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It Was Just 200 Years Back...

Homeopathic Journal :: Volume: 3, Issue: 3, Jan, 2010 (Editorial)   -   from Homeorizon.com
Author : Dr. Anoop Kumar Srivastava, BHMS (Gold Medalist), MD(Hom), Director www.homeorizon.com, Consultant, Homeopathic Hospital, Government of U.P. (India)
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Article Updated: Jan 24, 2010

" Hahnemann's Organon is a critique of medical philosophy underlying the art of medicine. An analytical study of Organon as well as that of the history of homeopathy and the life-story of its founder shows clearly that Homeopathy is a product of inductive logic applied to the subject of Medicine. It is in fact the first as well as one of the most brilliant examples of the application of the inductive method of reasoning to the solution of one of the great problems of humanity viz., the treatment and cure of disease"

- Dr .B. K. Sarkar

Hahnemann conceived the idea of Homeopathy in 1790 but gave birth to its first definite form in 1796 as an article Essay on a new Principle for Ascertaining the Curative Powers of Drugs. In the following years it metamorphosed itself further and attained its first complete shape in the form of "Organon" in the year 1810; just 200 years back from now.

Organon of Samuel Hahnemann is a work of profound historical interest and value. It is the skeleton upon which the structure of homeopathy has taken shape. Its successive editions (5 in Hahnemann's life time and 1 after his death) embodied the ripe experience and confident belief of its author. The Organon exhibits a passionate desire for exact and clear statements. No unprejudiced person can rise from its perusal without respect of Hahnemann, and what is true of the Organon in this respect is true of all the other writings of this great physician, the lover of mankind and nature.

Hahnemann never ceased to observe and experiment as is evident from the number of editions of Organon containing a good deal of his experiences. Working hard supplementing and improving this book of rules and regulations from 1810 to 1842 Dr. Hahnemann presented before the profession the lifeline of Homeopathy, the fundamental masterpiece - Organon. He understood its importance in the practice of Homeopathy and knew that abiding by it no homeopath can fail in his duty to mankind. So he demanded from homeopathic physician to study Organon of medicine carefully before they start their practice of homeopathy. He writes, " The results of my convictions arte set forth in this book, it remains to be seen whether physicians who mean to act honestly by their conscience and by their fellow-creatures will continue to stick to the pernicious tissues of conjectures and caprice, or can open their eyes to the salutary truth.

I must warn the reader that indolence, love of ease and obstinacy preclude effective service at the altar of truth, and only freedom from prejudice and untiring zeal qualify for the most sacred of all human occupations, the practice of the truth system of medicine. The physician who enters his work in this spirit becomes directly assimilated to the divine creator of the world, whose human creatures he helps to preserve, and whose approval renders him thrice blessed."

Hahnemann himself was annoyed at those who were too lazy to carefully read his directions in Organon. He writes: "Many persons of my acquaintance but half converted to homoeopathy have repeatedly begged me to publish still more exact directions as to how this doctrine may be actually applied in practice, and how we are to proceed. I am astonished that after the very particular directions contained in the Organon of Medicine more especial instructions can be wished for."

"I am also asked, 'How are we to examine the disease in each particular case?' As if special enough directions were not to be found in the book just mentioned."

It is one of those books whose effect upon the world has been immense as can be seen by the extent to which its pages have been read. Old-fashioned as its phraseology sounds today, and out of the date as many of its conceptions appear, it is not too much to say that the principles of Homeopathy enlisted in it, even today remain unaltered in essence for anyone who wishes to test this method of practical therapeutics.

C.M.F von Boenninghausen, Hahnemann's most respected and trusted student and colleague stated the following with regard to the general neglect of Organon:

" It seems actually at present to be a rarity and an exception when any homoeopath again consults the "Organon of Healing," and I know several who do not even possess, and have never read, this book. And yet it is indisputably the basis of the homoeopathic healing art, and besides so many valuable grains of gold are enclosed within it that at every repetition of the reading of this remarkable book, especially when read by the older practicing and experienced homoeopathic physicians, ever new and important instruction and intelligence may be gained, so that its neglect cannot be too sharply reproved ."

So we see that a thorough understanding of the foundation principle of Homoeopathy is indeed essential for its effective application in each and every case of illness. After all, the only absolute point of distinction between Homoeopathy and all other therapies is its philosophical and practical foundation on Similars. But the question arises where and to what limit is the knowledge of Organon essential in our clinical practice?

