Hahnemann…a Perfect Vitalist

Dr Deena M. Monteiro
Asst. Professor
HOD – Dept of Physiology and Biochemistry
Fr Muller Homoeopathic Medical College
Deralakatte, Mangalore.



     Dr Samuel Hahnemann is one of the epochal figures in the history of the practice of medicine. In his time medicine was in a state of chaos. His sensitive conscience made him think that his treatment of sick had often done more harm than good. He refused to speculate about the essential nature of facts but appealed to experience, experiment and observe.

     He is a perfect ‘experimenter’. He experimented with all the drugs on himself and on other human beings and gave importance to the subjective symptoms in a disease. He is first one to emphasize on symptom similarity between the drug picture and the disease picture. He made a great contribution to the Hippocratic concept of disease and derived a law “Similia Similibus Curentur”.

     His work gave rise to a new science and art of therapeutics which is constructed on the basis of facts of observation and experience i.e. Homoeopathy. This new system of treatment introduced by him proved to be revolutionary and received wide acceptance throughout the world.

     The very experiment with the cinchona bark made a historical change in the world of medicine. Since then Hahnemannian existence came to the limelight. Over a period of fifty years, he experimented with 99 drugs and recorded his observations of their actions on the human body. This record is found in his Fragmenta De Viribus Medicamentorum Positivis, Materia Medica Pura and Chronic Disease.

     According to Stuart Close, Hahnemann has been called a ‘Vitalist’ inferring to the prominence given to the doctrine of life and vital principle. He said the material organism without the vital force is capable of no sensation, function or self-preservation. Recent studies agree with this concept as the observation goes that many of the fundamental functions of the cell cannot be explained in biochemical terms. According to Berzelius, the organic compounds were produced under the influence of a vital force and they could not be prepared artificially.

     Hahnemann, a great ‘Philosopher’ influenced by the inductive logic of Lord Bacon, titled his philosophy as Organon, an instrument of thought, which he explained in 6 editions. Hahnemann’s choice of the word “Organon” clearly shows the source of his inspiration, which is the basis and science of every modern science. Science is verified or verifiable knowledge produced by conception of perfects and induction of deducts. The extensive study on the subject by exact observation, correct interpretations, rational explanation and scientific construction made various changes in each edition.

     Hahnemann as a ‘chemist’ prepared the drugs by himself and imparted the knowledge of potentization, minimum dose, drug dynamisation, study of remedy reaction and second prescription in his philosophy.

     Hahnemann, in his time itself highlighted the study of pathology. Hahnemann was so far ahead of his time but his teaching could not be fully understood until science in its slower advance had elucidated and corroborated the facts upon which he based it.

     Another contribution of Hahnemann to the Homoeopathic world is ‘theory of chronic disease’. The credit of arranging the unsystematic disease classification is given to Hahnemann in his time. He classified the diseases into four fundamental classes i.e. occupational or drug diseases, psora, sycosis and syphilis. But he used the term miasm, which lead to the confusion. He is one who stressed on the presence of microorganisms as the cause of infectious diseases, which was confirmed then by the modern bacteriological science. He was the first to perceive and teach the parasitical nature of infections or contagious diseases. The recent researches in the field of immunotherapy, vaccinotherapy, allergy etc showed similarity with that of homoeopathic system of treatment.

     There are no two human beings entirely the same in health and diseases. So to understand the man a detailed case taking plays an important role. This was highlighted by Hahnemann and gave clear-cut instruction on the case taking devoting 22 paragraphs in his organon of medicine and appealed to have an unprejudiced mind for the physician.

     The present antigen – antibody reaction that is taking place in the body was explained by Hahnemann in his observation that every artificial morbific agent acts upon the vitality to cause certain alteration in the health, for which the vital force rises itself to develop the exact opposite condition of health.

     Hahnemann also been called to be the ‘Dietitian’ who give his view on the diet and hygiene in the cure of diseases. He explains this in his Organon of medicine in aphorism 259 to 263.

     The homoeopathic principles stand pre-eminent, unchangeable in spite of all changes in the therapeutic fashion. No doubt lot is contributed to it by the modern science and claimed to be their work. But Hahnemann was the one who acknowledge the facts in regards to the health, disease and their prevention, the vital principle and life and its derangement, the diet, hygiene and sanitation, mental illness and constitution etc, which is presently divided as different branches of science as physiology, pathology, social and preventive medicine, psychiatry, nutrition, pharmacy etc.

     Various observations of Hahnemann made in early 19th century are getting scientific footings in the late 20th century due to the spectacular discoveries made in the various fields of micro science. A man contributed so much to the science much before the expansion of science by its invention cannot be said lived his life in vain.