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The American School of Homeopathy and the International Hahnemannian Association:
The High Point of Homeopathy
PART I—Liga News 2015; No. 15 (Aug.): 14-17.
by André Saine, N.D., F.C.A.H.

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The greatest successes ever recorded in the history of medicine were almost certainly those achieved by the Hahnemannians of the American school of homeopathy.

We can trace the beginning of this school to the arrival in the United States of Constantine Hering in 1833 and Adolph Lippe in 1838.

With Henry Newell Guernsey, Hering and Lippe formed in Philadelphia a formidable triumvirate that led the way to the development of the American school of homeopathy, which was most notable for its integration of clinical symptoms into the materia medica and for its systematic use of the higher potencies.

From this school emerged an incredible number of remarkably successful practitioners, including Joslin Sr., P. P. and L. B. Wells, Bayard, Dunham, Fincke, William and Frederick Payne, William P. Wesselhoeft, Constantine Lippe, Berridge, Ernest and Harvey Farrington, Skinner, H. C. Allen, Bell, Nash, Rushmore, Edmund Carleton, McNeil, Kent, Yingling, Lutze, Boger, Taylor, Close, Rabe, Roberts, Alfred Pulford, Pierre Schmidt and Wright-Hubbard.

To practice homeopathy successfully requires assiduous study and diligent application of its principles. Today, however, with all the new and different approaches to practicing homeopathy, a great number of practitioners are confused and simply give up practicing because of their lack of success.

Rare are those within the homeopathic community, unfortunately, who know of the enormous and consistent success that was obtained by those Hahnemannians, and even more rare are the ones who have learned to apply the teachings of those masters to their own practice.

But how can we gauge the successes obtained by those great Hahnemannians? That can best be done by examining their record in epidemics.

The first epidemic I will refer to was one of malignant diphtheria that occurred in Philadelphia in the winter of 1859-1860. In a meeting of the American Institute of Homeopathy held in Philadelphia on June 7, 1860, Constantine Hering reported the results he had obtained with Drs. Lippe and Reichhelm by using the higher potencies in this epidemic: “The epidemic diphtheria commenced in Philadelphia, December last, and increased slowly in number and violence during the following three months, and I have not seen any more during the last six weeks.

“All my patients, except cases where I was the consulting physician, belonged to families I had been attending for years, nearly all very intelligent families which I consider a great advantage in treatment. I have had during this time about 50 to 60 cases with marked symptoms of diphtheria, in one case I succeeded in obtaining the membrane for microscopic examination, which I add herewith. I had about the same number of light cases. All recovered within seven days, except a very few of so-called scrofulous diathesis, which required more time. The time it took to effect a cure, I consider one of the most important items in statistics tables, as I remember that since I have learned to give the doses higher and higher, the duration of acute cases has been shortened. …

“Every single dose of any of the medicines, even in the worst cases, I allowed about 24 hours to act before I decided to make a change. The lowest potency given was the 200 of Jenichen, generally I used them higher, giving always in every repetition a higher degree.

“Dr. Lippe has had about a like number of cases, and as far as I recollect, has given nearly the same medicines in the same potencies with like success. Dr. Reichhelm had had 6 or 8 weeks ago, about 80 cases, has given the 30th potency and lost none.” 1

Six years later, in 1866, Lippe wrote that that report by Hering about that epidemic “will be handed down to posterity as an evidence that true homeopathy was alive in 1860,” and that “since 1860, many a time and oft have the two surviving physicians [Lippe and Hering] … prescribed for the dreaded disease with the same happy results under the guidance of the Hahnemannian light. The same well-known characteristic symptoms of the proved medicines have again and again determined the choice of the curative remedy; and in most cases one single dose has cured the patient. In the name of com¬mon humanity, the sneering critic should try to find in his materia medica the homeopathic remedy for each individual case.”  2

This statement of Lippe is very significant, because diphtheria continued to rage in Philadelphia until 1864 and claimed more lives annually than it did in 1860.  3

In reference to the record of these three physicians in the deadly epidemic of 1860, Dr. P. P. Wells, the great Hahnemannian of Brooklyn, New York, added, “This is proved in the history of an epidemic of uncommon severity which prevailed in a neighboring city a few years ago. The fatal cases under allopathic treatment were more than fifty per cent, of all so treated; while under the average of homeopathic treatment, so called, the loss was but sixteen per cent; and in the same epidemic three physicians treated over two hundred and forty cases [closer to 300 according to Hering's report] without a single death. When told of this successful practice, the result seemed so extraordinary as to be incredible.

