The Provers Union

Thus arose the first union of provers of medicine. Ten disciples, all of them students, belonged to it. Two of them had no great leaning towards this work from the beginning……These were the privileged ones for they learnt Homoeopathy directly from the mouth of the master. Dr. Shalini goes into lives of them and narrates how were they close to Hahnemann….

The First Union of Provers of Medicine was the first group of ten students who joined Dr. Samuel Hahnemann as disciples. When Hahnemann entered the academic circles of Leipsic professors as teacher he gathered around him the first small circle of students and they became (inspite of the great difference of age) not only his co-workers but gradually his friends. They were those special pupils who learned homoeopathy from the lips of the Master. They not only learned homoeopathy but also practiced it under his guidance. They played a vital role in spreading the message of Master.  They were the same persons on whom the first drug provings were done. They helped him to ascertain in a reliable way the effect of medicinal substances.

They were ten disciples out of which two had no great leaning towards this work from the beginning and later fell away from homoeopathy. The other eight were Franz, Gross, Hartmann, Hornburg, Langhammer, Ruckert, Stapf and Wislicenus. Their names appear frequently in Hahnemann’s “Materia Medica Pura” and some of them became in time prominent fighters for the homoeopathic cause in the first half of the nineteenth century. (Haehl).

  1. Franz, Karl Gottlob (8th May, 1795, Plauen-8th Nov, 1835, Leipsic) He was a man of great intellect with delicate organisation, received many bodily sufferings. He approached Hahnemann for his illness and later became his ardent follower. He was a good botanist; he devoted himself to Pharmaceutical Researches.
    Medicines proved by him: Anacardium, Aurum, Calc carb, Causticum, Clematis, Conium mac, Cuprum, Digitalis, Manganum, Mezerium, Phosphoric acid, Stannum, Sulphuric acid, Zincum.
  2. Gross, Gustav Wilhelm (6 Sep1974-18 Sep.1847, Klebitz) He got Hahnemann’s acquaintance in 1814. Yellowish gray complexion with bloated countenance, non-attractive phlegmatic outlook with sympathetic heart, earnest and truthful. He entered the Union after the proving of Chamomila. Dr. Gross was in favour of giving high potencies and was a popular upholder of isopathic doctrines. He wrote: “Dietetic Handbook for the healthy and the sick”, “The Homoeopathic science of Healing and its relations to the State,” “Directions for Mother and the infant”. In addition he also prepared a homoeopathic repertory under the master in 2 volumes of 1500 pages. His relations with Hahnemann became estranged after the death of his beloved daughter and he even accused him of insufficient mental ability. However after the marriage of Hahnemann with Melanie they reconciled.. He suffered from gout, liver trouble, dropsy and lung trouble in later life.
    Medicines proved by him: Agaricus, Ammn. carb., Anacardium, Aurum, Baryta carb,Cal carb, Conium mac, Digitalis, Dulcamara, Iodum, Manganum, Mezerium, Nat. carb, Phosphorus, Phosphoric acid, Platina, Sepia, Silicea, Stannum, Sulphuric acid.
  1. Hartmann, Franz (18th May 1796, Delitzsch- 10th Oct, 1853, Leipsic) He was a weak and disturbed person but a thoughtful and industrious physician, irritable in temperament. He went to study theology in 1814 at Leipsic where under the influence of his friend Hornburg he converted to homoeopathy. He was the clinical director of Leipsic Homoeopathic Hospital and devoted himself with many literary works. In 1831 his greatest work “Therapy of Acute diseases” was published, which was not liked by Hahnemann. To him goes the credit of the detailed description of Hahnemann’s life in Leipsic. In later life developed liver, lung and heart trouble along with painful form of elephantiasis.
    Medicines proved by him: Anacardium, Baryta carb, Calc. carb, Causticum, Guaiacum, Muriatic acid, Phosphoric acid, Sarsaparilla, Stannum, Zincum.
