Homeopathic Domestic Physician

Homeopathic Domestic Physician

  • Constantine Hering, MD


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Hering's only book about basic therapeutics, it has served generations of home prescribers.
458 pp pb


Domestic Physician by Constantine Hering was published in 2 parts. Part 1 in 1835 and Part 2 in 1838.

This was the first American do-it-yourself homeopathic guide. In the early editions the remedies were not named. Sold with a box of 42 remedies, these were numbered to match the prescriptions in the book.

Originally, Hering wrote this as a manual for those he left behind in Surinam. He provides a window into the world of how he practiced on a day-to-day basis. Some of the conditions addressed are skin, treatment of infants, eruptive fevers, gout, and others.


Preface -- 3-14
Introduction -- 15
Directions for Prescribing -- 16-17
Instructions for Patients How to Communicate Their Cases to a Physician by Letter -- 25-31
Administration of the Medicines and Repetition of Doses -- 18-20
List of Medicines -- 32
Regimen of the Sick During Homeopathic Treatment -- 21-24
Part 1 - The Most Common Causes of Disease -- 33-148
Ch.1 - Affections of the Mind -- 33-41
Ch.2 - Consequences of Colds -- 42-51
Ch.3 - Consequences of Overheating, Immoderate Exertion and Great Exhaustion -- 52-60
Ch.4 - Consequences of Surfeiting and Disordered Stomach -- 60-68
Ch.5 - Consequences of Spirituous Liquors, Coffee, Tea, Tobacco, Acids, Etc -- 69-76
Ch.6 - Effects of Injurious Drugs in General Use, and Remedies to Counteract Them -- 77-83
Ch.7 - Adulterations and Poisons -- 84-95
Ch.8 - Of Poisoning -- 96-122
Ch.9 - External Injuries - Concussion, Bruises, Sprains, Dislocations, Fractures, Etc -- 123-138
Ch.10 - Foreign Substances Introduced into the Human Body -- 139-147
Part 2 - Treatment of Diseases -- 149-458
Ch.1 - Affections of the Head -- 149-165
Ch.2 - Diseases of the Eyes -- 166-178
Ch.3 - Affections of the Ears -- 179-187
Ch.4 - Affections of the Nose -- 188-193
Ch.5 - Affections of the Chest -- 194-232
Ch.6 - Affections of the Throat -- 233-237
Ch.7 - Affections of the Teeth and the Face -- 238-263
Ch.8 - Affections of the Mouth -- 264-267
Ch.9 - Affections of the Stomach -- 268-281
Ch.10 - Affections of the Abdomen -- 282-323
Ch.11 - Diseases of Women -- 324-361
Ch.12 - Treatment of Infants -- 362-391
Ch.13 - Eruptive Fevers -- 392-400
Ch.14 - Diseases of the Skin -- 400-411
Ch.15 - Some General Diseases -- 411-450
Index -- 451-458

Dr. Constantine Hering, M.D.

(1800 - 1880)

Dr. Hering is aptly called the 'Father of Homoeopathy' in America. His conversion to Homoeopathy is very interesting. At the age of 17 Dr. Hering became interested in medicine and joined the University of Leipzig, where he was the favorite pupil of the eminent Surgeon, Dr. Henrich Robbi.

At this time, Hahnemann was an eyesore to the stalwarts of orthodox medicine, because 'Organon' was a challenge to their system of medicine. Dr. Robbi was a critic of Hahnemann, and like other physicians ridiculed homoeopathy and Hahnemann.

In 1821, when the campaign against Hahnemann was at its worst, C. Baumgartner, the founder of a publishing house in Leipzig, wanted a book written against Homoeopathy, a book which would quite finish the system.

Robbi was asked to write it, but he declined for want of time and recommended his young assistant Hering. Hering set about the work and nearly finished it in the winter of 1822.

But going through Hahnemann's works for the sake of making quotations, he came across the famous 'nota bene for my reviewers' in the preface to the third volume of 'Materia Medica Pura', which said, among other things, "The doctrine appeals not only chiefly, but solely to the verdict of experience - 'repeat the experiments', it cries aloud, repeat them carefully and accurately and you will find the doctrine confirmed at every step' - and it does what no medical doctrine, no system of physic, no so-called therapeutics ever did or could do, it insists upon being judged by the result."

