Creating Waves of Awareness
Last days I saw a question in HWC by a homoeopathic student “what should be diet for patient during homoeopathic treatment?” This has been controversial issue right from Hahnemann days and till now homoeopaths around the world are dealing their patients in different ways.
According to my study and observation diet issue in Homoeopathic treatment is many folds.
1: There are some accepted observations in medicine that certain food categories affect or depress certain organs. For instance sugar affects pancreas; fats affect liver; and proteins affect kidneys etc. These are universally accepted things and homeopaths should observe them in their practice. I know some homeopath may say that these things are not much important because when vital force is balanced by similar remedies everything will get in order. But facts are not so. I am not opposing homoeopathic concept of vital force. Homoeopathy is not simple similar remedy and vital force. It’s a complete medical science and considers every truth. Fortunately I have experience of working with a very senior and competent homoeopath who has worked on a lot of chronic and even terminal cases. And we many times observed that a single mistake in diet so much worsened the condition that the patient could not recover after that and died. So we should know, generally, what kind of patient is and what sort of diet is suitable or injurious for him/her.
According to latest research some diseases namely Obesity, Diabetes and cardiovascular problems are mainly metabolic disorders and cannot be cured unless the diet is accordingly corrected.
We shall often find it indicated in scorbutic states of the system when the patient suffers more or less from scurvy. It is quite likely that the prolonged use of salt meat is a common cause of scurvy.
So, when we are to cure such a patient we would have to stop, of course, his salt meat---the exciting and maintaining cause of the disease.
After 10year practical observation and considerable study I could comprehend Hahnemann’s words…
Now, as in a disease, from which no manifest exciting or maintaining cause (causa occasionalis) has to be removed, we can perceive nothing but the morbid symptoms…
To me, now, this means that if there is some continuous exciting cause of symptoms (disease) we cannot overcome the symptoms unless the exciting or maintaining cause has been removed
and that may be something in diet.
I think we, all homoeopaths, should understand these things.
2: Secondly we should advise patient to avoid all things that can harm even a healthy person. For instance, alcoholic drinks excessive smoking, excessive tea or coffee drinking, modern beverages with high sugar and a lot of chemicals etc. Food items that have strong medicinal effects can be included here as raw ginger, onions, vinegar etc. Farrington says about ginger in his lecture on Nux-v,
It is not a safe article of food to be indulged in by children, or by those who have any kidney affection, as it rather favors the development of morbus Brightii.
Moreover chemicals in the environment that we may inhale or swallow unnoticed should be considered. We all know Hahnemann’s story of Sepia well when he could not cure his artist friend unless he noticed and stopped his habit of taking Sepia ink into mouth by his brush. How can resist or digest a sick person such things as can make even a healthy person sick. Experienced homoeopaths always advise their patients to avoid such things as much as possible not because they antidote our remedies but because they can produce their own symptoms or depress the patient’s system and thus slow down the
recovery. This is why Kent says that tobacco or alcohol addicts are the most difficult cases. He says in his lecture on Thuja,
Such a patient must be in excellent health, which is not generally the case. They are drinking men and smokers. Tobacco is one of the most troublesome things you will run across, many cases will not recover promptly if they are tobacco users and great smokers, wine drinkers or convivial men, they run around a good deal and are high livers and with such you have a slow case on hand.
Hahnemann has given a list of such things in aphorism 259, 260 and footnote 140 of the Organon,
Considering the minuteness of the doses necessary and proper in homoeopathic treatment, we can easily understand that during the treatment everything must be removed from the diet and regimen which can have any medicinal action, in order that the small dose may not be overwhelmed and extinguished or disturbed by any foreign medicinal irritant.
Hence the careful investigation into such obstacles to cure is so much the more necessary in the case of patients affected by chronic diseases, as their diseases are usually aggravated by such noxious influences and other disease-causing errors in the diet and regimen, which often pass unnoticed.
