Importance of Etiological factors in Homoeopathy

Dr Arati S Khaladkar  S
Prof, HOD, Department of Pharmacy

To start with lets imagine a deep festering deep seated wound inhabited by a large splinter of wood, not knowing that it is the wound’s causative agent the consulting physician subjects the agonizing patient to various courses of homoeopathic doses, superficial cleansing agents, external applications, or pain killers, some may prescribe nutritional supplements, decoctions, healthy diet, perhaps therapies like stem bath, change of place, acupressure or acupuncture or some other healing therapy, but alas the wound still stands by itself adamantly over its place.

What stands best is the homoeopathic treatment protocol giving emphasis on the causative or the etiology studied beneath.

Let’s see one more example, in India it is observed that most of the Naga people live in ill-ventilated houses without separate kitchen, particularly in rural areas. They keep the firewood (mainly oak and pine tree wood which produces thick smoke) burning during day and night for heating, lighting and cooking purpose. They consume this smoke and dried food stuff. Such people living  continuously for longer duration in this area suffer from Naso-Pharyngeal Carcinoma.

This incidence accounts to about 4.3% incidence of NPC  people/ year.

The Importance of Etiology in prescribing a Similia

Etiology is the study of causation, or origination. The word is derived from the Greek  aitiologia, “giving a reason for”.

Ever since the dawn of medical history it has been a constant search for the cause of the acute as well as chronic disease.

The ancient Greek Physician, Hippocrates  taught that the diseases were caused by the predisposition which is inherent in the inborn constitution and its susceptibility to the cause rather than any one single effect.

In the Organon of Medicine Dr. Samuel Hahneman separated the origin into two categories the exciting and fundamental causes and related them very closely to the susceptibility of the physical constitution Aphorism 5.

“Useful to the physician in assisting him to cure are the particulars of the most probable exciting cause of the acute disease as well as the most significant points in the complete history of the chronic disease to enable him to discover its fundamental cause which is generally due to a chronic miasm.”

Etiology properly concerns itself with synthesis of causative factors in the pathogenesis of the disease to enable an observer to form a comprehensive picture of the development of disease in all its stages. Eg.

  1. Nux Vomica helped a patient with insomnia caused by mental excitement.
  2. Staphysagria proved helpful in patients in whom the Mortification was forthcoming.
  3. Gelsemium helped another young man who found the labour pains in his wife quite trying and broke down with nervous diarrhoea.
  4. Aconite, Hepar Sulph and Spongia ailments after exposure to cold draft of air.

Concept of disease is ever changing through the ages.

The knowledge of etiology depends necessarily on the understanding of the various physical and biological phenomenon that man has observed in nature.

Spiritual Concept
Primitive man was not so much concerned with the nature of cause of disease as with its cure. His knowledge of disease was quite inadequate the various phenomenon like thunderstorms, lightening, earthquakes , eclipses etc. left him wonderstruck.

Evolution of factors contributing to disease entity.

Spiritual Concept

Supernatural Concept 

Concept of Constitution

Concept of four humours

The sum total of the individual characteristics in the three planes.

  1. Emotional
  2. Intellectual
  3. Physical depicts Constitution.
  1. A study of family history from the standpoint of the susceptibility to illness and the organization of the parents is of considerable help in assessing the purely hereditary influences.
  2. Study of the family set up immediately preceding the time of conception during gestation and through infancy and childhood is of great help in determining the contribution made of the surroundings.
  3. A study of school set-up and other contacts in the emotional life of child should not be neglected.

 Essentials of knowing Causative factors.

  1. The study of Causative factors and etiological in a given case makes the problem solving technique in a complicated case much more easy.
  2. The physician has to be sure that ‘ALL IMPEDIMENTS TO CURE’ have been removed before he proceeds with the administration of the similar remedy.
  3. He has to concentrate on a detailed study of the environment factors and their effects.

Morbific agents of disease & Morbid and products do not help much  in diagnosis.

  1. The physician must know the things that derange health as the disharmonious functioning of life force results mostly from unfavorable factors in the environment of a person.

For eg.:

  1. Enteric fever – Contaminated food and fever
  2. Malaria : Marshy damp areas (Mosquito bite)
  3. Airborne infectious like Swine flue, Koch’s Influenza.
  4. Cholera Contamination of food and water
  5. Hepatitis 
  1. Hepatitis B : Vertical transmission Mother to fetus
  2. Infected syringes Blood transfusions
  3. Sexual route : Syphilis and Gonorrhea
  4. Skin to skin contact – Leprosy
  1. The exciting causes like:
  1. Excesses in food
  2. Insufficient supply of food
  3. Severe physical impression
  4. Overheating, strains, Dissipation
  5. Physical irritation, mental emotions arise into transient explosion of latent psora (which spontaneously returns to its dormant state if the acute disease were not of too violent a character.
  1. Physical constitution  should be taken into consideration
  1. Occupation
  2. Mode of living habits
  3. Social and domestic relations.
  4. Moral and intellectual character
  1. Disposition of mind must also be attended to because of their removal the recovery may be promoted.
  1. If the patient is fond of animals and has a pet at her place. Such a situation would obstruct the medical treatment if she presents with allergy or Asthma (Bronchial) then the pet would have to be removed.

But instead we twist this understanding and start selecting constitutional remedies taking into account the ‘ love for animals’ then the case would be in wrong direction.

Dr. Hahnemann wanted the physician to separate out those disease contributing factors so that removing them or modifying them would assist the physician to bring about a speedy recovery in the patient.

Precisely the assessment of causative factors in Homoeopathy is as important as removal of diseased entity within the body.


  1. Organon of Medicine Sixth Edition translated by William Boericke M.D.
  2. Principles and Practice of Homoeopathy Part I Dr. M.L. Dhawale M.D.                        

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