Flashback of Homoeopathic Pharmacy, it’s History

HPI, 2013


Abstract: As Rome was not built in one day similarly present pharmacy methods and procedure is a product of evaluation of many years. The preparation of medicine had the very origin in the ancient periods. China was one the oldest country where the attempt of preparation of medicine were undertaken. Apart from this Hippocrates,
Diascorides, Galen, Avicenna and others had the equal hand in marking the history
of pharmacy.

History has always been a fascination, as it has encouraged the generation to progress further and evaluates themselves while having he clear knowledge about roots and origin. The present article has gist of the overall history of pharmacy. The present pharmaceutical standard is not a process mechanised in a single day.
The word ‘pharmacist’ was first used in a publication in England in 1834 according to the Oxford English Dictionary in a novel by Lytton called The Last Days of Pompeii. However, it was certainly in use from the 18th century with the meaning of someone who prepared and dispensed medicines. The terms pharmacist and pharmaceutical chemist (now usually shortened to chemist) came later in the 1800s.

From beginnings as remote and simple as these came the proud profession of Pharmacy. Its development parallels that of man. Ancient man learned from instinct, from observation of birds and beasts. Cool water, a leaf, dirt, or mud was his first soothing application. By trial, he learned which served him best. Eventually, he applied his knowledge for the benefit of others.

Disease was considered a punishment by the offended God. Accordingly, magic was employed as a remedial agent and priests became in charge of religion and medicine. When organized settlements arose, changes influenced concepts of disease and healing. The powers of Gods started declining. The magical healer relied more on spells and used magical stones more than plant materials.The empirical healer – upon drugs. The physicians and other healers took on the duties of medicine preparation.

Chinese Pharmacy, according to legend, stems from Shen Nung (about 2000 B.C.), emperor who sought out and investigated the medicinal value of several hundred herbs. He reputed to have tested many of them on himself, and to have written the first Pen T-Sao, or  native herbal, recording 365 drugs. Medicinal plants include podophyllum, rhubarb, ginseng, stramonium, cinnamon bark.

Hippocrates Conceived a link between environment and humanity – connected four elements of earth, air, fire and water to four humors : black bile, blood, yellow bile, phlegm. He constructed a rational explanations of illness.

Theophrastus (about 300 B.C.), among the greatest early Greek philosophers and natural scientists, is called the “father of botany.” His observations and writings dealing with the medical qualities and peculiarities of herbs are unusually accurate, even in the light of present knowledge.

In order to study materia medica, Dioscorides accompanied the Roman armies
throughout the known world. He recorded what he observed, promulgated excellent rules for
collection of drugs, their storage and use. His texts were considered basic science as late as
the sixteenth century.

Galen (130- 200 A.D.) practiced and taught both Pharmacy and Medicine in Rome; his principles of preparing and compounding medicines ruled in the Western world for 1,500 years; and his name still is associated with that class of pharmaceuticals compounded bymechanical means – galenicals. He was the originator of the formula for a cold cream, essentially similar to that known today. Many procedures Galen originated have their
counterparts in today’s modern compounding laboratories.

Ibn Sina (about 980-1037 A.D.) was called Avicenna by the Western world. He was pharmacist, poet, physician, philosopher and diplomat, Avicenna was an intellectual giant, a favorite of Persian princes and rulers. He wrote in Arabic, often while secluded in the home of an apothecary friend. His pharmaceutical teachings were accepted as authority in the West until the 17th century; and still are dominant influences in the Orient.

New drugs were arriving from far-off lands, unknown to the ancients.For pharmacy, printing had a profound effect on the study of plant drugs, because illustrations of the plant drugs could be reproduced easily.Among the most gifted of these investigators was Valerius Cordus (1515 – 1544) whose Dispensatorium became the official standard for the preparation of medicines in the city of Nuremberg and generally is considered the first

Paracelsus – advocated chemically prepared drugsfrom crude plant and mineral substances. He preached the ‘Doctrine of signature’, a belief that God had placed a sign on healing substances indicating their use against disease. He sparked the growth of modern pharmaceutical sciences. Eventually, as the efficacy of some of these drugs became  known, they entered professional medical practice and appeared in books on medicines. Here was a great leap in pharmacy i.e. the preparation of medicines.

