Homeopathy – a two century old history of empiricism and antagonism
On 10 April 2013, the 258th anniversary of the birth of Samuel Hahnemann (pictured), main_hahnemannfounder of homeopathy as a medical science, it is worth reflecting on the history of homeopathy with reference to an example of its long history of empiricism and antagonism. Samuel Hahnemann was one of medicine’s finest empiricists and developed homeopathy on the basis of experimentation, first on himself and then with others. The limits of the scientific understanding of his day did not allow Hahnemann to explain how potentised medicines worked, but his empirical approach allowed him to perceive and understand that they did work. To this day that empirical basis underpins homeopathy’s growing success.
For the past two centuries that success has engendered antagonism, first in local opposition to Hahnemann himself from allopathic doctors and apothecaries (pharmacists) where he practised, whose practice, profits and paradigm they felt he threatened, up until present time in a more widespread opposition from conventional medicine for the same reasons. A fascinating early example of empiricism and antagonism is related in a historical perspective of a situation in Parisian hospitals printed in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine in 2010.
As stated above, the antagonism towards homeopathy goes on for much the same reasons that it did two hundred years ago. Thankfully so does the empiricism. Patients around the world continue to want homeopathic treatment based on their positve experience of using it and the related experience of others. On a macro-level the Indian Government are investing heavily in it as a part-solution to addressing the health needs of a huge population effectively and economically.
The exploration of homeopathy’s clinical and scientific basis continues, with steadily accumulating evidence for its effectiveness and underlying scientific rationale. The latest findings are to be presented in Barcelona at the beginning of June in a conference entitled ‘Cutting Edge Research in Homeopathy’. http://www.hribarcelona2013.org/
All true empiricists are invited to attend!!