Homeopathy Papers

An Analysis of the History of Homeopathy

Written by Cor van der Meij

The historical development of homeopathy was not an evolution according to Hahnemann’s intentions. Even during his lifetime, some homeopathic doctors considered symptoms as the key to solving the case. This finally led to what we can describe now as ‘Kentian’ homeopathy, named after the main representative of this symptom orientated homeopathy. The ‘rise and fall’ of homeopathy is mainly based on and the consequence of this so-called symptom-based or Kentian homeopathy. However, Hahnemann did not introduce a symptom-based form of homeopathy but a disease-based form, based on recognizing miasms as the main basis for chronic disease.


Was the historical development of homeopathy an evolution according to Hahnemann’s intentions ? To answer this question we must look not only at what already happened during Hahnemann’s life but especially at how homeopathy evolved after his death in 1843. What we see then is that Hahnemann intended his new revolutionary healing method to be a method based on analysing the original causes, in most cases a miasmatic disease. But the real outcome of the process was a kind of homeopathy that focuses especially on curing symptoms and linking these symptoms to remedies. We can call it “Kentian homeopathy”, but it certainly is not Hahnemannian homeopathy.

Roberts (1853-1931) called this Hahnemannian method “disease classification” in his book “The principles and art of cure by homeopathy”, 1936

A short history

One could say that homeopathy, or more specifically the homeopathic principle as a law of nature, was one of the first inventions of mankind. Although we do not know how long it took for man to find out that something rough can be smoothened with a rough tool (an example of the homeopathic law of nature), it is obvious that the evolution of the human brain soon revealed the important laws of nature of which homeopathy is one. Also the use of plants in a similar way – i.e. according to natural homeopathic laws – is already known almost 2.000 years B.C. as a part of the Egyptian daily life. In the Christian bible we can find several examples of this homeopathic principle. One example: when people came to Moses and told him that the water of the river tasted bitter, he advised them to throw a bitter tasting branch in the river. Although used in daily practice, it is not common to see certain daily routine tasks as part of the homeopathic law of nature. But in our ordinary daily life examples are often at hand, if not “all over the place.” As said before we smooth a rough surface with a rough tool. Also we clean dirty oil on our hands with clean oil, although the cleaning business will try to convince you to use their chemical/synthetic solutions.

Since ancient times winters are very cold in Scandinavia. It is an old tradition there to give the body a stimulus by taking a bath in a ice pool. By exposing the organism to very low temperatures briefly, one encourages the life force to produce more warmth. Another example is this: bakers and blacksmiths already knew in ancient times how dangerous an open fire was, but they also discovered the healing powers of it. A blacksmith who had burnt his hand did not call for his wife to bring a cold package, but held his burn close to the hot kettle for healing.

Homeopathy as a way to heal diseases with homeopathic remedies was invented by Samuel Hahnemann around 1800. It was a revolutionary new medicine compared to the cruel methods, including vein letting and purging.

This symptom-orientated healing was such a part of 19th century medicine, that even Hahnemann could not prevent his followers from having the same orientation. At the end of his “era” Hahnemann already debated with some colleagues who suggested that he was wrong and that only the symptoms should be the guide line for homeopaths. The great homeopath J.H.Allen (1854-1925) states: “I say to Dr. Hering, No, the men who select the similar remedy and who are ignorant of causes and effects are not true healers of the sick and have not the mind of the master.” (“The chronic miasms” pg. 13).

