“Disease are cured, not by eloquence, but by remedies, well and duly applied, of which, if any sage and discreet man, though he have no tongue, know well the proper usage, he shall become a greater physician than if, without practice, he ornament well his language.” Quotation from Cornelius Selsus, who lived 23 B.C. to 50 A.D.
During the eighteenth century, medicine was predominately a conglomerate of revolutionary systems and theories in medicine. There was the dynamico-organic system of Stahl, who believed that the soul was the supreme principle of disease. There was a mechanico-dynamic system of Hoffman, teaching that life expresses itself in motion, and that all manifestations within the body are controlled by a spirit which has its origin in the nervous system. The school of Montpellier taught that the various organs possess individual life, and then there was Mesmer, the prince of psychologists of his time, who claimed that a magnetic fluid poured from the hands, which could be used to cure the human body of all disease.
Then there was the Breunonian system, which asserted that it was only necessary for a cure to determine the grade of disease in accordance with the strength or weakness of the active, irritation, and to adjust the right proportion of strengthening or weakening medicines to the case. Then there was the practice of previous centuries, the phlogistic and anti- phlogistic theories, that all diseases were caused by the impaction of debris, and the obstruction of the intestines; added to these were a half-dozen other assorted hypothesis. The practice of medicine of the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries had little to offer toward the cure of diseases.
The work of Hahnemann and Pasteur had not yet been done. Listen had not propounded the theory of antisepsis, Harvey and Jenner were unknown, and chemistry was only a very beginning science. Anatomy, although reasonably well known by the artists of the early eighteenth century, notably Leonardo da Vinci, was not studied or known as a part of medicine. Pathology, biology and physiology were just beginning to sort out of the facts from a welter of hypothesis.
Drugs were known and used in abundance, but there was no basic scientific pharmacology to support their use. All sorts of mixtures and combinations were used without reference to the effects the ingredients of the mixture might have upon one another, nor to the effect on the living body. When the mixture did show evidence of positive action, the reason for its action was not known, and if cure was accomplished the credit was given to the mixture and not to the individual who was cured.
In this confusion of unscientific balderdash there came upon the stage a remarkable and wonderful physician, Samuel Christian Friedrich Hahnemann, who was born in Meissen, Germany, in 1755. Hahnemann was a very highly intelligent and remarkable man, and a profound student. He studied medicine at the Universities of Leipzig and Vienna. He graduated in medicine at Erlangen in 1779, but he became dissatisfied with the practice of the profession and retired for reflection and study.
We hear from him again in 1790, in his treatise on the study and development of the basic drugs, taken from Peruvian bark, in which Dr. Hahnemann proved the action of the drug upon the healthy body; this resulted in a disease resembling the symptoms of malaria. The evidence were so pronounced that he decided that it would be well to try small doses of the extract of Peruvian bark on patients suffering from malaria, and to his great astonishment the result was a perfect cure.
He then tried the drug upon himself to reprove his previous experiment, and cured himself with small doses of the drug, infrequently taken. The result of this investigation in use of Peruvian bark encouraged Hahnemann to continue to study individual drugs.
Dr. Hahnemann then began a series of further experiments with drugs upon healthy individuals, and in 1796, with a wealth of research behind him, he announced his remarkable hypothesis that became the basis of the system called homoeopathy, expressed in the phrase; “similia similibus curentur,” or similars cure similar. After the announcement of his remarkable hypothesis. Dr. Hahnemann attacked physicians from all over Europe to him as students. The basis upon which he announced his system of cure was so remarkable and so outstanding that it appealed to the real thinkers in medicine of his day.
In 1810, he presented to the world his most famous work entitled: “Organon der Rationellen Heilkunde,” which was translated in many languages, and especially English. In this book, Dr. Hahnemann presented three main tenets: first, that diseases or symptoms of diseases are curable by particular drugs, which produce similar pathological effects upon the healthy body; second, that the dynamic effect or force of the drugs is increased by giving them in small doses, even diluted to a very high degree of their original strength; and third, that chronic diseases are manifestations of suppressed miasms or psora.
Remember that in this period of time, bacteria was unknown, the knowledge of physiology was practically nil, pathology was wholly speculative; the only guidepost of research was the amelioration of symptoms of disease and the cure of the disease itself. It was the generally accepted theory of the time that the outward manifestations or objective symptoms of disease was a salubrious mechanism for the relief of an inner condition attacking the system as a whole.
Quoting from the Organon, “the only really salutary treatment is that of the homoeopathic method, according to which the totality of symptoms of a natural disease is combated by a medicine in commensurate doses, capable of creating in the healthy body symptoms most similar to those of the natural disease.”
This concept remains as true today as it was in 1810, when the Organon was written, although the statement contains a very meager description of what we know today as the Law of Immunity. The application of a similitude directed in positive action produces a reaction of a normal resistance in the body to such an event that disease is overcome, and the result is positive cure.
The announcement of the findings of Dr. Hahnemann, with its true scientific basis for investigation, was the beginning of the greatest era of research in medicine that the world has ever known. Physicians were groping in a chaos of medieval superstition, magic, and empiricism, with no basic idea of fact to direct them in the search for cause and cure, but the system instituted by Hahnemann had at least two things in its favor in addition to the discovery of the fundamental law of “similibus curentur”. First it replaced the mixtures of powerful drugs and it carried with it a powerful appeal to the scientific mind, and as always a new and revolutionary system appeals to the lay imagination.
