[Read before I.H.A., Bureau of Clinical Medicine, June 19th,. 1937.]


Evidently the great-nephew of Dr. C.B. Knerr, author of Knerrs Repertory to Herings Guiding Symptoms, and one of the Editors who carried that great work to completion after the death of Hering; who, a few weeks before his death, said: “Perhaps from my place in Heaven, I may peep through a little hole, and see that my work is well done.” It was!.

IT appears to me to be unusually appropriate, and significant, that the International Association of strictly homoeopathic physicians should hold its meeting here, today, in his Athens of the New World where homoeopathy has flourished from its earliest history in this country, and where the torch still burns brightly showing the way to all who avidly search for its true and unadulterated principles. I refer with highest praise to the Post Graduate Course in Homoeopathic Medicine established here in Boston.

It is with extreme regret that we must admit that our precious principles are taught in so stepmotherly a fashion in some of our institutions. We reluctantly come to realize that newcomers about to take up the study of medicine would do well to first enter any of our modern universities where are taught the fundamental branches essential to a sound medical and surgical knowledge; to graduate therefrom, then, finally, to take a full course in homoeopathic materia medica and therapeutics so ably taught in this post-graduate course.

It is here, in Boston, that men like the Wesselhoefts came to practice. One of these, the elder William, was a pioneer, who had stood shoulder to shoulder with Hering at the Allentown Academy, the first Homoeopathic college in the world, where homoeopathic literature had its beginning, where some of the earlier textbooks, printed in German, were translated and published for the benefit of its students.

It was there that Wesselhoeft gathered the seeds of sound doctrine which he later planted here in Boston, which has borne fruit manifold and is still productive in the hands of his successors.

Among the pioneers, the founders of the Allentown Academy, I am proud to name one of my ancestors, a country clergyman of German descent, the Rev. John Helfrich, who, like the honoured Boenninghausen, became a skilled amateur in homoeopathy, which he practised among his parishioners and friends and assisted in making provings and contributions to the literature of those early days.

I owe my affiliation with my great teacher and honoured father- in-law, which began directly after my graduation from Hahnemann College, in the year 1869, to the close friendship between Dr. Hering and my great-uncle.

To the few to whom it has been permitted, by Providence, to have shared in the lives and labours of great men, to have lived, walked and talked with them, shared their intimacies and confidences, observed them in their daily tasks of doing good in a great way, has been granted a privilege that cannot be too highourly estimated, nor too deeply treasured in both heart and mind.

As I look back upon the past from what must be near the summit of a long life, longer than what is allotted to most men, I realize that the years in which I sat at the feet of Hering were years of golden opportunity.

From the moment of my entering upon my duties as assistant to the great Master, it was borne upon in my mind that this rare opportunity for acquiring supreme knowledge, would also be an opportunity for sharing with others of my profession, particularly those of a future generation, advantages enjoyed by me.

I forthwith began to record in a diary the conversations of Dr. Hering, his table talk, the daily incidents that occurred in his busy life, his interviews with other physicians of prominence, who came to consult or to be instructed and entertained by the sage so widely known and respected.

In the years that followed, eleven in all, with the exception of a year and three months spent abroad in hospitals, and interval, the book grew to a fair size filled with a mass of daily notes, of a kind that are calculated to interest the general reader, the followers of Hahnemann, and particularly the neophytes in homoeopathy.

I have in mind, if my plans succeed, the place before the pubic, and the profession, a volume to bear the little, Conversation and Philosophy of Dr. Constantine Hering, in two parts; Part I to contain the Notes, Part II, “Appreciations by the Profession”, in all covering about four hundred pages, to be neatly bound, and obtainable at a moderate price.

This first of a series of volume is to be followed by other volumes to contain the Lesser Writings from Herings pen, consisting of essays on materia medica, and therapeutics; provings and history of provings; clinical observations; correspondence with eminent homoeopaths of an early period: Hahnemann, Stapf, Jenichen and others in foreign lands as well as that of a later period, letters from and to practitioners in this country: Allen, Dunham, Bayard, Bell, Berridge (of London), Boyce, Bute (Herings student and predecessor in North America the one who coped with the cholera, in Philadelphia, before Herings arrival), P.P. Wells, the Wesselhoefts, William and Conrad, and many from different parts of the world.

