Homœopathy¹‚² is a medical therapy based on the reproducible observation that a disease may be healed by a substance that produces similar effects in healthy individuals³ (Organon, §24). This observation, known as the law of similars (Similia Similibus Curantur), was developed into a therapeutic system by Samuel Hahnemann (1755-1843). A homœopath attempts to prescribe a medicine that has been shown through carefully conducted trials to produce similar effects to those of the patient’s illness – the more similar, the more effective the result (Organon, §25).
¹ Greek: όμοιον [omoion, similar] + πάθος [pathos, suffering].
² Genuine, orthodox Homœopathy is practiced in strict accordance with the method described by Hahnemann in the Organon of Medicine, Chronic Diseases, and Lesser Writings and is void of all speculative reasoning (Organon, §6). Homœopathy proper differs from modern techniques, which incorrectly call themselves Homœopathy, yet prescribe mixtures of more than one medication at a time (polypharmacy) and/or utilize speculative theories, such as the doctrine of signatures (as well as other a priori speculations about substance effects based upon smell, taste, appearance, chemical analysis, or the faculty of imagination) in order to select a medicinal substance (Organon, §110).
³ Carefully conducted trials are termed “provings” in the historical homœopathic literature.
Proving is an English transliteration of the German term that Hahnemann used, Prüfung.*
*Hahnemann, S. The Medicine of Experience (1805), Lesser Writings, pp. 452-453.
“Many of the most active medicines have already occasionally found their way into the human body, and the accidents they have given rise to have been recorded.2
In order to follow still farther this natural guide and to penetrate more profoundly into this source of knowledge, we administer these medicines experimentally, the weaker as well as the stronger, each singly and uncombined, to healthy individuals, with caution, and carefully removing all accessory circumstances capable of exercising an influence, we note down the symptoms they occasion precisely in the order in which they occur, and thus we obtain the pure result of the form of disease that each of these medicinal substances is capable of producing, absolutely and by itself, in the human body.³
² If we compare the occasional happy cures effected by these medicines, the most prejudiced person must be struck with the extraordinary resemblance that exists between the symptoms caused by the medicines on the healthy body, and those whereby the disease it cures is characterized.
³ In order to ascertain the effects of less powerful medicines in this manner, we must give only one pretty strong dose to the temperate healthy person who is the subject of the experiment, and it is best to give it in solution. If we wish to ascertain the remaining symptoms, which were not revealed by the first trial, we may give to another person, or to the same individual, but only then after the lapse of several days, when the action of the first dose is fully over, a similar or even stronger portion, and note the symptoms of irritation thence resulting in the same careful and skeptical manner. For medicines that are still weaker we require, in addition to a considerable dose, individuals that are, it is true, healthy, but of very irritable delicate constitutions. The more obvious and striking symptoms must be recorded in the list, those that are of a dubious character should be marked with the sign of dubiety, until they have frequently been confirmed.
In the investigation of these medicinal symptoms, all suggestions must be as carefully avoided, as has been recommended for the investigation of the symptoms of disease. It must be chiefly the mere voluntary relation of the person who is the subject of the experiment, nothing like guess-work, nothing obtained by dint of cross questioning, that should be noted down as truth, and still less, expressions of sensations that have previously been put in the experimenter’s mouth.
But how, even in diseases, amid the symptoms of the original disease, the medicinal symptoms may be discovered, is the subject for the exercise of a higher order of inductive minds, and must be left to masters only in the art of observation.”
Adapted from Homœopathy definition by George Dimitriadis, “Homœopathy in fact, defence against fallacious attack, and definition” and Jamie Oskin, ND, “Polarity Analysis: A Critical Examination,” (AJHM, Winter 2014).
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