PRESIDENTIAL ADDRESS


As to Hahnemanns initial aggravation, transient and little notice in acute sickness, but often very definite in chronic disease, followed by a period of steady amelioration, neither of which, as he insists, must be interfered with if results are to be obtained.


I am very sensible of the honor you have done me in electing me President of this International gathering: the more so because it has been, from the first, quite impossible for me to be among you, as I could have wished.

I can never, forget that America is my “spiritual home” in homoeopathy, having been advised to go to Chicago by Dr. Gibson Miller, of Glasgow, to his old teacher, Dr. James Tyler Kent, at Hahnemann College. I desire to acknowledge, with gratitude, what that great teacher did for me. His kindness and enthusiasm are refreshing memories; and I am glad that we still have one of his assistants, Dr. Grimmer, with us, whose patience with a neophyte was remarkable.

Now, it would be presumption on my part to think that I could teach you anything in regard to the practical application of the Doctrines of Hahnemann, and I have had the greatest difficulty in choosing a suitable subject for my Presidential Address.

I am proud to be the first President from across the seas; and it would seem fitting that I should direct your attention to what is transpiring in other countries regarding the position of homoeopathy, and the estimation in which it is held elsewhere at the present moment.

It is pleasing to record that, as regards the medical world in general, we are now finding a readings to examine the teaching or homoeopathy and a willingness to listen, altogether new in the history of medicine; and I think I shall be able to tell you why. Anyway, such is the fact. With us in the British Isles, it is more than a mere willingness to listen-there has arisen a demand for information on the subject of homoeopathy, and for instruction in regard to its principles and practice.

[ Papers on homoeopathy have been delivered at The Royal Society of Medicine, and to the Centenary Meeting of The British Medical Association: and a copy of another Lecture on The Principles of Homoeopathy, read at The Royal Society of Medicine, was sent to several thousands of allopathic doctors]. Again and again, of late, we get requests from the great medical schools to go and lecture to the students on homoeopathy, and from medical societies branches of the British Medical Association-which used to be so utterly inimical, to meet the doctors and tell them what it is all about.

Such meetings are most successful. Invariably the lecturer is kept on for an hour, or a couple of hours, answering the pertinent questions of those who earnestly desire to known. One feels that the seed is thus sown: one finds, later on, that it is germinating. But you will agree with me that homoeopathy must be systematically taught: that the bare acknowledgment of the Law of Healing, without its corollaries, may tend towards a new tolerance and respect, but is not going to lead very far.

Therefore, we are in the act of launching a Post-graduate Correspondence Course, for which we have had many requests, and from which we are hoping great things. The profession at large will be circularised, and no doctor who takes this course, and who applies himself earnestly to its study, fan fail to be at least conversant with the actual teachings-founded, as they were, on experimentation and long experience of Hahnemann. This is a wiser extension of the policy of our journal Homoeopathy, which, under the able editorship of Dr. M.L. Tyler, has for several years constituted itself a new “mouthpiece for Hahnemann” as an enthusiastic reader recently expressed it-and has been striving to provide directions for correct prescribing, in simple acute cases, for those who desire to test and obtain proficiency in the homoeopathic art.

Why is Old School coming to us, at long? Because, whiling being satiated with science and knowledge, it is realising that the one thing it lacks is the one thing it needs-POWER. Knowledge of disease-knowledge of drug-action-what are they? lacking the essential knowledge, how to apply the one for the relief of the other. there must be the coordinating principle-LAW if power is to result, i.e., the power to deal curatively, with assurance, and foreknowledge, with the sick individual. And, after all, this is our very raison detre as doctors!.

Yet, it is passing strange! In an age when everything else is accelerating-while knowledge advances by leaps and bounds-when one considers all the new powers and wonders that science is dangling before our eyes, does it not seem absurd to hark back 100 years for insight into the power to heal?.

In our profession, also, changes are so rapid that it has been said, “If a doctor who dies today should come back in 50 years from now, and attempt to take up his profession, he would have to graduate all over again”.

And yet, as we know, there was one great physician of the past who, were he to come back to earth today, could take up his work as he left it. That is so amazing! He would find new and exciting development-possibilities-confirmations: but the essentials would be absolutely the same because based on LAW. Moreover, he would find hundreds- no, thousands of doctors in all countries of the world, doing precisely what he did-treating their patients as he treated his, and experiencing thereby his astonishing results.