“Two of these physicians [Hering and Lippe] were personal friends of the writer, and the first time he saw one of them, after hearing the remarkable fact, he asked his friend (Hering) if this were true. It was a surprise to hear him say it was. He confirmed the statement fully, and added, ‘These were genuine cases of fully developed diphtheria, treated by us, and does not include the multitude of sore throats which we treated, and which lacked the characteristics of diphtheria.'

“We asked, ‘How was this? What did you do?' He replied: ‘We analyzed every case, and gave the required similar remedy, when we had found it, and left it to do its work.' And here was the whole secret of it.

“This epidemic prevailed soon after it was proclaimed that the protoiodide of mercury had been found to be the specific for this disease: a claim for this drug which many have not yet learned is far beyond its merits. It is hardly unreasonable to suppose that as the claim was then new, and generally hopefully believed in, that these sixteen per cent losses all had the drug and then—died—and homeopathy failed in each case. Not so, as appears from this statement of Hering, when asked what remedies they found most frequently called for, he replied, Mercurius almost never in any form, and least of all the protoiodide.

“Here was how the success came. These were not the men to abandon law and run after a new thing because somebody had said it would cure. They kept to the law, and the result justified them and the law. They ran after no will-o'-the-wisp of a hypothesis, because it happened to be an ingenious one; in this, as well as in their loyalty to law, giving an example worthy of the following of all who love truth more than fiction or novelty; and a promise of success to all who will go and do likewise; which, it is submitted, no other course of proceeding can excel or equal.” 4

The fact that under other modes of medical practice and/or the natural course of the disease the mortality rate was more than fifty percent and there were no deaths in close to 300 patients under homeopathic treatment is a powerful illustration of a remark made by Sir Ernest Rutherford: “If your experiment needs statistics, you ought to have done a better experiment.”

Dr. D. R. Beckwith of Cleveland, Ohio, described in greater detail the severity of this epidemic of malignant diphtheria that ravaged other parts of the United States as well in 1860: “In every place in which it made its appearance, it was attended with great mortality among children [in Philadelphia 93% of the mortality from diphtheria was in children younger than 10 years old]. … In the country, where the inhabitants did not use sufficient care with their children and neglected to call in medical aid, it was very fatal. Whole families of children were attacked and died in one or two weeks. … The ravager slew his hundreds, and caused terror and dismay amongst the hardy yeomanry [homesteaders]. In one small cemetery in the country, eighty children in a few weeks found their final resting place, from the effects of diphtheria. … So rapid was the disease, that children retired in the evening comparatively well, and in the morning death was sure of its victim.”

Dr. Beckwith ended his review of diphtheria by commenting on the extraordinary results obtained by Hering, Lippe and Reichhelm in Philadelphia during that deadly epidemic: “To the physicians who believe in high potencies it must be gratifying to know that there has been no recorded treatment of any disease as successful as this by the administration of remedies ranging from the thirtieth to the two thousandth potency.” 5

It is even more extraordinary to note that the results obtained by these Hahnemannians were not sporadic but consistent from one epidemic to another. For instance, in another severe epidemic of diphtheria that occurred in 1883, Lippe reported the same outcome of no mortality, even though he had had three cases with complete loss of voice, meaning that the diphtheritic membranes had invaded the larynx, which made suffocation imminent and survival rare. He wrote, “Two more cases of a similar character as the one above related have since been cured in a similar manner. In all former epidemics of diphtheria it was claimed that the characteristic symptoms of that form of disease were great debility, formation of bacteria, offensive breath, and if loss of voice came it indicated the spreading of the diphtheritic deposits into the larynx, and that hardly three per cent of the patients so attacked recovered. In this late epidemic we found first plain tonsillitis, followed by quinsy and then rapidly developed diphtheria; mortality, so far, none.” 6

