It is a misconception that diagnosis in homeopathy has little role to play in the homeopathic management of diseases. This notion has prevailed because our prescription is always based on the individualistic symptoms of the patient and not on the name of the disease.
“Treat the patient and not the disease” of Hahnemann
“The homeopathic physician have no object in making a diagnosis than to classify the symptoms under a group head, since the homeopathic physician never uses his diagnosis for therapeutic purposes” of H.A.Roberts
The above axiom has been misinterpreted by most homeopaths. No doubt, for the homeopathic selection of a remedy, diagnosing the name of the disease is not important, but for the successful and harmless gentle management of the case, diagnosis helps a homeopath. No intelligent physician will ever neglect the knowledge of diagnosing the disease because it gives an idea about the structural changes, physiological disturbances, in determining the prognosis of the case, in designing the line of the treatment and diet and regimen, etc. Being a holistic practitioner, a homeopath should never neglect the materialistic aspect of the disease also.
Importance of Diagnosis in Homeopathy Treatment
1. Knowledge of diagnosis helps in sorting out the common symptoms of the patient and in selecting the individualistic, determinative symptoms based on which the prescription comes. Example: Excessive thirst seen in case of diabetes mellitus, effortless vomiting without nausea is seen in intracranial lesions, paroxysmal nocturnal dyspnea is seen in the cardiac complaints, etc. In treating such patients all these common symptoms of the disease are neglected, they are helpful in diagnosis and not in homeopathic prescription. Without this knowledge of common symptoms, sorting out the uncommon symptoms is impossible for a homeopath.
2. Diagnosis helps us in identifying the exact seat of the disease. In our materia medica, certain drugs have a special affinity to certain systems of the body. Effective use of such drugs can be made by the physician by properly diagnosing the diseases, although prescribing on the totality is the only criteria. Example: Chelidonium in liver affections, Berberis vulgaris in kidney-related troubles, Digitalis in heart, and Aspidosperma in respiratory disorders. Such practice leads a homeopathic physician to a group of remedies from which we can select and individualize a remedy.
3. Diagnosis of the condition of the patient leads to a group of remedies from which we can individualize the case; this is practically possible at the bedside as the number of remedies in our materia medica is increasing day by day. For example: in the case of typhoid delirium, the list of indicated drugs becomes shorter and limited to drugs like Baptisia, Arnica, Opium, etc.
4. The prescription is based on the site of the disease and the system affected. Organo-pathic prescription selects their remedy based on the location of the lesion and the organ diseased. Dr. Burnett, Paracelsus, Dr. William Sharp, etc recommended this organopathic prescription.
5. Diagnosis helps in the management of cases in homeopathy in the following manner. If the pathological changes have advanced use of higher potencies, using the constitutional deep-acting remedies, and frequent repetition of the doses is also not recommended. Using constitutional deep-acting remedies in pathologically advanced cases may result in the overstimulation of the vital force which is almost deranged in this stage leading to the killer or fatal aggravations. This was well recognized by the pioneers like Kent.
6. Diagnosis helps the homeopathic physician in selecting the mode of treatment. Dr. Kent says, “By means of physical diagnosis the physician may find out changes in organs and determine if the patient is incurable. Without diagnosis we may go on applying the medicine in the false hope of curing him”. The knowledge of the scope and limitations of homeopathy and the diagnosis determines the line of treatment. Conditions like fractures of bones, chemical poisonings always require mechanical and chemical aid and not the dynamized medicines alone. Dynamic diseases conditions which have advanced into pathologically advanced conditions are incurable, they require palliative homeopathic remedies.
7. The diagnosis of the state of the disease helps in the selection of homeopathic remedies. Example: Certain medicines are used in the first stage of typhoid and certain medicines in the second and third stage of typhoid etc. Hahnemann also recommends the use of Camphor, Cuprum met, Veratrum alb according to the stage of the diseased condition Asiatic cholera, in different stages of pneumonia-like congestion, hepatisation, and resolution different medicines are indicated based on the stage of the disease.
8. Diagnosis helps in understanding the remedy reaction. After administering a homeopathic remedy, the physician can observe the increase in the intensification of the symptoms. Knowledge of the diagnosis and the disease complications is important to understand whether the increase in intensity is because of the homeopathic aggravation or the disease aggravation.
9. Diagnosis helps in the prognosis of the disease. This helps in predicting the outcome of the disease. The knowledge of prognosis gives a sense of security in today’s context, both to the patient as well as to the physician. For example, the diagnosis of the peptic ulcer will warn us about the danger of perforation, the prognosis of the soft hepatomegaly is good whereas the hard, nodular one has a bad prognosis, persistent cough with hemoptysis is a bad indication in case of tuberculosis.
10. Diagnosis helps in the general management of the case. It helps in recommending proper diet and regimen. Example: Avoiding spicy and oily food in case of acid peptic disorders, avoiding sugar, starchy food, tumors, and excessive carbohydrates in case of diabetes mellitus, supply of oral rehydration salts in case of gastroenteritis, etc.
11. Diagnosis helps in isolating the patients in communicable diseases.
12. Diagnosis helps in medico-legal purposes. The name of the disease is used in the following conditions even by the homeopaths. Issuing death certificates or sick certificates, while witnessing a sick person in the court, for registration in the medical records, statistical purpose and research works, etc diagnosis has been made mandatory by the W.HO.
13. Diagnosis helps in repertorisation also. There are repertoires that contain the nosological names of the diseases and contain the indicated probable remedies to such conditions. Example: Clinical repertory on diarrhea by Bell, A Clinical Repertory to the Dictionary of Materia Medica by J.H. Clarke, Boericke’s clinical repertory which under its “therapeutic index” contains the diagnostic names of the diseases and the indicated medicines opposite to it.