Kentian homeopathy

After the death of Hahnemann (1843) even more homeopaths embraced the symptom-based homeopathy. Some of them even judged miasms as a “Hahnemannian delusion.” In fact, symptom-based homeopathy became the sole basis for the homeopathy that conquered the world. But at the same time it became the “booby trap” for its development, because the basis was not scientific. Looking for the “totality” or the “essence” cannot be described as an objective or scientific way to cure people, nor is it possible to realize real cure in most cases. The justified question here is: what is the totality or essence? The answer reveals that we see a very personal and subjective way of practice. If we focus on this so-called “totality” we overlook the main focus for cure: we have to look for the original cause, which in most cases is a miasmatic disease, necessary to start a deep healing process. We must keep in mind that the 6th edition of the Organon was revealed almost a century after Hahnemann’s death. This means that the main homeopathic “tower” we can see now, was built on the homeopathy as practised by Kent. This Kentian homeopathy was not intended by Hahnemann himself. No wonder that this tower became the homeopathic “tower of Pisa”. It cannot keep itself erect because the fundamental basis is not right.

In the USA, this became obvious in the early part of the 20th century, when homeopathy was declining more and more. In my opinion the main reason for this is that when the basis is wrong, the result is a kind of inferior homeopathy that is focusing on the essence of the patient instead of on classifying the diseases.

What is this essence and how can we distinguish it in a scientific way ?
Without the help of disease classification it is almost impossible to cure the real cause of a chronic disease. To simplify it: trying to cure a recurring acute disease, without tracing the underlying chronic miasmatic cause, is like pouring water in a bucket with a hole. Only by fixing the hole can the chronic miasmatic cause of the disease can be cured.

Hahnemannian homeopathy

Looking closely at Hahnemann’s method we will notice that he focused on analysing the case by classifying the diseases in acute and chronic diseases.
The chronic diseases he sub-divided in miasmatic, iatrogenic and pseudo chronic diseases. Although Hahnemann tried to stop the symptom-based influence, he was not successful. After his death in 1843, curing symptoms instead of curing the real cause soon became the reigning form in homeopathy. The fact that Hahnemann’s wife prevented the printing of the 6th edition of the Organon did not help here either.

Although the 6th edition was published in English by Boericke in 1922, it wasn’t until 1936 that homeopath Herbert Roberts, in his book “The principles and art of cure by homeopathy” paid attention to what he calls “Disease classification.” In chapter 22 Roberts states: “In order to establish a logical basis for the recognition of disease conditions and their origin and relationship, it was necessary to make many close observations of the then known diseases, and then proceed to deductions and proper classifications. Hahnemann set himself to this task, bringing his logical, scientific mind to bear on the situation, and he made the first classification of diseases that had ever been attempted.” But Roberts’ remarks on this subject had no influence on the homeopathic community, which was, for almost a century, giving attention to the symptoms instead of classifying the disease. To my best knowledge the Indian homeopath Dr. Choudhury, born in 1932, was the first homeopath to pay attention to classifying diseases as being the basic principle of Hahnemannian homeopathy. He also gives a very systematic overview of Hahnemann’s theory. In chapter 1 of his book “Indications of miasms”, 1984, he states:
“According to Hahnemann, acute diseases are divided into three parts: individual, sporadic and epidemic. The chronic diseases he divided into two parts:
A) Diseases with fully developed symptoms, subdivided into
2) non-miasmatic.
The latter sub-divided into 3 groups:
a) diseases from bad hygienic conditions or living;
b) due to continued application of non-homeopathic drugs or drug addictions;
c) occupational diseases.

Miasmatic chronic diseases are sub-divided into two parts:
– single disease by Psora, Syphilis or Sycosis;
– Compound (multiple) disease by Psoric-Sycotic, Psoric-Syphilitic, Syco-Syphilitic, or Psorc-Syphiltic-Sycotic.
These can also be of three different types: (1) continued, (2) intermittent or (3) alternating.

B) diseases with very few symptoms, which can be divided into:
(1) one-sided diseases with only mental symptoms and (2) diseases with only physical symptoms;
(3) local diseases.

This classification of diseases was the first of its type in the history of medicine, which is of paramount importance for treatment and management of disease. This is one of the greatest contributions of Hahnemann.

Dr. Choudhury did a great job in bringing Hahnemann’s disease classification into a systematic survey. Especially important was the recognition of the multi-miasmatic diseases (Psoric-Sycotic, Psoric-Syphilitic, etc.), which was a great leap forward for the miasmatic-based homeopathy.

