Sue Young Histories

Samuel Richard Dubs 1811 - 1900

June 12, 2008

IpecacuanhaSamuel Richard Dubs 1811 - 1900? converted to homeopathy when he was cured of a persistent cough and gastromalacia. Dubs was one of the founders of the American Institute of Homœopathy, and one of the originators of the Philadelphia Provers’ Union.

He is credited with inventing the decimal scale of homeopathic remedies

Samuel Richard Dubs of Doylestown Pa., was born in Philadelphia, on November 8th, 1811. His father, Martin Dubs, was a prominent merchant of Philadelphia. He is of Welsh extraction on his mother’s side, and of Swiss on his father’s, the name being originally Doubs.

His education was obtained at the Pennsylvania University Grammar School, and at the High School. At sixteen he was placed in a drug store, where he remained for a year without compensation, although his mastery of the ponderous “Materia Medica” and the “United States Pharmacopœia” in six months led to his being given charge of the establishment in the owner’s absence.

In 1829, he entered the office of Charles D. Meigs, M. D., late Professor of Obstetrics in the Jefferson College, under whom he studied and attended a partial course of lectures in the Medical Department of the Pennsylvania University.

Thrown on his own resources through the reverses of his father, he bought a drug store on credit, and conducted it so successfully that in a few years he was able to resume his studies in the University, and graduate in 1836.

For three years he practiced allopathy ; was then prostrated for many months by hæmatemesis, with hœmoptysis. When recovered sufficiently to walk about, he still had a dry hacking cough and gastromalacia to such a degree that the simplest food would not digest.

Obtaining no relief from allopathy, and having studied Hahnemann’s ”Organon” and ”Materia Medica,” lent him by the late Dr. L R Lentz, he tried nux vomica homœopathically, followed it up with a few closes of sulphur, and was cured.

Then he adopted the system, and in nineteen years’ persistent practice did much to place homœopathy in its present high position in Philadelphia. Then an attack of hœmoptysis compelled him, in the summer of 1858, to withdraw to his farm near Doylestown.

After recuperating for two years he was led by the challenge of an allopath to begin practice in that locality. In seven years he had converted nearly every family in the neighborhood, and enabled Dr. Clayton, and afterward Dr. George Wright, to walk in a well-beaten path.

Dr. Dubs was the first homœopath to use and advocate -in 1839 and 1840- the preparation of medicines on the decimal scale, and of carrying the potencies or attenuations up by that scale, instead of the centennial, as recommended by Hahnemann.

He was one of the founders of the American Institute of Homœopathy, and one of the originators of the Philadelphia Provers’ Union. He was one of the provers of oxalic acid, cucumis colocynthis, lobelia cardinalis, and cannabis indica, and the first to prove cimifuga racemosa ; pointing out its virtues in a paper read before the Philadelphia Provers’ Union, in rheumatism of the joints, diseases of the brain and spinal marrow, and more especially rheumatic affections of the heart.

Of the first homœopathic college in the United States, located at Philadelphia, he was a corporator, and declined a professorship.

He married, in 1836, Adelaide Ross, a daughter of the late judge Ross ; she died in 1851. He subsequently married Mary E. Wolfe, daughter of the late William B. Wolfe, a retired Philadelphia merchant. He now resides on his farm, Walnut Place, near Doylestown, in retirement, only engaging in consultations.

Samuel Dubs is credited with the introduction of the decimal scale (the “X” scale of potencies) in 1838 (though Constantine Hering had been experimenting with this scale since 1833 and in 1835 Bruno Alber Vehsemeyer was also experimenting with the decimal scale in Germany):

Dr. Dubs’ wife was prone to asthmatic attacks, and repeated conventional medical treatment had failed her miserably. In fact, her experiences with the conventional medical establishment had brought her to, in his words, “… the verge of the grave.”

He then consulted with Dr. L R Lentz, a Philadelphia homeopath (one of only twelve in the city), who provided him with homeopathic Ipecacuanha in the 12C and 30C potencies.

During his wife’s next attack, he administered the remedies as directed, meeting with only limited success. Still believing in the homeopathic philosophy of the similia, he began to experiment. Anticipating her next attack, over the next few weeks he triturated ten grains of Ipecacuanha with ninety grains of milk sugar, thus creating the first decimal potency.

During her next attack, he administered one grain of the powder every fifteen minutes for four doses, after which every aspect of the attack had vanished. She had two or three attacks over the next twelve months which were quickly quelled by administering the decimal dose as before.

For the next two years, Dr. Dubs triturated the remedies in both the centesimal and decimal 1 st through the 6th potencies. In the treatment of acute conditions, he found the decimal potency superior, and began sharing his success with other physicians.

While the older homeopaths disapproved of the new potencies as ‘anti-Hahnamanian,’ the younger physicians quickly adopted the ‘X’ potency reatments for their acute patients. This was how the x potencies came into common use.

It seems to be human nature to distrust anything new, or fear anything that doesn’t conform to ‘the way we’ve always done it.’ That being said, it would seem that it is the unreasonable people in our world that are ultimately responsible for the progress that we make as a society – so, be an original!

At the second session of the American Institute of Homeopathy in 1845, Samuel R. Dubs proposed that a committee of three should be appointed to consider the subject of Posology. Drs. John Augustus McVickar, P.P. Wells, and J.M. Quinn were chosen.

Samuel Dubs was also involved with the production of The Philadelphia Journal of Homeopathy.


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