How is the doctrine of signature contradicting the concepts of Homoeopathy?

Dr Anupama P.V

Abstract  Doctrine of Signature is the concept of ancient medicine, that the external physical property of plant resembling the various body parts, ailments of that body parts can be treated by respective medicine. Hahnemann was against this method of choosing remedy on the basis of its external character1.

Keywords; Doctrine of Signature, Homoeopathy.


Doctrine of Signature is the concept developed during ancient times, the word signature meaning “sign of nature”, by which the therapeutic hint of the medicinal substance were taken from the external physical properties, colour, smell etc. This is a superstitious belief of considering this as a clue provided by God. Paracelsus was a notable supporter of doctrine of signature who wrote “nature provides signs according to its curative properties” for instance eyebright resembling eye of human’s were effective in treating eye infections, mushrooms resembles human ear so this was considered as medicine for earache2.


Homoeopathy is a therapeutic science based on the principle “simila similibus curentur”, let like be treated by likes. Curative remedy is selected only on the basis of corresponding symptoms given in Materia medica, which is a collection of real, pure, reliable mode of action of simple medicinal substances, which is devoid of conjectural, mere assertions or imaginary symptoms as mentioned in Organon of Medicine. The symptoms are noted after proving on healthy human beings, in different individuals of all ages, different constitution, by repeating and clinical verification. These statements clearly define the genuineness of symptoms in materia medica which are used for selecting the remedy.

According to aphorism 110 in 6th edition of Organon of Medicine Hahnemann writes about the priori speculations of selection of drug by smell, taste, appearance of drug and chemical analysis should not be considered, this statement is against the doctrine of signature1.

Paracelsus is considered as the father of doctrine of signature as he have put forward many examples in his work named “Magic inventrics” and concept was known as paracelsian simile. Paracelsus lived in early 16th century were there is no traces of scientific reasoning and experiments

The refusal of Doctrine of signature is  mentioned by Hahnemann in the article “Essay on new principle ascertaining the curative power of drug” published in 1796, Hahnemann says these external qualities of drug, will not allow us to form any trustworthy conclusions respecting untried substances3. In the article “Spirit of Homoeopathic Doctrine of Medicine “ Hahnemann says  it is absurd to attempt such assumptions to apply in the treatment of disease4.

Dudgeon described doctrine of signature as a type of truth existed in the ages of ignorance. Similar statement was made by H.A Roberts that doctrine of signature was probably may be the most consistent method among all the very ancient method of applying drugs. Sankaran’s concepts with introduction of symptom of drug is based upon delusion, which resembles this theory of doctrine of signature.

Conclusion  Doctrine of signature is the technique used in ancient times were there is no means of deriving the therapeutic property of drug, today there are methods and technologies for understanding the therapeutic property, in homoeopathy all drugs are included in materia medica after drug proving, doctrine of signature can be a concept for memorising drug and its therapeutic property it can never be considered as a confirmatory method for selection of drugs as said by Hahnemann.


  1. Hahnemann, S.C.F., Dudgeon, R.E. and Krauss, J. (2022) Organon of Medicine. New Delhi: B. Jain Publishers (P) Ltd..
  2. Doctrine of Signature [Internet].2017 August, 25 [Cited2018February,16]. Available from:
  3. Hahnemann, S. and Dudgeon, R.E. (2015) Lesser writings of Samuel Hahnemann. New Delhi: B. Jain.
  4. Hahnemann, S. and Hempel, C.J. (1846) Materia medica pura. New York: William Radde. Boericke W. Pocket

Dr Anupama P.V
PG Scholar

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