Contributed by: Dr Kaushik D. Das, MD(Hom)
“….Let your food be your medicine & let your medicine be your food.” - Hippocrates
A study of the history of medicine reveals that the concept of imposing a strict diet & regimen in illness existed in medical science since 500 BC. According to Arabian medicine food & drug constituted the pillars of therapy.
Dr C.F.S Hahnemann , the founder of the Homoeopathic system of medicine also gave importance to diet & regimen. A detailed description stated by the master about the diet & regimen during the course of Homoeopathic treatment can be found in the Chronic diseases & in the Organon, the immortal writings of the master.
Regulations are also found in the Materia Medica Pura and Lesser writings. Hahnemann says, “ …as cure is the only mission of a physician ,so a Homoeopath must take necessary steps regarding diet & regimen considering the patient’s condition & circumstances & if necessary the physician must yield to circumstances in selecting the diet & regimen for his patients”. In aph 259 master Hahnemann says “ ..considering the minuteness of the doses necessary & proper in Homoeopathic treatment we can easily understand that during the treatment everything must be removed from diet & regimen, which can have any medicinal action in order that the small dose may not be overwhelmed & extinguished or disturbed by any foreign medicinal irritant”
DIET & REGIMEN IN ACUTE DISEASE:
Hahnemann didn’t impose any strict diet & regimen for a patient suffering from acute disease. Patient suffering from acute disease generally don’t crave food that are injurious for his health, rather they have aversion to them. The reason behind this is - on being attacked suddenly by the acute disease, the vital force by its natural disease preventing power drives the exciting cause at the earliest. Hence the patient has a natural disliking for those foods which may help the exciting cause as well as enfeeble the vital force.
So in acute disease meals can be arranged as per the choice of the patient, as per his likings, unless the physician finds out to be damaging the condition. In aph 262 Hahnemann says that in acute diseases except in cases of mental alienation the patient should get foods which he urgently desires. Thus he mentioned in aph 263 that the desired food & drink gives the patient a palliative relief & in acute diseases the temperature of the room, heat & cold of bed covers should also be arranged according to the patients wish.
DIET & REGIMEN IN CHRONIC DISEASE:
The nature of chronic disease are quite different from acute diseases. Here the onset is insidious & with passage of time organic changes take place & the resistance of the vital force becomes feeble. In chronic diseases Hahnemann advises to impose rigorous restrictions regarding diet & regimen after careful observation of the case. Master Hahnemann opined in aph 260 that the chronic diseases are aggravated by noxious influence or other disease causing errors in diet & regimen.
In the footnote to aph no. 260 Dr Hahnemann gives a list of items ,which he advises to avoid as far as possible or remove in order to effect a cure without obstacles.
The list includes the following –
Food items that should be avoided – coffee, herb teas, beer prepared with medicinal vegetables, spices chocolates, highly spiced dish, sauces spiced cakes, crude medicinal vegetables for soup, vegetables possessing medicinal properties, onion, old cheese, meat in a state of decomposition, too much salt & sugar, spirituous drinks.
Regarding mode of living - odorous water, perfumes, strong scented flowers, tooth powders heated rooms, sedentary life in closed apartments, sitting up long at night, reading while lying down, living in marshy districts & damp areas should be controlled.
Mind restrictions - anger, grief, vexation, emotional stress, overexertion of mind & body after meal should be avoided.
In aph 261 Hahnemann states that the appropriate regimen in treatment of chronic disease should include innocent moral & intellectual recreations, active exercise in the open air, nutritious un medicinal food & drinks.
AUXILIARY MENTAL REGIMEN:
In aph 228 master Hahnemann highlights on another aspect where he says that the mental & emotional diseases resulting from corporeal maladies can only be cured by the antipsoric medicine with carefully regulated mode of life & by imposing auxiliary mental regimen like –
- To oppose with calm intrepidity & cool firm resolution in case of furious mania
- To doleful , querulous lamentations, a mute display of commiseration in looks & gestures.
- To senseless chattering, a silence not wholly inattentive.
- To disgusting & abominable conduct & to conversation of similar character, total inattention.
- To prevent destruction & injury of surrounding objects it must be removed without reproaching the patient for his acts.
- No corporeal punishment & tortures should be allowed.
- Homoeopathic medicines can be mixed in drinks if the patient is unwilling to take.
HOMOEOPATHIC STALWARTS ON DIET & REGIMEN:
Apart from Hahnemann the early Homoeopaths also laid stress on a strict diet & regimen to be followed during the course of treatment. However there were also a few who were against strict restrictions. Dr Boeninghausen & Dr Clarke were not so keen on complete restrictions in food of medicinal nature. Dr Kents opinion on dietery restrictions is reflected in his statement as follows-“..in accordance with a principle & not by rule …do not have one list of food for your patients, do not have a list of things for everybody. there is no such thing in Homoeopathy, where patients are under constitutional remedies. They need caution about certain kind of food that are known to disagree with the constitutional remedy”.
Boeninghausen in fact believed that Homoeopathic medicine on being dynamised were not affected by material article in ones diet & he had also experimented by giving the remedy with food, wine, & even coffee.
Hahnemann observed that if diet & regimen was not corrected it would be a factor maintaining the disease. On the other side he also said that if the constitution becomes used to many things over a large period of time & if they are not maintaining the disease or antidoting the remedies then there was no reason to remove them at all.
Apart from selection of the right medicine the physician should also look into the mode of living of the patient as irregularities committed in these field are also responsible for the occurrence of various mental & physical disorders. In Aph 256 Hahnenmann says-“… but should we find during the employment of other medicine in chronic diseases that the best selected Homoeopathic medicine in the suitable dose does not effect a change or improvement , this is sure sign that the cause that keeps up the disease still persists & that there is some circumstances in the mode of life of the patient or in the situation in which he is placed that must be removed in order that a permanent cure may ensure”
So its quite clear from the above points that Dr Hahnemann also wanted the physicians to be a preserver of health. Apart from selecting the correct medicine they should know the things that are responsible for the disease & how to remove them .
The physician should encourage the patient to follow healthy habits, patient should have a balanced diet, walk in the open air, do moderate exercise in the open air - all these criteria will enhance life. He should wear cotton clothes, lead a disciplined & controlled life, have access to pure water, nutritious food, & fresh air. He should avoid smoking & consumption of wine. He should better try to avoid & control mental excitements, anxiety, frustration, worry as such mental disturbances are obstacle to cure. The physician must always think over these aspects apart from selecting he similimum. Two golden rules to be kept in mind regarding diet & regimen are -
· Patient should not take anything which may disturb or spoil the action of the selected medicine
· Patient should not take anything detrimental to his disease condition.
1. Samuel Hahnemann, Organon of Medicine, B.Jain publishers(P)Limited.
2. Samuel Hahnemann, Chronic Diseases, B.Jain publishers(P)Limited.
3. Samuel Hahnemann, Lesser Writings, B.Jain publishers(P)Limited.
4. S.P.Dey : Essentials of Principles and Practice of Homoeopathy,3rd edition, EUREKA, Calcutta
Dr Kaushik D. Das, MD(Hom)
Assistant Professor & Head, Dept. of Homoeopathic Pharmacy,
Midnapore Homoeopathic Medical College & Hospital, WB
Mobile : 9932298682, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org