An Introduction to Homeopathy for Practitioners of Herbal Medicine: The Law of Similars and Beyond
The system of homeopathic medicine founded by Samuel Hahnemann is based on the law of similars: similia similibus curentur (‘let similars be cured by similars’, or ‘like is cured by like’). The word homeopathy is made up of the prefix ‘homeo’ which means same or similar and the suffix ‘patho’ which means suffering or disease. Hahnemann contrasted the homeopathic method with the allopathic method, which is philosophically and practically oriented around the use opposites rather than the use of similars in the treatment of disease (allopathy maintains the principle of contraria contrariis, i.e. opposite cures opposite). The law of similars has a long history in medicine that predates the work of Hahnemann and the founding of the system of homeopathy, going at least as far back as Hippocrates (born 460 BCE), who maintained that “By similar things a disease is produced and through the application of the like is cured.”
The law of similars is not unique to homeopathy, rather it is a universal law of healing. As such, a thorough understanding of the law of similars is of benefit to all healthcare practitioners, irrespective of the traditions within which they work. In this lecture, we will discuss the relevance of the law of similars as it pertains to the practice of herbal medicine, as well as some of the other salient philosophical and practical principles taken from the homeopathic tradition that allow for new insights into working with herbal medicine in a clinical context.