Installment 11 of a series on case analysis
© Will Taylor, MD 2001 (bio)
An Anamnesis of Lyme Disease
Applying the process of determining the
Genus Epidemicus to a Subacute Miasm
Early in the development of homeopathy, Hahnemann discovered the value of taking the case of a population afflicted by an epidemic acute illness, as if of one person - searching for a remedy nearly specific to each particular occurrence of an epidemic [see previous installment]. This process of finding a genus epidemicus has proven invaluable in treating numerous epidemic diseases over the 200+ year history of homeopathic practice.
Nearly 30 years into Homeopathy's development, Hahnemann turned this process of working with a population as if of one person to the issue of chronic disease. By attending to a group anamnesis of his chronically-ill cases not afflicted with the more obvious chronic diseases of Sycosis or Syphilis, he was able to elucidate the nature of Psora, and declare a number of remedies as potentially antipsoric by their similitude to this group anamnesis.
Chronic vs. Acute Miasms
The distinction between acute miasms (e.g. scarlet fever, smallpox, influenza, whooping cough) and chronic miasms (e.g. syphilis, sycosis, psora, tuberculosis) is in some respects rather straightforward. True acute diseases, the acute miasms among them, either resolve spontaneously on a scale of days to weeks, or result in the death of the host. Chronic diseases engraft themselves into the economy of the organism and engage the dynamis in their self-perpetuation; although they may slip into temporary latency, they cannot be eradicated merely by diet, optimization of lifestyle, or the best intentions of the vital force of the organism.
Yet between these extremes of acute and chronic, lie a number of disease-conditions that we might best describe as sub-acute or half-acute; sharing something of the pace of chronic diseases, along with, at least in part, the tendency of the chronic diseases to engage the organism in their own self-perpetuation.
In The Chronic Diseases, Hahnemann speaks of rabies as an example of a half-acute miasm. I suspect that we can reasonably add malaria and perhaps typhoid to this list. Reflecting on the nature of Lyme disease, I believe it most reasonably belongs in this category - as an obstinate and excessively tedious acute disease that, although not technically chronic in the manner of psora, sycosis, syphilis and tuberculosis, may play out over a lengthy period of time and express in highly varied and changeable ways.
Lyme disease results from infection by the spirochete Borrelia burgdorferi, although many clinical cases appear to involve multiple tic-born pathogens in addition. The Borrelia pathogen is born by tick vectors including Ixodes scapularis (the deer tick), Amblyomma americanum (the Lone Star tick) and Ixodes pacificus. Over 17,000 cases of Lyme disease were reported to the CDC in 2000. Considering a typical underreporting bias, this suggests perhaps 170,000 new cases of Lyme disease annually in the United States.