By Dr. Anke Zimmermann, ND, FCAH
Nearly 200 years ago, the founder of Homeopathy, Dr. Samuel Hahnemann, observed that infectious diseases could leave residual symptoms which sometimes were also passed onto future generations without the offspring having contracted the infection. He observed this to be true conditions such as scabies, gonorrhea, tuberculosis and syphilis.
He felt that this trans-generational effect manifested in the form of ‘disease predispositions’ which he called ‘miasms’. The effect in the same generation was called an ‘acquired miasm’ in subsequent generations it was referred to as an ‘inherited miasm’.
Such miasms could be treated with relevant homeopathic remedies, thereby freeing the affected individual from the predisposition to various chronic diseases.
The concept of miasms has remained one of the most controversial propositions of Hahnemann, however, new discoveries in the field of genetics are throwing light on a possible mechanism to explain this theory.
Epigenetics is a new branch of genetics which deals with the effect of environmental factors on our gene expression. Not all genes are expressed at all times, a fact which has long fascinated geneticists.
Although each of our cells carries identical genetic information, which we inherited from our parents, only certain section of our DNA are active in each cell and only at certain times.
Epigenes are markers located around the DNA that control which gene sequences are expressed. These epigenes can effectively be placed or removed by environmental factors, potentially helping an organism or a species to adapt more easily to environmental pressures.
It is estimated that for each of our genes there are about 50,000 epigenes present; science is just beginning to scratch the surface.
I first came across this most interesting topic while standing in line at the grocery store when the above Time Magazine edition grabbed my attention. You can read the article here. Immediately, the implications for homeopathy and it's potential came to mind.
Environment can affect Gene Expression
We now know that innumerable factors we are exposed to in our lifetime can affect our genetic expression. This is already well-known in areas such as cancer research, where we know that certain cancer-controlling genes can 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. It is not restricted to the animal kingdom, but plants also use these mechanisms to their advantage.
For example, some radishes will grow bristles on their leaves if attacked by caterpillars. Their offspring is already born - or rather sprouted - with bristles on their leaves, providing an advantage in caterpillar infested areas.
The science of epigentics is therefore showing strong parallels to Hahnemann's theory of the miasms.
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 if needed.
Homeopathic Preparations made from Diseases
Hahnemann discovered that homeopathic preparations made from substances that helped to treat diseases such as scabies, syphilis and others were able to help sick children of parents who had suffered from those and other infections. Nowadays we also use remedies made from the actual diseases, called nosodes, to do the same.
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.
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 observations for over 200 years homeopaths have discovered many disease pictures that are related to ancestral conditions. For example children with allergies, tendencies to respiratory infections and certain behavioural disorders who were born with large heads and 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 called Tuberculinum, which is made from this disease.
Family History of Cancer and Syphilis
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 may have a family history of cancer and often benefit greatly from carcinosin, a homeopathic remedy made from cancerous tissue.
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, alcoholism 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 glance 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 help to prevent disease not only in their lives but also in future generations.
Interestingly the above not only applies to physical health problems linked to infections in ancestors but also to inherited traumas such as childhood trauma, cultural disenfranchment as in Native populations and the horrors of war and abuse.
A most wonderful concept indeed that could have profound implications for health care, with the potential to free human beings from imprints of past generations that no longer serve them to live fullfilling, healthy lives with great passion and purpose.
Dr. Anke Zimmermann, ND, FCAH, Naturopathic and Homeopathic Physician, Victoria, BC
Questions? Please feel free to inquire. I offer a 15-minute free consultation. Call 250-590-5828 or book online.
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Dr. Anke Zimmermann, ND, FCAH, Naturopathic Pediatrics
209-1061 Fort Street, Victoria, BC, V8V 5A1
Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday from 10-6 and alternating Saturdays from 10-4