A GLOBAL VIEW OF HOMŒOPATHY: YESTERDAY, TODAY AND THE FUTURE
Sicknesses came with life and it will remain as long as there is life. Sickness is only an alteration of the state of disposition of an individual – this does not mean that we ignore the fact that there is pathology. While the so-called healthy state gives full freedom for an individual to use his/her creative abilities “so that our indwelling, rational spirit can freely avail itself of this living, healthy instrument for the higher purposes of our existence.” (§ 9 Organon VI edition) and find his/her fulfillment. The sick state restricts, shackles. Liberty, freedom being a natural instinct of all lives, it is also natural that anything that curbs that freedom even least, is not tolerated and it is then that medicine is called for restoration of that freedom, One who provided such medical treatment which included superstition, magic and mantras was held in great awe and respect. The means of such treatment were not questioned or examined and it was all a matter of mere opinions, conjectures and dicta. It was assumed that the cause of a disease was due to excess bile or phlegm for example, and a fixed mode of medicinal interference was adopted no matter what the result was. However, even in those periods, there have been great and worthy thinkers in Medicine like HIPPOCRATES.
Now, let us come to the period of Homœpathic history, the 18th century, when Samuel HAHNEMANN came upon the scene. Johann Wolfgang GOETHE’s famous character FAUST says:
This was the medicine, the patients died,
And no one thought of asking who recovered,
So ‘mongst these hills and vales our hell-broths wrought
More havoc, brought more victims to the grave
By many than the pestilence had brought
To thousands I myself the poison gave
They pined and perished; I live on to hear
Their reckless murderer’s praises far and near.
Christian Friedrich Samuel HAHNEMANN, the founder of Homœopathy was born in 1755 in this state of affairs. However, great changes in the World History had already begun. In 1775, the same year when Robert Cook had made the sea-route to Australia and New Zealand and returned to England, HAHNEMANN was studying Medicine at Leipzig. And on July 4, 1776 the famous American Declaration of Independence was made by George Washington. As Heinz HENNE said HAHNEMANN was at the dawn of a New Era, The Age of Enlightenment.
We have seen what GOETHE has said about the state of Medicine during this period. Towards the latter part of that century when HAHNEMANN obtained his M.D. degree the situation was like this: “Blood-letting, fever remedies, tepid baths, lowering drinks, weakening diet, blood cleansing and ever lasting aperients and clysters form the circle in which the ordinary German physician turns round unceasingly.” HAHNEMANN began to enquire since he found that the Medicine he was taught was not really helping. And when he began to enquire into medicine the result was in his own words: “In this investigation, I found the way to the truth, but I had to tread it alone, very far from the common highway of medical routine. The farther I advanced from truth to truth, the more my conclusions (none of which I accepted unless confirmed by experience) led me away from the old edifice, which being built up of opinions, was only maintained by opinions.” (Preface to I edition Organon)
Robert FROST’s famous poem is so relevant to HAHNEMANN who took the untravelled and less travelled road and “that made all the difference.”
This was in 1790. As everyone who knows the history of Homœopathy and life of HAHNEMANN, this year was the turning point for both. It was at this time while HAHNEMANN was translating William CULLEN’s Materia Medica which was first published in 1789 and his subsequent experiments that the idea of ‘Simile’ “dawned” upon him.
The ‘Simile’ principle first enunciated by HAHNEMANN has, over these 200 years, been interpreted differently. HAHNEMANN wanted therapeutics to be simple, on easily comprehensible principles. “Select a remedy that is most similar in accordance with the symptoms obtained by pure provings to the symptoms of the disease to be cured; and give the remedy in the least required dose; because when one is sick the sensitivity is so fine that only the least dose is required.”
