What is a homoeopathist? He is not, as one well-meaning old lady put it, “a person who gets his medicine at home instead of at the drugstore or hospital”. Neither is he an eccentric, crank, or quack, as some misguided people would believe. He is merely a follower of, and a believer in, the
basic principles of Homoeopathy. What then is Homoeopathy? One good definition is that “Homoeopathy is a system of medicine founded by Dr. Samuel Hahnemann, one hundred and fifty years ago. It is based on the law of cure, that likes are curable by likes. It uses minute doses of such medicines as will produce in a healthy person the symptoms of the disease
being treated. All drugs are tested on a healthy person before being used on one that is sick”.
In these three things, the law of similars, the proving of drugs on healthy persons, and the minimum dose, does Homoeopathy leave the well-worn path to become a completely new system of medicine.
Although Homeeopathy was founded as a school of medicine a comparatively short time ago, it was by no means unheard of before this. ‘ Its principles were known and practiced many centuries B. C. by the Hindu sages who understood the theory of similia and minute doses. However as little was known about diseases of the human body, the causative factors were thought to be disharmony of the four elements, namely earth, air, fire, and water. By the Fifth Century B. C., under the influence of the Hippocratic school of thought, physicians were practicing the careful observation of symptons and the imitation of nature in curing them. Unfortunately lack of anatomical and pathological knowledge again handicapped medicine by presuming that disease was a result of the disharmony of the four body fluids, – blood, phlegm, black bile, and yellow bile (a conclusion which caused untold suffering and death by the advocacy of blood-letting and other forms of purging).
In 200 A. D. a reformer named Galen came to light. He tried feebly to bring some order out of the medical chaos of his day. Although he practiced the law of similars, his application of drugs was very far removed from Samuel Hahnemann’s, “His favorite concoction consisted of seventy-eight different drugs, including the flesh of the viper, with opium as a control. This was the daily all-purpose vitamin dose of the health-concious Homan.?” Paracelsus, a physician of the Sixteenth Century, was a bitter foe of treating disease by
opposites. Unfortunately his idea was limited not to similars but to resemblances. For example he believed (through what may seem extremely simple-minded reasoning to us) that since the leaf of the Cyclamen resembled the ear, it must therefore cure diseases of that organ. However Paracelsus did point out that vegetables act by means contained in substance, not directly on tissues, but as he stated “in some mysterious way”,” It seems that Paracelsus made his greatest contribution to medicine by freeing it from the absolute medical and clerical authority in much the same way that Martin Luther broke the chain of Catholic dogmatism.
Despite these efforts, medicine by the 1700’s was in a very bad state, indeed. Little was known about healing. Jealousy, prejudice, and confusion kept medicine a backward Science.
It was upon this scene in 1779 that a young physician, Samuel Hahnemann looked, and he was appalled and sickened by what he saw. The most barbarous and atrociously ignorant methods of cure were practiced on the patient. When Hahnemann saw that by following the example of his day,
he was doing more harm than good, he discontinued his practice until he could find a saner means of healing the sick.
“For at the end of his first two months of practice so much misery, suffering, death and destruction weighed upon him that he saw the gallows as his only proper place”.” Fortunately Hahnemann, besides being a physician, a philosopher, and chemist, was also a brilliant scholar with a knowledge of
ten languages. These he put to use by translating old medical books into German. While he was translating one day, he came across a statement in Cullen’s Treatise on Materia Medica, which noted that Cinchona Bark (Quinine) will cause the symptoms of Intermittent Fever in a healthy person in the same way that it will cure the fever in a sick one. Hahnemann
immediately experimented with this Bark on himself, and found that Cullen’s statement was true. Seemingly then, ‘fever cured fever’. “This was no ‘erratic’ block in the world of therapeutics, but merely one illustration of a great far-reaching law”. 5 Years of experiment followed, of testing and
proving before Hahnemann was ready to announce his discovery. He named his system Homoeopathy from the Greek word ‘omos-pathos’, meaning ‘like-sickness’, for a homeeopathically prepared drug produces the symptoms in a healthy man which are like the symptoms of a particular disease.
