The IHM present the Hahnemannian view in its lectures and seminars with references and commentary.
HAHNEMANN’S MIASM THEORY AND MIASM REMEDIES
by Peter Morrell
The theory of miasms originates in Hahnemann’s book The Chronic Diseases which was published in 1828, around the same time that he decided to fix 30c as the standard potency for all homoeopaths. He declared that the theory was the result of 12 years of the most painstaking work on difficult cases of a chronic character combined with his own historical research into the diseases of man.
The three miasms given in that work are held to be responsible for all disease of a chronic nature and to form the foundation or basis for all disease in general. This latter aspect was then to receive considerable amplification from Kent. Kent was also able to clearly identify those remedies that relate to each miasm.
Though now generally accepted by most homeopaths without question, at the time, the theory was generally greeted with disbelief and derision from all but the most devoted followers. This can be explained in part by the primitive nature of medical science at that time, which was not really very willing accommodate any theory for the origin of disease, least of all such a grand and all-embracing one.
The word miasm means a cloud or fog in the being. The theory suggests that if 100% of all disease is miasmatic, then 85% is due to the primary and atavistic miasm Hahnemann called Psora. The remaining 15% of all disease he held to be either syphilitic or sycotic, being derived from suppressed Syphilis or suppressed Gonorrhoea. Hahnemann unlike Kent later attached no moral dimension whatsoever to the sexual nature of the two latter miasms. Kent of course, emphasised this a great deal. Which is hardly surprising in the somewhat Puritanical atmosphere of nineteenth century small town America.
Taking them in reverse order, we can depict the main characteristic features of each miasm.
This miasm is held to be responsible for many sexual and urinary disorders, and affections of the joints and the mucous membranes. Also those conditions worsened by damp weather and by contact with the sea. Thus arthritis and rheumatism, asthma, catarrhs, bronchitis, cystitis and warts are all regarded as partly or mainly sycotic in character. The wart came to be seen as the underlying archetype of this miasm as it is also held to be responsible for all warty excrescences and growths. Chief remedies are Thuja, Lycopodium, Natrum sulph, Causticum, Kali sulph, Staphysagria, Calc and Sepia amongst many others.
This miasm is held to be responsible for many diseases of the nervous system, the blood and skeleton as well as a range of psychological disorders, including alcoholism, depression, suicidal impulses, insanity, loss of smell and taste, blindness, deafness and ulcerations. It is also associated with many heart conditions, some vesicular skin eruptions and diseases that have a definite nocturnal periodicity. Chief remedies are Arsenicum, Aurum, Mercury, Phosphorus and Lycopodium, Nitric acid, amongst many others.
The word Psora is derived from the Hebrew ‘Tsorat’ and Greek ‘Psora’ and means a groove or stigma. Hahnemann held that all non venereal chronic diseases are Psoric. That includes most diseases of a chronic nature, all skin diseases, most mental illness other than syphilitic ones, allergies, varicose veins, haemorrhoids, most dysfunctional diseases of organs and systems, etc.
He lists among others, catarrhs, asthma, pleurisy, haemoptysis, hydrocephalus, stomach ulcers, scrotal swelling, jaundice, swollen glands, cataract, diabetes, tuberculosis, epilepsy, fevers and suppressed urine as all being typically psoric manifestations. Plus, of course, the whole gamut of skin problems.
Chief Psoric remedies he suggests include Sulphur, Natrum mur, Calc carb, Arsen alb, Lycopodium, Phosphorus, Mezereum, Graphite, Causticum, Hepar sulph, Petroleum, Silica, Zinc and Psorinum amongst many others.
Hahnemann also claimed that Psora was the most ancient and insidious miasm, and that it was derived from skin eruptions of various types in the past, such as scabies (Itch), leprosy and psoriasis. These had been contracted by ancestors or in one’s own early childhood. The suppression of these conditions especially through the use of ointments he held to be the primary cause of Psora.
Kent, in his Lectures, then greatly enlarged upon the theory, proposing that Psora was the foundation of all other illness, without which mankind would be pure and healthy both in mind and body, as in the Garden of Eden. He thus regarded Psora as being equated with the ‘Fall of Man’ and with original sinfulness. He portrayed Psora in this highly moralistic light as also being the foundation of the sexual miasms that came later.
