The principle of ‘let like be cured by like’, which is the basis of homeopathic (homoeopathic / homœopathic) medicine, has been known in medical philosophy since the time of Hippocrates (approx 460-375 BC). Several of the writings of the Hippocratic Corpus expound this natural law. Galen (129-200 AD) is considered to be the father of modern orthodox medicine but, in his writings, even he acknowledged the truth of the Principal of Similars.

Paracelsus, in the 16th Century, was a reformer who proposed a crude form of homeopathy but it was based on the testing of medicines on the sick. He failed to achieve what the German Physician, Samuel Hahnemann (1755 – 1843) did, 200 years later.

Christian Friedrich Samuel Hahnemann

Hahnemann was a gifted and highly educated man and an expert in languages and chemistry. He qualified as a physician but became so disillusioned by the medical practices of his day that he ceased to practise.

To support his family, he turned to the translation of medical texts. Whilst translating a Materia Medica by William Cullen, a Scottish physician, in 1790, he came across an explanation of how Cinchona Bark was thought to cure Malaria. He disagreed with Cullen’s theory and, while considering the problem, took doses of the substance himself. 

The Cinchona provoked in him symptoms which he realised were indistinguishable from those of Malaria. He repeated these experiments on himself and every time produced the same effect. He had rediscovered the natural law of ‘like cures like’. He was unique in his testing of medicines on healthy individuals.

Being a true scientist Hahnemann set out to test this theory. Using, family, friends and students, he tested over 60 substances in the next 20 years. These tests or provings were carried out on many people under strict controls of diet and life-style and provided the basis for his Homeopathic Materia Medica. He called his new system of medicine ‘Homeopathy’ from the Greek – homoios (similar) and pathos (suffering). He also wrote the first edition of ‘The Organon of Medicine’, which described his theory and philosophy of homeopathy.

At first Hahnemann was using material doses of substances

In an attempt to reduce the risk of toxicity and side effects, he began to reduce the dose. He developed a methodical system of serial dilution and succussion (vigorous shaking), which he found made his medicines both safer and, paradoxically, more potent.

While Hahnemann’s method proved highly effective in the treatment of acute disease, he continued to have problems in the cure of chronic disease. After several years of study, he concluded that all chronic disease originated from three ‘miasms’ or ‘taints’.

He proposed that the variations of chronic disease arise from the continual passage and mixing of these infections, from generation to generation. He believed that most individuals have one or more of these ‘miasms’ dormant within them and that any of life’s stresses can trigger manifestation of the dormant miasm. Nowadays we would refer to these as patterns of ‘disease tendency’.

They are expressions of the body’s three ways of reacting to disease

Deficient reaction, excessive reaction, destructive reaction. Suppression of chronic disease (the result of much orthodox treatment) will drive the disease inward, possibly to be later expressed as allergy, asthma, epilepsy, cancer etc. He utilised homeopathic medicines which were capable of counteracting these miasms, in his revolutionary and very successful treatment of chronic disease.

Hahnemann was able to treat, homeopathically, an epidemic of Typhus in Leipzig, in 1813.

His amazingly successful treatments were all the more surprising to us now, since they predated any knowledge of bacteria or, of course, antibiotics.

After his death, cholera was successfully treated by homeopathy, in London (1854). This fact does not appear in modern medical textbooks and was even suppressed at the time (see Hansard 1855 – Read here). The medical establishment of whatever era has always had difficulty in embracing homeopathy, ever since its discovery in 1790. 

The extreme dilution of the medicines in common use appears to be the main stumbling block. Modern bioenergetics, molecular and atomic physics and knowledge of the effects of cavitation of water during violent agitation are, however, providing new insights into its possible mechanisms.

In circa 1813, in Leipzig, Hahnemann lectured on the use of homeopathy in animals (at the Leipziger Ökonomischen Gesellschaft, of which he was a member). The manuscript for this lecture is held in the Universitätsbibliothek, Leipzig. He stated that the principles and application in animals were broadly similar to those in humans.

Veterinary homeopathy has developed ever since

Boenninghausen and Lux were early proponents. In more recent times, in the UK, homeopathy for animals was kept alive, somewhat paradoxically, by the vets of the PDSA. This animal charity acknowledged its great benefits and was undoubtedly also swayed by the great economy of its use, when compared to expensive drugs. This state of affairs has more or less ceased, now, since so few vets, relatively, are trained in and understand this form of medicine.


The British Association of Homeopathic Veterinary Surgeons was founded in 1982, by George Macleod (President), Christopher Day (Hon. Sec.), Francis Hunter, John Saxton and others. Many key veterinary personalities have since held office in this organisation. In 1984, the Faculty of Homeopathy* (UK) started a veterinary teaching and examination programme, later developing standards, syllabus and ‘code of practice’. 

