hering's law and homeopathy

We know what is called "Hering's Law". But I doubt if anybody in this room knows where it came from. Where it originated from. You might say it is a law of nature, it originates from nature, but first: where does it come from in terms of having been discovered and having been described?

Hering's law - the four principles:
1. The disease progresses from outside in, and when it cures, it cures from inside out.
2. Cure will be from above downwards;
3. Cure will go from the most important, to less important organs;
4. Cure is in the reverse order of appearance of symptoms.
How does psychosomatic disease fit in hering's law?
If disease progresses from outside in and is cured from inside out and if it is a law, how can we explain psychosomatic disease within that law? A law is a law. It is not contradictory. A law means that it does not change. If you have the right circumstances, the outcome will always be predictable. A law is for everyone, everybody who will observe it will see the same thing.

Hering's Law can be found in Kent's lectures. Probably most of you have read it. He says many times that disease will cure from inside out, from the central nervous system to the periphery, to the extremities, the skin.

Here I ask you how do you comprehend this description of the law of cure with psychosomatic disease? Do you comprehend it? Does it fit in the law? Hering's Law states that disease will progress from outside in. When cure occurs, it occurs from inside out. Psychosomatic disease is a disease that starts from the psyche and that afterwards, later, expresses itself on the physical level. This seems to be contradictory to the description of Hering's Law. It is not explained and I don't understand it. The definition of a law in English language, and I am sure in every language, means something that does NOT change. If you say sometimes it is like this and sometimes it is like that, it is not a law anymore. There are four aspects to Hering's Law. If it is said that a law has four aspects, we have to respect these four aspects. What I am telling you is a very complex phenomenon. The direction of cure is a very complex phenomenon and it has not been well explained yet. If I ask you some questions like this it is just to show that our own understanding of it is very minimal. We don't really understand the whole process, but you have hints, you have observed certain things clinically that you know that are true, but they may not fit the law.

How do we understand the law?
We observe that a person starts to be anxious, maybe anxious for one month, and then you have gastritis, and eventually you have ulceration of the part, but how do we make this observation of all of us coincide with Hering's Law as it is described in our text books? The direction of cure is a very complex phenomenon. It is not well explained. It doesn't fit in with the observation of classical writers as it is described, as you see it in your own life and as it is described in modern textbooks or by any good observation of a classical psychosomatic disease. It doesn't fit. There is a dichotomy between what we observe and the law as it is described.

My question to all students of homeopathy is: "What do you understand about the direction of cure? Is it only one of those principles that must fit the case, each case; or just two of them, or three of them or all four of them. When you are treating somebody, must the cure precede in this direction, in all four directions, in all patients, or just in some directions, in some patients? How is it understood from your own understanding clinical practise? The way it is written, it is a "must".

If you research Hering's Law, you will only find very few texts talking about it. Which text do you know talking about it? You always say the same thing. But where does it come from? Do you find it with Hahnemann?

I just want to point out that you have to be very careful in using what you understand presently of the law in treating people with mental disease and more specifically with psychosomatic disease, because it may not fit and you will make a mistake. While the patient is really improving, you might think the patient is getting worse, because you are trying to fit your patient into a conception that is not well understood. You can read it from Roberts. What does he say? How does he call this? He doesn't call it Hering's Law.

Kent also talks about it in his lectures. He describes the four directions like Roberts. For Kent it is a law, it is a must. But he doesn't say it is Hering's Law. Where else have you read it? Where does the term Hering's Law came from? What is the reference?

I tell you that when Kent wrote it, it was not known as Hering's Law. When he wrote his lectures on homeopathic philosophy, it is not described as Hering's Law. What do you know about the history of your own science?

Some people tell me that history is not important. How important is it to know the history of homeopathy, the goal is to cure the patient. Many people will say that and it is true, who cares about the history, what Hahnemann did and what Hering said and what happened. Who cares, you have the symptoms of the patient, you have the materia medica, you take a remedy, you give it and that is it!

