A little background. Sir John Weir.

Before we start examining the principles of homoeopathy in-depth, this historical overview is worth noting.

The institute is a research organisation and as such, many thousands of documents are in our possession with many more having passed before our sight. To this end, we are in a position to post Hahnemann’s own words and his colleagues of the time from cited writings.

After reading, what do you understand about Disease, Hahnemann’s abilities and the principle of treating the disease with medicines?

 

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Samuel Hahnemann and his Influence on Medical Thought. By Sir J0HN WEIR, K.C.V.O., M.B., Ch.B.668

The other statement will be found in Tract. iii, cap. 4, page 63 in the 1540 edition and page 67 in the 1556 edition, and runs as follows :—

quae maculæ et alia visa fuerunt ab antiquissimo ac doctissimo Hyppocrate, in diversis tum temporibus, tum etium epidemicis constitutionibus.”

I have always believed that it was to Sydenham we owed the combination of words ” epidemic constitution.” The idea conveyed by the words is, without doubt, to be found in Epidemics I and 111 of the Hippocratic Collection. Guillaume de Baillou, who closely followed the method and phraseology of Hippocrates in his Epidemiorum et Ephemeridum Libri Duo, published some years after 1616, the year of his death, and probably written at least twenty years before, does not use the term ‘ epidemic constitution.” Perhaps a search amongst the works of other writers of the sixteenth and first half of the seventeenth century would reveal the use of the word elsewhere.

Addendum.—Since writing the foregoing note I have found that unless he was relying on second-hand information, Sydenham had read Massa’s book. In Sect. 11, Cap. 11 of the Observationes Medica circa Morborum, etc. (page 106 of Greenhill’s Latin edition, published by the Sydenham Society), he refers to Massa and twelve other writers as being in favour of venesection in the plague. References to the subject in Massa’s book will be found on pages 35b, 49b and 66b in the first edition, and pages 37b, 52a and 70b in the second edition.

A STUDY of the historical background of Hahnemann’s time explains much of his reform work in medicine. And it is interesting that present-day changes in medical ideas were foreshadowed, a century ago, by Samuel Hahnemann.

He was born in Saxony in 1755. Many talents and strong urgings went to his make-up, including the ” glorious gospel of discontent ” with all that was senseless, useless, harmful, inept—which practically sums up the medicine of his day. He was a great linguist— master of many languages (including Arabic) at a very early age. At twelve years old he was already teaching the rudiments of Greek. His knowledge was voluminous, as was his memory. More than once in his early years he was in charge of, or closely associated with, large and important libraries (Hermanstadt and Dresden) ; and his erudition was commensurate with his opportunities.

At Leipsic ” the Saxon Athens ” in 1812, in order to obtain permission to lecture, he had to deliver a speech of qualification ” from the Upper Chair. This he delivered in Latin; it was entitled ” Dissertatio historico-medica de Heleborismo veterum.” In this speech, we are told, he was able to quote verbatim and give the location of the passages from manifold German, French, English, Italian, Latin, Greek, Hebrew and Arabic medical writers, and he could examine their views—either in disagreement or in extension. He quoted from fifty more or less known doctors, philosophers, and naturalists.

In chemistry, his methods of chemical analysis and some of his discoveries are still in daily use among us—among them his mercurius solubilis “—the black oxide, and in Crell’s Annals (1793) Hahnemann was already mentioned as the famous analytical chemist.”

In the treatment of the insane Hahnemann was amongst the great pioneers. Already in 1792 (in Pinel’s time) he advised humane treatment of the insane. He never allowed any insane person to be given painful bodily chastisement. There could be no punishment for involuntary actions; these patients deserved nothing but the pity and were always made worse and not better by such treatment. He even went further than Pinel, in advising psychotherapeutic measures.

One of his peculiarities was that he could do with very little sleep ; indeed it is recorded of him that for 40 years his custom was to sit up one night in four, studying. He was a prodigious worker ; was only one year short of 90 when he died, and in the course of his long life (according to Ameke) he published 116 large works and about 120 pamphlets. He was always ” filling gaps in his education ” as he expresses it, as when he studied botany, or ” took small journeys to learn mining science and metallurgy.” He was not only a chemist but a good musician and an astronomer, and he was versed in every branch of knowledge connected with medicine. Ameke says, ” When Hahnemann came out with his new system of medicine he was universally spoken of with respect and even reverence, but with regret for his folly. But, after a year or so, he was denounced as an ignoramus and a scoundrel.”

