Homeopathic Principles

Basic principles of homeopathy; law of similia, concept of drug disease and natural disease, Potentisation, drug- proving on healthy person, docterine of hahnemann and vital force have been discussed by Sir john Weir at the Council of the Royal Society of Medicine….

My first duty is to thank the President and Council of the Royal Society of Medicine for their unprecedented courtesy in offering hospitality and thus affording an opportunity  of presenting to the profession some knowledge of homoeopathy. They are thus falling into line with the idea expressed in the British Medical Journal of July 9th, 1932, in the “History of the Association,” where it is stated:

“Before passing of the Medical Act a Committee on Quackery was appointed which in 1851 presented a report condemning the practice of homoeopathy. In more recent years a wider view has been taken, and it has been realised that in medicine there is no orthodox doctrine, but that when once a man has obtained a registrable qualification in the usual way, he is entitled to hold his opinions on therapeutics.”

I was reminded recently that when a man is legally qualified it is not only his privilege but his duty to practice in any way which he genuinely thinks will be for the benefit of his patients.

This meeting is really the outcome of the expressed desire of several physicians to know more of the principles of homoeopathy than will be possible in a short paper on “The History of British Homoeopathy” at the British Medical Association on the 29th inst.

One feels keenly the honour, but also responsibility of having to present the subject of homoeopathy before such an audience as faces me to-day. And I am minded (because of the widely-prevalent mistaken ideas as to what homoeopathy really is) to simply state facts, ab initio.

I am delighted to tell you a little about homoeopathy because it helps me to do some things that I should have believed impossible; and my ambition is, to so interest you, that you may go away and try it.

It is only the few who are intrigued by cleverly-worded arguments; what the many want is more power; and it is to such that my appeal is addressed to-day. Arguments leave most of us cold. You cannot learn homoeopathy from arguments as to its possibility. The appeal of homoeopathy has always been to experience. Do the works if you would know the truth.

Homoeopathy could never have been discovered a priori. It is a science, since it is entirely based on experiment. Who was the great chemist who said the only possible way to know how a lump of sugar would behave when put into a cup of tea, was to try? Or, as Hunter said to Jenner, “Don’t think: try”. It is only our experience of homoeopathy that has made us homoeopaths. We have all been sceptics; but facts have been too strong for us.

It may seem strange to you, but the century-old message of homoeopathy has a distinct appeal to the men of modern science. Homoeopathy has reversed the old saying, “The science of to-day is the nonsense of tomorrow”; for here, the nonsense of one hundred years is proving to be the science of to-day. And, as I said, my ambition in coming here is to help my professional brethren to an appreciation of what appears to me to be vital knowledge in regard to curative drug-action – as conducive to a more definite and wider range of usefulness and power. It is a poor creature who, having found something good tries to keep it to himself.

For, after all, it is power we need. Knowledge of disease – knowledge of drug-action – what are they? Nothing! – lacking the essential knowledge, how to apply the one for the relief of the other. There must be the co-ordinating principle – law – if power is to result; i.e., the power to deal curatively, with assurance and fore-knowledge, with the sick individual. And, after all, this is our very raison d’etre, as doctors.

Now, it is legitimate, natural and praiseworthy to question and to strive for something better than that which contends other men. Progress would cease if we were merely to accept that which comes to us by tradition or authority – satisfied our predecessors. And does it not seem the height of absurdity to hark back to medical ideas of a hundred years ago for light on our problems of to-day? Changes are so rapid in our profession that it has been said, “If a doctor who dies to-day could come back in fifty years from now, and attempt to take up his profession, he would have to graduate all over again.”

And yet there was one great physician of the past who, were he to come back to earth to-day, could take up his work as he left it. He would find new and exciting developments – possibilities – confirmations, but the essentials would be absolutely the same, because based on law. Moreover, he would find hundreds – no, thousands of doctors in all countries of the world, doing precisely what he did: treating their patients as he treated his, and experiencing, thereby, his astonishing results.

How can this be?


