”Miasma” is a Greek word. It means stain, pollution, defilement. In general, “Miasm” means:
(i) a heavy vaporous exhalation or effluvium formerly believed to cause disease,
(ii) obnoxious influence or atmosphere,
(iii) an unwholesome exhalation,
(iv) polluted material,
(v) putrid vegetable matter,
(vi) contagion effluvia from human body,
(vii) infective material,
(viii) The maggots- the larvae from a fly.
The great Shakespeare also said, “Miasms are the maggots that are born within the brain” (Maggot – grub, worm, the larvae from a fly). Another great Homeopath said, “By miasm, hahnemann means germ of disease.” Dr. P.S. Ortega also very rightly says, “This source or germ of suffering and death is positive, demonstrable, and perfectly recognizable. He (Hahnemann – author) called it the MIASM. ”When we say ‘miasm’ we mean ‘causes’, the etiology of acute and chronic diseases.” In this connection, we would be deceived if we do not hear what Dr. Stuart close says, “A misunderstanding of the sense in which Hahnemann uses the word “miasm” has deceived many. It was the word loosely used in his time to express the morbific emanations from putrescent organic matter, animal or vegetable and sometimes the effluvia arising from the bodies of those affected by certain diseases, some of which were regarded as infectious and others not.”
Hahnemann classified all the diseases in two groups:
(2) Chronic. According the Hahnemann, acute diseases are divided into three parts:
(a) individual (b) Sporadic (Occurring occasionally or in scattered instances, as a disease.) (c) Epidemic. (An infectious disease or condition that attacks many people at the same time in the same geographical area.)
He had also given hints of endemic and pandemic character of acute diseases. Hahnemann divided chronic diseases in two parts:
(a) Diseases with fully developed symptoms and (b) Diseases with very few symptoms.
He again divided chronic diseases of category “a” in two parts:
(i) Non- miasmatic and (ii) Miasmatic. Non-miasmatic diseases are again sub-divided into three groups:
- (i) diseases from bad hygienic conditions of living,
- (ii) diseases due to continued application of non-homoeopathic drugs in crude forms or drug addictions,
- (iii) Occupational diseases.
Miasmatic chronic diseases are also sub divided into two parts:
(i) Single disease by Psora-Sycotic, or Syphilis and (ii) Compound Disease by Psoric-Sycotic, or Psoric-Syphilitic, or Syco-Syphilitic or Psoric-Syphilitic-Sycotic.
These are also of three different types, i.e. ,
(i) continued, (ii) Intermittent (iii) Alternating.
Miasmatic chronic diseases with few symptoms are also divided into two parts:
(i) One-sided diseases, which are sub-divided two groups, i.e.
(a) Diseases with only mental symptoms, e. g., Mania, Insanity, etc., and (b) Diseases with only physical symptoms, e.g. backache, headache, etc.
(ii) Local diseases which are also sub-divided into two groups, i.e. (a) Surgical and (b) Non-Surgical.
This classification of diseases was the first in its character in the history of medicine which is of paramount importance for treatment and management of diseases. This is one of the greatest contributions of Masters Hahnemann.
Hahnemann has clearly that acute, half-acute, half-spiritual and fixed miasms are mainly responsible for all acute diseases. He has more clearly that miasm are “germs”, “virus”, “animated living beings”, “living creatures”, “excessively minute, invisible, living creature”, etc. It is evident that Hahnemann’s miasms are nothing but bacteria and other micro-organisms according to modern terminology. Dr. Kent defined nature of acute miasm very nicely : “An acute miasm is one that comes upon the economy, passes through its regular prodromal period, longer or shorter, has its period of progress and period of decline and in which there is a tendency to recovery”. Acute Miasms are of two types :
1. Recurring type – Those acute miasms which recur in the same manner more than once in a life-time of a particular person in known as recurring type of acute miasms, e.g. , Cholera, Plague, Yellow Fever, etc.
2. Non-recurring type – Fixed miasms are those acute miasms which attack persons only once a life – time, such as – Small Pox, Whooping Cough, Scarlet Fever, etc. Half-acute Miasm – The micro – organisms of Rabies or Hydrophobia are called half-acute miasms. Half-Spiritual Miasm – The living agents of measles, small pox, scarlet fever, etc., are also called half-spiritual miasm. After completing their parasitical existence in the organism for sometimes, they die out leaving the organism to recover soon if the patient survives by that time.
Although the acute diseases were rapidly and completely cured by application of well selected medicines but it was observed that chronic diseases always had a tendency to replace in a more or less varied form with new symptoms. It was also seen that in some cases they had reappeared annually with an increase of complaints. This apparent failure after discovering and practicing Homoeopathy for about 30 years (1790-1820 A.D. ) Hahnemann had pondered over this matter seriously, which led him to discover the theory of Psora as well as of chronic miasms. It took more than one decade of Hahnemann’s life for invaluable experimentation on this subject. He said, “I spent twelve years in investigating the source of this incredibly, large number of chronic affections in ascertaining and collecting certain proofs of this great truth, which had remained unknown to all former or contemporary observers, and in discovering at the same time the principal (antipsoric) remedies, which collectively are nearly a match for this thousand-headed monster of disease in all its different developments and forms”. Regarding the treatment of chronic diseases at the former stage Hahnemann stated, “Its start was pleasing, the continuation less favourable, and the outcome hopeless”. He further thought that the following five reasons might be held responsible for this failure:
