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Diathesis

Diathesis describes a person’s predisposition or tendency. The early homeopaths used another word for this type of classification: miasm. The founder of homeopathy, Samuel Hahnemann, originally described three classic miasms or diatheses: Psoric (SORE’-ICK), Sycotic (SIGH-CAH’-TICK), and Syphilitic (SI-FA-LI’-TIC), known in Europe as Luetic (LOO-E-TIC). Today, we add a fourth that is thought to have developed in the late 19th and early 20th Centuries: Tuberculinic (TOO-BER’-CUE-LIN-ICK). These are the four diatheses that Gérard Guéniot described in great detail and are used in the concept of biotherapeutic drainage. Please note that this is one of the most difficult concepts to grasp in the study of homeopathy, so if you still feel a little fuzzy after reading this, you are not alone! Dr. Guéniot did a great service to humanity in describing them so thoroughly and we are trying to translate his work for use by the general public.

The general action of each diathesis or miasm can be summarized as follows:

Psoric Centrifugal reactions * (towards the outside)
Sycotic Centripetal reactions (towards the inside)
Luetic Dangerous reactions (self-destructive)
TuberculinicInconsistent capacity to react (tries, but is too weak)
*These general actions are explained and described in the summaries for each.

Diathesis relates to the particular tendencies a person has that he either inherited or developed after birth. Each person may have traits of one or more diatheses, but usually one predominates. The predominating diathesis can change over time, as well, with either an improvement in the general health and a shift to a more functional diathesis, or with a decline in the overall health evolving into a more degenerated and dangerous diathesis. The key is to determine which is predominating at any one moment.

Diathesis helps us understand the history of a person, or how they got to where they are today. This allows the practitioner to make sense of the history of the patient and which specific symptoms or tendencies must be treated. Diagnoses are labels given to a certain set of symptoms that then have a certain prognosis associated with it. They help us understand a disease process, but not an individual per se. These descriptions of diatheses given below are not necessarily translatable to certain disease diagnoses, but we do often find that certain diagnoses fit nicely within the description of certain diatheses. For example, most types of hormonal imbalance, such as endometriosis or polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), are a sign of the Sycotic, or centripetal, diathesis. As the patient becomes progressively clogged up with toxins, the liver ceases to do its proper job, which then causes the hormones to get backed up and cause a wide variety of symptoms.

While miasm has been described in many homeopathic texts, diathesis captures the true “trans-generational” notion that Dr. Guéniot taught. He explained that these traits not only come down through the lineage of our ancestry but that they also come from our lifestyles, our environment and from dangerous and suppressive medical choices. Thus, these tendencies are both inherited and created by what we do in our lives.

Trans-generational aspect of Diathesis

We have all noticed tendencies in our selves or in particular family members that seem similar to those in a certain ancestor or another person in the immediate or extended family. Diathesis describes the inherited trans-generational qualities that come through family lineages on an energetic and a physical level. While many would refer to these traits as “genes”, the homeopathic use of diathesis goes far beyond the DNA. It is a concept that elucidates those similarities in psychological characteristics between a mother and her son; traits that that cannot be coded for by any particular gene. We’ve seen patients who have had the exact same fears as one of their parents without the occurrence of a prior event to explain the fear. What we have observed clinically is that an imbalanced diathesis can make those inherited aspects come through and present in the symptom picture of the patient. This is the same idea as when we say we come from “good stock”; the strengths of a diathesis are trans-generational, as well.

Created Diathetic Tendencies

It is not only possible to inherit a diathesis, it is also possible to create one. If you live your life eating very poorly and using an exorbitant amount of suppressive drugs, you will create certain tendencies in your body. For example, if you eat Ho-Hos and chocolate milk every day for breakfast, eventually, your digestive organs, the pancreas and liver, will break down and cease to function. After years of this or similar poor nutrition you will have created a dulled physiological reaction, where your eliminatory functions are no longer effective and where these functions may or may not return to normalcy on their own-even if you change your diet.