Knowledge of Organon and thorough understanding of its principles is required in each and every step a homeopathic physician. Starting from knowing our mission (§ 1) to Modus Operandi of Homeopathy (§ 25-27) a physician is guided by Organon. The 3 most important information vital for any physician to know i.e. Knowledge of Disease. (§ 72-81), Knowledge of Medicine (§ 105-145), and Knowledge of employing medicine for the cure of disease. (§ 146-244) , can be known only by going through Organon. Even how a patient is to be approached and interviewed to know about his disease is explained in the Organon (§ 83-104). Thus we see that there can be no successful homeopathic physician who lacks a proper understanding of Organon- even though he may be versed with Materia medica and Repertory. The same views are pronounced by Dr. J. T. Kent in his comment that " To learn the Materia Medica, one must master Hahnemann's Organon, after which the symptomatology and a full repertory must be the constant reference books, if careful homoeopathic prescribing is to be attained and maintained."

We can understand how the application of Organon is essential in Homeopathic practice by going through the case illustrated by Dr. Hahnemann:

Sch--, a washerwoman, somewhat about 40 years old, had been more than three weeks unable to pursue her avocations, when she consulted me on the 1 st September 1815 .

  1. On my movement, especially at every step, and worst on making a false step, she has a shoot in the scrobiculus cordis, that comes, as she avers, every time from the left side.
  2. When she lies she feels quite well, then she has no pain anywhere, neither in the side nor in the scrobiculus.
  3. She can not sleep after three o'clock in the morning.
  4. She relishes her food, but when she has ate a little she feels sick.
  5. Then the water collects in her mouth and runs out of it, like the water brash.
  6. She has frequently empty eructations after every meal.
  7. Her temper is passionate, disposed to anger. - Whenever the pain is severe she is covered with perspiration- The catamenia were quite regular a fortnight since.

In other respect her health is good.

Now as regard symptom 1, Belladonna, china, and Rhus-tox cause shootings in the scrobiculus, but none of them only on motion, as is the case here. Pulsatilla (see symptom 387) certainly causes shootings in the scrobiculus on making a false step, but only as a rare alternating action, and has neither the same digestive derangements as occur here as 4 compared with 5 and 6, nor the same state of the disposition.

Bryonia alone has among its chief alternating action, as the whole list of its symptoms demonstrates, pains from movement and especially shooting pains, as also stitches beneath the sternum ( in the scrobiculus) on raising arm (448), and on making a false step it occasions shooting in other parts (520, 600) .

The negative symptom 2 met with here answers especially to Bryonia (638); few medicines (with the exception, perhaps of Nux-vomica and Rhus-tox in their alternating action- neither of which, however, are suitable for the other symptoms) show a complete relief to pains during rest and when lying; Bryonia does, however, in an special manner (638, and many other Bryonia symptoms).

Symptom 3 is met with in several medicines, and also in Bryonia (694).

Symptom 4 is certainly, as for as regards "sickness after eating", met within several other medicines ( Ignatia, Nux-vomica, Mercurius, Ferrum, Belladonna, Pulsatilla, Cantharis but neither so constantly and usually, nor with relish for food as in Bryonia (279).

As regards symptom 5 several medicines certainly cause a flow of saliva like waterbrash, just as well as Bryonia (282); the others, however, do not produce the remaining symptoms in a very similar manner. Hence Bryonia is to be preferred to them in this point.

Empty eructation (of wind only) after eating (symptom 6) is found in few medicines and in none so constantly, so usually, and to such a great degree, as in Bryonia (253, 259).

To 7.- one of the chief symptoms in diseases ( as in § 213) is the "state of the disposition," and as Bryonia (772) causes this symptom also in an exactly similar manner- Bryonia is for all these reasons to be preferred in this case to all other medicines as the homeopathic remedy.

Now, as this woman was very robust and the force of the disease must accordingly have been very considerable, to prevent her by its pain form doing any work, and as her vital forces, as has been observed, were not consensually affected, I gave her one of the strongest homeopathic doses, a full drop of the pure juice of Bryonia root, to be taken immediately, and bade her come to me again in 48 hours. I told my friend E, who was present, that within that time the woman would be quite cured, but he, being but half a convert to homeopathy, expressed his doubts about it. Two days afterward he came again to ascertain the result, but the woman did not return then, and in fact, never came back again. I could only allay the impatience of my friend by telling him her name and of the village where she lived, about three miles off, and advising him to seek her out and ascertain for himself how she was. This he did, and her answer was: " What was the use of my going back? The very next day I was quite well, and could again commence my washing," and the day following I was as well, as I am still. I am extremely obliged to the doctor, but the like of us have no time to leave off our work; and for three weeks previously my illness prevented me earning anything ."

