Caspar Julius Jenichen 1787 - 1849
June 28, 2009
Caspar Julius Jenichen 1787 - 1849 was a German lay homeopathic practitioner, a veterinary and horse trainer for the Duke Ernst of Gotha (Ernest I, Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, formerly Ernest III, Duke of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld 1784 - 1844, who was the father of Prince Albert 1819 – 1861 (Thomas Lindsley Bradford, Life & Letters of Samuel Hahnemann (quote from The Lesser Writings of Samuel Hahnemann, New York, page 243), (reprinted by B. Jain Publishers, 2004). Page 52 – 53. See also Anon, The Monthly Homeopathic Review, (London 1887). See also Richard Haehl 1873 – 1932, Samuel Hahnemann: his life and work in two volumes, (The Homeopathic Publishing Company 1922 (German edition), 1926 (London Edition), republished by B Jain and Co (India) 1971). Volume 2, page 37. See also Friedrich A. Kittler, Discourse Networks 1800/1900, (Stanford University Press, 1992). Page 454. And Martin Dinges, Patients in the History of Homeopathy, (European Association for the History of Medicine and Health Publications, 2002). Page 39.) and Baron von Biel by profession, who experimented with the preparation of high potency remedies.
High potency remedies were first produced in the 1830s. Though Samuel Hahnemann wished to see 30c as standard potency in homeopathy, the majority of his contemporaries preferred tinctures and 3x, while others, like Caspar Jenichen, Simon Nicolaievitch von Korsakoff and N Schreter [1803-1864], were busy raising potency to heights beyond his wildest dreams. Such high potencies could not be made by traditional methods, but required succussion without dilution (Jenichen), higher dilution factors (LM potencies are diluted by a factor of 50,000), or machines which integrate dilution and succussion into a continuous process (Simon Nicolaievitch von Korsakoff).
A writer in the British Journal concerning the history of high potencies says: “It seems, then, that Herr Jenichen, to whom Gustav Wilhelm Gross entrusted the preparation of the high dilutions, being a stallmeister (or horse trainer, as some say) by profession, and possibly from his connection with the stable, anxious to make a good thing of the trust reposed in him, even at the risk of appearing to jockey Gustav Wilhelm Gross and the rest, makes a great secret of his mode of preparing these high dilutions - gives out that no one can prepare them but himself calls those fools who pretend to be able to make them, and actually persuades his patron, Gustav Wilhelm Gross, and some others, among the rest John Ernst Stapf and Constantine Hering, to swear by his preparations alone and to join with him in condemning all others.
While Jenichen was keeping secret his high dilution making, Friedrich Jakob Rummel employed an apothecary in Dessau, named Petters, to make some high dilutions, and these he declared to be as successful as Jenichen’s. He also found medicinal atoms in them when they were placed under the solar microscope. He defended them in the Allgemeine Hom. Zeitung.
Constantine Hering answers him that his Pettersian preparations are useless.
This was the battle of the potencies. Then Constantine Hering read the diatribe about high potencies and wrote to the editor of the British Journal the following: “I must vindicate Jenichen. This, however, belongs to the secret history of Homeopathy. Jenichen made no secret of the mode of preparing the high dilutions, and it never entered into his head to make money by it, or a mystery of it. He invented and discovered, and cut seeing greater curative effects from these preparations he sent samples of them to John Ernst Stapf and Gustav Wilhelm Gross.
“To me also, but they were not sent to me until late in the autumn of
“Jenichen is a diligent investigator and an enthusiast and possesses a great knowledge of remedies. He was infuriated by the first paper and demanded satisfaction. John Ernst Stapf and I were to be umpires. He wrote me all about it. In the meantime Friedrich Jakob Rummel was angry that he had not received samples; he makes a great noise and sets poor Petters in motion.
“I interfere in a good humored way, and so forth. During this time Jenichen grows more obstinate and more angry. He assures me he will show me everything, describe how he does it, but first must have satisfaction. On this mutual recriminations take place, and now he preserves stubborn silence. He will first have in opinion with regard to the efficacy of his preparations. He will first let the dispute subside.
