Drainage and Canalisation in Homeopathic Therapeutics

concept of drainage and canalisation incorporated with homeopathic principles was discussed by Dr. Fortier Bernoville in his book WHAT WE MUST NOT DO IN HOMOEOPATHY….

It is to Dr. A. Nebel that we owe the idea of Drainage and its corollary Canalisation, one of the most important principles of Homoeopathic therapeutic. Our colleague of Lausanne is no doubt the uncontestable father of Drainage. He came to that idea through his clinical experiences following some researches in the field to histology. Later on he found out, and he explains it in this journal how drainage was practised since Hippocrates up to our time by Rademacher, by Hahnemann himself and finally by Burnett.

It is only since a few years that we have understood how it was possible to study drainage practically as one of the superior means to develop the possibility of Homoeopathy, to make its therapeutic process more sure and above all to gain time in treatment. We, therefore, consider a great step forward has been made in the Hahnemannian therapeutics, thanks to drainage when it is well applied and we should first of all explain and define the terms Drainage and Canalisation, before giving practical suggestions for their application :

We, therefore, propose here:

1. To define Drainage and Canalisation.

2. To indicate clearly the principles in order to understand them better according to the total observation of the fundamental laws of therapeutics.

3. And finally to show the superiority of Homoeopathy with drainage over the other principles of prescriptions.

1. Definition of Drainage and Canalisation :

When we speak of drainage, we should distinguish well the theory from the practice. In order not to run the risk of being reproached as builders of purely theoretical systems, we will speak here only of the results obtained from the practice of drainage and canalisation, the theory having, in our opinion, only explanatory value, a value of simple orientation.

However, we should give a theoretical definition of drainage before speaking about its practical application.

How then is the drainage defined?

The theory of drainage is intimately bound up with the idea of making the organism free from morbid energies. If we understand an organism as composed of many spheres, we will understand that it is necessary to give one or more medicines acting simultaneously on the successive organic spheres.

But, a single remedy, even highly diluted, cannot always act in a sure and complete manner on all the spheres, and generally the high dilutions help to obtain a superior action on the most subtle and higher planes, particularly on the sphere of sympathetic system.

It is therefore, necessary to help the Similimum remedy by judicious application of Simile remedies.

It is said that in each pathological case, there exists, in Homoeopathy, a single Similimum and many Simile and the first idea that comes to mind, is to apply uniquely the Similimum with the exception of Simile remedies that seem to be palliatives. In reality. very soon one understands that the rigorous application of the Similimum, remedy is not always followed and is not necessarily followed by an amelioration. If we can prepare the organism by the application of a remedy called satellite, or the remedy which by analogy has the symptoms culled from the patient, it happens very often that the Similimum may be applied afterwards without aggravation and it seems even to act more rapidly and more deeply.

The theory of drainage is, therefore, before all a theory of purification of the intoxicated organism that shows symptoms which may be classified according to the successive spheres of the organism and the disappearance of these symptoms can not be caused in a complete and rapid manner but by the application, generally, of many remedies simultaneously or successively.

The theory of drainage is, therefore, a theory of purification. Besides, the term Drainage, so often used in surgery, is understood better when one is only on the material plane. There is no doubt that when there is a suppuration in the organism, it is necessary to eliminate the formed pus, except in some cases where it is possible to obtain a complete resorption.

It is, therefore, necessary to purify the organism of the patient by eliminating the toxin. It is necessary to drain.

But drainage considered from the point of view of practice is much more important than from the point of view of theory. The drainage is before all a practice justified by results. The theory of drainage like all theories is seducing but it is rather easy. We need not find out up to what point it may be true, according as one represents it in such and such manner but it is necessary before all to insist on this fact that it is Fecund and that this Fecundity is the only justification that we require. The practice of drainage consists in following or in preceding the principal indicated remedy by the application of one or more satellite remedies with the aim of facilitating the toxic elimination in a given morbid state, to check medicinal aggravation and to obtain more rapid and sure results.

Experience shows that systematic and rational application of antidotes and complementaries of Hahnemann, side by side with the principal remedy, forms the real key to the practice of drainage. It is thus that Dr. Nebel has shown to us by attractive examples the value of drainage. He has for example shown to us that before Calcarea carbonica is applied to a patient who has its symptoms, one may obtain good results, and can check all aggravations in a tubercular patient. by giving at first Pulsatilla which is a real drainer of Calcarea carbonica.

