Homœopathic Links 2020; 33(01): 005-006
DOI: 10.1055/s-0040-1705145
Thieme Medical and Scientific Publishers Private Ltd.

Dr Constantine Hering (1800–1880)

S. R. Sharma
1  Senior Consultant Homoeopath, New Delhi, India
› Author Affiliations
Further Information

Publication History

Publication Date:
09 April 2020 (online)

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Dr Constantine Hering. Courtesy: B Jain Publishers.

Born to Carl Gottlieb Hering and Christiane Friderike on 1st January 1800, at Oschatz, Germany, Constantine Hering is considered as the Father of Homoeopathy in the United States.

At the age of 17 years, Dr Hering became interested in medicine and joined the University of Leipzig, where he was the favourite pupil of an eminent surgeon in the army of Napoleon, Dr HenrichRobbi. Dr Robbi was a critic of Hahnemann and ridiculed homoeopathy. C. Baumgartner, the founder of publishing house in Leipzig, wanted a book written against homoeopathy thatcould finish the system. Robbi was asked to write, but due to want of time he recommended his young assistant Hering who began the work in 1821 and nearly finished it in the winter of 1822. He ardently studied the works of Samuel Hahnemann to disprove the fundamental premises of homoeopathy. But, while going through Hahnemann's works, he found that the doctrine insists on repeating the experiments before accepting the result. He repeated the Cinchona experiment and the result was what Hahnemann had said. Further study of Homoeopathic MateriaMedica convinced him of the results.

In the winter of 1824, Hering's right forefinger was cut while making a dissection on a dead body. The wound rapidly become gangrenous. Hahnemann's disciple Kunner persuaded him to take homoeopathy and prescribed Ars. Album with which the gangrene healed completely.[1] This dramatically changed his heart and he started pursuing homoeopathy with full zeal and vigour.

He received his degree of Doctor of Medicine, Surgery and Obstetrics on 22nd March 1826, and pursued his MD from University of Wurzburg.The title of his thesis was ‘De Medicine Future’ (The Medicine of Future). Upon completing his post-graduation, he received a commission to travel to Surinam on a natural history expedition, and stayed there for few years. He arrived in Philadelphia in January 1833 and established a homoeopathic school ‘Allentown Academy’at Allentown, Pennsylvania. There he presented his large zoological collection, including Lachesismutus, from South America to the Academy whose member he had become. Having been convinced of the efficacy of homoeopathy, he started corresponding with Dr Samuel Hahnemann in 1824. The trio of Hahnemann, Boenninghausen and Hering made very important contributions to homoeopathy; while Hahnemann gave us the basic principles of homoeopathy and beginning of Homoeopathic MateriaMedica, Boenninghausen gave us the genesis of Homoeopathic Repertory and Hering gave us matured and applied MateriaMedica by including symptoms confirmed at the bedside under Guiding symptoms. So intense was his faith in experimentation and confirmation of the clinical symptoms that he decided to conduct the first experiment with venom of Surukuku snake (Lachesismutus), which nearly cost him his life. The effect of handling venom rendered him delirious and unconscious. The first question he asked his wife was, ‘What have I been saying and doing?’ Thus recorded was the first crude proving of Lachesis by Hering.[2] He applied the idea of gradation of symptoms into four grades (generated by Boenninghausen for Homoeopathic Repertory) to Homoeopathic MateriaMedica. Because of his works, H.C. Allen's Keynotes of Leading Remedies was born. J.T. Kent also picked up the evaluation or gradation of symptoms of a particular drugfromHering'sGuiding Symptoms, the reliability of which have been doubly ensured by clinical verification and observations.

He wrote many articles, monographs and books.He was Chief Editor of North American Homoeopathic Journal, The Homeopathic News, The American Journal of Homoeopathic MateriaMedica and the Journal of the Allentown Academy.He wrote the Domestic Physician, which was published in two volumes, in 1835 and 1838.He also wrote condensed MateriaMedica on 209 remedies, with symptoms of each remedy being divided into 48 sections with cross-references and characteristic symptoms.[1]

He is known for making many contributions to the field of homoeopathy including:

  1. Introducing decimal potency scale in 1830.[3]

  2. Propounding Hering's Law of Cure, which is a standard tool used to assess whether a patient's condition is improving or deteriorating.

  3. Proving Allium cepa, Calc. ars., Calc. phos., Crotalus horridus, Fluoric acid, Glonoine, Hammamelis virginica, Hypericum, Psorinum, Lithium carb., Mephitis, Selenium, Theridion curassavicum and many more.[4] Hering was the first in 1833 to prove and suggest the employment of Lyssin, the rabies nosode, prepared from saliva of rabid dog.[5] But the proving of Lachesis held him in high esteem by stalwarts like E.B. Nash who remarked that if Hering had never done anything else for homoeopathy but the proving of single drug Lachesis, the world would owe him everlasting debt of gratitude.[6]

  4. Creating a monumental work of Guiding Symptoms in 10 volumes, 2 of which could only be published during his lifetime and completed part of the third volume. Hering knew he would not live to finish his huge assignment so he trained his successors. He said to them, “Perhaps from my place in heaven, I may peep through a little hole and see my work is well done.” His guiding symptoms were used by H.C. Allen for his keynotes and remedy relations and by Dr J.T. Kent for construction of his renowned repertory.

  5. Laying the foundation of comparative Materia Medica, which was later worked upon in detail by Dr Farrington and Dr Clarke.[7]

He was a versatile soul, not even moved by critics. He only said that this proves that these critics are sadly deficient in the knowledge of Organon, where he was threatened with the intention of “Razzia of Roth” of Paris to destroy his Materia Medica.

He died due to heart attack on 23rd July 1880 at Pennsylvania, United States, after dedicating his life to homoeopathy. As we remember him with a motto “The Force of Gentleness is Great,” 220 years later, it will not be unwise to say that his notable birthday on first day of the 19th century could be an indicator that he was an important harbinger of a new era in homoeopathy.