Psoric theory and Burnett: practical testing of miasm- a review

Dr Jalpa P. Atri 
Dr Jaimin R. Chotaliya

INTRODUCTION: “miasm”- controversial and multifariousness matter in Homeopathy.  Each and every Homeopath wants to understand the miasm in depth for good Homoeopathic Practice.  There are many books and literature regarding the miasm and its explanation but no one is yet satisfactory to clarify this miasmatic matter. To understand the Miasm in full its depth is constant struggle for every Homeopath. Various interpretations and theories emerge day by day to explain the original matter explained by Hahnemann. Various pioneers try to explain the theory and many avoids it. Dr. Burnett tested a Psoric theory in Practice in order to understand the validity of this Controversial and curious Matter of Homoeopathy.

Burnett’s initial Practice and Acceptance of Psoric theory without testing:

He mentioned in his book that “When I first tried to practise homoeopathically I accepted the doctrine of Psora purely and simply, and honestly believed that the itch could be, and was commonly cured dynamically by the strict Hahnemannians, and I copied their practice in this regard. Thus I kept a young lady under treatment with antipsorics, and principally with Sulphur, high, higher, and right away into the very high, for over a year, and the result? Total failure; and the parents very properly gave me up as inadequate. Patient was quickly cured by a near medical brother with Sulphur ointment and soap and water, and I was regarded by those who knew the circumstances as a mere faddist.  I went on for several years believing in and trying to cure the itch with homoeopathic dilutions, and what? I failed practically in every case.

Here without testing the truth when he blindly follow the theory in practice ends in failure. This happens with many physicians in present time when one fails to see it with scientific mindset. In mind of most of neophytes in homeopathy a true concept about the miasm is not develop due to erratic explanation about the theory and lack of miasmatic concept teaching in Practical Homoeopathy. While in some area of homeopathic field higher importance given to miasmatic concept which block the use of other remedies and abuses nosode’s prescriptions.

In his book related to ringworm where he mentioned about the Psora as a matter of confusion, “It is due, let us say, to Psora, but we have no clear conception of what Psora is. Psora needs to be split up into its component parts, no easy task; it roots in the vague, its trunk and boughs run away into anywhere. The Psora of the homoeopaths seems somehow true, but it has no proper beginning, no definite course, and ends in pathological chaos. Perhaps we study it in Hahnemann, and in the best writers on the subject, and after doing our best to master it, we rise from our studies with no clear idea, and we finally decide to abandon Psora as an intangible myth, and then we proceed with our clinical work; but, before long, we stumble against a very tangible something, and on looking at the stumbling block, we find writ large upon it the word Psora! Have I then hit upon a solution of the Psora-problem? No; but if we cannot break the whole faggot, we may perchance break one stick of it.”

But again he tried it frequently and results were same i.e. in failure. Now when he cured cases of ringworms with Bacillinum and Vaccinosis by Thuja in dynamic doses then again a question rouses in his mind that why not itches???

For its deeper understanding again he focused on matter of itch and acari.

He said “You cannot cure the itch by dynamic medication, and you must therefore kill the acari; they should be killed on the spot, the sooner the better; you cannot kill acari with dynamic remedies, and they should be killed at once. But I am NOT speaking of its concomitant constitutional eruptions brought forth by the acari, neither do I say that the acari may not poison the blood – indeed I think they do, and therefore they should be sulphured to death instanter. Here he stated about the external application and treatment of itch with focus on killing the acari. 

Then for further his analysis regarding the existing internal state and its role in sickness opens the door of understanding the matter in much clearer way. “But, and this is very important, if the acari have called forth an eruption from a previously existing internal state, THIS eruption may NOT be got rid of by external remedies. There is the rub. It is the finest results of suppressing the constitutional eruptions that have been called fort from their internal lurkings by the acari themselves, or by their poison, that we have to fear. If we watch cases of itch carefully we find that the cases of those of tained constitutions get quite a number of different kinds of eruptions which were potentially there before they were infected with the acari, and these constitutions have to be mended by proper homoeopathic remedies, and their eruptions may no be driven in, but the acari must be killed by parasiticides. The best men in the homeopathic ranks should set to work and clear this matter up, as it trammels our progress not a little.”

