Viewed through proving: Opium distortions

Opium – not a perfume for pain-relief…

Well, did you find Hahnemann’s prescribing tip in his introduction in my last post?  It is one of the most important points to note about how to use the remedy, and also reinforces the need for correct practice in all cases of homoeopathic prescribing.

Opium does not cause any pain when given in proving.  It’s unusual that way.  As Hahnemann informs us, most remedies, if given in proving, will cause some pain. 

Here I must remind you what we are talking about as this subject often gets murky.

When a substance is given in proving, it produces substance symptoms.  It does not produce disease symptoms.  Chopping an onion does not give you a cold.  It gives you symptoms similar to cold symptoms.  This is what the Law of Similars is based on.  Homeopaths who are starting out are often excessively fearful of making their patients sick – but unless they repeat remedies frequently and incorrectly and misread case management, this is not what is happening.  They are essentially giving their patients a dose of a substance, not of a disease.  This cannot be stressed enough.

But I digress.  Back to the plot.  Other remedies in proving will cause pain as a symptom of that substance.  Opium will not.  So if your patient says something hurts that is unconnected to any of the symptoms Opium does cause, Opium is not the remedy.  However, constipation can be painful, right?  And Opium can cause a certain kind of constipation?  Ergo, Opium will relieve that constipation together with the pain caused by it.  It is only in this indirect way that Opium impacts on pain when given in treatment – through removing the complaints that are part of the Opium picture that are causing the pain.

It is curious how just as Opium distorts reality, we see a distorted view of reality in how Opium is used and abused in society in general.  The unreal view is that Opium and its derivatives will ease or remove pain – whereas in reality it increases the sensitivity to pain and causes extensive damage in the system.  Although as Hahnemann points out it can be useful in occasional use in self-limiting acute disease, in chronic diseases and addiction its impact is catastrophic.

Here’s the idea in Hahnemann’s words from the introduction:

Opium can only seem really to cure pains in those rare cases where it corresponds homoeopathically in its other primary effects to the symptoms of the disease, and so removes the disease itself, for then the pains also must naturally depart; but this is only an indirect cure of the pains. For instance, as every dysentery depends on a retention of faeces in the upper part of the intestines, some varieties of it accompanied by heat and stupefaction can be cured by opium, because these symptoms will be homoeopathically removed by the similar primary action of opium, and as a necessary consequence their attendant pains also, because these generally depend on spasmodic retention of the faeces in the bowels.

In like manner opium cannot stop the pains of lead colic until it has homoeopathically removed the obstinate constipation produced by the lead by virtue of its constipating primary action; in this case also the cure of the pains is indirect and not owing to the stupefying power of the opium, as it is given in small, not stupefying, doses. But opium is never able to remove pains directly without injury; on the other hand, it is a principal remedy in those stupefactive diseases where the pain of a serous malady is not felt by the patient, as for example, in dangerous bed sores, where the patient, in the stupefied state of his consciousness, cannot complain of any pain, etc.


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