Vital Resistance, Hypersensitivity and the Essential Nature of Disease

In trophic reflexes the trophic nerve fibres those which control cellular nutrition carry abnormal nervous impulses which disturb the normal function of the cells of a part, lower their vitality and render them hypersensitive to noxious influences. Reflexes are the end-result of nervous impulses which arise from pathology in some distant part. Reflexes account for the constancy of local symptoms in many cases.

We all recognize the difference between a living and a dead body. We know the first is filled with vital resistance or vitality, while the second has none. Vital resistance or vital force, then, is that inherent yet indefinable life principle in all organism which differentiates, in different degrees, a living from a dead body. When the individual possesses full power to resist the ordinary insults arising in his environment, he may be said to have an average normal resistance. When an individual is in a state of reduced general vital resistance, it follows that he is in a state of general hypersensitivity, that is, more susceptible to ordinary insults than the average normal individual.

When he has the power to resist specific insults, such as certain micro-organisms, he may be said to have a specific vital resistance, even to immunity. When his specific vital resistance is reduce he is in a state of specific Hypersensitivity to noxious agents or influences. An example of specific hypersensitivity is a person who has inherited a tendency to tuberculosis and is, therefore, hypersensitive to the toxins of the tubercle bacillus.

The peak of vital force or vital resistance requires a resilient and finely adjusted mechanism designed and organized to maintain the defence of the organism against the army of invaders mobilized and ever ready to attack and break through the individuals weakened lines of defence. Some of these enemies are within, some without the body.

The first and most important requisite for vital resistance, either general or specific, is a strong hereditary defence against disease and old age. While heredity must be considered in the treatment of chronic illness, it is a factor over which the physician has no control. The results of inherited hypersensitivity may be combated on a symptomatic basis, best done with the properly selected homoeopathic remedy, one that arouses the reserve vital resistance and as far as possible desensitizes the individual.

The next requisite is proper environment. This includes living quarters, diet, occupation and other factors that enter into living a normal, satisfactory life. The mental and physical life of an individual determines to a large extent state of his vitality and health. The factor environment is somewhat more under the control of the physician and often may be corrected by frank discussion of its harmful influence on the health and life of the patient. Dietary deficiencies in vitamins and minerals, and hormone imbalance are recognized as important factors in lowering vital resistance and in creating hypersensitivity to noxious agents.

Broadly speaking, infection with micro-organisms is not a primary process but one secondary to reduced general or specific resistance of structure in which bacteria find nutriment and other conditions suitable for their growth.

However, specific hypersensitivity may occur as a result of contact with bacteria of extreme virulence, virulence having the power to break through the individuals normal average defence resistance, as in syphilis, and in cholera or yellow-fever epidemics, diseases in which the causative bacteria have repeatedly passed through many human culture media, going from person to person, acquiring added virulence with each inoculation.

In some cases the individual has not sufficient reserve vital force to successfully combat the invader, even with the aid of remedies to arouse it, and the patient dies.

Modern medicine almost universally accepts the dogma that most diseases are the direct result of bacteria. While this is true regarding some diseases due to bacteria of more than ordinary virulence, yet it is clear to homoeopathists that seed must be sown upon fertile soil to grow, that most cases of infection must be preceded by a lowered state of resistance, that a primary cause provides suitable conditions for the infection which is a secondary result of this cause. Were this not true, everyone coming in contact with pathogenic bacteria would develop an infectious process. Hahnemann calls this state “conditional.”.

Many hold that the causative factor in all chronic functional diseases is an active or latent focus of infection, the toxins from which produce all general and local symptoms. Nothing is farther from the truth. The writer can agree with this view regarding certain cases in which heredity or improper environment may reduce general vital resistance and result in general hypersensitivity.

But specific, structural hypersensitivity, manifest by symptoms at a local site, is logically due to some directional force, some force that directs the influence of the abnormal noxious agent to a local site, renders it hypersensitive and excites local reaction and local symptoms. I am aware that the toxins of streptococcus are said to have a special affinity for joint structures, but there must be some force that first weakens the structure and that precedes and directs, the attack of toxins on a left and not a right knee joint, for example, since toxins have access to all joints through the blood stream.

Experiences has taught me that this directional force arises from morbid anatomy in most cases, a lesion which acts as a stimulus to the vegetative nervous and creates hypersensitivity through these nerves supplying a local site of symptoms, in compliance with certain physiologic principles, rules and laws. It has also taught me that the majority of chronic functional cases are sensory, motor, secretory, sensory-trophic or trophic reflexes.

In trophic reflexes the trophic nerve fibres those which control cellular nutrition carry abnormal nervous impulses which disturb the normal function of the cells of a part, lower their vitality and render them hypersensitive to noxious influences. Reflexes are the end-result of nervous impulses which arise from pathology in some distant part. Reflexes account for the constancy of local symptoms in many cases.

We should keep in mind that reflexes play a most important role in chronic functional disturbances; that all cases of chronic illness are not caused by toxins; that an active or latent focus of infection occurs in a site previously prepared for it by abnormal trophic nervous impulses flowing to the part and disturbing cellular nutrition.