Hahnemann combined himself a physician, a pharmacologist and pharmacist as well. In fact he was his own Columbus in every field of medicine. Besides being a discoverer of a new system of therapy he may justifiably be styled as “father of experimental pharmacology” as he was the first to ascertain the positive effect of drug on healthy human being. Homoeopathy was born when Hahnemann started his revolutionary career in the field of
therapeutics with the publication of 1796 of an article of Hufeland’s journal under the title “Essay on anew principle for ascertaining the curative power of drugs”. He started as a pharmacologist and a therapeutist and ended as a discoverer of complete system of medicine comprising its science portion and art portion as well.

Man was either taken as a machine or a laboratory test tube. The whole living man was entirely ignored.17th century – Thomas Sydenham impressed upon medical profession the necessity of discovering specifics for diseases. Sydenham was eclipsed by emergence of innumerable theorists and speculators in the field of medicine. Practically the whole of Europe was marked by a plethora of theories and hypotheses.

Innumerable and dissimilar ideas respecting the nature of diseases and their remedies sprang from so many dissimilar brains and the theoretical views these gave rise to the so-called systems, each of which was at variance with the rest and self-contradictory. Hence, started the ‘mixture‘ prescriptions, blood lettings and other crude and torturoustherapeutic practices. There was chaos with total absence of any general or fixed principles
or laws of treatment.

Hahnemann challenged the practice of medicine and the apothecaries at his time. Hahnemann’s greatest contributions, in relation to pharmacy are the Principle of Dynamization, the use of the Single simple remedy (monopharmacy) and Drug proving. Hahnemann began experiments of the application of proven drugs for the cure of the sick upon the basis of the law of similars, by using drugs in their full strength. He found that many times the patient became greatly aggravated. In his article “Medicine of Experience” in Hufeland’s journal in 1805, he speaks again of the “smallest possible doses”. The preface to the 5th volume of Chronic Diseases (1839) began with a distinction between the process of dilution and dynamization The LM (Q, fifty-millesimal) potency scale, which Hahnemann referred to as “medicaments au globule” as distinct from the centesimal “medicaments a la goutte”, was developed in 1838.

1805 Hahnemann published the results of his observations of fifteen years in his ‘Fragmenta de Viribus Medicamentorum Positivis sive in sano corpore humano observatatis

1825 Dr. Caspari (Leipzig, Germany) published Dispensatory of Homoeopathic Pharmacopoeia.

1870 British Homoeopathic Pharmacopoeia by British Homoeopathic Society,
1872 Schwabe – Pharmacopoeia Homoeopathica Polyglottica.
1882 American homoeopathic dispensotory
1882 American Homoeopathic Pharmacopoeia by Boericke and Tafel, New
York & Philadelphia
1897 Otis Clap & Son Inc. Agent, Boston, U.S.A. published Pharmacopoeia of
American Institute of Homoeopathy
1898 Pharmacopée Homoeopathique Française
1901 2nd edition of Pharmacopoeia of American Institute of Homoeopathy, but
title changed to “Homoeopathic Pharmacopoeia of the United States”.
1892 In India, M. Bhattacharya and Co. published ‘Pharmaceutists Manual’ A revised and enlarged twelfth edition was published in July 1962 as “M. Bhattacharya and Co.’s Homoeopathic Pharmacopoeia”. This is not officially recognized by the Government of India.
1971 Homoeopathic pharmacopoeia of India was published .HPI is included inthe Second Schedule of Drugs and Cosmetics Act 1940.

The history of pharmacopoeias involves the history of pharmacy, for as pharmacopoeias evolved from crude handbooks to the present works of high scientific value. Even so as the practice of homoeopathic pharmacy progressed from preparation of medicines by Hahnemann, himself to the standardized medications produced on a large scale. The birth of homoeopathy was not alone it was the birth of homoeopathic pharmacy too. The science of homoeopathy are no more hidden and its evolution is a continuous progress but to plan the future it’s highly recommended to remember the past.

1. George A b, Great moments in pharmacy ; ch – history of pharmacy; reproduced by washington stste university college
2. Goel sumit , art and science of homoeopathic pharmacy ch 1history of pharmacy ; 3rd enlarged and revised edition
3. Homoeopathic pharmacopoeia of india , published by government of india, vol1 , p 1
4. A Textbook of Homoeopathic Pharmacy; Dr. Mandal and Mandal.
5. Augmented Textbook of Homoeopathic Pharmacy; D.D.Banerjee. 2nd edn.


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