Homeopathic Principles

Observe! Homoeopathy never wants to do anything to a patient, only to stimulate his reactive powers, and so cause him to cure himself. For Hahnemann, disease was merely to rebellion of Vital Force against noxious agents inimical to life; and he taught that cure can only come from the stimulated reaction of Vital Force against disease.

Again, Hahnemann tells us that the smallest possible dose of a homoeopathic medicine will operate chiefly upon the diseased parts of the body, which have become extremely susceptible of a stimulus so similar “to their own disease”.

This increased sensitiveness of diseased parts is stressed by Bier also, who talks of the “extraordinarily sensitive disease threshold”;7 and who quotes Hufeland: “There is a reagent which is more delicate than the most delicate chemical reagent, and that is the reagent within the living organism.”

As a crude instance of this increased sensitiveness in diseases, Bier states that “it requires 250,000 times as much formic acid to produce symptoms in the healthy than in the gouty.”

Hahnemann, when applying to hypersensitive diseased tissues the one stimulus to which they were most sensitive, viz. the drug of like symptoms – that is to say, the drug that was proved to irritate those particular tissues – was forced, again and again, to reduce his doses.

It is by provings that we discover, in each case, exactly what organs or tissues are affected by different poisons; and when we apply these, as stimulants, to parts (not only especially sensitive to those particular drugs, but also rendered hypersensitive by disease) the necessity for reducing the dose is manifest.


Hahnemann speaks of the dose, whose repetition, depending on many factors, is never a matter of routine, or of the proclivities of the prescriber, but always depends on the reaction of the individual patient.

In acute sickness, without structural changes (I will give you cases), the effect of the first dose may be dramatic, and establish such instant and complete reaction that no second is needed.

Or in (say) pneumonia, after a marked improvement all round, the disease may, a few hours later, again get the upper hand; and experience shows that the remedy generally needs to be repeated in from four to six hours for a couple of days, till the temperature not only comes, but remains, down.

In deadly and most rapid cases, such as cholera, Hahnemann tells us that the repetition of Camphor must be in three to five minutes until reaction is established, or with Cuprum or Veratrum, every hour or half hour…. He says that remedies which act for a considerable time have the duration of their action diminished in proportion as disease is acute.

In chronic diseases the call to repeat varies with every case. The symptoms demand a remedy, and the return of symptoms, modified, will demand its repetition.

But there are other factors that come in. Some remedies are deep and long-acting, some superficial and short-acting. Some patients respond actively, others are sluggish and slow in their response. The question of the potency also comes in, since reaction varies with different potencies, and lengthens out with the higher potencies.

Therefore experience and observation alone can decide as to repetition, which depends on the individual reaction of the patient to the individual medicine.

This allowing the remedy to act was one of the great obstacles, as Hahnemann foresaw, to the acceptance of his work. His rule is, that the dose of the carefully selected homoeopathic remedy should act till it has accomplished its effect.

“Perceptible, continuous improvement, whether in acute or chronic disease, so long as it lasts contraindicates the repetition of any medicine whatsoever.” He says that every new dose of medicine would disturb the process of recovery.

And it is not this reasonable? Medicines do not cure; they merely stimulate curative reaction in the patient; and so long as this is in full swing, it is foolish to interrupt. The call for repetition is the renewed call of symptoms.

Hahnemann says, and we have proved it. “The surest way to hasten the cure is to let the medicines act so long as improvement continues…He who observes this rule with the greatest care, will be most successful homoeopathic practitioner”… and one may add, Vaccine-practitioner – as has been found.

One of Hahnemann’s greatest followers had told us, “More cases are spoilt by the too hasty repetition of the remedy than from any other cause.”

But Hahnemann foresaw the long years in which even his own followers, convinced of the law of similars, would yet doubt his teachings in its regard, and would do inferior work, because of the two great stumbling blocks to its acceptance – the small dose, and the infrequent dose. He says: “My doctrines in regard to the magnitude and the repetition of the dose will be doubted for years….I do not comprehend it – but facts speak for themselves. The truth of the proposition is demonstrated by experience – in which I have more faith than in my intelligence…If physicians do not carefully practise what I teach, let them not expect to be successful in their treatment.”

And here let me say that it is the experience of all of us, whose practice is guided by the homoeopathic law, that the closer we stick to the doctrines of Hahnemann, the better our results.


