The principle of homeopathy was known to Hippocrates, the 5th century Greek physician, and the 16th century Swiss alchemist, Paracelsus, both recognised the role of nature as a healer of the disease.
During the 16th and 17th century, the principle of ‘similia similibus curentur’ – ‘Let like be treated by like’, was followed by homeopaths. However, Homeopathy as it is practised today, owes its establishment to one person – Dr Samuel Hahnemann, the great German physician, scholar and chemist of the late 18th and early 19th century.
Hahnemann was appalled by the mainstream medical practice, which he believed often did more harm than good. He sought a method which was safe, gentle and effective. He believed that generally, the people should be able to heal their illness themselves and thus the symptoms of illness reflect on the struggle of the body to overcome its illness. Consequently, the homeopath’s job is to discover and, if possible, remove the cause of the trouble, and to stimulate the body’s natural healing power.
In his work, Hahnemann found that remedies obtained from natural substances such as vegetables, minerals, animals, and, rarely, biological matters were more effective in extreme dilute form. He also discovered that something that brings on symptoms in healthy individual can treat an illness with the similar symptoms in a very small dose. This was especially noticeable in the cases of poisons. For example, symptoms caused by poison ivy or bee sting can be treated by using very diluted medication obtained from poison ivy or whole crushed bees respectively.
To prove the validity of his theory, Hahnemann and his followers took small doses of various known poisonous substances themselves, carefully noting the symptoms they produced. These were called ‘proving’. Subsequently, patients suffering from similar symptoms were treated with these substances. The results were usually encouraging and often remarkable.
Hahnemann then worked to establish the smallest effective dose, realising that this was the best way to avoid side effects. Additionally, he found that more the remedy was diluted, more effective it became. With close observation and careful experimentation, he recognised the three Principles of Homeopathy.
- A medicine which causes the symptoms of disease in the large doses, cures the same symptoms in the small diluted doses.
- Extreme dilution of the medicine enhances the curative properties while eliminating the undesirable toxic properties.
- Homeopathic medicines are prescribed after studying individual’s physical, mental and emotional personality as a whole.