What is Homeopathy?

Homeopathy is a system of medicine introduced and developed by the respected German physician, Samuel Hahnemann, at the end of the 18th century. 


Recognizing that the whole person-mind, body, spirit-is affected when there is illness, homeopathy seeks to treat that whole person. The focus is not the diseased part or the sickness, rather the totality of the individual. It is believed that Homeopathic medicines, or 'remedies', stimulate the body's self-regulating mechanisms to initiate the healing process.


When a person becomes ill, it is the whole that is sick including the body and mind. The body manifests symptoms of illness but it is not the origin of the illness. Upon death, the physical body remains, but it is no longer curable. That which is curable, the 'vital force' (or prana), has left the body. The origin of illness lies in the imbalance of the vital force. The symptoms expressed by the body, mind, and spirit are the manifestation of that imbalance. By matching the symptoms of illness with the appropriate homeopathic remedy, the vital force returns to balance. The symptoms disappear as the person heals.


Birth of Homeopathy:

In the year 1796, after six years of his experiment, Hahnemann published an article in Hufeland’s Journal Vol-II, (Parts 3 and 4, pages 391 – 439 and 465 – 561) namely, “An Essay on a New Principle for Ascertaining the Curative Powers of Drugs and Some Examinations of the Previous Principles.”


This lengthy and important essay was the first published result of Hahnemann’s observations on a new principle of treating. He put forward his new doctrine of Similia Similibus Curantur (like cures like) in contrast to the age-old doctrine of Contraria Contrariis Curantur (opposite cures opposite). This is the reason why according to Richard Haehl, 1796 is the year of birth of Homeopathy.


Here we find the initial insights of Hahnemann that emerged from all the hard labors of his previous years, in particular the early discoveries of the dual nature of disease and medicinal action. The doctrines of Homeopathy were attempted to be formulated, for the very first time by Hahnemann from his article “The Medicine of Experience” published in the year 1805 till the complete systematization of the principles and practice of the Homeopathic art of healing which was done with the publication of Hahnemann’s Organon of Medicine in 1810.


The art of medicine was thus placed on a scientific footing when Hahnemann discovered the law guiding the selection of drug to cure diseases and the method of testing the positive action of each individual drug. The medicine of speculation which existed since time immemorial was changed into 'Medicine of Experience', based on the Law of Similia.


Law of Similia:

Law of Similia is one of the cardinal principles of Homeopathy. It is the cornerstone principle whose axiom in German is "Similia Similbus Curentur", which means "Let likes cure likes". Homeopathy actually derives its name from the Greek, homoeo = similar, and pathos = suffering. Through research and practice Hahnemann verified cure through the use of similars again and again. 


A substance that can produce disease in a healthy person is used to elicit a healing response in someone presenting with a similar disease. Each person shows symptoms of the body and mind when they are sick. Some of these symptoms are common to that sickness, others are characteristic of that person in their sickness. The homeopathic practitioner matches the symptom picture of the best suited homeopathic remedy to the symptom picture of the person, with particular attention paid to those symptoms which are unique to the individual.


Law of Similia mentioned in 'Shrimad Bhagwat Mahapuran':

India is having a glorious past in terms of literature, culture and knowledge. The Indian literary heritage is the oldest in the world and is primarily in the form of verses. Indian literature is not an imagination or fictional content instead it is rich in scientific content, apart from philosophy, poetry, etc. Our ancient literature is filled with secrets and mysteries. On the basis of our literature many inventions and discoveries have been made throughout the world.


Similarly, the recognition of law of cure is also of ancient Indian origin. No one knows when the first recognition of this law crept into use, but ancient Hindu manuscripts recorded its application. 

Shrimad Bhagwat Mahapuran, Canto 1, SB 1.5, verse 33, says, 

आमयो यश्च भूतानां जयते येन सुव्रता 

तदेव याम्यहम द्रव्यं न पुनाति चिकित्सितम्

"O good soul, does not a thing, applied therapeutically, cure a disease which was caused by that very same thing?"