But his great work was in the field of therapeutics . He was, above all, a born physician and reformer. His great idea of similia was first communicated in 1796 in an essay on ” The new principle for ascertaining the curative powers of drugs,” and some examinations of the previous principles.

His three classical works are (1) his Organon of Medicine: In this, he justifies his position, and teaches how, and what to prescribe, and why; (2) his Materia Medica Pura, which embodies exhaustively the answers of the healthy human body to the assaults of morbid agencies or drugs: that is to say, the exact symptoms produced when drugs are tested on the healthy, in order to apply them, with assurance, for the healing of the sick of like symptoms ; (3) his Chronic Diseases—almost too much in the past, for even his keenest disciples and followers— is assuming new importance in the light of the discoveries of today. Those who study these works discover, with amazement, that Hahnemann—-in his views of disease, in his conception of the all-importance of vital resistance to disease, in his teaching that disease can only be cured by stimulating the resistance of the patient— is a modern of the moderns, abreast, always—when he is not ahead—of science, and that what he has to give us is exactly what medicine, all the world over, is now waking up to demand. One feels that Hahnemann is, at long last, coming into his kingdom.

The medicine of Hahnemann’s day was based on the assumption that sickness was caused by humours that had to be expelled from the body by every method that could be devised: expelled, not only by the natural organs of excretion, which were taxed to the limit but also by artificial and unnatural methods of excretion.

Exutories, cauteries, setong, moxas, fontanels, are meaningless names to our generation : of interest only to the historian of medicine. We can have no conception what a torture chamber was the medicine of Hahnemann’s day when all these barbarities were designed to provide ” new organs of excretion.”

The cautery.—Here iron at white heat, or some chemical agent, was employed to dig deeply these ‘ new organs,” into which dried peas were introduced, and compressed by means of a bandage. These wounds were given their daily supply of peas.

The seton.—Here the flesh was• pinched up, and an incision made by means of which a skein of cotton or silk was inserted. When the wound was dressed the skein was drawn out, and the part saturated with discharge cut off. The seton was applied to the back of the neck to drain foul humours from head, eyes, etc. ; to the region of the heart to ” clean and polish it up,” or to other parts of the body, to draw some organic derangement from liver, lung, joint, or for a dropsy.

The moca was a cone of some combustible material applied to the skin when its apex was set on fire. ” Here,” we are told, ” as the flame advances, the heat becomes more intense; the skin crackles and shrivels—turns brown—and is scorched till nearly black.”

APRIL—HIST. OF MED. 2 *

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Prolonged blisterings with cantharides at times led to the loss of a limb: wounds were powdered with arsenic, often with fatal results. One would think, in reading of these things, that the devil was responsible for medicine in the days of Hahnemann.

Purgation, emesis, sweatings and salivation were also resorted to to an unmerciful extent, while ” issues ” were not only established but maintained for years. Above all, bloodletting, to an incredible degree, was in favour. Leopold of Austria, Count Cavour, the ” saviour of Italy,” and our own Princess Charlotte, were among the illustrious victims; while Raphael, Lord Byron, Mirabeau and a host of celebrities were, we are told, seriously injured by bleedings; and Goethe in his 82nd year, having had a serious hæmorrhage, was bled to the extent of two more pounds.

Hahnemann protested against these brutal and unnatural methods, which weakened the patients to the verge of incurability.

Granier, a French doctor, who wrote in 1858, contrasting homæopathy with the medicine that obtained even in his day, says: If it be not true that diseases can escape by cauteries, it is at least certain that they can enter the system by this means. It is really a new organ of absorption.”

Hahnemann denounces, in particular, the common idea that venesection draws off only the bad blood; that continual purging evacuates only the depraved humours ; and that a vesicating agent can select, collect and remove only injurious humours.

