The vitalist ideas appear again with Bichat (1771-1802), who founded in France the anatomo-pathologic school, to which Broussais, Laennec, Andral, Trousseau, and many others belonged.

Broussais (1772-1838), a former disciple of Bichat, declared himself his enemy and established physiologic therapeutics employing his anti-phlogistic medication, which consisted of abundant bleedings and application of leeches, but the practices of this system were so disastrous that it soon lost credit.

The vitalist theories of Hippocrates, Stahl, Bordeu, Barthez and several others undoubtedly influenced the learned and renowned Founder of Homoeopathy, Dr. Samuel Christian Friedrich Hahnemann (1755-1843), a physician of the Traditional School, graduate of Erlangen, Germany, August 10th, 1779, who, disappointed in the therapeutics of his time, carried out new investigations and in 1796 published in Hufelands Journal an article entitled “A New Principle for Determining the Curative Power of Drugs,” in which work, after six years of careful study and experimentation on himself and his collaborators, he disclosed the pharmaco-dynamic action and the curative power of the Bark of Peru (China officinalis) on malaria and feverish conditions.

This new theory on the modus operandi of China officinalis came to the privileged mind of Hahnemann in translating from English into German the treatise on Materia Medica by Dr. William Cullen; but it was not before 1810, that is, fourteen years after his first work in Peru Bark, that he published his masterpiece which he entitled Exposition Of The Homoeopathic Medical Doctrine or Organon Of The Art of Healing in which he definitely expounds his therapeutic axiom Similia Similibus Curentur and his openly vitalistic criterion.

Claude Bernard (1813-1878), considered by the Traditional School as the founder of modern scientific medicine, established his theory of “determinism,” having physiology and his experimental method on bases.

In spite of his materialistic criterion, he textually said, “Pathologic anatomy is not sufficient to explain every morbid alteration. Sickness is constituted by the derangement of a functional mechanism due to a vital perturbance,” and declared further, “In physiology, materialism leads to nothing and explains nothing; the manifestations of life are not the work of matter.” (BOINET: Medical Doctrines and Their Evolution, page 121-1908).

The scientific neovitalism of Heindenhain, the psychic neovitalism of Von Bunge, and the philosophic neovitalism of Chevreul, Gautier and Reinke were theories born of the ideas divulged by Bernard, but they had little effect and were short- lived.

Louis Pasteur (1822-1895), a renowned French chemist, with the discovery of microbiology opened a new path to medicine when in 1877 he proved the pathogenic role of microbes. From that time to the present day, numberless followers have enriched the field of medicine in the branch of bacteriology, from which have come the new conquests of antisepsis, asepsis, preventive and curative serotherapy, vaccinotherapy, immunity, etc.

Properly speaking, serotherapy belongs to the field of Isopathy which is of strictly Hahnemannian origin.

These remarkable discoveries on the etiology and pathogenesis of sicknesses of a microbian origin gave an opportunity to Richet, Hericourt, Behring, Kitisato, Roux, Martin, Metchnikoff, Nicolle, Koch, Loffler, Pfeiffer, Labbe, etc.. to propound their several theories and interpretations on the action of microbes, toxins, antitoxins, antibodies, phagocytosis, etc., in the aggression and defense of the organism.

Hilario Luna Castro