Homeopathic Remedies in relation to the three Doshas of Ayurveda,
Does anyone remember the English Homeopath and Teacher, John Damonte?
He developed a fairly sophisticated 4-Element Map to highlight patterns in the imbalances he observed in patients. Misha Norland, another famous English Homeopath took this further in his book ”The Four Elements in Homeopathy”.
I would like to introduce some of the more obvious and easily identified ’elemental’ characteristics of one or two substances found in the Periodic Table and then move on to describe how they are used in Ayurvdea.
So, following in the footsteps of John Damonte and Misha Norland lets see if we can identify some of the elemental characteristics of Aur-met. Look at the list of rubrics ... does anything there intuitively suggest the dominance of any particular element? Aur-met. prides himself on his sense of responsibility so what about the rubric, 'anger from contradiction'? Getting 'Hot under the collar' is an expression that brings to mind the fiery nature of anger. So Aur-met. has plenty of 'fire'!
On the opposite pole, Aur-met. can feel crushed and useless, “As if he has failed” and life is no longer worth living. Where has all his fire gone now? Making an intuitive leap we could say his fire has been 'put out' ... which suggests the water element has some role in the picture of Aur-met.'s pathology. We do naturally associate the water element with emotions(with grief ... when we cry we 'melt into tears').
So, fire and water play a part in Aur-met. pathology. Does the air element? We often associate the air element with thoughts - cold reason and subtle discrimination, both could be said to have cutting associations - cutting, like a cold wind. Aur-met. is full of self-reproach - which is virtually an act of cutting oneself.
The 3 main elements are out of balance in the Aur-met. patient. These are counteracted by the remedy if its is given in the right potency because these elements are present in the remedy in similar proportions.
What a fascinating way to describe the characteristics and action of a Homeopathic Remedy!
The proving symptoms of Tungsten (below) show how changes the balance of the doshas due to the remedy affect the mood and perception of the provers. This study provides a remarkable insight into the proving experience.
Doshas rebalanced by Tungsten
The language they use gives us an exceptionally clear idea of how each dosha influences perception of the situation.
Pitta decreases markedly, and as Vata increases there's a feeling of detachment or spaciness, which is a very typical vata expression.
Dreamy calmness is typical of Kapha increase.
Historically, these elemental concepts gave rise to the historical idea of 'Hippocratic Temperaments'. Similar use is made of the element concept in Acupuncture and Ayurveda. Each system has its own inner coherence and beauty - and we can learn from them all, but a sometimes a little confusion can arise when making cross-cultural comparisons.
The Choleric temperament is traditionally associated with heat and the fire element (Pitta dosha).
The Phlegmatic temperament is associated with moisture and water (Kapha dosha).
The Melancholc temperament is associated with air and space (Vata dosha).
These elements can be mixed together in various ways, according to different schools of thought - in Ayurveda the 4th traditional element, earth, is not studied alone - it only found mixed together with water to enhance the description of Kapha... to give the muddy and sticky image of the mucous produced in Kali-bi conditions!
Doshas after proving - Kapha (phlegmatic type).
Do these correspondences conform to our expectations? Vata is characterised by air qualities such as worry, fear and coldness. Are these experiences confined to
The table below shows some of the main characteristics of the three Doshas with examples of remedies which markedly exhibit these attributes.
the naturally occurring gaseous elements like Oxygen, Nitrogen? Does Pitta manifest in the hot elements? Kapha in cold, static elements?
r. Lung, (Vata) the wind element is an aspect of the breath and it is closely associated with the nervous system. Normally, vata produces enthusiasm and creativity.
Its balance is easiliy disturbed by desire and attachment. Concern with external factors, like the wind disturbing the treetops, produce excessive mental activity, which manifests itself as troubled, erratic thinking, capricious moods, excited loquacity and active dreams. This kind of stress, causes hurried, impatient, busy and often obsessional minds. As a result of being a bit impulsive and scatter-brained their finances can end up in a mess.
Elemental Properties and Modalities :
Light, mobile and quick. Coarse, rough, hard and piercing. These sensations are exemplified by the pains of arthritis. Its roughness can be seen in the hair and fingernails. It is dry and absorbant like the spongy tissues of the lungs.
We can easily find many examples of r. Lung symptoms which reflect these properties in the repertory and produce an analysis which gives a list the remedies of this type, (square brackets indicate
B. Bhattacharya's analysis of each one).
Mind; activity; general; hyper active. impatience: impulsive.
Repertorisation Hyos. [V5,P5] Stram. [V5,K5] Ign. [V5,P5] Bell. [V5,K5] Camph. [V5,K5,P5] Staph. [V5,k5] Op. [V5,P5] Arn. [V5,K5] Anac. [V5,P5] Bry. [V5,K5]
Busy, restless - chaotic. Impulsive.
Loquacity. Mind & Speech abrupt.