  2. Hornburg, Christian Gottlob (18 Oct. 1793, Chemnitz- 28th, Jan, 1834, Leipsic) Born physician, a man of great gifts of practical talent, oldest disciple of Hahnemann. He neglected his medical studies and recklessly derided the higher officials. He was deficient in refinement; his boyish manners, his disrespectful behaviour towards all opponents drew upon him much persecution. Inspite of repeated attempts he could not make upto the medical state examination. This did not stop him from practicising homoeopathy and he even produced some very good cures. He was the first victim of the new teaching. A criminal investigation was instituted against him in 1831 when a woman suffering from pleuritis succumbed to death. He was accused of having practiced without justification and of hastening the death of his patient by unsuitable measures. The stern inquiry for 2 months affected his health and he suffered from chronic lung trouble. He was later found guilty and sentenced to 2 months imprisonment where he passed following heavy hemoptysis.
    Medicines proved by him: Arsenic. Alb, Causticum, Colocynth, Digitalis, Manganum.
  3. Langhammer, Christian Friedrich: Physically and mentally dwarfed Langhammer’s contributed symptoms are by no means accurate or unimpeachable. Gross says all the moral symptoms which he observed in himself are of little or no value. Gross particularly distinguishes the symptoms of Calc (227,229), Euphorbium(189, 192), Acid mur(211), Conium man (278), Stannum(447) which are the characteristics of Langhammer’s own. In later years he disappeared, his homoeopathic medicine chest was confiscated at his death, taken away from his widow and buried in the cemetery.
    Medicines proved by him: Agaricus, Anacardium, Antim crud, Arsenic alb, Aurum, Cal carb, Causticum, Clematis, Colocynth, Conium mac, Digitalis, Euphorbium, Guaiacum, Manganum, Muriatic acid, Nat carb, Stannum, Sulph acid.
  4. Rueckert, Ernst Ferdinand (3 March, 1795, Herrnhut-27th July, 1843, Koenigsbrueck) He was an original man but unsteady in all he undertook; wavering with no perseverance. He was ever distrustful of others and preferred to be alone. He practiced in many cities but could not remain long at one place. He devoted last 12 years of his life in propagating homoeopathy by writing. He wrote a Repertory of Antipsoric drugs under the guidance of Hahnemann.
    Medicines proved by him: Aconite, Baryta carb, Colocynth, Cuprum, Digitalis, Dulcamara, Helleborus,  Rheum, Rhus tox, Zincum.
  5. Stapf, Johann Ernst (9th Sept, 1788 Naumberg- 11 July 1860, Kosen) He always remained a true disciple of Hahnemann (since 1812) and a zealous defender of “Pure” theory. He originated first Homoeopathic Journal Archiv in the year 1822 and was its editor till 1839. He disdained isopathy. He commenced his studies upon high potencies in the last of 1843 and published the results in June, 1844. Richard Hughes doubted his provings, he felt that every drug that Stapf proved produced erotic manifestations.
    Medicines proved by him: Agaricus, Ammn carb, Anacardium, Arsenic alb, Baryta carb, Calc carb, Causticum, Clematis, Colocynth, Digitalis, Dulcamara, Hepar sulph, Manganum, Muriatic acid, Phosphorus, Phosphoric acid, Silicea, Zincum. He proved not less than 32 remedies.
  6. W.E.Wislicenus: He took his work seriously but preferred to work quietly as a faithful disciple of Hahnemann. He wrote several clinical results in first 6 volumes of Archiv. He practiced at Eisenach and died on July 14th, 1864.
  7. Teuthorn, J. Chr. Dav: He did not continue long a disciple of Hahnemann. Lonbacher says : We may leave out of consideration Teuthorn who seem to have been inconsiderable personage and about whose appearance as Homoeopathic physician nothing is known.
    Medicines proved by him: Digitalis, Guaiacum, Manganum, Mezerum, Phosphoric acid, Sarsaparilla.
  8. Herrmann, Christian Theodre: Hahnemann’s great nephew, he was a member of Prover’s Union from where he detached himself in later life. Medicines proved by him: Anacardium, Aurum, Causticum, Cuprum, Phosphoric acid, Sarsaparilla, Stannum.


