Sue Young Histories

William Osler 1849 - 1919

August 28, 2007

**Sir **William Osler, MD, CM, 1st Baronet 1849 – 1919 - the “Father of modern medicine” - was a Canadian orthodox physician, one of the “Big Four” founding professors at Johns Hopkins Hospital as the first Professor of Medicine and founder of the Medical Service there.

William Osler was a great admirer of Samuel Hahnemann and of homeopathy, and he wrote about homeopathy many times. Osler said ‘… Ask not what kind of illness the patient has, ask what kind of patient has the illness… (Dana Ullman, Discovering homeopathy: medicine for the 21st century, (North Atlantic Books, 1 Jun 1991). Page 55).”

William Osler said ‘… No one individual has done more good to the medical profession than Hahnemann… (Jonathan Davidson, A Century of Homeopaths: Their Influence on Medicine and Health, , (Springer 2014). Page 7).’

Time Online

“Founder Hahnemann was given his historic due by no less a personage than Sir William Osler. “No individual,” said Dr. Osler, “has done more good to the medical profession than Samuel Hahnemann.”

Harvey Cushing The Life of William Osler P. 171

“His belief that over-treatment with drugs was one of the medical errors of the day has been hinted at, and it was always one of his favorite axioms that no one individual had done more good to the medical profession than Samuel Hahnemann, whose therapeutic methods had demonstrated that the natural tendency of diseases was toward recovery, provided that the patient was decently cared for, properly nurses, and not over-dosed.”

Hans J Eysenck on William Osler

“It is more important to know what kind of person has a disease than what kind of disease a person has”

William Osler A Concise History of Medicine

“One notable example is typhoid fever. At the outset of the nineteenth century it was treated with ‘remedies’ of the extremest violence—bleeding and blistering, vomiting and purging, and the administration of antimony and mercury, and plenty of other heroic remedies.

“Now the patient is bathed and nursed and carefully tended, but rarely given medicine. This is the result partly of the remarkable experiments of the Paris and Vienna schools in the action of drugs, which have shaken the stoutest faiths; and partly of the constant and reproachful object lesson of homeopathy.

“No regular physician would ever admit that the homeopathic preparations, ‘infinitesimals,’ could do any good as direct curative agents; and yet it was perfectly certain that homeopaths lost no more of their patients than others. There was but one conclusion to draw— that most drugs had no effect whatever on the diseases for which they were administered.” (and in Enclycopaedia Americana Volume X Medicine)

William Osler _Counsels and ideals from the writings of William Osler 1905 _

“It is not as if our homeopathic brothers are asleep; far from it, they are awake (many of them at any rate) to the importance of the scientific study of disease.

“It is distressing that so many good men live isolated in a measure from the great body of the profession. The grievous mistake was ours: to quarrel with our brothers over infinitesimals was a most unwise and stupid thing to do.” and “Our homeopathic brothers pursue very seriously the scientific study of disease.”

William Osler Aequanimitas: with other addresses to medical students, nurses and practitioners of medicine 1932

“Variability is the law of life, and as no two faces are the same, so no two bodies are alike, and no two individuals react alike and behave alike under the abnormal conditions which we know as disease.”

William Osler Osler’s “a way of life” and other addresses, with commentary and annotations

“The greater the ignorance the greater the dogmatism.”

William Osler Evolution of Modern Medicine

“All scientific truth is conditioned by the state of knowledge at the time of its announcement.”

William Osler Counsels and ideals from the writings of William Osler 1905

“I fear that we may return to the state of polypharmacy, the emancipation from which has been the sole gift of Hahnemann and his followers…”

William Osler Contributions to medical and biological research, dedicated to Sir William Osler, bart., M.D., F.R.S., in honour of his seventieth birthday, June 12, 1919, Volume 2

“But, fortunately for medicine, some hundred and fifty years ago Hahnemann appeared…”


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