Roberts wrote about it, but Kent talks about it, thirty years before Roberts. If it is a law of nature it is to be accepted by everyone. Are we talking about a real thing, or has somebody imagined it? Hahnemann was a good observer, a superb observer. Does he talk about the direction of cure? History is important, because you can easily be misled and you won't know you are misled, because you don't know your history.

What does history teach us? A great lesson of history is what? It is not to repeat the same mistakes. Why do people study history? Because in history you have the behaviour of human beings repeated again and again and again. You can understand the moment by looking at the whole history, the whole thing. In homeopathy, if we don't do that, we are just repeating the same thing and same mistake. I follow every aspect of homeopathic history up to the present and the same subjects are talked about every twenty years, more or less. The same questions come up in cycles, are all repeated and uselessly done, because if only their teacher had taught them where we were at, they didn't need to go back and repeat about pathology, they didn't need to go back and ask about all this. All the same questions return in cycles. But we don't need to do that! Once you know your history you just go forward. You don't go repeating the same interrogation, the same conflicts and so on.

André Saine: I know the answer
When I was a student I believed in Hering's Law. I read it in a book and I thought like most of us that it was an accepted law, accepted by Hering and all the people that can be associated with him. How many have read Hering? When someone says: "I teach in the tradition of Hahnemann, Hering, Kent and then there was me", I said: "What did you read of Hering?" "I use his materia medica". But Hering wrote lots of articles. Very, very few people have access to those articles, even at random journal articles - where they express their ideas and so on. Like you, I accepted that Hering had done that. Then I practised and then I discovered I rarely saw the four tenets of Hering's Law verified in a single patient, all four of them.

I said, "Am I not practising good homeopathy? Maybe I'm not a good homeopath".

Let us look at the journals, at cases from good homeopaths. It is not confirmed there either; how strange! Then you go and ask the teachers. I went to congresses and national congresses and here and there. I was a student and asked the big people that know, "Have you been able to verify?" "Of course, of course, yes!" Then you ask, "Have you done any writings, can you substantiate?" I was not able to get a single person to say yes, they have verified. They didn't say: "It is well confirmed, I've got proof in all the cases. It is easy." I have rarely seen all four in a single patient. But people say yes.

Then I would catch one once in a while, or become more intimate with the big masters. When you are with four, five, talking around the table, it is different from when you are one to one, then you become more intimate. On becoming more intimate with some of the supposedly more outstanding homeopaths the truth was: they would say: "No, I don't really see it". I was intrigued and I investigated and I went to the people that were supposed to know: teachers and people that were supposed to be the very good homeopaths. In circles they say they have verified it, privately they say they didn't, honestly, when they were honest they say: "No, I don't see it. It is very rare." Why are we all accepting something as a fact when it is not a fact?

I will try to quote from Kent. Kent says this in his lecture, because that is where most people use it and then maybe thirty years later it is mentioned in Roberts. Kent says: "Cure must proceed from centre to sub circumference. ... from above downwards, from within outwards, from more important to less important organs, from the head to the hands and feet. ... in reverse order of their coming".

The way it is described it doesn't differentiate between acute and chronic disease. It says cure, not acute or chronic. It is not differentiated in any of the writings. Not Roberts or anybody else differentiates, says if it is applied to acute or chronic disease, or to both. They assume, cure is cure, it is to any disease. Then it is not differentiated if all of the tenets must apply or only a few of them. The way it is written, it concerns all four tenets.

If your English is good enough, this means it applies to all four tenets. That is the law of cure, it goes in that direction. Above down, from inside out ... Not "or, or, or", it is "and, and, and". It is not described if it is applied in chronic disease, if it is applied for venereal or non-venereal disease. It doesn't say. The way it is formulated is, "a cure goes in that direction and only this", acute and chronic.