To this enquiry from an unknown D.G., in the “Allgem. Anzeiger der Deutschen,” No.24, of January 25th, 1839, Hahnemann gave the following reply which affords a deeper insight into the manner in which these provings were undertaken:

I gave the medicines prepared by myself for this purpose in higher or lower dynamisations, in large or smaller doses, as everyone could take without being too exhausted by it. Most of the symptoms as one will see, where the name of the prover is not mentioned, have been observed by me, or by members of my family, to whom I gave the remedy myself. The medicines were usually taken dissolved in a larger or smaller quantity of water, once or twice daily, or less frequently, in order to become acquainted with the effects of the medicines in every respect. The chief thing was, always to see that the provers should be  free from erroneous diet and mode of living, as healthy as possible, and keen to explore the high truths which we are expecting to find, with a strong sense of conscientious honesty, without expecting the slightest worldly advantage, not even to hope for the honour of being publicly mentioned as a prover. They were mostly well known friends and hearers of my lectures. Each one of them was interrogated daily, or every two or three days, on the symptoms experienced by them, partly in order to enquire if any one of them had previously experienced similar sensations(that this might be put in brackets when printing as not altogether due to the medicine), partly that the exact character of his sensations and observations might be compared with the words written down, and perhaps important secondary considerations of any value were mentioned at the same time together with the symptoms under which they occurred; I drew the attention of each of them, beforehand, to such conditions.

All were persons capable of carrying out observations, and of absolute honesty of purpose, so that I could vouch for them, and I do; each was striving for the holy purpose of seeking these new and indispensable discoveries for the welfare of suffering humanity, giving his time, even sacrificing his health, so as to carry out with true zeal, the best possible work for the good cause. In this way I continue even now to perfect the true art of healing……. (Haehl, p.103)

As told by Dr. Fr.Hartmann in the ‘Allg. Hom. Ztg.”

…… the case of young persons a long preparatory course is not necessary before proving a drug; a resolute determination alone is requisite to avoid everything which may tend to disturb the process. During such a proving he absolutely forbade coffee, tea, wine, brandy and all other heating drinks, as well as spices, such as pepper, ginger, also strongly salted foods and acids. He did not forbid the use of the light white and brown Leipsic beer. He cautioned us against close and continued application to study, or reading novels, as well as against many games which exercised not merely the imagination, but which required continued thought, such as hazard, cards, chess, or billiards, by which observation was disturbed and rendered untrustworthy. He was far from considering idleness as necessary, but advised moderate labour only, agreeable conversation, with walking in the open air, temperance in eating and drinking. Early rising; for a bed he recommended a mattress with light covering.

The medicines which were to be proved he gave us himself; the vegetable in the form of essence or tincture- the others in the first or second trituration. He never concealed from us the names of the drugs which were to be proved, and his wish that we should in the future prepare all the remedies whose effects we had while students conscientiously tried, fully convinced us that in this respect he had never deceived us. Since he for the most part had previously proved the drugs upon himself and his family, he was sufficiently acquainted with their strength and properties to prescribe for each prover according to his individuality, the number of drops or grain with which he might commence, without explaining any injurious effects. The dose to be taken was mixed with a great quantity of water, that it might come in contact with a greater surface than would be possible with an undiluted drug; it was taken early in the morning, fasting, and nothing was taken for an hour. If no effect was experienced in three or four hours, a few more drops were to be taken; the dose might even be doubled, and the reckoning of time was to begin from the last dose; the same was the case where the drug was to be taken for the third time. If, upon the third repetition, no change was remarked, Hahnemann concluded that the organism was not susceptible to this agent, and did not require the prover to make any further experiments with it, but after several days gave him another drug to prove. In order to note down every symptom which presented itself, he required each one to carry a tablet and lead pencil with him, which had this advantage that we could describe with precision the sensation (pain) which we had experienced at that time, while this precision might be lost if these sensations were noted at some subsequent period. Every symptom that presented itself must be given in its connection, even though the most heterogeneous symptoms were thus coupled together; but our directions were still more precise; after every symptom we must specify in brackets, the time of its occurrence, which time was reckoned from its last dose. It was only when one or two days had passed without the occurrence of the any symptom that Hahnemann supposed the action of drug to be exhausted, he then allowed the system a time to rest before another proving was undertaken. He never took the symptoms which we gave him for true and faithful, but always reviewed them once with us, to be sure that we had used just the right expressions and signs, and had said neither too much nor too little. At first it often happened that there were errors, but these became fewer with every proving, and finally there were none at all. At least with those who understood the importance of the matter, and who therefore took these provings sufficiently seriously. In this matter I could always pride myself, and can therefore even now rely firmly upon my own symptoms.

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