Such extraordinary results during devastating epidemics were not isolated incidents in Lippe's long and successful career, for all evidence shows that he met with the same success in other epidemics, as can be seen in the following report: “It was my duty to attend, some five years ago [in the fall of 1871], a very large number of cases of malignant smallpox, then raging as an epidemic in this city [Philadelphia]. Many prominent persons came under our care; we never made any external application; came out of the epidemic with flying colors, not a case pitted. Our reliance were Hahnemann's teachings, and having followed them consistently for forty years, and having no hesitation in confessing that whatever mistakes we have made, were caused by a neglect to apply carefully all of our fundamental principles and the master's injunctions to the cure of the sick.” 7

Those results are quite remarkable, as that particular epidemic of smallpox carried a mortality rate of 25% in Philadelphia, where 3,899 persons died out of 15,629 who had fallen sick with smallpox. 8

Dr. T. P. Wilson wrote in the editorial in the January 1879 number of the Cincinnati Medical Advance entitled “Comparative Mortality”: “In investigating the different modes of medical practice, we are often asked to settle the question as to their relative value, by comparison of their respective mortalities. Each party presents a certain number of cases treated in its own peculiar manner, and the ratio of the dead to the whole number treated, shows of course in their estimation which mode is best. Prima facie [at first sight], the test seems to be one quite reasonable. The object of medical practice is to save life. Therefore that system which saves the largest number, or, if you please, shows the least lost, is the one we should adopt. Theoretically the idea is a good one. But the fact is, practically it will not work.” He asked, “The followers of what medical school or mode of practice would willingly see themselves discounted in manner of statistics? It follows therefore that an element of uncertainty enters very largely into reports which are presented as crucial tests of relative value.” 9

Lippe was prompted by this editorial to publish his mortality record and, at the same time, challenge the eclectic “majority” who were “misrepresenting” homeopathy both in America and England, and who presented themselves as the authorities on homeopathy, using the argument that the majority knew better. He defended unequivocally the consistent success of the Hahnemannians' practices: “The fact is that homeopathy properly, understandingly, and scientifically applied is ‘a success,' ”  10 and at the same time, he repeatedly asked the eclectic representatives of the profession to provide “stubborn documentary evidence” to support their arguments: “The only possible manner of settling the great question before us, whether the homeopathic healing-art, when practically applied according to the method of Hahnemann, shows such successes as has never been shown by any other method of cure, or whether such professing homeopaths, like those who fable about auxiliary and supplemental laws, discovered or discoverable, or of the great stride made by pathology, or of Hahnemann's senility, or of the absurdity of even the 30th potency, or of the necessity of palpable doses, et cetera, is whether this progressing-backwards majority can show better results. The proof of the pudding is eating it, the eating is the actual experiment: provided we have the pudding we can eat it, and judge of its qualities. … Would it be too much to ask these men to come out with a list of statistical statements? What results can you show? … Let us, but for once, have your figures; show us what you can do, what you have done; let us know how mutilated, perverted homeopathy produces better results, and we shall learn the differential merits of HOMEOPATHY and ECLECTICISM. 11

And so, he responded to the editorial mentioned above: “By comparison of the respective mortality under specified treatments, consistent with established laws of cure, the relative value of the different modes of medical practice may be settled. Following Hahnemann's teachings and trying to develop the applications of the homeopathic law of cure, I take the liberty to lay before my professional brethren a copy of the official report to the Board of Health in 1878.”  12 Later that year (1879), he published in the journal the Organon his official reports for both 1877 and 1878, highlighting the fact that he had not lost a single case from acute diseases during the previous two and half years. He wrote,

