Homeopaths utilize practical guidelines to determine when a real healing is taking place and when the disease process is getting worse. These guidelines are called “Hering’s law of cure,” named after the father of American homeopathy, Constantine Hering, MD (1800-1880), who first made these important observations about the healing process.
To understand these guidelines, it is first useful to know that homeopaths carefully evaluate the evolution of a person`s physical, emotional, and mental/spiritual symptoms. Homeopaths consider mental/spiritual symptoms to be deepest to the core of a person`s being for they represent the will, the ego, the sense of security that the person feels, and the person`s overall state of consciousness. Homeopaths today wonder if the immune system’s important ability to identify “self” from “non-self” is dynamically connected to a person’s mental/spiritual state of health.
The emotional symptoms are external to the mental/spiritual level of the person because imbalances in the deeper level will create increased propensities to various fears, angers, depressive states, and other emotions. The physical symptoms are the most outer manifestation of the person, though every level can and will influence the other.
Also, each level has certain symptoms that have more or less influence on a person`s overall health. For instance, a person`s asthma will be deeper than his or her skin rash; a person`s fear of death will be deeper than his or her irritability; and a person`s loss of self esteem will be deeper than a subtle reduction in memory. Likewise, when comparing symptoms on different levels, a person`s heart disease will more profoundly affect his/her health than a difficulty in concentration experienced on the mental/spiritual level.
In light of these levels of the human being and the degrees of intensity to which a symptom impairs a person`s ability to live, Hering found that healing progresses:
** From within to without (from the deepest part of our being to the most external);
** From the most recent disease back in time to previous ones;
** From the top of the body to the bottom of the body.
Ultimately, basic concepts of survival and evolution are at the heart of this understanding of the defenses of the body. The human body can and will defend its most vital functions first before defending its more superficial functions.
Homeopaths observe that a truly effective therapy sometimes elicits a temporary exacerbation of certain symptoms, usually in the superficial ones or sometimes ones that the person had many years previously. Evidence that homeopathic medicines are not just placeboes is this exacerbation of certain symptoms prior to a cure after homeopathic treatment.
This “externalization” of symptoms is commonly observed by homeopaths who witness that approximately 20-30% of their patients with a chronic illness tend to experience skin symptoms, nasal or bronchial discharges, diarrhea, early menstruation with clots, profuse perspiration, or some other externalization of the disease process after an effective homeopathic treatment is provided.
Distinct from methods that suppress disease are those that help disease express and externalize itself. Homeopathy`s use of the principle of similars (using medicines bases on their ability to CAUSE the similar symptoms that the sick person is experiencing) is one important safeguard against disease suppression because it mimics the wisdom of the body rather than suppresses its symptoms.
Homeopathy is a type of “medical biomimicry” because a homeopathic medicine is chosen for its ability to mimic the symptoms that the sick person is experiencing. Because there is a certain wisdom to the bodymind, mimicking this wisdom is a good way to elicit a real healing.
Larry Malerba, DO. Green Medicine: Challenging the Assumptions of Conventional Health Care. Berkeley: North Atlantic Books, 2010.
Dennis Chernin, MD, MPH. The Complete Homeopathic Resource for Common Illnesses. Berkeley: North Atlantic Books, 2006.