Sunday, 9 April 2017


2017 0409 15  Homeopathy:  Dr Samuel Hahnemann M.D. [1755-1843]

What I learnt from the life of Dr Samuel Hahnemann:

Dr Samuel Hahnemann
At the end of the last post, appeared the following paragraph: "Ironically, the same doubts and reservations Dr. Kent first entertained, still arise today in the minds of many. What is homeopathy?  How does it work?  Is it really a science?  Can those little sugar pills be effective or is improvement merely a 'placebo' [a non-medicinal substance, given as a pacifier] effect?" 

For the answers, we have to study deeply Dr Richard Haehl's "Hahnemann, His Life and Work", the most authentic reference on the life and work of Samuel Hahnemann [1755-1843], the founder-father of Homeopathy. 

I was fortunate enough to get a copy of this great book from my homeopathic collegue Sivasuriyanarayana [Suri] of CECRI who presented it to me. I studied it many times over with undiminishing enthusiasm. What I share with you now are only excerpts from that masterpiece of Dr Richard Haehl, M.D.



Regarding the boyhood of Samuel Hahneman we have to rely almost entirely on his own record, Hahnemann's Autobiography:

"I was born on April 10th [around 12 midnight], 1755, in Saxony, one of the most beautiful parts of Germany. This may have contributed largely to my veneration of the beauties of Nature... My father was a painter for the porcelain factory of that town. He had found for himself the soundest conceptions of that which is good and can be called worthy of man. These ideas he implanted in me. 'To act and to live without  pretence or show," was his most noteworthy precept, which impressed me more by example than by his words. He was frequently present though unobserved, where something good was to be accomplished. Should I not follow him?"

"I spent several years in the Town school of Meissen, and when about sixteen years of age, I attended the Prince's School of that town. The Rector of Prince's School, Magister Muller, loved me as if I were his own child. I had free access to his room at any time of the day...All my fellow-pupils loved me. Here I made it my duty to grasp what I was reading rather than read too much, to read little but correctly and to classify it in my mind the portion already read before continuing."

"At Easter, in the year 1775, I was given leave to go to Leipsic with 20 thalers for my support, the last money that I received from my father. I studied privately all the time, reading always the best that was procurable and only as much as I could assimilate. On August 10th, 1779, I defended my dissertation and thereupon received my degree of Doctor of Medicine. The study of chemistry occupied my hours of leisure. ..I had no lack of friends or opportunities to learn." 

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At 24 years of age, Samuel Hahnemann, Doctor of Medicine, began to practice the art of healing. His researches in Chemistry drew his attention to the Frenchman Demachy. Hahnemann translated Demachy's work, 'The wholesale manufacture of Chemicals', into German, not merely mechanically, but inserting numerous footnotes, supplements, independent references, etc. so that a review of the translation said:

"If ever a work was worth translating, it is certainly the present one, which fortunately fell into the hands of one who has made it more complete. Demarchy's orginal French work has always been appreciated by all readers who knew this language. Dr Hahnemann has rendered it into German, making many detailed additions which are partly corrections, and partly amplifications... We have now therefore reasons to assert that there does not exist a better work to on the manufacture of chemical products than the present one." [This book was published in 1785.]

Hahnemann had shown in his treatment of Demarchy's work, his complete mastery of French. What surprises us even more is Hahnemann's exceptional booklore and keen independent sense of observation. Without specialized tuition in chemistry or practical work in a chemical laboratory, this self-taught student of chemistry is often able to correct and supplement the Parisian scientist.

In addition, we find many practical suggestions on technical matters, even instructions to copperplate engravers, builders and potters. Where Demarchy simply suggests without giving details, names or particulars, Hahnemann completes the reference to the smallest detail. 


During the years 1785-1789 Hahneman published more than 2200 printed pages, including translations, original works and essays. He further worked strenuously at his own medical profession. We marvel at the unusual capacity  for work, at the energy, the industry and zeal with which the man of thirty  to thirty four years accomplished this task.

Hahnemann recognized the insufficiency of medical science and the therapeutic methods of those days, which he denounced with undaunted energy and eloquence of speech like the old prophets. In his work on "Arsenic Poisoning" he gives vent to his convictions in a ruthless manner.