Comment :

Now we can see how Hahnemann used his teachings in the case solved by him. (Even though the case was taken in the year 1811 just after the first edition but I evaluate it in the light of sixth edition for the ease of understanding and availability of text of sixth edition).

  1. Hahnemann has taken the case in light of his directions given in aphorism 83-104.
  2. Had gained knowledge about the medicine (using Materia medica pura with symptom numbers of medicine) §.105-145
  3. Judicial employment of medicine Used aphorism 146 (probably in § . 126 in first edition) and search a specific remedy as Bryonia in above case.
    • Used § 153 (probably in § 129 in first edition) and gave value to characteristic symptom i.e. symptom no.2
    • Used § 213 and 211 ( probably in § 189 and 187 in first edition) and gave value to mental disposition for final decision as symptom 7 in above case.
    • The dose: 1 single simple medicine at one time is used as directed in the § 272 & 273 ( probably in § 234-236 in first edition) "a full drop of the pure homeopathic juice of Bryonia root" in above case.

Thus we see that in each and every step of homeopathic practice one has to have a clear knowledge of the concepts of Homeopathy, as laid in the Organon.

Valuing this Dr. Adolph Lippe made it a rule to read Organon once a year and he said that every time he went through it he discovered something he had not before observed. Those sections which describe the examination of patients should be more especially studied, for your repertories and materia medicas will avail you little if you do not examine your patients as he teaches ."

Going through the above article one understands the importance of Knowledge of Organon in Clinical practice. For the benefit of all of you and a quick review I share below a summary of different aphorisms of Organon of Homeopathy. Other than a quick review a detailed study of the sections is also needed time and again to instill in us a firm belief in the system.

Study of Organon

Organon of Medicine deals with three basic issues viz.

  1. What is curable in disease and how to know it?
  2. What is curative in medicines and how to find that out?
  3. And most importantly, how to apply the knowledge of medicines thus gained, to the knowledge of disease thus acquired, for the purpose of curing diseases, easily, certainly, quickly and permanently, without much trouble.
  4. It thus is the foundation of both the science and art of rational medicine.

If we study Dr William Boericke's English translation of Hahnemann's Organon of medicine, 6 th edition (Published by the Boericke and Tafel of Philadelphia, USA,1952) we found it comprises of:

    • Preface
    • An Introduction
    • The table of contents or the Index
    • The main body of the work (Aphorism 1-291)


Preface comprise of-

  • Translator's preface by Dr. William Boericke
  • An introduction to Dr. William Boericke's English translation of 6 th edition of Hahnemann's Organon of medicine by Dr. James Krauss.
  • Hahnemann's preface to the sixth edition of his Organon of medicine.


The actual text or the main body of the Organon is preceded by a long Introduction by Hahnemann. The introduction explores basically three aspects of medicine viz.

  1. Review of the therapeutics, being followed so far by the oldschool of medicine namely, the allopathic and palliative treatment.
  2. Instances of stray cures by the Law of Similar' in the past.
  3. The healing art- the new school of medicine- namely homeopathy


The table of contents or an index gives in a nutshell, the subject matter of various aphorisms and some brief explanation of certain terms used by Hahnemann

The Text or the main body of the work (§ - 291)

  • The main body of the Organon or the text, as stated, comprises of 291 aphorisms in all and around 170 footnotes. These footnotes are spread over the entire text, appended to some of these aphorisms. These footnotes wherever they appear, from an integral part of these aphorisms, and, therefore, make complete and comprehensive reading of the respective aphorisms.
  • For the sake or convenience, the main text is divided into two parts:
    1. Theoretical part.
    2. Practical part.

I. The Principles of Medicine ( § 1-70 )

The first part of the Organon or the text comprises of 70 aphorisms in all and is called as theoretical part. It deals with the principles of medicine. This part covers the following areas:

  • Physician's Mission or Objective (§ 1)
  • Criteria for Cure (§ 2)
  • Physician's Areas of Knowledge (§ 3-4)
  • Knowledge of Disease (§ 5-18)
    • Manifestations - Cause, Suppression (§ 6-7)
    • Restoration of Health (§ 8)
    • Vital Force in Health and Disease (§ 9-17)
    • Symptomatology (§ 18)
  • Knowledge of Medicines ( §19-24 )
    • Experimental Human Pharmacology
  • Derivation of Law of Similars
    • Application of Knowledge of Medicine to the knowledge of Disease ( § 22-69 )
    • Principles of Homoeopathy ( § 25-27 )
  • Inferences or the Summary (§ 70)

