Book review on ‘The chronic diseases’ by Hahnemann

The chronic diseases (die chronischen krankheiten) their peculiar nature and their homoeopathic cure

Dr. Samuel hahnemann in 1828.

Presently it contains 2 volumes and which is  Translated from 2nd Enlarged German Edn of 1835.

By Prof. Louis H. Tafel With Annotations byDr. Richard Hughes

Total number of drugs – 48.

History of the work

  • The chronic diseases is Hahnemann’s last medical work of fundamental importance.
  • It has 2 Editions

I EDITION – 4 Volumes (1828-1830)

  • I Vol. – devoted to an exposition of his theory
  • II & III Vol – 15 new medicine.
  • IV  Vol – 7 medicines (5 from malaria medica. Pura + 2 new drugs – Kalic and Natnus)

So total number of drugs – 22

II EDITION – 5 Volumes (1835-39).

  • I Vol & II Vol -1835
  • III Vol. – 1837
  • IV vol – 1838
  • V- 1839

Besides the twenty two medicines of the Ist edition it contain 25 others of which 13 are new and 12 had already appeared in Materia medica pura.

So total = 47 drugs

      22 – from Ist Edn

       25 – 13 (new) + 12 from MMP—II nd Edn

Present Edition contain 2 volumes

Translated from second enlarged German edition of 1835 (Exported reprint edn.1995)

Volume I – Has two parts

Part I (Theoretical part)

  • Translations preface
  • Annolator’s preface
  • Authors preface
  • Authros preface
  • Nature of chronic disease
  • Cure – Sycosis,   Syphilis,      Psora

Part II (Medicinal part) Antipsoric medicines)

Agaricus to Kalicaib (27 drgus)

Volume II

Medicines – Lycopodium to Zinc met (21 drugs) Index to the first or theoretical part.

List of Drugs

Volume IVolume II
1.Agarius muscarius1.Lycopodium
2.Alumina2.Mag. Carb
3.Ammonium carb3.Mag mur
4.Ammonium mur4.Manganum
5.Anacardium Orient5.Mezereum
6.Antim crude6.Muriatic acid
7.Ars alb7.Natrum Carb
8.Aurum8.Natrum mur
9.Aurum mur9.Nitric acid
10Baryta carb10.Nitrum
11.Borax veneta11.Petroleum
12.Calc. carb12.Phosphorous
13.Carboanimalis13.Phosphoric acid
14.Carbo veg14.Platina
16.Clematis erecta16.Sepia
17.Colocynth17.Silica terra
18.Conium mac.18.Stannum
19.Cupr. Met19.Sulphur
20.Digitalis20.Sulphuric acidum
21.Dulcamera21.Zincum met
25.Hepar Sulph Calc
27.Kali carb


1. Translators Preface
This is the second translation of this work to English. The first translation is done by Dr. Charles J. Hempel and published by Wm. Radde in the year 1845-46.

Translators preface is written by L.H. Tafel. Here, he describes  about the  mode of translations made  from the original  work. He has tried to translate the same German  word by the same  English word, except, where  words have several meanings. These are few words,  which  require  a varied translations, according  to the context. for eg. Brust is used for both for chest and females  mammae

He mentioned that the symptoms taken from the old school authorities (poisonings/overdose) are cited with small capitals and that of other provers are given in italics as in case of  Materia medica pura.

There is no separate index for antipsoric medicines because this is furnished in various  repertories especially in that  of Boenning housen’s. There is a separate index for theoretical part of this work.

2) Annotators preface
In this secton, Richard Hughes, says that as Hahnemann became famous in the treatment  of various illnesses,  he had to pay more attention to the chronic diseases, thereby he stopped to attend acute diseases.

Among the 3 volumes of Ist edn of this work (1828-30), two latter volume contains the pathogenesis of 15 medicines, which are not present in Materia medica pura.

There are

  1. Amm Carb
  2. Baryta carb
  3. Calc carb
  4. Graphites
  5. Iodum
  6. Lycopodium
  7. Mag carb
  8. Mag mur
  9. Nat carb
  10. Nit acid
  11. Petroleum
  12. Phosphorous
  13. Sepia
  14. Silicea
  15. Zincum

The pathogenesis of above medicines appear without a word of explanations as to how the symptoms were obtained and without acknowledgement of fellow observers. At this time Hahnemann was 70 or 80 years old and he was not in a position to conduct proving upon him. So we are compelled to reach a conclusion that these symptoms are mainly from his experience from treatment of cases.