“I might, without breaking my word, reveal the chief part of the business, but I too, consider it better that it remains concealed until a sufficient number of witnesses come forward and testify that Jenichen’s preparations are better and much more powerful than: 1. All further preparations tip to 30, 2. All the imitations of his high potencies; and further, Gustav Wilhelm Gross shall publicly declare he does not know how they are made, cannot prepare then himself ; and has not aided in their preparation, either by thought or suggestion.
“As soon as I have a thousand cures I shall treat of them in a separate work after the calculation of probability. It will be years hence before this takes place. You have found fault with John Ernst Stapf on account of the double impression of Simon Nicolaievitch von Korsakoff’s letter - that is not difficult to explain. Simon Nicolaievitch von Korsakoff and Samuel Hahnemann themselves insisted on it, and had John Ernst Stapf as editor, exonerated himself, he could not have done so without inculpating Samuel Hahnemann. But with his accustomed generosity he remained silent”.
One of the editors of the British Journal writing from Germany in October, 1850, says: “Jenichen the redoubtable stallmeister shot himself last year, but previously to doing so he made a will leaving 12 000 thalers for the foundation of a homeopathic dispensary in Wismar, to be conducted by some physician who should practice exclusively with his (Jenichen’s) high dilutions.
”John Ernst Stapf, of Neunburg, was commissioned to nominate the physician, and he appointed Dr. Rentsch, of Potsdam, who is now settled in Wismar, and, it is said, has inherited the secret of preparing the high potencies, which he will be happy to supply to any practitioner who may require them, provided the money is first sent.
“In John Ernst Stapf’s house we saw a full sized portrait of the Hero Jenichen stripped to the waist to show his muscular frame, and holding the magic vessel (a 4 oz- bottle), in which he made the fluid rattle “like silver coins ” by the impulse of his Herculean arm.
“At a Congress of Homoeopathic Practitioners held at Leipzig at the unveiling of Samuel Hahnemann’s monument, in 1851, Dr Rentsch gave an account, as far as he was able from letters and papers left by Jenichen, of Jenichen’s method of preparing the high potencies.
“He took the 29th dilution of the ordinary Hahnemannian preparations and allowed it to stand with the cork out of the bottle until it was all evaporated. Commencing from this for his zero he proceeded to make his high potencies, sometimes with the usual proportion of one drop of medicine with 99 of alcohol, but latterly always with a much larger quantity of the dilating fluid; at last, as it appeared, with the proportion of 12 000 drops of alcohol to two drops of the previous dilution, and with a number of succussions to each dilution varying from ten to thirty.
“The bottles he used were of such a size that the dilution filled them only to one-third, and the power he expended on his preparations must have been considerable, as his strength was herculean, and he worked with all his might every night, from ten o’clock till three in the morning. He used but one bottle for each medicine, and employed French brandy for his diluting medium”.
The following is from the British Journal of Homeopathy: “In our last number we gave a brief account of the peculiarities of Jenichen’s mode of preparing his renowned potencies as far as we could understand that from the rambling account furnished by his successor and heir. Dr Rentsch.
“In the 42nd. Vol. of the Allgemeine homöopathische Zeitung we have a more connected account from Dr. Rentsch, which we think it right to lay before our readers, wherefrom they may themselves judge of the rationality of the stall meister’s method and in general of the claims of their originator to the confidence of the profession”.
Caspar Julius Jenichen was born in 1787, and destined by his father for the legal profession, but his inclination led him to devote himself to the study of the veterinary art, and he soon acquired a tolerable reputation as a horse doctor, and got the charge of the Duke Ernst of Gotha’s manege with the title of Stallmeister or Ecuyer. He afterwards gave up this appointment, and after becoming a convert to the homeopathic method he finally settled in Wismar where he did not confine his practice to beasts but operated likewise on human beings. It was in Wismar he invented the high potencies which have become so notorious.
It is said that the labor and fatigue caused by their preparation made him fall ill of a very painful disease of the foot and leg, to free himself from which, finding that his high potencies did not suffice, he took an allopathic dose of Plumbum by sending a bullet into his brain.