1. The law of similar might not be law of universal application.
2. The number of drugs hitherto discovered was too few to cover all types of diseases that afflict human beings.
3. There might be some defect in application of the law of Similars.
4. There might be some omission in ascertaining the totality of symptoms on which the Homoeopathic treatment is based.
5. There might be some obstacles overlooked, the presence and non-eradication of which prevented lasting recovery.
Hahnemann took up the discussion in detail and found that out of above five points first four were not mainly accountable for obstacles to lasting recovery of non-venereal chronic diseases. At last, after prolonged observations and laborious experimentations he could realize that the above fifth point is the root of all evils. It was clearly evident to him after innumerable factual observations of himself and other physicians that an eruption of itch suppressed by faulty practice or one which had disappeared from the skin through other means, was evidently followed in persons otherwise healthy by the same or similar symptoms. He gave a general name to the obstacle retarding cure as “Psora”. By it he meant the “internal itch disease” with or without eruption on the skin. The dictionary meaning of the word Psora are as follows:
1. The itch or some similar skin diseases.
2. The itch-mite (Sarcoplas, Scabicide, Sarcoptes hominis or Acariasis Scabies).
The derivation in Latin and Greek, but it is rather Hebraic in origin, coming through the Greek and Latin. The original Hebrew word Tsorat, means: ”A groove, a fault, a pollution, a stigma, after applied to leprous manifestations and the great plagues”. According to Hahnemann Psora is the only fundamental cause and producer of all (acute and chronic) diseases of non-venereal nature. It is the most ancient miasm which produces seven-eighths of all chronic diseases for which it becomes most universal mother of chronic diseases. It is most infectious of all chronic miasms. That is why Hahnemann says, “Psora is that most ancient, most universal, and most destructive and yet most misapprehended chronic miasmatic disease which for many thousands of years has disfigured and tortured mankind…”
Development of Psora
The development of Psoric pathogen or miasm may be described as under:
1. Mode of infection The fluid in the itch vesicles contains the Psoric organism. If that fluid comes in contact with the general skin the itch mite gets an entry in the organism. The disposition of being affected with it is found in almost everybody and under all circumstances.
2. Internal development From the moment of touching the skin they remain no more local. No eruption or itching will be seen on the skin during first few days. It remains unchanged and apparently healthy. After a few days when those have received their complete internal development in the whole organism the local symptoms break forth.
3. Manifestations of external diseases
Psoric miasms are generally manifested in the following three ways:
a) Primary manifestations – After completion of the internal development the itch miasms try to alleviate and soothe the internal disease through local symptoms on the skin, the itch-vesicles. The incubation period of psoric miasms generally varies from 6 to 14 days. After elapse of this period a slight or more severe chill in the evening and a general heat, followed by sweat in the following night, the itch vesicles come out. At the beginning they are fine, as if from miliary fever, but gradually spreading on the skin. At first they appear in the infected region. These eruptions are accompanied by a voluptuously trickling itching which compels the patient irresistibly to rub and scratch the itch vesicles. There sorts of rubbing and scratching render temporary relief followed by severe burning for a long period. The itching is frequent and more unbearable in the late evening which continues up to mid-night. In the beginning, the itch vesicles, containing watery fluid which quickly transforms into pus and fills up the tips Violent rubbing breaks up the vesicles making the fluid pressed out and furnishes much quantity of material for infecting the surroundings of the patient and also other healthy persons. As long as this eruption remains in its natural form the internal Psora and its secondary manifestations cannot break forth. In this state, it remains slumbering and latent. These troublesome eruptions act as representative for the internal disease and keep the patient free from secondary ailments. In this stage, the disease can easily be cured by internal application of well-selected homoeopathic medicines.
Latent and secondary manifestations of psora But if instead of doing so it is allowed to progress in its own peculiar course without administration of internal curative medicines and various ointments applied externally to drive away the eruptions, then the whole internal disease speedily aggravates and increases. As a result of suppression of primary manifestation of Psora by local application or by non-homoeopathic internal medicines it is forcefully driven in wards and remains in a dormant state which is dangerous. It is called Latent Psora. On the other hand if it is exposed to some, exciting or maintaining causes like pox, whooping cough, measles or grief, vexation, shock, fall, trauma and burns, etc., the latent psora, slumbering in the organism awakens and breaks out as numerous severe chronic diseases of Psoric character. It is termed as Secondary manifestation of Psora which is much more dangerous to human life. In this way, due to suppression or palliation of Psoric skin diseases by external or internal treatment with Pseudo-homoeopathic drugs the seat of the disease which was concentrated in the external comparatively non-important organ like skin has been forcefully driven to much more important vital organs like brain, heart, lungs, liver, spleen, kidney, especially the central nervous system, endangering whole of the human health and life. Dr. Phyllis Speight very rightly says, “Psora spends its force when suppressed upon the nervous system largely, or upon nerve centers often producing nervous and mental phenomena of a serious character, all ameliorated when an eruption is thrown up on the skin.”