Review on ‘The Medicine of Experience’ by Hahnemann

Dr Rajat Chattopadhyay

The precursor of Organon of medicine – The Medicine of Experience, is often neglected one in the Homoeopathic Profession. It is thought that when the recent edition of Organon of Medicine is available then there is no necessity to go through the old writings of this type but the author feels the relevancy of this type of writing in the present scenario and to understand a person like Dr Hahnemann it is better to know from the beginning. The writing is available in the Lesser Writing of Dr Hahnemann but this writing/study is intentionally made to make aware the profession specially the students(more specifically the PG students) about the old writings and to think over it in the context of modern society.

In the great chaos in the early part of 19th century the Medicine of Experience brought a fresh air to the therapeutic field. The book, by genius, Dr Hahnemann  said to be precursor of the Organon of Medicine, in which he tried earnestly to throw away all the odds, peculiar , deleterious application of the medicine prevailed at that period and showed a new way through the simple way of the rational art of healing which shouldn’t imitate the nature rather than based on the sound natural law / principle.

The introductory part of the book is nicely narrated by the author. Since the early human life man has been send to the adverse conditions of the earth in most helpless manner but due to the kindness of the God the man only possess the most precious quality of life – the mind which made the man superior from other animals. The mind can be used for the creation, protection, for the higher purpose of our existence and this divine power help the mankind to think about the protection from the disease. So since the evolution of human civilization search for the remedial agents against the disease began. The creator also made various processes to overcome the disease condition in the human body, but those efforts are very limited and dangerous also. Specially the old school medicine thought that it will be a very intelligent work to follow the nature and the sufferings of the mankind only became more prolonged. To remove the disease the remedial agent by old school brought a more severe another form of disease only or in other cases the total vitality of the life principle was lost, damaged, so that the man became diseased artificially. To overcome the disease the nature’s way are too dangerous to follow, because it is in very crude form and haphazard manner without any intension to smooth recovery.

It is nature’s earnest effort to save the mankind without knowing the intensity, depth, virulence of every individual disease. In few cases cure may happen but not in very smooth way and those diseases can be cured radically by the rational art of healing without any deleterious effect on life. But the old school never realized it and they thought after expulsion of the disease products from the body through the various discharges a disease  can be cured and that’s why since that time till today they are inventing the varieties of diuretics, purgatives, emetics etc. But a sensitive physician’s mind never allow him to depend on the nature and the great creator also never want that –we always follow the nature. We must give the minimum dose to cure the disease so that cure   occur more  rapidly, more surely, with less after- suffering and without creating any crisis (which a natural cure might ensue ).

Dr Hahnemann, the most modern man of medicine, at that time realized the necessity of surgical interference to the pure surgical cases. In  those cases what will happen if we only depend on nature ? So according to out great master, at that time surgery was a pure art. It is very surprising that at that era there was mo sophisticated instrument (specially non-invasive)  to diagnose the disease properly, but the clinical eyes were so good that clinically confirmatory diagnosis was sufficient and it is very astonishing that in this very first book ( before publication of organon of Medicine) Hahnemann clearly mentioned to go for surgical interference in the pure surgical cases such as in the bladder stone, strangulated hernia etc. the mechanical obstruction cannot be expelled or wiped out through the remedial agent, the surgery will do this and a Homoeopath will give the dynamic remedy after searching out the dynamic affection of the vital principle, just to prevent after suffering and recurrence.

To be a practitioner of rational art of healing one should of thorough knowledge of diseases, of remedies and of their employment.

Dr Hahnemann repeatedly said about the immaterial effect, dynamic affection of the life as the cause of the disease and also ridiculously, vehemently criticized the materialistic, nosological concept of old school of medicine. Before Hahnemann more than 2000 years spent to discover the reality (though  Hippocrates and others mentioned about the efficacy of similar medicine) and after Hahnemann more than 200 years abused to realize it, yet probably many years will be spent to realize it properly. The so old writing like this one, the Organon of Medicine etc. are too much relevant with today’s therapeutic system (apart from some old terminology). The vast  proved symptoms of Materia Medica Pura covers all the symptoms of the latest modern diseases and I am very proud to say that there are very many symptoms yet to be matched or related to the symptoms of vast diseases.

Hahnemann mentioned about the diseases which have fixed cause such as hydrophobia, venereal disease, the cow pox, the measles etc.- how modern thinking that was ! Without knowing the microbiology and virology he mentioned about the disease which are caused by a fixed virus, bacteria in each cases. Even he mentioned about the contagious character of the disease so that disease can be prevented. He knew that a system of medicine can not be called complete without its preventive aspect and it will not be very overwhelming to say our great master as the father of Community Medicine, if we go through thoroughly to his all writings specially the friend of Health, this one and the Organon of Medicine.

To say about the cause of the disease he has mentioned a huge example which are too much appropriate till today and should be in the prolonged future such as  (1) various unnatural positions and attitudes attendant on different kind of works – so much applicable to the computer professionals and daily desk-workers to create Cervical & Lumber spondylosis  (2)      Neglect of the employment of various parts or general inactivity of the body so much related to the arthritic problem of the women (specially) of this era better be called the era of ultra – modern civilization in which machinery work overcome the manual work.