Hahnemann  recommended the medicines to be given in the dilution from 18-30th. When the lower potencies (upto 12th) were used it produced violent symptoms in sufferers of chronic diseases, which make up  the bulk of the Ist issue of chronic diseases.

In the 4th volume, published in 1830, 2 more medicines added (Kalicarb and Natmur) and additional symptoms   are give for 5 other medicines (Carbonanimalis, carboveg, Caust, Conium and Sulphur) which already given in Materia Medica pura.

The second edition of the “Chronic diseases” published  in 1835-39. It contains 47 medicines. (Besides 22 medicines of Ist Edn. It contains 25 others, of which 13 are how and 12 had already appeared in Materia Medica Pura.

New drugs are                                                   Old ones are

3.Amm mur3.Colocynth
5.Ant. Crude5.Dulcamera
9.Euphorbium9.Muriatic acid
10.Mezerum10.Phosph acid

Hahenemann strongly recommended the use of 30 potency in all drug proving is order to yield good results.

Richard Hughes appended a note to the list of “fellow observers” which were given by Hahnemann in the preface of each medicine (This note gives an idea about the time of provers is whether they were the provers of the later  or earlier  times,  manner of their experimentation whether  their observations  already existed in print and what information we have about them.)

In pathogenesis  of drugs, the symptoms  cited by other  authors were thoroughly  varified  by Richard Hughes and made necessary correction and explanation to set it forth in its full meaning and value. Additional information  is given at the bottom of the page, represented  by Small figures, 1,2,3 etc. and Hahnemann’s own annotations  are designated by *  etc.

3) Editor’s Preface
In editors preface Pemberton Dudley mainly deals with the peculiarities of style in writings of Hahnemann, some of which are not all common to our English polemical literature. Eg : His long and involved sentences. His exceedingly frequent  use of parenthetical clauses and sentences and his use of parenthesis within the parenthesis.  Etc.

At the end of Editor’s preface he says that no attempt has been made to render this work or any portion of it, a model of concise perspecuity. On the  contrary the aim has been  to retain rather than  to eliminate the characteristic style of the original text.

4) Author’s Preface
To the first edition – 1828

Here the expressed his doubt about the acceptance of his great discovery by the  contemporaries in other school of medicines.

He criticizes the use of larger doses, which may tends to endanger the patient life.

Preface to the fourth volume  (Inquiry  into the process of Homoeopathic healing)

In this preface Huhnemann  explain  the mode of action of Homoeopathic medicines, and how the cure take. He also mentiond that the vitalforce alone couldn’t overcome the miasmatic chronic disease. It required the aid of remedies of true healing art.

Preface to the 5th Volume  (Dilution and potencies (dynamisation)

Here he describe about the dynamisation. These are the processes by which the medicinal properties which are latent  in natural substances while in their  crude state become aroused and then become enabled to act in an almost spiritual manner on our life.

Dynamisation usually done in 2 ways.

1) In case of dry substances trituration is  employed

2) In case of liquid substance by means of shaking or succession.

First part (Theoretical part)

5. Nature of Chronic diseases
Here he says about the usefulness of Homoeopathic medicines in the treatment of Sporadic, venereal, and acute diseases and he criticize the crude and inhuman ways of Allopathic treatment like blistering plasters, leeching, cupping, pain killing narcotics etc.

Hahnemann specified the importance of etiological factors  which can alter health like some gross errors in diet, some violent  exertion of mind or body, repeated fright great grief, sorrow and continuous vexation etc.

Even  after administration of similinum, Hahnemann observed a continuous relapse  or recurrence of the symptoms occurred at variable intervals and there by no complete cure. This made him think about the obstacles for complete cure and this led him to the discovery of the nature of chronic diseases, which lead him to theory of 3 chronic measms – Psora, Sycosis and syphilis.

6) Cure of chornic diseases
Here Hahnemann describes about the Homoeopathic medical treatment of large number of chronic diseases. The treatment of chronic diseases become impossible without the help of Homoeopathic antimiasmatic medicines.