Hahnemann also originated the word Allopathy to designate the traditional school of medicine, of which he states that, “traditional medicine has discovered no law, it has discovered no principle. It has existed and abounded in speculation from the earliest time.?” This basic law that Hahnemann deplored the lack of he called similia similibus curantur, or “like
cures like”. This is the keystone of Homoeopathy. Second in importance he found was the proving of drugs on the healthy body and thirdly the minuteness of dose, for Hahnemann noticed that, as the sick stomach is more sensitive to food than a healthy’ one, so the diseased body is considerably more sensitive to a drug than a healthy body. Said Hahne- mann “a benevolent God must have intended mankind to discover some method of healing the sick, definitely governed by law.”” And on this theory he practiced with an astonishing number of cures and recoveries to his credit.
In 1810 Hahnemann set forth a book called the Organon of Rational Healing, in which he stated his knowledge, experiments and experience and analyzed the methods of his system as opposed to that of the old school. The publication of this book was the signal for a series of violent attacks on Hahnemann. “He had raised his hand against the tradition of many years”,” he had shown up the inconsistencies and fallacies of medical practice and was offering a revolutionary system based on a logical, unalterable law. The physicians tried to kill his system by denouncing it, and the apothecaries
made trouble for him because he was side-stepping their business by manufacturing his own drugs. It is small wonder that Hahnemann caused a furor in medical circles. Nevertheless Homreopathy slowly gained a following which has lived on for one hundred and sixty years and has spread throughout the world. During the Nineteenth Century it reached its highest peak, having medical colleges throughout the country (Massachusetts alone had over a thousand homoeopathic physicians). Hahnemann’s system was treated on the whole with respect.
Here the obvious question arises; why is Homoeopathy in the minority today? First of all it should be noted that to be in the minority does not necessarily mean to be wrong. The answers to the question are various. The decline of Homoeopathy is partly due to the homoeopathic organization itself. For beneath the smooth surface of the organization at the turn
of the century was chaos. There was division in ranks, division in thought, disputes about alternation, local application, best potency, vaccination therapy, minimization. There were controversies over the definition of Hooeeopathy, and even the motto of Hahnemann itself.
However, in one sense this was necessary, for “the school of medicine was in reality a diluted and emasculated Homoeopathy – the great loss we hear about was actually a winnowing out of the would-be, half, and discouraged homoeopathist. Through all this dispute ran a golden thread of pure Hahne- mannian doctrine strengthened by constant testing and the addition of new remedies”.” In still another way homreopathists were at fault. Busy and often touchy of ridicule, many physicians were impatient of explaining their ideas or their system. There was not enough effort to acquaint the public with Homoeopathy. The attitude was ‘let the public come to us if they will learn’. Even Hahnemann was guilty of this and it is probably true that his irascible and stubborn nature, his bitter resentment of opposition, hindered the spread of his system in Germany. Another factor in the decline of Homoeo- pathy was the “medicine peddler” or the out-and-out “quack”, who, posing as a homoeopathist (usually without any training in medicine whatsoever) sold and peddled his ‘sugar pills’ (unfortunately that is what they usually were) to the ignorant or unsuspecting patient.
Fortunately this last condition is rarely true today.
A homoeopathic doctor is usually an extremely well-trained physician. Not only does he have to meet all the requirements of the allopathic school, but he must also spend at least two years studying the Homoeopathic Materia Medica. It is not
a profession for the lazy!
Today Homreopathy is handicapped for four main reasons:
- The ‘closed shop’ of the American Medical Association
- National drug monopolies
- Restrictive legislation
- Division within itself (the old bugbear)
These are the problems that are faced today, three of them unheard of in the Nineteenth Century.
It is an unfortunate thing that a great deal of the prejudice toward Homoeopathy today comes from those who are almost totally unaquainted with it. Incredible though it seems, there are no records that Homoeopathy has been objectively, clinically tested under conditions acceptable to both schools.
Now why is Homoeopathy opposed to Allopathy? First the homoeopath will tell you, it is because Homoeopathy is based on a law, just as everything in nature is founded on some law. Allopathy is based on no law, its theories and principles fluctuate from year to year, and what is a ‘miracle’ drug today
is often a forgotten drug tomorrow.