Because in the world’s history, there appears from time to time, genius, which instead of moving placidly with the times, leaps far ahead of them. “That man,” we say – but we are only able to say after his death! – “that man was born a hundred years before his time”…for it is from posterity alone that such men receive tardy vindication.

One such genius was Samuel Hahnemann. Law was revealed to him one bright flash of intuition and realisation – the Law of Drug-action; and to the elucidation and elaboration of that Law he devoted his long life. Poverty – bitter enmity – banishment – scorn – were his sorry portion, but nothing moved him. His steadfast appeal was to experience, and to posterity.

SIMILIA SIMILIBUS CURENTUR In these days I think we all allow that the medicine of Hahnemann’s day (he was born in 1755) was crude and cruel; worse than that, it was harmful and futile. The establishment of issues – with venesections – salivations to a terrific extent, coupled with purgings and depletions, were wrecking the health, or costing the lives alike of the monarch on his throne, or the humble toiler for bread. So hopelessly wrong did all these things appear to Hahnemann (and here time has justified him) that he threw up a flourishing practice, and plunged himself and his family into dire poverty, that he might not, as he says, “any longer incur the risk and doing injury”; and he “engaged exclusively in chemistry and in literary occupations, supporting his family by his pen, and by his translations from many languages”.

Then one of his children fell ill, and the sight of her suffering sent the born physician back to his life-work, determined to investigate the whole question of medicine in all languages. He set his soul to discover – as he puts it – “if God had not given some certain Law. whereby the diseases of mankind could be cured.”

And while he was diligently seeking the light – suddenly it flamed before his eyes. He was translating Cullen’s Materia Medica, and in one of his characteristic annotations he criticised Cullen’s opinions in regard to the action of Peruvian bark, and the idea came to him to test the effect of the drug, as to its sick-making properties, on himself, when – lo and behold!–they took the form of ague. There could be no doubt about it: quinine both caused and cured ague. Hahnemann has denounced the abuse of quinine, but it was quinine that revealed to him homoeopathy. Observations (accidental) on the prophylactic and curative properties of Belladonna in scarlet fever were also suggestive; for are not their symptoms identical? How did other drugs act? He set to work to discover.

(It has been observed in confirmation of Hahnemann’s findings in regard to cinchona that workers in quinine factories suffer with a cinchona poisoning resembling ague.)

His eyes opened by that initial experiment with cinchona, Hahnemann began to realise (and all his subsequent experiments conducted during some fifty years confirmed this) that “It is only by their power to make sick, that drugs can cure sickness; and that a medicine can only cure such morbid conditions as it can produce, when tested on healthy persons.”

Hahnemann had one of the attributes of genius, “an infinite capacity for taking pains.” But he had more than this. He was pre-eminent in intuition – in deduction – in industry – in research -absolute self-devotion to Truth and to Humanity. He was not only great as a scholar – linguist – chemist – sanitarian – physician, but he takes special rank as one of those to whom Law reveals itself. For as Newton discovered the Law of Gravitation, so Hahnemann discovered the Law of Similars – dimly guessed at, but never realised – never understood – never demonstrated before his day.

Hahnemann found the enunciation of the Law in the “remarkable words Similia Similibus Curentur (let likes be cured by likes) in one of the books attributed to Hippocrates,” and he also found his foreshadowings in solitary remarks (which he quotes) in works by half a dozen authors (viz. Boulduc, Detharding, Bertholon, Thiury, von Stoerk and Stahl). “But,” as he says, “no one had taught this manner of cure; no one had put into practice.”


The tendency of medicine has always been experiment on the sick. Hahnemann experimented only on the healthy, in order to have an exact materia medica, ready and proved, for administration in sickness. He soon gathered round him an enthusiastic band of disciples (some fifty of them were medical men) and he and they proved (i.e., tested) drug after drug, with all possible precautions to eliminate error; and these original provings, carefully and faithfully recorded, form the nucleus of the homoeopathic materia medica. They are embodied in his wonderful work – his Materia Medica Pura, which is as alive and up-to-date to-day as on the day when it was published – and his subsequent work, Chronic Diseases. These two, with his Organon on the Art of Healing, are the best known among his numerous works, and embody the essentials of his teaching.

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