Hahnemann’s early Provings of Medicines.

Hahnemann was the first who made the proving of medicines a system.

As early as 1790 we see Hahnemann experimenting with drugs upon himself.

In 1796 he writes in Hufeland’s journal [II, St. 3, p. 465. Lesser Writings, 309 et. seq.] that the search for specific remedies [In this place we may observe that the word specific has a different meaning in homoeopathy to what it has among allopathic therapeutists. The latter understand by specific remedies such as are employed for a certain disease ; thus for them quinine is a specific for ague, mercury for syphilis, &c. The physician who seeks for one medicine for a form of disease, falls into routine practice. Homoeopathists understand by specific remedies such as are capable of influencing under certain conditions, certain organs and tissues, these and none other.] was the most desirable and praiseworthy undertaking, but he laments the utter want of any principle for discovering them ; hitherto experience only has been the doubtful guide.

“Nothing then remains for us but to test the medicines on our own bodies.

The necessity of this has been perceived in all ages, but a false way was generally followed, inasmuch as they were only employed empirically and capriciously in diseases.” In this way, he continues, no certain results could be gathered, more especially as medicines were given mixed together.

” The true physician whose sole aim is to perfect his art can make use of no other information concerning medicines , than :

” First, what is the pure action of each by itself on the healthy human body.

” Secondly, what do observations of their action in various simple or complicated maladies teach us ?”

In order to ascertain the actions of drugs on the healthy body, he recommends proving on ourselves and the study of records of poisoning.

” A complete collection of this kind of information with estimation of the degree of reliance to be placed on their reporters would be, if I am not very much mistaken, the foundation stone of a materia medica, the sacred book of its revelation…. “

He zealously occupied himself and others who devoted themselves to it with the proving of medicines, the collection of cases of poisoning and the formation from the results thus arrived at of a materia medica which should be free from all assumptions and founded only on experiment.

His great endeavour was to found a physiological materia medica.

His first essay of this kind was called, Fragments de viribus medicamentorum positivis, Lipsiae , 1805, wherein he arranged systematically the results of his provings and of his studies.

He himself says of it in the preface :

Nemo me melius novit, quam manca sint et tenua.”

Nevertheless a merely superficial glance at this collection will show with what devoted diligence and earnestness of conviction he worked at it.

The book consists of two parts, of which the first contains 269, the second with the repertory of the first, 470 pages.

The drugs in this work whose effects he partly proved on himself and partly gleaned from the toxicological observations of others, are the following in their order :

Aconitum napellus, tinctura acris (Hahnemann‘s causticum),
Lytta vesicatoria (cantharides),
Capsicum annuum,
Cuprum vitriolatum,
Ledum palustre,
Helleborus niger,
Nux vomica,
Veratrum album.

In the same year, 1805, he says in his Medicine of Experience : [Lesser Writings, p. 514.]

those substances which we term medicines are unnatural irritants, only calculated to disturb the health of our body, our life and the functions of our organs, and to excite disagreeable sensations, in one word to render the healthy — sick.

There is no medicine whatever which does not possess this tendency, and no substance is medicinal which does not possess it.”

Therefore he required the most exact proving of drugs on the human body in order to ascertain their powers.

Ameke, Wilhelm. History of Homœopathy, Its Origin; Its Conflicts. 1885

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