In 1844, the first American Institute of Homeopathy was established. Homeopaths were much more popular than any other sect of the day during the epidemics of yellow fever and Asiatic cholera. Their practically drugless methods left the body comparatively unhampered in its healing efforts, while the drugging methods of the regular practitioners were destructive to health. Some other reasons for its wide popularity are that it attracted members of orthodox physicians, it appealed to middle and upper classes, and it offered a rationale for their practice—it was not purely empirical as were Thomsonian or Eclectic sects which preceded Homeopathy. In 1857, Homeopathy received strong public support, including that of Horace Greeley, editor of the New York Tribune.
Homeopathy was founded by Dr. Samuel C. F. Hahnemann. He stated that, if a physician is aware of the obstacles to recovery and how to remove them, then he understands how to treat judiciously, and is a true practitioner of the healing art. “He has become a preserver of health by knowing those things that derange health and cause disease; he knows how to keep a person in health.”
Hahnemann always advocated prescribing the smallest possible dose necessary to help the patient. After the first dilution, one drop of a plant was diluted to 1/100 of its original strength; after the second, to 1/10,000 of its original strength; after the third to 1/100,000 of its original strength. This constituted the third dilution. Hahnemann recommended the thirtieth dilution.
He evolved a method of mixing, dilution and shaking which he called succession. The result of this was a preparation which, because of its powers, he named potency.
The resulting medicine could be administered in either of two ways, according to Hahnemann. A globule of sugar the size of a mustard seed could be moistened with the thirtieth dilution of the liquid and taken internally. Or, where the patient was “very weak and irritable, one smelling of it is safer and more serviceable than when it is taken in substance.”
2.2 A Little Poison Is Better Than a Lot
It was found that the greater the degree of dilution, the more effective the medicine. And although chemical analysis revealed hardly a trace of the original drug in the suspension, the preparation was found to produce a “symptom picture” corresponding to the proving made on a healthy subject.
This is a very crucial point for it really demonstrates that the most powerful healing agent which exists is that resident within the human body. The higher the dilution, the more unhampered is the body in its restorative efforts, hence the “cure” is the most effective. Thus homeopathy is a happy delusion. The value of Hahnemann’s practically drugless therapy is demonstrated in the successes that he achieved which were far greater than any of the other medical sects of his day.
2.3 Similia Similibus Curentur
The basis of Homeopathy is: the most successful drug for administering to the ill is that very drug which produces the same symptoms in someone who is well. Thus the similium, the most resembling drug, should be given—”Like should be treated by like.”
Hahnemann found that he was sensitive to quinine. He found that after taking a dose of quinine he was soon suffering from the symptoms of an illness similar to those he had frequently seen as a medical student in the marshlands of lower Hungary. In short, except for the fever, he was experiencing the symptoms of malaria. It then occurred to him that if this drug could produce symptoms similar to those of malaria, it then, might be the “cure” for malaria. It is then that he first applied the words to his theory, similia similibus curentur—like will be cured by like.
What Hahnemann was experiencing was a normal reaction of the body in eliminating poisons, be they quinine or others, but he misinterpreted these symptoms.
2.4 Requisites of Life Recognized
Hahnemann accepted the medically-valid therapies of his time. He recommended the use of fresh air, bed rest, proper diet, sunshine, public hygiene, and numerous other beneficial measures at a time when many other physicians considered them of no value.
Hahnemann did not attribute his success to the real druglessness of his therapy, but to his homeopathic doses. But there is no doubt that the “cures” which came about were due to the body’s intrinsic power to heal itself which were assisted by the above recommendations of fresh air, bed rest, proper diet, etc. Also, the body was not interfered with in its healing process by large doses of drugs, blistering, blood-letting, etc., which were then used by the regular physicians.
2.5 Vital Force
But Hahnemann recognized that in the body there is a self-preserving, self-balancing mechanism that kept it in health in spite of the stress and strain to which man is subject. He used the term “vital force” to describe the balancing mechanism in every living body which promotes, or at, least maintains, health. He wrote that this “vital force” was stimulated by internal and external disorders to build up a reaction to counteract the disorders. The result of them interaction between the “vital force” and the conditions which set it in motion produced various symptoms in the body revealing that an imbalance has occurred, according to his theory.
We know that this vital force is the only true remedial agent that we possess and that the body will heal and repair when the conditions for health are provided.
2.6 Nontherapy Is Best
Hahnemann expected that regular physicians would not greet his system enthusiastically. He called them the “allopathic” schools because they used remedies whose action was opposed to the symptoms
caused by the illness, and described their practice by the maxim contraria contraris.
Hahnemann, despite the absurdity of his belief, really made one of the great discoveries of his time: he established that, given the existing state of medical knowledge, the absence of therapy was vastly superior to “heroic” therapy. The regular physicians’ two basic objections to homeopathy was (1) that the doses prescribed by homeopaths were too small to have any physiological effect whatsoever; and (2) that the cures which homeopaths attributed to their drugs were actually brought about by the “recuperative effects of nature.” Both of these statements were very true, and this is why Homeopathy was so successful. Regular physicians did admit that Homeopathy had produced a surprisingly large number of successes. In 1861, Dr. Oliver Wendell Holmes said, “Homeopathy has taught us a lesson of the healing faculty of Nature which was needed.”
The homeopaths attacked the regular physicians’ use of blood-letting, calomel, blisters, poisons, and the rest of “heroic” medicine as invalid, based on fallacies and speculative reasoning, and unsuccessful in treating illnesses. The regular physicians accused the homeopaths of chicanery in administering drugs which could have no possible therapeutic effects of any kind. From the point of view of the patient’s well-being, it is easy to observe which was the superior system.
Homeopathy is still very popular today and widely practiced. However, we may conclude that if heavy use of drugs results in more illness and minute portions of drugs result in less illness, then no drugs at all result in health! It is thus demonstrated that nature is the most effective agent in the restoration of health.