Prescription Rules

Words: Dr Barbara ETCOVITCH

Homeopathy is based on the Law of Similars, the idea that a substance which can produce a certain set of symptoms in a healthy person can, likewise, cure these same symptoms in illness. This process of matching symptom-pictures is the cornerstone of homeopathy and it is described through the phrase ‘Like cures like.’

To achieve a cure of the problem, the homeopath matches the symptom-picture of an ill patient to the symptom-picture of a homeopathic remedy whose profile has been determined through controlled and extensive testing or ‘provings’ on healthy human subjects.

The success of the homeopathic prescription is based on how closely these two are matched.

A close match requires the keen observation of the case and an in-depth understanding of the homeopathic remedies in the Materia Medica.

Homeopaths arrive at the complete symptom-picture by reviewing and refining the presenting symptoms in acute cases and by studying the presenting symptoms plus the short- or long-term emotional and mental clues and aetiology [causes] in chronic cases. This is done by searching for information relating [among other things] to the following additional factors:

Acute Complaints 

  • Modalities, e., what makes the symptom better, or worse
  • Time of day that may affect the symptom
  • Weather conditions that may influence the symptom and
  • Sides of the complaint.

Chronic Complaints

  • The aetiology [cause] of the problem
  • The ‘never well since’ component
  • The complaints that run through a patient’s life
  • The patient’s personality
  • The food: likes and dislikes
  • Sleep patterns
  • The factors surrounding the complaint as in the acute case.

An acute illness, by definition, is one with a rapid onset and progress, ending in either recovery, or death. It differs from a chronic illness which is characterised by its slow progress, recurring symptoms, a multiplication of problems and little tendency towards recovery. The path taken to arrive at a prescription for acute and chronic illness is different.

Let’s analyse, for example, a case of acute sore throat.

In homeopathy and contrary to Western medicine not all sore throats are created equal and there can be numerous remedies to consider for the best prescription match.

The prescription for acute sore throat in one patient:

A male patient aged 24 presents with a sore throat that is:

  • Better by swallowing solids and
  • Worse, swallowing liquids
  • Left-sided distress
  • Worse or aggravated by anything tight about the neck
  • Worse in the morning, around 8:00am.

In the homeopathic Materia Medica, these symptoms belong to a prominent snake remedy called Lachesis muta. Lachesis, the Bushmaster, or Surukuku Snake, in its ‘provings’ on healthy volunteers produces among its many symptoms, left-sided throat pain which is worse for swallowing saliva, or liquids and better by swallowing solid food. The remedy also has a marked intolerance for tight collars, necklaces, etc.

After the prescription of Lachesis is made, the dilution [6,30,200c etc.,] in which the remedy is to be given is arrived at by taking into consideration the severity of the symptoms and the length of time the problem has been around.

The remedy should resolve the acute sore throat within a day, or two, and the complaint should not recur. Conditions that recur suggest a chronic problem in which homeopathy performs well.

In chronic complaints a comprehensive and extended case is taken, one which includes among many things, the mental/emotional components of the issue, the aetiology of the complaint or the ‘never well since’ factors.

Chronic cases bring into play the art of homeopathy and the chronic prescription sets the patient on a path of self-discovery and spiritual evolution. The journey is unparalled by any other form of medicine.

Here’s another example — of  a patient who presented with a sore throat which began several months ago when her concert tour began.

The prescription for a chronic sore throat:

A female cellist aged 55, presents with

  • Swollen tonsils
  • Feeling of a lump in the throat
  • Pain from throat to ear
  • The sore throat habitually occurs prior to her concerts
  • She describes her emotional state when she has to perform as debilitating
  • She experiences severe anticipatory anxiety the day before the concert and is almost paralysed with fear in the evening of the concert.

The chronic prescription does not focus on only the physical manifestation of the problem since the physical is only a reflection of a deeper imbalance on the mental/emotional levels. The physical, in this case, is clearly linked to an emotional problem. As such, a remedy that reflects the emotional state of the patient each time the sore throat occurs is addressed.

In this case, the remedy which best matches the state of the patient is Gelsemium sempervirens. The remedy, in homeopathic ‘provings,’ produces a state of anticipation and apprehension. The patient in a Gelsemium state has a dread of ordeals and new situations to the point where they are almost paralysed by them. It is a remedy for stage fright — acutely and chronically.

The dilution of the remedy is decided upon by assessing the severity of the complaint and the amount of time it has been around. The remedy is given and follow-up consultations usually take place monthly until the complaint is completely resolved with Gelsemium.

In most chronic issues, new layers of symptoms present themselves and new remedies are appropriately prescribed until the patient is returns to a complete state of harmonious balance.

Dr BARBARA ETCOVITCH is a Classical Homeopath, Interfaith Minister, freelance writer, and lecturer. She has a BA from Sir George Williams University, a MA in Literature from the University of Ottawa, Canada, and a Diploma in Classical Homeopathy from the School of Homeopathy, Devon, England. She was ordained by the All Faiths Seminary International in New York City in 2004. She has been in homeopathic practice for 30+ years treating human and animals alike, from her office in Montreal, Canada, and worldwide via Skype.

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