II. The Practice of Medicine ( § 61 - 291 )

The second part of the Organon or the text comprising of aphorisms 71 onwards along with their respective footnotes is known as practical part. It deals with the practice of medicine. These aphorisms cover the following areas:

  • Practical Application of Inferences (§ 71)
  • Acquiring knowledge to Cure Diseases (§ 72-140)
    • Classification of Diseases (§-77)
    • Individualization (§ 82)
    • Case Taking ( § 83-104 )
  • Acquiring Knowledge of Medicines ( § 105-145 )
    • Experimental Human Pharmacology (Provings)
  • Judicious Employment of medicines (§ 146-244 )
    • Method of Selection ( § 146-154 )
    • Dose (§ 155_160 )
    • Remedy Response ( § 161-184 )
    • Local Application in Chronic Diseases ( § 185-209 )
    • Mental Diseases ( § 210-224 )
    • Psychosomatic Illnesses ( § 225 )
    • Psychotherapy ( § 226-227 )
    • General Management of Patients with Mental Diseases ( § 228- 230 )
    • Intermittent and Alternating Disease ( § 231-244 )
  • Homoeopathic Posology ( § 245-258 )
  • Diet and Regimen ( § 259-263 )
  • Pharmacy ( § 264-272 )
  • Administration of the Remedy
    1. Single Remedy ( § 273-274 )
    2. Dose ( § 275-283 )
    3. Route of Administration ( § 284-285 )
  • Ancillary Measures ( § 286-291 )
    1. Magnets
    2. Mesmerism
    3. Massage
    4. Baths

For the easy remembering and understanding I would like to suggest a short and sweet method which is given by Dr. J. N. Kanjilal as:

" In the first reading every word of every aphorism together with its footnotes must be read very carefully with meticulous attention to the commas, semicolons etc., as well as the parentheses. Never be satisfied until the whole meaning of the aphorism with its logic and connotation becomes quite clear. In this reading, of course, the whole book, beginning from its NAME to the last line of the Appendix must be gone through."

"In the second reading each aphorism should be read in the context of the whole Organon including the Appendix as given in the 5th Edition, translated by Dudgeon. Before starting the second reading a thorough perousal of the "Contents" of the same book, as given just after the preface to the Fifth Edition...should be given. This will help greatly in forming an idea of the arrangements of the different subjects taught in the book. After that, while reading any aphorism, all other aphorisms dealing with any of the points of the aphorism should be refreshed. For example:* The phrase accessory circumstances occurs in aphorisms 5, 7 and 94; accessory symptoms of the remedy occurs in 163, 167, 180 and 181; accessory symptoms of the disease occurs in 5, 7 and 95; and so on. All these groups of aphorisms should be read together, so that the whole sense of the theme becomes quite clear." "After these two thorough personal readings, this book should most advantageously be read in a study circle of friends and colleagues who have already given such minimum two readings of the book. Each member of the study circle should try to explain his grasp on each of the aphorisms according to his understanding and sense of logic. In this way by mutual debate all the points will become more clearer and more deeply comprehended ."

Thus we see that Hahnemann's Organon is not just a small book on homeopathic philosophy, but a treatise on the application of scientific reasoning to the practice of medicine.

If we wish to be successful then we must reconcile with the teachings of Hahnemann as in Organon of medicine and his other treatises. In the end I would like to recommend this work to all homeopaths, both students and teachers, and suggest it is never too late to return to its pages, to study and examine each aphorism carefully. This year as we celebrate the Second Centenary of Hahnemann's Organon we should pledge to follow its principles and to utilize them in our practice. With this wish I present before you all this Special Issue released on the 200 th anniversary of birth of First Edition of Organon dedicated to "Hahnemann's Organon"

Hope you will enjoy it!!


Dr. Anoop Kumar Srivastava
Issue Editor, Director www.homeorizon.com.

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Wow, never knew the practical utility of reading Organon. Thanks for this writeup
  Comment by: Dr. Monika, India.    on Feb 02, 2010 1 Agree  |  0 Disagree       Report Abuse

Dear Sir, thanks for reminding us about the 200th anniv of our Organon. we should surely celebrate all the year through.
  Comment by: Dr. P.K.Bharti, India.    on Feb 01, 2010 0 Agree  |  0 Disagree       Report Abuse

Sir, i am a BHMS final year student and still i never knew the "IMPORTANCE OF ORGANON IN CLINICAL PRACTICE". i personally thank you for enlightening me on the subject.
  Comment by: Mohit Sharma, India.    on Feb 01, 2010 1 Agree  |  2 Disagree       Report Abuse

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