The Nature of Chronic Diseasesby Samuel Hahnemann
*In the typhus of 1813 Bryonia and Rhus toxicodendron were the specific remedies for all the patients.
Just so, only upon a far larger scale, it is with the Psora, this fundamental disease of so many chronic maladies, each of which seems to be essentially different from the others, but really is not, as may readily be seen from the agreement of several symptoms common to them which appear as the disease runs its course, and also from their being healed through the same remedy.
All chronic diseases of mankind, even those left to themselves, not aggravated by a perverted treatment, show, as said, such a constancy and perseverance, that as soon as they have developed and have not been thoroughly healed by the medical art, they evermore increase with the years, and during the whole of man’s lifetime; and they cannot be diminished by the strength belonging even to the most robust constitution. Still less can they be overcome and extinguished Thus they never pass away of themselves, but increase and are aggravated even till death. They must therefore all have for their origin and foundation constant chronic miasms, whereby their parasitical existence in the human organism is enabled to continually rise and grow.
In Europe and also on other continents so far as is known, according to all investigations, only three chronic miasms are found, the diseases caused by which manifest themselves through local symptoms, and from which most, if not all, the chronic diseases originate; namely, first, syphilis, which I have also called the venereal chancre disease; then sycosis, or the fig-wart disease, and finally the chronic disease which lies at the foundation of the eruption of itch; i. e., the Psora; which I shall treat of first as the most important.
Psora is that most ancient, most universal, most destructive, and yet most misapprehended chronic miasmatic disease which for many thousands of years has disfigured and tortured mankind, and which during the last centuries has become the mother of all the thousands of incredibly various (acute and) chronic (non-venereal) diseases, by which the whole civilized human race on the inhabited globe is being more and more afflicted.
Psora is the oldest miasmatic chronic disease known to us. Just as tedious as syphilis and sycosis, and therefore not to be extinguished before the last breath of the longest human life, unless it is thoroughly cured, since not even the most robust constitution is able to destroy and extinguish it by its own proper strength, Psora, or the Itch disease, is beside this the oldest and most hydra-headed of all the chronic miasmatic diseases.
In the many thousands of years during which it may have afflicted mankind, - for the most ancient history of the most ancient people does not reach to its origin, - it has so much increased in the extent of its pathological manifestations - an extent which may to some degree be explained by its increased development during such an inconceivable number of years in so many millions of organisms through which it has passed, - that its secondary symptoms are hardly to be numbered. And, if we except those diseases which have been created by a perverse medical practice or by deleterious labors in quicksilver, Lead, Arsenic, etc., which appear in the common pathology under a hundred proper names as supposedly separate and well-defined diseases (and also those springing from syphilis and the still rarer ones springing from sycosis), all the remaining natural chronic diseases, whether with names or without them, find in Psora their real origin, their only source.
- See Organon of the Healing Art, fifth edition, 1834, 100 sqq.
The oldest monuments of history which we possess show the Psora even then in great development. Moses* 3400 years ago pointed out several varieties. At that time and later on among the Israelites the disease seems to have mostly kept the external parts of the body for its chief seat. This was also true of the malady as it prevailed in uncultivated Greece, later in Arabia and, lastly in Europe, during the Middle Ages. The different names which were given by different nations to the more or less malignant varieties of leprosy (the external symptom of Psora), which in many ways deformed the external parts of the body, do not concern us and do not affect the matter, since the nature of this miasmatic itching eruption always remained essentially the same.
*In Leviticus not only in the thirteenth chapter, but also (chap. 21, verse 20) where he speaks of the bodily defects which must not be found in a priest who is to offer sacrifice, malignant itch is designated by the word garab, which the Alexandrian translators (in the Septuagint) translated with Psora agria, but the Vulgate with scabies jugis. The talmudic interpreter, Jonathan, explained it as dry itch spreaad over the body; while the expression, yalephed, is used by Moses for lichen, tetter, herpes (see M. Rosenmueller, Scholia in Levit., p. II., edit, sec, p. 124). The commentators in the so-called English Bible-work also agree with this definition, Calmet, among others, saying: “Leprosy is similar to an inveterate itch with violent itching.” The ancients also mention the peculiar, characteristic voluptuous itching which attended itch then as now, while after the scratching a painful burning follows; among others Plato, who calls itch glykypikron, while Cicero marks the dulcedo of scabies.
The occidental Psora, which, during the Middle Ages, had raged in Europe for several centuries under the form of malignant erysipelas (called St. Anthony’ s Fire), reassumed the form of leprosy through the leprosy which was brought back by the returning crusaders in the thirteenth century. And though it thus spread in Europe even more than before (for in the year 1226 there were in France alone 2,000 houses for the reception of lepers), this Psora, which now raged as a dreadful eruption, found at least an external alleviation in the means conducive to cleanliness, which also were brought by the crusaders from the Orient, namely, the (cotton? linen?) shirts before unknown in Europe, and the more frequent use of warm baths. Through both of those means, as well as through the more exquisite diet and refinement in the mode of living introduced by increased cultivation, the external horrors of the Psora within the space of several centuries were at last so far moderated that, at the end of the fifteenth century, it appeared only in the form of the common eruption of itch, just at the time when the other miasmatic chronic disease, syphilis, began (in 1493) to raise its dreadful head.