Homeopathy 2003; 92(02): 115-117
DOI: 10.1016/s1475-4916-03-00018-3
Social and Historical
Copyright © The Faculty of Homeopathy 2003

20 years ago: British Homoeopathic Journal, April 1983

ST Land

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Publication History

Publication Date:
20 December 2017 (online)

The Jenichen controversy

In this article, Dr Bernard Leary described a strange, larger-than-life character; wilful, driven, and of enormous physical strength. His name was Casper Julius Jenichen. Little is known about his life, except that he was born in 1787 of obscure origin, and that he was appointed as Master of the Horse by the Duke of Gotha after the Napoleonic War; but he has a place in homeopathic history as the person who had the temerity to question Hahnemann's method of potentization.

He learnt about homeopathy, and practised it on his horses, then later on humans. Unsatisfied with the 30 potency, he began to dilute higher and higher, but without success. He then devised a method of preparing higher potencies, which he kept secret, but which was later found to involve far less dilution and far greater succussion than in the standard method (his strength made him the equal of any machine!).

Probably little attention would have been paid to such an outlandish idea, had it not been for the interest and encouragement of three men: Gros, Stapf, and Hering. Gros is believed to have started Jenichen on the road to higher potencies and claimed to have invented the method. Hering wrote regularly from America, urging him to go higher and higher. He received samples from Jenichen in 1844, and maintained that he knew the method of production, but implied that he had promised to keep the secret until their efficacy was proved. Dr Leary commented that perhaps the potencies had more merit than seems obvious; or perhaps these men were just struggling with new methods, and were as capable as any of being deceived by what seemed an attractive idea. Jenichen failed to convince his contemporaries, and suffered as a result of the strongly adverse reactions; scorn from the Hughes camp, and ire from the traditionalists, who branded him a heretic. He shot himself in 1849.

Whether or not his medicines were effective is of academic interest only; but Dr Leary considered that the idea behind them might be worth investigating. After the 12c potency, he thought it at least a possibility that succussion is the sole determining factor in potentization. He suggested that it might be worth experimenting on the effect of potencies above 12c on plant growth, using succussion only. Removal of the idea of dilution might go a long way towards making homeopathy acceptable; while the idea that shaking in the homeopathic way could have a physical effect on a medicine might carry more conviction.