PSORA OR DEFICIENCY?
CRITICISM of Hahnemann’s psora theory has raged for a century. It is not feasible to follow minutely Hahnemann’s line of reasoning that led to his declaration of the psora theory, but we have his own statement that it took years to classify what he came to term the psoric miasm. Enough has been written to show that his reasoning in this respect was sound, and as far as it went, clear. It is not strange that in the light of modern knowledge new arguments have arisen to assail this theory. Let us examine it in the light of present-day knowledge.
We have considered the general symptomatology forming the psoric group. Now let us turn to Bœnninghausen’s list of antipsoric remedies, and try to prove our problem along the same lines we should employ were we to prove a problem in arithmetic. This list, comprising fifty remedies, was published in Hahnemann’s time, and has been used with remarkable success in the so-called psoric conditions from that time forward:
Sixteen of the remedies listed belong definitely to the vegetable group, one definitely to the animal group; of the remaining thirty-three remedies, comprising the chemical elements or inorganic substances, or combined from these elements or substances (or reduced to almost elemental consideration, as the Carbo’s) we find only three (Baryta, Platinum and Aurum) that appear in the range of chemical elements higher by atomic weight than those essential to the construction of the human body. The three remedies having their source in the higher-than-body construction elements may be considered as falling into the antisyphilitic class, and we may reasonably question their adaptability to the antipsoric condition when unmixed with a venereal taint.
Let us set aside for the time these three which seem to us questionably allocated to this group, and proceed without hypothesis.
Some thirty elements, more or less, have been ascertained by different investigators as appearing in the human body. It has been definitely established that many of these are absolutely essential to physical construction. Iodine, number 53 of the elements, is regarded as the highest in atomic weight; and as we have pointed out, only the three that we have questioned appear in the antipsoric list beyond iodine.
The following list of elements appearing in the human body has been compiled from several sources. It is notable that not all these elements have been assigned constructive roles, in the eyes of investigators; or rather, their presence in the body structure has not been determined. Nevertheless, all these come within the first fifty-three elements, as determined by atomic weight.
Morse tells us (Applied Biochemistry):
It is seen that no inert element, like argon [Argon accompanies air into the lungs as nitrogen does, but in both cases they play no part in the economy of the body.], occurs in the body; that radioactive elements and those that are undergoing decomposition are lacking; and that with regard to atomic weight, iodine is the farthest up the scale. Heavy elements, such as lead, and the noble metals, are not found. Two explanations may be offered:
(1) The distribution of the elements in the human organism is an historical matter, representing the period in evolution when only those elements that are of lighter weight than iodine were evolved. This is not probable.
(2) The lighter kinds occurring in living things because these elements were relegated to the surface of the earth and were available for the use of the organism as it has undergone evolution. The geologist believes that the heavier elements lie toward the center of the earth, since the total weight of the earth demands heavier substances near the center of the mass.
So in reality we might add to our list argon (18) and nitrogen (7) as appearing with some regularity in the body. With our knowledge of the power of the infinitesimals beyond the range of laboratory analysis we dare not say that any element, however small its portion or vague its relationship, “plays no part.”
Again, with our knowledge of the disturbing powers of the radio-active elements, we can see definitely why they were not included in construction, for they are essentially destructive. These correspond to the action of the syphilitic taint, and should be classed as anti-syphilitic in action.
However, we are discussing primarily those elements which, in simple form or combined, are essentially constructive, to demonstrate the significance of our hypothesis that Psora, and Deficiency in properly balanced essentials, are one and the same; or if they are not identical problems, we must admit that here lies a significant key to the problem of psora, and one worthy of deeper study.
Without question there is some essential failure of the system to assimilate the necessary constructive materials that provides the background of the so-called psoric taint; yet we find that emotional or other stress develops the psoric symptomatology even in constitutions that have been sound and healthy. Here we find that our theory of psora as a deficiency of the proper elements is verified. For instance, those chest conditions with many functional symptoms: we are often able to trace these to improper breathing habits, and this again to emotional strain that has broken the habit of rhythm; or perhaps the breathing habit has been normal until the necessity of remaining long hours in close, unaired rooms has forced the system to unnatural and insufficient intake of oxygen.
The greatest asset of the body is that of adaptability, but this in itself, under unnatural or forced conditions, while permitting life to continue under emergent or hampered conditions, breeds a train of symptoms that Hahnemann described as psoric.
The body elements best known to the student of biochemistry are: Hydrogen, Oxygen, Carbon, Nitrogen, Fluorine, Sodium, Magnesium, Silicon, Phosphorus, Sulphur, Chlorine, Potassium, Calcium, Manganese, Iron, Copper, Zinc, Arsenic and Iodine. Chemists have been able to estimate the percentage of these elements present in the organism, even such small amounts as those of arsenic, with its sixth-decimal proportions in thyroid and brain, and 0.000,001,9 per cent. in the liver. It is comparatively easy to define the constructive purposes of many of these elements, such as calcium; yet there is some purpose aside from that of mere bricks-and-mortar for even the most obvious. Magnesium is found throughout the body, in the lungs, glands, brain, muscles and muscular organs such as the heart. This has been determined with a fair amount of measurable accuracy; yet how do we account for the fact that a magnesium-free diet sends animals into convulsions? Or that tin, found in traces in the tongue and brain, is related definitely to the sense of taste? When cobalt and nickel, discovered in the pancreas, are lacking, just what influence does this have in the development of diabetes?
Manganese is an accompaniment of iron in practically all human tissue. Scientists have discovered that manganese starvation in animals will produce sterility in the male and loss of mother-love in the female; this loss of maternal instinct incites them to refuse attention to their young, who die in a few hours. McCollum tells us: “When to the carefully prepared manganese-free diet is added as little as five-thousandths of I per cent. of manganese, all the abnormalities described are corrected.” Yet Reiman and Minot tell us: “Prolonged feeding of moderate amounts of its ores to dogs failed to produce significant changes in the manganese content of the blood and tissues or to cause any pathological symptoms.”