Even today Professors Meyer-Steinberg of Jena and Sudhoff of Leipzig, two of the worlds greatest medical historians, assert that the influence of Hahnemann was the most outstanding of any of his contemporaries, and was on the whole certainly the first scientific approach to the practice of medicine.
Dr. Hahnemann emphasized the individualization of the patient in the handling of disease, and he demonstrated the value of testing the virtue of drugs by a system of trial. Thus it will be seen that the advent of homoeopathy was the first great movement on the horizon of scientific investigation in the field of medicine.
After the publication of Organon in 1810, homoeopathy spread rapidly throughout the continent of Europe. We find it popular in 1819, in Austria, where in 1837, it was recognized by Imperial decree. It reached Italy and Denmark in 1821, and in 1827 was introduced by Dr. Quinn into the British Isles. Homoeopathy fluorished in England after the establishment of a homoeopathic dispensary service, which was opened in 1841.
Homoeopathic hospitals were established throughout the United Kingdom, and most of them still survive even with socialized medicine in control. Homoeopathy in Great Britain is, today, very popular and homoeopathic physicians are medical advisors to the Queen and the Royal house. It was a homoeopathic physician who diagnosed and recommended the lung operation on the late King George VI.
Homoeopathy was brought into the United States and the Western Hemisphere in about 1825 and immediately became quite popular. The American Institute of Homoeopathy was organized in 1844, and remains the oldest medical association in the United States. The first homoeopathic medical college was organized in Philadelphia in 1848.
The next was in New York in 1858, and during the latter half of the 19th century homoeopathy spread rapidly to all nations of the North and South American continents. In the United States homoeopathic practitioners were so popular as to almost dominate the field of medicine. Many tales might be told of the battles within the medical fraternities to determine whether the homoeopathic or the so-called regular party should control.
The American Medical Association in their annual meetings represented a highly controversial institution, and many times the scepter of authority passed from one group to another. In 1890, there were fourteen homoeopathic and eight eclectic medical colleges in the United States, while in 1900 there were twenty- two homoeopathic and ten eclectic schools. At the beginning of the 20th century, the influence of homoeopathy began a very rapid stride. Medical schools throughout the nation began to adopt the scientific method of investigation and research.
The influence of the works of Hahnemann was seen in the teachings of the so-called regular schools. The multiple drug prescription began to loose in favour for use of the single remedy. The theory of immunity was translated into a law, and the great work of the United States Public Health Service, and in the great field of preventive medicine itself to be a permanent and positive fact,
For the past fifty years scientific medicine has been sweeping onward with a steady and sure progress, based almost entirely upon the premise of Hahnemann. Until today, American medicine stands at the highest pinnacle of achievement in world medicine, largely because of the influence of homoeopathy upon the field of research and the practice of medicine.
During the early years of the 20th century when prejudice and ill-feeling existed, caused by a high degree of misunderstanding among medical men, it was necessary to maintain homoeopathic medical colleges. Today that is no longer necessary, homoeopathy being only a part of medical education which deals with a special training for skill in the application of the law of “similia similibus curantur”.
Further because of the general acceptance of the basic principles of homoeopathy, it is no longer necessary or expedient to maintain separate homoeopathic schools. The field of medicine, which includes everything pertaining to the healing art, has discarded in good measure, many of the old prejudices of the past, the superstitions that came down from the ancients, and the magic of the savage, and have substituted in its place the true scientific approach to research and practice.
Yet, withal, homoeopathy being what it is, we find it necessary to establish a system of careful choosing among the students of medicine, in order to give them the advantage of the wonder and values of homoeopathy.
The student who embarks on the road to efficiency in homoeopathic practice must be endowed with the very highest achievement in general as well as medical education. He then must spend extra years of time in study to become proficient in prescribing according to the homoeopathic law. It is not an easy road to success. The homoeopathic physician cannot simply make a physical examination together with such laboratory investigations as are indicated, make a diagnosis, and prescribe a remedy or write a prescription for a multiple drug formula or an antibiotic, then expect a cure.
The homoeopathic physician knows that he must treat his patient as an individual, he must study his patient, must know his personality, he must note and carefully consider every symptom that his patient presents; in other words, the homoeopathic physician must go beyond the simple physical examination and laboratory diagnosis of an ordinary disease, and treat his patient according to the law of “similia similibus curantur.”
All this takes a most profound devotion and dedication on the part of the physician, because he knows he is dealing with a God- created individual, who is suffering from a disease. Therefore, he must know all there is to know about disease, and in addition he must know all there is to know about the individual. The practice of homoeopathy is real labour. It is devoted and indicated work, it requires all the ingenuity, all the mental capacity, and all of the ability of the physician to make a success of his practice.
Homoeopathy today is outstanding in the fact that it has had the privilege and honor of leading the medical profession throughout the world in its most marvelous advance of the past century, and still maintains its proud position in the vanguard of scientific medicine in the world today.
The public need have no fear in the employment of a homoeopathic physician, because his service is equal to the best in scientific medicine. He has had the training, the educational background, and aptitude that places him among the leaders of his profession.
“A homoeopathic physician is one who adds to his knowledge of medicine, a special knowledge of homoeopathic therapeutics, and observes the law of similia. All that pertains to the great field of medical learning is his, by his training and by tradition, inheritance and by right.