History of Homoeopathy



With respect to the Hahnemannian provings, Dr. Schlegel, in his Knowledge and Power of Modern Medicine says,” Here we find the uninterrupted voice of nature carefully and honestly sought: these are the disordered manifestations of life, in all their infinite varieties of action, at last recorded with precision and certainty;… these complaints of the patient, speak they ever so loudly are excluded from the nomenclature of the physician, and whatever sympathy he may feel, it is without practical result… for he, the allopathic practitioner; knows not what purpose it would serve to listen to objective symptoms; he is prepared if he knows that he has a case of acute bronchial catarrh before him in the first stage; but it is immaterial to him whether the cough comes on in the open air or in a warm room, whether the aggravation occurs in the morning or evening, whether chilliness or subjective heat is present or what any accompanying subjective symptoms may enact at any time in the processes of organic life… the attacks of pain which may have appeared with such disagreeable certainly at three o’clock in the morning, and the violent burning sensations in the region at the back of the left hip, are to him simply neuralgia, just as any tearing pain in the right half of the jaw, increasing to desperation in the evening, and accompanied by heat of the head and dryness teeth.

The typical character of pains is taken as indicating quinine, then a narcotic, or the method is varied by acting on the entire body with a Turkish bath, or through a powerful derivative, or various manipulation which stand in no kind relationship to the nature of the disease itself but are only employed on the organism is general”. Can such empiric treatment deserve the name science? The provings of Hahnemann furnish the relation of certain medicinal substances to the various structures action, the form in which they are presented by Hahnemann may at first appear impracticable, but it is not actually so, for only on this basis is it possible to effect a positive cure of the various derangement to which we are subject- to form, as Professor von Bakody observe, an exact system of biological medicine; and palliative cases do not enter into the questions, and hence it occurs that many educated laymen who have studied and made use of homoeopathy, can often, in places where homeopathic professional aid is not obtainable, do better with homoeopathic remedies in acute cases, after the allopathic practitioner has pronounced on the nature of the complaint, than can the allopathic doctor himself.

Nothing could show more forcibly than this how deep a hold Homoeopathy has with the people. Hahnemann’s views of his contemporaries in respect to treatment still unfortunately hold good of the current practice of to-day. He expressed this in the second edition of his Pure Materia Medica, “The ordinary medical world knows no better than to write compound prescriptions; they are very imperfectly acquainted with the individual action of the drugs when given by themselves, and far more so when in combination, not withstanding the supposed scientific arrangement of the several ingredients of a prescription. And in this routine practice they are content to continue, without attempting to find out what is possible with single remedies.

The employment of one medicine at a time also brought about the emancipation of Hahnemann from being at the mercy of the druggists, and led to the discovery of the dose of homoeopathy. At first, in selecting the one drug on the law of likes, he employed rather large doses, such as are common in the old system, but he learned by experience that these doses caused a primary aggravation of the disorder, so that he was compelled to gradually diminish them. He says respecting it in his Pure Materia Medica: ” If a dose of a tenth of a grain of arsenic is in many cases dangerous, must not the quantity be diminished so that even, if necessary, only a thousandth of a grain is administered?… If now arsenic like many other powerful drugs, can by subdivision be rendered no longer dangerous to man one has only to find how small the dose must be to do not injury, while it is yet large enough to completely carry out its action as a curative remedy in suitable cases of disease”.

This subdivision of doses led him to a very ingenious method, that of triturating solids thoroughly in the proportion of one part to ninety- nine of sugar of milk, so that one grain of the trituration contains one hundredth was taken and rubbed up with ninety-nine more of sugar of milk, forming the second trituration; and fluid remedies he mixed with spirits of wine in the same proportions. Through the application of small doses in this manner he obtained the remarkable result that many medicaments, especially if they underwent farther dilution in a non-medicinal vehicle, as sugar of milk or spirits of wine, suffered no weakening of power of action when administered in disease on the law of similars, and these preparations he hence named Potencies.

The cause of this development of power he believed must be sought in the powerful agitation of the bottles and their contents in the preparations of these potencies, and homeopathy has hence undergone many attacks, having been declared unreasonable or that no medicine at all can be present in the higher potencies. The opponents of homoeopathy reason from mathematical and chemical grounds; homoeopathists appeal to their experience with these potencies at the bedsides. To-day we know from physics, mathematics and physiology that attenuation of substances is not necessarily synonymous with loss of power.