HAHNEMANN’s practice over the next nearly 10 years was unique. Right from 1800 he maintained Case Registers and entered in them every case and noted the medicine given – just as he instructed us all in theOrganon. 54 Case Registers (37 belonging to the period upto 1835 and 17 for the period 1835 to 1843 when he practiced in Paris) have been left for us as his legacy. These Case Registers give us an idea of HAHNEMANN’s practice and also those of his followers. We may take this as the early methodology of practice of Homœopathy. An example form the Case Register for the year 1800:
“Lehmann St, Examiner: Rheumatism in shoulders since few days, in half of the back, down, painful, very painful in a particular spot, vertigo many times, fullness from flatulent food, straining in the lower abdomen and impulse of blood to the head, dry cough, thick mucous from nose.
Oz V. 1 gutta dil. Nux 1/200” (Register No.D2. 1801-1802, S. 79)
Please note the brief and pointed references to the ailment of the patient; the actual symptoms as complained by the patient and the suitable remedy which corresponded to it on the basis of pure proving.
As he continued to experiment with medicines and methodologies we observe changes. More and more ‘provings’ were done by HAHNEMANN and his followers and more remedies were introduced. Homœopathy spread to Russia, Austria, France, middle-Europe, U.K., India and the U.S.A.
Opposition was very fierce and strong and many homœopaths were put to untold difficulties and harassments. HAHNEMANN himself, upto 1835 replied to most of the criticisms.
Inspite of harassments Homœopathy developed. The greatest of the pioneers are von BŒNNINGHAUSEN, AEGIDI, HERING, HUGHES,Mathias MARENZELLER, Josef ATTOMYR, KORSAKOFF, MURE, DES GUIDI, LIPPE, WELLS, GUERNSEY, JEANES, RAJINDRA LAL DUTTA, M.L. SIRCAR, et al. to mention only a very few. All these in 19th century.
There were ‘provings’ all over the world and for the first time in history deadly poisons were converted into great medicines, e.g. Aconitum, Lachesis, Crotalus, Naja, etc. – all snake venoms – the glory for this belongs to HERING. In his famous essay “What are Poisons? What are Remedies”, HAHNEMANN has said that what is poison for the ignorant is great healing agent in the hands of a learned person.
There were homœopathic hospitals, special ones for Gynaecology and Obstetrics, etc. in Germany.
Count SEBASTIAN, Des GUIDI the first homœopath of France did great work for the spread of Homœopathy in France. His well-known 4 steps of Case-taking and Analysis were:
Dr. Jean Pierre GALLAVARDIN was his pupil who did very pioneering work in the treatment of moral and mental disorders – alcoholism, moral depraution, mental deficiencies, even physical deformities – these were done during years while Homœopathy was spreading in Germany, France, Italy, etc. In the USA it was spreading rapidly and some of the greatest homœopaths came up. The spread of Homœopathy in the USA was such that at the turn of the 19th century “there were in the US 56 purely homœopathic general hospitals for women – inclusive of midwifery – with 30 to 100 beds each, 13 mental asylums with 150 to 2,000 beds each, nine children’s hospitals with 30 to 100 beds each, 21 sanatoriums with 20 to 250 beds each, 8 orphanages with purely homœopathic treatment having accommodation for 50 to 825 occupants each.” Much of these were possible only because of the great works of HERING.
Some of the truly great names of these 19th/20th century homœopaths whose writings form the very basic text books even today are Constantin HERING, Adolph LIPPE, P.P. WELLS, COWPERTHWAITE, WOESSELHOEFT, Henry C. ALLEN, Timothy F. ALLEN, Carrol DUNHAM, Ernst A. FARRINGTON, James WARD, Henry GUERNSEY, James Tyler KENT, and so on and on. The list could be made twice, if not thrice, longer easily. Into the 20th century extended J.T. KENT, Herbert ROBERTS, Pierre SCHMIDT, Elizabeth WRIGHT-HUBBARD, Cyrus M. BOGER, William BOERICKE, A.H. GRIMMER and so on. I am sure that everyone of you are acquainted with these names.
The story of the glorious days of Homœopathy in the USA is a long one.
After an interval of about 4 decades again leading homœopaths have come up in the USA – Bill GRAY, Roger MORRISON, Jonathan SHORE, George GUESS and others. In the recent decade there is a clear 25% increase in the sale of homœopathic remedies in the USA.
