Hippocrates known as the 'father of
Medicine' had a collection of several hundred remedies. One of the best examples
he provided of the principle of 'like curing like' was using the root of Veratrum
album (white hellebore) in the treatment of cholera. In large doses, this highly
poisonous root causes violent purging that leads to severe dehydration, causing
the same symptoms of cholera.
In the early 16th century,
Swiss doctor Paracelus (1493-1541) found out that the causes of diseases were
linked to external forces such as contaminated food and drink. He also
believed that a poisonous substance that causes disease could also cure the
disease if given in very small doses and that physicians should take into account
the body's own natural ability to heal itself. Here again the principle of 'Homeopathy'
was advocated. But it did not gain popularity for another 300 years, until
Homeopathy came into being.
1790, while translating 'A treatise on Materia Medica' by Dr. William
Cullen, Hahnemann came across a passage about Peruvian Bark or Cinchona. It
stated that quinine which
is a substance purified from the bark of the cinchona tree, was a good treatment
for malaria because of its astringent qualities. This made no sense to Hahnemann
who, as a chemist was aware that there were other much more powerful astringents
that had no effect on malaria. Deciding to investigate further, he dosed himself
with quinine and recorded his reactions in great detail. He begun to develop
the symptoms of malaria one after another, despite the fact that he actually
did not have the disease. The symptoms recurred every time he took a dose of
quinine and lasted for several hours. If he did not take any quinine, he had
no symptoms. He repeated the doses of quinine, which he called 'provings' on
people he knew well, noting the reactions in great detail. He then repeated
the process using other substances such as arsenic and belladonna under strict
conditions. The 'provers' were not allowed to eat or drink anything that might
confuse the results such as alcohol, tea, coffee and salty or spicy foods. The
'provers' response varied, some
showed a few mild symptoms to a particular substance, while others experienced
vigorous reactions with a variety of symptoms.
The symptoms that were most commonly
found for each substance he called first line or keynote symptoms. Second line symptoms
were less common and third line symptoms were rare. The combination of symptoms
made up a 'drug picture' for each substance. He continued to conduct experiments
for 6 years, testing a wide range of substances. He compiled the 'drug pictures'
he had collected from his careful research, and started to test each substance
on the sick to see whether they benefited from it. The patients were physically
examined and thoroughly questioned about their symptoms, i.e., their general
health, the way they lived and their outlook on life and what factors made them
better or worse. Thus he build up a symptoms picture of each patient. Then he
matched the individuals symptoms picture to the 'drug picture' of various substance.
When he established the closest match, he would prescribe a remedy. He found
that the closer the match, the more successful the treatment. Thus a new system
of medicine 'Homeopathy' was discovered.
In 1776, Hanhemann published
his book 'A new principle for ascertaining the curative powers of drugs and
some examination of previous Principles', his first work on Homeopathy. In this
book, he explained the key principle that, a drug taken in small amounts will
cure the same symptoms it causes in large amounts.