Life of Samuel Hahnemann, the remarkable genius who discovered, developed, and systematized the fundamental laws of cur which are producing such revolutionary changes in thinking about health and disease. Hahnemann’s story is one of the most singular sagas of discovery in the history of medicine.
Commenting about the Law of Similar, Hahnemann was the first to admit that the concept had been put forward by others throughout Western history, beginning with Hippocrates himself. Despite previous speculations about it, however, no one prior to Hahnemann had recognized its true importance, much less proceeded to systematize it into the basis of an entire science of therapeutics.
Hahnemann was born in 1755 in a small town in Germany and from an early age demonstrated remarkable abilities. His father recognized his abilities and taught him discipline form an early age he used to lock young Samuel up in a room with “thinking exercises” problems he was required to solve by himself, for languages, and even by the age of twelve his instructor had him teaching Greek to other pupils.
Hahnemann studied medicine at the Universities of Leipzig, Vienna, and Erlangen, qualifying in 1779, and soon became highly respected in professional circles for his papers on both medicine and chemistry. Even so, Hahnemann was greatly disturbed by the lack of fundamental thinking underlying the therapeutics of the day, which consisted of bloodletting, cathartics, leeches, and the use of toxic chemicals.
He returned to the profession of translating medical works, but his inquiring mind was always searching for the fundamental principles upon which therapeutics should be based. It was while translating Cullen’s edition of the material that he came upon the idea which led to his revolutionary discovery. Cullen was a professor of medicine at Edinburgh University and had devoted twenty pages of his material medica to the therapeutic indications of Peruvian bark; and he attributed its success in the treatment of malarias to the fact that it was bitter. Hahnemann was dissatisfied with this explanation so much that he decided to test it upon himself, an act which was completely out of the realm of thinking of the time.
Thus Hahnemann came upon the idea that a substance which can produce symptoms in a normal person can cure them in a sick person. Even more fundamentally, perhaps, he recognized the necessity for human experimental in order to delineate the curative indications of therapeutic agents. So he and some other like-minded physicians began systematically testing substances upon themselves and recording their observations in minute detail. This continued for a period of six years, during which Hahnemann also compiled an exhaustive list of poisonings recorded by different doctors in different countries through centuries of medical history.
He and his colleagues began to try the Law of Similars on clinical cases and immediately began to see astounding results which far transcended the allopathic results of the time. In Aphorism 19 of the Organon, written after he had become very experienced and widely known for his results, Hahnemann summarizes the fundamental importance of the discovery:
‘Now, as diseases are nothing more than alterations in the state of health of the healthy individual which express themselves by morbid signs, and the cure is also only possible by a change to the healthy condition of the state of health of the diseased individual, it is very evident that medicines could never cure diseases if they did not possess the power of altering man’s state of health which depends on sensations and functions; indeed, that their curative power must be owing solely to this power they possess of altering man’s state of health.
The systematic procedure of testing substances on healthy human beings in order to elucidate the symptoms reflecting the action of the substance is called “proving” Hahnemann developed specific procedures for conducting a proving, and procedures which fit modern conditions and circumstances will be provided later in this book. Proving have continued since Hahnemann’s time and have become the basis upon which a given remedy is chosen for a given patient. In this way, the symptom manifestation of the patient and the symptoms manifestation of the remedy are matched , thus enabling the principles of resonance to excite and strengthen the defense mechanism of the patient and bring about cure.