I think it is abundantly clear from these quotes that Kent took a very puritanical and moral line about the origins of disease within the human race and he apparently felt that Psora was equivalent to Original Sin or the Fall of Man.
Hahnemann also pointed out the origins of his theory and the remedies that he decided had the power to eradicate the symptoms of a particular miasm.
The lists of miasmic remedies that Kent gives on page 1406 of his Repertory are as follows:
SYPHILIS : Arg-m., Ars-i., ars-s-f., ars., asaf., Aur-m-n., Aur-m., Aur., bad., benz-ac., calc-i., calc-s., carb-an., carb-v., cinnb., clem., con., cor-r., crot-h., fl-ac., guai., hep., iod., kali-ar., kali-bi., kali-chl., Kali-i., Kali-s., lach., led., Merc-c., Merc-i-f., Merc-i-r., Merc., mez., Nit-ac., petr., ph-ac., phos., Phyt., sars., Sil., staph., Still., sul-i., sulph., Syph., thuj.
SYCOSIS : Agar., alum., alumn., anac., ant-c., ant-t., apis., aran., Arg-m., Arg-n., aster., aur-m., aur., bar-c., bry., calc., carb-an., carb-s., carb-v., caust., cham., cinnb., con., dulc., euphr., ferr., fl-ac., graph., hep., iod., kali-c., Kali-s., lach., lyc., mang., Med., merc., mez., Nat-s., Nit-ac., petr., phyt., puls., sabin., sars., sec., sel., Sep., sil., Staph., sulph., Thuj.
These are exactly the same as the lists given on p86 of Speight’s work on the miasms.
Hahnemann lists the following as Psoric remedies in the Chronic Diseases:
agar, alumina, ammon carb, ammon mur, anacardium, antimon crudum, arsen alb, aurum, aurum mur, bar carb, borax, calc carb, carbo an, carbo veg, caust, clem, colocynth, conium, cuprum, dig, dulc, euphorbium, graph, guaj, hepar, iodium, kali carb, lyc, mag carb, mag mur, manganum, mez, mur ac, nat carb, nat mur, nitric acid, nitrium, petroleum, phos, phos ac, platina, sars, sepia, silica, stannum, sulph, sulp ac, zincum.
To discover the true psoric remedies we must add together the remedies listed in the Repertory for a range of ‘psoric’ conditions. This means checking carefully all the symptoms and repertorising for all of them, gradually building up a master list of remedies that fit Psoric conditions. This exercise was highly recommended by Kent as a sure way of fixing in the mind the remedies of a particular miasm. It is also an excellent introduction to the miasms generally and is good for revision purposes. With computer programs like Radar and Cara this task become a lot easier than it was in Kent’s or Hahnemann’s day.
Taking some of Hahnemann’s list of psoric conditions given above we can find the corresponding remedies as follows:
Phthisis (Kent p879) : Acet-ac., Agar., ant-t., ars-i., ars., bar-m., brom., bufo., Calc-p., calc-s., Calc., carb-an., carb-s., carb-v., card-m., chlor., con., dros., dulc., elaps., ferr-i., ferr-p., fl-ac., graph., guai., Hep., hippoz., Iod., kali-ar., Kali-c., kali-n., kali-p., Kali-s., kreos., lac-d., lach., led., Lyc., med., merc., mill., myrt., nat-a., nat-m., nit-ac., ol-j., ox-ac., petr., ph-ac., Phos., plb., Psor., Puls., samb., sang., Senec., seneg., sep., Sil., Spong., Stann., still., sul-ac., Sulph., Ther., Tub., Zinc.
Hayfever (Kent p326) : Ail., All-c., ars-i., ars., arum-t., Arund., bad., brom., carb-v., cycl., dulc., euphr., gels., iod., kali-bi., kali-i., kali-p., lach., naja., Nat-m., nux-v., Psor., puls., ran-b., Sabad., sang., sil., Sin-n., stict., teucr., wye.
