What is Psora? Hahnemann, its discoverer, says: “Psora is the oldest, most universal and most pernicious and yet withal the most misunderstood chronic miasmatic disease.” Whatever we may say about the various theories regarding Psora, one thing strikes us and that is that it is them most misunderstood disease. That practical homoeopath, Nash, in his Leaders, evades explaining the theory of Psora.
He says: “If you ask me what is Psora? I answer in true Yankee style, what is Scrofula? Perhaps Psora is Scrofula, or Scrofula is Psora. Call it either or neither. Yet it is present, a something named or unnamed which must be recognized and complicates so-called acute diseases. Once contracted or inherited, no matter what acute disease appears, we are at times obliged to turn aside from its treatment to give a quietus to the old enemy before we can overcome the acute affection.”.
Hahnemann discovered the idea of Psora when he found his remedies in many instances had failed to cure diseases completely. If his Law of Homoeopathy was true, the indicated remedies should have removed the disease in toto. The fact that they did not do so only meant that they did not cover the complete totality of symptoms, but only one facet or phase of a much bigger disease.
After much thinking and study of many different types of ailments, he came to the conclusion that at the back of all these lay one common factor – a history of suppressed itch. Other authorities, who had also observed this peculiarity of suppressed itch producing various diseases, supported his view. He gave his fundamental cause of various diseases the name of Psora.
It is fortunate that Hahnemann observed the effect of suppressed itch alone and not of other suppressions. and it is still more unfortunate that he used the word Psora almost as a synonym with itch. This has led to a general belief that every form of itch is Psora and has caused such vastly different diseases like leprosy and ordinary acarus itch to be treated as one single disease.
In one place Hahnemann himself says about the itch insect: “These exceedingly small animals are a kind of mite. the itch attacks most readily and most virulently persons in whom cutaneous transpirations are scanty or weakened, who lead a sedentary life, also delicate individuals who have been weakened by other diseases such as fevers, etc., or by residence in impure air.” This proves that Hahnemann knew that itch is really a local skin disease, which is different from leprosy, and that he never meant it to be treated as Psora. The real emphasis he laid was upon suppression.
The outer outcome of this theory has been that we give more value to suppressed itch while minimising the importance of other suppressed conditions.
Kent explains the theory of Psora in a metaphysical way. He asserts that sinful thinking and willing bring about a diseased condition in man, which manifests itself on the skin as itch or leprosy according to the intensity of the sin. Whether this explanation is correct or not, it does not give the remedy for Psora, as, according to his definition, ever human being is now psoric, and will remain so as long as evil thought is present in the human mind. How will the so-called anti-psoric remedies cure people of their evil thoughts?
Or again, this does not help in the Anacardium and Hyoscyamus, or the lascivious remedies like Hyoscyamus, Lilium tig. and Origanum, or the kleptomaniac remedies like Nux vomica and Artemisia vulgaris the biggest remedies for Psora? Though as homoeopaths we do take into account all the mental symptoms of every patient, we apply the theory of Psora only when the seemingly indicated remedies fail to act; and as far as we can see, Hahnemann actually used his knowledge of Psora only for this purpose.
Before we define Psora, it is better to see what other definitions or explanations have been given about it. Some say that “the predisposition to acute diseases, or their relapsing tendency” is Psora. That Hahnemann never meant this is proved by his following remarks: “It was more easy to me to find out and recognize the signs of Psora by an accurate comparison of the state of health of all such persons with myself, who, have never been afflicted with the Psora although I have been on the whole, very apt to catch acute epidemic diseases”.
According to Dr. George W. Mackenzie: “The Psora of Hahnemann and the focal infection of present day medical science, as I have stressed on more than one occasion, are one and the same”.
To understand Psora, we must first realize what wonderful capacity our body has to fight disease, and why, with all its attempts, it fails in certain circumstances to get rid of the disease by itself.
Every disease, either acute or chronic, that attacks mankind leaves behind traces of destruction and causes inroads into the health unless it has a chance or opportunity to have a full fight and expression in the body. All signs and symptoms as a result of disease are produced only by our body, and unless the body is free to deal completely and thoroughly with the infection or the disease and to develop its defence mechanism fully so that the disease is annihilated, some portion of the disease poison remains behind, never removed completely and causing slow but sure changes in the deeper and more vital tissues and organs.
Nature has been kind enough to endow the body with the power to throw out entirely the poisons through the excretory organs, but, if due to some reasons it is not possible for the whole of the poisons to be thrown out, it is arranged that the least important organs alone bear the burnt of the poisons so that the vulnerable and precious organs are safe. Most of the acute infectious diseases are overcome by the body by throwing them out either as diarrhoea or perspiration or the most important – the characteristic skin eruptions.
As long as Natures curative process is not interfered with, there is practically no harm to the body; and the acute disease leaves the least traces of itself behind. Unfortunately if due to some cause, Nature is prevented from its normal curative process, we find various after-effects of the acute disease with damage or destruction of more vital organs so that the body never comes to normal at all after the illness.