My dutch colleague Ewald Stoteler is nowadays the main representative of disease classification as the basis for homeopathic prescribing. After dedicating more than 10 years studying both the Organon and Chronic diseases, he was able to publish the results of this: according to Hahnemann disease classification is the instrument for analysing the case. Only when one analyses the case on this basis it is possible to prescribe appropriately, i.e. based on the real causes of the disease(s).

Essence of Hahnemann’s disease classification

In par. 72 “Organon of medicine” Hahnemann states that “the following will serve as a general preliminary view:
“diseases are either rather rapid morbid processes, i.e. acute diseases, or they are diseases with small beginnings, deranging the living organism gradually, i.e. chronic diseases.”

Further on, Hahnemann subdivides the chronic diseases into:
-iatrogenic diseases, caused by allopathic treatment (par. 74),
-pseudo chronic diseases: inappropriately named chronic diseases, caused by avoidable bad influences such as bad housing, over exertion of body or mind, constant worry, etc. (par. 77);
-true natural chronic diseases, caused by a chronic miasm (par. 78).

In par. 83 Hahnemann states that in “this individualizing examination of a case of disease, the homeopath needs nothing but freedom from prejudice and sound senses, attention in observing and fidelity in tracing the picture of the disease.”

What we notice here is that Hahnemann speaks again and again of the “disease” and not of the patient or the dis-eased person. This confirms that the main focus must be on the disease, instead of the (totality of) the patient.

The following scheme is a survey:


Hahnemann’s disease classification was a revolution in medical development in the 19th century. I would say, too revolutionary for its time. Most of his colleagues did not recognize, or misinterpreted Hahnemann’s true intentions with this miasmatic based disease classification. After Hahnemann’s death homeopathy developed in a way he had never intended and certainly would have rejected.

Homeopaths like Roberts and Choudhury have tried to rehabilitate disease classification as the basic tenet for homeopathy, but did not succeed in their mission. But thanks to my dutch colleague Ewald Stoteler in Holland, in less than 10 years time about 25 percent of all dutch homeopaths are using disease classification as the fundamental basis for practising homeopathy. Slowly, but surely, this approach is moving forward to other countries, like Finland and Japan.

Since 2003 I have been studying Stoteler’s lessons of Hahnemannian homeopathy, by following several of his study-courses on disease classification. My conclusion is that this interpretation of Hahnemanns’ writings is accurate, practical and helpful.

I have been a homeopath since 1998, worked on the Kentian basis for about 7 years and with disease classification for about 6 years now, and in my opinion working with disease classification is helpful in more than one way. It not only gives you better results, but it helps you also in explaining to your patient step-by-step, what you are doing and why. Although this looks like a kind of commercial, that is not my intention. My intention is to ask you as a colleague to read-and re-read Hahnemann’s works and especially the paragraphs 72 to 82 in “Organon of Medicine.” When you look closely at these paragraphs, you will notice that here you find the rocks on which homeopathy was built by Hahnemann and should be built now and in the future. Classifying the different diseases as mentioned before is not a formal action, but an essential action to understand the different “grounds” on which diseases can grow. If you do not recognize these different grounds, you miss the key to open the main door which leads to healing the original cause of the disease.

While your curiosity about learning new things is still there, be inspired by Hahnemann’s approach to analysing a case. And if you want to learn more about it, inform yourself at the Stichting Hahnemann Homeopathy (www.classicalhomeopathy.eu) in Holland.

It is not just another interpretation but the “core business” of homeopathy as meant by Hahnemann. Recently I read an introduction to a seminar in which a well known homeopath stated that “knowing the remedy is knowing the case.”
I would say: knowing the case (by disease classification) is knowing the remedy.


