Prophylaxis in homoeopathy in relation to cure and prevention of scarlet fever during the time of Hahnemann

Dr Sreepriya S 


Prophylaxis of disease is an important duty of all physicians. In  §4 Hahnemann says “He is likewise a preserver of health if he knows the things that derange health and cause disease, and how to remove them from persons in health”. During the time of Hahnemann the malignant scarlet fever that has prevailed in Germany for 8 years and proved fatal especially for children. Hahnemann first started treating the scarlet fever,later he found that a remedy that is capable of quickly checking a disease in its onset must be its best preventive.

KEYWORDS: Scarlet fever, Prevention, Prophylaxis


In §4 Hahnemann calls the physician as a preserver of health. His idea regarding the prophylaxis becomes more obvious to us from his wonderful essays on epidemics and the measures to restrict them. One among that is the cure and prevention of scarlet fever.


Hahnemann published this article on 1805. 

Scarlet fever: It is a new disease never seen in Germany before 1800. The disease showed itself to be the most spreading and contagious of all the maladies that affect children. Among children under 15 years of age that may be exposed to contagion in epidemics of scarlatina, hardly one in thousand escapes the disease. From 20-30 years the infection becomes always rarer. 

Mild form: occurs with slight feeling of weariness, faint-heartedness, difficulty in swallowing, fever, red face and hot hands. There then appears, usually the very first day alone with itching, the spots of various shape, and sometimes paler or redder on neck,chest and the arms which disappear again in 3-4 days.

Bad form of scarlet fever: Generally the 7th day after the infection. Unusual timidity, violent pressive headache, pressure in hypochondria, violent vomiting, parotid and submaxillary gland swelling with painful and difficulty in swallowing. About the second day variously shaped annular colored spots of various size accompanied by smarting, itching, burning. A drawing pain in the back and cutting belly ache with general or partial convulsions.

As the convalescence progresses, a stiffness causes the patient to go half bent, that lasts several days.

Treatment of Scarlet fever according to Hahnemann:

Here two different states of body, sometimes rapidly alternates with one another presents;

The first: burning heat, stupefaction, vomiting, diarrhoea. Convulsions which will subside in a very short time by a very small quantity of Opium.

  • For external use: a tincture formed by adding one part of finely pulverized crude Opium to 20 parts of weak alcohol, letting it stand in a cool place for a week, shaking it occasionally to promote the solution.
  • For internal use: take one drop of this tincture and mix it intimately with 500 drops of diluted alcohol, shaking the whole well.

The second: increase of fever, sleeplessness, total loss of appetite, nausea, intolerable lachrymose, peevishness i.e, the state where Opium does and must do harm, this state was removed in a few quarters of an hour by Ipecacuanha.

As regards moral and physical accessory dietic means in the treatment of a fully developed case of scarlet fever, advise that to dispel all fear by means of kind and cheering words by holding out hopes of a speedy recovery.

Protection against Scarlet fever:

Even under most appropriate and certain medical treatment of developed scarlatina of a bad type there is always risk of death and the amount of countless sufferings of patients is not unfrequently.

Mode of discovery of specific preservative remedy;

  • A mother of a large family suddenly fell ill of a bad quinsy with characteristic shooting pains in throat, several days thereafter her 10 year old daughter started showing the symptoms of scarlet fever.
  • Hahnemann was knowing only the ordinary remedies as in many cases of scarlatina, therefore he resolved in this case of scarlet fever just an act of breaking out, not to act as usual in reference to individual symptoms. Here he prescribed Belladonna. The following day she was lively, ate and played again and complained of nothing.
  • Two other children of the family fell ill of bad scarlet fever. Hahnemann desired to preserve the other five children of the family perfectly free from infection. Their removal was impossible and would have been too late. 
  • Hahnemann reasoned thus: a remedy that is capable of quickly checking a disease in its onset must be its best preventive.
  • Three children of another family lay ill of a very bad scarlet fever, the eldest daughter alone, who up to that period had been taking Belladonna internally for affection of joints of her fingers. She did not catch the fever. This circumstance completely confirmed Hahnemann’s idea.
  • A number of other opportunities presented themselves to Hahnemann where this specific preventive remedy never failed. Belladonna displays a valuable and specific power in removing the after sufferings of scarlet fever.


  • Hahnemann believed that every epidemic or sporadic disease is different from each other. The physician has to consider the picture of every prevailing disease as a new and unknown one.
  • Usually in a case of epidemic, just by investigating one patient the entire totality cannot be understood. So the physician has to closely investigate several number of cases in that epidemic area till he collects maximum number of signs and symptoms(§101).
  • After collecting this “group totality”, the physician carefully removes the general symptoms and based on the peculiar uncommon symptoms, he selects a specific remedy to that particular epidemic which is the genus epidemicus(§102).
  • When this medicine is applied on healthy persons of that affected locality, it acts as a preventive medicine and escapes those persons from that particular disease.

Eg: Cuprum met and Camphora for the prevention of Cholera, recommended by Hahnemann in Europe(1831).


  • Children born with latent dyscrasia for chronic diseases like hypertension, diabetes, bronchial asthma and so on may be prevented from developing these diseases by constitutional antimiasmatic treatment.
  • Repeated spontaneous abortion, miscarriages and still birth may be prevented by antimiasmatic treatment of mother before and during pregnancy.
  • Potential diabetics may not turn into overt diabetics if treated in time with constitutional medicines.
  • Expectant mothers should be treated throughout the period of pregnancy with constitutional antimiasmatic medicines, so that possibility of hereditary diseases being transmitted to the offsprings may be averted or modified to great extent.


Homoeopathy can play an important role in the prevention of  disease, the first and most celebrated of the prophylactics discovered by Hahnemann was the preventive of scarlet fever-Belladonna. Regarding this Hahnemann reasoned: “a remedy that is capable of checking a disease at its onset must be its best preventive”. The only other disease for which he attempted to discover a prophylactic was the epidemic of Asiatic Cholera.

Homoeopathy has a great scope in preventing diseases. There are different mode of prophylaxis-specific, antimiasmatic and constitutional. Though the efficacy of homoeopathic prophylactic remedies for various conditions has not been proved by controlled studies and statistical records, yet generations of homoeopaths have used these remedies to prevent these conditions.


  1. Lesser writings of Samuel Hahnemann- B Jain Publishers
  2. Organon of medicine,6th edition- Indian books and periodicals publishers

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