Plans - many. Thoughts rapid.
Repertorisation Ars. Phos. Sulph. Aur-met. Bar-c. Arg-n. Caust. Cupr-met. Calc. Nat-m. Iod.
Tripa, (Pitta) inner heat, is associated with the endocrine system. It normally gives clarity, determination and courage. When over-stimulated it manifests as competitiveness, then other people are percieved as being in the wrong, and we often feel that we are under attack. The result is dictatorial egotism, irritability and anger. When anger is out of control it becomes hatred and violence, which are often reflected in destructive dreams of battles and fighting.
Elemental Properties and Modalities :
Hot and dry. Light and quick. It is sharp, acidic, pungent and purging. Boils, ulcers and acid indigestion are typical Tripa complaints.
Mind; anger irascibility: capriciousness:
Generalities; blood; circulation of; accelerated: heat; flushes of
Repertorisation Nux-v. [P5,K5] Cham. [V5,P5] Coff. [P5] Croc-s. [V5,P5,K5] Ran-b. [P5] Ip. [P5] Verat. [P5] Cocc. [P5] Chin. [P5] Lil-t. [P5]
Skin - burning or cracked.
Repertorisation Carb-an. Sulph. Hep. Merc. Sil. Ars. Nat-m. Nit-ac. Petr. Phos. Caust.
Badkan (Kapha) is associated with fluids (blood), and it also mixes with the earth element. Its softness and smoothness give tolerance and love.
Its heaviness helps us to relax, so sleep is usually deep and there can be romantic dreams.
When it is stimulated by delusions, its heavy nature gives rise to physical and emotional sluggishness, apathy and dullness. This may produce a rather boring and monotonous voice.
Opinions and relationships formed cautiously. Opinions are then held doggedly, which gives rise to ignorance and can result in a lack of consideration for others.
In financial dealings, their cautious investments can amount to miserliness, and this greed itself produces a tendency to envy.
Elemental Properties and Modalities :
The water element in the body is cool, soft, oily, sticky and slow, like mucous. Earth is dry, heavy, solid and slow, like bone. Poor circulation and congestion are typical complaints.
Mind; dullness sluggishness difficulty thinking and comprehending
Generalities; lassitude: Sleep; rise; aversion to.
Repertorisation: Puls. [V5,P5] Bry. [V5,K5] Con. [V5,K5] Cycl. [K5] Dulc. [V5,K5] Arn. [V5,K5] Dig. [K5] Dros. [K5]
Ideas, deficiency of; Slowness.
Bed - remains in.
Stool - white.
Repertorisation: Merc. Phos. Sulph. Arg-n. Plb-met. Calc. Ph-ac. Bar-c. Graph.
Do these proposed correspondences conform to the expectations arising from our knowledge of the Periodic Table and of the corresponding remedies?
Even though the three symptom repertorisations above take only a small number of generalised complaints the results are interesting. The more characteristic symptoms we add the clearer the differences between the three temperaments becomes.
Vata characterised by 'air 'qualities such as worry, fear and coldness. Are these experiences confined to the naturally occurring gaseous elements like Oxygen, Nitrogen? The remedies suggested certainly do worry and suffer anxiety.
Does Pitta manifest in the hot elements? Think of the burning symptoms of Hep. Are kapha traits found in the heavy, cold and static elements? This is certainly true of the Calciums. Bar-c. is another heavy, slow remedy. Ph-ac suffers exhaustion badly.
Homeopathy versus Allopathy
There is a hospital not far from where I live that treats cancer patients with a six-million electron volt radio therapy linear accelerator. Another treatment is a drug called Fluoroucil which carries this warning: "gastrointestinal haemorrhage and death may result . . . even in patients in relatively good condition."
What assumptions about life, illness, healing, and immunity gave rise to such treatments? And what are the corresponding assumptions in homeopathy, that led it in the opposite direction?
Allopathic medicine starts with the reductionist idea that living things can be explained purely in terms of their chemistry. We are complex biological machines, but machines nonetheless. Like any machine, we are no more than the sum of our parts. If you understand the parts, you'll understand the whole. Life is about stuff.
You can see these assumptions on many levels. A huge transplant industry has evolved, with its attendant need for parts (and the knotty questions about who gives them and who gets them). There is talk about "farming" them from baboons and other un-consenting life forms. Probably the ultimate expression of life as a machine is the growth of the biotechnological industry with genetic "engineering" and the patenting of life forms.
The allopathic philosophy can also be seen in the approach to research. With powerful microscopes and sophisticated tests, scientists explore increasingly smaller parts of the organism; the cell, cell membrane, nucleus, mitochondria, DNA etc. The presumption is that if you know how the parts work, you'll understand the whole and be able to manipulate it. An immense research business has developed.
If life and disease are about chemistry, allopathic medicine must treat disease at the physical, chemical level. If the body is a machine, without volition, healing must be accomplished from without. You have to make the body get better. This leads to aggressive treatments with powerful and toxic drugs and radiation.