Dr. Doppler, professor of Physics, says, “Before this supposed insignificance can be banished to the realm of chimeras, the unity which is thereby supposed to he destroyed must be demonstrated. With what right can the action of medicines in the body be limited by their weight, and not much more according to the extent of their effective surface? Under the physical surface of a body, in opposition to the mathematical, one understands the contents of all the molecules of that body, which are necessarily surrounded with other molecules; so that bodies which are in any manner divided, must gain important increase of surface, because more molecules, which were previously in the interior of the mass, in contact with the surrounding portions of the mass, are brought forth and form a part of the new surface. And it is similarly evident that several bodies of the same kind which previously formed a whole at least so far as intimate contact of their particles, where every intervening substances is conceived to be absent, must suffer loss presentation of their mutual surface, so that it is evident on due reflection that the collective whole of the surface is necessarily increased in greater proportions as the diameter of single parts is diminished. The material being thus rendered more efficacious, the particles must then be kept in this state of separation, and this can hardly be effected in any other manner than by mingling with a foreign body, such as sugar of milk, as a medium, and then triturating as at first, and this vehicle must be mixed in adequate quantity.” It is also well known that already in the last century three celebrated mathematicians, d’Alembert, maupertius and Euler discovered, through the differential calculus, the economic law of nature from which it is found that she at all times and everywhere works with the smallest quantities; and it is by similarly reckoning by means of infinitesimal quantities that the greatest problems in applied mathematics, astronomy, & c., are solved.

The violent attacks which have been made on the doses of homoeopathy, such as that the whole word had not sufficient water to form the thirtieth potency, but that a watery globe of a diameter reaching from the earth to the dog-star would be requisite are now unhesitating seen to be foolish, especially if it be considered that the system only requires an atom of medicine to be employed in order to cure and that many drugs which are taken appear again in the urine. It is further known that a measure of a milligram, the one-thousandth part of a gram, contains a number of molecules amounting to about sixteen trillion and that the diameter of a single molecule between the spaces, which are estimated to be similar amounts to the two and a half-millionth of a millimeter. The teaching of light, of electricity and of the internal movements of fluids and gases depend on this fact, and are taken as a chimera by no educated person. We know further that the body of no living creature is a chemical retort, in which masses alone are acted on, but that molecular actions is the basis of vital action.

The capacity fort movement increases if the molecules have a larger sphere for activity; the attenuation, the separation of molecules, thus acquires increased energy. This is seen daily in the similar action of steam, in the aggregate condition of freed atoms of water, of which eighty cubic inches suffice to draw a train of three hundred tons a distance of fifty miles in two hours. Besides this, the action of a medicament dissolved in water and its molecules separated, can easily be demonstrated by experiment. If, for example one part of common salt be dissolved in nine parts of water, the salt molecules extend over a space ten time larger than before, giving them ten times the area for movement, and the question in merely whether the molecules are put into movement or not. A vessel containing water only, and the molecules of slat in the one vessel will then travel to the other until the two fluids contain a solution of equal quantities of salt.

This procedure is termed the Process of Diffusion; and the same process is taking place continually in the body, for unless for example, the blood is supplied similarly with oxygen, & c., life cannot be maintained. From the above experiment it follows that a liquid remedy dissolved in a suitable medium possesses unlimited power of extensions; that the molecules of this material are proportionately distributed in solution; that this subdivision is not destruction, but the very pendulum movement and by axial movement. If a dense solution of salt be employed, the process of diffusion is obstructed, but if it be desired to increase the process, the weaker the solution the more effectual is the diffusion. For, in a ten per cent. solution of salt, one-tenth only of the space is occupied by the salt, and there are nine- tenths of the space remaining for the movements of the salt.

In a one per cent solution there is one part mass and ninety-nine parts of space are left for movement, and the precise proportions given by chemist are eleven times as much movement in weak as in concentrated solutions. What takes place with salt occurs also with all solutions and especially with the molecules of drugs which are subjected to the process;and it cannot therefore conceived that a diluted, really a potentized ” remedy should not develop extraordinary powers in the body if it is administered under the defined conditions of the law of similars. Rightly therefore Professor Jaeger, who has carried out a large number of experiments with medicinal solutions thus prepared, says ” If the official representatives of the old system would observe and study these simple and irrefutable matters of fact, they would make a great mark on the long standing difficulty between homoeopathy and allopathy.

When it is now considered what ignominy Hahnemann and his followers directly suffered from the potentizing of medicines, and how the master himself, owing to the entity of the druggist (who in Germany from a strong guild) tot he small dose, which produced so small a profit, was obliged to prepared and administered his own medicines, and was denounced and driven from place, it is difficult to express and adequate feeling of indignation at the treatment he experienced. He was thus finally expelled from Leipzig by the fury of the druggists, and willingly accepted an invitation from the Duke of Coethen, in the year 1821, to be his private physician.

Thus it was not till he was advanced in years that Hahnemann was freed from the struggle for his daily bread, and he was able by preference to devote himself to practice in a serene evening of life. The character also of Hahnemann was strong and he was born leader of men. After he had laid a solid foundation for re-constructing medicine as a science by the publication of his Organon of the Healing Art, and his Pure Materia Medica, he issued his valuable Chronic Disease. IN the year 1835 he married for the second time, and settled in Paris. Here he become prosperous and was held in high veneration by a large circle of patients. He died at Paris on the 2nd July 1843, and twenty years later his medical followers erected a monument to him at Leipzig.

Emilia Foster-Spinelli