Similarly, if a woman repeatedly uses hormones to correct her irregular periods, or for birth control, she will overwhelm her liver’s capacity to eliminate these chemicals and eventually develop problems in other areas altogether, leading to the complete blockage of her critical organs for elimination (liver, kidneys, skin, etc.) This is a classic example of creating or worsening the Sycotic diathesis often seen in young women who are on the birth control pill for a number of years and then start developing chronic sinusitis or chronic urinary tract infections-or both!

Furthermore, if a child lives in an environment where both parents are extremely Luetic, it is highly likely that the child will mimic this state and become Luetic as well. This is how certain diatheses can be created by medical treatments or lifestyle.

If we understand these diathetic tendencies and how they come about, we can better understand how to correct them. Homeopathy can balance these and stop certain pathological tendencies from coming into being. In fact, homeopathy is really our only tool to reverse these tendencies.

The Four Diatheses

Upon learning about these concepts, most people quickly ask, “Which diathesis am I?” When considering this question, it is important to remember that, like Temperament, no person entirely belongs to any one miasm. We all have characteristics of each, but usually one is predominant and this is what the homeopathic drainage practitioner will consider for the basis of his or her treatment.

To better understand what your doctor may be trying to explain about you, let’s describe the characteristics of each.

As stated earlier, each of the four has a main action that can be summarized as such:

Psoric Centrifugal reactions (towards the outside)
Sycotic Centripetal reactions (towards the inside)
Luetic Dangerous reactions (self-destructive)
TuberculinicInconsistent capacity to react (tries, but is too weak)

Let’s look at each in further detail.

Psoric

Psoric people are contending with an exaggeration of their normal, physiological functions. In a healthy, balanced person, we see all toxic aggressors eliminated through the usual routes like the colon, skin or urinary tract (emunctories). What we see in the psoric person is an overreaction when doing so. For example, if the psoric person ingests something that must be eliminated, a likely reaction would be to develop diarrhea instantaneously. Likewise, if the irritant or toxin were encountered at the level of the skin, the psoric person would develop a rash. The reaction in the psoric is quick and immediate. They eliminate toxins well and almost too efficiently. Psora is thus considered to be one of the healthier and thus, less dangerous, diatheses.

Don’t get confused, however, by thinking that all rashes and all diarrheas are psoric! These symptoms can also occur as a result of the other diatheses…read on! [Read More...]

Sycotic

Sycose is the name given to the phenomenon that is created when an individual starts losing their eliminatory capacities. A person who continually overwhelms his body with toxic substances will eventually lose his normal ability to detoxify himself. The Sycotic diathesis is an inversion of the psoric diathesis. Most often this occurs without the person even realizing it. Since he has stopped eliminating, there are no initial symptoms when he takes in something toxic; instead the toxin is harbored in the body, in the liver or in the tissue of a particular organ system. Symptoms develop later, as the entire system becomes overloaded and the toxins begin to spill out from their holdings. The imbalance in the diathesis eventually becomes evident when the patient develops more chronic problems such as uterine fibroids, water retention and hormonal imbalances.

The Sycotic diathesis describes a significant portion of the population in today’s environment since so many of the toxins we accumulate are unseen and unnoticed and thus contribute to the development of this tendency. It is the progressive “clogging up” of an individual. [Read More...]

Syphyllitic (Luetic)

The Luetic individual is one who does eliminate, but whose eliminations tend to be destructive. These persons are so chronically full of toxins they tend to suffer from chronic inflammation and chronic infections. Their rhythms are off, they tend towards substance abuse and they respond poorly to most therapies.

Historically, Hahnemann described the Syphillitic miasm as a “lesional” miasm, since there is often an actual physical change or ‘lesion’ involved. One example is in the case of diabetes, where initially an autoimmune process destroys the pancreatic cells themselves and then later, the end-organs (critical organs, at the peripheral end of the capillary arteries) are also deteriorated with lesional disease (retinopathy, neuropathy, chronic kidney disease, etc.).

The Luetic type will destroy his own tissue in the apparent attempt to heal himself. This is a very deep-seated and highly dangerous tendency that must be treated carefully by both allopathic and homeopathic medicine. Luetic tendencies explain self-destructive behavior in certain individuals and otherwise unexplainable medical phenomena such as aneurysms, where critical arteries suddenly burst open creating a life-or-death situation.