Moreover, were Hahnemann to come back today, he would discover that what he had foretold 100 years ago was becoming true: that science was rediscovering and emphasising his most disputed facts and teachings. For instance, in regard to the small dose, that ancient bugbear, as Hahnemann foresaw, even for his own

followers; and, for others, a subject of endless witticisms. No need to apologise for the small dose now! Radium-vitamins- ferments-ions-colloids-even mineral waters have done that, and have demonstrated, to some extent, the immense potentiality of the infinitely little.

A few facts, which I have already put forth elsewhere, will bear repetition.

Recent research on enzyme action and the standardisation of such agents as Thyroxin and Pituitrin had emphasised the action of minute quantities of all kinds of agents, from minerals to complex organic substances.

Romeis states that Thyroxin influences growth and development of tadpoles in dilutions of I in 5,000,000,000.

Jacoby shows that Potassium Cyanide activates the ferment urease in a dilution 1 in 1,000,000.

Macht has shown that the uterus of a virgin guinea-pig responds to such a dilute concentration of Histamine is could not be demonstrated by the most refined micro-chemical methods.

Cobra venom has been shown to haemolyse red blood corpuscles in a dilution of 1 in 10,000,000.

The addition of 4 parts i 10,000 of copper doubles the rate of toxin production from a culture of diphtheria bacilli. (Locke and Main).

These are merely random selections exemplifying the action of micro-doses in living cells-bacterial, amphibian and mammalian.

Hahnemann tells us that the smallest possible dose of a homoeopathic medicine will operate chiefly upon the diseased parts of the body, which have become extremely susceptible of a stimulus so similar “to their own disease”.

This increased sensitiveness of diseased parts is stressed by Bier also, who talks of the “extraordinarily sensitive disease threshold”, and who quotes Hufeland, “There is a reagent which is more delicate than the most delicate chemical reagent, and that is the reagent within the living organism.

As a crude instance of this increased sensitiveness in disease, Bier states that “it requires 250,000 times as much formic acid to produce symptoms in the healthy than in the gouty”.

Hahnemann, when applying to hypersensitive diseased tissues the one stimulus to which they were most sensitive, viz: the drug of like symptoms-that is to say, the drug that was proved to irritate those particular tissues-was forced, again and again, to reduce his doses.

The modern practice is towards smaller and smaller doses.

Sir William Willcox told me the other day that he was diminishing his doses in vaccine treatment, and thereby obtaining better results.

When using X-rays as a therapeutic measure, the Professor of RAdiology in London informed me that, since he had had perforce to reduce his dosage, the patients seemed to derive greater benefit, and there was less chance of risk.

Sir Langdon Brown, who was Regius Professor of Physic in the University of Cambridge, said in regard to “How do drugs act?”: “These therapeutic effects of vitamins and hormones illustrate another point-the potency of the minute dose.” (Observe that he uses Hahnemanns actual expression, The potency of the minute dose. Science is now expressing itself in the actual terms of Hahnemann.) He says,

When someone asked me how, I imagined I could produce any influence on the body by giving 5 grs. of a drug I replied that the body itself worked with fractions of a milligram. The potency of a hormone is enormous. Abels extract of the posterior lobe of the pituitary can produce contraction of the uterus when one part is dissolved in 15,000 million parts of water-one grain in 1,000 tons of fluid.

He went on,

This might be claimed as a point for homoeopathy. There is no doubt that Hahnemann had some valuable ideas, even is some of his premises were faulty; the symptoms as an expression of something that needed to be assisted rather than repressed: the value of expectant treatment: the efficacy of small doses-all these were progressive conceptions.

And the goes on to say, “the whole system of active immunization by vaccines is based upon aiding the symptomatic expression of the bodys attempt to throw off the disease” “But,” he adds, “to my mind the homoeopathic ideal had been spoilt by being crystallized into a creed”.

It is amusing! but seeming absurdities have faded away in the light of science, and the worst our critics have to say of us now is that Hahnemanns teaching have been “crystallized into a dogma which is defended with religious fanaticism, and that there has been no evolution in teaching or practice since his death”.

That, as we know,m is far from being the case. The fact is that homoeopathy started 100 years ahead of science, and it is the evolution of science that is, tardily, catching up. But, even so, homoeopathy is by no means standing still during this century: it is more and more being demonstrated and confirmed and extended, and is progressing all the time, as we shall see, along the lines of Hahnemann.

The whole of our work as homoeopathic prescribers during the last hundred years had been based on the abnormal sensitivity of certain patients, and of the provers of certain drugs, to conditions mental, intellectual, physical, alimentary, meteoric, etc., which do not affect the normal, healthy individual.

