Disease is a disturbance in the Vital Force that interferes with its ability to deal adequately with stress. Tension builds, and the Vital Force is unable to discharge it effectively. This tension causes disease symptoms. The goal of treatment is to trigger a reaction in the Vital Force so that it recognizes its problem and acts to diffuse the tension. Since tension may have been building for some time, other symptoms might appear as it gets diffused. These are usually symptoms we’ve had before. Hering’s Law of Cure, which establishes the criteria for evaluating a healthy response, states that symptoms should appear and then disappear in the following order:
- from more to less important organs
- from center to periphery
- from top to bottom
- in the reverse order of their appearance in life
The main idea is that a disordered Vital Force spreads inner tension to the wrong places in the body. As the remedy brings more order, the pressure moves from more important organs to less important ones, and eventually leaves the body.
Another important concept is suppression. Homeopaths believe that if a symptom is suppressed by a treatment modality that is not directed at the center, more important organs may become affected. This happens, presumably, because an outlet for diffusion of tension is closed by the treatment and the Vital Force attempts to diffuse the tension elsewhere.
For example, steroid ointment is often prescribed for children with eczema. It is usually used over a long period of time to “heal” the rash and, in most cases, it does the job and everybody is happy. But such children often develop asthma a few years down the road. A dermatologist once told me that children often “grow out” of eczema and “into” asthma. Such children are said to have “atopic” tendency, and their doctors usually don’t make the connection between the use of steroids and the development of asthma.
But a homeopath looks at this case differently. The eczema is a result of a disturbance in the Vital Force. If it is suppressed by the steroids, we can expect some more serious disease to develop. So the asthma comes. When we treat a child homeopathically at this point, we expect the asthma to go away and the eczema to reappear for some time. The symptoms move from within outward (lung to skin), from the more important organ to the less important ones, and in reverse order of their appearance. If the child is not treated homeopathically and the asthma is suppressed with allopathic drugs, then in a few years, perhaps when the patient is twenty or thirty years old, the disease will deteriorate into something more serious yet, such as depression or migraine headaches. If treated at this time, the patient can be expected to pass through the asthma stage before getting the eczema back. When old symptoms return, they must not be suppressed with local treatment. The Vital Force must not be interfered with when it is attempting to bring the disease out to the periphery; otherwise, the progress of the treatment is halted, and any gains made may disappear.
For example, a fifty-year-old man came to me for treatment of depression and insomnia. After the remedy, he started sleeping much better. At the same time he developed a rash in his groin. He’d had a similar rash in the past, and, as a matter of fact, still had some of the cream he’d used to treat it. Without a second thought, he used the cream. The rash promptly disappeared, and so did his improved sleep pattern. We were back to square one. I explained these concepts and gave him another dose of the remedy. Luckily for him, it worked again and both the sleep and the rash came back. This time he didn’t suppress it and put up with the itching for a few months. He made quite remarkable improvements in his mental health and the rash eventually resolved as well. This case is not unusual. I’ve seen this kind of reaction many times. That’s why we homeopaths watch so closely for suppression.
The return of old symptoms can be seen as payment for getting better. When such a reaction happens, I usually ask the patient one question: “Is this worth the improvement or would you rather have the original symptoms back?” Most patients find the improvement in their general well being so good, they’re willing to tolerate a minor aggravation. It would be easy enough to reverse the case by using allopathic drugs, but my patients usually choose to wait it out.