Against such practices, and against Broussais, who carried the custom of the times to a ridiculous length, earning for himself the nickname of ” the medical Robespierre,” and of whom it was said ” he had shed more French blood than Napoleon ” Hahnemann fulminated his thunder. It must •have required not a little courage to break away from what was deemed on all hands to be essential, and to treat acute inflammatory conditions with his small doses of aconite (which obtained the name of ” the homoeopathic lancet “), and to confess, as he did in 1833, that for forty years he had not ” drawn a single drop of blood, opened one seton, used pain-producing processes, etc. had never weakened patients by sudorifics, or scoured them out with emetics and laxatives, thus destroying their organs of digestion.” And this, while surrounded by anxiously watching adversaries, ready to pounce at the slightest mistake and his followers, seeing his results, and joyfully following in his steps, were unmoved even when haled into the Courts and prosecuted for not practising phlebotomy; and when even the great Hufeland, so just to Hahnemann, amid all the injustice and persecution• that he experienced, nevertheless was saying in 1830 that ” anyone who neglected to draw blood when man was in danger of suffocating in his own blood ” (that was the idea in regard to inflammatory fevers) ” was a murderer by omission.”

In regard to the necessity for bleeding in acute fevers, Hahnemann wrote, Anyone who has felt the tranquil pulse of a man an hour before the rigour that precedes an attack of acute pleurisy, will not be able to restrain his amazement if told two hours later after the hot stage has commenced, that the enormous plethora. present urgently requires repeated venesections. He will naturally enquire by what magic power could the pounds of blood that must be drawn off have been conjured into the blood-vessels of this man, which but two hours previously he hid felt beating in such a tranquil manner. Not a single drachm more of blood can now be circulating in those vessels than when he was in good health, not yet two hours ago.” He contends that “the sole true causa morbi is a morbid dynamical, inflammatory irritation of the circulatory system, as is proved by the rapid and permanent cure of general inflammatory fever by one or two inconceivably minute doses of aconite juice, which removed such irritation homoeopathically.”

One must admire his enormous courage—the courage of strong conviction— which, if it did not procure sudden, universal recognition for his system of medicine, at least civilized, and that speedily, medicine in general; not only by putting to

the

shame its degrading barbarities, but by proving that they were wholly unnecessary.

That this was so, we have curious evidence. In 1852 we find Professor Allison of Edinburgh broaching the famous theory that inflammatory diseases, which it had hitherto been necessary to treat by bloodletting and debilitating treatment, now no longer required that—but an utterly opposite—mode of treatment, because they had changed their type,” and were no longer what they used to be. He confessed that he was led to adopt the new treatment—or rather to abandon the old—chiefly from the report of physicians who had ” witnessed the practice of homæopathic hospitals on the Continent.”

Mark Twain—himself once a Mississippi pilot—in nautical phraseology pays his tribute to homoeopathy, for the purifying work it has accomplished in medicine.

He says:—

” So recent is this change from a three or four thousand year twilight to the flash and glare of open day that I have walked in both, and yet am not old. Nothing today is as it was when I was an urchin; but when I was an urchin, nothing wag much different •from what it had always been in this world. Take a single detail for example—medicine. Galen could have come into my sickroom at any time during my first seven years—I mean any day when it wasn’t fishing weather, and there wasn’t any choice but school or sickness—and he could have sat down there and stood my doctor’s watch without asking a question. He would have smelt around among the wilderness of cups and bottles and phials on the table and the shelves, and missed not a stench that used to gladden him two thousand years before, nor discovered one that was of later date. He would have examined me, and run across only one disappointment—I was already salivated; I would have him there; for I was always salivated, calomel was 80 cheap. He would get out bis lancet then; but I would have him again; our family doctor did not allow blood to accumulate in the system. However, he would take a dipper and ladle, and freight me up with the old familiar doses that had come down from Adam to his time and mine; and he would go out with B wheel-barrow and gather weeds and offal, and build some more, while those others were getting in their work. And if our reverend doctor came and found him there, he would be dumb with awe and would get down and worship him. Whereas if Galen should appear among us today, he could not stand anybody’s watch; he would inspire no awe; he would be told he was a back-number, and it would surprise him to gee that that fact counted against him, instead of in his favour. He wouldn’t know our medicines; he wouldn’t know our practice; and the first time he tried to introduce his own, we would hang him.”