The first veterinary homeopathic qualification in the world (VetMFHom) was granted, by the Faculty, in 1987. Those who have qualified in veterinary homeopathy, after three years of accredited study, hold the qualification VetMFHom. The first Veterinary Dean was elected in 1988, to further veterinary academic development and the first Veterinary Fellow (VetFFHom) was elected in 1991. 

In 2001, the Faculty created an ‘introductory level’ qualification for vets, the LFHom(Vet). This is attainable after only one year of accredited study and the level of competence expected does not include the taking of referrals. It is designed to raise the level of competence in early trainees and to recognise the commitment to preliminary study.

In January 1991, the BBC QED featured both medical homeopathy and veterinary homeopathy, in a landmark programme entitled ‘Homeopathy – Medicine or Magic’. The main planks of its support for the science of homeopathy were the clinical research projects of Dr David Reilly and vet Christopher Day. This raised levels of public and academic interest to new heights. Veterinary homeopathy has developed over the intervening years, until the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons, in the year 2000, listed the holders of the specialist qualification (VetMFHom) in the Register, as an aid both to those veterinary surgeons seeking specialists to whom to refer and for those members of the public seeking homeopathic help for their animals**.

Faculty-Accredited training of vets now takes place in Australia, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Portugal, and other countries.

At an international level, the International Association for Veterinary Homeopathy (IAVH) was founded in Luxembourg, in 1986. Its first Congress was held in Oxford (UK) in 1987. It has since gone on to conduct or to guide teaching programmes, worldwide and to set examinations leading to the qualification CertIAVH. Much of this work was based on the UK Faculty’s pioneering programmes. Some UK veterinary surgeons hold this qualification.

Important personages

Frederick Hervey Foster Quinn (1799 – 1878)

First practising English homeopathic physician. After qualifying in medicine, he visited Europe and eventually studied under Hahnemann. In 1833 he returned to open a homeopathic practice in London and in 1844 he formed the British Homeopathic Society – the forerunner of the present day Faculty. He raised funds to build the first London Homeopathic Hospital and started the first school of homeopathy in Britain.

Constantin Hering (1800 – 1880)

Studied medicine in Leipzig and set out to refute the claims of Hahnemann but, in studying the system, became convinced of its validity. He was the first homeopath to carry out provings on a snake venom and also the first to suggest the use of nosodes – remedies made from the products of disease. In 1833 he moved to America and founded the first homeopathic institute in the world.

James Tyler Kent (1849 – 1916)

Converted to homeopathy through the illness of his wife and became one of the most able teachers of homeopathy in the United States of America. He produced Kent’s Repertory, a comprehensive ‘symptom dictionary’, which has had an enormous influence on the development of homeopathy in modern times. 

Johann Joseph Wilhelm Lux (1773 – 1849)​

Had contact with Hahnemann, while in Leipzig. Both were members of the Leipziger Ökonomischen Gesellschaft, to which Hahnemann gave the first lecture on the homeopathic treatment of animals. He was part of the historic continuity of veterinary homeopathy, from 1813 but later branched into ‘isopathy’.

Clemens Maria Franz Baron von Boenninghausen (1785 – 1864)

A German baron, lawyer and agriculturalist, who also had contact with Hahnemann and later went on to become one of the major contributors to the homeopathic literature. His enthusiasm for the subject came from his own homeopathic cure, in 1827, from a serious chronic disease (purulent tuberculosis), from which his doctors gave him no hope of recovery. He used homeopathy on animals and, in fact, homeopathically treated the animals on his own vast Westphalian estate.

George Macleod MRCVS (1912 – 1995)

Perhaps the most famous of UK veterinary surgeons using homeopathy. He was responsible for keeping homeopathy available for animals in the UK, almost single-handedly, for the middle part of the 20th Century.

Frederik Schroyens

Recently pioneered and is developing the world’s first veterinary repertory, which is based on his Synthesis Repertory, which was originally modelled on Kent’s Repertory (see above). This work is in partnership with key individuals from the IAVH.

The Faculty of Homeopathy

CAN Mezzanine, 49-51 East Rd, London N1 6AH, UK – +44 20 3640 5903

** Holders of the qualification VetMFHom were listed by the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) in a separate section of the ‘Register’, from 2000 to 2007, in order to help veterinary surgeons locate a specialist to whom to refer cases or to help members of the public to locate homeopathic help for an animal. The Royal College has since decided to ‘streamline’ the Register by removing that page. The BAHVS regrets this reduction of client service. This list was since removed as part of the campaign to downgrade the practice of homeopathy.)