The most important part of this essay of Hahnemann is "the forensic detection" of arsenic poisoning. This sphere of legal chemistry received a new stimulus through Hahnemann's researches, and a remarkable progress in its development was due to him. Hahnemann recommended three more tests for arsenic in addition to those already known. 

Hahnemann demanded the prohibition of the sale of arsenic, which at that time was largely sold by various tradesmen under the description of "fever powders." He made detailed suggestions for the prescribing of poisons in general, which were carried out later on and are still accurately followed up to the present time.

He classified the large number of recommended remedies for poisoning by arsenic; he grouped together the best remedies resulting from his personal physiological experiments, and gave accurate directions for their use... he was able to enumerate no less than 389 different authors and works, covering different languages and several centuries, and in 861 passages and quoted exactly the page and volume -- a further proof of his marvellous book lore!

He gave up his medical practice in 1792. His growing family had to be supported almost entirely by his literary work which comprised of chiefly translations of chemical and medical works. Hahnemann, however, carried on the fight against blood-letting, purging and aperients with growing zeal and the greatest intrepedity.  


In translating Cullen's "Materia Medica" -- this must be clearly indicated as the zenith of the Leipsic period -- was established the first milestone on the road of development of a new method of treatment, of which Dr Hahnemann was the originator. [1792]

In the question of the medicinal effect of Peruvian bark, Cullen defended the old opinion of the efficacy of this remedy through its "tonic effect on the stomach." Hahnemann attacked this opinion vigorously in his notes [Vol II p.108]: 

"The undiscovered principle of the effect of the bark is probably not very easy to find. I took for several days, as an experiment, four drams of good china twice daily. All symptoms which are typical of intermittent fever made their appearance. This paroxism lasted from two to three hours every time and recurred when I repeated the dose and not otherwise. I discontinued the medicine and I was once more in good health." 

Hahnemann spoke out clearly:

"Peruvian [Cinchona] bark, which is used as a remedy for intermittent fever, acts because it can produce symptoms similar to those of intermittent fever in healthy people."

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Hahnemann, the physician, recognized more and more the complete insufficiency and unreliability of the science of treatment of his day; he expresses this conviction repeatedly and unhesistatingly and especially attacks the evil of blood-letting. Therefore, he withdrew more and more from medical practice, which gave him no internal satisfaction.

He sought after further knowledge, and thus penetrated deeper into the science of chemistry -- that helpful adjunct to medicine. In 1793, at the Crell's Annals, he was mentioned as a 'famous analytical chemist."  The practical physician became a translator and author. 

As such, his fame augmented; he became known and acknowledged in ever wider circles, for he did not merely translate, but added original information each time, by personally working through the material. 

That led him to testing the effects of remedies on himself, and thereby to the first idea of his subsequent law of similars.  Hahnemann founded a group of collaborators for proving drugs. One among these, Franz Hartmann gives us a picture as vivid as it is charming.

"Provings were carried out according to an exact system and from detailed instructions. The observation of the results were entered up in a carefully prescribed manner. The power of a medicine was only established after comparisions of different participants.

Under Hahnemann's guidance, I have proved many a remedy, together with others like Gross, Hornburg, Franz, etc. From his instructive suggestions, I obtained then for the first time clear sensations, which I could again express very accurately.  Had I learned nothing more than this from him, I should feel compelled to be eternally grateful."

Hahnemann's fame was widespread and he achieved cures bordering on the incredible, which gave more and more reason for his fame. These successful cures helped to bring Hahnemann's new system of therapeutics into vogue and make it known.

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[Readers should also note that Dr Hahnemann brought out the first edition of his magnum opus THE ORGANON only in 1810 after 18 years of research and experience, from 1792, the year of Peruvian bark experiement, and THE CHRONIC DISEASES only in 1828, after 18 more years of research and practical experience!]

Thus 1792 is the year of birth of Homeopathy. Homeopathy is "a perfectly simple system of medicine, remaining always fixed in its principle as in its practice." And it is scientific. It follows the Natural Law of Similars [Similia Similibus.]  It is a "medicine of experience". Anybody can test its efficacy, anytime, anywhere in the world.


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