In 1782, Hahnemann took the post of parish doctor in Dessau, met Johanna Kuchler and married. On beginning to practice his profession, Hahnemann wrote that there had previously been no physician at this place, and that the inhabitants had no desire for any such person. He remained there two and half years and commented that the people probably would have done quite well without him.
Hahnemann Quits Medicine
In 1784, Hahnemann gave up the practice of medicine entirely, explaining that the rude and barbarous medical methods of the day disturbed his logical and educated mind, which was trained to expect definite results. He disliked giving compounds, the effects of which were unknown. He explained that he could not accept the loose ways and methods of the existing medical schools, hampered by dogmas of doubt and uncertainty. He could no longer accept the risk of doing injury and turned to chemistry and translation as a means of livelihood.
The family moved to Dresden, where Hahnemann translated and studied chemistry and medical jurisprudence. He was accepted among the scholars of the city and became known as a scholarly man among them.
Because of his literary work and translation of medical text, Hahnemann would most certainly have been familiar with Stahl’s doctrine of the “vital force” popular in France at the time. However, it was while translating from English the materia medica of the Scottish physician, William Cullen, that Hahnemann discovered statements which spoke about a ‘nervous energy’ as the determinant of the normal state of the body. It is likely that the synthesis of these two ideas led to the beginning of homeopathic theory. Hahnemann began his exploration of this new concept by conducting the original experiments on himself.
Hahnemann passed the next six years in experimenting with himself and his family, proving the effects of remedies and recording what he found, eventually using his findings on sick people.
In 1796, in The Journal for Practicing Physicians, the most important medical journal of that time, he published his essay, “A New Principle for Ascertaining the Curative Powers of Drugs”. In this article, he first explained the p
rinciple of “Like cures Like”, declaring that whatever a drug would cause, it would cure.
Between 1799 and 1811, Hahnemann and his family were impoverished, persecuted, and driven from town to town by physicians and apothecaries who accused him of using unfair practices, secret remedies, and quackery.
Hahnemann’s first collection of provings was published in Latin in 1805. Five years later the first edition of Organon of the Medical Arts appeared. In this he carefully explained his new medical discoveries and beliefs, mentioning the word Homeopathy for the first time. In the introduction, Hahnemann writes a scathing review of the medical practices of his day by stating that:
"--since a time soon after Hippocrates, men have occupied themselves with the treatment of disease while being led astray by their vanity, and by guess work, to devise innumerable and dissimilar ideas about how to treat disease. The systems and structures having risen from so many dissimilar brains and theoretical views, that each is in variance with the rest and self-contradictory. Each of these subtle expositions at first threw the readers into stupefied amazement at the incomprehensible wisdom contained in it, and attracted to the system monger a number of followers, who re-echoes his unnatural sophistry, to none of whom, however, was it of the slightest use in enabling them to cure better, until a new system, often diametrically opposed to the first thrust that aside. None of them was in agreement with nature and experience. They were mere theoretical webs constructed by cunning intellects out of pretended consequences which could not be made use of in practice, in the treatment at the sick-bed, on account of their excessive subtlety and repugnance to nature and only served for empty disputations. Simultaneously, but quite independent of all these theories, there sprang up a mode of treatment with mixtures of unknown medicinal substances, against forms of disease arbitrarily set up, and directed towards some material object completely at variance with nature and experience, hence, as may be supposed, with a bad result--such is old medicine, Allopathy as it is termed."
Hahnemann’s new philosophy was a return to the teaching of Hippocrates which emphasized the need to observe the condition of the patient and make inquiries into all aspects of the illness. Due to the concept of “like cures like”, it was extremely important to gather all symptoms present in a condition in order that the proper remedy could be determined.
In his book, Organon of Medicine, Hahnemann explained that there is a vital force, a non-material entity that governs the material body. According to his concepts, it is not the body that is ill, but rather the vital force that has been disrupted and thrown out of balance. Disease is not what makes a person sick, it is a breakdown in the body’s energy or vital force that allows disease causing entities to enter the energy bodies of the individual and create the symptoms that are observed. One cannot bring about a cure by treating the body on only the chemical level, but rather by using a substance, potentized (converted to energy by the process of dilution and succession) to an energy level. It is the administration of this energy to the sick individual --thereby treating the energy body (or vital force) in a non-invasive, non-harmful manner which allows the health to be restored.
Do No Harm
Hahnemann followed Hippocrates’ dictum, “above all else, the physician should do no harm”. Hahnemann noted that diluted and potentized substances lacked the ability to do harm to the physical body and were a safe alternative to the healing practices of the day. As he further diluted and succussed his remedies, Hahnemann discovered that not only did the remedy become safer on a physical level, but also became stronger on a curative level. It was by successive dilutions and experimentation that Hahnemann created the range of curative potencies so familiar with today’s practitioners. Adherence to these concepts and practices are the foundations that make homeopathy an accepted alternative (natural) healing system wherever and however it is practiced in the world today. It is a fact that in today’s world, homeopathy is practiced in a variety of ways, using many varied levels of potency.
Hahnemann’s philosophy was in great contrast to the allopathic medical practices of his day where drastic, painful and harmful physical procedures were common. This difference alone could have accounted for the great success Hahnemann found in his later years as a famous and much sought after healer entrenched in upper class Parisian society of the mid-nineteenth century. Yet, in addition to the use of painless methods, he was able to make some amazing cures, using remedies he made himself, and experimenting with different ways of using potencies.
Homeopathy in the Twentieth Century
In the late Nineteenth and early Twentieth Century, there were over 20 medical schools in America dedicated to the teaching of homeopathy. These supplied the homeopathic practitioners for more than 100 homeopathic hospitals and utilized the services of more than 1,000 homeopathic pharmacies. In 1900, the U.S. was considered the world leader in homeopathy. The best homeopathic doctors in the world either taught or were trained in the United States. These included William Boericke who taught and lectured at the University of California, and James T. Kent who taught at the Hahnemann College in Philadelphia. Homeopathy was more popular in the U.S. than anywhere else in the world.
In the 1920’s, the competition between the two branches of medicine, homeopathy and allopathy, came to a climactic state. For a brief time, it was unclear whether both schools could continue to exist as equals. The American Medical Association (AMA) was a newly formed body and gained some very powerful and wealthy converts. The AMA increased its influence rapidly. Although originally accepting the homeopathic doctors as members, the AMA later forced them to give up their homeopathic licensing and convert to allopathy or cease practicing medicine all together. This set the stage for what many have called the dark ages of homeopathy in the United States. During this time, the homeopathic medical schools were closed and the teaching of homeopathy all but abandoned. Although the pharmacies and book publishers remained in business for a time, most selling their products to foreign countries, many did not survive this period.
The 1970’s and 80’s brought back a resurgence of interest in the healing powers of homeopathy. In 1989 homeopathic remedies were removed from the list of “by prescription only” drugs and made available “over the counter” for the first time. The National Center of Homeopathy in Washington D.C. is making great strides in reestablishing credible homeopathic schools in the U.S. www.nationalcenterforhomeopathy.org
About Dr. Iqbal -
Michele Iqbal studied and apprenticed in Pakistan with Dr. Abdul Rehman, who was able to cure her son of autism. Dr. Iqbal completed a D.H.M.S. degree in the National Council of Homeopathic College in Rawalpindi, Pakistan before returning to the U.S.A. in 1989. She has devoted many years to the understanding of the energetic effect of homeopathic remedies and in the development of combination remedies. Michele’s practice stretches throughout the Inland Empire region of Southern California.