It is the intention of this study to give an in-depth and clear understanding of the theory of miasms, in order to comprehend them and identify its practical application.
Homeopathy society has always been divided over the question of miasms. Since the time of Hahnemann, this theory has remained controversial (Bathia, 2007). The dissidents have taken the position that this theory need not be an essential part of Homeopathy as it is still possible practises it successfully without accepting this theory (Pitt, 2008). Author will make a discussion here to recognize what led Hahnemann to enunciate his chronic diseases theory and to determine if it is useful in the management of chronic cases in Homeopathic practice.
Next it would be discuss its development, exploring the fact that a large number of homeopaths believe that miasms of Hahnemann are nothing but bacteria and viruses (Bathia, 2007). Then there are spiritual followers of Kent who believe in the non-material nature of miasms and call it a predisposition or dyscrasia (Pitt, 2008). Lately an approach of how are Miasms classified from the new perspectives such as genetic and epigenetic, embryology, Facial analysis, prototypes, periodic table, as all of them claim to follow the teachings from the Master (Klein, 2009). The other controversial issue to be look at is the number of Miasms, with two clear tendencies the three way model of miasms (psora, sycosis and syphilis) and from this up to eleven miasms as Sankaran have identify. (Klein, 2009) So the main objective of this project is to attempt to clarify and identify the different currents on the theory since Hahnemann make public his discovery until nowadays.
What are miasms?
The word miasm originates from the Greek word “Miasma” which means a stain, pollution, defilement of a noxious atmosphere or infective material.
It was first used by Hippocrates to refer to a certain taint in the air (Kiple,1993)The term “miasm” was commonly in use in Hahnemann’s day and referred to some noxious, unseen influence in the air that made one sick. A quick look to an early dictionary definition of the term miasm, closer to the time of Hahnemann’s use, show the follow meaning “Miasm, is the effluvia or fine particles of any putrefying matter, rising and floating in the atmosphere, and dangerous to health: noxious exhalations, emanations, or effluvia: malaria: infectious substances floating in the air ”. (Casell, 1902)
Germ theory was further developed by Louis Pasteur in the 1860s and Robert Koch in the 1870s, but it is important to understand that there is an abyss between Hahnemann’s dynamic conception of disease and the more material one of Pasteur and Koch (conventional medicine) (Verspoor, 1999) Sterner (2007) clarifies that the germ theory after revealed it soon prevailed over miasmic theory.
Hahnemann, during his lifetime, discovered that a “noxious agent” was responsible for the persistence of the disease condition. He named this a miasm. The chronic diseases originate on chronic parasite miasms or germs, now referred to as chronic parasitic microorganisms. (Tyler, 2007). In other words it is a contagion that can provide the foundation for chronic disease (Choudhury, 2007).
The Master (2003 ed.) in his last edition of the Organon on aphorism 78, postulates that veritable chronic illnesses are the ones that emerges from chronic miasms. If they are not treated properly with homeopathy CD becomes greater and tortures the patient until his death, regardless of the patients’ habits.
In analysing Hahnemann’s writings, Dimitriadis (2005), emphasizes Master’s own definition of miasm; that is in fact an infectious agent, meaning any ainfectious substance dangerous for health. Taylor (2002) proposed that Hahnemann was using the term miasm in the inclusive rather than the particular meaning, in addition Dimitriadis (2005) clarifies that Hahnemann stated precisely the word infection in a wide implication particularly when he expressed that after the external stimulus impact on the body the vital force is primarily affected.
Is been stressed that Hahnemann point out in all his works that miasms are not diseases themselves, if not the causation (Sarkar, 1968) Hahnemann also describes the gradually diminishing virulence via increasing immunity (Dudgeon, 1989: 166). On the other hand Dimitriadis (2005) states that any propensity to use the word miasm to describe tendency to disease (dyscrasia, diathesis or taint) is mistaken.
Instead Bathia (2007) points out that although Hahnemann truly believed in the infectious nature of disease and considered miasms as infectious agent, conversely he also considered disease as dynamic, non-physical and its origin as a dynamic predisposition to illness. He goes on argue that Hahnemann shows confusion on his last writings on the 6th edition of the Organon, as in one hand is stating that Cholera is caused by living microorganism but on the other hand he is saying that nothing material could be found in ill persons due to illness come from the dynamic perturbation of the Vital force. Bathia concludes that this and other statements on master’s writing confuse the next generations and the world of miasms has become more chaotic.
Moreover Vithoulkas (1980) the classic well known homeopath, defines a miasm as a tendency toward chronic disease underlying the acute manifestations of a disease, which is spreadable from generation to generation, and which may respond beneficially to the corresponding nosode prepared from either pathological tissue or from the appropriate drug or vaccine.
Further research by Dr. Banarjea (2006) lead him to define miasm as “an invisible, dynamic principle” which is absorbed into the human organism. This causes a stigma in the constitution, which can only be removed by the correct anti-miasmatic medicine. He goes on to argue that without the correct treatment the miasm will continue and will be pass on the next generation.
Heudens-Mast (2005) concurs that miasms are the basis of all disease. Miasms can be inherited or acquired from contagion or suppression. She concludes that the only way to truly help the patients is by addressing the miasms.
Alternatively, Dr. Tomas Paschero (2000) defined miasma as a vibratory alteration of man’s vital force, which regulates the constitution and behaviour, conversely he negates the infectious aspect of miasms.
In fact the definition of miasms during the course of the homeopathic history has marked the practice application, dividing the profession in two major groups, those who believed in the bacteria origin and those who believed in the spiritual nature of the miasms. After evaluating Hahnemann’s conception of chronic diseases, the differences between these two majors groups would be analysed.
The Beginning: Hahnemann Conception of Chronic Diseases