Aphorism 3: what the true practitioner needs to know

In Aphorism 3, Hahnemann discusses what you need to know to be a homeopath: The physician has to know:

…what is to be cured in diseases, that is to say, in every individual case of disease (knowledge of disease, indication)…

We have to remember here that Hahnemann is talking about individual cases of disease, and what is to be cured. For this we need careful, accurate case taking. While knowledge of common disease pathways is important, and understanding of physiology, anatomy and pathology is crucial, Hahnemann stresses the “individual case of disease”. It’s not the nature of the injury, it’s the way the patient is experiencing it, the unique symptoms and physical-emotional-mental symptom mix that the patient presents which leads us to appropriate remedies.

Next?

…what is curative in medicines, that is to say, in each individual medicine (knowledge of medical powers)…

How do we learn what is curative in medicines? First from tests conducted on healthy volunteers – i.e. provings. That is our primary source material for understanding what a medicine can do. Here we must also distinguish between poisoning (giving crude arsenic will give information perhaps more useful for killing than curing), and proving (who knew what table salt in homeopathic preparation could do to help cure?). Furthermore we must understand the true place of clinical experience within understanding what is curative in a medicine. When the individuality of each case is perceived and grasped, it should be clear that because a remedy helped five people with the flu, it doesn’t necessarily follow that the same remedy would be curative in all cases. There is a vastness in the individuality of each person, whether in terms of personality, remedy response, resilience, and response in general to the outside world. Many traits may be shared, but the individuality of the combination brings snowflakes to mind in their diversity. So we can see a certain hierarchy: provings, poisonings (frequently included in Hahnemann’s provings) and last, clinical sources. Many materia medica don’t distinguish between these sources of information in describing remedies. Which is why you should look at provings first.

Next?

…how to adapt, according to clearly defined principles, what is curative in medicines to what he has discovered to be undoubtedly morbid in the patient…

This requires case analysis, which can only be effectively conducted when the case has been properly taken and the individual case of disease understood, and when there is clarity about the principles for prescribing. This clarity about principles also indicates clarity about case management, which can often be much more complex – and rewarding and informative – than the first prescription.

And Hahnemann continues, when giving a remedy we must also take into account:

…the exact mode of preparation and quantity of it required (proper dose), and the proper period for repeating the dose…

How large should the dose be? Understanding how much and why is a crucial part of learning how to practice homoeopathy. As a rule, the size of the dose should be the smallest amount required to trigger a response. And that can be a very small amount indeed.

How often should a remedy be repeated? Confusion regarding repetition is one of the greatest pitfalls in practice. Repeating too often may muddy a case. Not repeating often enough may lengthen the time it takes to recover. When the principles of practice are clearly defined, this will give the practitioner a “road-map” for managing the case.

And one last thing? The practitioner must know

…the obstacles to recovery in each case and … how to remove them…

This often requires sleuthing (I recommend reading Sherlock Holmes…). Is there an obstacle we know nothing about? Apart from elements not reported by patients for “don’t judge me” reasons, there are many things that patients don’t report because it just doesn’t occur to them – whether it’s use of essential oils or that extra healthy supplement they started taking that contains a mix of homoeopathic remedies which will interfere with the case. Sometimes the obstacle can be a toxic relationship, sometimes a damp apartment or poor diet, or working occasional night shifts.

So any solid homoeopathy course curriculum should include all of these elements in its foundation course. To repeat the whole aphorism here:

If the physician clearly perceives what is to be cured in diseases, that is to say, in every individual case of disease (knowledge of disease, indication), if he clearly perceives what is curative in medicines, that is to say, in each individual medicine (knowledge of medical powers), and if he knows how to adapt, according to clearly defined principles, what is curative in medicines to what he has discovered to be undoubtedly morbid in the patient, so that the recovery must ensue – to adapt it, as well in respect to the suitability of the medicine most appropriate according to its mode of action to the case before him (choice of the remedy, the medicine indicated), as also in respect to the exact mode of preparation and quantity of it required (proper dose), and the proper period for repeating the dose; – if, finally, he knows the obstacles to recovery in each case and is aware how to remove them, so that the restoration may be permanent, then he understands how to treat judiciously and rationally, and he is a true practitioner of the healing art .

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