The founder of Homoeopathy, Samuel Christian Hahnemann, was born in Germany in 1755. Although despite
an impoverished background, he acquired a good education and studied chemistry and medicine at the
universities in Leipzig, Erlangen and Vienna. He qualified as a doctor in 1770.
In 1790, while translating A Treatise on Materia Medica by Dr William Cullen,
Hahnemann came across a passage about Peruvian bark, or cinchona, which was to change his life as well
as the lives of many other people throughout the world. In this book, Cullen stated that quinine, which
is a substance purified from the bark of the cinchona tree, was a good treatment for Malaria because of
its astringent qualities. So he decided to investigate further. For several days he dosed himself with
quinine and recorded his reactions in great detail. To his astonishment he began to develop the symptoms
of Malaria one after another, despite the fact that he did not actually have the disease. The symptoms
recurred every time he took a dose of quinine and lasted for several hours. If he did not take any
quinine, he had no symptoms. He then proceeded to test out his theory on people that he knew very well,
again noting the reactions in great detail. These provings were carried out under strict conditions and
the provers were not allowed to eat or drink anything that might confuse the results.
Hahnemann found that the provers' responses varied, some showed a few mild symptoms
in response to a substance, while others experienced vigorous reactions with a variety of symptoms. The
symptoms that were most commonly found for each substance he called first line, or keynote, symptoms.
Second line symptoms were less common and third line symptoms were rare or idiosyncratic. The combination
of symptoms made up a "drug picture" for each substance being tested. Hahnemann continued to carry out
his experiments and provings, testing a wide range of natural sources. He had rediscovered the principle
of "like can cure like" and his work would bring about the establishment of a new system of medicine.