Samuel Hahnemann Biography

Samuel Hahnemann, a German physician and founder of homeopathy, was a qualified medical doctor who became disillusioned with the medical practices of his time. Disturbed by practices such as bloodletting and purging, he believed there was a need for an alternative method of therapeutics. With his deep interest in biological science and proficiency in multiple languages, Hahnemann embarked on a career as a translator and teacher before studying medicine. After graduating as an M.D., he began practicing but soon developed homeopathy as a system of alternative medicine. Alongside his medical career, Hahnemann was a prolific writer, penning numerous books, essays, and letters on the homeopathic method.

Quick Facts

  • German Celebrities Born In April
  • Also Known As: Christian Friedrich Samuel Hahnemann
  • Died At Age: 88
  • German Men
  • Male Physicians
  • Died on: July 2, 1843
  • Place of Death: Paris
  • More Facts
  • Education: 1779-08-10 – University of Erlangen-Nuremberg, Leipzig University

Childhood & Early Life

Samuel Hahnemann was born on 10 April 1755, in Meissen, Electorate of Saxony, to Christian Gottfried Hahnemann and his wife Johanna Christiana as their third child. His father was a painter and designer of porcelain.

Samuel was a good student and performed well at school. An intelligent and curious boy, he developed a special interest in languages and became proficient in a number of languages, including English, French, Italian, Greek and Latin.

He was interested in studying medicine but this proved to be a challenge given his family’s humble financial standing. Nonetheless, he managed to study medicine for two years at the University of Leipzig starting from 1775 even though the clinical facilities were not great.

During this time he earned his living by working as a translator and teacher of languages. Already proficient in a number of languages, he now gained knowledge in Arabic, Syriac, Chaldaic and Hebrew as well.

He then moved to Vienna in Austria to further his education. He studied and practiced at the hospital of Brothers of Mercy where the prominent physician Dr. Von Quarin took him under his wing and mentored him. Throughout his medical studies, Hahnemann struggled with financial issues.

He eventually completed his M.D. from the Erlangen University in 1779. His thesis was titled ‘A Dissertation on the Causes and Treatment of Cramps.’


Samuel Hahnemann found appointment as a village doctor in 1781 in Mansfeld, Saxony. Over the ensuing years he practiced at a few more places and settled in Dresden in 1784 before moving to Leipzig in 1789.

During that era, medical practice was fraught with superstitions and illogical methods of treatment. This greatly disturbed the young doctor who soon became disillusioned with his profession. He believed that the common modes of treatment like purgatives, bloodletting, emetics, etc. caused more harm than good to the patients. Thus he abandoned his medical practice.

After giving up his practice, he began working as a translator of scientific and medical textbooks. In 1790, while translating William Cullen’s ‘A Treatise on the Materia Medica’ into German, he was dissatisfied with the book’s explanation of why the Peruvian bark (Cinchona) is useful in treating malaria.

This prompted Samuel Hahnemann to conduct his own experiments using Cinchona. He took repeated doses of Peruvian bark himself which led him to suffer from fever, chills and other symptoms similar to malaria. He thus concluded that Cinchona was useful for treating malaria as it caused symptoms similar to those of the disease it was treating.

The experiments led him to the observation that “similia similibus curantur” (“likes are cured by likes”). He thus postulated that diseases are cured by those drugs that produce in healthy persons symptoms similar to the diseases.

After conducting further experiments to prove his theory, he published his principles in a paper in 1796. Over the following years he published several other essays on the topic and in 1810 published ‘The Organon of the Healing Art’, in which he laid out the doctrine of his ideas of a system of alternative medicine which he named “Homeopathy.”

In 1811, he was given a professorship at the University of Leipzig. Between 1811 and 1821, he published six volumes of his ‘Doctrine of Pure Medicine.’

In 1821, he moved to Köthen where he was appointed as a physician to Duke Ferdinand of Anhalt-Köthen. There he achieved much success in his practice and he continued further research on homeopathy. In 1828, he published his work ‘Chronic Diseases’ in five volumes.

He moved to Paris, France, in 1835 where he spent the rest of his life.

Major Works

Samuel Hahnemann is best known as the founder of homeopathy, a system of alternative medicine that is based on the belief that a substance that causes the symptoms of a disease in healthy people would cure similar symptoms in sick people.

Personal Life & Legacy

Samuel Hahnemann married Johanna Henriette Kuchler in 1782. Theirs was a happy marriage that produced 11 children.

Johanna died in 1830 after 48 years of marriage. Shortly after, he met a French woman, Marie Mélanie d’Hervilly, and moved to Paris with her. They got married in 1835. He was 80 and Marie 35 at the time of their marriage.

He died on 2 July 1843, at the age of 88.

The Hahnemann University Hospital, a teaching hospital in Philadelphia established in 1885, is named in his honor.

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