Similia Similibus Curentur – Having outlined the importance of drug proving and indicated the sources of the Homoeopathic Materia as the first step, we are now in a position to inquire into the Homoeopathic rule of practice which is the guide and principle of our Homoeopathic prescriptions.
The first promulgation of this principle was made by Hahnemann in 1796 in as essay published in Hufeland’s Journal, entitled. ” On a New Principle for Ascertaining the Curative Properties of Drugs.”
The occasion for publishing this essay was the experience gained from six years’ work along certain lines. Six years before he had made some tests of the effects of Peruvian Bark on himself, having been led thereto by translating Cullen’s Materia Medica, and was not satisfied with his explanation of its action. He knew, of course, the power of Cinchona bark to cure ague, for, while practicing in the malarious Transylvania, he had numerous cases to handle. But why the beneficial affect? Eager to elucidate the matter, he decided to test the drug on a healthy person-him-self. He took the usual dose and it produced all the symptoms of an attack of ague, not only the chill, heat and sweating, but several of the minor symptoms usually accompanying an attack.
After the attack had passed off, he waited a while, and, on repeating the dose, he repeated the experience. In other words, he found that the drug, which he knew to be the best agent to cure ague, produced upon him an attack very similar to ague-an unexpected, a surprising result. Could this indicate the existence of a general law applicable to other drugs-all drugs? Here was a drug producing on the healthy, symptoms similar to those which he knew he cured. Hahnemann determined to investigate further.
His object was to verify this intuition by the inductive method of research and see for himself the action of drugs in health and disease. Two lines of research were open to him-to examine the records of the past (his vast linguistic attainments and knowledge of medical practice fitted him especially for such a task) or he could in actual practice treat disease with similar remedies and note the results.
He pursued with the aid of a few friendly physicians both lines of research and for six years, before he ventured to publish anything about the matter, he experimented patiently and painstakingly, a fitting foundation, untained by current theories, and free from dogmatic assertions. Further zealous pursuit along these lines of experimentation and drug application, finally established, to his satisfaction at least, the belief in a law of drug action which he expressed in Latin, Similia similibus curentur. ” Let likes be cured by likes.” It does not state a law of nature. It gives a rule of art : ” To cure …. choose.” His appeal then to actual experience guided by principle and the elimination of all mere theories, however alluring, as a basis for therapeutic action, was the first great step towards modernism in medical thought and practice.
Now it is no detriment whatever to this claim if the methods pursued were deficient compared to those of the modern laboratory, and were necessarily limited by the environment and opportunities of his time. The thought was original with him, revolutionary, and epoch making. Its ultimation in material results, in outward organic form, is a thing of growth of development.
Hahnemann, by introducing into medicine the method of experimentation on the healthy humans, in ascertaining drug action, founded the science of Pharmacology.
The introduction of this method of scientific drug experimentation is his great contribution to medical science.
Harvey, three centuries ago, declared that, ” Wise men must learn anatomy not from the decrees of philosophers, but from the fabric of Nature herself,” so Hahnemann led his contemporaries in the study of remedial agents to questioning nature, to experiment and observation, and his later followers amplified such work in the laboratory which has become the most influential factor in modern education.
The legitimate result of this method of drug study gives us the science of Drug Pathogenesis, the symptomatology of drug effects on the comparatively healthy pharmacological studies and experiments on animals. Science of Drug Pathogenesis is its application to the cure of Drug Pathogenesis is its application to the cure of disease according to the Law of Similars, by which all these observed effects may, and can, be utilized.
This application is an Art-the Art of Homoeopathy, not a science, a method of drug using only, a specialized department of pharmaco-therapeutics. An art like all other arts, is a thing of growth, of development, perfected by increase of knowledge and science upon which it is founded. Hence the importance of our study and the continued development of this science of drug effects on the healthy, a never-ending but constantly growing science to which everyone, at all interested, may and must contribute to insure its continued vitality.
Hence the study of drug action is the first step to drug in the cure of disease universally applicable is by the guidance of similars. As we experiment with drug after drug, the proof comes with overwhelming force that these effects can be utilized fully only along the line of like action or similarity.
The test on the healthy human organism with Cinchona formed the beginning of a rational scientific study of drugs for the development of better medicinal therapeutics. Nine years of further investigation into this new field enabled Hahnemann to prepare and publish a work in Latin, ” On the Positive Effects of Medicines,” and, at the same time, declare the principle of Similars as a law of general application.
Five years more of further reflection and experiment enabled him to perfect his system and embody its principles in his great book, the “Organon of Rational Medicine.” The following year, while a teacher at the University of Leipsic, he published Volume One of his “Materia Medica Pura,” containing original provings made by himself and members of his family, and assisted later by some enthusiastic physicians that gathered around him at the University of Leipsic.
In 1821, he published the final sixth volume, containing the positive effects of sixty-four medicines. With the publication of these two great works, Hahnemann provided both the theoretical and practical requirements of Homoeopathy as a distinct method of therapeutics. He was the first to apply the inductive method of research to therapeutics. He says, in the preface to the second edition of the Organon, published in 1818 : “The true healing art is, in its nature, a pure science of experience, and can and must, rest on clear facts and on the sensible phenomena pertaining to their sphere of action.
Its subjects can only be derived from pure experience and observation, and it dares not take a single step out of the sphere of pure, well-observed experience and experiment.” And, again, ” Every one of its conclusions about the actual must always be based on sensible perceptions, facts and experiences, if it would elicit the truth.”
We see, then, that Homoeopathy supplies us with a Law resting upon natural facts and free from all speculations. A general law of treatment is obtained such a Sydenham wanted when he wrote : ” I require a Methodus Medendi, fixed and definite which may be shown under such and such circumstances to succeed universally.”
The great Homoeopathic teacher, Caroll Dunham, proclaimed Homoeopathy as the Science of Therapeutics, but it seems more within bounds of strict terminology to claim no more than that Homoeopathy follows a strictly scientific method, that it is the curative method of scientific medicinal therapeutics.
It is based upon exact observation of natural phenomena in disease and drug action and the law governing their mutual relationship.
On this solid ground of careful observation, all Homoeopathists base their practice; whatever differences have arisen date from the publication of Hahnemann’s theory of chronic diseases and drug dynamization, and not clearly distinguishing between Hahnemann’s discoveries and facts on the one hand and his illustrations and mere theories on the other. Whatever Hahnemann published as a fact has never been contradicted. But not all his theories, as taught in the Organon, are proven.
It is the genuine Hahnemannian spirit, as Hering, Hahnemann’s greatest disciple, says, totally to disregard all theories, even those of one’s own fabrication, when they are in opposition to the results of pure experience. All theories and hypotheses have no positive weight whatever, only so far as they lead to new experiments and afford a better survey of the results of those already made.