Preface – Fifth Edition – 1833
by Samuel Hahnemann
In order to give a general notion of the treatment of diseases pursued by the old school of medicine (allopathy), I may observe that it presupposes the existence sometimes of excess of blood (plethora which is never present), sometimes of morbid matters and acridities; hence it taps off the life’s blood and exerts itself either to clear away the imaginary disease-matter or to conduct it elsewhere (by emetics, purgatives, sialogogues, cliaphoretics, diuretics, drawing plasters, setons, issues, &c.), in the vain belief that the disease will thereby be weakened and materially eradicated; in place of which the patient’s sufferings are thereby increased, and by such and other painful appliances the forces and nutritious juices indispensable to the curative process are abstracted from the organism. It assails the body with large doses of powerful medicines, often repeated in rapid succession for a long time, whose long-enduring, not infrequently frightful effects it knows not, and which it, purposely it would almost seem, makes unrecognisable by the commingling of several such unknown substances in one prescription, and by their long-continued employment it develops in the body new and often ineradicable medicinal diseases. Whenever it can, it employs, in order to keep in favour with its patient,* remedies that immediately suppress and hide the morbid symptoms by opposition (contraria contrariis) for a short time (palliatives), but that leave the disposition to these symptoms (the disease itself) strengthened and aggravated. It considers affections on the exterior of the body as purely local and existing there independently, and vainly supposes that it has cured them when it has driven them away by means of external remedies, so that the internal affection is thereby compelled to break out on a nobler and more important part. When it knows not what else to do for the disease which will not yield or which grows worse, the old school of medicine undertakes to change it into something else, it knows not what, by means of an alterative, – for example, by the life-undermining calomel, corrosive sublimate and other mercurial preparations in large doses.
* For the same object the experienced allopath delights to invent a fixed name, by preference a Greek one, for the malady, in order to make the patient believe that he has long known this disease as an old acquaintance, and hence is the fittest person to cure it.
To render (through ignorance) if not fatal, at all events incurable, the vast majority (99/100) of all diseases, namely, those of a chronic character, by continually weakening and tormenting the debilitated patient, already suffering without that from his disease and by adding new destructive drug diseases, this clearly seems to be the unhallowed main business of the old school of medicine (allopathy) – and a very easy business it is when once one has become an adept in this pernicious practice, and is sufficiently insensible to the stings of conscience!
And yet for all these mischievous operations the ordinary physician of the old school can assign his reasons, which, however, rest only on foregone conclusions of his books and teachers, and on the authority of this or that distinguished physician of the old school. Even the most opposite and the most senseless modes of treatment find there their defence, their authority – let their disastrous effects speak ever so loudly against them. It is only under the old physician who has been at last gradually convinced, after many years of misdeeds, of the mischievous nature of his so-called art, and who no longer treats even the severest diseases with anything stronger than plantain water mixed with strawberry syrup (i.e. with nothing), that the smallest number are injured and die.
This non-healing art, which for many centuries has been firmly established in full possession of the power to dispose of the life and death of patients according to its own good will and pleasure, and in that period has shortened the lives of ten times as many human beings as the most destructive wars, and rendered many millions of patients more diseased and wretched than they were originally – this allopathy, I shall first expose somewhat more minutely before teaching in detail its exact opposite, the newly discovered true healing art.
As regards the latter (homoeopathy) it is quite otherwise. It can easily convince every reflecting person that the diseases of man are not caused by any substance, any acridity, that is to say, any disease-matter, but that they are solely spirit-like (dynamic) derangements of the spirit-like power (the vital force) that animates the human body. Homoeopathy knows that a cure can only take place by the reaction of the vital force against the rightly chosen remedy that has been ingested, and that the cure will be certain and rapid in proportion to the strength with which the vital force still prevails in the patient. Hence homoeopathy avoids everything in the slightest degree enfeebling,* and as much as possible every excitation of pain, for pain also diminishes the strength, and hence it employs for the cure ONLY those medicules whose effects in altering and deranging (dynamically) the health it knows accurately, and from these it selects one whose pathogenetic power (its medicinal disease) is capable of removing the natural disease in question by similarity (similia similibus), and this it administers to the patient in simple form, but in rare and minute doses (so small that, without occasioning pain or weakening, they just suffice to remove the natural malady by means of the reacting energy of the vital force), with this result: that without weakening, injuring or torturing him in the very least, the natural disease is extinguished, and the patient, even whilst he is getting better, gains in strength and thus is cured – an apparently easy but actually troublesome and difficult business, and one requiring much thought, but which restores the patient without suffering in a short time to perfect health, – and thus it is a salutary and blessed business.
* Homoeopathy sheds not a drop of blood, administers no emetics, purgatives, laxatives or diaphoretics, drives off no external affection by external means, prescribes no warm baths or medicated clysters, applies no Spanish flies or mustard plasters, no setons, no issues, excites no ptyalism, burns not with moxa or red-hot iron to the very bone, and so forth, but gives with its own hand its own preparations of simple uncompounded medicines, which it is accurately acquainted with, never subdues pain by opium, etc.
Thus homoeopathy is a perfectly simple system of medicine, remaining always fixed in its principles as in its practice, which, like the doctrine whereon it is based, if rightly apprehended will be found to be so exclusive (and only in that way serviceable), that as the doctrine must be accepted in its purity, so it must be purely practised, and all backward straying* to the pernicious routine of the old school (whose opposite it is, as day to night) is totally inadmissible, otherwise it ceases to deserve the honourable name of homoeopathy.
* I am therefore sorry that I once gave the advice, savouring of allopathy, to apply to the back in psoric diseases a resinous plaster to cause itching, and to employ the finest electrical sparks in paralytic affections. For as both these appliances have seldom proved of service, and have furnished the mongrel homoeopathists with an excuse for their allopathic transgressions, I am grieved I should ever have proposed them, and I hereby solerunly retract them – for this reason also, that, since then, our homoeopathic system has advanced so near to perfection that they are now no longer required.
That some misguided physicians who would wish to be considered homoeopathists, engraft some, to them more familiar, allopathic malpractices upon their nominally homoeopathic treatment, is owing to ignorance of the doctrine, laziness, contempt for suffering humanity, and ridiculous conceit, and, besides showing unpardonable: negligence in searching for the best homoeopathic specific for each case of disease, has often a base love of gain and other sordid motives for its spring – and for its result? that they cannot cure all important and serious diseases (which pure and careful homoeopathy can), and that they send many of their patients to that place whence no one returns, whilst the friends console themselves with the reflection that everything (including very hurtful allopathic process!) has been done for the departed.
Kothen; March 28th, 1833