathology and of the curative powers of remedies as shown through provings (as long as there are no maintaining causes or obstacles to cure), results are as inevitable as the descent of Newton’s apple.