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Descovery of homeopathy….A serendipity

Being Samuel Hahnemann, an illustrious German doctor, (known as the Meissen’s wise, born in 1755),making the translation of William Cullen’s Medical Matter, found out a recommendation about a remedy used to treat intermittent fever, cinchona officinalis, and he had a disagreement with it. Cullen said that one of the components of this tree’s bark was bitter, so that, it was able to fight the fever. Hahnemann, knowing about this substance’s toxicity, didn’t accept the way this remedy was used and he didn’t accept either Cullen’s argument.

He said himself: - "to judge as well the value of this remedy is necessary to test its effects in healthy man ....". It was when he took the decision of taking, without being sick, several doses of the mentioned remedy, let me to add likewise stated: - "to judge either the value of this remedy is necessary to test its effects in healthy man ...."

I added a translation of personal note which said: - "I took (by mouth) to experience twice a day, four drachms of pure
China ....", later, he described the symptoms that he felt.

He was surprised when started experimenting some of the symptoms similar to the ones the remedy was indicated for. It came to his mind Hippocrates’ postulate which had been ignored for more than 2000 years. It said: “Cure illnesses with its similar”. Then, Hahnemann realized that it wasn’t the bitter taste of cinchona what was curing this kind of fever, but the similarity of the effects caused by it with the symptoms of the illness.

The following is a compilation of paragraphs on the organon where Hahnemann talks about authentic experimentation and administration via.

“This spirit-like power to alter man’s state of health (and hence to cure diseases) which lies hidden in the inner nature of medicines can in itself never be discovered by us by a mere effort of reason; it is only by experience of the phenomena it displays when acting on the state of health of man that we can become clearly cognizant of it” (§ 20 Org. Sixth edition)

“Now, as it is undeniable that the curative principle in medicines is not in itself perceptible, and as in pure experiments with medicines conducted by the most accurate observers, nothing can be observed that can constitute them medicines or remedies except that power of causing distinct alterations in the state of health of the human body, and particularly in that of the healthy individual, and of exciting in him various definite morbid symptoms; so it follows that when medicines act as remedies, they can only bring their curative property into play by means of this their power of altering man’s state of health by the production of peculiar symptoms; and that, therefore, we have only to rely on the morbid phenomena which the medicines produce in the healthy body as the sole possible revelation of their in-dwelling curative power, in order to learn what disease-producing power, and at the same time what disease-curing power, each individual medicine possesses.” (§ 21)

“The whole pathogenetic effect of the several medicines must be known; that is to say, all the morbid symptoms and alterations in the health that each of them is specially capable of developing in the healthy individual must first have been observed as far as possible, before we can hope to be able to find among them, and to select, suitable homoeopathic remedies for most of the natural disease.” ( § 106)

“If, in order to ascertain this, medicines be given to sick persons only, even though they be administered singly and alone, then little or nothing precise is seen of their true effects, as those peculiar alterations of the health to be expected from the medicine are mixed up with the symptoms of the disease and can seldom be distinctly observed.” ( § 107)

“There is, therefore, no other possible way in which the peculiar effects of medicines on the health of individuals can be accurately ascertained - there is no sure, no more natural way of accomplishing this object, than to administer the several medicines experimentally, in moderate doses, to healthy persons, in order to ascertain what changes, symptoms and signs of their influence each individually produces on the health of the body and of the mind; that is to say, what disease elements they are able and tend to produce1, since, as has been demonstrated (§§ 24-27), all the curative power of medicines lies in this power they possess of changing the state of man’s health, and is revealed by observation of the latter.”

1 “Not one single physician, as far as I know, during the previous two thousand five hundred years, thought of this so natural, so absolutely necessary and only genuine mode of testing medicines for their pure and peculiar effects in deranging the health of man, in order to learn what morbid state each medicine is capable of curing, except the great and immoral Albrecht von Haller. He alone, besides myself, saw the necessity of this (vide the Preface to the Pharmacopoeia Helvet, Basil, 1771, fol., p.12); Nempe primum in corpore sano medela tentanda est, sine peregrina ulla miscela; odoreque et sapore ejus exploratis, exigua illiu dosis ingerenda et ad ommes, quae inde contingunt, affectiones, quis pulsus, qui calor, quae respiratia, quaenam excretiones, attendum. Inde ad ductum phaenomenorum, in sano obviorum, transeas ad experimenta in corpore aegroro,” etc. But no one, not a single physician, attended to or followed up this invaluable hint.” (§ 108 paragraph and footnote)

“For these experiments every medicinal substance must be employed quite alone and perfectly pure, without the admixture of any foreign substance, and without taking anything else of a medicinal nature the same day, nor yet on the subsequent days, nor during all the time we wish to observe the effects of the medicine.” (§ 124)

“During all the time the experiment lasts the diet must be strictly regulated; it should be as much as possible destitute of spices, of a purely nutritious and simple character, green vegetables,1 roots and all salads and herb soups (which, even when most carefully prepared, possess some disturbing medicinal qualities) should be avoided. The drinks are to be those usually partaken of, as little stimulating as possible.2

1 Young green peas, green French beans (‘boiled potatoes’ in the Sixth Edition) and in all cases carrots are allowable, as the least medicinal vegetables.

