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CURE MANIA, IS PALLIATION THAT BAD?

Dr. M. A. Usmani

Usmani Resource Page

Copyright 2012/All rights reserved © Dr Usmani 
Contact author for permission to use

 

Let’s first draw some constants, and give them credence of affirmation:

 

First: We may say that 5% of world’s population gets exclusive homeopathic treatment whenever they fall sick; and about 70% get allopathic treatment in routine way. The remaining 25% get alternative treatments and local way of treatment that is current in their locality; and folklore and faith and spiritual means for allaying their sufferings.

 

Second: Longevity is not the exclusive provision or bestowment of any particular way of treatment or therapeutics. In fact it is independent of these factors. There are homeopaths who died young, among them even masters, e.g. great master Farrington, who deplorably died in the prime of his active career. There are persons, on the other hand, who never tasted homeopathy, and are centenarian, and still very active. They can be connected with any way of life; as, for example, politicians, scientists, philosophers, writers, and heads of states or actors and legion others. They can belong to any sphere of life. There are, more over, places in the world where to be, at least, octogenarian is a rule; in spite of the fact that their life is stringent and nutrition sparse.

 

Third: the third constant is very tricky. The homeopathic concept of cure is nowhere met in the whole world. If our first constant is valid, then only 5% of the whole populace of the world subscribe to this concept of cure. By ‘cure’ it is meant, generally and in all therapeutics, the mitigation of the suffering and obliteration of symptoms. In the infancy of homeopathy, as I’ve discussed in many of my previous articles, single symptoms were attached with single remedies. Cf., See My Page

 

Nightshade (Belladonna), for example, was used for convulsion, esp. with delirium; Dulcamara, for eczema; Squilla for pleurisy; Cinchona Bark for pressive pain in the stomach; Ipecac. for various sorts of hemorrhage, etc. (cf. Appendixes to Organon: Commentary by B. K. Sarkar).

 

Many among the great homeopaths did not subscribe to the strict homeopathic ideal of cure, and practically did not follow the Law of Cure of Dr. Hering.  Among them is our great master, and incomparable genius, Dr. Burnett. His motto was: Every patient can be helped.  He did not pass any judgment of incurability against any patient or any disease. He believed, and practically proved, that every person with health problems can be helped. Kent’s rules for declaring a patient curable or incurable did not thwart his healing impetus. For him every suffering person was treatable, in contradistinction to ‘Curable’.

 

In the modern state of art, in the therapeutic realm, there is no place for any ideals of cure or any rules according to which any disease may be labeled as incurable, except the evident condition and extent of the disease, or the damage it has already wrought to the organism. If an organ has already been eaten up by the disease, how can it be cured? A case that is incurable is ipso facto a candidate for palliation. In fact, any remedy that is selected on the rule of Similia, in such cases, would automatically act palliatively; only the prescriber should know the art of judicious prescribing.

 

So, we come to the conclusion that covering all the symptoms does not necessarily lead to homeopathic cure. If the case is incurable (according to the tenets of homeopathy) it would be automatically palliated. Similarly superficial similarity mostly will not cure. ‘Similarity’ means the similarity with the totality of all the characteristic symptoms plus the similarity of the process of the disease. An example given by Burnett is of cerebral meningitis where apparent symptoms are that of Belladonna: flushed face, delirium and dilated pupils. But if the case is of Tubercular meningitis, the apparent symptoms will be same, but Belladonna won’t be its remedy. Tubercular process should also be in the pathogenesis of the remedy selected. Belladonna would do nothing here. [Please read under the ‘Stop Point’ in the book: Best of Burnett, page 123.]

 

To palliation done under the superficial Totality of Symptoms, Burnett gives the name of Scientific Palliation. It is only his eulogistic nod, in his love for homeopathy; otherwise it is true that similarity should also contain the similarity with the disease process itself: that is functional, personal and the pathologic similarity.  Burnett says: “if the range of action of the remedy be not coincident with the disease itself, a real cure does not result, no matter how many symptoms you may silence.” [Ibid] He further remarks: “I cannot subscribe to the generally accepted views that when you have covered all the symptoms of a case you will necessarily work a real cure, you may do so, or you may only palliate the case.”

 

‘Cure’ in homeopathy has definite meaning and a characteristic modus operandi. The regression of symptoms occurs in the reverse order of their progression in the generation of the disease, and from up downward and from center to periphery. This is a high ideal not to be ever witnessed anywhere in the whole medical and therapeutic world, except in Hahnemannian practice. Even the classical homeopaths very seldom meet this chimera of cure in their daily practice. But whenever they meet it they at once recognize the creature.

But for the general public cure, treatment, palliation and even suppression stand at the same wavelength and are taken as synonyms. It is immaterial for them whether their disease is cured, palliated or suppressed. They simply require the obliteration of their painful or disturbing symptoms.  

 

For the strict classical homeopath what Burnett did in his daily practice was not Hahnemannian homeopathy. This is why they always talk about him in chastising manner, and raise puritanical objections. But times have changed. World has gone fast forward. There is no coming back. Allopathy, the dominant school, has evolved a scientific methodology of palliation, which they do not distinguish from ‘cure’.  Their methodology works in the manner of 2+2=4. It is never 5, or any other figure. What the selection of the medicine intends for, it must accomplish it.  That is what wins the trust of the laity, or the sick world.