Diabetes (Kent p691) : Acet-ac., all-s., alumn., am-c., aml-n., arg-m., ars., benz-ac., Bov., calc-p., calc., camph., carb-ac., carb-v., chel., chin-a., chin., coff., colch., conv., cupr., cur., elaps., ferr-m., Helon., hep., iris., kali-chl., kali-n., kali-p., kreos., lac-d., lach., lact-ac., lec., lith., Lyc., lycps., lyss., mag-s., med., morph., mosch., nat-s., nit-ac., op., petr., Ph-ac., Phos., pic-ac., Plb., podo., rat., sal-ac., sec., sil., sul-ac., sulph., Tarent., Ter., thuj., Uran., zinc.
Varices lower limbs (Kent p1223) : Ambr., arg-n., Arn., ars., calc-f., calc-p., Calc., carb-s., Carb-v., card-m., caust., clem., crot-h., ferr-ar., ferr., Fl-ac., graph., Ham., hep., kali-ar., kreos., lac-c., lach., Lyc., Lycps., nat-m., plb., Puls., sabin., sars., sil., spig., sul-ac., sulph., thuj., vip., Zinc.
Eczema (Kent p1312) : Alum., am-c., am-m., anac., ant-c., arg-n., Ars-i., Ars., astac., aur-m., aur., Bar-m., bell., bor., brom., bry., calad., Calc-s., Calc., canth., carb-ac., carb-s., carb-v., caust., Cic., clem., cop., Crot-t., cycl., Dulc., fl-ac., Graph., Hep., hydr., iris., Jug-c., Jug-r., kali-ar., kali-bi., kali-c., kali-chl., kali-s., lach., Lappa-m., led., lith., lyc., merc., Mez., nat-m., nat-p., nat-s., nit-ac., Olnd., Petr., phos., phyt., Psor., ran-b., Rhus-t., rhus-v., sars., sep., sil., staph., Sul-i., Sulph., thuj., viol-t.
Psoriasis (Kent p1316) : Alum., am-c., ambr., Ars-i., ars., aur., bor., bry., bufo., calc-s., calc., canth., carb-ac., chin., clem., cor-r., cupr., dulc., iod., iris., kali-ar., kali-br., kali-c., kali-p., kali-s., led., lob., Lyc., mag-c., mang., merc-c., merc-i-r., merc., mez., nit-ac., nuph., petr., ph-ac., phos., Phyt., psor., puls., ran-b., rhus-t., sarr., sars., Sep., sil., sulph., tell., teucr., thuj.
Herpetic skin eruptions (Kent p1312) : Acet-ac., agar., alum., am-c., ambr., anac., anan., apis., ars-i., Ars., aster., aur., bar-c., bar-m., bell., berb., bor., Bov., bry., bufo., cadm., calad., Calc-s., Calc., caps., carb-an., Carb-s., carb-v., caust., chel., cic., cist., Clem., cocc., com., Con., crot-h., crot-t., cupr., cycl., dol., Dulc., Graph., grat., hell., hep., hyos., iod., iris., kali-ar., kali-c., kali-chl., kali-i., kali-n., kali-p., kali-s., kalm., kreos., lac-c., lach., led., Lyc., mag-c., mag-m., manc., mang., Merc., mez., mosch., mur-ac., nat-a., nat-c., Nat-m., nat-p., nat-s., nit-ac., nux-v., olnd., par., petr., ph-ac., phos., plb., psor., puls., ran-b., ran-s., Rhus-t., rob., rumx., ruta., sabad., sars., Sep., Sil., spig., spong., squil., stann., staph., sul-ac., Sulph., tarax., Tell., teucr., thuj., valer., viol-t., zinc.
The idea is then to compact this data down by deleting all those remedies that only occur once or twice and then totalling up all the scores until we get a master list of 40 or so highest scoring remedies. It is these that are the major Psoric remedies. In essence, this is the method Hahnemann himself used to establish both the miasms and their corresponding remedies.
Since the 1950’s it has been claimed that Tuberculosis and Cancer have developed into new miasms in their own right, most probably as offshoots of what Hahnemann termed the ‘Hydra headed Psora miasm’ (The Chronic Diseases, p14).
