A System of Therapeutics

all about the new therapeutic system of medicine – Homeopathy. Its utilty, philosophy and method of practising it were discussed by Sir john Weir….

I HAVE often been asked to explain what is meant by homoeopathy and why I practise homoeopathy. I practise it because, trained in the same medical schools as the rest of our professional brethren, some of us have stumbled up against homoeopathy, and, struck by its extraordinary reasonableness, have put it to the test, to find yet additional power in the treatment of disease. Before now, doctors have set out to disprove the doctrines of Hahnemann–only to become their most devoted exponents. As Bier, the great German surgeon, says in a pamphlet that profoundly stirred medical thought in that country: “Had I started on these studies thirty years sooner, I should have been spared a great many errors and detours.”

Homoeopathy is a system of therapeutics, founded on a definite law–Similia similibus curantur (Let likes be treated by likes). Medicine is concerned with the action of drugs and with the symptoms of disease: the problem being, how to apply the one for the relief of the other. It was Hahnemann who bridged the gulf with his Law of Similars. He says:

“It is only by their symptoms that disease can express their need of help.”

“The morbid disturbances called forth by drugs in the healthy body must be accepted as the only possible revelation of their inherent curative power.”

“Drugs manifest no other curative power, except their tendency to produce morbid symptoms in healthy persons, and to remove them from the sick.”

“In order to cure gently, quickly, unfailingly and permanently, select for every case of disease a medicine capable of calling forth by itself an affection similar to that which it is intended to cure.”

Homoeopathy, then, means matching the disease picture of a sick person with some previously ascertained drug-disease picture, which drug is administered in dose only sufficient to initiate vital reaction, or, as Hahnemann puts it, “In doses so fine as to be just sufficient, without causing pain or debility, to obliterate the natural disease, through the reaction of the vital energy.”

To his contemporaries these statements of Hahnemann seemed paradoxical to the verge of insanity; but the century that has passed has so changed the general conceptions of medicine as to bring it into line with Hahnemann. For instance, according to the Arndt-Schultz law, small drug doses stimulate cell activity, larger doses hinder it, still larger destroy it. This has been recently demonstrated in a beautiful manner by Sir Jagadis Bose. According to Schultz, when drugs are administered to healthy persons the symptoms they elicit are a revelation as to the cells and tissues they affect. Drugs that derange, damage or destroy certain cells in medium to large doses will stimulate the same cells if given in small doses. Disease symptoms are the expression of disordered cell and tissue activity, and their symptoms indicate the cells in need of stimulation. The ideal remedy will be the one which has produced similar symptoms on the healthy, so proving its power over precisely those cells affected by disease. On them, in minimal dose, it will act as a stimulus. And, as disease has made those particular cells abnormally sensitive, the stimulating dose must be very small indeed.

Before discussing homoeopathy, a brief word about its discovered. Samuel Hahnemann was one of the great geniuses and patient investigators of the world. He was born in Saxony in 1755. At 12 years of age he was teaching Greek to a class at school. In medicine, hygiene, treatment of insanity, chemistry and metallurgy he was far ahead of his time. He is referred to by contemporaries as “this great analytical chemist” (Bradford), and chemistry still uses tests he worked out; and medicine, inter alia, owes him its black oxide of mercury. Of him that greatest of chemists, Berzelius, said : “That man would have made a great chemist, had he not turned out a great quack.” In many ways he was twentieth-century. His “Materia Medica Pura” (1811) has infinitely more appeal for us than for the generation for which it was written. It was the result of twenty years’ investigation and experience. His “Organon of the Art of Healing” (1810), in the words of an eminent bacteriologist, is the most up-to-date textbook on vaccine therapy. “Science.” he says, “is now proving Hahnemann in detail… and to him should fall all the honour of having anticipated science by more than a century.” At one period he renounced medicine, that he “might no longer incur the risk of doing injury, and engaged exclusively in chemistry and in literary occupations.” This could not last, for Hahnemann was, above all, the physician. And so, in his extraordinary way, he resolved to investigate the whole question of medicine – in all languages. He set his soul to discover “If God had not indeed given some certain Law by which the disease of mankind could be cured.” To this patient genius, the Law, in time, revealed itself; and to the education of that Law he devoted his long life.