I'm not satisfied when the whole homeopathic community is being misled. If a scientist later, in fifty years or in five hundred years, discovers that homeopathy is the law of cure and homeopathy was the therapeutic of the modern age, of all age, they will say, "Well now, investigate homeopathy and discover that Hering's Law is a myth". They will say, "All those homeopaths for five hundred years have put their trust on Hering's Law when it is not clinically verifiable".

Did Hering's law appear out of the blue?
In literature you find almost no author of the twentieth century making references to where they got that Hering's Law. If somebody picks up a book on homeopathy published in 1980, they will say, this is Hering's Law, there is no reference. Nobody knows the references that I'm aware of. When you read the books of philosophy that were printed in this century, especially in the first part of the century, you will find some people are talking about it as Hering's rule, some people are talking about Hering's Law, some people describe it as Direction of Cure, some people are talking about the Law of Direction of Cure. Not everybody understands that it is a law and that it is Hering's Law. Many people don't mention Hering. It seems that there is lot of confusion about it. Does it come from Hering, is it a rule or a law?

You read Boericke, or Stuart, 'the Genius to homeopathy', Roberts, and 'the Science and Art of Prescribing'. If you read all those basic books of philosophy, you will find no reference at all mentioning it as rule, law, Hering or not Hering. If you look in the previous century you will find no reference to Hering's Law by anyone.

Hering practised homeopathy from 1821 to 1880, he died in 1880. He discovered homeopathy when he was a medical student in 1821. No reference about Hering's Law in any of Hahnemann's writing, Jahr, Lippe, Boericke, Farrington. No reference! But 20th century people, beginning on homeopathy, trust something that doesn't exist in our past, it is not in the roots.

Most modern homeopaths, every textbook that is written on homeopathy in our modern era speaks of Hering's Law. It is in the whole world probably. Nobody knows where it comes from! That is what I'm saying.

I will give you the fruit of the research. I did not bring the outcome with me. It is complicated. It is just an attempt. Let's put it this way. Hahnemann developed the theory of chronic disease. In the theory he mentioned that the first symptom of Psora is skin eruption. He mentioned that all non-venereal chronic diseases end up eventually with a skin eruption. He mentioned that mental disease starts from physical disease, as we have seen today. Most mental diseases proceed from physical disease, generally speaking. But he says also the opposite: conversely there is psychosomatic disease. He says, when you give a remedy to the patient, one of the ways you will know, that will confirm that you have given the right remedy, especially in acute disease, is the fact that temperament of the patient is better, the patient feels a certain state of peace. There is an element here that you get well, maybe physically you don't feel well, but internally you may have a deep sense, feeling of being better.

It is not 'law', it is only observation. Hahenmann mentions in the 'Chronic Diseases' that chronic diseases, not acute ones, specifically chronic diseases, the only ones mentioned, disappear in the reverse order of appearance of symptoms. Chronic diseases of non-venereal origin, only the ones of non-venereal origin. One thing about the law is, it is about a certain type of condition. Chronic, first of all, and non-venereal disease. Only the reverse order of appearance of symptoms, you read that in 'Chronic Diseases'.

Hering talks about a rule
Hering wrote the first English edition of 'Chronic Diseases' in 1845 and he wrote an introduction. There he mentions a few things. I cannot be very precise, because there are too many things. He mentions there that psoric disease must disappear in the reverse order of appearance of symptoms. Chronic, psoric disease. He is very precise here, it must be chronic and psoric.

He repeats what Hahnemann had said, it is not from Hering. He confirms what Hahnemann has said in 'Chronic Diseases', exactly the same thing. Then he mentions that pain usually - not always - but pain and only pain disappears from above down - usually! He is the first one to talk about most important to less important organs and only in that introduction. But he doesn't make a law here: he talks about it as a rule. But he says as a whole, there is a law to the direction of cure. Hahnemann had stated it painstakingly, that is that - the way that psoric chronic disease will disappear. What Hering does in the introduction is, he just repeats what Hahnemann has said, confirming it.

