History of Homoeopathy

History of


The history of Homeopathy begins with its founder, Christian Friedrich Samuel Hahnemann. In 1779, at the age of twenty-four, Hahnemann was awarded the degree of Doctor of Medicine from the University of Erlangen in Bavaria, Germany. The clinical practices around were filled with superstition and lack of scientific rigor. Treatments of those days such as purgatives, bloodletting, blistering patches, herbal preparations and emetics lacked a rational basis and were more harmful than effective. He was more interested in the study of the newly emerging science of chemistry and in writing articles for medical journals.

Distressed with the way medicine was practiced in the times he gave up his practice in 1874. He made his living chiefly as a writer and translator. While he happened to translate William Cullen's'A treatise on the Materia Medica', Hahnemann encountered the claim that Cinchona, the bark of a Peruvian tree, was effective in treating malaria because of its astringent qualities. Noting that the drug induced malaria like symptoms in himself, he concluded that it would do so in any healthy individual. This led him to postulate a healing principle that, which can produce a set of symptoms in healthy individual, can treat a sick individual who is manifesting a similar set of symptoms. He concluded from this experience that effective drugs must produce symptoms in healthy people that are similar to the diseases which are expected to treat.

The principle of similia similibus, first set forth in his essay of 1796 was later expanded to similia similibus currentur, — let likes be treated by likes — the core principle of homeopathy. He first used the term 'Homoeopathy' in his essay indications of the 'Homeopathic Employment of Medicines in Ordinary Practice', published in Hufeland's Journal in 1807.

Hahnemann and colleagues began to test various substances to determine the types of symptoms they produced. They happened to observe that the use of substances that cause symptoms similar to an existing disease also would acutely aggravate the condition and present other side effects. Thus he advocated the dilution of the substance to the point where the symptoms were no longer present. Soluble compounds or liquids were diluted in alcohol; insoluble materials were serially diluted by grinding with lactose.

The dilutions advocated by Hahnemann and those used today often reduce the concentration of the initial substance to infinitesimal levels. Hahnemann himself understood that dilutions of the magnitude he used eliminated all of the original substance. He believed, however, that the healing power of the substance could be preserved and actually concentrated by the process of dynamization.

Hahnemann believed that physical disruption of the solution or powder during the dilution process could release the spirit-like dynamic healing force contained within the substance. He believed that even after it has been completely removed from the solution by enormous dilution, the healing force remained. The dynamization could be induced by succussion of the solution between dilution steps or in the case of a powder, by trituration in a mortar.

In the Journal of Practical Medicine, Hahnemann delineated three methods of healing:

  • Preventive treatment – the removal of the causes of illness,
  • Palliative treatment by the principle of contraria contraris, that is healing by opposites, and
  • The preferred method – similia similibus – the treatment of likes with likes, namely the prescribing of medicines that cause similar symptoms in healthy individuals.


Homoeopathy came to India in 1810 when a Romanian traveller Dr. John Martin Honigberger who studied homeopathy under Dr. Samuel Hahnemann visited India and began treating people with homeopathy. In 1839, he was called in by the Maharaja Ranjit Singh of Lahore who was suffering from paralysis of the vocal cords; Maharaja was treated with 'Dulcamara' in wine, in low potency which cured him completely. Maharaja was also pleased when royal horse was treated for an ulcer of leg.

Dr. Honigberger became the chief physician of his court. After that King's death, Dr. Honigberger shifted to Calcutta and started his practice. Dr. Honigberger happened to go to Vienna and caught Cholera. He saved himself by taking Ipecac, every half an hour. This incident greatly impressed him and he started dispensing Homeopathic medicines both for himself and for others.

A large number of missionaries, amateurs in Indian civil and military services practiced Homoeopathy extensively and spread this system mostly in Bengal and South India. Father Augustus Muller was one such missionary who provided homoeopathic treatment at Mangalore. The system continued to flourish under the British rule across the country.

In 1836 in Thanjavore, Dr. Samuel Brookling, a retired surgical officer, dispensed homoeopathic medicines to his civilians and army officers stationed at Madras, thus started homeopathy in South India.

