The system of homeopathic medicine was introduced to the world by a German scientist Dr. Samuel F. Hahnemann during the years 1793-96. The bicentenary of homeopathy is being celebrated this year. On the 10th April, it is 239th birth anniversary of Dr.Hahnemann. One of the most leading contemporary homeopaths George Vithoulkas says about Dr.Hahnemann : With time, I am certain that this man will rank as one of the greatest in history, alongside such giants of discovery as Einstein, Newton and Hippocrates. In this article Dr.Rajesh Shah gives bird's eye view of Dr.Hahnemann's exceptionally remarkable contribution to the medical world.
Dr. Samuel Hahnemann, father of homeopathy, lesser known and under-appreciated medical scientist of sovereign caliber, his 239th birth anniversary falls on 10th April 1993. He was a great experimenter, original thinker, thorough scientist, a genius who dared to live ahead of his time.
He was born when it was dark: Those were the days when patients were treated with inhuman and cruel methods of blood letting (cutting the veins to remove impure blood), application of Leeches on skin to suck impure blood, purgatives etc. Medical system had no direction, no scientific principles, no light.
Hahnemann was born as a son to a porcelain painter in Meissen, a town in West Germany. His father used to provide him `thinking exercise' by locking him up in a room for hours. Hahnemann cultivated the habit of original thinking since childhood.
Hahnemann was a linguist, he knew German, Latin, Greek, French, English, Italian etc. He had deep interest in Chemistry, Botany, Literature, Natural Sciences, Philosophy, etc. He had written several articles on these diverse subjects. He received his M.D. degree from the most famous medical school in Leipzig, Germany, in the year 1779. After a short time, he gave up his practice since he felt that the system of medicine then practiced was cruel, inhuman, unscientific and without any logic. He maintained his family chiefly by literary work, translations and research work. For forty years it was Hahnemann's custom to sit up the whole of one night out of every four; working, translating, studying and writing.
Translating Coolin's Book:
While translating Coolin's materia medica, was amazed by a statement: "Cinchona Bark (Quinine) cures Malaria because it is bitter in taste." Hahnemann found this very illogical and he started experimenting on himself, by taking two spoonful of Quinine three times daily. To his surprise, he started developing some effects of quinine, viz. fever, chill, exhaustion, etc. The fever was of periodic type (intermittent fever). These symptoms which he developed after quinine intake, were very similar to the symptoms of Malaria ! His genius mind interpreted that Quinine cures Malaria because it produces symptoms like Malaria. He experimented with various vegetables, chemicals and toxins to prove that: The substance which has capacity to produce certain symptoms also has the capacity to remove/cure similar symptoms. And thus the first fundamental principle called "THE LAW OF SIMILARS" was propounded and Homeopathy was born.
Drug Proving on Human Beings:
Hahnemann was occupied in the work of investigating the effects of various medicinal substances on human beings. He was testing such drugs on himself and his students to note different effects very minutely. Such a work was never done in the history prior to Hahnemann. He tested and proved carefully the action of over 90 drugs, to be used according to his new system of medicine. The entire procedure of drug proving was done on healthy humans and not on animals. LIKE ANY OTHER GENIUS: He was treating hundreds of patients and producing amazing results. The physicians practicing orthodox medicine were annoyed and could not tolerate his novel scientific method and his success. With political pressure, he was given the choice of stopping homeopathic practice or leaving the country. While he received rejection from various places to settle down, thousands of patients from all over Europe kept coming to him for treatment, wherever he was ! A domineering medical group appointed one Dr. Hering to prove that Hahnemann and Homeopathy were baseless. Dr. Hering, while doing so, was so much impressed that he became Hahnemann's pupil and later on wrote 10 volumes of "Encyclopedia of Materia Medica" ! Of course, Hahnemann's struggle ultimately bore fruit, and was appreciated all over Europe in his days. Hundreds of doctors started learning and practicing homeopathy
In the year 1810, he published one of the most revolutionary books of the medical history: "Organon of Medicine" , in which he came up with most scientific, novel and time tested concepts about health, disease, life, treatment, cure etc. Let us have a look at some of them.
(a) Vital Force:
Hahnemann said that human body is not mere material but consists of dynamic, spirit like power, which he termed as `Vital Force'. This vital force is responsible for the animation of life, for the maintenance of health, for the development of disease and also for the recovery from the disease.