I must not forget to mention the clever Satires and Skits written against the detractors and enemies of homoeopathy, without and within the walls; essays on natural science, charming anecdotes and fairy tales, remarks on art, drama, music, history and other subjects of national interest, including a pamphlet entitled Natural Boundaries, suggesting a line to be drawn between France and Germany. Most of the subjects, written in German, have been translated by me, and only require editorial workmanship from some willing hand in the ranks, sufficiently interested to prepare them for publication at such time as an appreciative profession may desire them.

From the manuscript of the first volume, Conversation and Philosophy of Constantine Hering, I have culled a few cases, hitherto unpublished, and some general remarks to illustrate Dr. Herings method of practice.


Was that of Judge M., a prominent member of the bar and the judiciary, unusually bright and competent, who was born a hydrocephaloid. His head remained unusually large in his earlier years until he came under the care of Dr. Hering, who prescribed occasionally doses of Calcarea phosphorica in a high potency. At intervals the boy with the big head, as his deformity was corrected, required to be fitted with a smaller, not a larger hat, as is the custom with growing lads.


A case of “kill or cure”.

This very peculiar case, on account of its strange manner of treatment, happened in Dr. Herings early years in Philadelphia. The doctor enjoyed relating it, mainly, I believe, on account of its dramatic incidents. He never offered an explanation of how, or by what rule, the cure was made.

Was it allopathy, homoeopathy, psychotherapy or hydropathy?.

Dr. Hering states the case as follows:.

A young man who had suffered along time from intermittent fever came to me with a doleful tale. He wished to marry the daughter of a rich manufacturer. He could only get her on condition that he would be able to fill the position of fireman in her fathers establishment. This, he said, was impossible on account of being harassed by chills and fever. The young fellow was desperate; said he would either drown or shoot himself if he could not be relieved of the malady. He demanded of me a prescription which would either “kill or cure”!.

I hesitated a moment then gave him the following advice: Go to the Schuylkill River when you feel the fever coming on. Undress. Get some of your friends to tie a rope under your shoulders so that they can suspend you in the water up to your mouth. Jump into the river and force yourself to stay there during the chill. When the fever, which follows the chill, comes on remain there until the sweat appears, then leave the water.

My directions were followed to the letter. The patient soon became blue in the face; his friends thought he would die, but he mentioned to them that he wished to stay in the water. Soon the fever took hold of him and the poor fellow became so weak that he could scarcely utter a word. His friends again motioned to pull him out, but he decided to stand the ordeal. He had been in the water two hours when the sweat came on. He now consented to be taken from the river and his friends pulled him to the shore, wrapped him into warm blankets and took him home. From that day he had no return of the chills or fever, was married to the girl of his choice, and supposedly lived happily ever after.

Should I again be moved to advise this heroic treatment I would urge the patient to get out of the bath as soon as the fever came on. The remedy, in good faith, is one of kill or cure!.


A young Cuban was brought to Philadelphia for treatment. I was called in consultation with some allopathic physician who had the case in hand. I found a young man, with black eyes, a mere skeleton filled with air, unable to swallow a morsel of food without vomiting it up directly after. He cursed at doctors in general and swore that he would take neither homoeopathic nor any other kind of medicine. I sent to the nearest confectionery shop for some plain cream of which I ordered a teaspoonful to be taken, with a little sugar, every half hour.

The patient took it. Next day he said he had not vomited once. In then increased the quantity of cream of dessert-spoonful doses, every hour. On the following day he complained of severe pain the stomach. I felt a large lump there the size of a fist. This his physician had pronounced to be cancer. It was none. I gave him two globules of Hyoscyamus on the tongue. He had no more pain after this.

I now ordered a tablespoonful of beef tea to be taken on the one-half hour, and the same quantity of arrow- root on the next half-hour, turn about. The young man kept on gaining weight steadily and in a short time he returned to his island a well man. When he received my bill, in the amount of one hundred dollars, he paid it promptly, at the same time telling me that I was the most sensible doctor he had ever met, and at the same time the most stupid, because he had expected to pay me no less than a thousand!.

This patient recommended a great many others to me, from Cuba.