-“Organon of medicine” by S. Hahnemann
-“The chronic miasms” by J.S. Allen
-“The principles and art of cure by Homeopathy” by H.A. Roberts
-“Indications of miasms” by Dr. H. Choudhury
-“Hahnemann begreifen” by E. Stoteler (English version is soon to be published).

About the author

Cor van der Meij

Cor van der Meij has been practicing homeopathy since he graduated as a classical homeopath in 1998. Afterwards he followed a master degree in Disease Classification at the Stichting Hahnemann Homeopathie. Cor was a member of the editorial staff for "Dynamis" a Dutch quarterly on homeopathy. He has written several articles and book reviews for Links, Homeopathy4 Everyone and Dynamis.


  • It may be obvious that in the scheme the remark “Avoidable diseases” should be placed under “Pseudo-chronic”.

  • Dear sir,
    your article is very nice it remembers me of my own homeopathic education
    i qualified in 1969 from nehru homeopathic college. He was dr yodhvir singh, who was chief minister of delhi in those days and keen believer and practitioner in hom. He founded nehru homeopathic college and hospital in delhi . Later it was acquired by delhi govt. The college was brought under delhi university in 1964 and board of homeopathic system was created which prepared syllabus, exams,registeration etc. Dr jugal kishor was prinpal in those days. He would teach practice of medicine. Dr harish dewas mbbs practiced homeopathy used to teach case taking. Dr bhatnagar tought gyn & midwifery, dr bakshi materia medica. All teachers were busy practioners and they would sacrifice their practice to teach us. All alopathic subjects like anatomy,pathology,surgery would be taught by allopathic doctors in renown hospitals . There was no regular staff. There used to be stenographer in our class who would take detaled notes in class room in short hand and cylostyle them and would sell them to us. B.jain[publisher] would supply books printed by him in India. Foreign books were very costly. Books were very few and we depended on notes took by our friend.
    In practice their was very little money
    I practiced in temple free of cost thanks
    dr shekhar

    • dear mr. Gupta,

      Somehow I missed the comments, so this is a late reaction. Sorry for that.
      I am glad to hear that in India the basics of Hahnemann still are respected to their real value. It is Hahnemann himself who focuses on the disease classification as the basis for essential and not symptomatical homeopathy as is promoted by the Kentian school.
      At the same time I have great respect for what you all achieve in your country, in which, as I suggest, the main focus is on acute diseases and less on chronic. In our western world this is vice versa, but both are very challenging to deal with using homeopathy.
      I worked the first 8 years as a “Kentian homeopath” and nof for 7 years with disease classification and it is surprising what you can achieve with it in chronic cases.

  • Hello
    Your article is very interesting for me since I am following a Master in Homeopathy at the Universidad Nacional de Colombia in Bogotá Colombia. I am writing my master´s thesis about miasms. I wonder if Ewald Stoteler¨s “Hahnemann begreifen” book is one book could be useful to me?.
    Is that book already in english or in spanish?

    Thanks a lot for your help
    Sincerely yours,
    Gloria Vargas

    • Dear Gloria,

      As far as I know this book is still not in English, which is a shame.
      There is a German version, so if you can find someone who can translate it for you than that is a possibility. On “www.classicalhomeopathy.eu” you can also find more information. If you wish and send me an email, I can send you an article of mine which explains the theory.

      Cor van der Meij,
      [email protected]

  • quite controversial article. It can subtly mean that causation or etiology is the basis of prescribing in homeopathy. How wrong is that. “Tolle causam’is a far cry” Hahnemann had ridiculed the old school’s futile attempt to find the true cause of diseases and remove the same thinking that it will cure the diseases.the classification of diseases according to miasms is at best an artistic way of finding the simillimum, which alone is the legitimate guide to the selection of the remedy.
    As Compton Burrnet had quoted “we need every way of finding the remedy, the simple simili, the simple symptomatic simisllimum,and the farthest reach of all the pathological simillimum, and I hold that we are still within the lines of homeopathy which is expansive, progressive,science fostering and science fostered”. Hence the miasms are only another tool in helping us find that elusive thing, the perfect simillimum,which forms the more important ‘Science’ part of homeopathy. Every method which accomplishes this, is a right method and becomes irrelevant once the remedy has been found. The evolution of homeopathy to the present day status has been a natural one, by elimination of the useless ones and adoption of the practical methods like the Repertory approach and selection of the remedy strictly according to the totality of the symptoms which is the true disease picture.