(And after giving many examples of the ancient practice, with its crude ideas, its horrible mixtures, etc., he concludes by declaring) :—

” When you reflect that your own father had to take such medicines as the above and that you would be taking them to-day yourself but for the introduction of homoeopathy, which forced the old-school doctor to stir around and learn something of a rational nature about his business, you may honestly feel grateful that homoeopathy survived the attempts of the allopaths to destroy it, even though you may never employ any physician but an allopath while you live.”

Hahnemann found himself in conflict too with the system, or rather want of system, in the prescription of medicines in his day. Here all was imagination, tradition, hoary authority. Of science, there was none. ” The life and health of’ human beings were made dependent on the opinions of a few, and whatever entered their precious brains went to swell the materia medica.” The god-like science, practical medicine,” had become a ” degrading commerce in prescriptions—a trade that mixes the disciples of Hippocrates with the riff-raff of medical rogues, in such a way that the one is indistinguishable from the other.”

Polypharmacy flourished to an unbelievable extent. We are told that the largest number of ingredients recorded in one prescription was four hundred. The famous Venice Treacle ” contained sixty-five ingredients: and I have before me a world-famed prescription of the ” mithridate,” of fifty ingredients, which was actually in the Pharmacopæia of 1785, at the time when Hahnemann was beginning his fight for purity and simplicity in medicine. ” Nature,” says Hahnemann, ” likes simplicity and can perform much with one remedy while you perform little with many. Imitate nature! ” And as early as 1797 he wrote, ” May I be allowed to confess that for several years I have never prescribed more than one medicine at a time, and I have never repeated the dose until the effect of the previous one had been exhausted.” He says that thus he has successfully cured patients, and has ” seen things he would not otherwise have seen.”

It was the chemists who, perceiving that the hope of their gains must vanish with the advent of homoeopathy, fought the iconoclast; got laws enacted to restrain him from preparing and dispensing his medicines, and drove him from city to city. No wonder that Hahnemann thundered, ” Away with this excessive mixing of medicines, this prescription tomfoolery! Down with the apothecaries’ privileges! Let the doctor have the freedom to make his own medicines and administer them to his patients. We cannot be shown the correct way by a deluding tradition.”

Hahnemann says that in his day, in order to decide on something positive in regard to the instruments of cure, the powers of the different medicines were inferred from their physical, chemical and other irrelevant qualities; also from their odour, taste and external aspect, but chiefly from impure experiences at the sickbed, where, in the tumult of morbid symptoms, only mixtures of medicines were prescribed for imperfectly described cases of disease.” (Dudgeon.)

Can one wonder that in his earlier days Hahnemann revolted not only against the senseless cruelty but the utter uncertainty of lawless medicine? He says:—  My sense of duty would not allow me to treat the unknown pathological state of my suffering brethren with these unknown medicines. If they are not exactly suitable (and how could the physician know that, since their specific effects had not yet been demonstrated) they might with their strong potency easily change life into death, or induce new and chronic maladies, often more difficult to eradicate than the original disease.

The thought of becoming in this way a murderer or a malefactor towards the life of my fellow human beings was most terrible to me; so terrible and disturbing that I wholly gave up my practice in the first years of my married life, and occupied myself solely with chemistry and writing.”

Then, in the anguish of impotence when one of his own children was ill and suffering terribly from the treatment she underwent, he set his soul to discover, as he expressed it, ” if God had not indeed given some law, whereby the diseases of mankind could be cured.”

Where,” he cried, in that hour of agony, can I obtain certain and sure help with our present knowledge ?—based as it is on vague observations, hypothetical opinions, and the arbitrary views of disease in our pathologies.”

In this labyrinth, he avers, a man can only remain complacent who is ready to accept assertions in regard to the healing powers of medicines because they are printed in a hundred books.

He knew from experience what help was to be got from the methods of Sydenham and others—Boerhaave, Stoll, Quarin, Cullen.