He says, in regard to his fundamental Law of Similars : “There have been physicians who had presentiments that medicines, by their power of producing analogous morbid symptoms, could cure analogous morbid conditions.” And he quotes “the author of one of the books ascribed to Hippocrates,” as well as sentences culled from half a dozen physicians of later times. But it was quinine that revealed the secret: “In 1790 I made the first pure trial with cinchona bark upon myself, in reference to its power of exciting intermittent fever. With this first trial broke on me the dawn that has brightened into the most brilliant day of the medical art: that it is only in virtue of their power to make the healthy human being ill that medicines can cure morbid states, and, indeed, only such morbid states as are composed of the symptoms which the drug selected for them can itself produce in similarity on the healthy.”

An experience with belladonna carried him a step farther. In a house full of scarlet fever one child escaped – a child he was treating with belladonna. He knew that belladonna poisonings and scarlet fever present almost identical symptoms – dry, burning skin and throat, scarlet eruption, dilated pupils and throbbing headache. And homoeopaths since his day have used belladonna as he thereafter used it, as prophylactic and remedy for scarlet fever, with a minimal mortality. Men who have worked through epidemics say that they never remember seeing the complications and sequelae of scarlet fever in cases treated with belladonna. One of them has gone so far as to say: “Either I don’t notify, or I don’t give belladonna; the cases clear up so quickly that one gets into difficulties.

Once convinced of his premises, Hahnemann began “proving” drugs, i.e. testing their effects on “healthy but sensitive and susceptible human beings,” and recording the symptoms they evoked, in order to use them “with confidence” in the treatment to the sick. His list of fellow-provers amounted to fifty – most of them medical men. Care was taken not only to elicit and record exact results, but to rule out errors. A prover would record his sensations when taking unmedicated powders and did not know when medicated powders were substituted, so that personal symptoms, unnoticed till his attention was focused upon them, might be eliminated. All Hahnemann’s work was thoughtful, painstaking to the last degree, and purely scientific. “A Materia Medica,” he said, “should exclude every supposition, every mere assertion and fiction. Its entire contents should be the pure language of Nature, uttered in response to careful and faithful inquiry.” Of such pure drug-provings the vast homoeopathic Materia Medica is composed. In Allen’s ten big volumes, “Encyclopaedia of Pure Materia Medica,” every symptom, whether of proving or poisoning, is marked with a number which refers not only to the authority but, where possible, to the exact dose responsible.

Occasionally a drug-disease presents an almost precise disease-picture, when that drug is practically specific: as belladonna for scarlet fever, mercury for syphilis, rhus for erysipelas, cyanide of mercury for diphtheria, latrodectus mactans for angina pectoris, corrosive sublimate for dysentery. But diseases do not affect all persons in precisely the same way, and the actual symptoms of the sick person have to be matched to get results. Single cases of scarlet fever will take on the malignant form, to which ailanthus better corresponds; and single cases of diphtheria may be without the mercury tongue and foetor, when lachesis or lycopodium may be better indicated.

During some fifty years Hahnemann was poisoning himself, his pupils, and his friends with remedies known and unknown, or known only to the ancients or the Arabians, in order to determine their exact, and especially their peculiar effects, physical, mental and moral. He proved one hundred medicines upon himself. He wrote upwards of seventy original works on chemistry and medicine, besides his twenty-four important translations, which he embellished with much learned and original matter. Yet he lived to be 88 and died in full possession of his intellect and faculties. For forty years, we are told, it was his custom to sit up the whole of one night out of every four, working, translating, studying, writing in that fine, minute hand, beautiful and painstaking to the last.

John Weir
Sir John Weir (1879 – 1971), FFHom 1943. John Weir was the first modern homeopath by Royal appointment, from 1918 onwards. John Weir was Consultant Physician at the London Homeopathic Hospital in 1910, and he was appointed the Compton Burnett Professor of Materia Medica in 1911. He was President of the Faculty of Homeopathy in 1923.
Weir received his medical education first at Glasgow University MB ChB 1907, and then on a sabbatical year in Chicago under the tutelage of Dr James Tyler Kent of Hering Medical College during 1908-9. Weir reputedly first learned of homeopathy through his contact with Dr Robert Gibson Miller.
John Weir wrote- Some of the Outstanding Homeopathic Remedies for Acute Conditions with Margaret Tyler, Homeopathy and its Importance in Treatment of Chronic Disease, The Trend of Modern Medicine, The Science and Art of Homeopathy, Brit Homeo Jnl, The Present Day Attitude of the Medical Profession Towards Homeopathy, Brit Homeo Jnl XVI, 1926, p.212ff, Homeopathy: a System of Therapeutics, The Hahnemann Convalescent Home, Bournemouth, Brit Homeo Jnl 20, 1931, 200-201, Homeopathy an Explanation of its Principles, British Homeopathy During the Last 100 Years, Brit Homeo Jnl 23, 1932: etc