Dr. Mahendra Lal Sircar, learned about Homoeopathy from a layman, Rajendralal Dutta, popularly known as Babu Rajen Dutta who had a number of cases treated with homeopathy to his credit. He cured Iswar Chandra Vidyasagar from asthma and also cured gangrene of the foot of Maharani of Sholapur and greatly impressed Raja Sir Radhakanta Deb Bahadur of Shorapur. Dr. Sircar wrote an article condemning Allopathy titled “On the Supposed Uncertainty in Medical Science and the Relationship between Diseases and Medicine”. He was the first man to start a journal on homoeopathy – “India Medical Review” and to attend the first Homoeopathic National Congress Conference under the chairmanship of Dr. C. Hering.

Dr. Salzar of Vienna was the founder of Homoeopathic education in India. He influenced two persons towards homoeopathy namely Dr. P. C. Majumdar and Dr. B. L. Bhaduri. Dr. Majumdar along with Dr. Roy, Dr. B. N. Banerjee and Dr. Younan established the first Homoeopathic college in India in the year 1878 under the name of “Calcutta Homoeopathic Medical College”.

Dr. S. C. Ghosh proved many drugs from the Indian herbs and gave them to his patients in low potency with great results. He compiled a book named “Drugs of Hindustan.” Unfortunately, nobody noticed this book, until 1970-1971, when the “Central Council for Research in Indian Medicine and Homoeopathy” (CCRIM & H) unearthed the book and a number of drugs were proved.

In August 1869, a Bengali named Babu Priyanath Bose started a hospital with an OPD (Out Patient Department) in Allahabad. It was at this centre that Mr. Motilal Nehru took treatment during his struggle for freedom.

In 1880 Father Augustus Mueller, a priest and teacher of a school founded by the Society of Jesus in Kankanady in Mangalore, started dispensing free homoeopathic drugs.

In 1902 there was an epidemic of pneumonic plague and Father Augustus Muller treated most of the people successfully. He established a plague and leprosy clinic. Seeing this, the British presented him with the “Kaiser-e-Hind” award. He also wrote a book entitled “Twelve Tissue Remedies”.

In 1937 the British government had not recognized this system of medicine and it was for the first time that M.L.A. Miyan Ghias-ud-idin passed a regulation in the Bengal Assembly to allow recognition and patronage to homoeopathy. Thus, homoeopathy was introduced in Bengal for the first time in the pre-independence years.

After independence, the Government was more sympathetic and on 17 th February 1948, Sir Satish Chandra Samanta, M.P from West-Bengal, piloted a move in the Constituent Assembly to establish a Central Agitation Body i.e. Central Council of Homoeopathy. This was passed after a modification by Mr. Mohan Lal Saxena M.P (U.P). It was supported by Dr. Pattabhi Sitaramayya, the President of India. Some of the important items in the draft proposal given by the representative of the All India Institute of Homoeopathy to the Government of India were of great help to put the education of homoeopathy on a firm base.

In 1944, the Government of India set up a five member committee requesting the Government to recognise and allow Homoeopathic practice and teaching. Dr. J.N. Majumdar, Col. Amir Chand FRCP, Dr. M. Gururaju, Dr. L.D. Dhawale, Dr. P.N. Chopra and Dr. Diwan Jai Chand are mentioned in the list of members.

The committee finally presented its report in post independence India in 1949 which contributed to the recognition of this system of medicine by the by the Indian Government. The Government of India had progressively increased its patronage of Homeopathy and gave it a practical shape.

Dr. B. K. Sarkar, (M. D.), was a renowned teacher in Homoeopathic Philosophy at Calcutta Homoeopathic Medical College. His contribution to homoeopathy was enormous. His commentaries on the 5th edition of The Organon were well known. Dr. S. P. Dey compiled one of his collections into “Essay on Homoeopathy”. Dr. B. K Bose the “Grand Teacher of Homoeopathy” passed his M.D. from Chicago and was a direct student of Dr. Kent. He was an excellent teacher in Materia Medica.

In 1952-1954 the National Congress Government appointed a small committee – Homoeopathic Reference Committee constituted by Rajkumari Amrit Kaur, the Union Health Minister of India (1952). Dr. J. C. Mukherjee was nominated as chairman of this committee comprising of six homoeopathic practitioners and four allopaths.

In 1956, the need for creating a post of Honorary Advisor in the committee was felt. However, the Government approved of this post in 1960, and Dr. Krishna Gopal Saxena was the first to be appointed.

