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History & Development of Homeopathy - Part 1

Updated: May 31, 2023


“My sense of duty would not easily allow me to treat the unknown pathological state of my suffering brethren with these unknown medicines. The thought of becoming in this way a murderer or malefactor towards the life of my fellow human beings was most terrible to me, so terrible and disturbing that I wholly gave up my practice in the first years of my married life and occupied myself solely with chemistry and writing”

Dr. Samuel Hahnemann


Although the basic principle of homeopathy, 'like cures like', was recognised by #Hippocrates as early as the fifth century it is the German physician Dr. Christian Frederick #Samuel #Hahnemann who is credited with its development as a viable medical practice.

Homoeopathy was founded by Dr. Samuel Christian Friedrich Hahnemann who was born in Saxony in 1755 AD.

He loved to learn languages and in fact attained proficiency in eight of them. At the age of 12, he had started teaching Greek. Thus, he became a language teacher at a very young age. He began his medical studies in Leipzig, Austria, and then he went to Vienna and Erlangen. In 1779, he became a medical doctor and started practising in Dresden.

He was a kind-hearted doctor and his income was obviously not much, so he started translating books into other languages in order to supplement it.

Disenchanted with what he saw as barbaric medical practices in the eighteenth century, Hahnemann came across 'A Treatise on Materia' by Dr. Edward Cullen in which Cullen stated that quinine was an effective treatment for malaria.

Intrigued, Hahnemann investigated the effects of quinine on himself and his friends and found that, in a healthy person, quinine produced the same symptoms as the disease itself - fever, sweating and shivering - whereas in an ill person it appeared to act as a cure.

Over a long period of time Hahnemann tested many different substances - animal, vegetable and mineral - on himself and noted down the symptoms produced, forming many 'drug pictures'. To test his remedies on ill people he questioned his patients closely to build up a similar picture of their symptoms that he could then match to the relevant drug picture.


History of Homeopathy | Development of Homeopathy | Like Treats Like | Homeopathic Medicines | Homeopathic Remedies

He discovered that the closer the match, the more successful the treatment - like cures like, the first principle of Homeopathy.

Many substances that Hahnemann used were highly poisonous. To ensure their safety he developed a three-stage dilution and mixing process, called 'succussion'.

Hahnemann believed that this process of dilution allowed the ‘remedies’ to act on the disease itself, while leaving alone the organs of the body – in a process where the ‘remedy’, due to having it’s ‘coarseness’ removed through dilution, acts only on the nerves (the part of the body closest to the soul).

By repeated dilution and succussion Hahnemann found that the more times a remedy had been diluted the faster and more effectively it worked. This process of dilution formed the second principle of homeopathy - by extreme dilution the medicine's curative properties are enhanced and all the poisonous or undesirable side effects are lost.

History of Homeopathy | Development of Homeopathy | Like Treats Like | Homeopathic Medicines | Homeopathic Remedies

Hahnemann believed that disease and illness is transmitted by ‘dynamic’ (invisible) orces, as explained in this quote, from his book Materia Medica Pura:

“What is dynamic influence, dynamic force? We see that earth causes the moon to revolve around it … by some invisible mysterious force and that the moon in its turn produces in the ocean at regular intervals alternating tides of ebb and flow … A magnet powerfully attracts a piece of iron or steel near it in a similar way; …The invisible force of the magnet does not need any mechanical (material) means, such as a hook or lever; it attracts the iron or a steel needle by its own pure, nonmaterial, invisible, spirit-like force. We have here a dynamic phenomenon. …In a similar way a child who has smallpox or measles will transmit them to a healthy child by approaching him, even without touching him. This contamination takes place invisibly (dynamically) at a distance, with no more transmission of any material particle from one to the other than from the magnet to the steel needle. A specific, spirit-like influence communicates smallpox or measles to the child nearby, just as the magnet communicates magnetic force to the needle.”

Dr. Samuel Hahnemann

And further explained in this quote from ‘Organon’:

"This remarkable transformation of the properties of natural bodies through the mechanical action of trituration and succussion on their particles (while these particles are diffused in an inert dry or liquid substance) develops the latent dynamic powers previously imperceptible and as it were lying hidden asleep in them. These powers electively affect the vital principle of animal life. This process is called dynamization or potentization (development of medicinal power), and it creates what we call dynamizations or potencies of different degrees.”


After eleven years of medical practise, he discovered the Homeopathic system of treatment.

During his research Hahnemann discovered that people varied in their responses to each remedy depending on their basic temperament. So Homeopathy concentrates on treating the whole patient rather than the disease and this became the third principle of homeopathy.

Dr. Hahnemann described this principle by using a Latin phrase: Similia Similibus Curentur, which translates: "Let like cure like."

He named this new method of healing 'homeopathy' after the Greek words 'homoeo', meaning similar, and 'pathy', meaning suffering.

In 1796, for the first time, he informed the medical world about Homoeopathic philosophy through the medical journals. In 1810 AD, he published his famous book, The Organon of Rational Medicine, also called Organon of Hahnemann and then prepared The Materia Medica between 1811 and 1821 AD.

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