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Organon of the Medical Art: Homeopathy's Most Important Text

Samuel Hahnemann (Author) Wenda Brewster O'reilly (Editor) Steven Decker (Translator)
Synopsis Samuel Hahnemann was a physician, chemist, linguist, historian of medicine, and scientific revolutionary. Early in his career, he became so disillusioned with the state of medical practice that he stopped practicing medicine in the firm belief that the methods he was taught would do more harm than good. Instead he made his living translating medical and other texts. While Hahnemann was translating the Scottish physican William Cullen's Materia Medica, specifically the section on the toxicology of Peruvian bark, he was struck by the similarity between the symptoms of poisoning from Peruvian bark (also known as cinchona, from which quinine is derived) and the symptoms of malaria against which it was used as a medicine. It occurred to him that this similarity might not be coincidental, but rather it might be the very basis of the medicine's curative power. Through numerous experiments conducted over several years, Hahnemann established that any medicine will cure a particular disease if it is capable of producing symptoms in healthy individuals which are similar to the totality of disease symptoms in the sick. These experiments also led to Hahnemann's development of guidelines for medicinal experimentation, which include testing medicines only upon healthy individuals (to avoid confounding the action of the medicine with the symptoms of the disease), the use of small doses, and the testing of any medicine on both men and women and on people with various bodily constitutions in order to determine a medicine's full range of action. Hahnemann's use of minute, potentized medicinal doses originally arose from his interest in reducing the adverse affects of medicines. He then discovered that by successively diluting and succussing a medicinal substance, not only were the adverse effects of the medicine diminished, but the inherent curative power of the substance was dramatically increased. This led to his discovery that medicines and diseases act dynamically, not materially. Hahnemann was a linguist of phenomenal ability. He spoke German, Latin, Greek and French fluently. Conventional Western Medicine, working from an allopathic basis, attempts to cure disease by opposing and suppressing its most obvious symptoms. Homeopathic medicine, however, treats the whole patient rather than isolated symptoms. Minute doses of medicines are used to combat disease by stimulating the patient's own life force. Samuel Hahnemann, the visionary 19th century physician who founded this system of treatment, distilled his philosophy and practice into the Organon of Medical Art. Long recognized as one of the most important books ever written on the subject of health, disease, and medical care, the Organon has for many years been required reading for all serious students of homeopathy. The wisdom of this seminal work is now available to contemporary readers as never before, in an English version edited and annotated by Wenda Brewster O'Reilly, based on a definitive new translation by Steven Decker. O'Reilly has produced a version of the Organon that is faithful to the nuances of Hahnemann's thought yet infinitely more accessible to contemporary readers than were previous editions. She has applied a system of chapters and sections to Hahnemann's text of numbered paragraphs, and her sidenotes, editor's footnotes, and glossary provide the context necessary for a true understanding of the author's meaning. Finally, the inclusion of an index vastly increases the volume's effectiveness as a reference tool. With the publication of this new edition, the genius of Samuel Hahnemann is brought to light. Now practitioners and patients alike can come to a deep understanding of the revolutionary mode of medical care that is homeopathy. Hahnemann's genius is timeless and his work is as relevant to all medical practices today as it was 200 years ago. Homeopathy stands firmly on his pillars of truth, which have been confirmed and potentized by daily experience.
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About the authors

Samuel Hahnemann

Samuel Hahnemann was the founder of Homoeopathy. He established the fundamental principles of the science and art of Homoeopathy. He is called the Father of Experimental Pharmacology because he was the first physician to prepare medicines in a specialized way; proving them on healthy human beings, to determine how the medicines acted to cure diseases. Before Hahnemann, medicines were given on speculative indications, mainly on the basis of authority without experimental verification. Hahnemann discovered the remedial powers of drugs and inert substances such as gold, platinum, silica, vegetable charcoal, lycopodium, etc. By preparing the medicines through potentization, these inert and insoluble substances became soluble in alcohol or water and were charged with medicinal force. Dr. Hahnemann espoused the law of cure known as "Similia Similibus Curentur", or "Like Cures Like". This means that a remedy that produces symptoms in a healthy person will cure those same symptoms when manifested by a person in a diseased state. This law of cure has been verified by millions of homoeopaths all over the world since the time of Hahnemann. Hahnemann discovered the primary and secondary actions of remedies. The primary action results from the first encounter between the vital force and the external agent, and the secondary action is a result of the vital force's reaction to the symptoms of that primary encounter. This discovery led him to the curative powers of poisonous substances. Dr. Hahnemann described the different aspects of 'acute' and 'chronic' diseases. Acute diseases are transitory; they have a beginning and an end, whereas the chronic diseases are co-existent with life. Either they are present in a manifest or a latent state. From this work came the chronic miasms of Psora, Syphilis, and Sycosis. Dr. Hahnemann was the progenitor of several modern medical approaches. Deeming the treatment of insane patients to be cruel and harmful, he advised a humane treatment for the insane. He cured many insane patients with homeopathy, and became famous for this success. Dr. Hahnemann was quick to recognize poor hygiene as a contributory cause to the spread of disease. His success with cholera and typhoid fever was in part due to this recognition. Hahnemann also emphasized the importance of nursing, diet, bed rest, and isolation of patients during epidemic diseases. Hahnemann described 'Noxious' principles as the precursors of certain disease states. Dr. Hahnemann treated thousands of difficult and chronic cases that defied the best care from allopaths all over Europe. Thus, he became so famous that physicians from Europe and America came to him for coaching in the new science and art of healing, called Homoeopathy.

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Wenda Brewster O'reilly

Wenda Brewster O'reilly, PH.D. holds a master's degree from Harvard University and a doctorate in education from Stanford. She conducted research on women's health care and childbirth practices as an affiliated scholar at Stanford University's Institute for Research on Women and Gender. In her role as Executive Director of The Birth Place, a California out-of-hospital childbirth center, she worked closely with community groups and government agencies, advocating change in the way medicine is practiced and understood. She lives with her husband and three daughters in Palo Alto, California, where she writes and lectures on topics related to homeopathic medicine.

Steven Decker

Steven Decker is an independent researcher with expertise in the German language of Hahnemann’s time, and with a particular interest in the ‘dynamic system’ of thought. In addition to the writings of Samuel Hahnemann, he has made an extensive study of the works of other contributors to this system, including Johann Goethe, Samuel Taylor Coleridge and Wilhelm Reich. A native Californian who spent a number of years studying and working in Germany, he currently lives in Santa Barbara.

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Bibliographic information

Title Organon of the Medical Art: Homeopathy's Most Important Text
Format Hardcover
Date published: 09.08.1996
Edition Reprint
Publisher Birdcage Press
Language: English
isbn 1889613010
length xxi+407p., Glossary; References; Index; 24cm.