Heilkunst Medicine

‘Heilkunst’ literally means ‘the art (kunst) of making whole (heilen),’ and refers to the remedial system founded by Samuel Hahnemann in late 18th- and early 19th-century Germany and France. The development of Heilkunst is part of a broader movement in romantic medicine that arose to meet the crisis that Western medicine faced in the late 1700s. More specifically, Hahnemann’s call for medical reform was prompted by the observation that sciences designed to manipulate inorganic nature (i.e. chemistry and physics) have detrimental effects when applied to living processes. As such, Heilkunst provides an ethical alternative to medical technologies that reduce the disease process to its material manifestations. It is a medical art that is well-honed to address the dynamic nature of disease and remediation.

One of the most critical requirements of successful remediation is the ability to discern, with increasing precision, the factors that are compromising an individual’s health. Recognizing whether particular symptoms are the result of poor diet, a past emotional trauma, an inherited disease, or a combination of all three, for example, is essential to their effective resolution. Equally important is the capacity to apply appropriate techniques in light of the nature of the disturbance. Finally, it is important to orchestrate a sufficiently coordinated restoration. What may present as a simple iron deficiency, for example, may require a more complex course of action. Depending on the specificity of the problem, it may not be appropriate to simply flood the body with more iron. It may be more helpful to introduce tissue salts to improve the body’s iron absorption, eliminate nutrient-blockers from the diet, and re-activate the individual’s strength of will.

Watercolour commissioned by Goethe in the early 1790s for a sequel to The Metamorphosis of Plants.

It takes a well-coordinated effort to rouse ourselves out of a deep disease state. The clarity of Heilkunst’s principles and the dexterity of its practitioners make this feat possible. Enlivening the body is an ongoing process: there are periods of steady cultivation and growth, periods of expansive breakthroughs, and periods of compression. From the very onset of this involved journey, however, you can expect an increased consciousness of and autonomy over your own health, and with it, increased happiness.

My practice of Heilkunst is informed by The Interlinear Rendition of the Organon of the Remedial Art by Samuel Hahnemann. It is the most comprehensive translation of the The Organon, rendered by Steven Decker, a scholar of German Romanticism whose work continues to expand the ‘dynamic system‘ of medicine.