Jahr was a prolific writer and staunch advocate of homeopathy who was held in great esteem by the European homeopathic community. An obituary for Jahr in the October 1875 issue of the British Journal of Homeopathy described him thus: “A partisan of homeopathy, a friend and disciple of Hahnemann, an indefatigable worker, a voluminous writer, Jahr, whose name has for many years occupied a position in homeopathy, second only in point of notoriety to that of Hahnemann himself.”
On July 2, 1843, in the City of Paris, Jahr was summoned by Madame Melanie Hahnemann to the bedside of the failing Samuel Hahnemann. Upon arriving, Jahr found Samuel Hahnemann already at his end.
Jahr was later to notify the Homeopathic community in a death notice written by him, which can be found in Volume 24 of the Journal Allgemeine Homoeopathische Zeitung, beginning with the Statement, “Hahnemann is Dead!”
One of Hahnemann’s earliest and most devoted associates, Jahr was born in the village of Neudietendorf, Thuringia, in January, 1800. The region was a centre for the Moravian Church and Jahr received his education at a Moravian school. He so excelled there that in 1825 he was offered, and accepted, a professorship at the college.
According to his obituary in the periodical Leipziger Populäre Zeitschrift für Homöopathie (1875), Jahr had been introduced to homeopathy by a homeopathic pharmacist in his home town, Heinrich Gottlieb Thrän (1788 – 1827). Through Thrän, Jahr soon met Dusseldorf homeopath Dr. Karl Julius Aegidi, a patient and student of Hahnemann, and physician-in-ordinary to Princess Marie Frederica of Hesse-Kassel.
It was around this time that Jahr first met Hahnemann. It is unclear how they met but Jahr appears to have assisted Hahnemann with his pathogenetic research into homeopathic remedies. Jahr himself recalled:
It was in the year 1827 when I made my debut in the practice of Homoeopathy, at a time when the only resources at our command were the Materia Medica Pura of the founder of our school and a few cures reported in Stapf‘s “Archiv,” and in the “Praktischen Mittheilungen” (Practical Communications).
Hahnemann encouraged Jahr to attend the University of Bonn, where he completed his medical studies. After graduating Jahr traveled as personal physician for several European aristocrats and also practiced for a short time in Liege.
Throughout this period Jahr remained in close contact with Hahnemann and conducted homeopathic provings, while also assisting him with the publication of the second edition of Chronic Diseases. In 1835 Hahnemann relocated from Köthen to Paris. Jahr followed him and, after Hahnemann died in 1843, Jahr remained in the French capital where he practiced homeopathically for another three decades.
In addition to his private practice and research, Jahr wrote extensively on homeopathy. In 1835 he authored the first notable Homeopathic Repertory, initially in German, followed in 1836 by an English version, G H G Jahr’s Manual of Homeopathic Medicine, edited by Constantine Hering. In his history of homeopathy in Germany, Carl Gustav Puhlmann observed that on account of its completeness Jahr’s Manual soon superseded other similar works and, being much used by the German Homeopathists, by the 1880s had already been republished in four editions. Jahr’s repertory, then, became a seminal work, alongside what many considered his major contribution to the homeopathic literature, his New Manual: or Symptomen Codex, first published in German in 1843.
The works of Jahr are almost too well known to require enumeration. His chief work, The Symptomen Codex and its abridgments, which have been translated into every European language, will cause him to be gratefully remembered by all practitioners of Homeopathy,
Some of his outer writings are also of considerable value, as his treatises on cholera, on cutaneous maladies, on venereal affections, on diseases of digestion, his Pharmacopoeia and his Forty Years Practice (Therapeutic Guide).
Jahr deviated very reluctantly from Samuel Hahnemann‘s dogmas; he tried to revive those which modern science and the progressive Homeopathists had long ago abandoned, and endeavored to make them correspond with the newer views, or even ignored the latter.
He contributed largely to a certain homoeopathic conservatism in Germany, which might not mislead a practical homeopathist but may frequently hinder one who is unacquainted with Homeopathy.