“After diligently applying the law of the similars to the cure of the sick, and following diligently the teachings of the Master some forty years, and for over thirty years having only used the higher and highest potencies, and by law, which is strictly enforced, being compelled to report every death occurring in our practice to a Board of Health, and attending to as large a general practice as any other medical man in this city, and having had some of the gravest cases which have occurred in this community to treat, we may now report, that since the 12th of January, 1877, we have not lost a single solitary case of an acute disease—not one of the many cases treated of typhus, or pneumonia, or diphtheria, or scarlet-fever, or cholera-infantum, [or typhoid fever, or erysipelas],  13 etc.; and we now, even at the risk of being charged with “boasting,” give from our reports to the Board of Health, in the city of Philadelphia, a correct copy:— 1- January 18th, 1877—Angus Cameron, 52 years old: Bright's disease of the kidney.
2- June 5th, 1877—Edwin H. Trego, 35 years old: tuberculosis pulmonalis.
3- March 18th, 1878—Samuel Penn English, 84 years old: cancer of the tongue.
4- March 31st, 1878—Emilia Hopkins, 80 years old (colored): cancer o
f the left breast.
5- August 11th, 1878—William Dix, 71 years old: consumption. 6- October 2nd, 1878—Ellen Walborn, 71 years old: cancer of the stomach. 7- December 9th, 1878—Dorothy Wehn, 66 years old: paralysis.

“Five of these seven cases came under our care at a very advanced stage of the disease, and had never been treated before homeopathically; did not expect to recover, but asked for relief, which was given in every case without the aid of ‘palliatives,' outside of the strictest application of the most similar remedy in the infinitesimal dose.” 14

Lippe then added, “Can these statements from private practice, as to mortality, be relied on? So asks the editor.” He responded that as much so as “medical practitioners in this city are obliged, under our State and Municipal Laws, which are strictly enforced, to report every case of death. … The statements can be relied on when made from the obligatory and strictly enforced reports to the Board of Health.”  15

That is an extraordinary statement, especially when you consider, first, that Lippe was known, not only to have one of the busiest medical practices in Philadelphia, but also to be tireless in visiting patients during epidemics and to treat the most severe cases as they were referred to him by his homeopathic and allopathic colleagues; and second, that the usual death rate for some of the acute conditions mentioned above was very high; for instance for typhus, typhoid fever, pneumonia and diphtheria it averaged about 30% and for scarlet fever and erysipelas about 10%. No mortality rate could be found for children with cholera infantum, but it was known as the greatest single cause of death among children under five years in some parts of the United States in the 1870s. 16

Such almost unbelievable statements by Lippe prompted colleagues like H. C. Allen and Boger to investigate Lippe's practice and verify for themselves these supposedly incredible results. Before visiting Lippe, Allen was prescribing numerous remedies in low potencies and had said that when he began practicing he had never heard of the Organon despite having graduated from a professed homeopathic medical school. 17

By following the master prescriber, Allen and Boger finally witnessed the promised results of genuine homeopathy. Allen eventually became a staunch proponent and defender of pure homeopathy. He founded the Hering Medical College in Chicago, was its President for many years, and became the editor of the Medical Advance in 1886 and remained at the helm of that Hahnemannian journal until his death in 1909. In 1908 during a discussion in a medical society, Allen said, “Adolph Lippe made on the floor of the American Institute of Homeopathy the most remarkable statement I had ever heard. He said: ‘If I can see a case of diphtheria before it has been bungled, washed, gargled, etc., I can cure nearly every case with one remedy, and often with one dose!' I took my grip and went to Philadelphia, and stayed with Lippe for one month. I rode with him to visit his patients, saw him give one dose and go away. Asked if he was going to give a placebo. ‘No. They have had large single doses all their lives. They now want something different. This is the way they have been converted to homeopathy.' In the morning the patient would be better, and so on.” 18

From such reports, it is now easier to understand how Lippe could speak with such authority about the incredible asset that genuine homeopathy represents for humanity, and how he not only had the right but the responsibility of preventing the silencing and disappearance of genuine homeopathy desired by that majority of professed homeopaths. He had no option but to fight for the preservation of genuine homeopathy, just as Hahnemann had no option but to share the results of his lifelong research and experimentation with the rest of the world. Lippe could not let this “God-given gift” simply disappear.

(To be continued)


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