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 extend, 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 and plunged himself and his family into dire poverty, that he might not, as he says, “any longer incur the risk of 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, where by the diseases of mankind could be cured.”
And while he was diligently seeking the light- suddenly it flamed before his eye. 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 sickmaking properties on himself: when – lo and behold! – they took the form of ague. There could be no doubt it : quinine both caused and cured ague. Hahnemann has denounced the abuse of quinine, but it was quinine that revealed to him Homeopathy.. Observations (accident) 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 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 preeminent in intuition – in deduction – in industry – in research – in absolutely self-devotion to Truth and to Humanity. He was not only great as a scholar – linguist – chemist-chemist – sanitarian – physician, but he takes special rank as one of those to whom Law of Gravitation, so Hahnemann discovered the Law of Similars – dimly guessed at, but never realised – never understood – never demonstrate before his day.
Hahnemann found the enunciation of the Law in the “remarkable words Similia Similibus Curentur” (let likes Hippocrates,” and he also found its foreshadowings in solitary remarks (which he quotes) in works by half a dozen authors (viz. Boulkduc, Detharding, Berholon, Thiury, Von Stoerk and Stahl). “But, as he says, “no one had taught this manner of cure; no one had put it into practice”.