Now in 1865, more or less, Hering doesn't talk about it any more, ever. In not one of his writings, he talks about a law of direction of cure. In 1865 Hering writes a paper that is called, 'Hahnemann's three practical rules'. In one of the rules he goes back to the direction of cure, but this time he mentions that disease must disappear in the reverse order of appearance of symptoms. He doesn't say it is a law, he says it is practical rule. Only that. He doesn't mention above down or inside out etc.

Then he doesn't talk about it until 1873 and I think it is an introduction to an article of the mind. He mentions there only one thing, not as a law, that disease must disappear in the reverse order of appearance of symptoms. Then in 1879, in the introduction to 'The Guiding Symptoms', some modern people say: "Why did Hahnemann do the materia medica from above down and inside out?" He started with the mind and then he went to the head and the different organs and inside out, why? Modern people have said: "It is because this is the direction of cure." If only Hering had known that somebody would one day make an issue out of it!

In the introduction to 'The Guiding Symptoms', Hering says, this is the method that Hahnemann started to use that in the first edition of the 'Materia Medica Pura'. Except, the mental symptoms were last, until the 'Chronic diseases' then it became first. But in the 'Materia Medica Pura' they were last. Hahnemann says, we use this method, because it is the easiest method to find the symptom and he describes it a bit more, but basically this is what it is, to find the symptom in a practical way, nothing about a law or a rule of cure or whatever.

The law seems to be a rule
Imagination can be very fruitful. If Hering only said what Hahnemann observed that chronic disease of non-venereal origin will disappear in the reverse order of appearance of symptoms, where does Hering's Law comes in? Who introduced it? What is important is not so much who did it or when he did it, but to know that it has happened like this. Then to start to observe clinically, what is the real thing behind the direction of cure? First of all: is it a Law or a practical rule? Hering says, these are practical rules. He says: "There is a Law for direction of cure". When he mentions it he says: "These are rules only, but practical rules". Rules have exceptions, law has no exceptions. If it is a law, is it for all four principles or only for one of them or some of them, or what is it? This is what you have to do clinically and then you have to report.

1. I will give you an example. You have somebody with rheumatoid arthritis. Rheumatoid arthritis is a systemic condition, as is poly arthritis. Patient tells you that the disease started in the ankle and it progressed to the knees and then to the hip. Or a common one would be, it starts in the ankles and the wrist. Then they start to have it in their knees and elbows and the hips and the shoulder. The progression is from below up, you would expect it to go away that way. You treat the patient and it goes away from the ankles first and one elbow gets better, but not the other. What are you going to do? The patient says: "I feel much better, my ankles are the best. My hip seems to be worse. My right elbow is worse, but my left elbow is completely better". What are you going to do? Let's say from what they tell you, you don't know they are generally better, but they describe that is the way the pain is going away. Maybe there is a hint that they may be better generally. What would you say? When we look at reverse order of appearance of symptoms, are we taking into account the reversibility of lesions? Certain joints are more destroyed, because they are more mechanically susceptible to be destroyed, like the knees. Are they supposed to cure in the direction, or do the ones that are most reversible reverse faster and will the ones that are least reversible be the last ones to heal? Which one is it, 'law' or reality? Pay attention to that, pay attention to the reversibility of lesion. Within that direction disappearance of symptoms ill occur. Then you have to ask yourself more questions. If a patient has had various conditions previous in their life.

2. Let's say you have a patient today with primarily mental complaints. He is 45 years old. This is a real patient in my mind. He tells you that maybe when he was 35 years old, for a few years he had a serious bout of colitis. This complaint of colitis is not there very much now. Then you learn that in his late teens, early twenties he had severe bouts of broncho-pneumonia, which incapacitated the person for almost two or three years (even to study) with coughing and shortness of breath and difficulty in exertion and so on. You learn that when he was a child, he had rheumatic fevers during a few years, which incapacitated the person, let's say from five to six, seven. Now you have a mental complaint.