Can it be,” he asks, ” that the nature of this science (as great men have said) is incapable of certainty? Shameful, blasphemous thought !—that Infinite Wisdom should be unable to create the means of assuaging the sufferings of His creatures. Surely there must be a reliable way of regarding disease from the right angle, and for determining the specific, safe, and reliable use of medicines.”

It was useless, as he had discovered, to ” seek the means of healing in arbitrary opinions—false conclusions “—or on the authority of ” highly celebrated men of delusions. ” Let me seek it,” he cried, ” where it may be near at hand, and where all have passed it by, because it did not seem artificial or learned enough, and was uncrowned with laurel for its system, its pedantry, or its high-falutin’ abstractions.”

It is curious that Lord Horder has recently re-echoed this cry of Hahnemann, after voicing the uncertainties of medicine. Speaking of ” the present painful pause in therapeutic advance,” Lord Horder said, ” From what part of the scientific horizon the light will come, it is not possible to say. The sky must be scanned in every quarter. Perhaps some promising direction has been overlooked. Has the physicist, or the chemist, or the biologist, perchance, something that would help them? Or will the lamp again be lighted by that strange and inexplicable flash of genius—the genius which scouts all science, because it is itself the mother of science? ”

To the patient seeker after Truth and Law come, sooner or later, revelation. And so with Hahnemann. The Law that he sought came to him as a flash of inspiration, as we shall see, and, once it was grasped, the rest followed, surely and faultlessly, so that no one, in all these hundred years, has been able to add to, or to take from, our legacy from Hahnemann. Once his eyes were opened, it was merely a question of devoting a long life to the elucidation of the Law, and establishing it as a practical basis of therapeutics.

Homoeopathy, the ” pathy of likes,” is said to date from Hippocrates: and, indeed, Hahnemann quotes the celebrated similia similibus curentur from ” the reputed writings of Hippocrates,” and he also shows, by his usual careful quotations, how the idea had been foreshadowed in the writings of half a dozen doctors in various countries, who ” had presentiments that medicines, by their power of producing analogous morbid symptoms, would cure analogous morbid conditions.” Thus ” Boulduc,” he says, recognized that the purging quality of rhubarb is the cause of its power to allay diarrhoea; Detharding conjectures that colic in adults is mitigated by infusion of senna, by virtue of its analogous effect of producing colic in the healthy; Bertholon confesses that electricity deadens and annuls, in disease, pain very similar in kind to that produced by electricity; Thiury testifies that positive electricity, though it accelerates the pulse, nevertheless retards it when it is accelerated by disease; Von Stoerck suggests, ‘ If the thorn-apple (stramonium) deranges the mind and produces insanity in the healthy, might it not, by changing the current of ideas, restore soundness of mind to the insane? ‘ Stahl, a Danish military physician, has expressed his conviction on this subject most distinctly. He says, ‘ The rule accepted in medicine to cure by contraries contraria contrariis ” is entirely wrong ‘: he is convinced on the contrary, that diseases vanish and are cured by means of medicines capable of producing a similar affection (similia similibus). Thus burns are cured by approaching the fire, frozen limbs, by the application of snow or very cold water, inflammation and contusions, by distilled spirits. In this manner, he is in the habit of curing habitual acidity of the stomach by means of a very small doge of sulphuric acid, in cases where quantities of absorbing powders have been used in vain.”

So near had this great truth sometimes ” been approached,” says Hahnemann, yet hitherto none had taught this homoeopathic method of cure; no one had put it in practice.” Still, he argues, if the truth is only here to be found, one would expect to find its traces in all ages, even though it remained unperceived for thousands of years.

Adams, in his Genuine Works of Hippocrates, says, ” There is nothing new in the Doctrine of Similars.” He goes on, ” The treatment of suicidal mania appears singular—give the patient a draught made from the root of mandrake, in a smaller dose than will induce mania. He ” (Hippocrates) ” then insists in strong terms that, under certain circumstances, purgatives will bind the bowels, and astringents loosen them: and he further makes the important remark that, although the general rule of treatment be contraria contrariis curantur, the opposite rule also holds good in some cases, viz., similia similibus curantur. The principles both of allopathy, and of homoeopathy, it thus appears, are recognized by the author of this treatise. In confirmation of the latter principle, he remarks ‘ that the same substance which occasions strangury will, sometimes, put a stop to it by removing its cause, and so also with cough.’ He estimates successful and unsuccessful practice according to the rule whether the treatment was rightly planned or not. For, he argues, what is done in ignorance cannot be said to be correctly done, even if the results are favöurable. ”

It was in 1790 when translating Cullen’s Materia Medica., and disagreeing with the author’s dictum that Peruvian bark owed its antipyretic power to its tonic effect on the stomach, that Hahnemann, as he says, made his first pure experiment with cinchona bark upon himself, and thereby discovered its power of exciting the familiar symptoms of intermittent fever.

