‘Paradoxical strategy for treating chronic diseases’: a therapeutic model used in homeopathy for more than two centuries
18 December 2017 (online)
In his seminal work on homeopathy (Essay on a new principle to ascertain the curative powers of drugs, 1796), Samuel Hahnemann summarised the pharmacological properties of many medicines used at his time, which had a secondary curative power separate from their primary effect. The drugs are analysed according to the primary action organic alterations and the secondary re-action of the organism to try to nullify these disturbances, the latter being responsible for the curative vital reaction of the homeopathic treatment.
In the Organon of Medicine [ 1 ] (paragraphs 56–60), Hahnemann criticises the enantiopathic treatment method (contraria contrariis curentur), mentioning a large number of drugs of his time that were used according to the primary palliative effect, demonstrating that ‘after such short antipathic amelioration, aggravation follows in every case without exception’ (paragraph 58). Based on his clinical observations (paragraphs 61–65), Hahnemann proposed his therapeutic method: every drug which causes a disturbance in a healthy organism (artificial disease) is capable of curing the same disturbance in a sick organism (similia similibus curentur), as it provokes an organic reaction contrary to the initial symptom provoked, nullifying the similar natural disease.
In 1999, I published in Homeopathy the article ‘Similitude in modern pharmacology’[ 2 ] which demonstrated the vital reaction of the organism observed with many modern pharmaceutical agents, after discontinuation of treatment. It can be verified that after the withdrawal of drugs used to eliminate symptoms according to the contraria principle, the same symptoms that were initially suppressed return with greater intensity than originally (rebound effect or paradoxical reaction). In this paper, I proposed evidence of the validity of homeopathic experimental observations according to the modern pharmacological model.
In 2003, following the same line of reasoning, I published in Medical Hypotheses the paper ‘Homeopathic use of modern medicines: utilisation of the curative rebound effect’,[ 3 ] proposing a systematisation of modern medicines, in conformity with the homeopathic principle of reversing chronic organic conditions through the homeostatic or paradoxical reaction (secondary action or vital reaction of the homeopathic paradigm). Describing the evidence from physiology and modern pharmacology, I suggested the use of current drugs, in infinitesimal doses in conformity with a partial (isolated symptoms) or a global (totality of characteristic symptoms) application of the therapeutic similitude principle. Exemplifying the application of the ‘partial similitude’ with infinitesimal doses of modern medicines, I suggested the use of aspirin for haemorrhage and bleeding, immunosuppressant agents to stimulate the immune system, hypertensive agents in hypotensive patients, hypotensive agents in hypovolemic shock, dopamine agonists to stimulate lactation.
In recent issue of Medical Hypotheses, Anthony J. Yun et al published a paper entitled ‘Paradoxical strategy for treating chronic diseases where the therapeutic effect is derived from compensatory response rather than drug effect’,[ 4 ] as an ‘unedited proposal’ (‘our counterintuitive paradigm’, ‘our paradoxical treatment model’, etc) of treatment of chronic diseases through compensatory mechanisms of the organism. The authors did not mention previous initiatives in this area, omitting any mention of homeopathy.
Using homeopathic concepts without mentioning homeopathy, Yun et al took appropriated intellectual property homeopathy: ‘Our hypothesis portends a different trend in pharmacology: the development of drugs that require more innovative dosing, increase sensitisation over time enabling dose reduction, and may cure the underlying chronic condition’.[ 4 ]
I sent a letter to the Editor of Medical Hypotheses pointing this out, but it was not published for reasons explained in his recent editorial[ 5 ] ‘since he became editor of the journal, Medical Hypotheses no longer publishes articles from the field of Alternative healing’ and the interpretation that ‘Yun et al were writing a paper in the paradigm of biological science, which does not include homeopathy’. The Editor in Chief of Medical Hypotheses, Bruce G. Charlton, affirms in the editorial that ‘the homoeopathic law of similar (or “like cures like”) is not a part of pharmacology’, classifying all practices of the alternative and complementary medicine (CAM) as spiritualistic therapeutic methods without scientific bases: ‘To be specific, it seems obvious to me that alternative healing is not based on scientific theories for the simple reason that it is essentially a branch of New Age spirituality’.[ 5 ]
Unfrtunately, with the death of Dr David F. Horrobin in 2003, founding Editor in Chief of Medical Hypotheses, medicine was doubly affected: she lost a brilliant mind, open to wide knowledge of the medical sciences, and a journal that used to publish, without partiality or prejudices, medical hypotheses that cross the limited Cartesian scientific model.
- 1 Hahnemann S. Organon of Medicine. 6th edn. New Delhi: B. Jain Publishers; 1991
- 2 Teixeira M.Z. Similitude in modern pharmacology. Homeopathy 1999; 88: 112-120.
- 3 Teixeira M.Z. Homeopathic use of modern medicines: utilisation of the curative rebound effect. Med Hypotheses 2003; 60 (02) 276-283.
- 4 Yun A.J, Lee P.Y, Bazar K.A. Paradoxical strategy for treating chronic diseases where the therapeutic effect is derived from compensatory response rather than drug effect. Med Hypotheses 2005; 64 (05) 1050-1059.
- 5 Charlton B.G. Why Medical Hypotheses does not publish papers from the field of Alternative healing. Med Hypotheses 2004; 63 (04) 557-559.