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Miasms — A Modern Understanding

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Samuel Hahnemann, M.D., the Father of Homeopathy, states in paragraph 72 of his Organon of the Medical Art:

Chronic diseases are those which dynamically mistune the living organism with small, often unnoticed beginnings. They gradually so remove it from the healthy state that the automatic life energy which was ordained to sustain health, opposes them. It does so, both in the beginning and in their continuance, with only imperfect, inexpedient, useless resistance. The life force, which cannot extinguish these diseases by its own power, in and of itself, must allow them to proliferate and it must allow its tuning to be more and more abnormally altered up to the final destruction of the organism. Chronic diseases arise from dynamic infection by a chronic miasm.

The word miasm comes from the Greek miasma which means taint, stain, pollution. Hahnemann names three miasms, syphilitic, sycotic and psoric. The psoric miasm primary manifestation was an infectious skin eruption that was itchy, scaly or scabby. If allowed to progress, it could then manifest in virtually innumerable symptoms. He states that the psoric miasm is the mother of almost all diseases.

The syphilitic miasm gets its name from the venereal disease, syphilis. The primary symptom of syphilis is the genital ulcer (chancre) it produces. If allowed to progress, syphilis can result in many secondary and tertiary symptoms. The sycotic miasm refers to another venereal disease, gonorrhea. The primary symptom of gonorrhea was figwarts, cauliflower shaped skin growths.

How does this relate to our modern health conditions, especially in non–human animals in which these venereal diseases don't even exist? Essentially what Hahnemann said was that there are three types of disruptions in the body's function which he described in terms of diseases with which he was familiar which represented those features most prevalent in each miasm.

Therefore, conditions primarily involving destructive processes such as ulcers, most neuromuscular diseases and other tissue destroying diseases are like syphilis whose primary symptom is an ulcer. These are syphilitic (syphilis–like). Diseases producing overgrowth or excessive tissue, such as warts, polyps and cancers are sycotic (gonorrhea – like). Diseases producing inflammations and other functional disturbances such as dermatitis, bronchitis, cystitis and some types of anemia are psoric.

How can miasms be understood in light of current knowledge of physiology? The answer to this question appears to be provided by the insights of Dr. Praful Vijayakar, a modern homeopathic physician in Mumbai (Bombay), India. There are three basic functions of any cell:

1) Homeostasis 2) Growth/Repair 3) Defense/Destruction

These are necessary for survival of the organism. Homeostasis (balance) refers to the perpetual maintenance functions performed by cells including respiration, intake of nutrients, excretion of waste and fulfillment of the cell's specific role (producing an enzyme, for example). Growth/repair is needed in order for cells to replace themselves or create new tissue to heal wounds. Defense/destruction refers to the function of breaking down damaged or old tissue in order to replace it or the destruction of foreign substances such as bacteria, viruses and parasites. Growth/repair and defense/destruction continually work together to rejuvenate every system in the body.

Miasms are nothing more than disturbances in these functions. The psoric miasm is a disturbance in cellular homeostasis. When homeostasis is disrupted, the cells become prone to infection and inflammation and functional abnormalities may occur (such as a hormonal imbalance). Oftentimes the first organ affected is the skin, since it is the most superficial and exposed. (The skin eruptions and rashes seen in young animals are classic examples.) If the disorder is not cured at this stage or if it suppressed, it will generally progress to deeper, more vital organs. The bowels or lungs are commonly affected next resulting in inflammatory bowel disorders or bronchitis. With this understanding, it is obvious why the psoric miasm (disturbed homeostasis) is the mother of virtually all disease.

If a disturbance in growth/repair occurs, there is an overproduction of cells. This results in tissue proliferation such as warts, tumors and spondylosis. This is the sycotic miasm.

If the defense/destruction mechanism is disordered, the result is ulcers, loss of myelin coating of nerves and other tissue loss. This is the syphilitic miasm.

It is now clear how the concept of miasms plays a vital role in the diseases that plague our modern times regardless of the species. In most conditions, it is easy to see which miasm or miasms are prominent. To a homeopathic practitioner, this has great significance in terms of finding the correct and potentially CURATIVE remedy.

If you would like to learn more about Dr. Praful Vijayakar's theories and see some amazing cures with homeopathy, visit his website,

  • Russell Swift, DVM, Classical Homeopath

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