This is actually paraphrased from Hahnemann’s more verbose version of aphorism 3, from a translation of the 6th Edition of the Organon of Medicine.
His actual words are:
If the physician clearly perceives what is to be cured in diseases, that is to say, in every individual case of disease (knowledge of disease, indication), if he clearly perceives what is curative in medicines, that is to say, in each individual medicine (knowledge of medical powers), and if he knows how to adapt, according to clearly defined principles, what is curative in medicines to what he has discovered to be undoubtedly morbid in the patient, so that the recovery must ensue – to adapt it, as well in respect to the suitability of the medicine most appropriate according to its mode of action to the case before him (choice of the remedy, the medicine indicated), as also in respect to the exact mode of preparation and quantity of it required (proper dose), and the proper period for repeating the dose; – if, finally, he knows the obstacles to recovery in each case and is aware how to remove them, so that the restoration may be permanent, then he understands how to treat judiciously and rationally, and he is a true practitioner of the healing art.
To simplify, Hahnemann is stating that are four aspects that a ‘true practitioner’ of the healing arts is able to recognise and apply therapeutically:
1 – What is to be cured
The homeopath must be able to clearly perceive what is to be cured in every individual case of disease.
These words have been emphasised deliberately, as being able to perceive what is to be cured is not necessarily about the diagnostic label of the disease (which is important in conventional healthcare), but rather, recognising the individual expressions or experience of the disease state. Individuality is an important concept in homeopathy.
2 – What is curative
The homeopath must be able to perceive what is curative in each individual medicine, that is, understand the medical powers of the remedies used.
Hahnemann developed a method to reveal to the homeopath what their curative powers are, through a type of drug-trial conducted on volunteers, called a proving. In-fact, he was likely the first to systemise human drug trials, showing how much of an innovator he was.
The results of these trials are documented in homeopathic materia medica, the references that homeopaths use.
3 – How this is applied with the individual
The homeopath then adapts what is curative in medicine to what has been discovered in the patient (i.e. the morbid disease state). Specifically, this involves:
- choice of the medicine – how suitable is it?
- dose – what potency (strength), and how much (quantity)?
- repetition – how often (frequency), for how long (duration)?
4 – Removing obstacles
Finally, the homeopath must recognise the obstacles to recovery in each case, and remove them so that any restoration of health may be sustainable.
There are different types of obstacles (such as lifestyle), and these sometimes perpetuate the state of ill health, or minimise the success of treatment, or slow its progress.
Hahnemann ends by saying that once this is recognised, the Homeopath understands how to treat judiciously and rationally – that is, he is using good insight and applying sound logic – and therefore, is ‘a true practitioner of the healing art’.