“The physician’s high and only mission is to restore the sick to health, to cure, as it is termed.”
Born in Meissen, Saxony, April 10, 1755. Hahnemann grew up during an era of tremendous upheaval and rebirth in Europe which was centered in Germany with the “Enlightenment” movement, which encouraged freedom of thought and opinion. He was born into a poor family and was taught early by his father never to learn passively but to question everything. Hahnemann later developed his thirst for knowledge into a profoundly deep–reaching gift. He virtually read all medical books previously published, in nine languages.
Hahnemann became a Medical Doctor in 1791 and practiced conventional medicine for nine years until he discovered, quite by accident, that by ingesting repeated doses of Chinchona bark (to test Cullens theory on the effectiveness of China in treating Malaria) he would develop the symptoms of malaria, which the bark was used to treat. Thus the first homeopathic proving, and the discovery of the first law of homeopathy: Similia similibus curentur, or “like cures like”. Hahnemann named this newfound therapy “Homeo” (similar) “Pathy” (suffering). He began conducting provings with many of the medicines used in allopathy but his methods were met with disbelief and ridicule by his contemporaries.
Although his patients were experiencing profound cures which solidly verified his theories, Hahnemann was marked as an outcast because his method of single and minimum dosage was threatening the financial foundation of the powerful apothecaries. Hahnemann focused on reducing the dose to the point where there were no side effects but he was unsatisfied because this step further rendered the dose insufficient in strength to act. He experimented with a new method whereby after each dilution he would shake the substance vigorously. This he called “succussion” thus developing the energetic aspect of homeopathy. It is unknown how Hahnemann reasoned this (still scientifically unexplainable) method of “potentization”.
In 1810, Hahnemann published the first of six editions of “The Organon” which clearly defined his homeopathic philosophy. In the same year, 80,000 men were killed when Napoleon attacked Liepzig. Hahnemann’s homeopathic treatment of the survivors, and also of the victims of the great typhus epidemic that followed the siege, was highly successful and further spread his, and homeopathy’s, reputation. Hahnemann taught at the Liepzig University where his lectures would often shift into sharp tongued diatribes against the dangerous practices of conventional medicine, thus nicknamed “Raging Hurricane” by his students. By 1821, Hahnemann had proven sixty–six remedies and published his Materia Medica Pura in six volumes. In 1831, Cholera swept through Central Europe. Hahnemann published papers on the homeopathic treatment of the disease and instigated the first widespread usage of homeopathy which had a 96% cure rate as compared to allopathy’s 41% rate.
In 1834, Hahnemann met the avant–garde Parisian, Mademoiselle Marie Melanie d’Hervilly. They were married (his second marriage, her first) within six months, and settled in Paris. In spite of the fact he was more than twice her age, they remained very intimate, she was working by his side in his active practice until July 2, 1843 when Hahnemann died, in Paris, at the age of 88. This picture was painted by Melanie when Hahnemann was 83.
(Photo: The original painting is hanging at the Bosch Institute in Stuttgart)