He soon became convinced (we are not told how) that the decillionth dilution, as prescribed by Samuel Hahnemann, was not the best potency in which to administer the medicine, and he forthwith began to dilute still higher and higher in the ordinary manner with but indifferent success, until accident one day revealed to him the mode in which he could make the most effectual preparation.
He wished to dynamize the 29th dilution of Plumbum aceticum still higher, when he found that the cork of the bottle in which that preparation was had got loosened, and the whole of its contents had evaporated. He resolved to ascertain if in this dry bottle there still existed medicinal power, and accordingly, adding the requisite quantity of alcohol, he dynamized it up to the 200th.
He soon had an opportunity of testing its virtue, for a patient appeared suffering from fetid sweat of the feet, whom he allowed to sniff once at some globules moistened with this wonderful preparation, and behold in a few days he was quite cured!
From this case he most logically inferred that the best mode of preparing all the earths and metals must be to allow the 29th dilution to evaporate to dryness, and from this dry bottle to go on preparing the higher dilutions.
Dr Rentsch cannot say for certain if he applied the same rule to his preparations of the other medicines besides the earths and metals.
The vehicle employed for the dilution was, tip to the 800 th, alcohol of from 70° to 80°, beyond that, water from the Lake of Schwerin. The proportions used were : for the dilutions up to 200, 6 drops of the previous dilution to 294 of the vehicle; from the 300th to the 800th, 1 drop to 300; for the higher dilutions, 2 drops to 12 000.
The lowest dilution of the Jenichen scale was 200, the highest we cannot tell. In the preparation of his potencies he used 8 bottles. These were 4, 3/4 inches high and 3/4 of an inch wide. When he diluted beyond 800, he used much larger bottles. The succussion he performed in the standing or sitting position, with the upper part of his body naked. He held the bottle in his fist in a slanting direction, from left to right, and gave the strokes perpendicularly with all his force, so that the fluid in the bottle made a noise like the jingling of silver coins.
At first the violent muscular action caused, after three days’ work, so much pain in the arm, that he was forced to discontinue it and rest for a week or a fortnight. Afterwards, when he got regularly into training and his muscles were in condition, he ceased to feel any bad effects from his violent exercise.
By a minute calculation made by Dr. Rentsch, from the quantity of alcohol stated by Jenichen to have been employed by him to make the 200th potency, and from various other assertions of Jenichen’s, it appears that he reckoned his potencies quite differently from Samuel Hahnemann, and that the following was the way in which he made them.
He had, as before observed, 8 bottles. In the first of these he put the vehicle and medicine in the proportions above indicated ; gave to this 250 succussions without stopping, and considered that he had potentized it 25 degrees, ten succussions counting as a degree of potency. He then rested a little and proceeded to the next bottle, into which he poured 6 drops of the preparation he had just made and 294 drops of alcohol, gave to this 230 strokes, and considered he had increased its potency by other 25 degrees, and so he went on through his 8 bottles, 8 X 25 = 200 ; so that if this be true, and we have no reason to doubt its accuracy, Jenichen’s tooth potency corresponds to the 38th potency of Samuel Hahnemann, only trade with the proportions of 1 to 50 instead of 1 to 100, and the last 8 potencies having received 2000 succussions in place of 16.
The higher potencies seem to have been made in a precisely similar manner, except as regards the proportions of the vehicle indicated above and the amount of succussions given to each so called potency, which were increased as he ascended the scale. Thus it is altogether a misnomer to speak of Jenichen’s preparations as the tooth, 40001, &c., dilutions, at most they are only tile 38th, 46th, &c.
It even appears, from what Rentsch says, that he latterly contented himself with increasing the potency in one bottle only, by merely succussing and not diluting further; so that his later preparations all represent only the 30 th or 31 st dilution of the Hahnemannic scale, to which a more or less enormous amount of succussions had been given.
