Scientific knowledge is proven knowledge. Scientific theories are derived in a rigorous way, from facts gained through experience by means of observation, experimentation and verification. Science is based on what we can see, hear, and touch. Scientific knowledge is reliable because it is objectively proven knowledge.
This view of scientific knowledge in the modern era developed as a result of the scientific revolution initiated by Galileo and Newton, and which took place in the seventeenth century.
In the natural sciences, laws are elucidated through the different steps of the scientific method. In the following essay it will be shown how Dr. Samuel Hahnemann implicitly applied the scientific method in the text of the “Organon of Medicine” and some of his other books.
The scientific method is defined as a sequence of steps which have to be gone through when carrying out an investigation. The method has been extended in the course of time, and nowadays, a hypothesis has to be developed and confirmed entirely in order to be approved and accepted as being true.
The scientific method consists of the following steps:
During the planning stage one becomes familiar with the problem by means of Observation.
This includes the compiling of existing information about the subject from books, scientific journals, computer databases and other existing media.
After Delimiting or establishing the boundaries of the problem, based on observation and the documental investigation, the necessary elements are obtained to define the problem.
Knowing the already mentioned parameters, an acceptable or refutable proposition is made, which is to be confirmed or denied based on observation and experimentation.
Development of an experimental design
A series of logical experiments is developed aimed at testing the validity of the previously elaborated hypothesis. This experimental design consists of Materials and Methods, which have to consider the different variables and controls which intervene in the experiment.
This leads to the Obtaining of Results, or conclusions, derived from the experimental data.
From this one proceeds to the Analysis of the Results of experimentation, in order to confirm or negate the formulated hypothesis.
This step is to see whether the results agree with the formulated hypothesis.
Finally, the Conclusions are drawn, which affirm the veracity of the proposed hypothesis.
An investigator must include all these parameters to fulfill the postulates of the scientific method in proving a hypothesis, which can then be accepted as scientifically true (1,2,3,4,5,9).
If we read Hahnemann’s “Organon of medicine” critically and from a scientific point of view, we can confirm that it strictly meets all the requirements of the scientific method in proving the hypothesis of Similia Similibus Curantur ( although written more than 200 years ago) (8).
Based on these explanations, an analysis of the Organon and Hahnemann’s other writings is made below, demonstrating that their development followed the scientific method.
1.Observation. Hahnemann made his first observation when translating Cullen’s Materia Medica, in which the explanations about the action of Cinchona bark (China) in the treatment of malaria attracted his interest. He made a self-experiment with China and discovered that a healthy person suffered from the same disease symptoms when taking the substance (8). Hahnemann wrote extensively about his experience practicing the contemporary methods of medicine. The therapeutic methods of that time included purgatives, bloodletting, emetics etc. He considered these methods unnatural, aggressive and useless for the patient. On the contrary, they only diminished the patient’s vital force. Therefore he wanted to find another, logical therapeutic method to treat all the different diseases.
2.Documental Investigation. Hahnemann’s writings demonstrate a vast and intense investigation, of the most important publications of the time, spanning many years. In the Organon, he cites more than 290 references (8).
3.All these refer to publications by physicians which had obtained cure of diseases with medicines which were able to produce symptoms of the same disease (Hutted’s Joumal X11 I, Ratia Mendi Up 126, Medicin RAt Sistem T IVV P 7, Praxis Medorrhinum P 346).
Doing an extensive Documental Investigation, Hahnemann thus fulfilled one of the requirements of the scientific method.
4.Delimiting the problem. Writing about the homeopathic doctrine in the “Organon of the Medical Art”, Hahnemann gives several examples of unintended homeopathic cures, which physicians of the old school had experienced (Organon 6th edition, page 57 to 99). With these experiences of unintended cures, Hahnemann reinforces his observations about the axiom of “Like cures Like”.
5.Hypothesis formulation. Hahnemann’s proposed hypothesis can be found in the “Organon”, where he reaffirms his idea about “Similia Similibus Curantur”.
6.Observation and experimentation. Later, Hahnemann experimented with person of both sexes, of different ages and races, with medicines standardized with regard to their origin and preparation, to prove their utility (6,7). He collected and compiled the physical and mental symptoms produced in each individual during the proving, which allowed him to write the pathogeneses of remedies, which he published in the “Materia Medica Pura”. In this way he experimented with 90 remedies in the course of his life. The provers were volunteers, and were put in different groups and given variable doses of the proving medicine.
7.Obtaining results. The results of his experiments were carefully registered and classified during the years of experimentation (7,8).
8.Analysis of results. After receiving the results, the proving symptoms were correlated with the symptoms of the ill patients, to prove the veracity of the axiom “Similia Similibus Curantur”.
9.Ascertainment of the formulated hypothesis. The results obtained during different provings on healthy human beings, allowed him to apply the remedies to patients who had symptoms similar to those produced in healthy provers.
10.Conclusions. Finally, Hahnemann confirmed the veracity of his hypothesis by verifying the cure of numerous patients with this new therapeutic method.
As can be seen in the Organon (p.100 -end), after having confirmed the hypothesis of “Like cures Like”, Hahnemann developed and formulated the doctrine of homeopathy, in a manner which leaves no doubt about the scientific confirmation of his observations.
Previously no one has presented confirmation that Hahnemann’s work truly and extensively fulfilled the requirements of the scientific method. Having demonstrated this in this essay, we can confirm the scientific method used in his work. We believe that no serious thinking physician should have any doubts about the formulated hypothesis, whose veracity is daily confirmed by Hahnemann’s followers.
Finally, we want to note for those physicians who practice homeopathy, or who have written, translated or commented on his works, that some of his original writings have been distorted or made incoherent. These altered documents do not allow us to evaluate the scientificity of his work.
In accordance with the explanations above, it can be concluded that Samuel Hahnemann strictly followed the scientific method to develop and establish the Homeopathic Doctrine, which took him many years of hard labor.
The scientific method he used included the following parts:
- Documental investigation
- Delimiting the problem
- Formulating the hypothesis
- Development of an experimental design
- Obtaining results
- Ascertainment of the formulated hypothesis
Hahnemann worked through these steps as demonstrated in his writings, such as the “Organon of Medicine”, “Materia Medica Pura”, “The Chronic Diseases”, and others. Thus, it can be concluded without doubt, that the homeopathic method has been scientifically proven by its author.
Currently, advanced research on homeopathy continues around the world in France, UK, Germany, Italy, India, Cuba etc.
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Dr. Roberto LÃ³pez Flores*
Dr. Carlos FalcÃ³n Aguilera**
Dr. Carlos HernÃ¡ndez Chanona**
M en C. Ma. de JesÃºs Granados Salas***
* FES Iztacala: UNAM.
* * A.N.M.H.C.P. dei D.F. “Dr. Mateo Rubio SeptiÃ©n.”
*** ESIME IPN