In other words, we should first remember that all tissues and organs are supplied by the involuntary vegetative nervous system, that the nervous control of all functions comes from this system and that reflex disturbances of function occur through the vegetative nerves as a result of a pathologic stimulus. Dr. F.M. Pottenger, in “Symptoms of Visceral Diseases,” describes tuberculous laryngitis as a trophic reflex the stimulus of which is a tuberculous process of the lung of the same side.

The larynx is hypersensitized to the toxins of the tubercle bacillus by trophic nerve impulses coursing to the part through the fibres of the parasympathetic nerves and lowering the resistance of the tissues. I might cite a case of inflammation of the left antrum of Highmore with intense pain, pus and blood discharge for three months. I injected a small, irritable left anterior pile, one in the corresponding vertical zone. Pain ceased before she left the table. Later reports said she had no more pain, pus or blood after that one treatment.

I simply destroyed the characteristic lesion that was sending sensory-tropic impulses up to the antrum and normal cellular nutrition was soon re-established. Having been treated on a toxic basis, the underlying trophic factor had been entirely ignored and that was the factor that made it possible for the pus germs to thrive.

The primary cause of general and specific hypersensitivity in many cases of chronic functional disturbance with lowered vital resistance is anal pathology. The anal region is almost exclusively supplied by the same nerves, the vegetative system, that supplies the rest of the body. Because of certain physiologic principles, rules and laws, anal lesions may exercise an influence over every tissue and organ in the body by creating excess nervous impulses which course over the vegetative nerves to the various parts.

An excess of nervous impulses in one or the other division of the vegetative system disturbs function. Disturbed function when long continued reduces vital resistance and results in hypersensitivity. The symptoms produced may be partly due to toxins superimposed on an anal reflex or they may be pure anal reflexes without any toxic factor. In the vast majority of cases the removal of anal stimuli results in restored normal resistance, restored normal sensitivity and freedom from symptoms. But this is another, a longer story.

Having in mind this view of vital resistance, vitality or vital force, as a background, let us inquire into the essential nature of disease.

But first, let us examine Hahnemanns proposition that “diseases are dynamic aberrations of our spiritlike life, manifested by sensations and actions.” Patently, he means that disease is a disturbance of vital force, that indefinable principle of life and defence of the living organism. He says this disturbance is manifested by symptoms but does not elucidate the fundamental nature of the disturbance, the “morbid affection.”.

Let me, if I may, in the light of present-day science, go somewhat farther than did Hahnemann in defining the essential nature of disease, in this formula: Disease is a state of reaction of the vital force of the organism against a noxious agent or influence which has reduced the vital resistance; an attempt of nature to repair the damage to the organism caused by an insult; an effort of vital force to restore structure and function to a normal state.

The noxious agent ACTS. The organism REACTS. .

The tubercle bacillus is a noxious agent. The disease called tuberculosis is the reaction of the organism against the toxins of the tubercle bacillus. .

The symptoms of “disease,” the signs of reaction, are subjective and objective manifestations indicating that the organism is reacting against an insult which has disturbed vital force and normal function.

Hahnemann speaks of the disease as the “natural morbid affection,” and of the similar drug as the “artificial morbid affection which is implanted upon the vital power deranged by the natural disease,” and says: “This artificial affection is substituted, as it were, for the weaker, similar disease (morbid excitation).”.

Accepting his statement concerning the “natural morbid affection,” the disease, and the “artificial morbid affection,” the similar remedy, it is evident we have two similar insults, two similar noxious agents against which the organism reacts similarly, two agents which have done injury, reduced the vital powers, incited reaction and created similar symptoms. Obviously, both the original noxious agent and the drug are of the nature of a foreign body introduced into the organism, neither of which has any place in the normal physiologic economy.

Being foreign bodies, the organism attempts to rid itself of them by the process we call reaction, and symptoms occur. When the similar- acting remedy is administered it is, according to my conception, not “substituted” for the weaker, similar “natural disease,” but comprises a similar noxious agent superimposed upon the original insult, an added drug insult that incites further reaction similar to that created by the original noxious agent.

Reaction is an expression of vital force exerted against an insult by a noxious agent, either emotional, traumatic, toxicogenic or chemical. It is a normal reparative process by which the organism attempts to restore structure and function to normal. The more intense the insult, the more vigorous the reaction against it. The most intense insult causes death because the organism has not sufficient vital force of reaction to overcome the destructive effect of the insult.

Study of inflammation is suggestive of this thesis. The process of inflammation is so intimately intermixed with the process of repair, which starts immediately following an insult, that no definite line of demarcation can be drawn dividing the two processes. Each is a different phase of reaction against a noxious agent.

When we have gained the concept of disease as a reparative process of reaction of the organism against the insult of a noxious agent that disease is not an entity which can be weighed, measured and found by laboratory methods we will have made progress. When we have recognized that noxious agents, including drugs, act like foreign bodies in injuring the body, that they reduce vital resistance and create hypersensitivity, manifest by symptoms, I believe our concept of the essential nature of disease will have become clearer.

