History of Homeopathy


Dr. Samuel Hahnemann – The Founder of Homoeopathy

Homeopathy is the practice of medicine based on the healing process of ‘like for like’. Homeopathy began with the initial discovery or rediscovery by Dr. Samuel Hahnemann that the medicinal properties of a substance are ascertained by their very ability to produce symptoms of suffering they can also cure. When Dr. Hahnemann discovered the method of potentisation whereby any harmful properties of a substance at the level of toxicity are removed and the medicinal properties inherent within the substance are enhanced he found a way to effectively apply the medicinal healing principle he had discovered.

Dr. Hahnemann and his friends began to take medicines to ‘prove’ them, to become purposely sick as to realise and record the symptoms characteristic to each medicine. Homoeopathy was developed to a large extent during Samuel Hahnemann’s lifetime as it has been by a great many homoeopaths since.

In the development of his understanding Dr. Hahnemann realised that when someone is sick it is their whole being that has changed. He realised that the symptoms of sickness we experience are only the manifestation of an all-encompassing altered state of being. Coinciding with this discovery he also became aware that medicines, especially potentised remedies do not act in a way he had previously thought they did. He discovered that a potentised remedy also creates an altered state of being and it is from the disharmony of this altered state that symptoms of distress begin to appear.

With this astonishing realisation Dr. Hahnemann left all conception of Homoeopathy as medicine that acts on symptoms or even produces symptoms directly. It is the person who is effected by a potentised remedy as also in sickness it is the person who has become effected. This realisation of the reality of sickness as being a dynamic disturbance in the integrity of the whole person is clearly stated by Samuel Hahnemann throughout his writing‘s.

In the essay Spirit of the Homoeopathic Doctrine of Medicine he describes this homoeopathy’s roots emerge from the findings, teachings and writings of Dr. Samuel Hahnemann  (1755-1843). Hahnemann graduated from medical school in 1779 and started his own medical practice. He soon began his first homoeopathic experiments in 1790, as a result of his disillusionment with such common medical practices of the day as purging, bloodletting, and the use of toxic chemicals. At one point, he gave up his own daily practice to begin working as a chemist while translating medical texts.

It was when Hahnemann began working on a project to translate William Cullen’s Materia Medica into German that he began his quest for a better way of providing healthcare using the principles of “Similars.” While working on this project, he became fascinated with a species of South American tree-bark (cinchona) which was being used to treat malaria-induced fever. Hahnemann ingested the bark and discovered that it caused symptoms similar to malaria. He continued his research into “cures” and the idea of “similar suffering,” and began compiling his findings. Similia similibus curentur, the Latin phrase meaning “let likes be cured by likes,” is the primary principle of homoeopathy. A homoeopath searches for a substance that produces in a healthy person those same symptoms a patient experiences.