Nay, more, Dr. Rentsch surprises that he latterly abandoned the 29th dilution as his starting point, and commenced with the 6th or the 3d dilution, or perhaps even still lower, designating the potency not by the amount of dilution he gave it, but by the number of succussions he communicated to it. In this case the highest Jenichen preparations may represent the very lowest dilution, to which his enormous number of succussions has been given.
If this be the case, and we have no reason to mistrust the accuracy of Dr. Rentsch’s inherences, it is absurd to talk of the Jenichen preparations as the 100th, 800th, &c. dilution; potency is the name he gave them, and he always denied that they were dilutions. These preparations are somewhat similar to those introduced by Johann Wilhelm Wahle, of Rome, who prepared high potencies simply by shaking the 6th dilution some thousands of times. That we have as yet any proof that either his or Jenichen’s potencies act better than the ordinary preparations we must utterly deny.
if the account we have given for Jenichen’s preparations from Dr. Rentsch’s rambling surmises correct, and more especially if it should be true that most of the preparations were made from low potencies without further dilution, the most obvious inference we can draw from the whole Jenichen controversy is this, that those who delighted to call themselves pure Hahnemannists, among whom the high potency heresy chiefly spread, had found that sticking to decillionths was not the very best mode of erring their patients, and that they eagerly caught at Jenichen’s preparations which they conceived to owe their efficacy to their greater dilution and dynamization, whereat the better results they obtain were referable to their employment of stronger doses of the medicine under a deceptive name.
We have said that Dr. Rentsch’s statements as to the Jenichen potencies are only inferences or surmises from the documents and letters which he inherited. Constantine Hering, of Philadelphia, however, stated so long ago as the year 1847 (British Journal of Homeopathy, vol. v.), that he knew the secret of their preparation. We think it might have saved a world of controversy and acrimony among the disciples of Samuel Hahnemann, and have saved Homeopathy the scandal of dealing in nostrums and arcana, had he long ago published the secret which he alone has hitherto professed to know for certain.
It is evident that as long as the mode of their preparation remained secret they were treated with disdain by the great majority of homeopathic practitioners, and we have no expectation that the revelation that we have given, or that Constantine Hering could give, relative to them, will have the effect of making them more esteemed; but it is important that all suspicion of secret processes or secret remedies should be banished as speedily as may be from our system, which professes to he in the vanguard of medical science.
In the British journal of January, 1880, appeared a whimsical editorial, called ’A Cat in a Bag. It was all about Jenichen, and Rentsch’s disclosures, and Constantine Hering’s refusal to tell. We quote: “Such has been mutatis mutandis, very nearly the history of that homeopathic cat in the bag Jenichen’s mode of manufacturing the so called high potencies.
“Gustav Wilhelm Gross and John Ernst Stapf were the first patrons of these novelties - not that Jenichen was the first introducer of high potencies, so called, into homeopathic practice, for Simon Nicolaievitch von Korsakoff preceded him with his high potencies by infection, as we showed in vol. V. the novelty of Jenichen’s high potencies was their mode of preparation, which he kept a dead secret, and secrecy also was a novelty in homeopathic pharmacy; if these gentlemen knew Jenichen’s method, at all events they did not reveal it.
Constantine Hering certainly knew it, and after the death of Gustav Wilhelm Gross and John Ernst Stapf - if not before - was the only one who possessed the secret. Constantine Hering was frequently appealed to reveal the secret, but his answer was: “If any one wishes to know how Jenichen’s preparations are made, let him apply to Jenichen; I know it, and that is sufficient for my purpose.”
“Solicitations were evidently fruitless to get the cat out of the bag. A most interesting letter from Constantine Hering dated Philadelphia, June 1st, 1847, may be found in the British Journal of Homeopathy for October, 1847, in which he tells the story of his travels in Europe and a great deal about the Jenichen controversy.
“Dr. Rentsch, of Wismar, a very scientific man, whose physiological researches in the domain of microscopic organisms resemble in some ways those of our own John James Drysdale, was constituted the heir of Jenichen. At the meeting of the Congress at Leipzig in 1851 he read a paper giving, from the writings of Jenichen and, where these were defective, from his own conjectures, the mode of preparation of Jenichen’s potencies. We gave an account in our ninth volume of our impression of what Rentsch said at the Congress; not an abstract of his paper, which we had not seen, and which, in fact, we did not see until after our own report had been published.