Coffee; fine Chinese and other herb teas; beer prepared with medicinal vegetable substances unsuitable for the patient's state; so-called fine liquors made with medicinal spices; all kinds of punch; spiced chocolate; odorous waters and perfumes of many kinds; strong-scented flowers in the apartment; tooth powders and essences and perfumed sachets compounded of drugs; highly spiced dishes and sauces; spiced cakes and ices;
crude medicinal vegetables for soups; dishes of herbs, roots and stalks of
plants possessing medicinal qualities; asparagus with long green tips, hops,
and all vegetables possessing medicinal properties, celery, onions; old cheese,
and meats that are in a state of decomposition, or that posses medicinal
properties (as the flesh and fat of pork, ducks and geese, or veal that is too
young and sour viands), ought just as certainly to be kept from patients as
they should avoid all excesses in food, and in the use of sugar and salt, as
also spirituous drinks, undiluted with water, heated rooms, woolen clothing
next the skin, a sedentary life in close apartments, or the frequent indulgence
in mere passive exercise (such as riding, driving or swinging), prolonged
suckling, taking a long siesta in a recumbent posture in bed, sitting up long
at night, uncleanliness, unnatural debauchery, enervation by reading obscene
books, reading while lying down, Onanism or imperfect or suppressed intercourse
in order to prevent conception, subjects of anger, grief or vexation, a passion
for play, over-exertion of the mind or body, especially after meals, dwelling
in marshy districts, damp rooms, penurious living, etc. All these things must
be as far as possible avoided or removed, in order that the cure may not be
obstructed or rendered impossible. Some of my disciples seem needlessly to
increase the difficulties of the patient's dietary by forbidding the use of
many more, tolerably indifferent things, which is not to be commended.
I know this is a point where homoeopaths are divided into two groups. Some say that all food items that have medicinal properties should be avoided during homoeopathic treatment. While others maintain that no food item, which is crude, can interfere our potentized
remedies. I say when we come across a failure or there is confusion we would be
missing something from the Organon. So in next aphorisms Hahnemann completely
clears the confusion. He says that edible things that have medicinal properties
lose their medicinal powers when they have been cooked, modified and mixed with
other things. He says
Aphorism 266 note 142…
Aphorism 266: Substances belonging to the animal and vegetable kingdoms possess their medicinal qualities most perfectly in their raw state.
Footnote 142: All crude animal and vegetable substances have a greater or less amount of medicinal power, and are capable of altering man's health, each in its own peculiar way. Those plants
and animals used by the most enlightened nations as food have this advantage
over all others, that they contain a larger amount of nutritious constituents;
and they differ from the others in this that their medicinal powers in their
raw state are either not very great in themselves, or are diminished by the
culinary processes they are subjected to in cooking for domestic use, by the
expression of the pernicious juice (like the cassava root of South America), by
fermentation (of the rye-flour in the dough for making bread, sour-crout
prepared without vinegar and pickled gherkins), by smoking and by the action of
heat (in boiling, stewing, toasting, roasting, baking), whereby the medicinal
parts of many of these substances are in part destroyed and dissipated. By the
addition of salt (pickling) and vinegar (sauces, salads) animal and vegetable
substances certainly lose much of their injurious medicinal qualities, but
other disadvantages result from these additions.
But even those plants that possess most medicinal power lose that in part or completely by such processes. By perfect desiccation all the roots of the various kinds of
iris, of the horseradish, of the different species or arum and the peonies lose
almost all their medicinal virtue. The juice of the most virulent plants often
becomes inert, pitch-like mass, from the heat employed in preparing the
ordinary extracts. By merely standing a long time, the expressed juice of the
most deadly plants becomes quite powerless; even at moderate atmospheric temperature
it rapidly takes on the vinous fermentation (and thereby loses much of its
medicinal power), and immediately thereafter the acetous and putrid
fermentation, whereby it is deprived of all peculiar medicinal properties; the
fecula that is then deposited, if well washed, is quite innocuous, like
ordinary starch. By the transudation that takes place when a number of green
plants are laid one above the other, the greatest part of their medicinal
properties is lost.
