Homeopathy is a form of natural medicine that was founded by Samuel Hahnemann in the 19th Century. Hahnemann had been trained in the allopathic medicine of his time in Germany and came to be a well regarded and respected physician. He soon, however, became disenchanted with the field of medicine, its arbitrary practices, and what he perceived was its tendency to do harm to its recipients. Fluent in Arabic, Latin, Greek, English, and French, he dropped his lucrative practice and began relying upon his ability to translate medical works as a means to earn his living. While he was translating the Materica Medica written by the English Professor William Cullen, he came upon the therapeutic indications for the use of Peruvian bark or quinine and its use in treating malaria. Hahnemann was dissatisfied with the author’s explanation that its curative power lay in its bitterness. For some odd reason, Hahnemann decided to administer the medicine to himself. To his surprise, within a few days of taking the medicine he began developing all of the commonly known symptoms of malaria itself. Here in Hahnemann’s mind was born the homeopathic law of similars : A substance that produces a set of symptoms in a healthy body can cure the same set of symptoms in a diseased individual.
This concept, accidentally fallen upon by Hahnemann, was not entirely new in the history of medical thought. Hippocrates, the ancient Greek physician wrote, “Disease is born of like things and by the attack of like things people are healed – vomiting ends through vomiting.” Later day physicians made similar observations. Bouldoc, for example, wrote in 1710 that the purging property of rhubarb was the cause of its ability to halt diarrhea.
Hahnemann took this a step further by introducing the novel idea that the medicinal healing properties of a substance could be discovered by doing provings. – administering substances (in minute doses) to healthy volunteers and then very methodically recording the effects – on the mental, emotional, and physical planes. These observations then serve to point to which groups of symptoms can be healed with a given substance when found in a sick individual. Thus the theory of homeopathic therapeutics was founded.
Students of Hahnemann founded the first homeopathic medical school in the United States in the late 1800’s. It gained recognition because of its success in treating the many disease epidemics rampant at the time — including scarlet fever, typhoid, cholera and yellow fever.
The other major factor which contributed to homeopathy's decline was was the discovery of sulpha drugs, which were the first generation of antibiotics. These were considered to be the "magic bullet". And, indeed, they were extremely effective in a time when most diseases were acute infections that hadn't been exposed to any form of antibiotic treatment. Sulpha drugs quickly became the treatment of choice of both doctors and their patients. They were easy to use and acted quickly. No one considered the possibility of there being any harm in their use. Well, hardly any one. Several decades before this, James Tyler Kent, the great American homeopath, warned his students about this type of treatment. He said that if we insist on treating every superficial symptom without consideration for the whole person, symptoms will move deeper and deeper into the body, causing more chronic diseases until mankind will become so diseased that he will disappear from the face of the earth.
Although the United States experienced a dwindling interest in homeopathy in the 20th century, other nations, including countries in Europe and Asia, experienced a steady growth of homeopathic teachings and interest.
Today, nearly all French pharmacies sell homeopathic remedies and medicines; and homeopathy has a particularly strong following in Russia, India, Switzerland, Mexico, Germany, Netherlands, Italy, England, and South America.
The British Royal Family has had a very faithful adherence to homeopathy as their preferred form of medical treatment. Monarchs from Queen Adelaide in the 18th century to Queen Elizabeth II today have kept the ranks of many homeopathic physicians in their presence.
Homeopathy is also rising again in the United States. This resurgence has been documented by the National Center for Homeopathy in Virginia, which stated that Americans spent 230 million dollars on homeopathic remedies in 1996. It has also been said that sales are rising rapidly at about 12 – 15% each year.
Whole Health Now
Jane Tara Cicchetti, CCH
Dana Ullman, the Huffington Post