59 symptoms and major conditions were selected and repertorised using Kent’s Rep. The symptoms were as follows:
TB (p879), TB incipient (p879), TB pituitous (p879), scabies (p1318), pso riasis (p1316), dandruff (p114), hair loss (p120), leprosy (p1314), cancer (p1346), cancer lupus (p1346), leukaemia (p1370), diabetes (p691), cataract (p236), blindness (p281), long sightedness (p280), short sightedness (p283), lack of reaction (p1397), takes cold easily (p1349), swollen neck glands (p474), indurated glands neck (p472), swollen tonsils (p469), swollen axillary glands (p880 1), buboes (p541), goitre (pp471), tooth decay (p431), deafness (p323), insanity (p56), asthma (p763), liver (p563), haemorrhoids (p619), itching anus (p622), offensive stools (p640), varicosities (p1223), numbness (limbs p1035), chilblains (p955), sweaty feet (p1183), offensive foot sweats (p1183), halitosis (p409), nasal crusts (p330), perianal moisture (p623), hayfever (p326), foul flatus (p618), cracking joints (p970), worms (p634), ulcers on legs (p1231), ringworm, Haemoptysis (p813), Hydrocephalus (p128), Stomach ulcers (p531), Scrotal swelling (p712), Jaundice (p1307), Dysuria (p656), Eczema (p1312), Psoriasis (p1316), Herpetic skin eruptions (p1312), Crusty skin eruptions (p1310), pleurisy (p836), epilepsy, swollen inguinal glands (p603),
These symptoms were chosen as they are in the list given by Hahnemann as of ‘latent psora’ or they are major diseases of modern life, which I have assumed to be predominantly more psoric than syph or sycotic. I have assumed, like Hahnemann, that they are derived from suppressed scabies, leprosy or plague. They are disorders mentioned in Hahnemann’s Chronic Diseases as often being the products of suppressed itch, or they are skin disorders in their own right. To an extent one major justification for choosing these symptoms is that they have all increased during for choosing these symptoms is that they have all increased during this century, which many take to be a confirmation of the Psora doctrine. The symptoms come from Chronic Diseases pp52 77 and include the expanded list he gives plus those listed by Juncker. Also included are those symptoms as major past or present diseases. All of these are assumed to be broadly psoric in accordance with Hahnemann’s descriptions of the miasm.
If the symptoms used in this analysis are truly psoric; if Kent’s Repertory is generally accurate; if the scoring system adopted here is OK; and if Hahnemann’s list, expanded list, the assertions of Juncker and my own observations regarding Psorinum and conditions are all correct then the following remedies cannot be seriously considered as being truly Psoric remedies.
These are Am m, anac, ant t, arg m, aur m, borax, bovista, bromium, camphor, cantharis, carb ac, cistus, clematis, occculus, colchicum, colocynthis, crot h, digitalis, euphorbium, ferrum, ferr phos, guaj, kali chlor, kali nit, ledum, mag carb, mag mur, manganum, merc c, mur ac, nat ars, nat phos, platina, podophy, sang, sarsap, secale, selenium, spigelia, spongia, tarantula, veratrum. They are important remedies but they are not truly psoric.
This exercise now reduces Hahnemann’s original list of 47 antipsorics to 32. It is possible that Hahnemann based his list of 47 on what he knew about them at that time. He simply fitted maybe? the symptoms of latent psora to those remedies he had proved at that time. The result was his list of 47.
I believe the claims made above are correct and that the remedies listed are not antipsorics. If a remedy is incapable of scoring more than 22 points out of a maximum of 120, then it cannot seriously be considered to cover that range and depth of major human diseases and is thus NOT a very profound remedy. And to be considered psoric a remedy must be profound. It must cover the major diseases of humanity as well as the symptoms of latent psora.
The preliminary results of repertorisation can be given as follows:
agar, alum, anac, ant c, ant t, apis, arg m, ars, ars i, ambr, aur, bar c, bar m, bov, brom, bry, bufo, CALC, calc p, calc s, canth, carb ac, carb an, carb s, carb v, caust, cham, chel, chin, cist, cocc, colch, con, crot h, cupr, dulc, fl ac, graph, hep, iod, kali ar, kali ci, kali carb, kali i, kali p, kali s, kreos, LACH, led, LYC, mag c, mag m, med, merc, merc c, mez, nat ar, nat c, nat m, nat p, nat s, nit ac, nux, petr, ph ac, PHOS, phyt, plat, plmb, podoph, psor, Puls, sang, sec, sep, SIL, spig, spong, stann, staph, SULPH, sul ac, tarent, thuja, tub, verat a, zinc.