He seems to have realized instantly the enormous importance of the discovery, which subsequent observations and experience with other drugs never failed to confirm. ” With this first trial,” he says, broke upon me the dawn that has since brightened into the most brilliant day of the medical art, that it was only by their power to make the healthy human being ill, that medicines can cure morbid states : and, even so, only such morbid states whose symptoms the selected drug can itself produce in the healthy.”

An episode with belladonna in a scarlet fever epidemic was also illuminating, in this connection, to one who knew the extraordinary similarity between the symptoms of scarlet fever and those of belladonna poisoning: the burning skin, the dry sore throat, the red rash, the dilated pupils, and the delirium.

In a family of which several members were attacked by scarlet fever, one, a child, whom he was treating with belladonna for some other ailment, remained immune. He thereupon gave this ” providential remedy ” to other children, who remained well, even when subjected to the greatest risk of infection. Here Hahnemann made his first successful experiments in homoeo-prophylaxis.

From his day onwards belladonna has been used by homoeopaths all the world over to protect from or to modify and to cure scarlet fever. And besides our minimal mortality, it has been the unfailing observation that cases so treated do not exhibit the sequelæ which are often the serious feature of attacks of scarlet fever.

Expressions of agreement from contemporaries as to the value of belladonna in scarlet fever are to be found in Hufeland’s Journal for May, 1812, etc. : and that Hufeland (the one big figure in medicine in his day) himself published in 1825 a work entitled The Prophylactic Effect of Belladonna, ascribing this efficacious remedy for scarlet fever to Hahnemann. And in the year 1838, the Prussian Government ordered the doctors of the country to use belladonna in small doses against the epidemics of scarlet fever which were prevalent at that time.

Claud Bernard, the founder of modern experimental medicine, said that it must develop along lines of clinical observation and experiment. But Hahnemann was before Bernard. Clinical observation had shown him the importance of the principle of similars, and he at once started his great work of experimentation and elucidation. Those who have called Hahnemann a mystic forget his great experimental work in the proving of medicines on healthy individuals, which is the scientific basis of homoeopathy.

Hahnemann realized that if the Law of Similars was ever to be practical it was imperative to test, or ” prove ” medicines as to their powers of vitiation human health, in order to have them at hand for curative purposes.

And here began a life-time of proving medicines, on himself first, then presently on a large circle of disciples and friends. ” At first,” he says, ” I was the only one who made the proving of medicinal powers the most important of all his duties ;

since then I have been assisted in this by a number of young men who have made experiments on themselves, and whose observations I have carefully reviewed.”

With what extreme care these experiments were conducted, checked, and registered, we are told. The drugs were put up in milk-sugar powders. The prover never knew what drug he was taking, and had no idea when the proving began. This, to eliminate unobserved symptoms, peculiar to the prover.

Provers had to bring their day-books to Hahnemann, who questioned them regarding observed symptoms, to get the verbal expression of their sensations and sufferings as accurately as possible, as well as the exact conditions under which the symptoms occurred. Their mode of life and diet were strictly regulated during a proving, so that alterations in health should be absolutely due to drug action.

Hahnemann says, ” Medicines should be distinguished from each other with scrupulous exactness with regard to their powers—and true effects upon the healthy body. For upon the accuracy of this proving depend life and death, sickness and health of human beings.”

And in regard to materia medica, he lays it down that ” a true materia medica will consist of a collection of genuine, pure, and undeceptive effects of simple drugs ‘ and that such a materia medica ” should exclude every supposition—every mere assertion and fiction: its entire contents should be the pure language of Nature, uttered in response to careful and faithful enquiry.”

