“H” for Hello, Healing, Health, Help, Humanity, Harmony, Humble, Hug, Holy, Happiness, Hope, Habitat, Home, Hospitality, Heart, Haemoglobin, Hypothalamus, H2O, Hippocrates, Hero, Hahnemann, Homeopathy, History!
One of the common interests among Homeopaths worldwide is the history of Homeopathy. Indeed, homeopathy has a rich history of serving humanity, in which here, from archives, I wish to review a few interesting facts from the past.
Honourable Dr. Hahnemann, father of homeopathy, was a brilliant scientist up to this date. In his early youth, he mastered many languages fluently. At age twelve he was already teaching fundamental facts of Greece. Many times in his early years he was in charge of major libraries.
In 1812, in order to obtain permission to lecture, Hahnemann had to deliver a “speech of qualification” for the Upper Medical Chair. He delivered his lecture in Latin; and he was able to quote accurately and give the location of the passages from various German, French, English, Italian, Latin, Greek, Hebrew and Arabic medical authors, and he could examine their views. He quoted from fifty more or lesser known doctors, philosophers and naturalists.
In chemistry his methods of chemical analysis and some of his discoveries are still in use, among them is his “black oxide”. In Crell’s Annals (1793), Hahnemann was mentioned as “the famous analytical chemist.” Dr. Hahnemann was in an alchemy school with Dr. Hufland (the leader of the German medical profession at that time). As Hahnemann was dissatisfied treating people with alchemical preparations, he said to Hufland, “It is all in the mind”; and Hufland said: “Get out of my laboratory. If you cannot treat, be humble enough to say I can’t; but do not blame it on the mind.” In later years after discovery of homeopathy, there was published in a medical journal in the year 1848, a quote by Hufland stating that “Hahnemann was the greatest chemist of his day”.
In the treatment of insane patients, Hahnemann was amongst the great pioneers. In 1792 he advised humane treatment of the insane. He never allowed any insane person to be given bodily punishment. Hahnemann said: there must be no punishment for involuntary actions; these patients deserved nothing but care!
The great Hahnemann was a genius in so many different areas of knowledge, with a noble spirit, that continuously pursued the art of healing that would be effective without doing any harm. After graduating from medical school in 1779, due to his disappointment with harmful medical practices of the era such as purging, bloodletting, and the use of toxic chemicals, he soon after began his first homeopathic experiments.
In the Pharmacopoeia of 1785, at the time when Dr. Hahnemann 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!”
Through to 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. Thus Homeopathy soon became extremely popular in many countries; however, despite the fame, Hahnemann continuously had to resist the abuse of the allopathic system.
Homeopathy came to India as early as 1810 when a few German physicians and missionaries came to Bengal and started distributing homoeopathic remedies. Dr. John Martin Honigberger was the first person who is recognised to have brought homeopathy and the name of Hahnemann to India. Dr. Honigberger arrived at Lahore in 1829 – 30. The then ruler of Punjab, Maharaja Ranjit Singh, was impressed by him when he treated his favourite horse for its leg ulcers. In 1835 he traveled to Paris and met Dr. Hahnemann. He bought large quantities of homoeopathic medicines from Hahnemann’s Pharmacist, Lehmann of Kothen. In his second visit to India, in the year 1839, he treated Maharaja Ranjit for paralysis of the vocal cords and oedema. The Maharaja was relieved of his complaints and in return paid valuable rewards and later on made him officer-in-charge of a hospital. Dr. Honigberger later on went to Calcutta and started practicing there.
In 1815 Hahnemann had a full successful practice and taught at the university. About this time he established a Prover’s Union, a group of followers who would systematically take small doses of remedies for extended periods of time and record in minute detail their reactions. By this method, the materia medica of a remedy, namely, the symptoms that a substance would cause and therefore cure, was recorded.
Between the years 1811 and 1821 Hahnemann published his Materia Medica Pura in six parts, based mostly on these experiments. The years 1812 to 1818 saw relative peace for Hahnemann in Leipzig. However, by 1819 a group of envious Leipzig physicians and angry pharmacists filed a court action against Hahnemann to prevent him from dispensing his own medicines. Despite Hahnemann’s growing reputation and successful treatment of royalty and famous people, Hahnemann lost the case. Although he subsequently won in the Appeals Court of Dresden, Hahnemann closed his practice, resigned his position at the university and left Leipzig for the city of Kothen in 1821.
Shortly after his arrival in Kothen, Hahnemann, through his political and social connections, procured permission from Duke Ferdinand to practice homeopathy with total immunity. There he purchased a large, comfortable house and settled in for a fourteen year period of relative calm. By 1822, Hahnemann was named the official Court Physician to the Duke. With the help of his wife and daughters, Hahnemann maintained a full practice, six days a week. He also spent many hours corresponding with the growing number of physicians about Homeopathy.
During these years Dr. Hahnemann resumed work on his last and greatest work, Chronic Diseases, Their Peculiar Nature and Their Homeopathic Treatment. First published in Dresden, in 1828, it ultimately ran to five volumes by 1839 and totalled in excess of 1600 pages. This work set forth another deep insight, that not only could patients be cured of acute conditions, but that their patterns of acute conditions over the years allow for a classification of chronic tendencies toward types of disease. In 1829 Hahnemann celebrated his 50th anniversary of the awarding of his medical degree and over four hundred physicians from Europe attended this gala celebration.
