What is homeopathy?
Good question. It is a system of medicine based on the principle that ‘like cures like’, which means that a disease can be treated with a drug capable of producing a disease similar to the one it is to treat. The more dilute the drug is, the more potent it is in treating a disease. It works differently from conventional medicine, which uses drugs having an opposite effect on the disease.
What is homeopathy? Its action…
Most often when we ask – ‘what is homeopathy?’ – it’s also important that we know how it works. The principle that like can be cured by like, also known as the Law of Similars, is an ancient law which predates the development of homeopathy in the eighteenth century. It can be found in the writings of Hippocrates in the fourth century BC and Paracelsus in the medieval era. However, it was Hahnemann who discovered this principle through lengthy experimentation with various drugs on himself and close relatives. He found that not only did these drugs cause certain diseases, they could also effectively treat specific conditions when administered in minute quantities.
During his deep and thoughtful experimentation, Hahnemann discovered the body’s own powerful natural healing capacity. He noted that symptoms and signs of illness are in fact attempts on the part of the body to heal itself so that when a substance capable of producing a similar symptom to that of the disease is administered in diluted form, it reinforces the body’s defence system. The correct remedy, Hahnemann thought, produces a ‘resonance’ between the person and substance administered as a therapeutic principle. It is thought to work somewhat like a similar, but, a stronger, disease to the one that the patient already has, which Hahnemann observed, always extinguishes the first, as two similar diseases cannot exist side by side.
Hahnemann realised that this could not have happened without the existence of an intelligent system within the body. Hahnemann called this intelligent system the vital principle. He came to the view that it is the vital principle that is acted upon by the very minute homeopathic remedies to restore the body to health. In other words, the minutest remedies are perceived by the vital principle, which in turn directs the body to react with all its natural healing or life powers.
What is homeopathy? Its history…
Homeopathy was invented at the end of the eighteenth century by a German medical doctor, Samuel Hahnemann who was born in Meissen, Saxony in 1755. He was an intelligent child who by the age of 12, was already teaching Greek to students. At the age of 20, he had mastered eight languages. He began to study medicine first at Leipzig and then Vienna and Erlangen, where he qualified as a physician in 1779. He first took up a medical practice in Dresden before moving many times.
He had quickly established a reputation as a kind and diligent physician who despite his lack of resources, often refused to accept fees for his treatment. To supplement his income, he worked as a translator and language teacher. Eventually, he stopped practising medicine and instead pursued studies in chemistry and earned a living from translating books.
In 1789 he moved to Leipzig and worked as a medical translator. In 1790, while translating a medical book, he discovered the homeopathic principle that like should be treated by like. He then began testing out homeopathic remedies and after six years, published the newly discovered homeopathic philosophy in a leading medical journal for the first time.
In 1810, he published a treatise on homeopathy entitled Organon of Rational Medicine and prepared a Materia Medica between 1811 and 1821. The Materia Medica was a result of his systematic experimentation with potential homeopathic remedies.
Hahnemann began to arouse the hostility of pharmacists and medical doctors. They objected to a physician treating patients with a system that is opposed to conventional treatments and taking patients away from them. In 1820, at the instigation of the medical establishment, the government passed a law banning Hahnemann from preparing his remedies and practising homeopathy. Before the law came into effect, he treated the Prince Karl Schwarzenberg of Austria, getting him to go to Leipzig. The prince, much improved, wrote to King Friedrich of Austria, urging him to have the ban lifted. Unfortunately, the prince died after resorting back to conventional treatment and his old drinking habits. The authorities blamed Hahnemann for the prince’s death. They burnt his works and threatened his life. Fearing for his life, Hahnemann took refuge in Cohen, where he worked as a court physician for the Duke of Anhalt-Cothen, a former patient of his. In 1821, he began a lengthy work on the study of chronic diseases. He published the first volume of his work in 1828.
After the death of his wife, Hahnemann married a French woman in 1835 and moved to live in Paris. There he had an illustrious practice with rich and poor alike receiving treatment daily in his clinic. He died in 1843 aged 88.
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