Now, with this concept, allow me to propound a theory of how the homoeopathic similar remedy brings about relief of symptoms. But before stating it let us recall Hahnemanns idea of the matter.

In paragraph 26 of the 5th edition of the Organon we find: “In the living organism a weaker dynamic affection is permanently extinguished by a stronger one if the latter (deviating in kind) is very similar in its manifestations to the former.” And in paragraph 27, “a case of disease is extinguished and cancelled by a drug which is more potent than the disease, and capable of producing in the body symptoms most similar to, and completely resembling those of the disease.”.

I can accept the proposition that a drug is stronger than a disease, evidence of which is that it acts on all provers “unconditionally,” while a disease acts “conditionally,” that is, on persons who are hypersensitive to that particular noxious agent, but not all.

But I cannot accept the proposition that the “weaker dynamic affection (the disease) is extinguished and cancelled by a drug which is more potent than the disease, and capable of producing symptoms most similar to and completely resembling those of the disease,” in view of the foregoing theory of the essential nature of disease. Remember, both the noxious agent and the drug act and the vital force of the organism reacts. It is upon this premise that the following theory of how the homoeopathic similar remedy brings about relief of symptoms, rests, namely:.

When the properly selected similar remedy, one that covers the totality of symptoms, is given in the proper dosage, the reaction of the organism against the influence of the remedy is similar to the reaction against the original noxious agent, therefore, the symptoms of the two reactions are similar.

The homoeopathic recognizes this phenomenon as an “aggravation of symptoms” and has learned that this negative phase of Wright is followed by the positive phase of Wright, or recovery. “Aggravation of symptoms” by the homoeopathic remedy is the result of reaction of the organism against the combined influences of the original noxious agent and that of the super-added, similar remedy, the two together inciting a similar but greater reaction than either one alone. But while the influence of the remedy is primarily stronger it is relatively of shorter duration, because of proper dosage, and soon destroyed by the forces of reaction aroused against it.

The forces of reaction that were arrayed against the remedy, being similar to the forces pitted against the original insult, now join hands with and reinforce the latter and the reinforced powers having only the single, original noxious influence to combat, this influence is overcome and the symptoms of the reaction, the “disease,” cease.

To illustrate, suppose we identify the totality of symptoms of scarlatina as A.B.C.D. Let us suppose that the totality of symptoms of belladonna is A.B.C.D. The symptoms of the disease are due to the reaction of the organism against the toxins of scarlatina, the noxious agent.

We now administer belladonna, another noxious agent similar in action to the toxins of scarlatina, which arouses similar new forces of reaction, indicated by a greater or less increase of the symptoms A.B.C.D. The remedy and its influence are soon dissipated and the forces of reaction that were mobilized against it are now transferred to and combine with the similar forces pitted against the toxins of scarlatina which are thus overpowered, and succumb. We must concede that what we call vital force destroys the remedy and its influence since no other agent is introduced into the organism to accomplish this result.

If the vital forces of reaction destroy the remedy, is it not logical to assume that the two vital forces of reaction when combined against the single, original noxious agent might cause its destruction, thereby curing the so-called “disease”?.

This theory is predicated on the assumption that the individual still has a reserve of healing vital force or vital resistance that has not been entirely depleted by reaction against the original insult. The greater the original insult and the lower the reserve of vital force the less readily the remedy incites reaction against itself.

But here our theory ends, We do not exactly know what vital force or the healing force of nature really is. We dont know how it reacts against a noxious agent. Many theories of cure abound, based on both physical and psychic phenomena, such as antigens, ions, phagocytosis and psychic procedures. All point to arousing a universal intelligence in defence of the organism, but none fulfils all the requirements necessary for an adequate explanation because thus far vital force is undefined.


(1) As physicians, we are dealing with vital resistance and hypersensitivity in all cases of disease. Our problem is to increase general and specific resistance and thus desensitize the patient.

(2) The only scientific method of desensitization by drugs is by administration of the homoeopathic similar remedy.

(3) Reaction is an expression of vital force against a noxious agent.

(4) Disease is not an entity per se but a reparative reaction of the organism against a noxious agent.

(5) Disease is not “extinguished or cancelled” by a drug but by the forces of reaction of the organism against the noxious influence causing the so-called “disease.”.

(6) The similar remedy is an artificial noxious agent superimposed upon the original, natural insult and incites extra- added reaction against itself by the organism, both the “natural” and “artificial” insults being factors foreign to the normal organism.

(7) The influence of the similar remedy of proper dosage being of short duration is soon overcome by the forces of reaction aroused against it, and these forces are now transferred to and pitted against the similar, original noxious agent which succumbs to the reinforced and combined powers of the vital healing forces and the symptoms cease. .

In closing, permit me to state this paper is not intended to be didactic in the sense that this is the last word on the subjects presented, but rather to stimulate thought on the healing art and the application of the homoeopathic remedy.

Eugene Carmichael