According to clearly recorded evidence John Martin HONIGBERGER a world traveler, visited India and was in the official court of Raja Ranjit Singh of Lahore, Punjab. He had come to India in 1839 and treated the famous Raja with homœopathic medicines. Therefore the year 1839 is considered as the year of entry of Homœopathy into India. It spread in Punjab and very rapidly in Bengal. Around 1846 the first homœopathic hospitals were started in Thanjavur and Pudukottai under the patronage of the Rajas of the two principalities.
However, there is sufficient and more records about the spread of Homœopathy in Bengal and many tall figures could be seen. The father of such geneology is Babu Rajendralal Dutta (1818-1889), a man noted for his erudition, philanthrophy and social service. Among his pupils the most valuable was Dr. Mahendra lal SIRCAR, M.D. (1833-1904) Dr. SIRCAR was the first Indian to become an M.D. Dr. M.L. SIRCAR’s declaration of oath of allegiance to Homœopathy could be said to be the ushering in of the golden age of Homœopathy in India. This was done on the 16 February 1867 when he read a paper titled “On the supposed uncertainty in Medical Science and on the relationship between disease and their remedial agents” in a meeting of the British Medical Association, Calcutta in which he publicly declared his faith and conviction in Homœopathy.
It will be interesting to know that Dr. SIRCAR was the physician to Bhagvan Sri RAMAKRISHNA PARAMAHAMSA during the last some years of his life. We have snippets of the talks between them and between Dr. SIRCAR and Swami VIVEKANANDA and others in the ‘Gospel of Sri RAMAKRISHNA’ by ‘M’ and in the ‘Life of Dr. Mahendralal Sircar’ by Dr. Sarat Chandra Ghose.
Babu Rajan DUTTA was a very noble person and an excellent homœopath and was very devoted to Homœopathy. He taught many including Dr. M.L. SIRCAR. Babu Rajan DUTTA had cured, in 1863, Pandit Ishwar Chandra VIDYASAGAR of a chronic illness. This was also one of the landmarks in Indian Homœopathy.
Following Dr. M.L. SIRCAR [The Govt. of India, released a special postage stamp and special cover on 2 May 2009 to mark the birth day of M.L. SIRCAR = KSS, 2012] many great homœopaths came up especially in Bengal. Homœopathic hospitals and Charitble Dispensaries came up. The homœopathic domestic medicine chest became almost a household item. Thanks to Dr. M. Bhattacharya. The names Drs. Chandrasekhar KALI, W. YOUNAN, P.C. MAJUMDAR, J.N. MAJUMDAR, N.M. CHOUDHARY, Sarat ch. GHOSE and many such others are green in our memory. Still later in the current Century Bengal had been leading and we all remember Dr. J.N. KANJILAL who struggled hard to build a united association called the Homœopathic Medical Association of India. Many others like late Dr. Diwan JAICHAND, DHAWALE, PHATAK, B.N. CHAKRAVARTHY, P. SANKARAN and later Dr. KOPPIKAR, JUGAL KISHORE, Diwan HARISH CHAND, R.P. PATEL, P.S. KRISHNAMURTHY, S.R. WADIA, have been keeping Homœopathy progressive in our country. We should include the new set of wellknown homœopaths like Rajan SANKARAN et al. Today there are over 150 Homœopathic Medical Colleges with Post graduation studies in some. There is much that is wanting in these institutions but that is not part of this paper.
The history of Homœopathy in Europe during the early part of this century particularly after the World War I is very dull, except in India and the UK, Homœopathy became virtually unknown after the World War I. Later Nazi regime showed keen interest but with a bad motive; an unfavourable report later on the investigation of the high potencies by a so-called scientific men pushed Homœopathy further down in Germany, In the so-called ‘Eastern block’ countries or Communist Countries, Homœopathy was virtually banned; nevertheless it held on in France. Also, the lay homœopath groups kept Homœopathy alive in countries like Poland, Romania, Hungary, etc. After the break down of the Iron curtain, interest became regenerated rapidly and gained momentum all over in the West when the public became aware of the terrible side-effects of the chemical medicines and diseases like Cancer, AIDS and other auto immune diseases in the list of ‘incurables’ and the periodical resurgence of many other diseases and today Homœopathy is much sought after in all the European Countries including Bulgaria, Hungary, Romania, Poland etc. In Russia there is big Poly-clinic and many medical doctors practicing Homœopathy. In fact in the LIGA congress 1995 held in New Delhi (in March, 1996) there were nearly 200 homœopathic doctors from the Ukraine alone. We have to give credit to one man particularly, among others, for the resurgence in Europe, and that is George VITHOULKAS. VITHOULKAS’ teaching and practice has created many other good homœopaths and teachers spread throughout Europe and the USA.
