Hippocrates first coined this term, which basically means taint or fault. Today it is defined as “a noxious substance from an imponderable origin.”
This is an ancient explaination of contagion, long before bacteria and microscopes were invented or discovered. Our ancestors knew that something noxious was at work, though they thought it was the air or the water. Hahnemann considering this, believed that infectious diseases in the blood were probably the cause, and he immediately began to potentise mercury, the standard treatment for syphillis at the time, and he found this most efficatious. The material form of mercury poisoned more patients than it cured at the time. Hence the need for potentisation.
Because Dutch naturalist van Leeuwenhoek had invented the microscope in the 18th century, Hahnemann had a scientific basis on which to base his theories. He considered succeptibility of the host constitution to be very important. He also suspected that skin eruptions were being caused by microscopic animacules, and he proposed miams as a theory to explain this, though the debate raged on around him as other people rushed for an explaination of dis-ease. Hahnemann strode through the debate to redefine the term miasm to mean “constitutional derangements caused by parasitic infections.”
Hahnemann separated out acute, self limiting dis-ease from chronic dis-ease. He redefined the term miasm again, so that today, homeopaths define the term as “the effects of microrganisms on the vital force, including the symptoms that are transmitted to the folowing generations.” So, miasms are chronic conditions capable of producing degnerative dis-ease which lead the organism towards immuno deficiency disorders. Miasms are a permenent alteration of the vital force for the worse. They are the basis of all chronic dis-ease and all acute dis-ease. This inheritance spreads like a contagion into all the different states of dis-ease.
Hahnemann noted that each of the chorinic dis-eases have three phases, primary, latent and tertiary. The effects of these illness passed easily from one generation to another by inheritance, which causes a predisposition to certain dis-eases in the next or successive generation. He called the three chronic diseases psora (the itch), sycosis (gonorrhoea or the fig wart dis-ease) and syphillis (the chancre). When he publised his theory, the presence of “germs” was not understood or accepted, so he had another fight on his hands! Even today, doctors understand congenital syphillis well enough, but they will not accept or understand the miasmatic process or their inherited constitutional syndromes.Later in his life, Hahnemann subdivided psora into true psora (the itch) and pseudo psora (tubercle dis-ease or tuberculosis). He noted that some psoric conditions did not depend upon skin eruptions to develop, but that this pseudo form still had three stages, primary, latent and tertiary. All of these dis-eases could be acquired through primary infection or through inheritance.
In the Organon, Hahnemann mentions three classifications of long lasting disease, continual stress (due to maintaining causes), infectious maisms (today this group now includes harmful chemicals and drugs released into the environment in their many thousands of forms – toxic maism, plus radioactive miasm – the mix of the toxic and the radiation miasms = cancer miasm and now AIDS miasm? and heavy metal miasms? from the nuclear industry) and drug toxicity (ideopathic or caused by poor treatment directly administered to the person). In the worse case scenario, we are all affected by all of the miasms!
Pearls of Wisdom from my teachers on miasms:
“The Syphillitic Miasm = decay/wrong thinking = wrong action! This miasm is concerned with rage, violence, anger and destruction, ulceration characterised by shiny, sharp edged craters, ulcerated cornea. Bloody discharges from the nose, hard tissue in deep layers, structural changes, hair falls out in bunches, attacks bones and teeth deform and decay (sometimes before the teeth come through the gums), bulging forehead, big head, classic blindness, destructiveness for no reason, mental illness, self condemnation, melancholia, suicide, alcoholism, hooliganism, dullness, heaviness, stupidity, disgust of life, could easily kill for no reason (?terrorism?), flat nose, worse from rest, sunset, sunrise, at night; hot blooded, worse from cold and heat and extremes of temperature, lots of sweat, no relief from skin discharges and worse from loss of body fluids, occipital headache at night, children bore heads into pillows and roll their heads, photophobia especially to artificial light, metallic taste in mouth, profuse salivation, copper coloured skin eruptions, bone pains, soft and brittle bones, tendency to abortion and lined to the TB miasm…..”
“The syphillitic miasm is characterised by a tendency to ulceration, secretiveness, saying “I am not myself”, intellectual breakdown, terrible memory, deep crushing headaches, prolific hair fall, offensive green discharges, saliva runs out of the mouth during sleep, aversion to meat, desires cold meals, acrid discharges, affections of the middle finger… Healthy syph miasm? – will climb Everest, go to the Moon, discover the atom ?create world peace?”
“The TB miasm is characterised by obstinacy, they do the opposite of what they are told, destructive behaviour, negative feelings, hate of restriction, cosmopolitan, mentally expansive, willing to taste new foods (not children!), never content, urge to travel, angry when crossed, violent, quick tempered, wants their own way, tantrums, verbal rage, cursing, swearing, likes thunderstorms, hates to sit or stand still but like to lie about or lean on everything, feel really well in pregnancy but symptoms return after childbirth, hate tight things around the neck, enlarged adenoids and glands, eczema, screaming with nightmares, craves cold (water, ice cream, milk), vinegar, sweets, tasty, garlicky, spicey foods; likes being covered up, painful periods, acne on shoulders after teenage years, long eyelashes, quarrelsome with family, don’t like interruptions, like to wind people up, don’t know how to play well, make a nuisance of themselves, sensitive to heat and damp, rheumatoid arthritis, very creative at night, won’t go to sleep, hates getting up, vivid dreams and nightmares, sensitive and impulsive, long for open air, itching with no eruption, aggravated by undressing, spoon shaped fingernails, inner dissatisfaction.”