By his provings, Hahnemann introduced an entirely novel and scientific method of studying drug-action. He demonstrated the effect of drugs on the living human being— surely a method far superior to the study of their toxic effect on animals! Even if drugs did affect animals in precisely the same way that they affected all other animals and humans—which is not the case !—what animal could initiate us into the suicidal impulses of aurum—the terror of death of aconite and Arsenicum—the terrors of anticipation (even to diarrhoea) of Argentum nitric, and gelsemium—the indignation and the effect on health of the bottled-up sense of injury of staphisagria —the fear of knives for the impulses they suggest of nux and Arsenicum—the shamelessness in mania and delirium of hyoscyamus—the indifference to loved ones of sepia and phosphorus ? These, and such symptoms, have led to the most brilliant curative work, and they can only be found by provings on sensitive men and women.

Hahnemann insisted that what a drug can cause, that, and that only, it can cure, whether in the mental or the physical sphere ; that its curative powers depend entirely on vital reaction to drug-stimulus; that the stimulus must be only suffcient to evoke reaction in organs rendered hypersensitive to disease; that reaction must be respected, and allowed to run its course before a repetition of the stimulus (should it be called for).

It is only when modern ideas are wandering into the realms of homoeopathy, with vaccines, that they begin to trade on the reactions of vitality—the essential teaching of Hahnemann, on which all our work has been based for 100 years. But even here dominant medicine seems to think that the dose should be the largest tolerated and that its repetition is a mere matter of opinion, or of individual practice, or of experience drawn from many experiments (at the expense of many patients), or of authority, when someone whose name is prominent lays down the law.

It has yet to grasp the idea, which we owe to Hahnemann, that there is law in all these things. Illustrations and corroborations come from all sides. The Arndt Law shows that the same poison, to the same cells, may be lethal, inhibitive, or stimulating, according to the largeness or the smallness of the dose : while Professor Bier endorses Hahnemann, as to the infinite Rensitiveness of diseased parts to the vital stimulus.

Hahnemann showed that: ” Homoeopathy is absolutely inconceivable without the most precise individualization.” The names of diseases should never influence the physician, who has to judge and cure diseases, not by names, but by the signs and symptoms of each individual patient. That, since diseases can only express their need for relief by symptoms, the totality of the symptoms observed in each individual case of disease can be the only indication to guide in the choice of the remedy.

Hahnemann ” knew no diseases, only sick persons.”

He taught that all parts of the body are intimately connected to form an invisible whole in feelings and functions ; that all curative measures should be planned with reference to the whole system, in order to cure the general disease by means of internal remedies. (Even an eruption on the lip, he says, cannot be accounted for, without assuming a previous and simultaneous diseased state of the body.”)

Dr. Haehl, of Stuttgart, in the preface to his Life of Hahnemann (1922), says :— At no other period has medical science, in reality, come so near to the fundamental ideas of homoeopathy as it does at the moment. A complete change of front in opinions is coming to the fore. An uninterruptedly progressive turn in science moves from an obsolete mechanical mode of observing the life-processes, to a biological and vitalistic one ; the development of sera, organotherapy, and prophylactic therapy, are irrefutable proofs of it. The names of Arndt, Behring, August Bier, Lewin, Hans Much, Krehl, Karl Ludwig Schleich, Hugo Schulz, H. Driesch and others, represent a number of directing points in this evolution which is taking place. Tuberculin, diphtheria serum, the various organ preparations and their mode of employment, the attention given to mental symptoms, to special bodily constitutions, and tendency to disease, show, in detail, how far this change has already been accomplished. And so to-day modern medicine is almost imbued with homoeopathic ideas and habits. Hahnemann’s teachings, which have destroyed the fundamentals, have acted for a whole century as a ferment in medical science, disintegrating, dissolving, remoulding and reconstructing. Traditional ideas, customs and methods have been overthrown and rendered unstable by this despised teaching of the much-ridiculed and persecuted innovator.”

One response to “A little background. Sir John Weir.

  1. Pingback: Un poco de historia. Sir John Weir. « Instituto de Medicina Homœopática América Latina

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