Fundamental classification principles

Based on a lecture from Grant Bentley - written by Louise Barton (Training Manager VCCH)

Critical to the way we practice, is how we classify the presentation of signs and symptoms.  Traditionally we learned there are three classifications to consider - first aid, acute and chronic.  But there are important sub classifications within these classifications.  Classifications that Hahnemann was unaware of because the causative factors of contagious disease were discovered after his time.  The classification of contagious disease is just one part of the chronic disease picture, and one part of the acute disease picture.

Contagious disease was rife in the 1800's, and despite conventional medicine and homeopathy patting themselves on the back with the demise of contagious diseases in the 20th and then the 21st century, it was great advances in engineering that impacted most on this outcome.  Delivery of fresh water, disposal of waste, refrigeration, circulation of air and transport of foods, has meant that contagious disease cannot flourish in the way it could when water, food and air were often contaminated.  Even now the difference between first and third world disease patterns, are in the main due to the rules and regulations that ensure first world countries put hygiene and infrastructure as a community priority.

Acute disease highlighted the incredible efficacy of homeopathy (despite the poor sanitation) but even in the 1800's chronic disease was a problem.  Hahnemann wrote "The Chronic Diseases" in 1828 to address chronic illness as a distinct classification, and his miasm theory was the final outcome of this work.  But sadly his theory was so misunderstood, both when it was written and for 150 years afterwards, that many homeopathic training programs have given the miasm theory lip service at best.  And yet Hahnemann's observations are profound.  He outlined the action of psora, sycosis, and syphilis, and saw their relationship to contagious diseases such as leprosy, gonorrhea and syphilis (the disease).  He saw these diseases clinically, and knew their impact led to chronic illness and ultimately death. 

But there are two types of chronic illness.  Chronic contagious and chronic non-contagious.  Science and medicine continues to look for causative factors - and especially germs - which can be targeted specifically, which suits the purpose of conventional medicine whose paradigm of investigation is set up for one cause, one outcome, one drug. Many of the diseases that affect first world areas are not contagious in origin.  Diseases like arthritis, migraines, irritable bowel, psoriasis, depression, anxiety and cancer, are all non contagious in their origin.  In fact they are all recognised as diseases of age and/or lifestyle.  Diseases that come on and are exacerbated by stress. 

What difference does this make to how we practice clinically?

The answer is a vast difference.  When a disease is contagious, we can choose remedies that are known to help eject that contagion from the body.  But diseases that manifest from within must be treated constitutionally.  That is, by a remedy that acts on the whole person - enhancing their health, and bringing their vital force back into balance.  As a result of this reversal back to health, signs and symptoms abate, and the patient is left healthy and revitalised. 

But are they cured?  No, they are just back in balance for that period of time.  We are energetic beings, and continually adapt and readapt to our environment.  When we are strong and healthy, we may succumb to short periods of difficulty or stress, but then rebound as our immune and nervous systems bring us back into homeostatic balance.  But if the stress is too strong, or our endurance too weak, we do not rebound, and can easily fall ill with chronic symptoms that initially come and go, until they finally settle into our system as an ongoing reference to the stress we have endured or are still enduring.  This is the pattern of non-contagious chronic disease.

Non-contagious chronic disease is the main disease type of first world communities.  Over indulgence in food, lack of exercise, poor social interactions, and anxiety over lack of employment, or over work within employment, grief and disappointment - these factors bring about various types of non-contagious chronic disease.

What does this extra classification mean clinically?

Hahnemann was right when he said that all chronic disease must have a miasmatic inclusion as part of the clinical process.  When the disease is a contagious chronic disease, the miasm is seen as a pathological causative factor, and remedies that match this pathology should be chosen.  When the disease is a non-contagious chronic disease (lifestyle based disease), the miasm must also be included, but the miasm is now a classification for the defence mechanism type of that patient. 

The defence mechanism is the way the body tries to re-establish balance and re-energise itself.  When a patient achieves this balance and revitalisation, they are now healthier and coping with the ongoing stresses of life.  In essence it means that their migraines abate, their skin clears, and their digestive, nervous, and immune systems work at full strength.  Does this mean they are immune to all illness?  No.  It means they cope better and suffer much less illness, and if they do develop signs and symptoms, they are short lived as their own system takes better control as it is designed to do.

How does this classification operate in clinical terms?

When the illness is classified correctly the homeopath knows when to use a miasmatic approach and when not to.

The following table indicates the classification and the usage of the miasm




Miasmatic method

First Aid

Accident or animal bite/sting or plant sting

Broken bone, sprain, strain, cut, bruise, swelling, sore, rash

None – indicated symptoms only

Acute  - contagious

Bacteria or virus – may be epidemic

Childhood illness – measles, chickenpox, mumps etc

Epidemic illness – typhoid, typhus, influenza, cholera, gastro

None – totality of acute symptoms only

Acute phase of chronic


Pain, eruptions, dysfunction – eg recurrent colds, tonsillitis, glandular problems, gastritis, headaches, migraines, sinusitis, infections/inflammations that have not been "caught" 

Include HFA diagnostic with the totality of symptoms

Chronic - contagious

Bacteria or virus

Malaria, STD’s, HIV, Leprosy

None – totality of symptoms only

Chronic – contagious – sequelae

Bacteria or virus

Pain, eruptions, chronic ill health and dysfunction post infection


Include HFA diagnostic with the totality of symptoms



Chronic – non-contagious


Pain, eruptions, dysfunction – auto immune disease, chronic infections, chronic pain, repeating patterns of illness – migraines, arthritis, IBS, cancer, Parkinson's, etc

Include HFA diagnostic with the totality of symptoms



Read more in the new book

How Aphorism 27 Changed The World - by Grant Bentley

More information on HFA (Homeopathic Facial Analysis) as the miasmatic indictator amd clinical diagnostic tool for clinical prescribing