Samuel Hahnemann (1755- 1843) is known as the founder of Homeopathy.
He was born in Meissen, Germany and was a medical doctor of the time. However he became discontent with treatment options of his day which included; bloodletting and purging, amongst other things that often proved cruel and harmful to patients rather than relieving their suffering. This caused him to cease practicing until he found a more gentle approach.
To support his family in the mean time he took up the translation of medical texts and whist translating his curiosity was triggered when he read about Chincona being effectively used in treating Malaria and how the properties of this substance (Peruvian Bark) are similar to those found in Malaria. This led him to experiment with taking Chincona himself. He found that taking Chincona without actually having Malaria, caused him to experience Malarial symptoms that would subside on discontinuation of the Chincona.
He went on to test many substances this way and record meticulously his findings for each substance.
Hahnemann was unique in his idea of testing substances on healthy human volunteers (at first Himself, his family and his friends). The symptoms produced would be indicative of what disease could be caused by those substances and therefore what states those medicines could be used to treat in sick people.
The experiments done to find these things out are called “provings” which are basically drug trials. This information is the catalogued in books (and now digitally as many homeopaths in the western world today use these software programs)
Homeopathy represents the most detailed review of toxicology currently available in science. You can consult a homeopathic text to discover the toxicological symptoms of hundreds or thousands of plants, minerals, animals, or chemicals. And you’ll find it in exceedingly more detail than in any toxicology book. You’ll find what symptoms each substance causes; because once we know what it causes, then we know what is effective in treating it.
Later Hahnemann sought to minimize negative effects for taking medicinal substances which led to the development of very dilute and highly potentised/energised remedies as medicines.
He further combined knowledge and experience and put together theories and historical practices into the rational system of Medicine, we now know as Homeopathy. Most of the characteristic elements of the Homeopathic system have not appeared out of nowhere. Potentisation has been practiced since prehistoric times and the idea of ‘treating like with like’ was already known and practiced by Hippocrates and Paracelsus in the 16th century.
Homeopathy flourished and spread all over the world where many Homeopathic hospitals were established.
By 1935 a combination of factors saw a reduction in the practice of Homeopathy to a fraction of its popularity;
- opposition from orthodox medical practitioners
- conflicts amongst homeopaths themselves
- the rise of the pharmaceutical industry
- the undoubtedly higher levels of experience and labour needed to prescribe homeopathic medicines well, compared to the prescribing newer orthodox medicine
However, the growing realisation that orthodox medicine can cause serious side effects, together with a desire for a more natural, person centred approach to illness and health over the last 20 years has seen homeopathy making an impressive return.
At present Homeopathy is enjoyed by a fast growing population in countries all over the world.
According to the World Health organisation Homeopathy is recognized as the second most practiced alternative form of medicine in the world.