Later, while still living on Walnut Street, there came to my office a father and son. The son was in almost the same condition as the case just described. The father asked me what he should do. I told him to give his son small quantities of food, and often. When I turned my back the two slipped out of my office without paying a fee. I subsequently learned that the father said: “Anybody could have given him the same advice!” And yet it cured his boy! There is much truth in small suggestions like these, often overlooked, or disregarded by reason of their apparent insignificance.

Hering did not contribute much of clinical material from his practice to our literature. He made constant use of cases cured by others. In fact he remarked somewhere that he intended to write a certain book as soon as he could accumulate a thousand or more typical cases. This book was not written.

Hering never failed to write down the symptoms of his patients at their first visit, and again at future visits, for which purpose he carried with him a small note-book to the bedside, and in his office he used tablets of note-paper about three by four in size. While there had accumulated stacks upon stacks of such notes, carefully arranged upon shelves, not one of them could be completely deciphered to be of any use, not even by those among us who were familiar with his handwriting.

Other papers on Materia Medica and other subjects, though hard to read, are not beyond recovery. Since, after his death, I am probably the only person living who can read the papers, I have made it my business through the many years that they have been in my possession, to rewrite, copy and translate most of them. There is much material particularly of what was written in German, that was copied by his secretary who wrote a clear hand, almost equal to engraving; all of it in ink which so far has withstood the corroding influence of time.

The paper, of the best, also hold well. Good Lotzbecker snuff which the doctor used and let fall among his papers and the leaves of his books, has preserved them from decay and the ravages of the bookworm.

Hering says both Hahnemann and Stapf kept records of their cases in blank books, or ledgers, in which a single page was devoted to each patient. Between lines there was left room for remarks. The symptoms were numbered. After each symptoms were placed the marks signifying better or worse, as the treatment progressed.

Hering was the first to condemn the giving of castor oil on the third day after childbirth, which was almost universally done to produce a bowel movement with the lying-in. He claims that the seventh day after childbirth is the natural time for passage; if it does not come then he advises a dose of Bryonia, or Nux vomica. We see with satisfaction that that practice of purging is being largely ignored even by the ordinary practitioners of medicine. Owing to sanitation and better care of the patient cases of puerperal fever are extremely rare.

Hepar sulphur. Before the advent of modern surgery Dr. Hering fought off lancing abscesses, which he thought bad practice, and unnecessary if Hepar, in a high potency, were given to the patient. This suggestion came from him as early as 1827, while in South America. At about the same time Hartmann, in Germany, introduced Mercurius.

I have heard Dr. Hering say that in five years he had not once prescribed either Hepar or Spongia, remedies then in general favour for so-called croup, and much abused, as was the case with Aconite. He had good results from Arsenicum in croup in cases of great weakness, or a suppressed urticaria; and Belladonna for the spasmodic variety.

Nitrum. A keynote of Nitrum is: Drinking often, but little at a time. The patient drinks but little at a time because the act of swallowing interferes with respiration. Hering says this is Grauvogls observation.

Euphrasia and Cepa. Attention is called to a comparison between these two remedies.

Hering laid stress upon the following with a complementary medicine where the previous remedy had ceased to be beneficial after waiting a reasonable time, with a similarly acting medicine, preferably one from another group, as for instance Belladonna after Rhus tox.; Pulsatilla after Nux vomica in many variations. The key to his will be found under Chapter 48, Relationship, in Guiding Symptoms, the Condensed Materia Medica, and in the Repertory to these works.

Certain remedies are inimical and should not be allowed to follow each other closely, as for instance: Phosphorus and Causticum, also Rhus tox, and Apis; likewise Nux vom. and Ignatia. Only one of them can be properly indicated.

This is well illustrated by Hering in an account he gives of selecting, for proving, a specimen of the drug aloes. He says: I went into a drugstore in Philadelphia (Morris) to buy some aloes. He showed me two kinds. I told him that both of them were adulterations. He sent his boy out to all the drugstores in town for samples. An immense heap of aloes was collected, but all of them were bogus. The druggist was chagrined.