This growing problem of “wonder drugs” has long been a matter of concern for the homeopathic physician, who is disturbed by the oft-occurring after-effects and over-effects of these drugs, While it is impossible to over-look the many lives these drugs have saved (particularly when it was a matter of expediency), nevertheless medical science admits that many are unreliable, The antihistamines, for example, are thought to be actually dangerous. Sulphanilamides tend to build up an extreme sensitivity to the drug. Even penicillin has been recently found to have developed strangely resistant properties in the patient which renders it useless and sometimes actually harmful. The newly developed cortisone and ACTH are developing into a two-edged sword. The New England Medical Journal is disturbed by the occurrance of unsuspecting lateral tuberculosis, peptic ulcers and diabetes which follow in their wake. In one case they found that although the patient
felt better, the disease was actually spreading “here was a phenomenon unheard of in medicine, the patient was getting better, while the disease was getting worse.”?”
Where Allopathy treats and removes the results of the disease, the homeeopath tries to treat the patient as a whole. The homoeopath terms sickness as the condition of the manhimself, not tissues or his body. Allopaths admit that no two patients have the same symptoms yet they try to treat them with the same remedy. “The Allopath acknowledges no sickness
until it can be recognized by its local symptoms and then he treats the disease by disposing of the outward signs and considers the patient cured. The homoeopath reasons, ‘the tissues could not become sick unless something prior to them had been damaged and so made them sick.”ll To illustrate this let us take Anemia. Anemia is a condition where the iron content in the blood is lower than normal. This is the disease, to remedy it the allopathic method would be to administer the missing iron either by pill or diet, thus raising the iron content to normal again and removing the disease. However, the abnormality that lowered the iron is still there, it is this underlying cause that the homoeopathic physician tries to cure.
But surely we cannot ignore Allopathy altogether? Dr.Richard Hughes affirms that “there is no inconsistancy in accepting the belief that similars only are curative and at the same time believe that medicines may be useful which are not curatives.Y’f The above illustration is an example of this.
Homoeopathic physicians do not claim that all other systems are valueless, they applaud the tremendous advances in medicine, the advancement of chemistry, surgery, dietetics, visual-therapy, gynecology and numerous other branches. Nor does Homoeopathy claim to be faultless or to be able to cure
everything incurable by the other school. What they say is, “Homoeopathy cures what can be cured much better than any other system of medicine so far made known to the world.”
Today Homoeopathy stands in a unique position. It is comparatively unknown and ignored, yet it has done a great deal to further all medicine by the very fact of freeing it to develop from its rut of the Eighteenth Century. It is evident that homoeopathic ideas have conciously or unconciously filtered in to Allopathy; witness the trend toward proving drugs on healthy persons, and the increased awareness that it is the patient who must be treated both mentally and physically and not just the disease.
All this leads us to hope that some day the two schools of medicine may unconsciously merge, and that the names Homoeopathy and Allopathy will be forgotten to become the far greater title – Physician.
- Gladish, Donald G., D., “Homreopathy – What Is It?”, The Layman
Speaks, December (1947) p. 6.
- Peebles, Elinore, “The Place of Homeeopathy In Modern Medicine”, The Layman Speaks, July (1952) 236.
- Ibid. 238.
- Green, Willard , “Intelligent Medical Treatment From A Layman’s View-point”, The Layman Speaks, February (1948) p. 9.
- Ibid. p. 9.
- Ibid. 11. (Footnote)
- Ibid. p. 10. (Footnote)
- Peebles, Op, p. 243.
- Ibid. p. 244.
- Ibid. p. 247.
- Green, cit. p. 12.
- Mack, Charles 5., M. D., Philosophy, In Homoeopathy, Chicago: Gross & Delbridge (1890) p. 72.
- Green, Op, cit. 14.
- Holcombe, William H., M. D., The Truth About Homoeopatky, Philadelphia: Boericke & Tafel (1894)
- Kent, J. , M. D., Lectures On Homopathic Philosophy, Lancaster, Pennsylvania: Examiner Printing House (1900).
- The Layman Speaks, December (1947)
- The Layman Speaks, January (1948)
- The Layman Speaks, April (1948)
- The Layman Speaks, July (1952)
- The Layman Speaks, May (1951)
- Mack, Charles 5., M. D., Philosophy In Homoeopathy, Chicago: Gross & Del. bridge (1890)
Source: The Layman Speaks,March 1954.