Samuel Hahnemann: Non Utilis Vixit


“Who does this work, is thrice blest.” Samuel Hahnemann

Samuel Hahnemann was born on April 10th, 1755 in Meissen, Germany. He was a German medical doctor who became dissatisfied with the medical practice at the time. He refused to practice bloodletting and other common treatments and instead earned his living as a translator, using his skills in over a dozen languages. During his years doing medical translation work, he discovered the concept of the Law of Similars, which he named homeopathy in 1790. His seminal work, The Organon of the Medical Art, commonly known as the Organon, is used as a textbook in homeopathic colleges worldwide.

Hahnemann’s birth

Christian Friedrich Samuel Hahnemann was born on midnight April 10, 1755 into a family of porcelain painters. Though the civil records are inconclusive about the exact hour of his birth, he has always celebrated it on the 10th. He was baptized by Pastor M. Junghannes on the Sabbath after his birth. His father was Christian Gottfried Hahnemann, and his mother Johanna Christiana nee Spiess. The home that Hahnemann was born in was know as “Corner house” because of it’s location of the corner of two streets, a fitting place for the beginnings of the life of a man who was to turn to the corner on medical and scientific thought as it was known at that time.

Porcelain and Alchemy

Porcelain was discovered by Johann Bottger in the early 18th Century. It sprang from a vain attempt by the German princes to attain wealth. Prince Elector August the Strong commissioned Bottger and other alchemists to search for the formula to produce gold. Although the discovery of porcelain was a failed attempt at this ancient quest, porcelain did provide a suitable income for the prince. The art of painting china with gold and pictures became a secret guarded by chemists and artists alike. Even the artists were sworn to secrecy.

By the time of Hahnemann’s birth, the Hahnemann family had been porcelain painters for three generations His grandfather was known in church registers as “Christian Hahnemann, the painter”. Before being called to Meissen, in 1743, his father and uncle had lived in Lauchstedt, Germany, and contributed their known artistry to the local art school.

Hahnemann’s Quest

In 1808, looking back on his quest for better medical tools, Hahnemann wrote,

“When then was certain help to be obtained? – Was the yearning cry of the comfortless father in the midst of the groaning of his children, dear to him above all else? Night and desolation around me- no sight of enlightenment for my troubled paternal heart.

Would He, the Father of all, coldly survey the torments of disease of His dearest creatures? Would He leave open no way to the genius of mankind- otherwise so infallible- no easy, certain and dependable way of regarding disease for the right angle, of determining the use and the specific, safe and dependable results obtainable from the medicines?

Discovery of Homeopathy

In 1790, Hahnemann was working on a translation of Cullen’s Materia Medica. Here, he discovered the glimmers of what would become homeopathy. In writing of Peruvian Bark (cinchona, or china) Hahnemann, in a footnote, describes for the first time the action of “like cures like.” Hahnemann observed, “Substances which produce some kind of fever (very strong coffee, pepper, arnica, Ignatia bean, arsenic) counteract these types of intermittent fever.” Hahnemann then conducted an intentional poisoning with the bark, which caused in him all the symptoms of malaria, which the bark was said to cure. He deduced, “Peruvian bark, which is used as a remedy for intermittent fever, acts because it can produce symptoms similar to those of intermittent fever in healthy people.”

In 1796, Hahnemann began to write on homeopathy and at that time, to practice medicine again. In 1810, the first edition of “The Organon” was complete.

Non Utilis Vixit 

Hahnemann worked as a translator, instead of practicing medicine because he did not believe in the current medical methods. A linguist who spoke about 13 languages, originator of modern medical research techniques, a German doctor forbidden to practice in his homeland, Hahnemann lived his last days in the height of Paris society, treating the likes of Paganini and the Von Rothchilds, retaining use of all faculties until his death at the age of 88.


“Let me go down to posterity only as the image of my inner self which can easily be discerned in my writings. My vanity goes no farther than this.” Samuel Hahnemann

*Excerpted from Biography of Samuel Hahnemann by Melanie Grimes


About the author:

Melanie Grimes is a writer, medical editor and health educator. A classically trained homeopath, she has lectured internationally and been on faculty at Bastyr University.  An award-winning screenwriter,. You can follow her blog at Order professional quality vitamins, at her online vitamin shop:


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Melanie Grimes
Melanie Grimes is a writer, medical editor and health educator. A classically trained homeopath, she has lectured internationally and been on faculty at Bastyr University, American Medical College of Homeopathy, and Seattle School of Homeopathy. She has been the editor of SImillimum, Journal of the Homeopathic Association of Naturopathic Physicians, and The American Homeopath, Journal of the North American Society of Homeopaths.

An award-winning screenwriter, Melanie has taught creative writing, and authored medical textbooks.
She writes about health, natural medicine, food as medicine, herbs, homeopathy, and travel. 

You can follow her blog at

To order professional quality vitamins, visit her online vitamin shop at