“Well, Rentsch’s guess at the contents of the bag did not succeed in inducing Constantine Hering to let his cat out; so our venerable friend still continued to pass as the sole and envied possessor of the mighty secret. But the bag, which was kept tightly closed against the solicitations and the guesses of friendly colleagues, was at last opened to Richard Hughes’s contemptuous remark in our number of last January, that these high potencies are “utter impossibilities,” equivalent to an assertion that there is nothing in the bag; that, in short, the whole affair is a sort of homeopathic Mrs. Harris, of whom the skeptical Mrs. Prigg said “she didn’t believe there wasn’t no such person.
”Constantine Hering, more fortunate than Sarah Gamp, can triumphantly produce his Mrs. Harris in the flesh he has a real cat to let out of his bag. He was probably rendered more willing to do this by the crop of rival claimants to high potency fame that had sprung up of late. As long as there was only one, poor Petters, of Dessau, who tried to make high potencies according to Samuel Hahnemann’s method, Constantine Hering had no difficulty in snuffing him out with the remark that his potencies had been tried and found useless, and although Friedrich Jakob Rummel took up the defence of Petters, and even subjected his preparations to the ordeal of a solar microscope, it was of no avail. Jenichen and Jenichen alone would go down, and henceforth, for some time, high potencies and Jenichen’s preparations were convertible terms.
“But when a crowd of high potentizers appeared, each with his cat in his bag, which he made no pretense of concealing, but, on the contrary, which he displayed to all the world, appealing to all to say whether it was not the very perfection of cats, and especially a thousand times better than that old affair of Jenichen’s, the possessor of the last mentioned treasure felt that unless he displayed his very superior animal there was some danger that its place would be occupied by one or more of the new claimants for admiration.
“There was Carroll Dunham with his 200ths, made by fastening his bottles to a mill wheel; Bernhardt Fincke with his thousandths, obtained by the facile process of putting his dilution bottle under a water butt, and letting the contents flow through it at their leisure; there was Lehrmann with his high potencies made one way, William Boericke with his high potencies made another way; Samuel Swan with his millionths, and Thomas Skinner with his ten millionths. The ingenuity of some of these potentizers is displayed in the complicated machines, automatic and other, for taking the labor of potentizing off their hands.
“Evidently one or other of these new high potencies, some of which go up to millions, will soon shoulder the Jenichen potencies out of the swim altogether, unless it can be shown that his method is vastly superior to any of their modern rivals with their new fangled machinery.
“So its custodian resolves at last and at length to let the Jenichen cat out of the bag, and he chooses The Organon for that purpose. Rather hard, this, on Thomas Skinner, who has his own special potencies, and his own ingenious machinery for potentizing…”
Caspar Julius Jenichen, born at Gotha in 1787, was intended by his father for the profession of law. In 1814 he went to fight as a mounted volunteer rifleman. Returning from the wars he bought a property near Gotha, where he devoted himself to training horses and veterinary medicine.
When, in 1821, Duke Ernst of Gotha erected a national manege, Jenichen was appointed Master of the Horse and placed at the head of the institution. Owing to his skill in veterinary medicine he was appointed examiner of candidates. After the death of the Duke, the manege being done away with, Jenichen went back to his property and horse training.
He had become acquainted with Homeopathy in Gotha, and practiced it on his horses. At the request of Baron von Biel, of Weitendorf, near Wismar, he undertook the management of his stables.
After some years he retired from his post and settled in Wismar. Here he invented the high potencies, and whilst preparing them he got a disease of the feet and legs, which caused him so much pain that he committed suicide in February, 1849.
Jenichen was a man of Herculean strength. He once, for a wager, dashed his fist through a door panel, and he exerted all his strength in the preparation of high potencies. The reason why he made high potencies was because he was discontented with the potencies produced on the method pursued by Samuel Hahnemann (whether with their effects on horses or men we are not told).