Is this not the same thing which is said in Law of Similia? Hahnemann in Aphorism §26 of Organon of Medicine explains Law of Similia by stating that "A weaker dynamic affection is permanently extinguished in the living organism by a stronger one, if the latter (whilst differing in kind) is very similar to the former in its manifestations."


In simple words he said that when in a living being two similar diseases meet; the stronger disease automatically cures the weaker disease permanently. Therefore, in Homeopathy, the choice of the medicine is fundamentally based on the principle that the medicine must have the capability of producing most similar symptoms of the disease to be cured in healthy people.


When Homeopathy was introduced in India around the first half of the 19th century and some eminent people started practising and propagating it, the common Indians very soon accepted it because they found that the basic principle of Homeopathy - 'Law of Similia, i.e., Similia Similibus Curentur', which was recently discovered (1796) by Dr Samuel Hahnemann of Germany, was actually a part of our ancient medicine. Apart from the above shloka mentioned in Shrimad Bhagwat Mahapuran, our sages knew since ancient times the secret of this 'principle of similarity' inherent in nature. The principles of 'Samah Sam, Shamyati ' (समः समं, शमयति ) i.e., treatment from the same or 'Vishasya Vishamashadham' ('विषस्य विषमौषधम् ') i.e., poison is the medicine of poison or Kantke Naiv Kantkam ('कण्टके नैव कण्टकम् ') i.e., thorn removes the thorn, were known to us for centuries.



For centuries, we Indians have been offering poisonous substances like bhang, dhatura, aak, belpatra, etc. to Bhagwan Shiv to eradicate the effect of the deadly poison that he had carried in his throat during the process of ‘Samudra-Manthan’ to save the world. Is this not Homeopathy? Indians got a glimpse of their faith and culture in the philosophy and principles of Homeopathy. That is why we Indians did not delay in adopting a simple, accessible and affordable medical system based on these principles - Homeopathy.


It is evident that the hidden hypothesis mentioned in our ancient sacred text was scientifically established by Hahnemann. Although Hahnemann had so clearly grasped and formulated the law of similia, he never claimed that he had discovered it. In fact, he quoted a number of people, who he thought, either stated it or hinted it long before he came upon it. He has mentioned some of the writings that mention the Law of Similia. For instance, Hippocrates sensed the possibilities of this law and applied it in some recorded cases. Paracelsus, the famous physician of 16th century, borrowed heavily from Ayurveda because Basic Indian book “Charak Samhita” was translated in Persian by Manak and in Arabic by Abdul Habib.  Hahnemann himself mentions that Bouldac wrote that rhubarb's purgative quality was the reason why it cured diarrhoea. Detharding said that senna cured colic because it produces a similar effect on the healthy individuals, and Stahl wrote that "the rule accepted in medicine to cure by contrariis is entirely wrong; on the contrary diseases are cured by means of medicines capable of producing an affection.


In this way from time to time all through the medical history this hypothesis was enunciated or demonstrated in greater or lesser degree. But it was only Hahnemann who was so convinced by this law that he declared it to be universal or Nature's Law of Cure and he developed the most complete and amazing system of healing the world has ever known i.e., Homeopathy which was entirely based upon it. From a crude law of nature, it became an applied principle of a system of healing. It is therefore conclusive that this nectar seed which was sown in the glorious past of India, sprouted, blossomed and bloomed in Germany by Hahnemann who stood tall like a constructive genius who’s parallel there was none in European history of medicine.



References:

  1. Organon of the Medical Art by Samuel Hahnemann (Author), Wenda Brewster O'Reilly (Editor) – January 1, 1996.
  2. Samuel Hahnemann, Essay on a New Principle for Ascertaining the Curative Powers of Drugs, 1796. https://mmpp-saine.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/61.Hahnemann-Essay-new-principle.pdf
  3. Srimad Bhagavata Mahapurana, Translations by His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada; Page 63. https://padmanabhdas.files.wordpress.com/2014/12/srimad-bhagavata-mahapurana-english-translations.pdf
  4. D.P. Agrawal and Lalit Tiwari, Ayurveda: the Traditional Indian Medicine System and its Global Dissemination (indianscience.org)