History of Medicine

Hahnemann – The Great Skeptic!

Iman Navab
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Skeptics of homeopathy should realize that Hahnemann was himself a great skeptic, dedicated to the scientific method.

I would like to revisit history and exhibit an irrefutable fact that Hahnemann, who is regarded as the father of homeopathy, was indeed one of the stringent skeptics of all time.

To explain this statement, I bring the following findings to you and I request your attention to carefully study and ponder upon each point!

1)     According to references, the Prophet Abraham, (in second millennium, BCE – Before Common Era), stated that: “God feeds me and quenches my thirst and when I fall sick then God cures me.” So then here is my question, how does God cure? The answer to my question is that, God knows better; however it is obvious that throughout history three major approaches have been utilized for treatment: homeopathy, isopathy, and antipathy. The prefix “homeo” means similar, “iso” means equal, and “anti” means opposite, while the suffix “pathy” means suffering. Therefore, homeopathy means healing through similar suffering; isopathy means healing through identical suffering; and antipathy means healing through opposite suffering.

2)      Let’s scan through homeopathy. History shows us that homeopathy is not man-made; it is a law of nature based on Similia similibus curentur, which means similar can be healed by the application of similar. This is in compliance and harmonious with nature, hence nature governs and permits homeopathy to exist without human’s will or permission. God created nature, thus homeopathy is a God-given medicine.

3)     As Albert Einstein suggested: “Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.”This is because nature is the best teacher, nature teaches us that: Likes cures Like, Like attracts Like, Like produces Like, and as well, Similia similibus solvuntur, that means Like dissolves Like, which is a rule in chemistry.

4)     In Hindu’s chronological testimony, the concept of “Like cures Like” goes back as far as 5000 years. The healing story of Mohadwa in India is an example of it.

5)     In the holy book of Torah, according to teachings of Eyal Goldberger, we  learn that when the Jewish people were at Mara after three days in the desert, they could not drink any water, there because the water was bitter and people complained to Prophet Moses. “What shall we drink?” they demanded.  When Moses reached out to God, He showed him a specific tree with bitter branches. Moses threw a small branch of it into the water, and the water became drinkable. This demonstrated that God treated bitterness with bitterness. In one of the very old Jewish scripts, called Mekilta, we read:  “The Holy One, …heals with the very same thing with which he smites”. History also reveals to us that back in Talmudic age some of traditional Jewish medicines were apparently based on Like cures Like. For instance, to treat bleeding, it was recommended to take some blood which has been shed, dehydrate it in a pan over the fire until it becomes powdery and place it on the wound to heal.

6)     Hippocrates, a Greek physician, 460 – 377 BC, who is highly respected in history, and is considered the Father of Medicine due his contributions and remarkable observational skills in medicine wrote: By using just that which produces the disease, a cure is effected by the disease itself. We ought not to employ powerful medicines needlessly and seek to weaken them by quantitative relations.

7)     In the 16th century, Paracelsus (1493 – 1541) from Switzerland, another highly regarded physician in the history of medicine, stated that what makes sick shall heal.

8)     Christian Friedrich Samuel Hahnemann (10th April of 1755 – 2nd July of 1843) a German physician, and based on my findings one of the stringent skeptics in the history of medicine with respect for the first command of Hippocrates “Do No Harm”, stopped practicing harsh medicine, and started investigating the errors. Through the mid-1800′s, bloodletting and the application of leeches were common medical practices. According to references, as many as 41 million leeches were imported into France, just in 1833 alone. In the United States, one company imported 500,000 leeches in 1856 for medical uses. Besides bloodletting and leeches, orthodox physicians used medicines made from mercury, lead, arsenic, and other toxic materials for treatment. Hahnemann protested against these brutal and unnatural methods, which weakened the patients to the verge of incurability.                 Hahnemann as a young boy, made a candlestick out of clay so that he could read books and study in his hiding-place at night, without his father noticing that a candlestick was missing. He did not allow anything to deter him from the pursuit of his passion. In his early youth he mastered many languages fluently. At age twelve he was already teaching fundamental facts of Greek. In chemistry his methods of chemical analysis and some of his discoveries are still in use. In Crell’s Annals of 1793, Hahnemann was mentioned as “the famous analytical chemist”. In that time, Johann Friedrich Göttling was an outstanding Chemist, Pharmacist, and the teacher of great chemists in history; he was appointed as an extraordinary professor of philosophy and chemistry in the University of Jena. In 1794, Professor Gottling said: “Chemistry has to thank Samuel Hahnemann for many important discoveries.” It was also published in a medical journal in 1848, a quote by Hufland stating that “Hahnemann was the greatest chemist of his day”.

9)    Hahnemann also pioneered public hygiene, promoted a pure diet and healthy lifestyle. In the Pharmacopoeia of 1785, at the time he was beginning his fight for purity and simplicity in medicine. Hahnemann says: Nature likes simplicity and can perform much with one remedy, while you perform little with many – imitate nature. Another potent quote from him is: Blind as many still remain, let us do them a service despite themselves, they will be grateful someday, because our principle is, like the light, one of the grandest truths of nature!  

10)                       He was a real skeptic. (definition of skeptic: a person inclined to doubt all accepted opinions and questions the validity or authenticity of something purporting to be factual). In finding truth there was no compromise for Hahnemann. Hahnemann said: It is infinitely easier to CONTRADICT than to INVESTIGATE, infinitely easier to sneer at truths and to present them in a repulsive light by misrepresentations and falsifications. I am not ashamed to confess that I did not know yesterday what experience might teach me today. Experience and scribbling are two very different things. It is ridiculous, and more than ridiculous, to combat careful real experience by captious verbosity.

