Hahnemannian & Classical Homoeopathy: Two Diverging Worlds?


Hahnemannian homeoapthy

   Hahnemannian Homoeopathy is the homoeopathy which Hahnemann developed and refined in the last 15 to 20 years of his life. All the rules and principles he established during this time nullify any former deviations from them. Classical homoeopathy cannot be put in the same basket as Hahnemannian. Classical homoeopathy, as known today, has not been clearly and unerringly defined. It consists of a conglomerate of opinions. Each practitioner defines it differently, practicing it according to one’s own whims. Therefore, we can only draw from the writings of the well-known classical homoeopaths as to what the basis of classical homoeopathy is. Apparently no consistent criteria exist that is conducive to a uniform basis. This lack of consistency serves as yet another reminder that classical homeopathy differs from the Hahnemannian, as the Hahnemannian is clearly well-defined.

   In the same vein as the saying of Hahnemann, “aude sapere – dare to know,” let us dare to look into the controversy of classical homoeopathy. With this in mind, I have first attempted to define and clarify both terms. Then, I will take a short excursion through the history of this confusion and divergence.


Hahnemannian homoeopathy Classical homoeopathy
   prescribes the similar remedy for the active disease condition which is in the forefront.

If more than one active disease condition is in the forefront then more than one remedy is prescribed.

   prescribes the similar remedy on the basis of a constitution or Personality. Only one so called constitutional remedy.
   repeats the remedy in accordance with the disease condition.
   chooses the potency according to the disease condition, from the lowest to the highest.    prescribes remedies in a certain range of potencies, generally high potencies.
   The real panacea is the Law of Similars (Similia similibus curantur), the use of which can heal any disease.    proposes to cure all with one remedy: with the panacea.

Explanation of the Terms

Hahnemannian homoeopathy Classical homoeopathy
   Hahnemannian Homoeopathy treats the condition which is actively in the forefront, while always taking into account the miasmatic background, which are the basic causes of diseases and determine the direction of development they may take. For the main condition, only one remedy is given and can be given. But this is not so for all the other conditions and symptoms which are being caused by the active or latent miasms.    The foremost tenet of classical homoeopathy is to prescribe on the basis of constitutions. Other factors like personality can be used but the process of working out the remedy remains the same. The practitioner attempts to find the one remedy for the constitution but not for the disease condition in the forefront. This means that one remedy is being given for all the disease conditions and symptoms present, as according to the classical homeopaths, all are caused by the constitution. This is in glaring contrast to Hahnemann’s Homoeopathy and The Similia Principle which advocates only one similar remedy for one disease condition.
   repeats the remedy according to what is necessary for the present disease condition. This can be very frequently, i.e. even many times a day. According to Hahnemann certain gentle homoeopathic aggravations may take place in the beginning. To cure surely and rapidly the remedy still needs to be repeated unless the aggravation surpasses the gentle healing reaction.    prescribes only one dose and waits, expecting a strong homoeopathic aggravation from the so-called “constitutional remedy”. This reaction is also greatly welcomed because it confirms the choice of the remedy. Actually, such an aggravation takes place due to too strong a dose or a too high a potency. Such a reaction can prove to be life threatening in complicated or advanced cases.
   prescribes the corresponding potency as required by the disease condition. The whole range of potencies, from the mother tincture to the highest, is used.  Should the healing reaction get too strong the dose or the potency is to be reduced to keep the healing process as gentle as possible. One may even give intermediate remedies to reduce the severity of some reactions.    uses only certain potencies, generally very high ones, to thoroughly overhaul the constitution. However, it this does not undertake anything to ease the aggravation, even when it goes on indefinitely, and the patient goes through unnecessary wear and tear. This is against Hahnemann’s precept of a gentle cure.


The Chronic Diseases by Hahnemann, first published in 1828 with the second edition from 1835-1837, has seemingly not been studied very widely and deeply by homoeopaths. Immediately after its publication a controversy arose as to the validity of Hahnemann’s premises and conclusions. But on reading it carefully, one finds, besides the theory of the miasms, precise instructions on how to treat homoeopathically. One will not find these instructions in The Organon. Therefore, a large part of the basics of homoeopathic therapeutics is not taken into account if only The Organon is used. The main tenet, that all diseases arise from a very few deep seated causes, was the stumbling block for those homoeopaths who did not accept this teaching, thereby foregoing all the other valuable teachings contained in the book.