And the Hahnemann’s Initial Aggravation – transient and little noticed in acute sickness, but often very definite in chronic disease; where it may occur during the first eight to ten days. It was the initial aggravation that caused Hahnemann, as we said, to reduce his doses; and which led presently to the establishment of the fact that when remedies are reduced again and again by repeated subdivision into the region of infinitesimals, there is no loss, but an augmentation of energy…And therefore, as time went on, and observation was added to observation, “dilutions” became for him “potencies”, and the 30th dilution (“one in a decillion”) was more correctly named, the 30th power, or potency.

Initial aggravation is succeeded by period of amelioration. Sir Almorth Wright has called it a “positive phase,” which, Hahnemann says, must not be interfered with. Vital reaction has been brought into play, and must be permitted to work itself out.


Such initial aggravations are only seen in homoeopathy and where homoeopathic remedies, such as vaccines, are employed. Here they are often very definite, and have led, as in Hahnemann’s case, to the reduction, again and again, of the dose.

And that vaccines and disease products used for the cure of disease are homoeopathic is pretty widely recognised.

Dr. Cabot, a university teacher in New England, said in 1906. “The use of Tuberculin is a form of vaccination which illustrates better than any example known to me – the approval of homoeopathic principles in our school…The poison of tuberculosis, which can produce some of the symptoms of tuberculosis, is here applied for the cure of tuberculosis, through the production of immunity or resisting power in the tissue. Surely this is case of Similia Similibus Curentur, as homoeopathic writers have pointed out. The use of bacterial vaccines recently produced by Sir Almorth Wright is distinctly homoeopathic.

Von Behring, the discoverer of diphtheria antitoxin, said: “by what technical term could we more appropriately speak of this influence excited by a similar virus, than by Hahnemann’s word `Homoeopathy.’ And of Tuberculin he said that its therapeutic usefulness must be traced in origin to a principle which cannot be better characterised than by Hahnemann’s word “homoeopathic.” And again, in regard to immunity in sheep vaccinated against anthrax, he said: “By what technical term could we more appropriately speak of this influence of a virus similar in character to the fatal anthrax, than by Hahnemann’s word, homoeopathy?”

It may be interesting here to state that, according to the directions of Constantine Hering (one of Hahnemann’s great followers) in 1830, Anthracinum was prepared from the spleen of animals affected with anthrax; and that, in 1836, the homoeopath Weber published in Leipsic a treatise on “Cattle plague treated with Anthracinum, also of men similarly affected,” in which he claims to have cured every case.

In regard to the use of disease products for the cure of disease, homoeopathy has been using them since the days of Hahnemann, but administered orally – in potency – and after provings have been made just like any other homeopathic medicine.

As pointed out by Dr. McGavack (Homoeopathic Principle in Therapeutics), in addition to vaccines, official medicine is now experimenting with another group of pathogenic agents, homoeopathically applied, for the cure of asthma, hay fever, and other diseases of foreign protein origin. The proper pollen is selected, in each case, by individualisation.

But homoeopathy has been treating diseases of sensitisation for over a century with success; individualising always, but after the homoeopathic methods of drug selection.

He says: “Every set of cutaneous sensitisation tests contains common oats (Avena sativa), yellow dock (Rumex crispus), plantain (Plantago major), elder (Sambucus nigra), spike-nard (Aralia racemosa), etc., etc.” But all these, in provings, produce either hay fever, or asthma, or both, and are therefore capable of curing these diseases…and that “long before the laboratory was capable of demonstrating their power as antigens.”

These and many others are to be found in Clarke’s Dictionary of Practical Materia Medica, published in 1900-1902.

Avena – Suffocative attacks at night. Rumex – Nose: Sudden, sharp tingling sensation, followed by violent and rapid sneezing. Violent sneezing with watery coryza. Plantago – Frequent sneezing, with sudden attacks of profuse watery, bland coryza.

Sambucus – Wheezing. Obstructed respiration when lying down. Spasmodic paroxysms of suffocation at night, with great agitation. Great difficulty of breathing.

Aralia – Wheezing: sense of impending suffocation. Immediately on lying down, an attack of asthma.

But it is not enough to know that a remedy can cause asthma or hay fever. The homoeopath must know more, in order to differentiate between such remedies. He must know which to choose.

Rumex is peculiar in being worse by breathing cold air. In chest troubles, wants to cover up the mouth.

Sambucus has a bluish, bloated face; a great tendency to fright – great agitation during the attack – great pressure and constriction of chest…and so on.

And there are many others – even more valuable, but each only valuable in its place.

In coryza, with Allium cepa (the onion) the discharge from the eyes is bland, and from the nose excoriating.

But with Euphrasia, the other way about, the eye discharge is acrid, and the nasal discharge is bland.

