21 October 2005

What is a Wesen?

A word Hahnemann uses a lot, which I'd never heard before, is the word "wesen." No English word completely captures the meaning of this word. The word represents the dynamic, as opposed to the material, aspect of a thing; these aspects are not actually seperable, but can be viewed as seperate entities for the sake of discussion. Additionally, the "wesen" of something is characteristic and essential to that thing. As a dynamic thing, it perpetuates itself.

According to Hahnemann, human beings, medicines and diseases all have "wesens". He refers to these "wesens" in the first 34 aphorisms of the Organon. The "wesen" of a human being is what "enlivens" the material aspect of the person, giving it the ability to sense what is outside it, to be active, and to preserve itself. The "wesen" of a disease, is the "suffering of the life force", which is reflected in the totality of symptoms exhibited by the patient. The "wesen" of a medicine is its "spirit-like power to alter the human condition and cure diseases"; each medicine's unique "wesen" is only perceptable by the symptom pattern it causes in a healthy individual. O'Reilly points out that, "the life force, diseases, and medicines are all operating in the same dynamic dimension."

18 October 2005

The Organon: 291 Aphorism's of Samuel Hahnemann

I am reading the "bible" of homeopathy, "Organon of the medical art" by Samuel Hahnemann. It consists of a series of 291 Aphorisms. Like Jews read the Torah once through every year, it is suggested that homeopaths read this "bible" once a year.

I'll outline the aphorisms below (at least the ones I'm supposed to read for the month of October):

1. The physician's only job is to make the sick healthy.
2. A cure should be rapid, gentle, and permanent.
3. To cure, the physician must understand the disease, understand the medicine, select the right medicine and give it properly and remove obstacles to recovery.
4. The physician must know what disturbs health and maintains disease and be able to remove them from healthy people.
5. The physician should attempt to discern the "occasion" of an acute disease and the most significant factors of a chronic disease, taking into account constitution, character, occupation, lifestyle, relationships, age, activities. "The fundamental cause of a protracted wasting sickness mostly rests upon a chronic miasm"
6. The disease is represented by perceptible signs.
7. The totality of symptoms = the outwardly reflected image of the inner wesen of the disease=the suffering of the life force; this points to the medicine
8. When the totality of sx is removed, health remains (disease is not a material thing; it is a disturbance of the life force.
9. In health, a spirit-like life force "enlivens" an individual; the rational spirit is free to use the self as an instrument to achieve higher purpose of existence
10. The material organism can't do anything without the "immaterial wesen" or life force
11. Illness results from "mistuning" of the life force (through a "morbific agent inimical to life", leading to irregular functioning and symptoms
12. When illness is cured, the "integrity" of the life force is restored and the symptoms disappear
13. Disease is NOT an "inwardly hidden wesen separate from the living whole"
14. Everything that is "curably diseased" expresses perceptible symptoms
15. The material organism + life force = the unity of the individual; these are inseperable but we separate them conceptually for purposes of discussion.
16. Only the spirit-like can affect the spirit-like life force to cause disease, and only spirit-like medicines can be used to cure it.
17. Curative medicines will take away the entire symptom complex of disease (ie the totality of the disease or the disease itself since not separable); the only goal of the physician is to do this.
18. The totality of disease is the only indicator of the choice of remedy.
19. Medicines work by "differently tuning" the human condition.
20. The "hidden spirit-like power in the inner wesen of medicines" is only discernable through its manifestations while "impinging on the human condition"
21. The only knowledge we can obtain about medicines is through the ways in which they "differently tune" a healthy person; this "disease-engendering power" = the "disease-curing power" of each medicine.
22. Medicines cure by causing an "artificial disease state" which "lifts and eradicates" the symptoms already present and should be chosen based on the totality of sx present in the patient.
23. If a medicine causing symtoms "opposite" to the disease symptoms are used, this may cause short-acting palliation, but not permanent cure ("antipathic, enantiopathic, or palliative method")
24. Only the homeopathic method is promising against disease.
25. Medicines cure those diseases whose symptoms resemble their own.
26. homeopathic natural law: "In the living organism, a weaker dynamic affection is permanently extinguished by a stronger on, if the stronger one is very similar to the weaker one in its manifestations"
27. Medicines should therefore have similar symptoms but stronger power than disease.
28. This can and has been shown empirically; it does not matter how it works.
29. The mechanism is as follows: 1) disease mistunes life force 2) homeopathic cure "seizes" life force 3) stronger medicine extinguishes weaker disease and life-force is "occupied soley" by artifical "disease-affection" 4) the artificial "disease-affection" plays itself out, the patient is "free and recuperated", and can continue life in health
30. The body allows itself to be more "effectively altered in its tuning" by medcines than by natural disease irritants, partly because the dose adjustment is controlled by the physician
31. Diseases do not have "absolute power" to "morbidly mistune" the human condition; the organism must be "exactly and sufficiently disposed and laid open to be assailed by the cause of disease that is present"
32. Medicines (ie--"artificial disease potencies") do have absolute power; peculiar sx will be distinctly conspicuous if the dose is large enough
33. 31 and 32 above have been shown by experience.
34. For a medicine to work it must be 1) given in the correct dose and 2) must be "capable of causing an articicial disease similar as possible to the disease to be cured"

17 October 2005


While I was in medical school, I heard the following quote about the speciality of internal medicine, "we don't get anyone better, but we have a lot of fun." As a general internist, I’ve found that the first part of this statement has a ring of truth to it. My medical training has been valuable in terms of offering me skills in interviewing patients, examining them, and working them up with diagnostic testing, but if I really want to get anyone better, I'm on my own.

Quite honestly, most of my successes in practice have come through the use of targeted nutrition and exercise interventions. Arguably, these should be part of the toolbox of any doctor but most often are not. I’ve found that these things have enabled me to do good, but I’ve often been frustrated by patients with crippling physical or emotional symptoms, who don't seem to fit into any diagnostic pattern I can identify. With these folks, I've tried the lifestyle approaches without any success and have referred to multiple specialists without reaching any definitive diagnosis or any useful therapy. In studying homeopathy, I’m looking for an effective approach to these “difficult” patients.