Constantine Hering 2Constantine J. Hering (1 January 1800 – 23 July 1880) was the ‘father of American Homeopathy’, known for his “Law of Cure” which remains a guiding principle for modern homeopathy.

Hering originally set out to disprove homeopathy, but was instead converted. Hering studied with Samuel Hahnemann and became the first President of the American Institute of Homeopathy when it was founded in 1844.

Hering was present at the meeting at Frederick Hervey Foster Quin‘s house when the British Homeopathic Society was founded in 1844.

He would become one of the most famous homeopaths of all time, and was mentor to countless homeopaths, including Laura Matilda Towne.

In 1821, the campaign against Samuel Hahnemann was at its peak, C. Baumgartner, the founder of a publishing house in Leipzig, wanted to publish a book against Homeopathy to finish the system.

Dr. Robbi was asked to write it, but he declined for want of time and recommended Constantine Hering, his young assistant. Constantine Hering was very pleased with this mark of confidence and started work on the project.

But while going through the writings of Samuel Hahnemann he came across the famous “Not a bene for my reviewers” in the preface of the third volume of the Materia Medica Pura which said among other things, “The doctrine appeals not only chiefly, but solely to the verdict of experience” – “repeat the experiments” it cries aloud, “repeat them carefully and accurately and you will find the doctrine confirmed at every step” – “and it does what no medical doctrine, no system of physics, no so called therapeutics did or could do, it insists upon being judged by the result.”

Hering decided to confirm the truth of the above remarks. He repeated the experiments with Cinchona and the results of Samuel Hahnemann were confirmed. Further study of homeopathic Materia Medica Pura and his experiments made him more convinced about Samuel Hahnemann’s ideas. The book against Homeopathy thus never saw the light of the day.

In 1824, an incident occurred which developed in him unshakable faith for Homeopathy. The fore finger of his right hand was cut while making a dissection on a dead body. The wound rapidly became gangrenous. The routine orthodox medical treatment had no effect. Ernst Kummer, a disciple of Samuel Hahnemann persuaded him to take homeopathic treatment and gave him Arsenic album. After a few doses he felt better and the gangrene was soon cured completely. Constantine Hering was surprised and became greatly interested in Homeopathy.

Having been introduced to the United States in New York City by Dr. Hans Burch Gram in 1825, homeopathy’s first epoch has been designated as 1825-1835 whereupon the first magazine, The American Journal of Homeopathia, was published by Drs. John Franklin Gray and Amos Gerald Hull.

Initially strong in New York and Pennsylvania where there was a greater percentage of German immigrants, homeopathy’s first school in the world was established in Allentown, PA, by Drs. Henry Detweiller and Constantine Hering with instruction only in German. In late 1836, the first books were translated into English and published, Hahnemann’s Organon and Jahr’s Manual.

Constantine Hering, MD, the “father” of American homeopathy, was born on January 1, 1800 in the the town of Oschatz within the electorate of Saxony (now in Eastern Germany). He grew up in a religious household.

In 1817 he attended the Surgical Academy of Dresden for three years and from 1820 he studied medicine at Leipzig University.

He studied natural history, and in 1817 he studied surgery at an academy in Dresden. In 1820 he studied medicine in Leipzig. At Würzburg he continued the study of medicine under the famous Schönlein, the pathologist, and graduated with the highest honors of the university, receiving the degree of Doctor of Medicine in 1826.

While at Leipzig he was the student-assistant of a Dr Robbi, an antagonist of homeopathy. Robbi was approached by a local publisher to write a book about the homeopathic “heresy” but referred the publisher to Hering because of his own lack of time.

Hering enthusiastically pursued this task, studying the writings of Hahnemann, repeating provings, and undertaking other practical experiments as part of his research. During this period, Hering received a dissecting wound that became inflamed and infected. He was advised to have his hand amputated but sought homeopathic treatment and recovered.