Hence we can easily infer that foods having medicinal properties should be avoided in such a form, quantity and repetition, as they are capable of producing their own symptoms and
modifying action of the applied remedy or affecting general health of the
patient. Otherwise the patient should not be deprived of any thing that is not
capable of modifying action of the remedy or depressing the patient’s system.
However diet for a chronic patient should be as simple, energetic and natural
as possible. I think this is reasonable. Let us, now, read a line from
Farrington’s “Clinical Materia Medica which supports our understanding of this
point. He says in his lecture on Anacardium,
But it is antidoted by Juglans, also by strong coffee without sugar or milk.
Now we try to find the reasons for the above-mentioned different viewpoints. We know that action of a medicine on the organism in health (for the purpose of proving or in case of poisoning) and disease (during the healing process) is different. To say more clearly, in proving as well as poisoning a medicine produces its symptoms on the basis of its own medicinal power. In healing process, whereas, symptoms are removed by body’s reaction against similar remedy. So in case of proving and poisoning a medicinal agent introduced into the organism is working and thus it can be antidoted by a substance which has antidotal relation to it. While in healing process, on the other hand, the applied medicine works at start and the process continues by the powers of vital force. Thus an antidotal food item may not interrupt the
healing process started by a medicine. How a medicine’s action will be
interrupted or modified when already it is over, and reaction of the vital
force has started against it. Let us explain it by an example.
Hahnemann notes that coffee antidotes nux vomica. But he says,
For the headache and anorexia it causes, the appropriate antidote is coffee.
It means, when someone is sick by the influence of nux vomica coffee will minimize or antidote its effects. But when a patient is getting better after the administration of nux vomica the case may not be relapsed by coffee because action of the medicine is already over. The recovery is resulting from reaction of the vital force, not action of the medicine.
To make this point more clear we read the complete paragraph of Hahnemann. He says,
“When, on account of the dose being doo large, or on account of unhomeopathic employment, it causes considerable ill effects, its action may be speedily completely removed by a little wine, brandy, and camphor. For the headache and anorexia it causes the appropriate antidote is coffee, the paralytic symptoms it produce is cocculus, for the over sensitiveness and dyspnoea induced by it, aconitum napellus; and for the great crossness and irascibility, chamomilla”.
I quoted this paragraph to highlight the fact that a medicine does not produce all of its symptoms in every individual, nor effects of a dose are equally intense every time. When a powerful medicinal substance never produces the same results, how can we expect this kind of action form an ordinary food item? That is, an edible thing may produce some symptom in a sensitive individual and may not render any change in
other persons. Moreover a food item can be expected to produce, and at the same time antidote, varying symptoms in different individuals (as all medicines do). Now, we would need to know which food item is capable of producing what symptoms in what sort of individuals. But in this respect we don’t possess verified and detailed information of everything except a few that have been proved and incorporated into the our materia medica. Moreover we know that medicinal properties of a substance alone do not play role to produce symptoms, amount and repetition also account for. Another basic factor is susceptibility
of the individual upon whom a medicinal substance is being applied. We have no definite parameters to ascertain how much deep or powerful are the effects of an applied substance; and consequently we don’t know what form, quantity and repetition of the antidotal agent would be needed to antidote it. Vithoulkas says regarding coffee and camphor as antidotes of homoeopathic medicines,
Other methods of antidoting confused cases can be used, but they are usually less effective than allopathic medicines. Coffee can be taken several times a day. In my experience, this will antidote remedies within 3 days to 9 months, depending upon the constitutional weakness and sensitivity of the patient. A patient who happens to be very susceptible to coffee will react immediately, as will a patient with very weak constitution. Since the length of time required to antidote prescriptions by coffee is difficult to predict in advance, this is relatively impractical method. An attempt could also be made by covering the patient’s body with a substance containing a large amount of camphor; usually, liniments and vapo-rubs are best for this purpose. Again the amount of exposure required to successfully antidote remedies by this method is an individual matter.