From this perspective, the patient's state of mind is not relevant to treatment.
The immune system (seen as being made of cells and proteins) gets little emphasis. It is known to be able to prevent illness, but is not much use once you get sick. Then allopathy prescribes strong medicine. It's also an inconvenience when it stimulates allergies or if you happen to have an organ transplant. In fact, because of their work with transplants, allopaths know a lot more about how to suppress the immune system, than how to stimulate it.
In the few areas (e.g. interferon) where the immune system is explored, the focus is on isolating some factor and using it by itself. This again leads to side effects since it bypasses the body's feedback system.
Allopathy is unsurpassed in treating mechanical or structural problems and modern surgery has relieved much suffering. Where allopathy falls short, is in dealing with metabolic disturbances (resulting in chronic disease). Here, there is little talk of cure, and treatment is symptomatic. The disturbances which cause chronic disease are so subtle, that the scalpel and the drug are blunt instruments, and homeopathy, with its wholistic/vitalist view, must be embraced.
The science of homeopathy assumes that all living things, aside from their chemical/mechanical nature, are infused with a life force or vital principle. This "vital force" gives life to the inert ingredients . . . the collection of atoms and molecules. It is energy with volition . . . or the organism's intelligence. This is an old concept which is known in India as Prana and in China as Chi. Wilhelm Reich referred to it as the Orgone.
In this model, life is directed by harmonious energy and disease is a disturbance of the harmony. Since disease is a disturbance of energy, you are not going to find it by looking through a microscope or doing a blood test. What you will find are the effects of disease, the symptoms and signs. Pathology, such as cancer, nephritis, emphysema, are not the disease, but the result of it. The disease was the imbalance that gave rise to them.
Since the vital force exists in the whole organism, any "sick" part must have arisen from the disharmony of the whole. A corollary is that, whatever you do to one part will affect all the other parts. Therefore, to cure, you must treat the whole person. In homeopathy, the smallest unit of life is the whole organism.
Because disease is a disharmony in a subtle force, homeopathy uses another subtle force to correct it. It has evolved remedies that operate on an energetic, rather than material level. Consequently they are safe and without chemical side effects.
Treatment also focuses on the whole person. A remedy must be chosen which resonates to the essence of this person. It is made from a substance which mirrors the disturbance in the vital force. Since feelings, perceptions, and mental state are the central aspects of a person, the homeopath must understand his patient in a most intimate way. This leads to an empathetic, relationship between doctor and patient.
Homeopathy assumes that the organism has an intelligence and a volition, allowing it to actively heal itself. Therefore the remedy doesn't make the person get well rather, like a good therapist, it interacts with him to evoke a healing response. Rather than simply fighting pathogens, homeopathy addresses the immune system by constitutional treatment, with a remedy matched to the whole person. In this way it enhances that system in the broadest, most meaningful way.
Short definition of the three main medical modalities:
Hughes: A therapeutic method based on the rule similia similibus curantur — 'let likes be treated by likes.' The two elements of this tenet are the effects of drugs on the healthy body and the clinical features of disease; in either case all being taken into account which is appreciable by the patient or cognizable by the physician, but hypothesis being excluded. Medicines, selected upon this plan, are administered singly (i.e. without admixture) and in doses too small to cause aggravation or collateral disturbance. Homeopathy also subsumes the existence of a vital (or life) force which, when stimulated by the proper substance, gives the body the possibility of healing itself. Homeopathy was inspired by Samuel Hahnemann (1755-1843.)
A modern holistic approach combining homeopathy, naturopathic medicine and elements of allopathic principles. This approach, inspired by Rudolf Steiner (1864-1920 views the forces in nature, the human being and the cosmos as related to each other and supplements the ideas of natural :(physical) science with a description of the higher, non-physical, principles in the human being, bringing added insights to diagnosis, health and healing. Many therapeutic disciplines have been developed within the Anthroposophical approach including medicine, nursing, art therapy, hydrotherapy, curative eurythmy and more. Some of these have been described in this issue. For more information, contact the Physician’s Association of Anthroposophical Medicine, or the Anthroposophical Society in America
The term "naturopathy" was coined in the U.S. at the turn of the century, as a combination of the terms "nature cure" and "homeopathy." The founder of naturopathy, Benedict Lust, was trained in the methods of the European nature cure movement.
He added homeopathy, herbalism, and manipulation to the repertoire and upgraded the educational standards to the physician level. After that point, "naturopathy" became "Naturopathic Medicine." Today, the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians and the Institute for Naturopathic Medicine have banned the use of "naturopath” and "naturopathy." The reason is that there are probably hundreds of people in the country who practice lay naturopathy, or who purchase ND degrees for a few hundred dollars. None of them are naturopathic physicians. Establishing the distinction between the two groups is vital.