As a result of the evidence from his own investigations, Hering transferred his allegiance. But instead of writing the negative review, he immediately quit the job and left the University to become one of the most influential proponents of homeopathy of all time.

Hering graduated from the University of Liepzig (in 1826). In his doctoral thesis titled, “On the Medicine of the Future”, Hering declared himself to be a homoeopath.

He taught the natural sciences and mathematics in the Blochmann Institute in Dresden, and in 1827 joined a botanical and zoological expedition under the protection of the King of Saxony to Suriname and Cayenne in South America. He remained in Suriname six years in charge of the zoological department of the expedition.

Soon after, the King attempted to prevent Hering from publishing his prolific homeopathic findings, but instead, Hering resigned the post and became the Physician-in-Attendance for the governor of Surinam’s capitol, Paramaribo.

Hering began focusing his attention on the discovery of new homeopathic remedies, the attenuation’s and freshly quilled-data of which he would send, by sea, to Samuel Hahnemann in Paris, and to John Ernst Stapf, his friend and publisher in Germany.

Hering accidentally proved the remedy Lachesis while he was triturating the Bushmasters venom in his home-laboratory in Paramaribo. He was attempting to find an improved substitute for the cowpox inoculation that Jenner was developing in Britain, which Hering felt was extremely dangerous and very heavy-handed for homeopathy.

Hering came forward in an English newspaper, and characterized all vaccination as a “poisoning of the blood.

In Jennerian (Edward Jenner) vaccination,” he says, “there is the production of a real contagious disease, acting by zymosis or fermentation in the blood, thus endangering the organism, and resulting only in making the system less liable to, not proof against, the disease.

“Attention must likewise be called to the possibility of inoculating other diseases, such as itch, scrofula, leprosy, phthisis, syphilis, etc., and thus producing a complication of trouble difficult to be overcome.

“While the progress of our school has led us to a much more certain preventive, and also to an easy and certain and safe cure, the old school lost sight of Jenner altogether, and entirely forgot that the cows had also other diseases of the udder; and they lost sight of the only true origin of the true preventive cowpox, according to Jenner, and later Schonlein, in a peculiar disease of the horse’s feet, generally mistaken, and one not known to any of the vaccinating doctors.

“They went on vaccinating from arm to arm; and finally by the scabs, which often con­tained rotten and putrified animal matter.

“If it had been a poisoning even with the very best real cowpox, it now became a poisoning of nearly all children with the most horrible diseases; many even were murdered, and an infinite number poisoned for life.

“And smallpox epidemics appeared under the title of varioloid. It is, no doubt, an intolerable tyranny to compel vaccination by law. We are glad to be able to quote the words of a real statesman, the Count of Zedtwitz, who writes in a popular journal on Homoeopathy :

‘Whether vaccination be useful or injurious, the subject of conten­tion between men of science has very little to do with the question of compulsion.

‘This can only be determined by the convictions of the individual, which should be as inviolable in the domain of medicine as in that of religion or politics ; and coercion in this direction, which amounts to producing an artificial disease by bodily injury, can indeed be called nothing less than tyranny.

His interest and experience with snake venom led him to surmise that the saliva of a rabid dog, or powdered smallpox scabs, or any other disease products, viruses, or venom’s, might be prepared in the new Hahnemannian way to give a fail-safe method of curing disease.

In this manner Hering unwittingly became the first in the Isopathic movement (eventually, he also unwittingly paralyzed his right side from further self-testing or “prufung” of higher and higher attenuations of Lachesis).

Hering remained in Paramaribo until 1833. A former student, and one time Moravian missionary in Surinam, George Henry Bute (1792-1876), had settled in Philadelphia and was prospering. In January 1833, Hering joined him there where they worked together on Vine street, below Fourth. Hering soon acquired a reputation as an intellect and a first rate physician and the practice grew, bringing him into contact with many influential people. One such was U. S. Secretary of State, Henry Clay (1777-1852), who became a patient and friend.

