“The highest ideal of cure is the speedy, gentle, and enduring restoration of health by the most trustworthy and least harmful way.” – Samuel Hahnemann

Dr Samuel Hahnemann, Founder of Homeopathy

Historical Context

Dr Samuel Hahnemann (1755-1843) was a medical doctor who supplemented his income by translating medical textbooks. He chanced upon a passage where the South American tree-bark Cinchona was said to cure malaria by its bitter component. Hahnemann knew there were many bitter herbs—many much more bitter than Cinchona—that did not have any effect on malaria. He decided to dose himself with Cinchona to understand why it had the potential to cure malaria.

To his amazement, the Cinchona bark produced malaria symptoms in his otherwise healthy body. This experiment caused a huge paradigm shift in his approach to medicine. First, symptoms are not what is “wrong” in a body—they are attempts the body makes to regain dynamic equilibrium. Second, doctors can facilitate health by working with the body—not against it. Third, the dose of medicine matters—in high concentration, many substances will have an inhibitory or toxic effect while at low concentration, a stimulatory or tonifying effect.

During his time, physicians routinely bled patients or gave them high doses of mercury, arsenic or lead. Hahnemann discovered by giving extremely diluted amount of these heavy metals can cure them of their toxicity symptoms. Instead of anti-fever medicines, Hahnemann preferred giving medicines that matched the fever pattern.

For example:

  • aconite for fevers after exposure to cold air or wind,
  • belladonna for sudden onset of high fevers without thirst,
  • bryona for slowly developing fevers with great thirst,
  • cinchona for periodic fevers with chills and thirst accompanied by increased sensitivity,
  • eupatorium for fevers that have chills and thirst as well as bone pain,
  • ferrum phosphoricum for fevers with few other symptoms,
  • gelsemium for debilitating fevers that cause drowsiness, weakness, even stupor,
  • and hepar sulph for fevers with extreme chills where a person cannot be warmed.

These are but a few of homeopathy’s many remedies for fevers, and a cursory examination would verify the truth of the adage from Hippocrates, “It is far more important to know what person has the disease than what disease the person has.” A fever is only one sign from the individual after encounter with a situation or pathogen, and homeopathic medicines are prescribed on the totality of signs and symptoms.