After all, man has to get and fight various acute diseases, and it is only after a good fight that he gets immunity from those disease. If in an acute disease some foolish medical treatment thwarts Natures efforts at throwing the poisons to the surface, no wonder there is a repercussion on more vital organs leaving behind much more destruction. If this goes on from one acute disease to another, a condition is produced wherein the normal curative process is numbed. This condition is Psora.
I would define Psora as an obstruction in the normal curative defense mechanism of the body and the clogging of the eliminative and curative processes leading to a condition where the disease spreads from less important to more important organs, from without inward, and from the circumference to the centre. It has nothing to do with itch as such unless it is suppressed, producing that condition in the body where more vital organs are affected.
ANY suppression or inhibition of the natural reactions of man is Psora. It may be a suppression of even his desires or passions; but it is specially so in connection with the reactions of his body towards its enemies, the various diseases, poisons, and other evil effects of adverse circumstances. Only if we are free to deal with circumstances as we would like to; if we can give full vent to our anger or any other feeling, without suppressing, we get over the evil effects much more easily. As Freud puts it, most of the mental diseases are the result of inhibitions of our natural desires.
Take for example small-pox and measles. EVery one knows that if the eruptions do not come out on the skin properly, it is very dangerous. Similarly, dry cholera, or cholera sicca, is much more fatal than the ordinary variety. If any poison is taken by us accidentally, unless we are able to vomit it out or purge it out, we get very dire results. Again, we see many patients taking so many dangerous drugs daily. If it were not for the capacity of the body to excrete then through the kidneys and other organs, they would never be able to take them without suffering severe poisoning effects. As it is, our bodies cannot completely throw the drugs out of the body and that is why we see so many bad effects of the drugging.
Chronic residual poisoning, attacking as it does more and more vital organs, is nothing but Psora. If the body is able to get rid of all the poisons, no harmful after-effects remain. Chronic poisoning with such deep-acting drugs as Lead, Mercury and so on, must be counted as Psora also. They behave exactly like it. How many times we see our medicines refusing to act unless we antidote the effects of Mercury or some such drug, which the patient is unconsciously imbibing daily?.
Gonorrhoea and syphilis are also essentially psoric, because they become chronic only if their early manifestations on the surface of the body are suppressed, resulting in their metastasis to more important organs. Leprosy of the cutaneous variety is less deadly than when the nerves get involved. And this gives a better explanation of the statement of Kent that there would be no chronic disease if there were no Psora. Hahnemann makes a clear distinction between sycotic or chronic gonorrhoea and acute gonorrhoea.
He says: “The miasm of other common gonorrhoea seems not to penetrate the whole organism, but only to locally stimulate the urinary organs. They yield to a dose of parsley juice, or a small dose of Cannabis or Cantharides or Copaiva Balm unless a Psora slumbering in the body of the patient has been developed by means of a strongly affecting, irritating or weakening treatment by allopathic physicians. In such a case frequently secondary gonorrhoeas remain, which can only be cured by an anti-psoric treatment”.
Now, about the anti-psoric treatment. Here again our definition and theory of Psora make our task easier. If we look at the symptomatology of the anti-psorics, and the mode of their action on the body, we find that the real difference between these and the acute remedies is their capacity to help the vital force to throw out onto the surface all the hidden and suppressed conditions within.
Any remedy that could bring back a suppressed discharge or an eruption or a sweat or even an old fever would be an anti-psoric. Can we think of any anti-psoric of Hahnemann without this capacity? And the anti-psoric remedy must have the power to help the vital force to cure the disease from within outwards, from centre to circumference and from above downwards.
This idea of Psora also guides us in the case of skin diseases, which have been always a bugbear to the majority of homoeopaths. After all, there are local cutaneous infections like the acarus, the barbers itch and some other fungus growths on the skin, which can be treated locally without any evil effects on the internal organs. This also helps us in case-taking, because we find in the case history of the patient, not only suppressed itch, but also various other suppressions, and wrongly treated acute diseases, which unless taken into account will not allow the indicated remedies to act.
In the latest treatment of Tuberculosis by Bourneville and Nebel, the greatest stress is laid on the proper “drainage” or “elimination” in the body. If at all naturopaths succeed in curing diseases, it is because they, too, take great pains to regulate the excretory functions of the body by which the majority of toxins get eliminated. We too, in treatment of chronic diseases must see it that the various discharges of the body, stools, urine, sweat and so on, are properly excreted. We may fail to cure the deep-seated chronic disease even with the best selected remedies if we neglect these cleansing processes.
In conclusion, I may say that by tagging Psora with cutaneous eruptions only, we are restricting the scope of the anti-psoric treatment. But on the other hand, if we accept Psora to mean the driving in of diseases into different tissues and parts of the body due to any obstruction in the normal working of the curative process, we get a clear and more comprehensive view of this, the most misunderstood disease.