The same year, 1833, Hering and his colleagues established the Hahnemannian Society, the first formal homeopathic society in America.

On 10 April 1835, Hahnemann’s birthday, Hering together with Drs. Henry Detwiler, William Wesselhoeft, Eberhard Freytag, George Henry Bute and John Romig, founded in Allentown, PA the North American Academy of the Homoeopathic Healing Art. Hering became the first President and principal instructor. This was the first Homoeopathic School in the world.

In addition to teaching and his private practice, Hering was a prolific writer, penning numerous books and pamphlets on homoeopathy and translated a number of key German text books on the subject such as the works of G. H. G. Jahr into English.

He taught the principles of Hahnemann, practiced upon the sick, wrote books and pamphlets, caused German textbooks to be translated (including the Organon), and thus became the cornerstone around which and upon which his assistants and co-laborers clustered and leaned for support.

As a consequence of the financial crisis of 1837 the Allentown Academy was forced to close in 1843. Hering continued to practice in Philadelphia and in 1848 assisted in founding the Homoeopathic Medical College of Pennsylvania. Hering was a member of the faculty as Professor of Pharmacology until 1867 when he assisted in founding the Hahnemann Medical College of Philadelphia, where he was Dean from 1867-71, Professor of Institutes and Materia Medica from 1867-69, and Professor Emeritus, 1869-1880. During Hering’s time there the College became one of the preeminent institutions in the world for the teaching and practice of homeopathy. Hering and his students treated over 50,000 patients a year and trained a total of 3,500 homeopaths.

In addition to his teaching, writing, and private medical practice, Hering continued to conduct homeopathic research. He and his students at the Hahnemann Hospital conducted many more provings, introducing the remedies lachesis, psorinum, indolum and glonoin into the materia medica.

Hering is famously known for his Law of Cure:

1. The human body seeks to externalize disease–to dislodge it from more serious internal levels to more superficial external levels. Thus, someone with asthma may develop an external skin rash as part of the curative process.
2. Healing progresses from the top of the body to the bottom. Thus, someone with arthritis in many joints will generally notice relief in the upper part of the body before the lower part.
3. Healing proceeds in the reverse order of the symptoms. Thus, the most recent symptoms will generally be the first to be healed, and in the process of cure a person may re-experience previous symptoms.

One of Hering’s passions, for he was a man of enormous curiosity and many interest, was to obtain a full collection of all the works by, or pertaining to, Paracelsus.

He devoted nearly half a century to this pursuit. The fruits of his labour form one of the principal collections of works by and about Paracelsus. This collection, known as the Constantine Hering Collection, became a part of the special collections of Hahnemann University, now Drexel University. Housing over 200 volumes dating from 1502 — many in Latin and Old German — the collection, in addition to the original works of Paracelsus, includes early works on the philosopher’s stone, alchemy, botany, and a first edition of Robert Browning‘s poem, Paracelsus. In 1881, a catalogue documenting the collection was published by Globe Publishing House and in 1932, Hahnemann Medical College and Hospital produced a second catalogue of the Constantine Hering Paracelsus Collection housed at the College.

Hering began organizing his voluminous notes into his still popular classic The Guiding Symptoms of Our Materia Medica the year before he died, in 1880, and it was completed by his students and published posthumously in 1891.

Hering was the first to use nitroglycerin (glonoin) in medicine for headaches and heart problems, 30 years before its first use in orthodox medicine. It is an irony that he himself suddenly died one evening of a heart attack in 1880 after returning from a house call to a patient.

The Reverend S. S. Seward, pastor for the Swedenborgian Church of New York City, officiated at Hering’s funeral.



A Memorial of Constantine Hering (1880).

Of interest:

Hering medical collegeWalter Hering was an American Homeopath, and a friend of Richard Haehl.

William Hering 1803 – 1876 was a German orthodox physician, living in England, who converted to homeopathy.