   The following quote from Hahnemann’s The Chronic Diseases (Boericke & Tafel, 1896, page 127) clearly supports the above illustration. Hahnemann not only repeated the remedies but also gave more than one remedy at the same time in different potencies, and that too as early as 1828, much before the 6th edition of The Organon was written:


   “To adduce an example: a freshly arisen eruption of itch belongs to those diseases which might soonest permit the repetition of the dose (Sulphur), and which does permit it the more frequently, the sooner after the infection the itch is received for treatment, as it then approaches the nature of an acute disorder, and demands its remedies in more frequent doses than when it has been standing on the skin for some time. But this repetition should be permitted only when the preceding dose has largely exhausted its action (after six, eight, or ten days), and the dose should be just as small as the preceding one, and be given in a different potency. Nevertheless it is in such a case often serviceable, in answer to a slight change of symptoms, to interpose between the doses of pure sulphur, a small dose of Hepar sulphuris calcareum. This should be given in various potencies, if several doses should be needed from time to time. Often also, according to circumstances, a dose of Nux vomica (X) or one of Mercury (X) may be used between.”

How did classical homoeopathy arise and how far has it diverged from the basic principles of Hahnemann?

During the early period of Hahnemannian Homoeopathy (1828-1833), a group of homoeopaths disagreed with the maturing thoughts of Hahnemann. The group of homoeopaths put together their own tenets of homoeopathy, but these logically did not conform to the teachings of the mature Hahnemann. At that time, this homoeopathy was not called “classical”. This group of homoeopaths had separated themselves from Hahnemann in the year 1833 and founded their own school of homoeopathy in 1836.

The “Allgemeine Homöopathische Zeitschrift” was the spokes journal for the “original” Homoeopathy, which they proclaimed was the right one, in contrast to the Homoeopathy which Hahnemann had further developed and advocated in the 5th edition of The Organon and The Chronic Diseases. They claimed that Hahnemann had become demented and they had to save the homoeopathy for posterity.

The basic tenets of the “renegade homoeopaths” were based on the 4th edition of The Organon, published in 1829:

  1. The single remedy or later the constitutional
  2. The single dose
  3. The minimum dose

However, Hahnemann advanced his healing principles continually during the last 13 years of his life. A second edition of The Chronic Diseases was published during this time. But the tenets of the highest importance as well as the theory of the miasms portrayed in this book were not accepted by the secessionists.

  All “classical homoeopaths” practiced on the basis of the secessionists until slowly one or the other added or subtracted something. In the earlier days they still called themselves the “original” homoeopaths or even Hahnemannian. After a certain period of time, the early secessionists in Germany were mainly forgotten. The classical or the “pure” homoeopaths bitterly persecuted all homoeopaths who worked according to Hahnemann’s dictates and still do even today. It is relentless persecution similar to the churches against “witches” in the middle ages. If it had been possible they would have loved to burn the followers of Hahnemann at the stake!

The saga culminated with Constantine Hering, who had left Germany and immigrated to America, in order to outlaw his German colleagues who worked according to Hahnemann and even to take away their licenses. We find here a similarity to excommunication. (I wrote an article on this in German in our journal Surya Nr. 5).


Even though Hering has earned much honour for his indefatigable work in the service of homoeopathy, we should keep in mind that he was from the very beginning a reluctant student of the teachings of Hahnemann and he had a difficult time accepting even the earlier teachings. His conversion is similar to that of the biblical Paul who almost lost his mind and fought for some fifteen long years to keep his sanity until he was able to accept the truth in his heart. Hering fought throughout his life. He was the first who categorically denied the theory of the miasms of Hahnemann and did not accept it even at the end. For this reason he did not study the later teachings of Hahnemann. As time progressed, he came to be the first and leading exponent of homoeopathy in America. The influence of American homoeopaths on the homoeopathic world has been tremendous, especially that of James Tyler Kent. Kent did accept the theory of the miasms but unfortunately, because of his lack of knowledge of the German language, he had no access to the original writings of Hahnemann. Maybe the world of homoeopathy would be different today if he had.