He did not think better of Simon Nicolaievitch von Korsakoff’s method, and resolved to find one for himself. He had the luck to make a great discovery - no less than a new law of nature (Naturgesetz); a real revelation of nature (Naturoffenbarung) - in this way: Finding a bottle of the 29th dilution of Plumbum aceticum dried up, the cork loose and dry, the idea occurred to him to potentize from this bottle up to the 200th. A patient affected with hereditary fetid perspiration of the feet, smelt once at a few globules saturated with this potency, and in a few days was permanently cured.
After this Jenichen began all his high dilutions of earths and metals from the evaporated 29th dilution. Rentsch does not know if he did this with other medicines besides the metals and the earths. He thinks it probable that Jenichen began to potentize other medicines from the 5th or 3d attenuation. For the potencies from 200 to 800 be used alcohol, for those from 800 upwards the water of Lake Schwerin, which is as clear as crystal. The proportions of medicine to vehicle were, up to 200, 6 to 294; for those from 300 to 800, 1 to 300; for the remainder 2 to 12000.
For the high potencies he used bottles 4 ¾ inches high, ¾ inch wide, which weighed ½ an ounce (one Loth). He used eight such bottles. For the highest potencies he employed larger and heavier bottles, which, including their contents, weighed 18 ounces (36 Loth).
Jenichen sat or stood stripped naked to the waist, holding the bottle in his fist in an oblique direction from left to right, and shook it in a vertical direction. The fluid, at every stroke, emitted a sound like the ringing of silver coins. He paused after every 25th potency, and the muscles of his naked arm vibrated. At first, after one day of potentizing, he had to rest about a week to recover, but when by practice he got into condition he would go on potentizing without hurting the muscles, though every stroke shook his body as though it was electrified. He was latterly able to give 8400 strokes in an hour. He worked at his voluntary task from 10 pm till 3 am, keeping himself awake by drinking cold, black coffee. He always took everything in the shape of food and drink cold, as he held warm food to be tin physiological, and he was a teetotaller.
From 200 he gave 10 shakes for each potency; from 300 to 800, 12 shakes; from 800 to 40000, 30 shakes for each dilution. Rentsch thinks that for every 10, 12, or 30 shakes, he counted a degree of potency. He thinks, also, that the peculiar efficacy of Jenichen’s potencies was owing partly to their being started from the evaporated bottle of the 29th dilution, which he terms a revelation of a natural law, partly to the violent friction of the fluid against the sides of the bottle effected by his giant strength, partly by the magnetic power communicated to the fluid by his enthusiasm and will.
Constantine Hering’s Version: Jenichen belonged to a noble family of North Germany (what became of the “von”?): he distinguished himself as a cavalry officer at Waterloo. After this he was engaged to be married, but on riding to his bride’s house he learned she was dead, like
“The last lord of Ravenswood to Ravenswood did ride, To woo a dead maiden to he his bride.”
He returned home alone, and being told that her life might have been saved by Homeopathy, took to studying that system of medicine. Having acquired a knowledge of the practice, he devoted add his energies to curing horses. His muscular strength was prodigious. One day he saw a carriage and pair dashing down a hill at full speed. He caught hold of a horse with each hand and brought them to a standstill. (The size of the horses is not stated; perhaps it was a pony carriage.)
The carriage contained Grand Duke Ernstof Gotha and his lady. The Grand Duke invited Jenichen to his house, and made him his Master of the Horse. At the duke’s table one day he rolled up a silver plate as if it had been a piece of pasteboard, and afterwards tore the roll into shreds as if it had been a newspaper…
(Brit. Jour. Hom., vol. 5, pp. 132, 558 ; vol. 6, p. 132 ; vol. 8, p. 554 ; vol. 9, p 682 ; vol 10, p. 108 ; vol. 30, p. 72 ; vol. 38, 66. Kleinert, p. 214. The Organon, Jan. 1878 ; October, 1879 ; Jan., 1880 ; April, 1880. _Pierre Augustus Rapou, vol. 2, pp. 224, 270, 455, 523. Allg. Hom. Zeit. 42, was 10 et Seq.)_