So any food item, with its medicinal properties, in same quantity and repetition may and at the same time may not be sufficient to antidote a given remedy in different patients. Probably these are the reasons for which there are no accepted principles and the issue is still controversial.
Now question rises as in such an uncertain condition what should be our attitude towards patients? Of course we should not impose heavy and strict restrictions on the patients so that they may not feel inconvenient with our treatment. Rather to politely advise them to avoid such things as much a possible, and when a well-selected remedy suddenly stops working, after starting and continuing improvement for
some period, we should look for the dietary antidotal factors along with
However this is theoretical understanding of the issue that needs thorough experiments to arrive at ultimate conclusions.
3: Thirdly there are some patients hypersensitive or susceptible to some food items. For example milk (Nat-c), fats (Puls), sweets (Arg-n), eggs (Ferr) etc. When a patient is so
susceptible to a particular food item that it makes him/her sick whenever it is
taken then he/she would have to avoid it until the similar remedy has improved
the overall condition and further he/she is not sick by taking that item. Kent
denotes a case in his Arg-n lecture in which the patient could not be cured
until she stopped her candy habit.
Before going to last important point I would like to clear that one should not think every patient would have to suffer all the above mentioned precautions. Homoeopathy is a system of
individualization. A patient would receive an individualized remedy,
precautions, and instructions from a competent homoeopath according to his/her
individual symptoms and conditions.
4: The last but not least important point is that all these precautions should be observed in chronic cases where as in acute cases the patient should be allowed to eat and drink
what ever his/her system demands. In chronic cases the system is so deeply
perverted as desires and aversions of the patient also have been perverted. A
common example is Ant-c patient who desires sour things in spite of being
severely aggravated by them. On the other hand in acute conditions the system is not deeply perverted. Patient’s desires are internal demands that relieve the suffering when gratified. So, when the patient is allowed to take a food or drink that he desires, it
temporarily relieves him that helps in recovery.
In acute diseases, on the other hand - except in cases of mental alienation - the subtle, unerring internal sense of the awakened life-preserving faculty
determines so clearly and precisely, that the physician only requires to
counsel the friends and attendants to put no obstacles in the way of this voice
of nature by refusing anything the patient urgently desires in the way of food,
or by trying to persuade him to partake of anything injurious.
The desire of the patient affected by an acute disease with regard to food and drink is certainly chiefly for things that give palliative relief: they are, however,
not strictly speaking of a medicinal character, and merely supply a sort of
want. The slight hindrances that the gratification of this desire, within
moderate bounds, could oppose to the radical removal of the disease will be
amply counteracted and overcome by the power of the homoeopathically suited
medicine and the vital force set free by it, as also by the refreshment that
follows from taking what has been so ardently longed for. In like manner, in
acute diseases the temperature of the room and the heat or coolness of the
bed-coverings must also be arranged entirely in conformity with the patients'
wish. He must be kept free from all over-exertion of mind and exciting
1- Robert Atkins: New diet Revolution, Avon Books Harper Collins Publishers U.S.A 2002 P-XIII
2- Samuel Hahnemann: (1) Organon of Medicine, B.Jain, India 1997, P.95, 280-82, 284-85
(2) Hahnemann’s Materia Medica. Vol II, B.Jain, India 1985, P.2479
3- J.T. Kent: Lectures on Materia Medica B.Jain, India, 1995, P.140, 1000
4- A.E. Farrington M.D: Lectures on Clinical Materia Medica. B.Jain 2006 P.195, 212, 856
5- P. Sankaran: Dietetic Restrictions in Homoeopathic Practice, The Homoeopathic Medical Publisher Bombay India 1985. P. 17
6- G. Vithoulkas: The Science of Homoeopathy, B.Jain, India, 1998, P. 253
Article By: Dr. Mir Zahed
Hon. Lecturer: Homoeopathic Academy of Niagara Canada
Author:(1) Understanding & Utilizing the Homoeopathic Materia Medica (Under Print)
(2) Rahmomay Materia Medica (Urdu)