History of Homoeopathy

Homoeopathy was first defined by Dr. Samuel Hahnemann of Germany in the 18th century.  The word Homeopathy comes from the Greek homoeo (meaning similar) and pathos (meaning suffering) and its origins can be traced back to the times of Hypocrates.  Dr. Hahnemann found that symptoms of a poisoning could be cured by administering the poison through a homeopathic preparation – the symptoms that the poison created can also be cured with the same poison in different concentration.  This is called “Similia Similibus Curentur”, which means “like cures like”.

How did he come to this realization?  Dr. Hahnemann was a Medical Doctor who ran his own practice.  He was disillusioned by the way medicine was being conducted and the way patients were being treated for their ailments (through bloodletting, purging, leeches and the use of toxic chemicals) during the time.  He closed up shop and began to work as a chemist while translating medical texts. He started to translate William Cullen’s Materia Medica into German and through that translation sought to find a better means of providing healthcare using the principle of “Similars”.   Dr. Hahnemann became particularly interested with the South American tree-bark (Chincona) because it was being used to treat malaria induced fever.  In 1790, he began his first homeopathic experiment by ingesting a toxic amount of the bark.  He found that the bark produced symptoms in him (a healthy person) that were malaria-like and came to the conclusion that if a crude dose of a substance can create symptoms in a healthy person, an infinitesimal dose of the same substance can cure those very symptoms in a “sick” person.

After translating Cullen’s work, Dr. Hahnemann spent the next six years experimenting on himself, his family and a growing group of followers.  He wrote scientific papers on his findings and he was persecuted for his thoughts but the popularity of Homeopathic Medicine grew.  Dr. Hahnemann kept meticulous records of his findings and together with his clinical trials developed a homeopathic clinical practice.  He introduced the concept of potentization as well as using the totality of the patient’s symptoms to cure and was able to successfully treat his patients. Dr. Hahnemann practiced homeopathy for 50 years until his death in 1843.

Homeopathy had a large impact on medicine: the first Homeopathic Hospital opened in 1832 and Homeopathic Medical schools opened all around Europe.  Homeopathic practitioners often had better therapeutic results than did their allopathic counterparts and the public took notice, demanding better care from all physicians.  Today, homeopathy is integrated into healthcare systems around the world as the public has taken greater interest in holistic and natural approaches to healthcare.

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