The observation of such sensitivity has now obsessed the dominant school, and has evoked a new name, allergy; and a fresh field of therapeutics now deals with the discovery of the patients allergic reactions, and attempts to eliminate the offending substance from his existence, or else to employ isopathic (in reality homoeopathic) measures to combat it. But, here again, homoeopathy had always gone one better, and, by prescribing the “like” remedy for not only one such reaction but for his whole allergic-complex (discovered by provings that have evoked it in the healthy), has succeeded in desensitizing the patient, with the restoration of normality.

As an instance of allergy: A certain family has moved into the country, into a place many rhododendrons, and every member of that family (normal till now) has developed a perfect terror of thunderstorms. for this, only homoeopathy can account.

Moreover, medicine is now becoming alive to the opposite effects of large and small doses.

A recent Medical Research Council Report on radium referred to “the general principle that has been established with so many drugs: that large doses and very small doses act in opposite ways”.

Taylor has shown that irradiated ergosterol, in small and medium doses, favours the deposition of calcium from blood to bone; but large doses have a reverse effect and cause calcium to be absorbed from bone into the blood stream.

Duke, in a research on blood platelets, found that large doses of benzol reduced the platelet count to a point where the bleeding time was prolonged, while small doses of benzol brought about an increase in the platelet count. This also held good for a complex substance, such as diphtheria toxin – a large dose caused an immediate fall in the number of platelets, while sub- lethal doses stimulated their production.

It is seen that the same drug may stimulate or depress, given appropriate conditions.

But crude instances of homoeopathy, and the opposite effects of large and small doses, are familiar to all. Physicians use Ipecacuanha to check vomiting; Pot. iod. (Which Norman Walker tells us produces skin affections, diagnosed as gummata) for gumma; Salicylic acid for Menieres disease, etc.

But which of Hahnemanns teaching is not receiving confirmation in these days.

For instance, that the obliteration of disease can only come by the stimulation of curative vital reaction.

The late Sir Walter Fletcher has said that “the search for specific remedies for specific illnesses is bound to fail.” Dr. Todd has pointed out that “every so-called specific remedy is found later to have an indirect action”, and he does not consider that his lead selenide compound acts directly on cancer cells, but stimulates the surrounding “junction” tissues to rapid growth, thereby “strangling” the growth.

Professor Ehrlich, before he died, came to the conclusion that the effective arseno-benzol preparations did not act as parasiticides but as stimulants to the defensive power of the host.

It is obvious, therefore, that the leading pharmacologists believe now in an indirect action rather than a direct effect from drugs, and that the tissues and fluids of the host are the important factors in restoring health.

As to Hahnemanns initial aggravation, transient and little notice in acute sickness, but often very definite in chronic disease, followed by a period of steady amelioration, neither of which, as he insists, must be interfered with if results are to be obtained.

This again has been confirmed by Sir. Almroth Wright in his vaccine therapy as “negative” and “positive phases”.

Then, as regards individualization, homoeopathy, as we known concerns itself only with the individual and his personal reactions to environment, mental, moral and physical: with his personal deviations from the normal, especially from his own normal, due to disease. With Hahnemann, when it comes to prescribing, we know no disease, only sick persons.

And the others are getting at that, too!.

Devine, in his Recent Advances in Psychiatry (1929) writes: “The micro-organism provokes the organism, but it is the organism which makes the malady. There are no local illness: there are only general illnesses with manifestations more or less localised” and again, “It is not an illness we treat but an individual who is ill”.

He might be quoting Hahnemann who said it all 100 years ago, and who puts it so neatly and concisely when he talks of “the abnormal functional activity of the body which we call disease”.

Professor Langdon Brown in his Inaugural Lecture, English Medicine and the Cambridge School, says “that the body acts as whole in both health and disease, is the important conclusion to be drawn.” He quotes Dr. Cawadias, The British Physiologists- Foster, Gaskell, Langley, Sherrington, Schaeffer, Starling-by demonstrating that man can no longer be considered as a bundle of organs or cells but as an integrated whole, gave the scientific basis of a synthetic conception of disease.

And Dr. Alfred Alder, of Vienna, at a recent meeting in London, speaking on Individual Personality the Unit, said: His criticism of the other schools was that they devoted themselves to the consideration of parts or contents of the personality, to instincts, the conscious and the unconscious, and so forth. The results of such a method did not satisfy him, and the individual psychology which he advocated was interested not so much in contents, or in the various elements within the mind or psyche, but in the whole personality. The individual was always the unit. Individual psychology had in mind the words of Aristotle: “The whole is earlier than the parts”.