Hering decided to accept the challenge. The first step was to repeat the cinchona experiment. The result was what Hahnemann had predicted. Hering began to see the truth in homoeopathy. Further study of the homoeopathic 'Materia Medica' convinced him about Hahnemann's conclusions. The book against Homoeopathy thus never saw the light of day.

In the winter of 1824, Hering's right forefinger was cut while making a dissection on a dead body. The wound rapidly became gangrenous. In those days such wounds were mostly fatal. The routine orthodox medicines had no effect. Luckily for Hering and for homoeopathy, a disciple of Hahnemann named Kummer persuaded him to take homoeopathic treatment and gave him Arsenicum album.

After a few doses he felt better and the gangrene healed completely. Hering was surprised and his interest in homoeopathy knew no bounds. He contacted Hahnemann for further instruction.

Hering received the degree of M.D. from the University of Wuerzburg with highest honors. The theme of his thesis was "De Medicine Future" (The Medicine of Future). Hering arrived in Philadelphia in January 1833. He established a Homoeopathic School at Allentown, Pennsylvania (Allentown Academy).

He became a member of the Academy of Natural Sciences, and presented to it his large and valuable zoological collections, including the original Lachesis mutus from South America, the snake with whose poison he had made the first provings of Lachesis.

Hering wrote many articles, monographs and books. He was the Chief Editor of the 'North American Homoeopathic Journal', 'The Homoeopathic News', 'The American Journal of Homoeopathic Materia Medica', and the Journal of the Allentown Academy. He wrote the 'Domestic Physician', and the 'Guiding Symptoms', a monumental work of 10 volumes.

It is in the sphere of drug provings, however, that Hering's effort shines at its best. It has been remarked by Nash and others that if Hering had done nothing else for medicine but the proving of the single drug Lachesis, the world would owe him an everlasting debt of gratitude; that alone would immortalize him.

Dr. Hering proved 72 drugs, out of which the following are the most important: Cantharis, Colchicum, Iodum, Mezereum, Sabadilla, Sabina, Psorinum, Nux moschata, Lachesis, Crotalus, Apis, Hydrophobinum, Phytolacca, Platina, Glonoin, Gelsemium, Kalmia, Ferrum-met, Fluoric acid, and Phosphoric acid.

He enunciated the "Law of Direction of Cure" known popularly as Hering's Law. This describes how "The cure takes place, from center to periphery, from head to extremities, and in the reverse order of the development of the symptoms." Thus Hering took up the work left by his master, Hahnemann, and held the flag of homoeopathy till the last breath of his life.


The first "self help" book published in the USA. The early editions gave no names of remedies. This book was sold with a box of 42 remedies that were numbered to match the prescriptions in the book. In one remedy-case, prepared by Rademacher, the bottles were only "an inch in length and filled with infinitesimal pills."

The book went through a number of revisions during Hering's lifetime and was republished by a number of people- C.L. Rademacher, Koehler, Boericke and Tafel. The 4th edition in 1848 contained a chapter on "diseases of females" by Walter Williamson, MD.

The book was concurrently printed in Germany in 1835. Subsequently it was translated into Spanish and French. The book is still in print. Although often quoted as the first self-help manual, it was antedated by Caspari's Homoopathischer Haus-und Reisearzt that was translated into English in 1852.

Julian Winston writes: The book had its start in a manual written by Hering for the use of those he was leaving behind in Survinam when he moved to the USA.

Hering, the "father" of American homeopathy, was considered a master homeopath and he was certainly more of a practitioner than a writer. Most of his writings were about rather "dry" information- materia medica in the form of his Analytical Therapeutics, Condensed Materia Medica, and his massive Guiding Symptoms.

This book is the only one of his works that talks directly about basic therapeutics, and gives insight into how he thought, what he saw as important in a case, and how he differentiated remedies.

Although the writing is rather stilted by current standards, the information contained is quite valuable, especially if it is studied with a repertory and a materia medica in hand.

The Heritage of Homoeopathic Literature
copyright 2001 by Julian Winston
Reprinted with the permission of the author