The development of homeopathy 2
It was not until the early 1500s that a Swiss doctor, Paracelsus (1493-1541), put forward the view that disease resulted from external environmental forces. He also believed that plants and natural substances held the key to healing and embraced the ‘like can cure like’ principle. One of his ideas, known as the ‘doctrine of signatures’, was that the appearance of the plant, or the substances it contained, gave and idea of the disorders it could cure.
In the succeeding centuries, increased knowledge was gained about the healing properties of plants and the way the human body worked. In spite of this, the methods of medical practice were extremely harsh, and there is no doubt that many people suffered needlessly and died because of the treatment they received.
It was against this background that Samuel Hahnemann (1755-1843), the founding father of modern homeopathy, began his work as a doctor in the late 1700s. In his early writings, Hahnemann criticized the severe practices of medicine and advocated a healthy diet, clean living conditions and high standards of hygiene as a means of improving health and warding off disease.
In 1790, he became interested in quinine, extracted from the bark of the cinchona tree, which was known to be an effect treatment for malaria. He tested the substance first on himself, and later on friends and close family members, and recorded the results. These ‘provings; led him to conduct many further investigations and provings of other natural substances, during the course of which he rediscovered and established the principle of like being able to cure like.