“The psoric miasm = underfunctioning/wrong thinking. ?Working Class? Inhibition is prime indication of psora. Desires stimulants, sweets. Unwilling attitude to life, with sense of loss – a lost child but inquisitive. Latent psora reveals timidity, holding back, hidden personality with a predisposition to disease. Active psora reveals skin eruptions, slow healing, dissatisfaction, secrecy, moaning, alternating mental and physical states and a tendency to colds. Separation from unity is seen, a strange manifestation of existence. There is awareness of self, but a dislike of reality. The itching can be internal irritation, and underfunction, malfunction, disfunction is seen on all levels. Psora is the soil from which all the other miasms spring. It causes deficiency, debility, loss, lack of self worth, lack of flow. There may not be any structural pathology as seen in sycosis and syph miasms, but there will be a functional deficiency and an allergic hypersensitivity because the defence mechanism is disordered. Sensitivity and oversensitivity. Original sin?! Apathy, irritability, low in energy, hypo or hyper, appetite either excessive or gone, no concentration, cheerfully hysterical, slumped or irritable. Can have active, positive phases where they are happy to experience life, but no co-ordinated action. Latent psora could be considered healthy unless or until some existing cause comes along to flare it all up. Autumn and spring are the most stressful times. After flu, psora can flare up. Worse midnight onwards. Central bald spot on top of head, hair turns white in patches, hair lustless, hangs in tangles. Peculiar cravings in pregnancy. Emotional dreams/of fear, needs comfort and affection. stomach distention, flatulence, diarrhoea, alternates with constipation, diarrhoea from overeating, sensation of suffocation, dry, scaly skin, urinary retention, involuntary urging, urging on coughing and talking, impotence and sterility in males, one sided migraines, frontal, billious, every sort of worm infestation, night sweats. Healthy psora? – reliable, slow but sure.”
“The sycotic Miasm = overproduction and overproliferation/wrong desire. ?Middle class? Extravert, excessive, overfunction, vaccinations do not take, pustules develop, neuralgias, iritis, erysipelas, impetigo, overgrowth of tissues, excess mental or physical activity, fish brine odour, sour body odour, sour stools, urethral discharges (thick whitish), warts, naevi, catarrh (babies can’t breathe and scream because of this), fibroid tumours, rose red capiliaries, transparent ears, dwarfism, cretinism, Downs Syndrome, lymphatic and metabolic disorders, weak memory, forgets names and dates (recent events) but remembers past easily, poor comprehension, slow learning, lacks patience, goes from one thing to another, forgets what they said, miss chunks out of speech, lack of connections, deceitful, liers, cruel, secretive, jealous, angry and quarrelsome, desire to harm others, anguish, involuntary urination, suspicious, paranoid, selfish, arrogant, avoids crowds, tendency towards insanity (one thought going on and on), sensation that something is moving inside the abdomen,, false pregnancy, gnawing entrails, spasmodic colic, appendicitis, peritonitis, better from lying on stomach, pressure to stomach, rubbing and stretching, worse eating, non stop vomiting in pregnancy, can’t eat breakfast, headaches worse lying down, early hours of the morning 3am, better exertion, asthma, ringworm, thick ridged nails, rheumatic pains, swollen tonsils, stiffness worse damp, feet too painful to walk on, painful rectum, bleeding piles, stools gush, forcible diarrhoea, pain when urinating, inflammation of kidneys, prostatitis, sexual problems, inflammation of ovaries and fallopian tubes, teething problems, babies quieten when rocked. Healthy sycosis? – planners, organisers, middle men, caring for the future.”
“The sycotic miasm – wrong desire. Wiil attacks organs of the pelvis especially, and then progress to anaemia, cattarh and then rheumatism, even heart conditions. Shiny, waxy skin, fleshy, flabby, overweight. Attacks soft tissue. Worse sunrise to sunset, damp and wet weather, snow and cold. Better motion and rest, rubbing and stretching (opposite of psora). Vertigo on closing eyes, strange sensations, sense of detatchment, sensation of something horrible inside, past guilt, low self worth, wants to hide from others, lack of empathy, separation between what others see and what is going on inside them = deceit. Hair falls out in circular patches. Sensation they are fragile and will break.”
“Theory of miasms – is Victorian or earlier, based on religious stuff from Garden of Eden and Original Sin – what was in that apple!?”
“It is not just dis-ease! Without the miasms, we would have no individuality, personality or characteristics! However, miasms must be turned from negative to positive states.The itch in psora is anxiety about ugliness, so vanity leads to suppressive creams, leading to asthma, paralysis, consumption, masking a sense of being imperfect and no longer aceptible to other people, they live more in their imagination that in the real world, vivid imagination not actually manifested in real life, fears of death and failure, dark, strangers, monsters, gentle with huge flares of anger not directed at others, fear of school and work due to poor concentration, will cling to mum, tense and fearful and unable to take decisive action, shy = underfunction on all levels. Physically slow, easily exhausted, slow physical development development, emotionally easily upset. Not a destructive miasm in itself, causing mainly skin complaints, cold feet but they overheat easily, not adaptable. Innability to stand still, they would rather lie down, not strong, tendency to faint, lack of energy without real cause, billious, sun headache, severe migraines, eyes itch and burn, myopia, cataract, dim vision, oversensitive to all five senses, fear of disease and they are often correct, die slow worn out deaths, strong emotions fold them up, die of broken heart, craves peculiar, indigestible things, allergies, great problems at puberty. Worse midnight to miday, cold, better heat and discharges.”