Someone, writing to the British Medical Journal on this question, states:.

Far too little time and attention is devoted to the study of the individual, and the sick man is often forgotten in the study of his disease. For the proper understanding of disease and its treatment there must be a thorough knowledge of the patients personality and of his environment, using the latter word in the widest sense of the term.

This is only reasonable, since no illness, as we know well, affects all persons in the same way. In rheumatism, one person, like Bryonia in its provings, has pain on the slightest movement; another, like Rhus, needs to be constantly on the move to make the pain endurable.

Even in pneumonia, for abortive and curative and curative work, the individual patient has to be considered in prescribing. A number of drugs have caused and cured pneumonia-Phosphorus, Bryonia, Nitric Acid, etc. But which are we to use? since one will not do for the other.

This is being recognised even in the serum treatment of pneumonia when Lintz maintains that the pneumococci producing lobar pneumonia are neither similar nor identical in all case. The immune serum produced in the host as the result of infection of one type of pneumococcus will neutralise or destroy the homologous pneumococcus and its poisons but will have no effect on the pneumococcus or its poisons of a different type. The susceptibility or personal factor seems to be of far greater importance than the virulence of the germ.

This aspect of the constitutional treatment of patients is finding favour in Europe under the expression “Neo-Hippocratic conception” where every diseased individual constitutes a problem by himself. We are no longer dealing with diseased organs but a sick person. This approach of medicine to disease had interested many leaders all the World over, and today us developed by Dr. Cawadias (of London) in his book The Modern Therapeutics of Internal Disease, which had been generally approved wrote that it should be put into the hands of every medical teacher).

Dr. Cawadias claims that the homoeopathic method of diagnosis has given us three principles for modern medical practice: the principle of individualization; the careful consideration of symptoms; and the study of the constitution of the patient as a factor in disease.

He states that “Under the influence of other Neo-hippocratists such as Professor Bier, Professor Hans Much and others, the homoeopathic materia medica has been included for the finding to medicines that act on the whole body”.

And in the Medical World Dr. Cawadias writes:.

As similar disease means similar, defensive reactions, clinical application of the homoeotherapeutical principle (introduced by Hippocrates) is very sound, and has been banished from general medicine only by exaggeration on the part of certain homoeopaths and the narrow-mindedness of “allopaths.” There is a distinct trend in modern therapy (Albert Robin, Bier, Much, Tzanck, and other) to reintroduce homoeotherapy as part of general medical treatment.

There has been lately an important paper by Delors, professor and teacher to the faculty of Lyons, in which he defended the study of homoeopathy in the official school. This was published in the Gazette des Hopitaux (The French Lancet). The position in FRance is, according to Cawadias, “very strongly in favour of Neo-hippocratism, which provides a common ground of understanding for the old divisions of homoeopathy and allopathy”.

In Italy Castiglioni also had enrolled under the banner of Neo- hippocratism, and has written that Neo-hippocratism raises interest in homoeopathy. Pende, professor of clinical medicine in Rome, and probably the leading physician of Italy, is another Neo-hippocratist who had expressed himself as in favour of homoeopathy.

In regard to the charge that homoeopathy has crystallized into a mere creed: that we have made no single advance in teaching or in practice since Hahnemanns death: that we have contributed nothing at all to all the rest that goes by the name of medicine- the first items of the charge are, of course, absolutely untrue, while the rest lies quite outside the province of homoeopathy, whose one concern is Medicine proper: i.e., the discovery of drugs, the proving of drugs as to their subversive, and, therefore, remedial, properties, and the application of drugs for the relief of sickness and suffering. Here steady progress had never ceased.

Perhaps provings might be speeded up? In Germany, I am told, the young homoeopathic doctor is expected to do provings of remedies in order to realize their power. But the actual remedies at our command today must be at least double no, probably more than treble-those bequeathed us by the Great Prover! It would indeed have been a tragedy had homoeopathy stopped short of Gelsemium, of Baptisia, of Apis, of Latrodectus mact., of Lachesis and all the snake venoms, which latter are at last coming into the snake venoms, which latter are at last coming into the range of vision of Old School. Hahnemann foresaw an enormous extension of his work, if it were at all to combat the myriad ills that flesh is heir to; and homoeopathy had never halted where its own business is concerned.

As to science, the claims of our critics and opponents, to speak in the name of science, need modification: but, instead of counter-claiming, as we might well do, that, when it comes to medicine proper we are the more truly scientific, some of us are sometimes tempted to decry the very name of science.

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