Dr. Samuel Hahnemann, a German doctor, discovered the principles of practicing the art and science of homoeopathy and established it as a system of medicine in the 18th century.
The medical science in the 18th century was undeveloped and empirical. The understanding of the human body, the illness affecting it, and their cures, were also very limited and barbaric to term them lightly. Methods like leeching, bloodletting etc. were adopted as treatment for certain illnesses. Many theories prevailed during that time regarding the illness affecting the human body and its proposed cures. One of the popular ones was ‘CONTRARIA CONTRARIS CURANTUR’ (opposite cures opposite), but none gave satisfactory results.
Dr. Hahnemann, who was a brilliant student and a child prodigy, soon got disappointed by the prevailing practice of medicine and gave up his practice. Disillusioned by these happenings, he started studying chemistry, and worked as a translator to support himself. He had already studied and mastered eight languages before studying medicine, which proved to be of great help to him as a translator. While Dr. Hahnemann was translating ‘Cullen’s Materia Medica’, he came across an observation made by the author that cinchona bark cures ‘swamp fever’ (malaria) because it is bitter and has tonic effect on the stomach. This aroused his interest and made him curious to seek the truth.
In his quest for the true explanation, Dr. Hahnemann ingested 4 drachms of juice of the cinchona bark twice daily for a few days and was surprised to find that he himself developed symptoms of ‘malaria fever’. This experiment gave rise to the idea; that a substance cured illness in a sick person because it was capable of producing symptoms, similar to the illness in an apparently healthy individual. To further prove the principle, Dr. Hahnemann started similar experiments on himself and other individuals with various substances, which had known curative action in illness, and also with some other new substances. After a diligent observation with similar experiments for several years, he established the principle of ‘SIMILIA SIMILIBUS CURANTUR’ (like cures like) in 1796.
During his experiments, to prevent adverse effects of toxic materials, he started diluting the substances. While further diluting them, he administered vibrations to the diluted solutions and found that this made the diluted solutions more potent in producing symptoms in a healthy individual and reduced its adverse action on the person. He then concluded that, more the dilution, the deeper was the action of the medicine; and deducted that such dilutions produced no side effects when given as a remedy to an ailing person.
Dr. Hahnemann published his article ‘The Medicine of Experience’ in 1805, followed by ‘Organon of Medicine’ in 1810. He further laid the foundation of homoeopathy with publications like ‘Organon of Healing’, ‘Pure Materia Medica’, and ‘Chronic Diseases’.
Thus Dr. Hahnemann’s keen mind and extensive scientific observations gave birth to an art and science of healing namely ‘HOMOEOPATHY’.