The sum of all that is known about the philosophy of homoeopathy is expressed in the phrase: “Similia similibus curentur.” As a slogan to rally the faithful this motto cannot be surpassed; but as just to describe in a nutshell the technical application of that philosophy, it leaves much to be desired. We incline to the choice o a somewhat less condensed phraseology, as being more definitely expressive of the homoeopathic method, such,for instance, as is found in the so- called “homoeopathic trinity”: the totality of symptoms, the single remedy, the minimum dose.
This triad, though less succinct than Similia similibus curentur, has the advantage of furnishing a clear picture of the mechanics of homoeopathic prescribing. It is like one of Cugats caricatures in which a few lines stress the salient features of the subject. Through it, even the neophytic homoeopath readily becomes aware of the essentials by which he will later acquire dexterity in the application of his art; while to the professed homoeopath contemplation of the “trinity” in the light of his own clinical experience and knowledge serves to strengthen his conviction as to the efficacy of the steps by which he arrives at the similimum.
Literally translated, similimum means the most similar. As used in medicine today it has a peculiarly homoeopathic connotation. It describes in a word that remedy the symptoms of whose pathogenesis most closely approximate the sum of the symptoms presented by the sick patient. It expresses the idea not only of similarity, but of the highest degree of similarity. Hence the inclusion of “the totality of symptoms” as the first unit of the “trinity”.
There are many remedies which are, as we say, similar to the patient; there are a number which are more similar than the many; but there is only one remedy which shows the highest degree of similarity and that one is the similimum. Therefore “the single remedy” is inserted as the second unit of the “trinity.” Without the “totality” the single remedy could not be determined; without the single remedy the “totality” would be valueless in supplying the therapeutic instrument.
It is not too difficult, even for those with somewhat retarded mental processes, to understand the relationship which exists between the concept of the similimum and the ideas of totality and unity. To accord the third unit, ” the minimum dose,” its rightful place in the “trinity” is also not difficult. But many homoeopaths fail to recognize this dictum as a corollary to the first two parts of the triad. Nor can they see any connection between the minimum dose and the most similar remedy. Hahnemann was led to the practice of minimal dosage by sad clinical experience the details of which are so well known as to need no repetition.
What happened was that Hahnemann unwittingly demonstrated Maupertius Law of Least Action: “The quantity of action necessary to effect any change in Nature is the least possible: the decisive amount is always a minimum, an infinitesimal.” Hahnemann expressed the same idea when he advised that the chosen remedy be given in the smallest dose that would cure.
If it is true that the similimum is the single remedy most similar to the requirements of the patient as indicated by the totality of the symptom complexes, both of the patient and of the remedial agent, then it is also true that the similimum calls for the dosage which is most similar to the needs of the patient and in harmony with the Law of Least Action. It does not matter whether the quantity is five drops of tincture or two pellets of the thirtieth centesimal as long as it is the least amount that will cure.– ALLAN D. SUTHERLAND, M.D.
EDITORS NOTE: This editorial originally appeared in the Bulletin of the Ohio State Homoeopathic Society.