Dr. Chowdhuri. is a member of the General Council and State Faculty of Homoeopathic Medicine of Bengal – ED.
Proper diet is essential for the patient. Improper diet has killed many patients. For this reason, the medical science has always laid stress on the feeding of the patient. Allopathy, Ayurved (ancient Indian medical science) and Unani (ancient Arabic medical science) treat the patient according to the name of disease and prescribe different diet for different diseases. But the principles of Homoeopathy differ from all other medical sciences and therefore it is not at all proper for a homoeopathic physician to prescribe diet for his patient according to the name of the disease as is done by other medical professions.
Homoeopathic therapeutics written by European and American homoeopathic authors have not given any proper direction about it. Some of them have suggested allopathic dietary and the rest are silent on the subject. So we cannot practically get any help from our European and American colleagues in this matter. Samuel Hahnemann, the founder of Homoeopathy, had not enough time to make extensive researches on dietary. Still, however, he has given certain direction about diet in his Organon and after him Dr. C.M. Von Boenninghausen has written a pamphlet on it. But since his time, many changes have occurred and I think we should no more neglect the subject. It is now time to find out the dietary principles of our medical science keeping in view the observations made by Hahnemann.
I shall try to lay before my learned colleagues my works for the last eight years about dietary for criticism and further discussion. And I hope my theory, if my honourable colleagues consider it to have the slightest possibility of improvement in diet problems, will be given a trial. The writer will be highly obliged for any help received in the matter from any circle.
Before going on to formulate the theory of diet, I would like to review the problem of diet discussed by my predecessors, Hahnemann discussed in his Organon in paragraphs 259, 260, 261 diet during homoeopathic treatment. From those paragraphs we get his views as follows:.
C 259. Considering the minuteness of the doses necessary and proper in the homoeopathic treatment, we can easily understand that during the treatment everything must be removed from the diet and regimen which can have any medical action in order that the small dose may not be overwhelmed and extinguished or disturbed by any foreign medicinal irritant.
C 260. Hence the careful investigation into such obstacles to cure is so much the more necessary in the case of patients affected by chronic diseases as their diseases are usually aggravated by such noxious influences and other disease causing errors in the diet and regimen which often pass unnoticed.
C 261. The most appropriate regimen during the employment of medicine in chronic diseases consists in the removal of such obstacles to recovery and in supplying where necessary the reverse, innocent moral and intellectual recreation, active exercise in the open air in almost all kinds of weather (daily walk, slight manual labor), suitable nutritious unmedicinal food and drink, etc.
Following the Organon Dr. Boenninghausen wrote the pamphlet about homoeopathic diet and reprinted it in 1833, about ten years before the death of Hahnemann. So in the absence of any contradiction from Hahnemann we may take it that the pamphlet had his approval. I am quoting a portion of it from the translation by Prof. L.H. Tafel:.
Beef, mutton, venison of all kinds (but it must not have the haut gout) even the meat of the wild boars and their young, raw hams not the fat, chickens, turkey, capons (which have not been fattened too much) grown pigeons, not too young, and, with patients who are not suffering from troubles of the stomach or the bowels, also occasionally some roast veal is not injurious. But these meats, as well as all other food permitted, must not be spoiled by being seasoned with medicinal substances (e.g. spices). Jelly, also prepared without spices, as well as smoked and pickled meat, are also permitted.
Fish are to be eaten only in moderation, and only at noon, not in the evening. The fish most easily borne are carp, pike, trout, crucian, barbel, tench, white fish, gudgeons, mullet, etc. if they are quite fresh and prepared in a simple manner.
Of other animal food there are also permitted butter, raw or soft-boiled eggs, milk, which is most safe if first boiled (since it frequently contains medicinal virtues from the food of the animals), butter-milk, clabber, whey, fresh cheese (not odorous), and unseasoned, or, still better, cottage cheese.
On the whole Hahnemann and Dr. Boenninghausen permitted all the foods which are unmedicated and forbade everything medicated. But in the progress of Homoeopathy for about a hundred years physicians have encountered many problems about diet. Milk is a safe diet according to them, but Dr. Kent writes, “Every physician has seen a few cases in his practice, men, women and children, who cannot drink milk. They say they are made sick by drinking or using milk and that milk is poison to them. It is the work of the physician to study cases and ascertain in each case what symptoms are observed after taking milk. These symptoms constitute a proving of it and it is best kind of proving as it is produced upon sensitive persons.” (Kents Materia Medica, page 632).
So we find that milk is not suitable for many patients. I now place here my experience of a case of milk studied during my practice. I had a chronic patient who was under the influence of Sulphur 1M. As to diet, I instructed him to take rice, curry, milk and sweet fruits, but he did not take milk usually. The case was progressing and after a month he came and complained that all his symptoms were aggravated. I was puzzled and could not find the cause of it. I enquired of him about his diet. He informed me that since he took milk the previous night all his symptoms were aggravated. I thought that milk might have spoiled the action of my medicine and was likely to have been responsible for this aggravation.
