“The cure takes place, from center to periphery, from head to extremities, and in the reverse order of the development of the symptoms.” – Constantine Hering’s “Law of Direction of Cure”
Constantine Hering is considered to be the ‘Father of Homeopathy’ in America. Hering’s fascinating life story is outside of the scope of this post, but you can read a bit about him here, here, and here.
I will briefly tell you my favorite part about his story. As a medical student in Germany, he was commissioned to write a book to disprove the legitimacy of homeopathy. However, upon embarking his exploration to debunk homeopathy, he only became more and more enthralled by it. In an incredible twist of fate, he suffered a leg wound, which became dangerously infected. The medical student then employed homeopathy to heal the infection, spare himself from amputation, and possibly save his own life. He then went on to become one of the most important homeopaths in history.
I bring up Hering because he created a simple outline for what healing might look like. In today’s world of conventional medicine, one has a complaint and goes to the doctor. The patient generally receives a bottle of pills. These pills are always comprised of man-made chemicals of which the toxicity and overall impact in our complex human system is either unknown or disregarded. If the complaint is chronic, one is often meant to take such pills for the rest of his or her life. If one stops taking the pills, the complaint returns, often worse than before. This is most certainly not healing; this is suppression of symptoms.
Real healing takes time. And it is usually not a straight line of gradually feeling better and better until poof!, you are perfect. Healing can even be uncomfortable at times, but it is for the best. It is important to know what to expect, so that you don’t quit your therapy or employ other means that could impede your progress. Here is what you might see under homeopathic care as you truly heal:
“…from center to periphery…”
In healing, pathology does not just disintegrate, but rather it unwinds. It needs to work its way out of the body system. When healing takes place, pathology, as a whole, moves from the most important organs and systems in the body, to the least important.
As an example, clients with significant respiratory pathology (e.g. asthma) will often express symptoms on their skin, such as itchy red rashes, as their lungs heal. The rashes are not a distinct health problem, but rather a healing sign that should not be suppressed with cream. The lungs are far more vital to the function of the person than the skin. Even though the rash is uncomfortable, it is not a threat to their lives. As Westerners, we are unaccustomed to seeing this type of reaction and may see it as undesirable; I would remind you that a temporary itchy rash is much better than a lifetime of life-threating breathing difficulty.
So in other words, pathology moves from the center of the organism to the periphery, and from very important systems (ie the heart, the mind), to less important systems, and eventually are expressed fully from the body.
“…from head to extremities”
This is the least common healing reaction in my experience. I’ve spoken with homeopathic practitioners who have never seen this as a remedy reaction. It certainly happens in natural processes: as an example, many acute infectious diseases such as chicken pox often begin high up on the body, and move downward on the body as the immune system resolves the infection.
One of my favorite homeopathic authors, Henny Heudens-Mast, describes an infant ailing with overall chill, constipation, and significant reflux and thrush. She was given several doses of Silica 200c. The baby then experienced a healing reaction two weeks after the remedy was given, in which her feet sweat profusely (this is the healing reaction). From that point on, the baby’s hands and feet became warm, and the rest of her symptoms resolved.
The homeopathic literature describes many ailments and remedy provings in which pathology begins from below, or at the extremities, and progresses upward. As health improves and disease reverses, we would expect the opposite to happen. Moral of the story… if your discomfort is moving downward along the body, that is a good sign that you are truly healing.
”…in the reverse order of the development of the symptoms.”
This one is also called “return of old symptoms” or “retracting.” Very commonly, when a successful healing reaction takes place, the body literally retraces its previous states on the way back to health. Imagine walking along the road for a few hours, and then you realize you’ve walked in the wrong direction. Dang! But then a friend pulls up and offers you a ride. You travel the same path, in the opposite direction, but this time you cover the ground much faster. Before you know it, you’re on your way to your desired destination. This is what happens when you unwind illness. You cover the old ground. You might relive some previous unpleasant sensations, but they are much less intense and much shorter-lived. These are great indications that you are healing.
So in summary, healing is not a straight line. Sometimes you might see new or old symptoms come up. Sometimes it might feel like you’ve taken a step back. But when you work with a qualified professional homeopath, you are working towards true healing. It is a commitment and sometimes a journey.