11)                        It was Hahnemann’s rule to disregard all theories, even those of one’s own fabrication, when they are in opposition to the results of pure experience. Thus Hahnemann went on to experiment with medicines for so many years, and hence truly must be regarded as the Father of Experimental Pharmacology. He urged his to addict themselves to close thinking, by the study of the mathematics, of qualifying themselves for minute observation, by the study of natural history, and when possible also by the art of drawing, for the purpose of sharpening the sight to close observation. As a result of his hard work and experiments, Hahnemann developed the homeopathic Materia Medica, Organon of Medicine, and systemized homeopathy.  Dr. Campbell, a member of the Board of Physicians & Surgeons, Ontario of Canada in 1892, said: “Had Hahnemann been more tolerant of the errors and absurdities, he might not have met with the same opposition from the profession. But how could he? It is the very nature of truth to have no toleration for error. There are no degrees of comparison for the adjective true. A thing must be either true or not true. Compromises in politics are said to be necessary at times; but compromises in science must be always unsatisfactory, for the reason that a scientific TRUTH cannot compromise with an unscientific ERROR.” Also, Sir William Ostler, regarded as the Father of Modern Medicine, said: “No individual has done more good to the medical profession than Samuel Hahnemann.” As well, the late Vaikunthanath Kaviraj, who was the master of classical homeopathy said: “Hahnemann is the true Father of Medicine. Nobody in the annals of medicine has done more for its practical understanding and its experimentally rock-solid basis than Hahnemann.” 

12)                        The Holy Bible teaches us that the Prophet Jesus said: “if we don’t believe in his words, we can at least believe in his works.” Though homeopathy is not a religion, so there is no need believing it; and as well, homeopathy is not a theory, it is indeed an applied science.

13)                        In regards to minute doses administered in this medical science, there are strong indications in the Holy Quran, which teaches us that an infinitely small quantity is required to ensure fertilization of the human. In chapter al-Insaan it states: “I created humankind from a small quantity of mingled fluids.” The Arabic word “nutfah” has been translated as “small quantity”; it comes from the verb meaning “to dribble, to trickle” and is used to describe what remains in the bottom of a bucket which has been emptied. Thus the verse accurately implies that fertilization of a human is performed by only a very small volume of liquid.

14)                        Dr. Emil Adolf von Behring (1854 – 1917) a pioneer in immunology won the first Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine in 1901 for his discovery of the diphtheria antitoxin. In 1892 Behring experimented with serial homeopathic dilutions and found paradoxically enhanced immunogenic activity (Coulter, H.L, Divided Legacy – A History of the Schism in Medical Thought, Volume IV: Twentieth-Century Medicine: The Bacteriological Era. The North Atlantic Books, Berkley, 1994, p. 97). Behring stated that vaccination is, in part, derived from the homeopathic principle of similars. As we see even desensitization techniques used by conventional allergists utilize very small doses of allergens to as treatment.

My list of historical points can go on and on, but I would like to conclude here that “skeptic” and “observer” were the two greatest qualities of Dr. Hahnemann and as well of those free scientific minds that are unbiased seekers of truth. Few others with blind-minds who dismiss homeopathy are nothing more than ignorant of the truth!

About the author

Iman Navab

Iman Navab

Iman Navab is a certified classical Homeopath and doctor of alternative medicine from Canada. He is the President of the Applied Research in Homeopathy Foundation of Canada (www.ARHFC.ca). He is the author of 'Miasma of Cancer', and is a historian of Homeopathy. Iman teaches History and Philosophy of Homeopathy at the Canadian College of Holistic Health. Navab gives lectures and seminars to raise awareness about the rich history of Homeopathy.

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  • Dear Dr Nawab, your fascinating account of Hahnemann demonstrates that he was an empirical scientist of the highest order and in his probable ignorance of the work of his near contemporary Amedeo Avogadro, he was still aware of the seeming illogicalities of the doctrines we now follow. He was an honest man and reported what he saw.

    Honest men still exist and Nobel laureates such as Luc Montaigner and Brian Josephson still demonstrate a willingness to report what they see with honesty and without succumbing to the real fear of persecution. It would be wrong and perhaps harmful for our cause to tar all of homoeopathy’s enemies as simply agents of ‘big pharma’ as some outspoken defenders allege. Some scientists are simply unable to comprehend that mechanisms exist by which remedies diluted beyond Avogadro can demonstrate a physiological effect.

    Speaking as a former teacher though, it does concern me that a shift is taking place in the west and that the place taken in the past by the world religions is increasingly being taken by the new religion of ‘scientism’. At the same time and succoured by this new belief system, an army of willing converts engages in attacks on disciplines such as homoeopathy that are every bit as illogical as those of the Inquisition. When I was at school in the late sixties, I was taught, ‘I may disagree with you but I defend to the death your right to say it’. Such high ideals appear to have been replaced by a need for many young zealots to appear superior.

    The fact is that what we face is not ‘skepticism’ by any real interpretation of the term, but an agenda which, like most agendas, is not being driven by the logic that any searcher after scientific truth would want to recognise. In this context, it would be wise at least to ponder on the experiences of Luc Montaigner who took up a post in China citing the increasing intolerance of science in the west as one reason.