The tallest ‘world teacher’ after KENT was Dr. Pierre SCHMIDT. He wrote, lectured, taught and practiced classical Homœopathy. He was the founder of the LIGA. He lived a ripe old age of 92 years and passed away in 1987, leaving his vast library for the posterity.
Let us take a quick look at Britain. Homœopathy gained ground in Britain during HAHNEMANN’s life time itself and most of those who laid the foundation were HAHNEMANN’s disciples during his Paris period (1835-1843). We must remember that HANEMANN’s grand-son Dr. Süss HAHNEMANN settled in England and practiced there. However the men mainly responsible for the propagation were Dr. Frederic QUIN, Dr. Paul EVEREST and others all of whom were very close to HAHNEMANN. Among these it was only Dr. QUIN who was a medical doctor and he exerted much in spreading Homœopathy amongst the medical doctors. This lineage went on to Dr. DRYSDALE, J.H. CLARKE, J.C. BURNETT, Thomas SKINNER, BERRIDGE, Richard HUGHES, Sir JOHN WEIR, and others. Other notable names are COOPER, Ellis BARKER, Rev. UPCHER, of the early part of this century and then Dr. BLACKIE, Dorothy SHEPHERD, FOUBISTER, TWENTYMAN, etc. The so-called ‘lay Homœopathy’ was very well spread and deeply in Britain; and as elsewhere in the continent and in India, in Britain too it was the ‘lay homœopaths’ who did much to keep up Homœopathy during its ‘low’ era.
The growth of homœopathic pharmaceutical manufactury also was in accordance with the ups and down of Homœopathy. Homœopathic Pharmaceutical manufacturers also came up in all these countries – in Germany: Wilmar Schwabe, Madaus; in the USA; Boericke & Tafel, .. Luyties, Humphreys: in Britain: Nelsons,
Ainsworth’s, Weleda, etc.; in India: Hahnemann Publishing Co., Economic Homœopathic Pharmacy, the famous M. Bhattacharya who pioneered cheap and quality medicines and books, are some to be mentioned.
Coming to homœopathic Journals one of the earliest founded journal, during HAHNEMANN’S life time itself, is the German Journal ‘Allgemeine homöopathische Zeitung’ (founded in 1832) still today continuing in its 250th volume – 173 years continuously, except for a brief break during the Great Wars. Other famous journals which have carried some of the best authors are: The Hahnemannian Monthly, the Homœopathic Recorder which later merged with the Journal of the American Institute of Homœopathy, the Pacific Coast Journal of Homœopathy which later came to be known as Homœo-therapy and then folded up – all from the USA - from the U.K. the British Homœopathic Journal. “Homœopathy” of Dr. Margaret TYLER which was excellent and most of the articles that we find in the TYLER’s Books ‘Drug Pictures’, ‘Pointers to Common Remedies’ appeared in this journal. This journal too folded up. ‘The Homœopathic World’ was edited by John Henry CLARKE and many articles that we find in CLARKE’s Dictionary of Practical Materia Medica came in this journal; also much of the material that was churned up in the ‘Cooper Club’ meetings (R.T. COOPER, J.H. CLARKE and J.C. BURNETT) appeared in the pages of this journal. ‘Heal Thyself’ was a very good journal edited by Ellis BARKER. All these closed down: Even the British Homœopathic Journal which is now in its 94th volume was in its lowest about some years ago.