2 The subject of experiment must either be not in the habit of taking pure wine, brandy, coffee or tea, or he must have totally abstained for a considerable time previously from the use of these injurious beverages, some of which are stimulating, others medicinal.” (§ 125 and footnotes)

“The person who is proving the medicine must be pre-eminently trustworthy and conscientious and during the whole time of the experiment avoid all over-exertion of mind and body, all sorts of dissipation and disturbing passions; he should have no urgent business to distract his attention; he must devote himself to careful self-observation and not be disturbed while so engaged; his body must be in what is for him a good state of health, and he must possess a sufficient amount of intelligence to be able to express and describe his sensations in accurate terms.” (§ 126 )

“The medicines must be tested on both males and females, in order also to reveal the alterations of the health they produce in the sexual sphere.” (§ 127)

“On experiencing any particular sensation from the medicine, it is useful, indeed necessary, in order to determine the exact character of the symptom, to assume various positions while it lasts, and to observe whether, by moving the part affected, by walking in the room or the open air, by standing, sitting or lying the symptom is increased, diminished or removed, and whether it returns on again assuming the position in which it was first observed, - whether it is altered by eating or drinking, or by any other condition, or by speaking, coughing, sneezing or any other action of the body, and at the same time to note at what time of the day or night it usually occurs in the most marked manner, whereby what is peculiar to and characteristic of each symptom will become apparent.” (§ 133 )

“The whole of the elements of disease a medicine is capable of producing can only be brought to anything like completeness by numerous observations on suitable persons of both sexes and of various constitutions. We can only be assured that a medicine has been thoroughly proved in regard to the morbid states it can produce - that is to say, in regard to its pure powers of altering the health of man - when subsequent experimenters can notice little of a novel character from its action, and almost always only the same symptoms as had been already observed by others.” (§ 135)

Summarizing: The following a the rules for an authentic experimentation:

1.-We choose an heterogeneous group as much as possible. Including children, elderly, adults, people of various occupations, constitutions, races, etc..

2.-For each of the subjects is done a complete clinical history in order to know their medical history, living habits, etc. We chose only to persons apparently or relatively healthy.

3.-The people who are undergoing testing must no to know the name of the substance will get. We do this to prevent that any prior knowledge about that substance could produce by suggestion any of the symptoms or signs that is able to generate.

4.-The drug is administered in a simple, pure and sufficiently attenuated, indicating that it must not take or use any other drug substance, by any via. This is including drops to eyes, ointments, sodas with caffeine or codeine, etc.

5.-Once those symptoms appear, first they (experimenters) must stop taking the element and carefully analyzed all the symptoms and their modalities of aggravation and improvement.

6.-After having gathered information throughout the group, ordering carefully, after a personal analysis with each of them, to be sure that just about signs and symptoms caused by the substance that is being experienced.

In addition to the results obtained through pure experimentation, we have two sources of information that make us know the true and complete healing substances: The toxicology and clinical experience.


1.-Organon , 6th edition, Dr. Samuel Hahnemann

2.-Nueva Farmacopea Homeopática Versión corregida y aumentada, Dr. Luis Zepeda Castañeda

3.-Samuel Hahneman, El triunfo sobre la adversidad, Dr. Luis Zepeda Castañeda

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Comment by Dr Guillermo Zamora on February 19, 2010 at 2:11pm
Dear Chiong:

Regarding all these rules, probably i should add: As much as possible.

Thank you for your contributions Chiong.
Best Regards
Dr. G
Comment by Chiong on February 19, 2010 at 9:44am
A properly controlled experiment is often designed to keep as far as possible all possible factors that we thought could affect the outcome and then varying one of these factors.
The rules of experiments you had suggested are to determine the effects of homoeopathic remedies at material dosage.

Sex and postures were 2 factors that you had mentioned but there are others as well such as the time of the day, the season, the humidity, atmospheric pressure, emotional states etc.

Could such experiments ever be complete ? Completeness theorem says no.

There are also experiments to test the efficacy of homoeopathic remedies. I think it is these experiments that are the main point of contention.
Comment by Ranga Sai on February 16, 2010 at 3:00pm

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