Science and Art of Homeopathy

Science and art involoved in the practice of Homeopathy in different aspects of case taking, selection of medicine and potency selecion by sir John weir….


My first duty as chairman of the section of the Science and Art of Homoeopathy is to offer you a warm welcome and to express the hope that by the end of the Congress you will have found that it was well worth your while to come from such great distances to attend.

It is difficult to be homoeopath in some surroundings where men are, perhaps, isolated from all sympathetic influences. For when it comes to homoeopathic prescribing, we need all the help that can be obtained.

And at such a gathering as this there is the stimulating-if intangible – influence of mind on mind between those who come from the ends of the earth, intent on the same problems, fired by the same aspirations, eager to add each his quota to the common stock.

The time at our disposal is short. We have only a few days into which to crowd many things of importance and common interest.

Our own subject is vast and of many aspects, all of which demand attention. In order to cover the ground we must presuppose considerable knowledge of the principle, similia similibus curentur. Many and varied details will come up for consideration, and the writers of papers have striven, therefore, to be brief and to the point.

I must ask that all who take part in discussion will keep strictly to the point, and refrain from wandering off to other matters, or going over ground already covered by previous speakers. This in order that we may, by end of the Congress, have a wide range of valuable material to reflect upon.

Theories as to how the homoeopathic cure is brought about are interesting, and the failure of the homoeopath to give adequate explanation, in the exact terms of the science of his day, may have kept some men from investigating its claims. But the influence of Hahnemann, not only on the medicine of his own time, but on medicine ever since, has been incalculable, vide the tributes paid to him by Sir William Osler, Professor Bier and others.

I do not propose to deal with speculative theories. That hard facts are of far greater importance may account for the numbers of Scotsmen who become homoeopaths. My countrymen are apt to go for the practical, and it is because homoeopathy is practical that it appeals to us.

I remember asking one of my old allopathic teachers how a certain drug acted. His reply was pointed. “That it does have an effect, I know; but how, I know not.” Are we to wait for a full explanation before availing ourselves of any power? That we can USE it, is enough meanwhile.

Hahnemann puts it well: “It would be foolish to refuse to learn to write, because we cannot understand how thought can be embodied in written words”.

The idea of the Law of Similars did not originate with Hahnemann. He found it in Hippocrates, and it is vaguely expressed in old proverbs and in poetry.

But it was the genius of Hahnemann that first recognized it – tested it in a thousand ways – and founded on it the first System of Medicine based on what his studies and experiments had led him to recognize as “an eternal, infallible law of cure”.

Therefore, to the question sometimes levelled at our heads, “Why this Sectarian Title? and to what purpose?” I would answer: That we stand for a great truth, as yet unrecognized by the majority of medical practitioners, and that our work is based on something wholly different from “orthodox” methods and thought.

But we are “a people apart” only where the study and administration of drugs is concerned. All the rest we share with all our professional brethren. Only – we specialize in drugs.

As Sharp put it years ago, “Homoeopathy is a part of medical science. It is not medicine, but a great reform in one of its departments. It has no new anatomy, physiology, pathology in a manner impossible before the discovery of the Law of Similars”.

And here, where one works by law, possibilities are almost limitless.

In electricity we have power. We cannot define it, but we can wield it, i.e., so far as we have mastered its laws, its applications and its limitations. All we know of it is that it is power, and that it can be made more and more to subserve our needs – almost to work miracles.

But we have to discover, to recognize and to heed, its conditions! The first scientist to put up a kite by wire into a thundercloud found – death.

In the same way with healing. In homoeopathy we find power; and, even though we cannot explain it, yet by observing its conditions, its applications and limitions, we discover with amazement that there is nothing in the world damaging or destructive to mind or to body – in the way of animal, vegetable, mineral poison of loathsome diseases, that cannot be brought into use for healing.

And homoeopathy alone holds the key to the relationship between what a poison can cause and what a poison can cure, and so makes medicine scientific.

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

And again, “Morbid disturbances called forth by drugs in the healthy are the only possible revelation of their inherent curative power”.

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

Such a law makes the homoeopathist master of the situation in all kinds of adverse and difficult circumstances.

For instance, Compton Burnett used to say that were he marooned without medicines on a dessert island, he would soon be able to collect for himself useful pharmacopoeia.

Observing the effects of poisonous bites, stings, plants, testing them on himself (safely prepared according to Hahnemann’s method of attenuation), he would be able to use them without hesitation, as occasion arose, for the relief of just such conditions of mind or body as they were capable of producing. He might never know their names, he would know their uses.

How would the orthodox physician fare in like case? Would he be master, by reason of the knowledge taught him in the schools, of the strange flora and fauna surrounding him, and be able to apply them without hesitation for the cure of “that abnormal functional activity which we call disease”?…Without morphia and quinine and aspirin, and the chemist and the laboratory, where would he be?

The homoeopath, on other hand, is never at a loss. He has all nature everywhere to draw upon. He works by law. He has received the freedom of the universe.

The man who is taught not principles but practice is a mere replica of his predecessors. And he may remain so to his dying day – doing his bit, but without knowing the why or wherefore; and without advancing one step. He will, on the contrary, be discarding and forgetting all his life. He will inevitably tend towards that state of medical Nihilism which, we are told, prevails to a great extent in the profession of medicine. He will have less – not more – to teach those who come after him.

But the man who has mastered first principles is never stationary. He is for ever discovering new applications. He is no mere copyist, basing his work and his excuses on authority. He knows. The truth has made him free. He relies on results, not on orthodoxy.

And so the homoeopathic materia medica has grown – and continues to grow – and must continue to grow. It is illimitable. Whatever can cause can cure, whether it be the venom of serpent or disease, the poison of plant, of mineral, even of substances inert or insoluble until homoeopathically prepared.

We homoeopaths are comparatively few in number, and sad, because we know how much we have to offer to the sick and to our professional brethren of inestimable value to them, but which it is difficult to get them to consider.

And, indeed, in these days the dominant school have much that is new and “advanced” with which to interest themselves. But here, all that is of curative value in medicine in the present, as in the past, is in line with homoeopathy.

Mercury for syphilis? It was Hahnemann’s great remedy for that disease, since their symptoms are almost identical. And it was Hahnemann himself who gave us – and them – the soluble black oxide.

Potassium iodide for gummata? It was not a homoeopath who wrote “that persons had been dosed to death with pot. iod. for gummata actually caused by that drug”.

Ipecac, for vomiting, which it causes and cures.

Terebinth for nephritis and haematuria, which it can cause and cure.

X-ray and radium for cancer? Hear the Lancet: “The mystery surrounding the fact that X-ray and other emanations can set up ugly pathological processes, whilst at the same time they are employed – presumably on scientific grounds – to stop the progress of such a process, is in urgent need of study.”

We would tell the Lancet that the question has been exhaustively studied a hundred years ago – by Hahnemann – and that law lurks behind these and a hundred other such facts. They are no mere coincidences.

Disease products, as in vaccination, to protect against a like disease. Hahnemann claimed this for what it is, HOMOEOPROPHYLAXIS.

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