Concerning the Trends and Patterns of Disease
American Journal of Homeopathic Medicine
Vol. 98 No. 4 Winter 2005 pg. 255-258
One of the great controversies of 20th century physics concerns the nature of light. There is evidence that the basic unit of light is the photon, a discrete packet of light. There is equally good evidence which suggests that the basic unit of light is a wave, a continuum. There is also a classic experiment which suggests both are true.
The Double Slit Experiment is one of the paradoxes of Quantum Physics.(1) In this experiment, a series of single units of light is emitted toward a light sensitive register/target. To reach this target the light must first pass through a barrier which contains 2 slits, each only slightly larger than the unit of light. If the light is allowed to pass through the barrier unimpeded, it will register on the target as a series of resonance and interference patterns. This suggests that light is actually a wave which has passed through both slits.
The second aspect of this experiment involves installing a sensor at one of the slits to determine which slit each single light unit passes through. When one of the slits is monitored, the resulting pattern on the target is a series of randomly placed dots. This suggests the basic unit of light is a discrete packet.
This experiment seems to suggest the actual configuration of the light unit is dependent on the method of observation. In other words, light is both a discrete packet and a wave. The design of the experiment determines which becomes reality for that experiment.
You may be asking yourself what, if anything, this has to do with Homeopathy. We hope to explain and to introduce a different way of conceptualizing chronic disease based on the principles of the double slit experiment.
Current science tends to function in the paradigm of Reductionism. In applying the Reductionist mind set to medicine, we study smaller and smaller units and know more of the diagnosis, event, organ, tissue, etc, but less of the organism as a whole. In medicine, this has translated into increasing specialization, with each specialist learning more and more about smaller and smaller units of the body. This tendency has placed disease into discrete diagnoses, into the category of discrete particles or events. We have learned more and more about the event and have appreciated less and less the continuum of disease in the patient.
The double slit experiment suggests there is another way of viewing reality. If Reductionist science has monitored the event and relegated disease to a discrete “particle” (the diagnosis), what happens when the event is not viewed as discrete? This opens the field to a more Holistic paradigm. In the Holistic realm, disease may be viewed more as a continuum or trend than as an event. In other words, Holism views the wave aspect of disease and appreciates the trends of disease over the discrete diagnosis.
Which view of disease is more correct – the event or the continuum? Quantum physics seems to suggest both are true, each dependent on the design of the observer (in this case, the doctor).
What would happen if disease were viewed as a continuum rather than an event? What if the concept of disease were transformed from the discrete diagnosis into the trends and patterns of symptoms produced by the patient?
In allopathic medicine, the diagnosis is the “Holy Grail”. Medical schools teach that we cannot treat until we have a diagnosis. (2) In this paradigm, the common symptoms are collected and categorized until the doctor sees the diagnosis of the “disease” which is causing the symptoms. At this point, the disease (as opposed to the patient) can be treated.
Contrast this with the Holistic medicine of Hahnemann – Homeopathy. In Homeopathy we treat the patient, not the diagnosis. In this paradigm, the symptom takes on a much different significance. Rather than confining us to a diagnosis, the symptom frees us to see and treat the individual nature of the patient.
In Homeopathy, the symptom is transformed from the “disease” of allopathic medicine into the language of the body. (2) This language tells of the imbalance of the vital force and of the medicine needed to restore harmony and balance. (3) It tells us much more of the true nature of our patient than does their discrete diagnosis.
Using the symptom as the language of the body, we can more fully assess the vitality of the patient by looking at the trends of symptoms in the body – where the body has put its symptoms, the type of symptoms it has made, and how the symptoms have changed and developed with time.
It is from the clinical observation of patients both during the natural or iatrogenic progression of chronic disease and during the course of curative reactions that Homeopaths have come to appreciate the triage of the Vital Force and the trends of disease in the body, using symptoms as the markers of the vitality of the patient.
James Tyler Kent tells us that disease progresses from the outside inward, from the areas of least importance to the areas of greatest importance. (2) From clinical practice, we also see symptoms changing from superficial or sensorial to deeper or gross pathology symptoms with the progression of chronic disease. By using these two views of the symptom we can, in effect, form a three dimensional picture of the vitality of our patient.