When the Franco-Prussian War erupted in July 1870 Jahr, as a German native, feared imminent arrest. With the assistance of friends he departed Paris and crossed the French border into Belgium. He traveled first to Liege, then to Ghent, and finally settled in Brussels, where he endeavored to obtain a practice, and delivered a course of lectures at the Brussels Homeopathic Dispensary on Laekenstreet.
Jahr was welcomed by the Brussels homeopathic community where during his long career he had helped train and advise more than 50 Belgian doctors in homeopathy, including Leonard Lambreght, Jules Gaudy, Gailliard, Van den Neucker, Gustave Adolphe Van den Berghe, De Keghel, Prosper Schepens, Van Ooteghem. However, without an authorized Belgian medical diploma, he was prohibited from officially practicing medicine, meaning that he struggled financially in his final years. These former students and colleagues held a subscription to make up for his loss of professional income. Although this relieved his pressing necessities, it arrived too late. The restrictions on his ability to practice medicine, combined with the stress of needing to flee Paris, were too much. According to Bradford:
It is thought that this prohibition – which, in fact, deprived him of his livelihood – weighed so much on his spirits that it hastened his death, the immediate apparent cause of which was two large carbuncles.
A notice in the September 1875 issue of the New England Medical Gazette announced:
Two days later a telegram announced his death. This news has produced in Paris a profound emotion, which re-echoes mournfully from every quarter of the globe, as there is no country where the doctrines of Samuel Hahnemann do not count numerous followers, and whither the writings of our friend have not penetrated and rendered service.
After the name of Samuel Hahnemann, that of Jahr is indisputably the most widely known, the most popular, and the most intimately associated with the development and diffusion of Homoeopathy.
Jahr was a scholar in the widest acceptation of the term there is scarcely a branch of knowledge with which he was not familiar. He found relaxation from his medical researches in notable labors in physics, chemistry, mathematical sciences, philosophy, astronomy, etc. ; his erudition was truly immense, and if he was not appreciated at his full value, – if in some quarters the free acknowledgment of his superiority has been partially withheld, – the reason must be looked for in his simplicity of manner, and his modesty, qualities as precious as they are rare, but which become faults when carried to extremes, as they obscure the merit, and render unavailing the example of wisdom and virtue.
Under an exterior full of kindliness and ease he concealed the rarest qualities ; and those who have not met him in private, and on an intimate footing, will doubt to what degree this uncommon character was possessed of profound knowledge. intellect, rectitude, and self-denial.
- G. H. G. Jahr’s Manual of Homoeopathic Medicine, translated by Constantine Hering (1836)
- Jahr’s New Manual of Homoeopathic Practice, 2nd American Edition, from the third Paris Edition (Vol 1, 1841) (Vol 2, 1842)
- New Homœopathic Pharmacopæia & Posology, translated by James Kitchen (1842).
- Short Elementary Treatise upon Homoeopathia, translated by Edward Bayard (1845).
- Manual of Homœopathic Medicine, Volume 1: Materia Medica, Volume 2: Therapeutical & Symptomatological Repertory, translated and edited by Paul Francis Curie (1847)
- Jahr’s New Manual Volumes 1-2, translated and edited by Charles Julius Hempel (1848).
- Jahr’s New Manual Volume 3, or, Complete Repertory of the Homœopathic Materia Medica, translated and edited by Charles Julius Hempel (1853).
- The Homoeopathic Treatment of the Diseases of Females, and Infants at the Breast, translated by Charles Julius Hempel (1856).
- Bulletin de l’art de Guérir Par des Remèdes Spécifiques, Rationellement Indiqués; Journal de la Doctrine Hahnemannienne (Paris, 1861-1865).
- The Venereal Diseases: Their Pathological Nature, Correct Diagnosis, translated by Charles Julius Hempel (1868)
- Therapeutic Guide; The Most Important Results of More Than Forty Years ́Practice, translated with notes and new remedies by Charles Julius Hempel (1869).