Hahnemann and Homeopathy by David
A discussion of the
philosophical roots of homeopathy which Dr. Samuel Hahnemann
expressed through various aphorisms in his "Organon of the Medical
Hahnemann and Homeopathy
is a 200 year old system of healing developed by the German
physician Samuel Hahnemann (1755-1843). Although the concept of
"like curing like" had been recognized for thousands of years,
Hahnemann was the first to expand on this principle as he developed
a comprehensive philosophy of health and disease. Hahnemann
continued to refine and perfect his approach over a number of
decades, and his "Organon of the Medical Art" was revised five times
during the course of his lifetime.
Hahnemann's first aphorism is as follows:
"The physician's highest and only calling is to make the sick
healthy, to cure, as it is called."
This aphorism, while seemingly uncontroversial, is actually a
profound statement which exorts physicians to clarify personal
motivations as they work to facilitate healing.
Hahnemann then defines true health and what it offers the
"In the healthy human state, the spirit-like life force that
enlivens the material organism, governs without restriction and
keeps all parts of the organism in admirable, harmonious, vital
operation, as regards both feelings and functions, so that our
indwelling, rational spirit can freely avail itself of this living,
healthy instrument for the higher purposes of our existence."
Fundamental to homeopathic philosophy is the idea that the person's
body, mind and emotions work as an integrated whole. In a state of
health the person is able to adapt to and rebound from intrinsic or
extrinsic stresses of everyday life. However, in situations where
stressors are too strong or too prolonged, the person becomes
'stuck' in an adaptive response and is no longer able to return to a
state of relative health and balance. The adaptive response, while
perhaps useful in the short-term for dealing with stress, ultimately
manifests itself in physical, mental and emotional 'dis-ease'.
The signs and symptoms of physical disease are simply the most
tangible indications of how the 'whole person' has become
imbalanced. The full extent of disease is seen on mental and
emotional levels as well. The adaptive response, recognized and
defined as disease, is considered to be the 'best effort' of the
whole person to protect against even further limitation. For
example, muscle tension is a bothersome symptom for many people, but
generally does not restrict one from getting through the day.
Alternately, anxiety is considered a higher level of limitation
which can limit a person from activities they might otherwise want
Homeopaths consider a 'continuum' of health and disease in which a
person can move towards greater freedom or greater limitation. This
concept suggests a hierarchy of health and disease--during times of
disease a person's life may be more or less limited on physical,
mental and emotional levels. Therefore simply eliminating
physical symptoms does not mean one has rid oneself of the greater
imbalance or susceptibility to disease. One must also see that the
person is moving in a direction of greater freedom.
In conventional medicine a physician/provider works to discern those
common symptoms which lead to a particular diagnostic category (and
a particular group of medicines used to treat such conditions). In
contrast, a homeopath works to discern what is unique about an
individual's symptoms in order to match a specific corresponding
remedy. Because each person responds to the events and challenges
of life in a unique way, the homeopath carefully listens to each
person to learn what is 'characteristic' about them and their
particular complex of symptoms. Differing patterns of symptoms,
reflecting the unique response of each individual to stressors, will
require respectively different homeopathic remedies for treatment.
"By adding the patient's mental and emotional state (accurately
observed by the patient's relations and by the physician himself) to
the patient's somatic symptoms, a complete image of the disease is
put together. In order to homeopathically cure the malady, a
medicine must be sought which is capable of arousing aptly similar
symptoms, and especially, the similar mental derangement."
There are over 2,000 homeopathic medicines made from substances in
the plant, animal and mineral kingdoms. Each of these substances
possesses its own unique potential for producing particular symptoms
in healthy individuals, and for curing those same symptoms in a sick
person. The expectation is that with the stimulus of a correctly
chosen remedy, the system's 'best effort' is matched and
strengthened so completion of healing will occur.
Homeopathic remedies offer a safe, effective, and non-toxic approach
to the treatment of many first-aid, acute and chronic medical
conditions, and their popularity in the U.S. has continued to
increase over the past 10-20 years. It is generally easy to select
a homeopathic remedy for first aid conditions, and most acute
self-limited conditions respond quickly to homeopathy as well.
Long-standing conditions such as allergies, asthma, chronic
headaches, eczema, menstrual complaints, attention-deficit disorder
and mental/emotional problems are best treated by consulting a
well-trained classical homeopath, as this will require an extensive
interview and careful follow-up care. Homeopaths are hopeful
they'll work in increasing cooperation with conventional medical
practitioners so the greatest strengths of each system can be