    • Dear Mr. Venkatesh:
      Hahnemann himself emphasises that cure is all about the disease, not the diseased.
      And, excuse me, you simplify the disease classification method to a classyfing according to miasms, which it is not. It is miasms, iatrogenic and lifestyle to be exact. If you only focus on the symptoms you will miss this essential differential, because for miasmatic diseases one must prescribe other remedies (nosodes) than for iatrogenic diseases.
      A growing number of homeopaths in Holland work with this Hahnemann-based method with great success and in the meantime there is interest for it in Finland and Japan.
      Kind reagrds,


  • Dear Cor,
    if one says “totality of symptoms is the legitimate guide in selecting the remedy”, and another says that classification is the basis for prescribing, well, both are right.they are not mutually opposite statements,like, when I say “I am a man” that doesn’t make it false that “I am a human being”. But your arguement that “totality of symptoms isn’t the basis for prescribing a remedy” is quite unhomeopathic.
    Homeopathy is unique in its basis for treating being “cessat effectus cessat causa” and not the other way round like all other healing systems.When for eg;if headache, fever and vomiting are the only three symptoms in a case, and all the three symptoms are fully cleared, then where is the cause or where is the disease ? Over the years this sytemem of scientific prescribing has become more and more perfect and virtually going to the factors which contributed to the aquiring, development and subsistence of the disease in question, is important not for the farmacological part of our work, but only for preventing a relapse, by suitably advising the patient to modify his life style.
    In fact this very method of treating the symptoms in their totality thereby curing the disease rapidly,gently and permanently
    is the greatness of homeopathy for which we are indebted to the genius of Hahnemann. Nash has remarked ” whether we are able to give an explanation or not, every remedy given according to the totality of symptoms removes those symptoms only by curing the internal disease itself and not the symptoms alone”. It is not necessary that we know the nature of that disease other than the manifest symptoms.This is a highly advanced science with these speciality. And Miasms or any other classification in itself isn’t the pointer to a certain remedy.Classification is also to be done according to the symptoms, and those symptoms readily give us the remedy even before the miasm or other classification. For the second prescription also this classification is not useful,again we have to do the rigourous individualisation.Hence isn’t it natural for more logically thinking homeopaths to consider the classification or miasms as only a meaningfless ritual ? It is a wellknown fact among homeopaths that homeopathy is a science which treats the symptoms and thereby cures the disease. And we are naturally conditiooned to saying that we are doing what the ultimate result is showing, but that is loose talk.Telling that we are treating the disease is ok, in layman’s language.

    • Dear Venkatesh,

      Thank you for your comment. I think we are not opposing each other, but trying to explain what we mean with the totality and the ultimate simillimum. The essence of using the disease classification aid is that it is practically impossible to cure a chronic disease by giving an ultimate simillimum which “fits” the totality of all symptoms.
      If you do so the most you can reach is a temporarly cure, not a permanent. In chronic diseases on a miasmatic basis, you have to use a nosode to cure the miasmatic layer. A plant remedy will not be able to cure a chronic disease permanently. My own experience in 15 years is the same. This was already noticed by Hahnemann himself, after which he introduced the sixth edition of the Organon. We all know what happened to that. It was not published untill 1925. This means that the whole period of 1800 till 1925 homeopathy developed itself on a non miasmatic basis. This is the essence of my article. My “disease classifiaction” colleagues and I try to open the eyes of other colleagues to experience the better results one can achieve using disease classification as the basis for homeopathy.

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