In the first view, we look at where the body has placed its symptoms, knowing that the body will always make symptoms in areas of least importance to the long term well-being of itself. (3)
Clinical practice has shown us that the body will make surface level symptoms, if it has the opportunity and the ability. This means that the earliest symptoms seen in a relatively vital patient are on the surface of the skin – our outermost covering. Included at this level are also outer ear symptoms and outer eye symptoms.
If these symptoms are disallowed, either through non-curative manipulations or through the progression of chronic disease, the next most superficial area is the alimentary canal. Granted the GI tract runs through the center of the body, but, as it is an organ of excretion which is open at each end, it is the next most superficial organ or system. Following this logic, we can easily picture the body as a hollow cylinder with the skin on the outside, the GI tract through the middle and the other systems contained in the wall of the cylinder.
In the GI tract, symptoms begin toward the exterior and progress inward (oral cavity or rectum toward stomach/small intestines). Symptoms also move from the lumen into the wall of the intestine (mucousa to interstitium) if their progression is local rather than systemic.
As health further deteriorates or as the symptom is manipulated in a non-curative manner and the expression of the symptoms of chronic disease in the alimentary canal is disallowed, we begin to see symptoms in the other organs of excretion – respiratory and urogenital.
As in the GI tract, symptoms in these systems progress from outward in. In the respiratory system this progression is seen from nasal to sinus to larynx/pharynx to trachea to bronchi to deeper lung involvement. A similar progression or deepening is noted in the urogenital system as the disease process matures.
As this completes the organ systems which are exterior and/or vent to the outside, the next step in the progression of chronic disease is to the organ systems which are interior and are not directly vented – other abdominal organs (liver, pancreas, gall bladder, etc), deep musculoskeletal (muscles and joints), endocrine, cardiovascular and central nervous system. These organ systems are more and more critical to the long term survivability of the patient.
Finally the psyche (the true essence of the being) is affected as the body enters a state of chaos. This is displayed by the truly pathologic manifestations of dementia, psychosis, schizophrenia, etc.
If we step away from location of symptoms to type of symptom, we find a second and complementary way of categorizing symptoms. Just as we see a progression of the symptom from superficial to deep in location, so we see the progression from sensorial to pathological in the type of symptom made. (3)
The first type of symptom which manifests is the sensorial symptoms – the patient does not feel right, but all physical and physiological parameters are normal. The patient knows something is not right but does not manifest any diagnosable symptoms.
Sensation gives way to function. The patient does not feel well and they are doing something – itching, vomiting, diarrhea, etc. Still at this point, there are not changes in lab values but there are changes in function of some system(s) to accompany the sensation that all is not well.
Finally, as the chronic disease progresses, the patient begins to make physical symptoms – changes which are measurable and diagnosable. At this stage there will be changes in cell type, chemical parameters, temperature, etc., but the integrity of the tissues remains intact. This is the first stage which is actually quantifiable so the symptom can be measured, named, and, perhaps, relegated to a conventional diagnosis.
From physical symptoms, the patient degenerates into pathology so that we get changes in the internal structure of the organ/system. This is truly advanced chronic disease and is the first level where allopathic medicine consistently begins to treat because there can now be a verifiable diagnosis.
Following the development of symptoms of pathology, we find gross pathology, end stage pathology/organ failure, multisystem failures, and cancer as the body becomes more and more chaotic.
By combining these two schemes we can more easily stage the vitality of our patient and can more intelligently prognosticate.
This scheme holds true for “chronic disease” as defined in Homeopathy – the true innate imbalances and deficiencies in the health of the patient – but not necessarily for “acute disease” as defined in Homeopathy – those maladies which are external in origin such as trauma and poisonings.
Not every patient with chronic disease is going to show every level of every symptom in every system. Some are born too sick to ever show surface level symptoms. Others may be so easily manipulated that they skip systems. However, the observed trends in populations follow this general progression.
The speed at which the symptoms progress/deteriorate is determined both by the vitality of the patient and the degree of non-curative medical intervention (palliation or suppression).
Perhaps more exciting than watching the progression of chronic disease is watching the progression of cure. This observations validates the above trends because the symptoms are removed in the reverse order of the progression of disease as predicted by Hering’s Law. (3)
It is by watching the changes in the symptom picture during a curative reaction that the Homeopath can make predictions about the course symptoms will take during cure. This also helps the physician to remain focused on the continuum of disease and to be less willing to treat each set of symptoms as a separate “disease”. If the progression of symptoms can be consistently predicted, then the doctor and patient will be more likely to remain true to the tenants of Homeopathy as the symptom picture is changing.
