The word palliation generally means easing the severity of pain or disease without removing the cause, it can be defined as temporary relief of symptoms without doing anything for the cure. In palliation the most annoying symptoms are relieved, the disease persists in its own place.
Palliation in Homeopathy
Homeopathy is a curative medicine in curable natural miasmatic diseased conditions. The cure is possible only if the vital force is in a condition to react to the similar and stronger medicine administered. With the help of similimum medicine, vital force tries to bring back the healthy functioning of the diseased organ thus restoring health. But there are certain conditions where the cure may not be possible as the organs affected are damaged or congenitally missing.
In such conditions like:
1. Incurable Cases
In incurable cases with gross tissue damage, where deep-acting constitutional remedies cannot be used and where permanent cure is not possible, only palliative homeopathic remedies are recommended.
H.A.Roberts says, “in incurable conditions, the administration of the similar remedy almost always ameliorates the situation, at least for three or four days, and usually for a long period. Then we may have a return of symptoms, when the indicated remedy will be called into use again”. H.A.Roberts confidently summarizes, “in incurable cases or seemingly incurable cases, we must not put a limitation on the possibilities of the similimum remedy, for in many seemingly incurable conditions the similimum will so completely meet the situation as to obliterate the symptomatology of disease and the pathology, and will restore the patient to health.”
2. Cure cannot be achieved
In cases where the most vital parts of the body are lacking or are damaged like congenital atrophy of kidneys, some cases after the surgical removal of the organs, etc, palliation is the only possible method.
For example: In cases where the thyroid gland is removed either partially or in total because of any malignant conditions, a cure cannot be achieved, as the patient is lacking the organs to be stimulated.
The patient has to depend on palliative or supplementary medications throughout his life. In the case where the palliative remedy is recommended, the palliative homeopathic remedy must also be selected based on the symptom similarity only.
Dr. J.T.Kent says “the physician who applies the single remedy in potentized form under the law of cure for any length of time will easily be convinced that there is no other way of palliation that holds out permanent hope for the patient.” H.A.Roberts says “the basis of cure is the fundamental law of similia. The law of similia is the fundamental law also in the palliation of incurable states”.
Hahnemann also allows the application of Antipathic measures, according to the footnote to aphorism 67,
the antipathic palliative measures like gentle electrical shocks, strong coffee, and application of heat can be given to stimulate the irritability and sensitivity of the vital force.
- In the most urgent cases, where there is a danger to life and no time for the homeopathic remedy to act.
- Sudden accidental cases resulting in the life-threatening state of the patient, for example, asphyxia, suspended animation from lightening, suffocation, freezing, drowning, etc.
- In acute poisoning cases.
- What is Indisposition? Acute vs Chronic
- What is the physician’s high and only mission? Aph-1
- What is Hering’s Law of Cure in Homoeopathy?
Now let’s discuss,
The Pros and Cons of Palliation, (Merits and De-merits of palliation)
Pros of Palliation
- In life-threatening conditions, some initial relief is possible by palliation.
De-merits of Palliation
- Palliation is not a curative process, it is an extremely faulty method. After initial relief, the disease recurs again either in
- The condition of the patient becomes worse after the initial relief of symptoms. To relieve the patient progressively increasing doses of drugs will be needed repeatedly.
- Repeated use of palliative remedies in progressive doses might lead to the production of artificial drugs or iatrogenic diseases.
- Palliation is a one-sided symptomatic treatment; only a few troubling symptoms are covered to relieve the patient. Removal of the symptoms in total is only a cure; hence palliation is an extremely unscientific treatment.
- Prolonged palliative treatment will aggravate the symptom at every step of repetition of the remedy.
Conditions where Palliative Mode is permissible
(According to footnote to § 67)
In the footnote to § 67, Hahnemann explains the conditions where a homeopath can make use of antipathic principles. Homeopathy, as a rule, is a method intended to cure dynamic miasmatic conditions. The homeopathic medicines, by producing the primary action upon the vital force, induces the secondary curative response.
In this process, the vital force takes a vital and active role in the production of secondary curative action. But there are certain conditions where the stimulation of vital force is either impossible or the vital force has lost the reactive capacity itself.
Example: cases like asphyxia, problems due to lightning, suffocation, freezing or drowning, etc. In such conditions, homeopathic medicines prove ineffective as the secondary curative response cannot be induced.
Hahnemann says, “only in the most urgent cases, where danger to life and imminent death allow no time for the action of a homeopathic remedy- not hours, sometimes not even quarter hours, and scarcely minutes”, it is admissible to apply palliative means.
Palliative procedures like gentle electrical shocks, clusters of strong coffee, a stimulating odor, the gradual application of heat, etc can be employed. Various antidotes in case of poisoning, like alkalies for mineral acids, Hepar sulphur for metallic poisons, coffee and Camphor for poisoning by Opium, etc also can be kept into this category.
This is admissible here because when sufficient stimulation is effected, the vital force regains its strength again. But there is a new sect of homeopaths (Mongrel Sect = cross bread dog), which neither practice homeopathy according to its fundamental principles nor treat the patient by other laws. This group of homeopaths does not try hard to find the similimum to the patient’s sufferings to cure them. Due to this, when an ill-selected remedy fails to cure the patient they directly put the blame on homeopathy as unsuitable to such and such cases.
Then they directly administer the allopathic medicines. Selecting a homeopathic remedy is a very laborious process. It demands sincerity and hard work on the physician’s part. The selected remedy must cover the entire totality of the patient’s symptoms in a similar manner. But these new sects of homeopaths, without giving much importance to the similarity of the symptoms prescribe the medications. Naturally, when the medicine fails to cure the patient, they blame homeopathy and resort to allopathic remedies. This type of practice is neither profitable to the patient nor to the physician.
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