What Does the Symptom Really Mean? Insights from Homotoxicology
If you had acne and treated it with drugs to suppress it, and now your acne is “cured” but you have allergies that you didn’t have before - did you really cure the acne?
Most people think yes, you’ve solved the skin problem and now you have a different problem to take to the allergy specialist. This is the fallacy of conventional specialization, and the false belief perpetuated by the medical/pharma system that symptoms are always “bad” and need to be suppressed.
In reality, the acne is an inflammatory process that the body produces to try to get rid of some kind of toxin, whether from outside or a toxin produced by the body itself. For some reason, it couldn’t be eliminated at the level of normal excretion (sweating, urination, mucus, etc.). So it had to bring in the heating quality of inflammation to do the job by “burning it up.”
Here’s a very important concept:
When you suppress that natural detoxification process by suppressing symptoms, you’re pushing toxins more deeply into the system. Now the body is forced to find a different avenue to express the toxins, so different symptoms now crop up. And now more vital organs may be involved, and the disease is more difficult to treat. This is the direction that ends in tissue degeneration.
We need to know how to recognize the direction a symptom or condition is going in, and recognize that a symptom even if very uncomfortable, might represent a healing process that should be supported, not suppressed.
The Table of Homotoxicology, conceived by a homeopathic medical doctor named Dr. Reckeweg, is a wonderful visual aid and model for understanding the difference between a disease process and a healing process, so that when you have symptoms you can see the larger context of what they really mean.
This is a chart that shows the various phases the body uses to try to get rid of these toxins, and the various conditions that can appear at each phase. The idea is that we want to get the condition to move in the healing direction, to push the toxins out of the system.
But commonly, drugs such as antibiotics and anti-inflammatories, even some herbal medicines, are used to make symptoms go away. And they’re pretty good at that, but we’ll see how they actually can suppress the healing process and lead to a progression of the disease process.
In this article I’ll give you a little introduction to how to use the table of Homotoxicology to understand the direction of symptoms - whether they’re moving toward deeper disease or are going in a healing direction.
Let’s take the example of allergies and acne one step further. You have chronic allergies, which means that your body isn’t easily throwing off toxins, and they’re on their way to beginning to cause cellular damage. But you’re treating that properly without suppressing it, and your allergy symptoms are improving, although now you have a bad case of acne.
What does the acne really mean, besides just being a new symptom that you’re tempted to suppress or make it go away however you can?
Now that you have the acne, that’s a very important indication! Acne is an inflammatory process, indicating that your body is trying to repair the damage of the chronic allergies. This inflammation, although it’s uncomfortable is actuallly a favorable response!
You see, we’re looking at the direction in which the process is proceeding. To go from acne to chronic allergies is an unfavorable direction - the disease process. But now with the acne inflammation, you’re proceeding in a healing direction toward proper elimination of toxins. The body is trying to move toxins outward so that they don’t progress to do damage on the cellular level.
What we need to do now is to support this healing process, and we can use nutrition, tissue salts, and various other regimenal methods.
If you were to use antibiotics for the acne, you might get some symptom relief, but you’d actually be suppressing this healing process, which would be like sabotage. It would be like anything else that gives you short-term gain but hurts you more in the longer run.
You would be driving the disturbance deeper into the system, and then it would be expressed later, most likely in a more serious condition. So we want to avoid that. You can be helped to feel better with remedies that don’t sabotage your long-term gain, while focusing the effort on what is going to maximize your healing.
Now let’s look at the example, on Dr Reckeweg’s Table of Homotoxicology. Don’t let the name intimidate you - it’s a wonderful model and very clear visual aid for understanding the difference between a disease process and a healing process.
To illustrate how it works, in the table look under the column titled Inflammation Phase, and you’ll see acne listed there. Now look over to the right, under the column for Impregnation Phase, you’ll see allergies.
What this means is that if someone has chronic allergies, it’s usually because they have gone through the phases on the left side of the chart, over to the right side of the chart which represents disease processes that are beginning to affect the cellular level.
The left-hand half of the chart shows functional disturbances that haven’t produced actual tissue damage. In the functional phases, the body is still fairly well able to throw off the toxins, as they haven’t penetrated very deeply yet. Some of the symptoms in the functional phases can be quite intense, as with pneumonia or meningitis. But as you move to the right of the chart, the conditions are becoming more degenerative, more embedded in the tissues.
So if a person had acne, and then later they’re developing chronic allergies, you can see that they are in a disease process, going from left to right on the table.
But if someone has allergies, and they’re being treated properly to remove the disease blockages, and now they’re developing acne, now they are going from right to left, reversing the disease process, moving in the direction of healing!
In this context, the appearance of acne is a good thing and should not be suppressed with antibiotics but treated properly and supported so that the person can move through the inflammation phase and back to the excretory phase to the left.
The healing process goes from right to left on the chart, although not all the in-between phases will manifest, and this is really just a rule of thumb to understand what direction the person is going in, when they had one problem and then another problem crops up.
The key to all this is that the symptom itself does not give you an understanding of what is happening and how to treat it. Depending on whether you’re going from right to left or left to right on the table, meningitis or pneumonia or acne (or other inflammatory condition) may be a healing process, and usually is!
Some inflammatory conditions can be serious and do need to be treated. Sometimes a bit of judicious symptom suppression is called for in the meantime, and professional judgment of a skilled naturopath or homeopath is called for.
I would not recommend that people self-treat for very intense or chronic conditions. But we need to understand the meaning of our own symptoms in order to participate consciously in our own healing.
The problem is getting stuck in the inflammatory phase, and then the person will often anxiously believe they need to suppress the inflammation in every case. What they really may need is to support it and treat it properly to get it moving so it resolves to the left on the chart, not to suppress it and drive it toward the right.