The difficulties in treating cholera and the epidemic’s intensity, compelled the Russian medical community to send a letter to Dr. Hahnemann. The letter contained a detailed description of the symptoms of the disease, as well as a request to indicate appropriate remedies. In 1830, statistics on cholera treatment by allopathic remedies were published by the Foreign Ministry; 63 percent mortality by conventional treatment but only 11 percent by homeopathic treatment.
In 1831, the Asiatic cholera epidemic, which had begun in India, had now spread to Europe. Hahnemann, receiving a detailed description of the symptoms from his grand nephew practicing in St. Petersburg, was able to predict which remedies would be useful in its cure. The Hahnemanian protocol for treating cholera, which included cleanliness, ventilation, and disinfection, resulted in a drastic reduction in mortality. Records at the time indicate that under homeopathic treatment mortality was between 2 and 20 percent while conventional treatment carried a mortality of over 50 percent.
Homeopathy came to United States via Dr. Hans Burch Gram. Dr. Gram was a student of Dr. Lund, a Danish student of Hahnemann. Gram opened the first homeopathic practice in New York City, in 1825. Gram subsequently taught Dr. John Gray who is credited with teaching directly or indirectly physicians in Indiana, Illinois, Connecticut, Massachusetts and Canada.
In 1833, Dr. Constantine Hering arrived from Germany. As a student he was asked to write a thesis disproving homeopathy and in the process was converted to its practice. He traveled to Surinam as a botanist but later began a homeopathic practice amongst the native people. By the time he arrived in the United States in 1833, he had already conducted provings on snake venoms and was to become the fledgling movement’s charismatic leader. Hering founded the first homeopathic medical school in the United States, in 1835 – The North American Academy of the Homeopathic Healing Art – (known as the Allentown Academy), which produced the first wave of American educated homeopathic physicians.
With the death of Constantine Hering in 1880, American homeopathy was without strong leadership. Into that power vacuum strode Dr. James Tyler Kent. Kent was a graduate of an eclectic medical school in Cincinnati. He was converted to homeopathy after his first wife was cured by a homeopath. By 1844, Kent’s star had risen he was a prominent teacher at several homeopathic colleges. He influenced several students from England who would become famous
in their own right. In 1900 he published, with the help of his students, the first edition of his Repertory of the Homeopathic Materia Medica, a classic still in use today.
Canada’s first female doctor was Dr. Emily Howard Jennings Stowe, a Canadian physician who led campaigns to provide women access to medical schools. After graduating in 1867, Stowe began to practice homeopathic medicine in Toronto. She founded Women’s College Hospital. Subsequently, homeopathic hospitals opened in Toronto and Montreal.
By 1900, female homeopaths in North America raised large amounts of money to open many of the homeopathic hospitals. Dr. Susan Edson, a graduate of the Cleveland Homeopathic College, was also a personal physician to President Garfield.
The 1918 flu epidemic killed 20,000,000 people throughout the world. In “Homeopathy to the Rescue” (New England Journal of Homeopathy, Vol. 7, No. 1, 1998), the late homeopath historian Julian Winston, noted that most of the deaths were caused by a virulent pneumonia that was especially devastating to those who depressed their system with analgesics, especially aspirin. The following citations from his article prove this point:
“Three hundred and fifty cases and lost one, a neglected pneumonia that came to me after she had taken one hundred grains of aspirin in twenty-four hours. ~Cora Smith King, MD, Washington, DC“
“I had a package handed to me containing 1,000 aspirin tablets, which was 994 too many. I think I gave about a half dozen. I could find no place for it. My remedies were few. I almost invariably gave Gelsemium and Bryonia. I hardly ever lost a case if I got there first, unless the patient had been sent to a drug store and bought aspirin, in which event I was likely to have a case of pneumonia on my hands. ~J. P. Huff, MD, Olive Branch, Kentucky“
“One physician in a Pittsburgh hospital asked a nurse if she knew anything better than what he was doing, because he was losing many cases. “Yes, Doctor, stop aspirin and go down to a homeopathic pharmacy, and get homeopathic remedies.” The Doctor replied: “But that is homeopathy.” “I know it, but the homeopathic doctors for whom I have nursed have not lost a single case.” ~W. F. Edmundson, MD, Pittsburgh“
“Dean W.A. Pearson of Philadelphia (Hahnemann College) collected 26,795 cases of (1918) influenza treated by homeopathic physicians, finding a mortality rate of 1.05 percent while the average old school (traditional medicine/drugs) mortality was 30 percent.”
Based on these historical records and references, we see that homeopathy spread around the world with one positive mission, and that was to restore the sick to health!
“No individual has done more good to the medical profession than Samuel Hahnemann (Father of Homeopathy)”
– Sir William Ostler, ‘The Father of Modern Medicine’.
Bibliography: Julian Winston; the Faces of Homeopathy: An Illustrated History of the First Two Hundred Years, Great Auk Publishing, 1999; online Library Achieves.