‘Drug Proving’- The Homeopathic Way Of Studying The Drug Pathogenesis
‘Similia Similibus Curentur’ means: ‘Diseases with specific symptoms can be cured by potentized forms of drugs that can create similar symptoms and pathologic processes in healthy individuals if applied in crude form’. Same can be stated in a scientific language as: “Pathological molecular errors can be rectified using ‘molecular imprints’ of drug molecules that can create similar molecular errors if applied in molecular form”.
Obviously, studying the disease-producing properties of drug substances is essential part of applying ‘similia similibus curentur’.
Homoeopathy has devised its own peculiar way of studying the medicinal properties of substances by observing their capacity to produce various pathological conditions in healthy organisms. It is done in such a way that the information so collected could be utilized in the therapeutic application of those drugs in diseases according to ‘similia similibus curentur’. In modern medicine, toxicological studies and pharmacological studies of a drug are different subjects, where as in homeopathy, pharmacological studies and pathogenic studies or toxicological studies are one and the same. Homeopathy is based on the principle that a substance becomes a medicinal agent only because it has some disease-producing properties. In other words, if we could know what pathological states and symptoms a drug can create in healthy organism, we can decide in what disease states that drug could be used as a therapeutic agent. This unique way of drug study in homeopathy is called ‘drug proving’.
Small quantities of a particular drug material are administered to controlled volunteer groups of apparently healthy individuals, as part of this drug proving program. The subjective and objective symptoms, representing the diverse molecular deviations caused in the organism by the drug substance are carefully observed and recorded. These symptoms are systematically arranged compiled as materia medica of the substance used.
First point we have to note is that most drug substances, especially of vegetable or animal origin, are not ‘simple’ substance. Even if we use them as a ‘single’ substance, actually they consist of diverse types of individual molecules. A substance can interact with biological molecules only as individual molecules. If we really want to understand homeopathy and drug proving scientifically, we should first of all learn to perceive drug substances in terms of constituent molecules. Once we introduce a sample of drug substance into the living organism for ‘proving’, its constituent molecules are instantly subjected to various processes such as disintegration, ionization, hydration and certain chemical transformations. Individual constituent molecules are carried and conveyed through blood and other internal transport systems into the cells and body fluids in different parts of the body. They can interact with various enzymes, receptors, metabolites and other biological molecules inside the organism. Individual drug molecules, in capacities of their molecular affinities, get themselves bound to various bio-molecules which participate in the essential biochemical activities in the organism. These interactions are decided and directed by the specific properties such as configurations and charges of active groups of individual drug molecules, and their specific affinity towards biological target molecules. The three dimensional structure of the individual drug molecules, and that of the concerned bio-molecules are the decisive factors in this process of formation of molecular binding between them. This peculiarity is called molecular affinity. It is very important to note that drug substances interact with different biological molecules, not as a singular entity, but as individual constituent molecules and ions. These individual drug molecules and ions are capable of competing with natural ligands and substrates in binding to biological molecules, thereby inhibiting the essential bio-chemical processes which can take place only with their presence and mediation. Such molecular inhibitions in various bio-chemical pathways result in a condition of pathology, expressed in the form of a train of subjective and objective symptoms, due to the involvement of various neuro-mediator, neuro-transmitter and cellular signalling systems.
