so what is Psora?
Posted November 10th, 2008 by admin
If Hahnemann's Psora is a contagium vivum - a dynamic infection by a living pathogen - it might be of interest to talk about the pathogen itself. What might this be? We have, since Hahnemann's day, identified the spirochete responsible for syphilis, and the virus responsible for sycosis. Can we similarly identify the virulent organism responsible for psora?
Psora has often been attributed in our literature, to scabies infestation. A search through over 800 books and journals in my Encyclopedia Homeopathica library brings up 54 instances of Psora and Scabies occurring in the same sentence, demonstrating the prevalence of this notion. This has been a point upon which Hahnemann's attribution of chronic disease to psora has been ridiculed; and we find a number of our historical authors attempting, rather lamely, to defend him by nuancing the supposed psora/scabies issue in various ways.
Hahnemann was intimately familiar with the nature of Scabies, despite assertions to the contrary which one might find in our literature (e.g., "In Hahnemanns time the acarus of scabies was unknown" - Bellokossy, read before the International Hahnemannian Association July 1939, and published in the Hahnemannian Recorder, 1886 no.1).
The scabies mite was mentioned by the Arabian physician Abu el Hasan Ahmed el Tabari, of Tabaristan, in 970 AD. Saint Hildegard (1091-1162), Abbess of Rupertsberg, described the "acarus scabiei" mite in her book Physika. ((see http://www.dermato.med.br/hds/bibliography/1998giovan-cosimo-bonomo.htm)) Abenzoar (1091-1162), a Moorish physician practicing in Spain, referred to the mite as syrones, assoalat or assoab, and described "lice which creep under the skin of the hands, legs, and feet ... So small are the animalculae that they can hardly be distinctly seen." (RE Dudgeon, Lectures on the Theory and Practice of Homeopathy). This was described not as a discovery, but as a common understanding of the day, attended by the folk tradition of the time of treating this infestation by physically removing the mites from their burrows with a sharp needle.
In Hahnemann's day, this tradition of extracting the mites with a needle persisted, known as Sauren-graden (probably derived from the term Syrones and the German gerade - "getting right to the point with scabies"). The scabies infestation itself was known as Krätze, a word distinct from "itch" (= "Jucken").
Maufet described the scabies mite, and its cutaneous infestation, in his Theatrum Insectorum, published in 1634.
Hauptman, of Leipzig, created a detailed sketch of the mite in 1650; Bonomo, in Italy, published a description and illustration in 1638; Wichmann offered a description of the mite in 1786.
Hahnemann himself described the scabies mite, and described the natural history and treatment of scabies infestation, well before his foray into homeopathy; in an annotation made in the translation of Monro's Materia Medica in 1791; and again in the journal Anzeiger of Gotha, in 1792, writing "The itch itself ... has its origin in small living insects or mites, which take up their abode in our bodies beneath the epidermis, grow there and increase largely and by their irritation or their creeping about cause an itching ... These exceedingly small animals are a kind of mite. Wichmann has given a drawing of them; Dover, Legazi, and others have observed them." (Hael, Samuel Hahnemann, His Life and Work, vol.2, chapt. XIII)
Yet, in his description of Psora in The Chronic Diseases, written 36 years later, Hahnemann makes not a single mention of scabies (Krätze).
And a comparison of his description of primary psora, with his previous description of scabies infestation, reveals that these conditions were quite distinct from one another.
So ... what is Psora?