It is comparatively easy to determine the broader outlines of the constructive duties of these elements and inorganic substances, but it is the subtle and potential influences (as illustrated by the observations on manganese) that are most pertinent to our thesis. In other words, it is not the overfeeding or gross starvation of any element that provides us with the so-called antipsoric remedies. Since the so-called psoric conditions are largely functional and react preeminently upon the nervous and emotional plane, may we not regard these conditions as a lack of balance in the ability to assimilate, as well as a possible starvation of essentials?
In a comparison of the constructive role of these substances (as determined by laboratory technique) with their more subtle manifestations (demonstrated through provings of the homœopathic potentiations), let us look again at manganese:
Reiman and Minot (J. Biological Chemistry) “found it to be present in practically all human tissue, the liver carrying more than any other;” J. H. Clarke (Dictionary of the Materia Medica) cites its ability to produce inflammation and fatty degeneration of the liver. We have seen its association with iron in the blood, and homœopathically, it has its place in anemic conditions when indicated. We have noted the laboratory observation of the loss of maternal instinct. Clarke gives as the first mental symptom: “Peevishness and taciturnity, with concentration in self.” Sterility has not been a proven symptom, yet Clarke gives: “Sensation of weakness in (male) genital organs.”
Speaking of the necessity for carbohydrates in the diet, McCollum (Food, Nutrition and Health) says:
During digestion and absorption through the intestinal walls all of these (forms of carbohydrates) are converted into glucose. Glucose is the one sugar which always occurs in the blood. Although it is present in blood only to the extent of one part per thousand of blood, this sugar is the principal fuel which is burned by the muscles for providing energy for keeping the body warm and for muscular work.
Carbohydrates are the usual form in which carbon, the element, is found in the system and in which it is ingested. This is the physiological sphere; now let us turn to the role the carbons occupy in the list of antipsoric remedies. In Bœnninghausen’s list we find Ammonium carb., Baryta carb., Calcarea carb., Carbo animalis, Carbo veg., Graphites, Kali carb., Magnesium carb., Natrum carb., Sepia; all these have the characteristic carbon influence, even though associated with another element. It may seem strange to the casual student of materia medica to include Sepia in this list, but to the homœopathician Sepia is the animal carbon.
In spite of our belief that Barium belongs preeminently to the antisyphilitic group, Baryta carb. bears the family relationship of the carbons, which admits it to the antipsoric, or deficiency, group as well. Carbo an. and Carbo veg. manifest most markedly the characteristic homœopathic indications for their use: burned out defines the condition in one word. This burned out energy and its end-results of lack of body heat and muscular strength extends even into the mental sphere; and whether it comes from excesses, loss of animal fluids, from emotional, mental or physical stress, it is the red thread that runs all through the proven symptoms of the carbon combinations. This symptomatic thread runs all through the various spheres of action of each individual remedy of the carbon family, mental, moral, and all the varying physical fields in which it is applicable-and inasmuch as it is found it its physiological form throughout the system, so we find its symptomatology running through every part.
Calcium is an essential of bony structure and is a necessary, small but constant, essential of the blood. The homœopathic materia media indicates the Calcarea group in “scrofulous” conditions; rickety children; large heads with open fontanelles; and a host of symptoms we have already described in those conditions traceable to psora. McCollum tells us that calcium in the food is not enough: “Human infants often develop rickets when receiving a sufficiency of calcium and phosphorus provided they are deprived of sunlight and vitamin D.”
This last comment, provided they are deprived of sunlight… leads us to meditate upon that comment of Hahnemann in relation to psora, to the effect that unnatural or unhappy surroundings are extremely dangerous to the vital energy.
It is not necessary to compare the symptomatology of many of our remedies with the body elements to bear out our contention that the problems of psora and deficiency are closely related. Any thoughtful student may verify further comparisons in the homœopathic materia medica.
In these days one rarely has the opportunity to see a patient released from emotional and economic stress into simple and natural surroundings, with much outdoor life and a simple, natural food supply free from adulterations and replete with the stored elements direct from Nature’s lavish supply. However, if such a case is observed, one learns many things about the resilience of the human economy under the proper conditions. It leads one to a different outlook upon psora and its relation to the undue stress of modern life and economic conditions. We have stated repeatedly that emotional strain was an important factor in developing psoric conditions: the inability to relax for the natural and important functions demanded by Nature. Hustle and bustle take away our rhythmic, full, deep breathing; the hurry for trains and time clocks interferes too often with the excretory functions; the demands of society lead us to suppress natural perspiration; anxiety over almost every item of our lives gets in its dangerous work and often deprives us of necessary rest-certainly of chance moments of relaxation.
All these circumstances pressing upon a delicate adjustment of spirit, mind and body’ (especially if this be predisposed by inheritance to maladjustment) cannot but make confusion worse confounded. And at this point, if we pass on to our unborn children our inhibitions and suppressions of the spirit, mind and flesh, what can we except but to build for them a future lacking the ability to receive from natural sources those elements-not always measurable nor as yet defined-that are essential to health? And when we ponder that wrong living conditions, appalling plagues and seasons of famine have been cyclic since History began, we cannot wonder at an inherited tendency to disease that Hahnemann called psoric.
Whether this tendency to the psoric manifestations develops because of inability to assimilate or inability to relax to the point of assimilation, the end-results are the same, and will continue to be until corrected through more healthy and natural ways of living plus the power of the potentized remedy to release suppressions and tune the maladjustments to order.