The term “classical homoeopathy” was established much later and these homoeopaths then termed the older homoeopaths, who had worked in this manner, classical too.


In time, prescribing for a constitution began to be a part of classical homoeopathy. Initially, it was related only to the outward appearance. For example, Phosphorus is supposed to be tall, thin, delicate, with long eyebrows, eyes like a gazelle, etc. This kind of description was elaborated on ad absurdum by some classical homoeopaths. There is a certain truth in defining constitutions on a physical basis as homoeopathic medicines can act as plastic remedies, i.e. to reshape certain parts of the body from the inside, as a plastic surgeon does rather mechanically from the outside.


In the course of the development of this doctrine some classical homoeopaths started to add certain mental features to the constitutional description. But this is not admissible because the constitutions are defined purely on the physical level, whereas mental features are part of the character of the person. Therefore they cannot be mixed with the constitutional. Even then the theory of constitutions continues to be elaborated on further and further. And because according to the opinion of some homoeopaths that the mind is the highest in relation to disease conditions, the description of the person as a whole, the personality, became the doctrine of the constitutions. In other words, all symptoms a person develops are the result of his constitution. Therefore, the classical homoeopath only prescribes one single so called constitutional remedy regardless of the different conditions that may be present.


What the human mind sometimes proposes can seem very convincing and impressive but it is still far from the basic teachings of a doctrine. If such theoretical proposals are so greatly contrasted to the fundamentals, then we have results far removed from the master Hahnemann.


What does the classical concept look like in contrast to Hahnemannian Homoeopathy?


  1. The Single Remedy

   The tenet of Hahnemann is that for one disease condition only one remedy can be given. The Law of Similars states that only one remedy can be similar to a well-defined diseased condition. The “Totality of the symptoms” (i.e. only those symptoms related to that disease condition) is the basis to work out the single remedy. This also means that more than one disease condition will each need their single remedy. If more than one disease condition exists at the same time (i.e. there are more than one totality), then more than one remedy are to be prescribed simultaneously. The repetition of each is to be worked out individually. On the contrary, the classical homoeopath wants to ideally cover all the symptoms and then find the one remedy for them (i.e one remedy for all disease conditions).  Hahnemann called all the symptoms of a sick person the “Total of the disease”, and this was never used as the basis for the choice of a remedy. For him the rule was the “Totality of the symptoms”, which could consist of very few symptoms. He always treated the disease condition in the patient and never, as is cited in classical homoeopathy, said: “Treat the patient not the disease!” This statement, which is happily credited to Hahnemann, you can look for in vain in the writings of Hahnemann!

  1. The Single Dose

   To give one dose and wait was for a while also the rule of Hahnemann. He had advocated this because a greater number of people had reacted strongly to the potencies above the 6th and he did not in the beginning know how to handle it. Therefore, he laid down the rule of giving one dose and waiting out the action of the remedy until a repetition was necessary. From experimentation, observations had been made as to how long a medicine brought out symptoms and that some medicines produced them for many weeks.  From this observation it was deduced that a remedy would also act curatively for the same amount of time. However, this was shown to not be very accurate, as one dose of the longest and deepest acting remedies could act for very short periods in certain disease conditions. After long experimentation, Hahnemann came to the conclusion that remedies prepared in the right way can be repeated daily and even many times a day. This led in the end to the development of the LM-Potencies. But much before that, the renegades had already stamped him as senile. This view is still held by some in the world of homoeopathy, and quite a few think that the LM-Potencies arise from the vagaries of Hahnemann and will dilute the effectiveness of homoeopathic remedies. (In my German book on the reactions, “Die Reaktionen”, I have written in detail on this in the chapter, “The History of the LM-Potencies”).