The Government of India constituted a Central Council of Health, which was a Committee of Health Ministers from all states and was headed by the Union Minister. This committee used to meet once a year. It passed a resolution that each state would give recognition to Homoeopathic colleges from 1960. Another resolution passed was that the Government of India should constitute a body to enforce regulations and promote research in homoeopathy.

The Maharashtra Act was passed in 1960. It constituted two bodies:

  • 1)  Court of Examiners (concerned with education and new colleges).
  • 2)  Board of homoeopathy (concerned with the regulation of practice and licensing homoeopathic practitioners).

This Act was known as the “Bombay Act”. Dr. Gilder was the Health Minister. The court of examiners was looked after by Dr. M. N. Paranjpe and the Board of homoeopathy by Late Dr. S. R. Wadia who was the president.

Dr. M. V. Kulkarni followed in the footsteps of Dr. Bhattacharya in Bengal. He started “Roy and Company” in Mumbai. They were the chief importers of Mssrs. B & T (Boericke and Tafel) of America and Schwabe of Germany. Boger’s Boenninghausen Repertory was first published by Roy and Company in India. He also started manufacturing homoeopathic drugs in Maharashtra. Mr. James Fergusson, Governor of Mumbai took treatment from Dr. Kulkarni.

Dr. S. R. Phatak, an M. D. from Mumbai University, was influenced to practice homoeopathy. He wrote two books:

  • 1)  Phatak’s Alphabetical Repertory.
  • 2)  Phatak’s Materia Medica.

Dr. P. Sankaran acquired name and fame internationally. In a short span of time, he wrote a number of booklets (30) on topics relevant and important to the practice of homoeopathy. He proved the drugs Aqua Marina and Pituita.

Dr. P. Sankaran popularized low priced editions of books on homoeopathy in India (not exceeding Rs. 10). He wrote a small card repertory and started a journal known as the “Indian Journal of Homoeopathy”. Presently, it is published as the “Indian Journal of Homoeopathic Medicine” which was formerly edited by Dr. K. N. Kasad. Currently, it is edited by Dr. Praful Barvalia.

Dr. U. M. Menon, though not a qualified homoeopath, acquired a lot of wealth of knowledge from homoeopathy. He was the spearhead for starting the Bombay Homoeopathic Medical College.

The Planning Commission of India gave free aid to colleges from 1966 onwards. Soon, 20 colleges availed of this facility. They were given aid to start libraries and laboratories. One of the colleges to benefit from this was the Pune Homoeopathic College.

In 1966, the Central Government, under the Ministry of Health passed a bill, which was a joint bill for setting up a Central Council of the Indian system of Medicine and Homoeopathy. This act was passed in 1969, when Ayurveda was recognized and the Central Council of Ayurveda was formed.

In 1970, the Government proposed a separate bill on homoeopathy. It took one year before this bill was submitted to the parliament as new health ministers had been appointed.

On 19th December 1973, the President gave his consent to the bill and thus the “Homoeopathy Central Council Act 1973″ was passed. The necessity of this bill was felt long back because most of the states had recognized colleges but the course was not established. Therefore, there was a lot of confusion as doctors could not migrate to other states to practice. This Act achieved the following:

  • Standardization of education.
  • Standardization of practice.

The Government of India in 1978 set up the Central Council of Research in Homeopathy and its activities include clinical confirmation of proving, drug research, drug proving and literary research through its 51 centers in different parts of the country.

The headquarters of the ‘Central Council for Homoeopathy’ was at Ghaziabad in Delhi. Presently, there are 200 units and 10 regional institutes.

The Central Council of Homoeopathy along with other recommendations formed a uniform syllabus for diploma, degree and linked courses (diploma holders of new course and diploma holders of old course). They were called D.H.M.S., B.H.M.S. and B.H.M.S. (graded degree) respectively.

A Homeopathic Pharmacopoeia was established in 1962 and the Homeopathic Pharmacopoeia Laboratory established in 1975 is recognized under the Drugs and Cosmetics Act. There are 132 Colleges in the country imparting Homeopathic education and there are 183,210 registered practitioners in Homeopathy attending to over 1 million illness episodes through 287 hospitals and private clinics. There are about 700 licensed Homeopathic Pharmacies in the country. In 1995, a separate Directorate for Homeopathy was established within the Ministry for Health and Family Welfare.

The Central Council of Homoeopathy has also heralded a new course, Doctor of Medicine, MD, a post graduation course of Homoeopathy about fourteen years ago which has given a further push to surge in academics in this field of Medicine.