The history of homeopathy begins with its founder Dr Samuel Hahnemann [1755-1843], a German physician who was a MD in conventional medicine .Dr Hahnemann coined the word homeopathy [HOMEOS means SIMILAR and PATHOS means SUFFERING in Greek] to refer the pharmacological principle ’the law of similars’.Although Hahnemann was a physician of conventional medicine he was dissatisfied with the prevailing interventional modalities and incurable nature of chronic diseases. During his time the conventional medicine followed treatment modalities like blood letting, venesections, leeching etc. As the wisdom of this genius was not in accord with these harmful methods he relentlessly searched for better remedies, did experiments in chemistry and pharmacology.
He wrote ‘The pharmaceutical Lexicon”. He left his medical profession and found a vocation in translating books as he was a linguist, proficient in 9 languages. In 1790 Hahnemann could notice while translating a book by William Cullen that Peruvian bark[ cinchona bark]is useful in the treatment of malaria due to its bitter and astringent properties.
Hahnemann wrote a bold footnote in his translation that the curing principle can’t be the bitterness as there are so many other substances which are more bitter than Peruvian bark and they do not effect a cure.Hahnemann started experiments with cinchona bark on himself up to its toxicological doses and developed fever ,chill and other symptoms similar to malaria.Hahnemann concluded that the diseasing producing principle of the bark is beneficial in treating malaria. This was the beginning of a new system of disease. Dr Hahnemann conducted studies and experiments with so many substances and he repeatedly verified his findings. Homeopathy was born only after meticulous research on so many substances which were proved beneficial in curing various ailments .Although he faced rampant criticism and threats against the existence of this new system from his own medical school of orthodox medicine, homeopathy could gain popularity amongst public and spread across Europe and later to Asia.
Dr Hahnemann has contributed many treatise and volumes of books of Material Medica to the world ,gained through his experiments and clinical observations.
His remarkable contributions to homeopathy include:
- The organon of medicine which describes the philosophical aspects of homeopathy and pharmacology.
- Materia medica pura
- The chronic diseases
There were so many followers for homeopathy across the world like Dr Kent, Boger, Boenninghausen, DR Johann Ernst Stapf, Hering, Lutz et al.They have developed homeopathy to the present upholding the principles of the founder unchanged ,standing the test of time.
Dr Hahnemann has mentioned two centuries before about iatrogenic [drug induced] diseases and lifestyle diseases in his book Organon of medicine as artificial chronic diseases and pseudo chronic diseases respectively. He predicted the etiology [causation] of incurable chronic diseases as MIASMS. Miasms are nothing but inherited and acquired predispositions to diseases and infections [we call them in the present day as viruses ,bacteria etc]The conventional medicine[allopathy] proclaims miasmatic theory as absurd or unscientific .Now the scientific world reports so many diseases are of unknown etiology ,some are genetic inheritances, some are due to environmental factors. All these substantiates that Dr Hahnemann was an astute observer and a great researcher of all times.
History of homeopathy in India can be traced back as the year 1835 when Dr John Martin Honigberger visited India as he was called in by Maharaja Ranjith Singh of Lahore. He cured maharaja ,dispensing the remedy ‘DULCAMARA’ in wine from paralysis of vocal cord .Honingberger also treated the foot ulcer of maharaja’s horse and he became the chief physician of maharaja’s court. Later Honingberger shifted to Calcutta and he cured so many cholera cases.
Other important names in the history of homeopathy in India include Dr Mahendra Lal Sircar, Rajendralal DUTTA, Fr Augustus Muller, DR L.D Dhawale etc. All of them has contributed much to alleviate the distresses of suffering humanity when cholera & plague were epidemic in several parts of India.
Now homeopathy is practised across the world as a solution for acute and chronic diseases ,especially for those diseases where other medical system have no permanent or effective curative modalities in the present scenario of autoimmune &iatrogenic diseases and antibiotic resistance.