He sent to New York for more samples. I came to examine this large assortment but did not find a single genuine specimen among them. At last I noticed that the druggist held back a small package, carefully wrapped in paper, which he did not seem willing to show me. I asked to see it. He handed it over, smiled as I sad, “This is genuine aloes. Where did you get it?” He confessed that he had stolen it from a collection in the Academy of Pharmacy, of which he was a trustee.

The sample had been brought into the country by an expedition that had sailed around the world which had received the specimen from the Sultan of Muscat, who grew the plant from which the substance is derived. When you break a piece of aloes the fracture must show a purplish golden hue, almost transparent. The adulterated specimens were boiled in certain oils to such a degree that they made the paper in which they came greasy.

Aloes has its sphere of action in the pelvis. There is great congestion there, with a feeling of fulness, as if everything was tending there. Haemorrhoidal tenesmus.

Hering got the Arum triphyllum (Jack-in-the-pulpit) from an up- country Pennsylvania German who had it from an old woman, in one of the valleys of Pennsylvania.

After a proving it became a valuable remedy in his hands for scarlet fever in its worst form.

Hering was called to see three children located in a basement on Cherry Street. The oldest child was in the last stage of the sickness, evidently dying. The second was in the second stage and very sick. The third had just begun to sicken. He thought of the Pennsylvania Germans remedy, the Arum triphyllum, which he administered to each of the three children, in the sixth dilution. All three recovered.

The chief indications for the remedy are soreness of the mouth, cracked lips and salivation. He tried the remedy again soon after, this time getting an aggravation, probably due to a lower potency; higher ones were made use of later.

Hamamelis (witch hazel) was suggested to Hering by a consumptive at the point of death, who controlled his haemorrhages with the quack medicine, which he himself had introduced, and which made him rich, but which he kept a secret. Hering thought if a substance can stop haemorrhages from a lung almost gone, it must be a good remedy.

The consumptive had a fair daughter who impressed the doctor. She revealed to him the formula. Her father had planted acres with the witch hazel, had built a distillery by which to extract the sap of the bush during the month of February, when it is strongest, just before the flowering season, when all plants are strongest in sap. Hering says if it had not been for consideration of the daughter, he would not have had any time for a man who discovered a healing remedy and guarded its secret for material gain.

Either everything is chance or all things that happen are governed by laws; otherwise where would a line be drawn between chance and rule?.

The side that hates will lose.

Hering believed, with Jean Paul Richter, that all things that happen, happen twice, the duplicature of events. There are laws that govern history as well as laws that govern space, planetary movements.

There are four kinds of motion; 1. Up and down. 2. From side to side. 3. Forward and backward, the motion of the rocking chair, and the swing.

The first if the motion of health, liked by babies. The baby jumper is an excellent invention for the nursery.

The second is not healthy, but not quite as bad as the third, which is most detrimental to women and children, causing all manner of diseases with them. No person can stand a rocking chair in the long run.

4. A fourth motion, that of swinging around in a circle, is the worst of all motions.

Hering believes (with Swedenborg) that the nerves contain a gaseous substance which circulates from the periphery to the centre through the sensory nerves, and from the centre to the periphery through the motor nerves. In sleep this current is reversed.

Medicines placed upon the tongue are there changed to a nerve- gas, which is transmitted to diseased parts.

This would explain the lightning-like cures as mentioned by P.P. Wells and observed by others. Hering wonders if the metals contained in a battery are dissolved, disintegrated and thus pass on through the wires. He remarked, “Now we have only the effects from copper and zinc. Other metals might come into use”.

The Rev. John Helfrich, a lay practitioner, associated with the Allentown Academy, once contributed a case to the Correspondence, a cure with Ipecacuanha in which the patient had no symptoms of this particular remedy. Why did he prescribe the Ipecac? Because a number of other patients with the same sickness, had gotten well under it. He had stumbled upon the law of treatment the genus epidemicus.

In cities we have not the same opportunity to observe this as in the country.

If a wrong is done, either from malice or from ignorance, Nemesis is sure to follow. This would appear to be a law of nature. I hold to the belief that history repeats itself and that everything happens in doubles. For example, this morning I had a patient who had a strange symptom not be found in our materia medica. This symptom is: He is constantly thinking of his sickness; cannot get it out of his mind!.

Calvin B Knerr