The understanding of the concept of miasms in homeopathy has changed significantly in the last centuries. Samuel Hahnemann introduced the term “Miasm” to homeopathy in his little book called, “Chronic Diseases.” It took him twelve years of study to write this book. He wanted to understand how come many patients were not responding to what he considered to be well chosen remedies. He decided that the reason was the presence of a miasmatic or genetic taint, which was getting in the way of their healing. He identified three primary miasms or genetic taints at that time: psora, or the suppressed itch, which he called the mother of all disease, and syphilis and sycosis. The last two come from sexually transmitted diseases. Other miasms could be created from combinations of these three miasms. The Tuberculosis miasm was a combination of psora and syphilis. Cancer was a trimiasmatic disease, as all three miasms had to be present to create this condition. Hahnemann recommended prescribing intercurrent doses of nosodes in cases that were not progressing to help remove the genetic taint.
Rajan Sankaran has taken Hahnemann’s work and expanded the three original miasms to ten miasms by redefining the parameters of what the miasms are. In Sankaran’s system miasms represent a fundamental attitude toward life and pace of disease. This attitude is elicited from the client by asking him to tell you what his attitude is toward the chief complaint. If the homeopathic practitioner can identify that attitude and the pace of the disease, Sankaran believes that the practitioner can make more accurate prescriptions.
These days I no longer think in terms of miasms the way I did when I wrote this article a few years ago. Now my approach is to stay in the big mind state and not reduce my thinking to concepts, such as kingdom, family and miasm on which Sankaran built his Sensation Method. I will however, share these concepts with you because they are very prevalent right now in the homeopathic community (for better or for worse). The best prescribing is clear, direct perception, gained through having a large information base, years of experience and familiarity with the remedy, and a mind purified with meditation.
Not long ago I had the opportunity to give a demonstration of how the miasms worked at the fall retreat of Integrated Healing Arts, a health center in Palo Alto, California that I am affiliated with. There was a woman there who had experienced hearing loss, and I wanted to demonstrate to the group how homeopathy worked by using her case as an example. I explained that in order to hone in on the remedy, it would be very helpful to understand her attitude and the pace of her disease. That information would bring us to the miasm that she fell into. Once we knew the miasm the remedy selection process would become much easier, as this would help to narrow down the range of possible remedies. I will list the miasms below and tell you what her attitude would be if she fell into that miasm:
The Acute Miasm: “This hearing loss has come on suddenly and it is a sudden and immediate threat to my survival. I am alarmed by it and in a state of panic. I am terrified that I will not regain my hearing.” The acute miasm is like a sudden storm. You react to it with instinctive terror. Either you survive the storm or it takes you down. Some of our well-known remedies from the acute miasm are Belladonna and Aconite. In this example the woman is in a panic state about her hearing loss. This is an alarming situation.
The Typhoid Miasm: If the woman in our example needed a remedy from the typhoid miasm, she would view her illness as an emergency, and may even go to the hospital. This is a sub-acute, rather than an acute situation. It is a crisis that needs to be overcome, a critical situation that demands immediate attention. Once it is overcome she will be fine. The typhoid miasm is characterized by a sense of urgency and impatience. There is hope that with the proper effort and care, she will recover. Nux vomica, Bryonia, and Rhus toxicodendron are well known remedies from the typhoid miasm.
The Psoric Miasm: There is a basic optimism in the attitude of people who fall into the psoric miasm. This is the healthiest miasmatic type, as the attitude to life is the healthiest. In the example of the woman with hearing loss, she would feel optimistic about her prognosis. “I will recover.” I have to make an effort, but the situation is solvable. Healthy children often need remedies from the psoric miasm, such as Calcarea carbonica, Sulphur and Lycopodium.
The Ringworm Miasm: The woman in our example needing a remedy from the ringworm miasm would alternate in her attitude from acceptance that she has this condition to a desire to struggle against it. Basically she feels like she can live with it if she has to, though she would rather not. It is not a life threatening condition. At one moment she is hopeful that she will regain her hearing, in the next moment she gives up and resigns herself to it. Dulcamara, Calcarea sulfurica and Calcarea silicata are a few remedies from this miasm.
