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Samuel Hahnemann
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Doctor
    (April 10, 1755-July 2, 1843)
    Born in Meissen, Germany
    Birth name was Christian Friedrich Samuel Hahnemann
    Founder of the alternative medicine of homeopathy
    Advocated the principal of 'like cures like': a drug that causes symptoms in a healthy person will cure the same symptoms in a sick person
    Advocated diluting homeopathic drugs by a factor of 10^60 (10 to the 60th power, or 1 followed by 60 zeros)
    Because he was born close to midnight, there is some debate as to whether his birth date is April 10th or 11th.
    He ingested cinchona bark (used to treat malaria) and experienced fever, shivering and joint pain (all symptoms of malaria).
    He then developed the 'like cures like' theory based on this single test.
    If you dilute a drug to the levels he recommended, a dose is unlikely to contain a single molecule of the drug.
    In scientific tests, homeopathic drugs work no better than placebos.
    For a while, he argued that coffee caused many diseases (ranging from the obvious, like insomnia, to the unlikely, like epilepsy and cancer) -- and that people could catch those diseases from being in the same room as coffee drinkers. (Second-hand coffee!)
    He started off as a conventional doctor, but stopped practicing when it became clear that common practices like bloodletting and purging were more likely to kill than cure the patient.
    He also opposed administering complex mixtures --such as Venice treacle, which contained 64 ingredients, ranging from opium to viper's flesh -- in favor of using single drugs.
    Although homeopathic remedies are ineffective, they at least cause no harm.
    As a result, through the mid-19th century, patients of homeopaths often had better outcomes than patients of conventional doctors.
    The relative success of homeopathy was one of the factors leading to the abandonment of bloodletting as a treatment.

Credit: C. Fishel


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