 

That doesn’t mean that I’m talking derogatively of the ‘law of cure’ of homeopathy. Far be it from me, a staunch homeopath. How can I deny myself, after having cured many cases, of curing with one, and only one, dose of medicine and giving sac lacticum for many months? Or, by the repeating of the same medicine, thrice or four times, in a year or so, in the same or the ascending potencies?  But this is for those cases only that can be technically cured, according to the curative rules of homeopathy. And this is limited only to chronic diseases.

 

In acute diseases the remedy can be changed even in the next few hours, or can be alternated with another remedy, coming on into the picture later on. In acute diseases homeopathic rules ‘single remedy and least repetition’ do not work. We should shed many prejudices and break many shackles to fare well and be at par with the dominant school.  Otherwise people start looking askance when their dear ones fall with some acute and viral disease. They have made a point to visit some allopath when sick with acute disturbance, and have some allopathic medicine, self prescribed or by a regular practitioner.

 

In an acute case—sore throat—for example, we don’t ask patients, how they tolerate summer or winter, dry or wet weather; whether they have claustrophobia; whether they love company or not, etc., etc. We will decide on the limited symptoms, related to the suffering part. So we are quite justified in prescribing Hepar Sulph., which is admittedly a cold remedy, to a warm patient, on the peculiarity of symptoms related to sore throat. Similarly Merc.Sol., and Lach. that are predominantly warm remedies, to a confirmed chilly patient with throat infection.

 

This line of argument takes us to the validity (or necessity?) of partial case-taking, in contradistinction to proper case-taking, for acute diseases. We take into consideration very few symptoms germane to the local seat of infection, or the pathologic condition, or the pathology proper of the suffering organ.  Hering wrote Family Physician, and Jahr Forty Years’ Practice, therapeutics on the basis of pathology. J.C. Burnett put pathology to its rightful venerated pedestal. It was his life-long logico-scientific crusade for the rightful place of pathology in homeo-prescribing. Science of pathology has taken stupendous strides that a homeopath cannot afford to lag behind. Or he be labeled (or branded) as a quack. 

 

Modern patients are queer conglomerate of pathologic strains and personality traits that it is enigmatic for an ordinary mortal to unravel. An ordinary or rigid physician cannot make head or tale of the common run of patients, coming from the allopathic camp after decades of drugging and manipulation. Only true knowledge of pathology and modern therapies, and the way of living of the present society, can enable a practitioner to cater to the therapeutic needs and devise methods accordingly.

 

Many patients come to you for a very small or insignificant part of their whole disease. For example, a patient  suffering originally from diabetes, for three decades, then hypertension, for 15 years, then CHF, for thee to four years, then pulmonary complications, has come to you for peripheral neuropathy, and arthritis, for which their doctor could not do any thing except giving pain killers and muscles relaxants, that give many unsavory reactions.

 

She is already taking five medicines in morning, two at noon, and 5+1 at night: the last one being a tranquilizer. Now how will you break this comfortable cocoon, or puncture a hole in it with your similar medicine (similar to what?...think!), to begin scratching the surface of the well-guarded case? One shivers at the idea of destabilizing a beautifully stabilized case: stabilized for decades. Living well and eating well and living a mentally balanced life. Won’t it be a capital sin? [This also belies the bogy of massive drug action of many drugs.] Think for a moment that this is the very case of a lady, with fragile health, who came to Dr. Vithoulkas, for whom he prescribed Platinum, in very high potency, for her striking indication of doing masturbation for some 30 times (?) a day. Would Plat. cure the whole case with its diabetes, hypertension, CHF, respiratory complications and neuropathy? Unimaginable! Only a credulous guy can ever aver.

 

In such situations, Burnett’s way of treatment would work. He would not try to cure but treat the case. He would apply organ remedies, miasmatic remedies, and so many other ways for which Burnett is Burnett. Scientific palliation verily is the order of the day for such cases. And nothing should be aspired more than the prolongation of life, sans sufferings, sans pains. And this is impossible without intensive knowledge of pathology, and of drugs and their interaction.

 

[The author may have to write a corollary to this article, but after reading people’s comments.]

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Comment by Binay krushna sahu on January 2, 2013 at 1:49am

i agree with mr brent

Comment by Brent W Reed on December 11, 2012 at 5:35pm

As a physical scientist, we have an expression about the Theory of Relativity.  We call it "The Sacred Cow" of Einstien.  Who dares kill the sacred cow?  One puts his career on the line to even suggest the cow is not well.  Thus it is in every branch of science.  There is a sacred history with its sacred high priests who founded and defined its tenants. 

It seems to me there is a fear that to depart in any fine point from the teaching of the founder will result in some departure from orthodox practice of homeopathy that will damn out patients to an end without help.

Dr. Usmani puts his finger directly on a sore pressure point in homeopathic theory that needs attention.  We all need to know how to draw the line between narrow and broad-constitutional prescribing.  Sadly, it seems to me as a new kid on the homeopathic block, that it takes a lifetime to learn to make such decisions which seem to elude principle, dwelling only the realm of the art of experience.  Anyone who can codify any principle by which to make such decisions needs a loud round of homeopathic applause.  

Not everything can be cured.  We are going to die of something.  Comfort in death comes only as the expense of drug addition to pain killers it would seem in the allopathic world.  Is not relief of suffering a high and noble calling for a physician.   In my personal opinion one great vacuum that homeopathy is well equipped to fill is end of life care. 

Brent Reed

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