But homoeopathy goes much further, and has a far wider field than vaccines, which apply to only a limited number of diseases; whereas substances producing like effects to disease can be used in the same way, or be substituted for vaccines, with great simplification of preparation, elimination of risk, and precision in dosage.


Hahnemann shows that diseases of like symptoms annihilate, or, as we may say, antidote, one another; and he instances, inter alia, cow-pox and small-pox.

In the way (he contends) an artificial, or drug-disease will antidote a natural disease of like symptoms.

Only that the artificial, or drug-disease, is vastly superior, as a curative agent, to any natural disease: such natural diseases are uncertain in action and leave many persons unaffected whereas medicinal agents (take arsenic for instance)”act at all times, and under all circumstances, on all living beings, and have this great advantage that they can be diluted, divided, potentised to the verge of infinity at the will of the physician, till the result of the treatment is seen only as a gentle, imperceptible but rapid transition from suffering to health.”

This uncertainty in the employment of natural diseases for the cure of disease is exemplified in the use of malaria for the cure of general paralysis of the insane. A plaintive tale in this regard was voiced recently by Menninger and Fellows in the Journal of the Kansas Medical Society.

It is a tale of difficulty and uncertainty; of the damage to certain organs: liver and spleen; of the risk of spreading malaria by patients under treatment; and of enhanced morality.


The extreme subdivision of homoeopathic remedies has been keenly criticised for one hundred years. But, as Hahnemann taught the potentising of medicines, the thing is perfectly simple and accurate.

For Hahnemann’s favourite “30th” or “decillionth” potency, only thirty small vials are needed, and a few drachms of alcohol or water. One drop of the strong tincture is put in small bottle with ninety-nine drops of alcohol, and this vigorously succussed, is the first centesimal potency. Subsequent potencies are prepared in the same way – always one drop of the preceding potency in ninety-nine drops of the attenuating medium, to form the next. And it will be easily seen that, so long as matter is divisible, each succeeding vial will contain a saturated solution of the drug, in finer and finer subdivision, always activated, not diluted and rendered less potent. Boyd of Glasgow has recently proved that every single succussion, up to forty, alters the potency; then it remains constant, till further potentised by taking one drop into a fresh ninety-nine drops of alcohol.

But homoeopathy makes use of many insoluble substances, and it uses them pure, and in tincture form…how can this be?

And here we have another of the discoveries of Hahnemann. With insoluble substances – gold – silica – carbon – lycopodium – his first potencies are made by trituration (one part of the substance in ninety-nine parts of sugar of milk, triturated in an agate mortar for a couple of hours). One part of his first centesimal trituration is again ground up with ninety-nine parts of sugar of milk for the same period, to make a second centesimal potency, and a third is made in the same way. That gives the substance, as one in a million. And he shows that after these three triturations all substances become soluble in alcohol or water, and potencies can now be run up in the usual way.

The profession now has colloidal silica, etc. but silica, gold, vegetable charcoal, silver, and a host of insoluble substances were bequeathed to us, proved as to their exact role in combating sickness, by Hahnemann, over one hundred years ago.

Many, in the past, have called this diluting, and the resulting tinctures, “dilutions.” So did Hahnemann, till experience taught him that subdivision (and he never reached its limits) meant more completely liberated energy, when he substituted for “dilutions” the truer term, potencies. And here, again, he appealed to facts and to experience, and he taught us to do the same, insisting that so long as a remedy so treated can evoke some evidence of aggravation, we have curative power. And our personal experience of some twenty years in that it is from the highest potencies (provided that the remedy is correct) that we get the most alarming aggravations; so much so that we dare not employ them in advanced disease with much destruction of tissue. For instance, in advanced phthisis, a very high potency of Phosphorus, in establishing too severe a reaction, may determine a fatal haemorrhage.

Hahnemann (from years of experience) claims further that by potentisation not only do insoluble substances become soluble but that their medicinal virtues can thereby be fully and even infinitely developed; besides which their chemical properties are so altered that they are no longer subject to chemical laws. They have passed, for instance, beyond the laws of neutralisation… (Hahnemann was one of the foremost chemists of his day.)


While have been trying to put facts before you, in all simplicity, a number of confirmatory instances must have occurred to you.

For instance, the opposite effects of large and small doses.. and here the Arndt-Schulz Law comes to the support of Hahnemann. For where large doses of a poisonous substance prove lethal, and smaller doses inhibit, minimal doses of the same poison actually stimulate the vital activities of the same cells.

As Bier says: “The same remedy may stimulate a function, when given in small doses, but destroy it if larger doses are administered.”