You treat that patient and in your prognosis, what condition will return? Or should any of these old complaints return, to be cured? If you are going to predict, knowing what the direction of cure is, or what Hering's Law is in your own mind, all of these complaints will return or should it be in terms of the reverse order of appearance of symptoms? Or will only some of them return and if so, which one? Or should none of them be expected to come back?

How do we reach a prognosis?
Homeopathy is based on pure observation and when you accumulate the pure observation, we should be able after a while to predict what will happen. We are able to predict a prognosis, because you suspect this will happen and in the direction of cure and all complaints coming back. We should be able to make a prognosis on that also. But it is much more complicated than only these four tenets, in the sense that the information we have about the direction of cure is very, very little.

To be able to make good clinical judgements on follow-ups is important. If you don't have this, or are confused about this, you will make what Lippe called "fatal errors". You change a remedy when you shouldn't change it or you stand by a remedy when it is the wrong remedy.

It is like Nash says:
"It will do no benefit to the patient to give the wrong remedy, even if you do it for two years".

If you give the wrong remedy, you have got to change. There are people who will say: 'Sometimes you have to wait two or three months before you can evaluate the remedy.' And Nash responded:

"For the people that want to wait three months, while the disease is progressing, they want to make sure that they have given the wrong remedy. Even if you wait two years, if you have given the wrong remedy there is no benefit the patient can get".

In other words, he was a very practical guy, Nash. He says it from a very practical point of view, not a theoretical point of view.

Do not believe, know!

Often it is easy to make a clinical judgement on the direction of cure. But there are many cases, that if you are not aware of all the difficulties and how it should be, then we will be confused and we will make a wrong decision. What I'm telling you here is, you have to pay attention to the direction of cure in your patient and try to understand, what is right, what is wrong from your previous understanding of what was supposed to be the law. Is it a law or is it a rule; that is the first thing you have to answer. If it is a law, you must know if all four tenets must obey, or just some of them. If it is, which one. If it is a rule, is it for the four of them, or just some of them. Is it applicable for all disease, acute and chronic? Or only for certain disease, like psoric disease. Does it apply to irreversible lesions? Which old previous complaint will return or which one should not return. Which one would be a good sign if it would return?

Clinical judgement calls
In other words: you have a patient that you are treating with kidney failure, not very serious but somewhat kidney failure and a previous history of heart failure in the past. You start to treat the patient and he starts having heart failure while you treat them, but the kidney failure gets better. What are you going to do, to know if you are going in the right way or not in the right way? You have got to be really sharp in your understanding of the direction of cure. I was put in that situation in those years, in 1983 when I did the research on Hering's Law, I was put in that situation, I had a patient exactly like this. She came to me with kidney failure and started to go to heart failure as I started to treat the patient. You have to make a certain judgement, but it is an old complaint, previous to the kidney failure. It was severe. When I say heart failure the patient if left untreated would soon die.

To make those clinical judgement call, you have to be totally sure and clear in your mind, about what is the direction of cure. No theory, no speculation, you have to know. Not believing but knowledge. It is a very complex thing, to make a judgement call. In many cases you don't even need to do that, to make a judgement call. But in many cases you will have to do that judgement call. I'm not going to give you the answer, because I want you to look for the answer. I want you to learn from your practice. What the patient is going to be teaching you and then once you have looked for a while, then you could read the answer, you could search for the answer, because I have written something about it. You could read what has been written about it. But it would be much more fruitful if you practice for a few months, trying to see it.

If I had to make a Law out of the direction of cure, it would be "What does the patient tell me, what fact is the patient teaching you". It could be your patient or anybody's patient. You will make your own law or principles and about what kind of disease and then you can read about what other people have written about it. I'm challenging your own knowledge or a belief. It is a belief that is not substantiated. I'm telling you that most likely it is a belief. Now if it is a belief, then try to go from fact, clinical practice and build something that reflects clinical practice, take a few months and then read the answer if you want later on.

Author: Dr. Anand Dharsenda
Source: homeopathy

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