In other cases when there is an acute and temporary febrile condition Belladonna may be a satellite of Calcarea carbonica and which is necessarily indicated before the ground remedy. Sometimes the satellite may be Dulcamara or Chamomilla etc…

Let us now speak of Canalisation.

We should also understand Canalisation from the theoretical and practical point of view.

From the theoretical point of view the principle of canalisation rests on the idea of the local elective actions of most of the remedies used in homoeopathy.

It appears then that the principle of Canalisation is a corollary of the principle of Drainage. To canalise means to direct the action of a remedy as well in space as in time. This is why Dr. Rouy has said with reason, after Dr. Nebel, that Drainage and Canalisation consist in the real study of the physiopathologic action of remedies.

To canalise is to direct the effects of a medicinal substance and to orient its action When we speak of the local elective action of a remedy, it is necessary to speak precisely here, that most of the remedies may have, from spatial point of view, some elective actions, either on the tissues, on the organs, or on a topographic region oriented along the nervous system or very often according to a metameric segmentation. There exists, therefore, three kinds of local elective actions which rule canalisation. In practice, to give canaliser is to give a satellite which will have for aim to canalise and orient the effects of the principal remedy, and that action becomes naturally in part a real check. When we give to a patient a dose of high dilution of Sulphur according to the symptoms (while the patient has also the tendency to suppuration), we may do some good to the general condition, but at the same time we may have some dangerous local effects, by increasing the tendency to suppuration. If, on the contrary, we know how to canalise the too centrifugal, violent and general action of Sulphur, on such and such parts of the organism, we will surely obtain good action of this remedy, either by giving Fumaria, Saponaria for the skin, Hypericum for the nerves, Nux vomica for small intestines, Aloe for the rectum etc… In this case we may say that these different remedies are the Canaliser of Sulphur, because they canalise its effects and orient its action and helps to obtain more sure and rapid results from the curative point of view.

The traditional Homoeopaths are wrong to believe that the strict observation of the law of Similars, without trying to understand it, is always good for the patient. The pathogenesis are really, says Dr. Nebel, some physiopathologic studies of remedies. We should understand the homoeopathic remedies as having physiological actions which may not in practice always give curative actions. Canalisation is the art of determining the orientation of the physiopathological action of the principal remedy by the prescription of the one or more clearly defined satellite remedies.

Now we understand that the rational direction given to Homoeopathic treatment, by observing the Law of Similars in a really scientific sense, will give to him who will understand its principle an unconstestable superiority on a too traditional Homoeopathy practised without taking into account the Drainage.

After defining thus the Drainage and Canalisation from the point of view of theory and practice we will try not to show their value on the basis of the fundamental laws of therapeutics.


Mauritius Fortier-Bernoville
Mauritius (Maurice) Fortier Bernoville 1896 – 1939 MD was a French orthodox physician who converted to homeopathy to become the Chief editor of L’Homeopathie Moderne (founded in 1932; ceased publication in 1940), one of the founders of the Laboratoire Homeopathiques Modernes, and the founder of the Institut National Homeopathique Francais.

Bernoville was a major lecturer in homeopathy, and he was active in Liga Medicorum Homeopathica Internationalis, and a founder of the le Syndicat national des médecins homœopathes français in 1932, and a member of the French Society of Homeopathy, and the Society of Homeopathy in the Rhone.

Fortier-Bernoville wrote several books, including Une etude sur Phosphorus (1930), L'Homoeopathie en Medecine Infantile (1931), his best known Comment guerir par l'Homoeopathie (1929, 1937), and an interesting work on iridology, Introduction a l'etude de l'Iridologie (1932).

With Louis-Alcime Rousseau, he wrote several booklets, including Diseases of Respiratory and Digestive Systems of Children, Diabetes Mellitus, Chronic Rheumatism, treatment of hay fever (1929), The importance of chemistry and toxicology in the indications of Phosphorus (1931), and Homeopathic Medicine for Children (1931). He also wrote several short pamphlets, including What We Must Not Do in Homoeopathy, which discusses the logistics of drainage and how to avoid aggravations.

He was an opponent of Kentian homeopathy and a proponent of drainage and artificial phylectenular autotherapy as well.