(3) Abuse of the sexual function – we are all aware about the AIDS which is so  much related to it.

By these numerous examples we can draw the conclusion that there will be very few disease prevailing in the society if the exiting and maintaining causes are wiped away and thus the disease may be prevented also.

The great healer, our Master, also emphasize on individualization and he was the first to show us that the one common disease may come to us in multiple form through different individuals and for those diseases we have to see each case as a separate one. The old school of Medicine is satisfied enough to know the name of pneumonia or enteric fever etc., but to us it is only a type of pneumonia or a type of enteric fever, which depends on each individual. The type of these diseases can be observed very keenly to drain out the common diagnostic feature of the disease and to bring out the totality, the key of the similimum.

In every cases – about the maintaining cause, dynamic cause, individualization – disease and drug, and in much more places Hahnemann used etc. at the last. These etc. was not written casually or carelessly but it was made with great intention as he knew science can not be an ending process. He used the word etc. just to give the space for the future events, future additions which are yet to come.

Our great Master realized the importance of case taking which is an artistic part of this therapeutic system (should be of every therapeutic system) and that’s why for the first time he wrote so detail about the case taking. I must quote “…if we are not desirous of producing a likeness we may draw a dozen faces on a piece of paper or canvass in an hour, but a single striking portrait requires just as much time and a much greater power of observation and fidelity in the representation.

After the case taking he mentioned about the happenings of meetings of two dissimilar affection which he mentioned “maxim of experience”.The term complex disease is mentioned in the footnote of first maxim of experience.

Then he wrote about the process of knowing the pathogenic power of various medicines, after proving it in the healthy body. To know the individual characteristic of each medicine from vegetable, mineral or other kingdoms we should be well weaponed to fight against the diseases.The pathogenetic power and their absolute true action on the healthy human body in the purest manner can only be seen when each one is given singly and uncombined i.e. law of simple.

After knowing the pathogenetic power it is mandatory to know the action of the medicine on the healthy human body. So the primary actions and the secondary actions are elaborately described with vivid manner and two new term, the positive and negative are often in use in relation to cure. The details about the homoeopathic aggravation, medicinal aggravation, are written here.

He very lucidly wrote about the repetition about the dose. The harm of too large dose such as disease aggravation causing artificial disease etc. boldly written with confidence. He also mentioned the dose in palliative treatment, which is required few times. He also mentioned the different condition in which palliation can be justifiable. He also argued that the cure / recovery claimed by the palliative mode of treatment can be justified if the natural course of the disease comes to an end during the period of palliative treatment and providing that  the organism has not been very seriously deranged and during the short time by secondary effects of the palliative the  organism resumes its sway and gradually overcomes the after sufferings caused by the medicines. But it could be happen in natural cure also in which no palliative medicine is required and it is to be noted palliatives have no power to shorten the natural courses of acute diseases.

After then, Hahnemann showed the superiority of the curative (positive) type of treatment which can shorten the natural course of the disease and leaves behind no after sufferings.

Since the dawn of therapeutic system of medicine many patient really cured quickly, permanently by virtue of medicines , but not by a mixture of all sorts of different drugs, only through a single medicinal substance and only in like manner. Hahnemann gave enough example of primary and secondary action and its practical therapeutic application at later part and also he wonderfully described the higher susceptibility / higher sensibility of the body to similar medicinal irritation. The sensitivity of the body of medicinal irritation is so increased in a state of disease that any intelligent, wise observer, clinician except the fools of old school with materialistic view, can realize, that, minutest dose can show the way of cure, it can ignite the vital principle to show the light of cure.

He also mentioned the parts sensitive to medicine. The dynamic property is so pervading that it is quite immaterial what sensitive parts of the body is touched by the medicine, whether the dissolved medicine enter the stomach or merely remain in the mouth or be applied to a wound, though it is said by our Master that the contact of the medicinal substance with the living, sensitive (susceptible) fiber is almost the only condition for its action.

In very short he described about the indisposition in which no medicine is needed.

He also mentioned about the one- sided diseases and their treatment procedure. At last he gave us a wonderful observation of himself after giving a medicine to a diseases person in which he showed what happen when there is too early repetitions or what to infer when patient is in standstill condition or return of old symptoms etc.

Also he gave an idea about the divided dose ( p- 473), the desired homoeopathic aggravation ( an unusual sensation = a feeling of well being ).

The bold writing about the treatment of chronic diseases is praiseworthy. Only one, two or in few cases three medicines are required in the way of sure cure (p- 469).

At the last paragraph of this writing he mentioned about the diet and regimen (specially during acute diseases) during homoeopathic mode of treatment.

Dr.Rajat Chattopadhyay MD(Hom.) N.I.H.
Reader & HOD Medicine
Mahesh Bhattacharyya Homoeopathic Medical College & Hospital, Govt. of West Bengal
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