The Luetic person seems to do things backwards, or they at least have a different perspective from the mainstream point-of-view. It isn’t always a problem, but this type of person must take critical care so that he is protected and avoids a dire or deadly aggravation of his very strong tendency.

Antioxidants are of absolute importance in the Luetic individual. The need to protect tissues and all organs of the body cannot be overstated in importance. It is also important that these persons be drained according to the principles of Biotherapeutic Drainage almost incessantly. The only way to avoid severe illness is to drain, drain, drain, which serves as another route to prevention in the most dangerous diathesis we understand as homeopaths. [Read More...]

Tuberculinic

In the late 1800’s and early 1900’s ten percent of the population had contracted tuberculosis and forty percent of the population had been exposed to it. The era signified a shift in both human immunological development and a spiritual awakening, an awareness of the higher Self. The Tuberculinic diathesis is considered a response to or a result of this period.

It develops in three stages of attack: first, the liver is attacked, then, the lymphatic system and, finally, the tissues are attacked. It is a progression of failing in dealing with an aggressor. The liver filters the blood, so any pathogen in the body must get past the liver to impregnate any other tissue. If the liver fails to defend the individual, because the function of the liver is insufficient, then the lymphatic system is the next tool for protection. Often lymph becomes overwhelmed too, and then the nodes of the lymphatic system accept the toxin or pathogen. When the intruder goes beyond the lymph, the tissues themselves must accept the aggressor-and they do this so that the organism may survive.

The most common tissue for an aggressor to settle into is the lung. This is because the lung has the closest relationship to the external world, where the mucosal lining directly interfaces with the outside air through the breath. The lung is then especially susceptible to problems in a person who generally has the experience of being attacked or challenged by someone outside himself. Respiratory pathology, such as pneumonia, bronchitis or laryngitis, is most commonly Tuberculinic. Likewise, the body will often defend itself against a tissue-attack by de-mineralizing the bone (pulling an excess of minerals out of the skeletal tissue). The use of the alkaline minerals is both a defense, a protection and a sign that this type of person tends to open himself up to spiritual or romantic events; he un-grounds himself by losing his mineral structure, thus becoming more in touch with the cosmos, or higher spheres. This is a quasi-normal reaction for an adult, but an extremely dangerous reaction for a child, as are all Tuberculinic tendencies before puberty. [Read More...]

Summary of Diathesis

As Guéniot said, “The disease is only a consequence of a poor physiology.” When we understand the physiology (or lack thereof), we understand the patient. The use of diathesis in homeopathy recognizes an aberrant physiology before it is a disease-and thus prevents it without surgery, radiation or drugs.

The understanding of this concept of diathesis, along with those of terrain and temperament, serves to create a broader understanding of how both healing occurs and illness develops. In order to create true health, it is crucial that we embrace a healthcare model that steps beyond the prevailing germ-theory-of-disease, and begins to recognize the multi-factorial nature of health.

While these descriptions may not allow you to definitively determine your own diathesis, a consultation with a naturopathic physician trained in these methods is always available through our doctors on staff. Likewise, updates to this website will contain more on how to use diatheses and temperament for self-help in minor or non-complicated problems.

Lastly, homeopathy has been correcting pathological tendencies for pennies on the dollar for over 200 years, compared to the millions spent (not to mention the environmental disaster) with conventional medicine. Homeopathy may be less known than much of what classical medicine has to offer, but when utilized, we find that it works and that it is actually far more cost effective than the conventional standard of care.

For the most part, research that has been conducted thus far does not accurately reflect the different approaches to healthcare with naturopathic vs. allopathic care. An objective approach would include a design that would fairly and accurately research the two approaches to healthcare. The only objective approach would be to look at two populations over a set period of time and see which has more dire disease progressions: that treated with exclusively homeopathy and natural medicine, or that treated with the standard allopathic model of care.

Time and positive experience has made the alternative healing methods of the world endure throughout a directed and intentional campaign to suppress them. There is only one reason how this can be so-they work.