Finally his understanding regarding the Psora’s internal existence was confirmed and in this context he said, The dangerous results from the suppression of true itch are in reality not from the itch itself at all – on the contrary, the acari are poisonous little brutes that should be killed instanter. These dangerous results are from the driving in of dyscratic eruptions present in the itch-patients, but not due primarily to the itch itself, but pre-existent in the individuals suffering from the itch, and not infrequently brought out on to the cutaneous surface by the acari or their poison, though not really due thereto.  It is the source of very considerable mental satisfaction to me to have thus solved the question of Psora, as now I cure the itch – the acarus disease – as quickly as possible with Sulphur ointment and soap and water, regarding it as a dirty parasitic disease impinging from without on to the individual, but at the same time do not suppress any concomitant skin trouble which is from within the organism, being there before the itch was caught, though very likely called forth by the irritating influence of the acari; what which is from without, is to be cured from without; that which is from within must not be treated from without, but from within.”

Many Homoeopaths believe that Dr.Burnett was focused on Pathological and organ remedies in much extent and not more concerned with the dynamic understanding of the fundamental cause and its existence. 

This concept of Psora is similar to the concept mentioned by Dr. Kent in his “Lectures on Homeopathic Philosophy’’ where he mentioned about the dynamic cause of disease instead of micro-organism.  When the tubercular matter potentized till there are no microbes in that solution and then gives it to the healthy person for drink. It will produce the same symptoms in body as seen in tuberculosis. Here symptoms are produce and microbes was absent in that solution suggest the cause of disease is dynamic one.  Kent said, “The more bacteria the less Poison”.

His view regarding Psora as a generator of various maladies was expressed in his book “curability of cataract” with the following lines, “The expression Psora means different things to different minds. In the Hahnemannic historico-pathological case-taking it plays a most important part. Here its true appreciation is of the utmost significance and incalculable range.  Psora may not, perhaps, express an absolute truth, but it is of extreme practical worth. It must not be regarded as synonymous with the acarus disease, although it may be possibly included in it. As far as I understand the subject, it has not any more to do with scabies than with eczema, psoriasis, rhagades, phthisis, or cancer; but Psora is the soil in which these weeds thrive, the psoric individual is their appropriate host.”

Dynamic existence of Psora is proven and confirmed by many homeopaths and pioneers but its expressions in mental and physical levels are still matter of confusion.  Expression and classification of miasm are difficult and still obscure. Some classify it according to single symptoms while other classify according to state of diseases.

As per comments by Burnett on Psora, “Psora needs to be split up into its component parts, no easy task; it roots in the vague, its trunk and boughs run away into anywhere.” this may be reason for the difficulties regarding the understanding of Psoric symptoms (manifestations). Lastly confusion regarding it may end up in Practical Difficulties in Management of Chronic Cases.

The question regarding the understanding of Psora is lies in old writing in Pioneers or in individual Practice is still a matter of struggle for everyone.

Understanding of Dynamic aspect of Psora from various explanations given by our pioneers and study of its manifestations through clinical practice is the only way to understand the concept of miasm. Here in this review Dr. Burnett done the same thing during his time and was established himself as a great clinician. Due to its ambiguous theoretical existence, Psoric theory is difficult to understand but its role in Homoeopathic Practice is immeasurable.


  1. Burnett. J.C., The change of life in Women;  Reprint edition 2003; India; B. Jain Publishers Pvt. Ltd.; The Hahnemann Doctrine of Psora re-stated.
  2. Burnett. J.C., Ringworm –its Constitutional nature cure, reprint edition; India; B. Jain Publishers Pvt. Ltd.
  3. Burnett. J.C., Curability of Cataract with Medicines-It’s Nature, Causes, Prevention & Treatment; reprint edition; India; B. Jain Publishers Pvt. Ltd.
  4. Kent. J.T., Lectures on Homeopathic Philosophy; Low Price Edition; India; B. Jain Publishers Pvt. Ltd.; Lecture-5, pg. 53 

Dr. Jalpa P. Atri (B.H.M.S) M.D.
Assistant Professor
Department of Surgery and Homeopathic Therapeutics
Dr. L.R. Shah Homoeopathy College, Kalavad Highway, Gardividhyapith, Rajkot, Gujarat 361162

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