In 1857, G.H.G. Jahr published his textbook about the teachings and principles of the entire theoretical and practical homeopathic art for cure, as an apologetic-critical discussion of the teachings of Hahnemann and his school. In aphorism 14, he shares with us his thoughts, that the homeopathic law Similia similibus curantur not always seems to be universally valid and that it is contestable for critics. This made him formulate the formula for cure, which supports the law of similar as a law for cure.
Jahr: Many times, not only opponents of homeopathy from orthodox medicine, but also representatives of homeopathy have asked, whether so-called homeopathic cures, which were achieved using comparatively small doses according to symptomatic selection of a remedy, really happen according to the law Similia Similibus curantur. Yes, are these medicines capable of creating a disease in healthy humans similar to those they use to cure?
First, when working out his law of similars as the principle for cure, Dr. Samuel Hahnemann refers to a large amount of cases in the previous school of medicine. He proves that a single remedy, which cured very fast, could achieve this because it is capable of bringing about a similar disease in healthy humans, as other physicians have testified it.
According to the experience of all homeopathic practitioners, it stands firm that, under suitable circumstances, almost every remedy is able to cure what it also can produce.
Only, Hering has observed it as well and daily experience confirms it, this concordance only takes place under suitable circumstances, but not by any means always and absolutely. A very large number of remedies produce what they never cure, other remedies, on the other hand, cure what they never produce.
Those, who have devoted a great deal of their time with Materia medica will not have missed that among the signs of almost every remedy certain symptoms appear repeatedly. Let us think about coryza, leucorrhoea, diarrhoea, costiveness, abdominal pain, toothache, and headache. Frequently, these signs even appear in a most striking manner. However, finally, only very few of these medicines and among them just those, which do not produce these symptoms in a most striking manner, will prove preferably specific against them.
If one wants to object that all of these and other similar symptoms most often can be cured by the one remedy, which, aside from the symptomatic symptoms, also can produce the complete disease on which these symptoms are based on, one may be right in many cases, but not in others. For we cure so many complete diseases like whooping cough, croup, scarlatina, measles, smallpox, fleck typhus, pneumonia etc. with remedies, which are able to produce several symptoms of the mentioned diseases, but not by any means the complete disease. Even cinchona bark, the accidental remedy supposed to have lead Hahnemann towards the idea of the principle of similars, arouses several signs found in Malaria.
Only with some goodwill, this disease can be assembled from symptoms it can produce in healthy humans. As perceptible for everyone as nature can do, cinchona bark never can produce this Malaria, except such protracted lengthy cases of Malaria are added, which have been treated with it. Finally, regarding the symptoms it produced composing Malaria, indeed, they also will be found in many other medicines, which have never cured Malaria and never will. With it, other remedies presenting these symptoms to a much lesser degree as cinchona bark often will cure certain cases of Malaria much faster as the former. Only after we have investigated its use at the sickbed, it stands firm whether the respective remedy really can or cannot cure the indicated disease. Never are we able to conclude this from the positive medicinal effects in provings alone.
In addition, what we have just said about Cinchona bark and Malaria is valid for almost any disease and the corresponding remedies Hahnemann has quoted from the old school. However, these remedies can produce fundamental symptoms of the aforementioned diseases, but they will not always cure them. Even, other medicines generating the same symptoms never will cure these diseases.
Therefore, this part of Hahnemann’s reasoning about accuracy of the law of similars is not the strongest. He might have done very well to omit it completely in the fifth edition of the Organon.
Nevertheless, something is true in these observations and in the laws predominant in them. Even if they may be blurred by many attendant circumstances and if they do not appear as obvious as in those cases, Hahnemann has taken from common experience of daily life: Who can contradict if he claims that snow will restore frozen extremities better than heat? Doesn’t moderate external heat cure burned parts faster than cold compresses? Doesn’t a glass of an alcoholic drink allay thirst produced by heat of the sun faster and longer lasting than a glass of fresh water? Even if the law of similars is not being confirmed through the cases just mentioned as it was through the observations in layman’s practice at home, and even if many remedies produce symptoms which they never cure: there is an enormous number of other cases when the most striking effects of medicines bring about the most excellent success against such signs and symptoms.
Opium is famous for its narcotizing power and it will almost never fail with its curative service in conditions marked by narcous sleep. Sulphur, famous for causing a large number of skin eruptions when taken in excessive doses, indeed will also cure many of them. What Mercury causes in healthy bodies and what it will cure in the patient is known to all. The brain-damaging and mad-making effects of Belladonna, Stramonium, Hyoscyamus, Conium and other narcotics are sufficiently well known and they have proven curative in innumerable cases of cerebral affections and confused minds. The same counts for Cuprum, Veratrum, Arsenicum, and Phosphorus in cases of cholera and for many more remedies in other diseases. Still, we have to admit that we are often disappointed when we only know the positive effects of remedies and if we want to infer from here to its extraordinary efficaciousness in similar symptoms of a disease. On the other hand, it is also true, that each time, when we find a remedy against a disease, it will happen only when we let us be guided by the striking similarity of its action with the symptoms of the disease. Success will match even more with our expectations, the more the striking the action of the remedy resembles the symptoms of the disease.
Finally, we see cases when remedies cure diseases, which they never have generated, and never will. However, even here, it can always be proven that at least one or some striking actions of the remedy match well with the most striking and most peculiar symptoms of the present case. Therefore, it is legitimate to assume with certainty that in cases, when a remedy seems to be similar but fails, not the inadequacy of the law is at fault but that we have failed in advance to recognize the effects of the remedy or the symptoms of the disease – if not both.
In addition, if it is like this, the law of similars or Similia similibus curantur will stay firm in all cases as unmistakable law of cure for which similar acting remedies need to be found. To get it right and to use it correctly it is only necessary to define the formula for cure clearly and unambiguously. It is not: ‘Diseases will be cured by remedies able to produce a highly similar disease in the healthy body.’ In the contrary, it is: ‚Diseases give way to such remedies, the essential actions of which on the healthy body correspond to the essential symptoms of the case of disease most accurately.’