And he says, “According to Schulz, the great bulk of remedies do not act by neutralising, dissolving, disinfecting, etc. (i.e., in a metabolic manner) but by irritating certain organs. The latter are thereby stimulated to an activity which promotes the healing process. Since the slightest irritation often produces great reaction, Schulz elucidates the action of the minimal dose; and again, since the symptoms of disease often are merely an expression of the healing reaction of the body, he explains the homoeopathic cure by symptom-similarity (the law of similars). Accordingly the remedy merely augments the natural healing process.” But, of course, this is all Hahnemann!

The recent Medical Research Council report on Radium refers to “the general principle that has been established with so many drugs, that large doses and very small doses act in opposite ways.”8

Taylor has shown that irradiated ergosterol, in small and medium doses, favours the deposition of calcium from blood to bone; but large doses have a reverse effect, and cause calcium to be absorbed from bone into the blood stream.9

Duke, in a research on blood platelets, found that large doses of benzol reduced the platelet count to a point where the bleeding time was prolonged, while small doses of benzol brought about an increase in the platelet count. 10 This also held good for a complex substance, such as diphtheria toxin – a large dose caused an immediate fall in the number of platelets, while sublethal dose stimulated their production. 11

It is seen that the same drug may stimulate or depress, given appropriate conditions.

But more crude instances of homoeopathy, and the opposite effects of large and small doses, are familiar to all. You use Ipecacuanha to check vomiting. Pot. iod. (which Norman Walker tells us produces skin affections diagnosed as gummata) for gumma, salicylic acid for Meniere’s disease, etc.

And Dr. Dyce Brown some years ago published a very long list of drugs, used by the official school, homoeopathically, and with success. He quotes striking testimonies from prominent physicians and teachers as to their efficacy in conditions caused to them. Among them we find the following:

Belladonna – Its power to produce convulsions is well known, while Trousseau and Pidoux speak in very high praise of its value in epilepsy, in eclampsia of infants and of puerperal women. They say that “Belladonna administered in small doses sometimes produces unhoped for results.”

“On the brain, the action of Belladonna is well known, causing mania, hallucination, delirium, and general mental excitement. On this Trousseau and Pidoux remard -and this quotation is very important form our standpoint: `analogy, that guide so sure in therapeutics, ought to lead us to use Belladonna in that treatment of mania, in as much as Belladonna taken in large doses produces a temporary mania; for experience has proved that a multitude of diseases are cured by therapeutic agents, which seem to act in the same manner as the disease to which we oppose this remedy.’ This is a beautiful testimony to the law of similars.

“Rhus toxicodendron – Trousseau and Pidoux, Pereira, and Sanders of Edinburgh, testify to its power to produce a skin eruption exactly like erysipelas, with vesicles here and there, on the hands, arms, face, etc., while the first-named authors say: `This curious action of Rhus on the economy had led the homoeopaths to employ this substance in diseases of the skin; but already, before them, Dufresnoy of Valenciennes had published a paper in which he highly praised the virtue of this plant against skin diseases, and later, against paralysis. From that time we have found from time to time essays on this subject in the different periodicals, and many reliable physicians have confirmed Dufresnoy’s experiences.”

“Stramonium – Trousseau and Pidoux then quote M. Moreau of Tours, who says, `It is especially useful in cases of monomania with hallucinations,’ founding this statement, say Rousseau and Pidoux, on the fact that Stramonium causes hallucination; and that mania ought to be cured by Stramonium in the same way as the majority of irritating agents are employed topically to cure irritations.’ If this is not homoeopathy, I would ask, what is?”

But one might multiply indenfinitely examples, simple and complex, to show the opposite effects of large and small doses of substances medicinal or poisonous.

INDIVIDUALISATION Homoeopathy takes into account the individual, with his personal reactions to environment, physical, mental and moral; his deviations from the normal, and especially from his own normal, due to sickness. With Hahnemann, when it comes to prescribing, “we know no diseases, only sick persons” whose sickness has to be matched in materia medica.

And this is only commonsense, since no illness, if we take the trouble to enquire, affects all persons alike.

In rheumatism, one person, like Bryonia in its provings, has pain on the slightest movement; another, like Rhus, needs to be constantly on the move, to make the pain endurable. One, like Rhus, is always worse for wet and cold; the other, like Bryonia, is more affected by dry weather. One rheumatic patient may have pains intolerable in the warmth of the bed; another, only tolerable when warm. It is the identical symptom complex of drug and patient that ensures a successful prescription.

Even in pneumonia, for abortive and curative work, the individual patient has to be considered in the prescribing. A number of drugs have caused and cured pneumonia – Phosphorus – Bryonia – Nitric acid, etc. But which are we to use? –since one will not do for the other.

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