  1. The Minimum Dose

   The minimum dose was described by Hahnemann as the amount which would not cause a strong reaction. That means that the dose was to be reduced until the remedy acted gently. As the idea of potencies was developed, the enthusiasm of homoeopaths to make higher and higher potencies knew no bounds. This in itself is all right. But the rule to be followed was: The dose is to be reduced only that much as is necessary in a case and not indefinitely. The dose, which later came to mean the potency, must be in accord with the disease condition. With the emergence of the doctrine of constitutions and then the treatment of the personality in homoeopathy, the remedy was prescribed in ever higher potencies with no regard to the disease condition.

With that, the basic tenet of Hahnemann to match the potency to the case was completely disregarded. As a rule, the classical homoeopaths all over the world, who follow the tenets of the secessionists of over 180 years ago, use very high potencies. In Germany there was much confusion for a long time. Many homoeopaths repeated the remedy frequently, but as a rule kept to very low potencies.

Closing Remarks

   The opinions and methodology of “classical homoeopaths” are very disparate. For this reason some follow Hahnemann more and some less. Certainly anyone using the homoeopathic principle is going to have a more or less curative action; no matter if one is a classical or a lay homoeopath. The point is to be able to handle and cure each and every case, even the most difficult, acute and chronic diseases.  This is possible only when we accept and apply all the principles which Hahnemann worked out and which his loyal followers further developed.


   The term “classical homoeopathy” has accordingly no justification. Homoeopathy should come to mean only one thing to all, no matter if a lay-person or a practitioner: the legacy of homoeopathy is as Hahnemann gave to us.

Let us keep in mind that the journey of almost every homeopath tends to begin in the classical training, as it is the reigning one.  At some point along the way however, one’s steps naturally take a turn back to the master Hahnemann.

About the Author: Dr Ravi Roy has over 40 years of experience in the field of homeopathy. Under the tutelage of his renowned father, Dr. S. K. Roy, he started practicing homeopathy at the age of 17 in the villages of India. He came to Germany in 1976 to study the works of Hahnemann in the original language. He is married to Carola Lage-Roy, together they have written over 30 books on Homeopathy, some translated into seven languages. Their two best sellers Homoeopathic Family Home-Care and Homoeopathic Travellers Guide are also available in English. In 1980 he offered the first comprehensive course in homoeopathy in German-speaking countries and since then has been teaching homoeopathy. In 2003, Dr. Roy founded ‘Surya’, a non-profit homeopathic association which among other things publishes the Surya Journal. Since 2005 he has also directed the Asthanga Homoeopathic Project in India.


About Author

Dr. Ravi Roy, DHMS, was born into a homeopathic family in India. He has over 40 years of experience in the field of homoeopathy. Under the tutelage of his renowned father, Dr. S. K. Roy, he started practicing homoeopathy at the age of 17 in the villages of India. At that early age, the experiences of treating some of the most severe diseases positively marked his life. He moved to Germany in 1976 to study the works of Hahnemann in their original language. In 1980 he offered the first comprehensive course in homoeopathy in German-speaking countries and since then has been teaching homoeopathy. His self-study course in Homoeopathy in the German language comprises over 3.500 pages and CD’s. In 2001, Dr. Roy founded *Surya*, a non-profit German language homoeopathic association, which among other things, publishes the journal, Surya, a German-language magazine that reaches tens of thousands of people in the German-speaking lands. It is devoted to educating people about homeopathy and disease protection offered through this. He has also directed the Asthanga Homoeopathic Project in India since 2005. A charitable organization, this project works on many levels, educating about homeopathy and healing, promoting, and engaging in research regarding homeopathy, and helping the poor and needy. Ravi is married to Carola Lage-Roy, Heilpraktikerin, homoeopath, and discoverer of the Chakra Flower Essences. Together they have written over 30 books on Homoeopathy, some translated into seven languages. Their two bestsellers, Homoeopathic Family Home-Care and Homoeopathic Travellers Guide, are also available in English. He and his wife, Carola, have given lectures and seminars throughout Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Italy, Slovenia, the Canary Islands, Namibia, Japan, Ecuador, Columbia, and the United States.

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