In India too there have been many well known journals in which the stalwarts – mostly from Bengal – wrote. In the past nearly 50 years one journal alone with high quality was being published viz. ‘The Hahnemannian Gleanings’. Even this journal breathed its last in 1986: for want of original articles from contemporary homœopaths:
The current state: In the USA where some states had banned Homœopathy practice, the laws have been amended. Within the recent past in 11 states of the USA Homœopathy (Natural Medicine) has become legal. More states are following There is still much opposition but it is all breaking down; the public are demanding Homœopathy. The many students of VITHOULKAS who themselves are doctors – like Roger MORRISON, Jonathan SHORE, Vasilis GHEGAS, etc. are teaching, writing books, giving Seminars of fine quality. All these are raising Homœopathy up.
The history of Homœopathy shows that the Non-Medically Qualified Homœopaths (NMQP) have been not only maintaining Homœopathy but have also become excellent prescribers and teachers; there are many such teaching schools in the U.K. and U.S.A. that have come up with standard syllabi. These are doing very well.
In U.K. too (including Britain) the NMQP (Non-Medically Qualified Practitioners) are included in the NHS fold. The ECCH (European Council for Classical Homœopathy) has met several times and the Education Committee of the ECCH has drawn a syllabi for certification of Classical Homœopaths. The European Countries have agreed that the ECCH will lay down educational standards and practical training etc. required for NMQP trained by the different schools in the USA, Europe, Britain – e.g. Paul HERSCU, Durr ELMORE, Greg BEDAYN, Louis KLEIN, Steve MESSER, etc. etc. (US). Jeremy SHERR, Miranda CASTRO, Francis TREUHERZ (U.K.).
In fact recently Dr.A.U. Ramakrishnan has co-authored a book on Cancer and its homœopathic treatment, with Catherine COULTER.
In India as already said there are nearly 180 colleges exclusively from Homœopathy more and more graduates are coming out of these colleges.
Now for the future: I have been and continue to be in touch with what are taking place the World over through journals and personal correspondence. Homœopathy is growing rapidly in the West; and healthy. The teaching, training programmes are good. Seminars are held regularly by leading teachers – and our Rajan SANKARAN is ranked as the finest among them – these Seminars are well attended and there is a very bright future for classical Homœopathy.
In India, I do not know where the teaching talents are hiding; while the colleges churn out candidates the knowledge imparted to them appears not upto the standard. I find almost all the students very eager and dedicated. But their appetites are not satiated. The less we speak about these the better.
Homœopathy has been given equal status as other systems of Medicine by the Government. Nevertheless Government Homœopathic hospitals are sadly lacking. I understand that for the past few years there have been no recruitment of homœopathic doctors and that in some places one Medical Officer attends one hospital for two days and then hops to another for two days and again hops to a third. What kind of medical attention can a patient expect from a physician who is driven in this manner? What is the motivation he will have? The young homœopath graduate soon gets frustrated.
It is upto well-founded Associations to do something to rectify these. The fraternal jealousies and false egos which is the mark of us, should be buried deep, never to come up, and it is only by dedicated persons that the Institution raises the level of teaching by genuine scholars in the subjects so that one who undergoes training develops into a full bloomed homœopath. Plenty of half-baked homœopaths will not be of any use.
Well-stocked library, access to latest knowledge gaining everyday, regular periodical lectures etc. are must.
Homœopathy is not for the so-called amateur. There is no ‘amateur’ when it comes to handling ill persons. It is expertise, excellence that is needed. The attitude to call any and every person who gives Arnica for a blow or fall, a Belladonna for a fever, as a homœopathic doctor should be done away with. Homœopathy must be in the hands of serious, intelligent persons with thorough grounding.
Towards this I’m sure that we will all strive.
One thing is certain. There is a fast growing demand for Homœopathy all over the world. The future for Homœopathy is bright. There is, however, always, the risk that with increased popularity Homœopathic practice may become corrupted. We must be careful about this.
P.S.: The number of homœopathic journals as of now – April 2012 – has dwindled very low. The situation does not augur well for Homœopathy.