(b) Health and Disease:
Health is a state of balanced vital force. Any disturbance in the vital state results into diseases. Disease is nothing but dis-eased vital force. Disease is not material but dynamic in nature. Disease is dynamic disturbance of the vital force, which expresses itself by physical symptoms.
Cure is nothing but the restoration of diseased vital force. Restoration of vital force has to be brought about with the medicine, which has to be of similar dynamic nature.
(d) Similar and Dynamic Remedy:
The medicine, which has capacity to produce disease like symptoms in healthy human being, should be administered to cure similar symptoms in a patient. This medicine or remedy has to have `dynamic power' and should not be `crude'. There should be no `material', no `crude' substance in the remedy, but only dynamic curative power.
Hahnemann gave the most revolutionary concept and method about drug-power and preparation. Even current nuclear science is not able to understand and explain the nature and form of homeopathic medicines. He invented a method of drug preparation, in which the end result will contain only the "dynamic power" of the drug substance, without even a single atom of the drug! The homeopathic medicines are in `potentised' (attenuated) form and possess only dynamic-spirit like energy, whose efficacy can be tested over and again.
(f) Minimum doses and single remedy:
Hahnemann's intelligence gave another basic principle; that of minimum dose. He said, to bring about the desired change in human vitality, the amount of quantity (dose) of medicine required is the least possible. Single medicine has to be administered to any patient, at a time. Homeopathy never approves any combination of medicines.
(g) Inherited diseases and Genetics:
Hahnemann was the first person in the history who highlighted about the inherited disease tendency (from parents and forefathers) and introduced the terminology of `Miasms'. Not only was he able to recognize the role of genetic influence on health but was also able to discover the remedial measures to neutralize or blunt the tendencies of hereditary diseases by finding out anti-miasmatic remedies. In this regard homeopathy is much ahead of time !
(h) Bacteria and Vaccination and Immunity:
Hahnemann (1755-1843) was among the first to recognize the role of Bacteria for disease development. Jenner (1749-1823) was the first to use vaccine (based on Hahnemann's 'Law of similars') in the year 1796. Father of Bacteriology, Louis Pasteur (1822-95), first used inoculation long after the birth of homeopathy Homeopathic medicine called `Hydrophobinum' prepared from rabid dog's saliva, was in used by homeopaths long before Pasteur introduced vaccine prepared from rabid dog's saliva. Homeopathic medicine called as `Tuberculinum' was in use before Robert Koch (1843-1910) discovered TB organisms. Of course, Tuberculinum was prepared from TB. germs. Von Behring (1854-1917), who was called as father of Vaccine therapy, was born 12 years after the Hahnemann's death. In fact, Von Behring had acknowledged his debts to Homeopathy
Before the concept of bacteria as cause of disease was brought forth,bacteria were recognized and also used as medicinal agents by Dr.Hahnemann and his followers. The concept of vaccination has it's roots in the principles of Homeopathy Dr.Hahnemann must be recognized as one of the foremost Bacteriologists and it would be without any exaggeration to call him the real father of vaccination.
(i) Not Bacteria but host factors:
In those days scientists were busy discovering various bacteria and microbes, emphasizing their 0prime role, in disease development. Hahnemann was a very advanced thinker. He realized that bacteria can do nothing without the susceptibility (vulnerability) of the host-patient. Modern immunologist have realized this fact only since a few decades.
Mind and Body: Hahnemann was most modern in his views on the role of mind for the development of the physical disease. He associated the mind and body relation with health disease and cure. Not only that but he also could present to the world very definite therapeutics based on such Psychosomatic correlation.
Hahnemann said there are no diseases but diseased individuals. Human being is a wholesome entity where no organ of the body is affected in isolation. You have to treat the patient as a whole and the disease will be spontaneously cured. He said, treat the patient and not the disease.
Dr. Samuel Hahnemann, whose contribution for the suffering humanity has been unique. We have yet to fully comprehend some of his concepts especially regarding drug dynamization. Let us salute this man of greatest caliber who dared to think beyond his time.
"The Physician's high and only mission is to restore the sick to health."
"The highest ideal of cure is rapid, gentle and permanent restoration of the health, or removal and annihilation of the disease in its whole extend, in the shortest, most reliable and most harmless way, on easily comprehensible principles. (Ref.:`Organon of Medicine' by Dr. Samuel Hahnemann, 1810)
"AudeSapere" Meaning : "Dare to be wise". This phrase was printed on the top of the first page of `Organon of Medicine'. As per Dr.Hahnemann's wish, the following words were engraved on his tombstone : `Non inutilisvixi' which means " I have not lived in vain."