I then consulted Kents Materia Medica where I found the following lines: “There is a craving for stimulants, for alcohol and an aversion to milk and meat, these latter make him sick and he loathes them.” I forbade the patient to take milk and gave him phytum (?) and after a few days I gave Sulphur 1M again and the case began to improve. Fifteen days later I advised the patient to take milk again in order to prove whether milk was the cause of the disturbances of the action of Sulphur. To my astonishment my idea was proved correct. The patient again fell sick and all of his symptoms became aggravated. So it was not at all difficult to come to the conclusion that milk is inimical to the Sulphur patient. Consequently, I forbade him to take milk and he was cured with Sulphur, higher to highest, up to CM potency.
My difficulty was greatly increased when I read the medicinal properties of sugar of milk in Dr. Clarkes Dictionary of Materia Medica on page 1055, as follows: “Hahnemann chose globules of Saccharum lactis as the chief vehicle of his remedies, because he considered it the most inert substance he could find. But his method of attenuating remedies had shown that no substance is absolutely inert in any form.” H.A. Hare says of Sac. lac.: “Scientific and clinical studies have shown it to be possessed of very great diuretic powers when given in full doses.
” He says further that its direct action on the kidneys and its slight action elsewhere indicate it in renal dropsy and renal inactivity, that it acts best in cases when albuminuria is absent and that it causes profuse diuresis in infants fed on it. I have frequently met with patients who could not take Sac. lac. either unmedicated or as a vehicle, without inconvenience. One patient when taking Sac. lad. three times a day complained that it made his eyes ache and feel weak. One of the Swans provers had this symptom “Slight fails; eyes tire very easily.” Swan is the authority for Sac. lac. as a homoeopathic remedy.
Now we find many substances such as milk, sugar, etc., which are not unmedicated in any form to all persons. Hence the dietetic direction of Hahnemann and Dr. Boenninghausen does not comply with modern times. I consulted many books and friends but none could satisfy me. At last I wrote an article, “How to Select Diet during Homoeopathic Treatment,” in Homoeopathic Advance (Vol. VI, No.3, March, 1939), a monthly journal edited by Dr. N. Ghatak, B.A., to throw proper light on the subject. But neither the editor himself nor any physician seemed to take the matter seriously or cared to find out a solution.
After much consideration and research I came to the conclusions that (1) diet should not be antidotal to the medicine administered and (2) the diet should not be inimical to the patient and medicine. Nux vom. is antidoted by wine and coffee. So, after administering Nux vom., the patient should be forbidden to take wine and coffee otherwise the actions of Nux vom. will be stopped and the patient will not be cured. Again, fat is inimical to Pulsatilla; it should not be given to the patient under Pulsatilla to get the proper action of the medicine.
The theory suggested by me is in keeping with the opinions of Dr. Boenninghausen, Dr. Farrington and Dr. Kent.
Dr. Boenninghausen, in the pamphlet on homoeopathic diet, stated – “Even more important in this direction is the observation frequently made, that as a rule only such medical substances act in a disturbing manner, on substances given before as have homoeopathic relation to it, i.e., which have the virtue and tendency of producing similar effects on healthy persons. On this alone the antidotal virtue rests (vide his Lesser Writings, page 270).” Here Dr. Boenninghausen related the antidotal diet that should be forbidden.
Dr. Farrington also forbade the diet which is an antagonistic to the indicated remedy: “There are some medicines which citric acid will antidote and some which will disagree with it. Citric acid is chiefly found in oranges and lemons. Again, if you are giving Belladonna, you should not think of using vinegar as vinegar retards the action of that drug. But when giving Belladonna, you must use lemonade as that aids the action of that drug. Antimonium crudum will not tolerate acids, but you may use tamarind water (Farrington, Clinical Materia Medica, page 516, fourth edition).” Dr. Farrington is clear about diet and forbade antagonistic diets.
Dr. Kent is very explicit in the matter of diet and his lines are worth quoting:.
When patients are under constitutional remedies they need caution about certain kinds of foods that are known to disagree with their constitutional remedy. A Bryonia patient is often made sick from eating Sauer kraut, from vegetable salads, chicken salad, etc., so that you need not be surprised, after administering a dose of Bryonia for a constitutional state, to have your patient come in and say she has been made very ill from eating some one of these things. It is well to caution persons who are under the influence of Pulsatilla to avoid the use of fat food, because very often they will upset the action of the remedy. It is well to say to patients who are under Lycopodium, “see that you do not eat oysters while taking this medicine.”
These medicines are known to produce states in the stomach inimical to certain kinds of foods; certain remedies have violently inimical relation to acids, lemons, etc. If you do not particularly mention the fact and say, “You must not touch vinegar or lemons, nor take lemon juice while taking this medicine,” you will have the remedy spoiled and then wonder why it is. The medicine often stops acting and the patient gets a disordered condition of the stomach and bowels; a medicine that should act for a long time ceases action and you do not know what the trouble is. Homoeopathy will rule out such things as are inimical to the remedies and inimical to patients in general or do not agree with a particular constitution.
To have an iron- clad rule is not correct practice, the only iron-clad rule is to be sure that the remedy is similar to the patient when you administer it and the things that he is to have are to be in agreement with that remedy. I only speak of these things to impress upon you the importance of feeding and treating your patient in accordance with the remedy; in accordance with a principle and not by rule; do not have one list of foods for your patients; do not have a list of things of everybody. There is no such thing in Homoeopathy.
The above quotations fully support my conclusion in a very explicit way.
May I now place this small treatise before the homoeopathic world. I would be thaNkful if it becomes of any use to the cause which I do dearly uphold.