Not sure what Autophagy is ? Well, let’s take a look. In the 1950’s Christian de Duve, a Belgian scientist, accidently discovered a process he named autophagy, from the Greek words for “self” (auto) and “eating” (phagy). It is described as a mechanism where cells cannibalize some of their own parts in a continual clean up process. In 1983 the genes that regulate this process were discovered by a researcher named Ohsumi. He won the Nobel prize for his discovery and his understanding that without these genes autophagy doesn’t work and cells cannot repair themselves. The intriguing part of this, and the part I related most to, is that the process of autophagy is given an assist if there is cellular stress – cell function actually improves when we are under stress. Autophagy, enhanced by stress, has a way of rejuvenating the cell. Without stress and aggravation the autophagic process functions at a maintenance level only.
This process made me think about Homeopathy and its concept of the homeopathic aggravation. When someone seeks homeopathic treatment for chronic symptoms, whether they be mental, emotional, physical or a combination, the professional homeopathic practitioner decides upon a remedy which is similar in its natural effects to the totality of the person’s characteristic symptoms.
The similar remedy, or simillimum, can cause symptoms of disease in a healthy person and yet can cure a sick person suffering from similar symptoms. This concept is based on the homeopathic principle of Like Cures Like – Dr. Samuel Hahnemann, Organon of Medicine. A characteristic symptom is one of an unusual nature – strange, rare, peculiar, striking – that gives the person’s case a pronounced individuality.
In the weeks after taking the remedy, the person may experience a temporary worsening of some symptoms, an aggravation, followed by feeling better on a new level.
Here is an example. A child who has trouble sleeping, fears being alone in bed at night, refuses to eat when separated from parents, is chronically constipated, had facial eczema that was suppressed with cortisone ointment and has left sided muscular weakness is given a remedy similar in nature to the totality of his characteristic symptoms.
In the ensuing weeks, a slight aggravation of eczema appears ( but there is no suppression with ointments), followed by an aggravation consisting of stomach ache with one incident of voluminous diarrhea. Notable is that the skin eruption, and even the diarrhea, are not suppressed.
Suppression is the driving inward of disease symptoms, a masking, so that a person experiences more serious symptoms than originally – Dr. Samuel Hahnemann, Organon of Medicine.
After the skin and G/I discharge, the child has better physical and emotional energy, better appetite and improved muscular co-ordination. The child begins to form coherent sentences – there is a general neurological improvement. The eczema gradually clears and the G/I system is healthy.
In Homeopathy, improvement after a healing aggravation is not just a return to the usual chronic state of being. Instead it is a lifting of the Vital Force of the suffering person out of a stuck state to one of greater resiliency with an integration of better energy on all 3 levels – mind, body and spirit.
The term Vital Force is used by Hahnemann in the Organon of Medicine to describe the energy that animates all living beings.
An analogy could be one of a pendulum on a clock that is not moving well – the whole clock not functioning well. A small push does very little to improve its oscillations but a push which is bigger than its stuck state causes the pendulum to swing past its stuck point, oscillating in too wide an arc. A balanced swing is then established and all is better than prior to its stuck state – the clock now keeps good time. In a similar fashion, the homeopathic remedy which cures must be of a more dynamic energy than the person’s state of dis -ease in order to assist the individual’s Vital Force to a balanced state of being.
Perhaps we can say that, in Homeopathy, the similar remedy acts as a dynamic person-specific stressor enhancing their omnipotent Vital Force – cellular function, genetic expression, neurohormonal function, mental / emotional integration and more – allowing an individualized vitalization. The person experiences greater resiliency, enjoys a healthier state of being – autophagic, cannibalizing cell activity and all.