Homeopathy is a system of medical practice that originated with the work of the German physician Dr. Samuel Hahnemann (1755-1843), an experienced orthodox physician as well as a competent chemist, a good mineralogist and botanist, and an able translator of eight different languages. Hahnemann discovered that patients with certain diseases could be cured with substances that produce similar toxic effects. He termed this principle ‘similia similibus curentur’ – ‘let likes be cured by likes’, also known as the law of similars.

It is important to note that the law of similars was already known and described by Hippocrates and Paracelsus and was utilized by many cultures, including the Mayans, Chinese, Greeks, Native American Indians, and Asian Indians, but it was Hahnemann who codified the law of similars into a systematic medical science.

Hahnemann  spent  several  years experimenting  on  himself,  his

History of Homeopathy


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family and a group of followers, testing a wide range of natural substances, such as plants and minerals. In fact, he was the ‘father’ of experimental pharmacology. He and his colleagues catalogued over 200 medicines, of plant, mineral and animal origin. Each substance was tested, i.e. taken by healthy volunteers who kept detailed records of their physical, mental and emotional reactions. Repeating this type of experiment led him to observe and describe the basic principles of homeopathy.

A guiding principal in Hahnemann’s teaching is ‘Primum non nocere’ - "first, do no harm". Because of his desire to minimise the harmful effects of the medicines which doctors were using he repeatedly diluted and succussed (vigorously shook) each medicine to reduce its potential to poison and cause harm. What surprised him in his use of these preparations was that the more stages of dilution and succussion the drug had gone through, the greater its potential to cure quickly and harmlessly. His observations laid the principles of how homeopathic medicines are prepared using dilution and succussion.

In the nineteenth century this revolutionary method rapidly spread all over Europe and by European emigrants to North and South America, and by 1900, about twenty percent of doctors in the United States were homeopaths, but due to various political and social changes, homeopathy became relatively unknown in the US until recently. This was not the case in other countries that have a wide acceptance of homeopathy such as France, Germany, Mexico, Argentina, India and Great Britain. In fact, the family doctor to England's Queen Elizabeth is a homeopathic physician.

The World Health Organization estimates that Homeopathy is currently practiced by over 500 million people worldwide.

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