On the surface of bio-molecules belonging to diverse protein categories of characteristic three dimensional organizations, there will be different functional groups suitable for engaging in various types of biochemical bonds. Certain functional groups play a role in establishing contacts with other molecules, and are called ‘binding groups’. Functional groups performing real chemical processes are known as ‘active groups’. There are also ‘allosteric groups’ which facilitate interactions. Different types of binding groups, active groups and allosteric groups exist on the same complex bio-molecule. These binding sites, active sites and allosteric sites of bio-molecules interact with other molecules in a peculiar ‘key-lock’ mechanism. A key will be suitable only to the particular complimenting key- hole with exact three dimensional structure which fits to the shape of the key. In the same manner, various molecules engaged in biochemical processes identify and interact with their natural ligands or substrates with the help of peculiarities of their configurational and charge affinities. A different key, with a three dimensional structure only partially similar to that of the original key, may partially enter in the key-hole, but it fails to open the lock, and results in mechanically obstructing the key-hole. Molecular mechanism underlying disease processes may be broadly compared to such an obstruction and inhibition of molecular locks by binding of some foreign molecules, partially similar to but different from original ones mimicking as the natural ligands. Due to such an inhibition, the particular bio-molecule becomes incapable of interacting with its natural molecular keys or ligands, thereby hindering the concerned normal biochemical process. This situation amounts to a pathology at molecular level. We can also visualize a different scenario of molecular inhibition, where the original key or ligand itself becoming structurally deformed, thereby hindering its interaction with its appropriate molecular lock. There may also be such occasions as some dirt getting collected inside the key-hole, or the key or the keyhole itself has some inherent manufacturing defects etc. All such presumed situations are possible in the case of bio-molecules also, and may result in bio-molecular inhibitions of some sort or other
During drug proving, the constituent drug molecules interact with biological molecules using this molecular mechanism, and create molecular inhibitions amounting to pathology. All the biochemical processes mediated or participated by those bio-molecules are affected, and dependent biological pathways are subsequently blocked. Since different biological pathways are inter-dependant, deviations in one pathway naturally affects the dependent ones also. The cascading of molecular deviations influence the neuromediator-neurotransmitter systems and cellular signaling systems and finally manifest in the form of particular groups of subjective and objective symptoms. This is the real molecular kinetics of drug proving as well as pathology.
We time and again hear our critics sarcastically declaring that homeopaths indulge in a totally unscientific way of medical practice, considering the external symptoms alone, and accuse that the basic causes of diseases are not dealt with in homoeopathic treatment. ‘Homoeopaths treat only the symptoms, not the disease’- they say. Even now these learned friends utterly fail to understand the logic of homoeopathy, and the fact that it is a highly scientific method of therapeutics. The subjective and objective symptoms presented by the organism are the only reliable indicators to help us correctly understand the minute molecular deviations underlying a state of pathology. Each group or trains of symptoms represent a specific molecular error that had occurred in a particular biochemical pathway. These symptoms invariably indicate the specific type and character of the endogenous or exogenous foreign molecules or ions responsible for the particular molecular inhibition. By studying the train of symptoms carefully and systematically, homoeopaths observe and identify these exact molecular inhibitions. This symptomatology-based analytical method of homeopathy is far more exact and superior to the multitude of expensive complex laboratory chemical tests and imaging technologies we consider to be scientific. Identifying the exact molecular errors in the organism of the patient by observing the expressed symptoms, and identifying the most appropriate therapeutic agents from the similarity of symptoms the drugs could produce in healthy organism- this is the scientific essence of “similia similibus curentur”.
Even though modern biochemistry and molecular medicine has made great strides in the study of diverse molecular inhibitions related with diseases, still there are grave limitations. It is imperative that modern science should strive to find out means to define the exact bio-molecular deviations and inhibitions responsible for each and every one of the multitude of diverse symptoms and modalities expressed in particular disease conditions, in order to evolve a most scientific method of removing such inhibitions. We may hope, that such a day will not be too far, when it could be possible for humanity to devise a perfect technology to recognize and rectify each and every pathological molecular process. That should be the ultimate aim of biochemistry and molecular medicine of the future. Until that happen, the most reliable practical technology available for us is the homoeopathic method of studying the underlying molecular processes of diseases by minutely observing the expressed symptoms, the language of nature. Here lies the paramount importance of the homoeopathic theory of similimum and drug proving. Homeopathy considers “totality of symptoms” as the only clue to the understanding of molecular level pathology, as well as deciding the appropriate therapeutic tools to rectify those molecular errors. Viewing from this perspective, “similia similibus curentur” is a highly scientific principle of therapeutics, deserving to be greatly honored by modern science at least in coming days.