However, this is not the full results for the entire run. It just indicates the main thrust. There are many remedies here that fail to match up in range or depth to our expectations of a truly psoric remedy.
An alternative method using the page-length entry of the entry of each remedy in Hahnemann gives the following:
agar, alumina, am c, anac, ant c, ARS, aur, aur m, bar c, CALC, carb an, CARB V, caust, con, cupr, dulc, graph, hep, iod, KALI C, LYC, mag c, mag m, mez, nat c, nat m, NIT AC, petr, PHOS, ph ac, plat, SEP, SIL, stann, SUL, sul ac, zinc
Two other problem about miasms relate to a) where the miasms are stored and what they actually are and b) to how the miasms can be used in practice. On the first point it may be that the miasms are archetypes in the unconscious mind, or it may be that they are stored in the DNA or some other large molecule within the organism. These are just possibilities. Many would say ‘what does it matter?’
On the point about the use of miasms in treatment, many people routinely give the corresponding nosode. For example to a child born with syphilitic skin vesicles, they might give Syphilinum rather than the simillimum say Merc. This would tend to be seen as an inappropriate use of the miasm concept, as the simillimum is what the patient needs, not the nosode. The routine use of Psorinum, Medorrhinum and Syphilinum is in general frowned upon because it is the simillimum that the patient needs and that will cure. Certainly the nosodes can do good work, but it should be used when it be comes the simillimum not just routinely.
The miasm theory presents at least two main problems. The first is whether it is real or not and the second is how it has been variously interpreted in homoeopathy and how it continues to be interpreted in the clinical situation and for guiding and interpreting the unfolding of symptoms in a case receiv ing treatment. Clearly, if all chronic disease is miasmatic then surely all curative remedies must be miasmatic remedies. Thus Nux vom, Aconite, Bella donna and Rhus tox, etc cannot cure any chronic disorders. So what if they do cure such conditions? Does this prove the theory wrong or are they bigger remedies than people thought?
Another problem is whether all the so called ‘miasmatic remedies’ are really as important as they appear to be. How many people actually use Manganum, Iris, Am c, Am m, etc. Do such cases ever crop up in regular practice? If so, only very rarely. If they don’t correspond to many persons then why are they classed as Psoric? Could it not be that they are more likely ‘lesser remedies’ that ape some of the features of true psorics?
Maybe modern homoeopaths should more seriously question its validity. Though we do not have space here to discuss this in any great depth, the theory does present these two problems and all I can do here is to outline their nature.
The miasms doctrine has also become unfortunately and perhaps unnecessarily tangled up both with Hering’s Law and with Kentian metaphysics. Both of which are suspect on a number of grounds relating directly to actual practice. Hering’s Law claims that symptoms get better under treatment in the reverse order of their appearance, from top downwards and from centre to circumference. Is this true? Under the influence of deep constitutional ie miasmatic remedies the law should be confirmed in this way. What l ie miasmatic remedies the law should be confirmed in this way. What if it isn’t? Does that mean that the case is not cured or that the law is inaccurate? If the cure does not proceed in this way is it a true cure or merely a suppression? Is the remedy the true simillimum? Questions of this kind can lead straight into a wilderness of thorns and brambles where everything seems uncertain and painful!
Finally, on Kentian grounds the miasms and their remedies are regarded as ‘high homoeopathy’, the ultimate and only true homoeopathy, acting in that hallowed and rarefied realm of disease causation. This somewhat snooty view of homoeopathy has been questioned before. Is it a real claimant of the high ground or a pretender? Again, many years of observant practice are required to answer this question for yourself.
Danciger, Elizabeth, 1993, Letter re Vital Force, The Homeoopath, 50, pp.92-4
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Morrell, Peter, 1984, Homoeopathic Health Revolution, The Homoeopath 4:3, London
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