Also in the larger picture, we can use these trends of disease to stage the overall health and vitality in a breed/species/population. Just as symptoms move from outward in and from sensory to gross pathology in the individual, so do they move in the trends of a population. Thus, as we can use the genus epidemicus to prescribe for a population in an epidemic by viewing the population as a single unit, we can gauge the vitality and general health of a population by observing the movement of common symptoms over time.
And, as with the individual, we can watch the trends of the symptoms in a population as they are being treated curatively (individually and collectively) and see Hering’s Law in action as the symptoms common to the population move from deep to superficial.
As veterinary Homeopaths we have the distinct advantage of seeing several generations of our patients in a relatively short period of time. In the veterinary field we can see 3-4 generations in
10 years or less in many species. This provides the double edged sword of rapid intergenerational change. We can see our patient populations degenerate relatively quickly as compared to the human population, but we can also see the population improve relatively quickly as compared to the human population.
A good example of this is the Golden Retriever breed. We are not picking on the goldies but, as a breed, they are an excellent case study. Several years ago Golden Retrievers were the ultimate family dog and were especially good for families with children because their disposition was so solid. They were also a breed known for their allergic tendencies – itching, hot spots, chronic otitis. The allergies were pervasive but superficial. Over time the coat/skin quality of the breed improved – especially after hypothyroidism became widely diagnosed in the breed and thyroid supplements became nearly mandatory for goldies. Concurrently, we began to see more and more hip dysplasia problems. The trend of disease has moved from superficial to internal.
These changes were followed by an increase in the prevalence of degenerative conditions deep in the eye, heart problems, and epilepsy – and with a decrease in the itchy dog syndrome.
Today the state of the Golden Retriever breed is a collection of dogs with nice coats; heavy medications for thyroid, heart, and seizure symptoms; who are increasingly hyperactive and aggressive.
There are individual exceptions to this scenario but the overall trend of disease progression in this breed nicely demonstrates the progression of disease from superficial to deep and serious.
On the other hand, careful Homeopathic prescribing in kennel and breeding situations has shown us that this trend is reversible within 3-4 generations, if the breeder is brave enough to endure the visible, superficial problems for a short period of time.
This progression of disease can be seen in any breed, species, or population, if we view symptoms over time. The hope is that the same reversal described above can be seen with homeopathic prescribing in the breeding population (of any species).
It is by shifting our view of disease from the event to the continuum, from the allopathic perspective of discrete and separate diagnosis to the Homeopathic perspective of Hering’s Law, that we can change the emphasis of our medical care system.
In allopathic medicine, the majority of the health care dollars are spent in the last few
days/weeks of life in heroic efforts to forestall the ravages of old age. There is an overwhelming
amount of time, energy, and resources dedicated to prolonging absolute life (at times artificially prolonging life) often at the expense of the absolute quality of life. This is necessary because there is no appreciation for the trends of disease and the deepening continuum of symptoms over time. The view is that the body should “wear out”, that these old age degenerations are a normal part of living.
From the Homeopathic perspective, with the appreciation for the trends and patterns of disease, we can see that these old age degenerations are not normal, just common. We can see that they are the end result of a deepening of unrequited chronic disease. We can see that a more rational approach than the end-of-life heroics of the allopaths is the appreciation of the trends of disease and the necessity to treat the patient curatively, early, and before pathology manifests. This approach has the dual benefits of reducing the expenditure of health care resources at the termination of life and allowing the patient to live out the fullness of their years without the confining debilities of “old age” changes.
This is the true benefit derived from applying the principles of the double slit experiment to modern medicine.
1. Adson, J. “The Double Slit Experiment: A Classic Example of Quantum Weirdness”
2. Kent, J. Lectures on Homeopathic Philosophy. New Delhi:B.Jain Publishers, LTD. 2002.
3. Hahnemann, S. Organon of the Medical Art. Palo Alto, CA:Birdcage Books 2001.
Abstract: The allopathic view of disease as a static diagnosis is only one way to conceptualize disease. The holistic view of disease as the trends and patterns of symptoms in the patient is a complementary conceptualization which has the capability to change our medical approach to patient health care.
Glen Dupree, DVM