The Malaria Miasm: If the woman in our example needed a remedy from the malaria miasm, she would feel very unfortunate to have this problem, and harassed by the hearing loss. She would feel that it was impeding her ability to function. This incident of hearing loss may not be the first time she has experienced this complaint, as periodicity and intermittent attacks characterize this miasm. She may brood about the problem, or go into attacks of rage that she has this condition. Our two biggest remedies of the malaria miasm are Natrum muriaticum and China Officinalis.
The Sycotic Miasm: Our lady with the hearing loss would definitely not want anybody to know about this problem, if she needed a sycotic remedy. As long as she can keep her condition a secret from others, she is okay. If they find out they might think she is too old or unqualified to do her job. This is her hidden weakness, and it is a fixed problem that she has to accept, because it is not going away anytime soon. She has to avoid situations where her secret may be discovered, and she feels under qualified to do her job. Thuja, Silica and Medorrhinum are well-known remedies from the sycotic miasm.
The Cancer Miasm: The woman in our example would be very perfectionistic. Keeping in control of her life and all things in it would be her modus operandi. The hearing loss would mean loss of control to her, and she would feel a need to regain control over this situation as fast as possible, otherwise her life would fall apart and we would have utter chaos. She has set high standards for herself, which she feels are beyond her capacity to achieve. She may feel desperate to regain her hearing and therefore control over her life. The task may seem huge to her, but it is not a completely desperate situation. Some well-known remedies from the cancer miasm are Arsenicum album, Argentum nitricum, Carcinosin, Conium, and Ignatia amara.
The Tubercular Miasm: Taking our example of the woman with the hearing loss, if she needed a remedy from this miasm she would have a great love of travel. She could feel bored easily from staying in one place too long, and have a longing for freedom and change. She could feel trapped by the hearing loss, if she perceives it as curtailing her freedom. She may lead a very intense and hectic life as she prepares for her next adventure. Well-known remedies of this miasm are Tuberculinum, Tarentula, Phosphorus and Iodine.
The Leprosy Miasm: The woman in our example would feel like a leper, because of the hearing loss. She would feel like she has been outcasted by society and isolated, because of this problem. No one will want to be friends with her, because she can’t hear what they say properly. She will even possibly loath herself. She may feel less than others, dirty and disgusted with herself for having this problem. She may feel intensely hopeless that she will be able to find a solution to the hearing loss. The most well-known remedy of the Leprous miasm is Sepia. Some other remedies from this miasm are Aloe, and Secale.
The Syphilitic Miasm: As we move from the top of the list to the bottom of the list of miasms, we move from more healthy states to less healthy states, more optimistic attitudes to complete pessimism. The syphilitic miasm is the darkest of the miasms in terms of attitude. Here the feeling is of utter desperation, but she still must make an effort to try to recover. The woman in our example would feel that there is absolutely no hope, but still she has to try to be normal again. She may contemplate desperate solutions, and throw all caution to the wind. The syphilitic miasm is self destructive and destructive of others. Suicide and homicide can be contemplated and successfully executed in this miasm. Paranoid and psychotic states are also often present. The pathology itself may be very deep: ulceration and destruction of tissue may be taking place. Our heavy metals, such as Aurum metallicum, Mercurius and its salts, Plumbum metallicum and Platina fall into this miasm. Our poisonous snake remedies like Lachesis muta are also syphilitic remedies.
The understanding of miasms is extremely beneficial in selecting the homeopathic remedy for the patient (so I thought). Matching the symptoms of the patient to the symptoms of the remedy is our first job as homeopaths. Being able to match miasms as well, gives us a way to confirm the prescription and understand the patient in a deeper way. For more information on miasms, please read Louis Klein’s new book: Miasms and Nosodes, published in 2009 by Narayana Publishers.