This trans-generational effect manifested in the form of disease predispositions, which he called 'miasms'. Effects in the same generation were called ‘acquired miasms’ and effects that were present in future generations were called an ‘inherited miasm’.
The idea of miasms has remained one of the most controversial propositions of Hahnemann, however, a new branch in genetics is throwing light on a possible mechanism to explain this theory.
Epigenetics is a new branch of genetics which deals with the effect of environmental and other factors on our genetic expression. Not all genes are expressed at all times, a fact which has long fascinated geneticists.
Although each of our cells carries the same genetic information, only certain section of our DNA are active in each cell. Epigenes are markers located around the DNA that control which gene sequences are expressed. These epigenes can be affected by environmental factors, theoretically helping an organism or a species to adapt more easily to environmental pressures.
The Environment can affect Gene Expression
In other words, it is possible that what we are exposed to in our lifetime can affect our genetic expression. This is already well-known in areas such as cancer research, where certain cancer-controlling genes may be activated by specific toxins.
But not only that, once the epigenetic switch is flipped and the genetic expression is changed it can be passed on in this altered state for many generations, up to 40 in current animal research. The science of epigentics is therefore showing strong parallels to Hahnemann's theory of the miasms.
It is estimated that for each of our genes there are about 50,000 epigenes present; science is just beginning to scratch the surface.
The most wonderful thing about epigenetics as well as miasms though, is that since we are dealing with genetic expression rather than actual DNA changes, these expressions are potentially open to being changed back if needed.
Homeopathic Preparations made from Diseases
Hahnemann discovered that homeopathic preparations made from diseases such as scabies, syphilis and others were able to help sick children of parents who had suffered from those and other infections.
To this day, homeopaths around the world pay close attention to family history in order to more precisely determine optimum treatment in each case. A strong family history of cancer or tuberculosis for example may point to a remedy made from those diseases, which may help the patient.
Allergies, Behavioural Disorders and Tuberculosis
Of course we cannot know the exact family history in each case, but amazingly, there are often clues present as to what kinds of conditions may have existed. Through careful observation and recording for over 200 years it has been found for example that children with allergies and certain behavioural disorders who were born with unusual amounts of dark hair that may even grow down the back most likely have a family history of tuberculosis and may respond beautifully to a homeopathic remedy made from this disease.
Insomnia, Over-Responsibility, Sensitivity and Cancer
Children who are unusually responsible for their age, often artistic, sensitive and suffering from insomnia and sometimes born with moles or cafe-au-lait spots probably have a family history of cancer and may benefit greatly from carcinosin, a homeopathic remedy made from cancerous tissue.
These children can also be more prone to developing adverse vaccine-reactions. Their systems are simply more sensitive in many ways.
Epigenetics, Mental Health and Homeopathy
Not only physical problems may be caused by infections in previous generations, mental and emotional issues can also be caused. A family history of syphilis may be linked to obsessive compulsive disorders, deep phobic states and even violence in the offspring. All of this is well documented in the homeopathic literature and I have certainly seen many cases like this over the years. A lifetime of anxiety may be relieved by a few doses of homeopathic syphilis, a disease which can totally destroy the nervous system.
Although the idea of using disease preparations may at first not seem appealing, on closer inspection it makes sense and may open the doors to many new therapeutic interventions in the future, especially for children. As the children are treated and their genetic expression normalized, the new, more balanced expression will also help to prevent disease in future generations. A most wonderful concept indeed.
Dr. Anke Zimmermann, ND, FCAH is a naturopathic doctor with a special interest in developmental and behavioural disorders. She is also interested in all other aspects of health and disease and the human condition in general.
Dr. Anke Zimmermann, ND, FCAH, Naturopathic Pediatrics
209-1061 Fort Street, Victoria, BC, V8V 5A1