The History of Homeopathy
The founder of homeopathy was a man named Samuel Hahnemann
(1755-1843), a German scholar, physician and chemist. Hahnemann
felt that the healing methods used by his contemporaries were
very dangerous and ineffective. These treatments included
such things as purging, bloodletting and using poisonous substances
such as mercury and arsenic in large doses. Thus, soon
after he began his practice, Hahnemann made the decision to
give it up because he could not bear to expose his patients
to the potentially dangerous side effects.
He then decided to devote his time to translating medical
textbooks and researching more satisfactory therapeutic solutions.
In doing so, Hahnemann grew very interested in the work of
Hippocrates and his concept of the law of similars. His interest
in this concept further developed when he translated an article
written by an English doctor, William Cullen. The article
described the healing action of cinchona bark, or quinine,
on intermittent fevers accompanied by shaking, such as malaria.
It stated that the effect of cinchona was due to its action
on the stomach nerves from the astringent and bitter quality
of the substance. This explanation did not satisfy Hahnemann’s
curious nature as he then wondered why other bitter and astringent
plants did not have similar effects against malaria. Thus,
he decided to find out whether or not this was true by experimenting
Upon taking repeated doses of cinchona, Hahnemann developed
fever, chill and malaise, all similar symptoms of malaria.
Shaking, sweating and distressed, Hahnemann had found something
very significant, the principle of like cures like. This founding
principle of homeopathy, states that substances which are
capable of producing specific symptoms when consumed in repetitive
doses of a healthy individual are also capable of treating
a “similar” set of symptoms, the result of disease,
in a sick person.
The word homeopathy reflects this principle, being derived
from two Greek words meaning “similar suffering“.
Homeopaths use this principle by giving the patient a minute
dose of a substance, which in its original state will create
the symptoms that it is meant to cure. For example, in a condition
where the symptoms of sneezing, runny nose, watery and burning
eyes predominate, the homeopathic remedy of red onion, Allium
Cepa, would be helpful. Thus, this remedy is observed to be
helpful for conditions such as allergies, colds and other
scenarios that are associated with similar symptoms.