The two  miasmata syphilis and sycosis cause a smaller part of the chronic disease,  will treat first in order to make the path free to the  therapeutics of the immeasurably greater number of the various diseases which spring from psora.

Hahnemann says that the whole sycosis dependent on fig wart miasma, as well as the excrescence, can only be cured most surely and thoroughly through the internal  use of  Thuja.  When the action of thuja is exhausted  it should be alternated with a small doses of nitric acid, which must be  allowed to act as long as long a time in order to remove the whole sycosis. There is no need of using external  application  except in most difficult  and inveterate  cases, we can moister  the figwards everyday with the mild pure juice prepared from  the green leaves of Thuja, mixed with equal volume of alcohol.

If the patient was at the same time affected with another chronic ailment is psora complicated with sycosis or both miasm (psora and sycosis) conjoined then it is necessary to treat the psoric component first, with specific, antisporic medicines. Then to  make use of the remedy for sycosis and lastly proper  dose of the best preparation of Mercury is given against syphilis. The same  alternating treatment in continued until a complete cure is affected.

The syphilis is chronic miasma, which is more widely spread than sycosis. In the cure of this venereal  disease three states are to be distinguished , when the syphilis is alone and associated with local symptoms (chancre) or the local symptoms has been removed by external application  or associated with some other local symptoms which act vicariously for the internal disorder.

Hahnemann says that “there is on earth no chronic miasma, no chornic disease  spring from a miasma which is more curable and more easily curable than this (syphilis).

If it is not complicated with psora and present with local symptoms (chancre) then it needs only one little doses of the  best mercurial remedy in order to cure thoroughly and forever the whole syphilis with its chancre.

Cure of third stage of syphilis is most difficult when compared to Ist and 2nd stage. The latent psora cannot obstruct the cure of syphilis but if it is  complicated with developed  psora it is  impossible to cure the venereal disease alone.

When syphilis is complicated with awakened psora, this combination is called masked, spurious syphilis or pseudosyphilis– a monster of a double disease and it is very difficult to cure. Treating the psoric component  first with suitable antipsoric  which is homoeopathically the best fitting to the then prevailing state of the disease, when this medicine has completed its action also probably a second most suitable to the still prominent Psora symptoms and these should be allowed to act against the psora, until they have effected all that can be at present done against  it — then should be given the dose  above described of the best Mercurial preparation to act against  the venereal disease for three, five to seven  weeks, ie so long as it will continue  to produce an improvement in the venereal symptoms.

In  inveterate  and difficult cases this first  course will not accomplish what is desired. A repetition of a similar process of cure in required.

Psora is the most ancient, most universal, most destructive  and most apprehended  chronic  miasmatic disease which for many thousands of years has disfigured and tortured mankind and which  during the last centuries has become the mother of all thousands  of incredibly  various chronic diseases by which the  whole civilized human race on the  inhabited globe is being more and more afflicted. It is the most hydraheaded of all the chronic miasmatic diseases.

He says, sulphur in small doses will make a brief beginning of cure of  chronic  disease. But excessive or frequent  repetition  of sulphur  in chronic disease is of no use.

The cure of old psora that has been deprived of its eruption whether it may be latent  and quiescent  or already broken out into chronic disease can never be accomplished with sulphur alone nor with sulphur baths  either natural or artificial . Recent itch disease with its primary cutaneous eruption is easily  cured from with in by very small dose of properly potentised preparation of sulphur. But the other psoric diathesis  ie, latent  psora and developed  psora with its secondary manifestation is very seldom  cured by any single  antipsoric remedy but requires  the use of  several of these remedies in the  worst cases the  use of quite a number of them one after the  other for its perfect cure.

Then Hahnemann was describing  the diet and mode of living of chronic patient. Avoidance  of coffee, spiritual  liquors, main  hindrances to the cure like allopathic  treatment, modom  civilized life, suppressed sexual  instinct.

A Homoeopathic physician must know how to use the antisporic  remedies for the cure  of chronic disease successfully. Hahnemann warns the physician to be cautious about the dose, unwanted hastiness of repetition and wrong  choice of remedy.

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