The history of homeopathy begins with the discoveries of its founder Dr Samuel Hahnemann (1755-1843), a German physician. Hahnemann first coined the word "homeopathy" ("homoios" in Greek means similar, "pathos" means suffering) to refer to the pharmacological principle, the law of similars. Actually, the law of similars was previously described by Hippocrates and Paracelsus and was utilized by many cultures, including the Mayans, Chinese, Greeks, Native American Indians, and Asian Indians, but it was Hahnemann who codified the law of similar into a systematic medical science.
Hahnemann's first comments about the general applicability of the law of similars were in 1789 when he translated a book by William Cullen, one of the leading physicians of the era. At one point in the book Cullen described the usefulness of Peruvian bark (Cinchona) in treating malaria due to its bitter and astringent properties. Hahnemann wrote a bold footnote in his translation, disputing Cullen's explanation. Hahnemann asserted that the efficacy of Peruvian bark must be for other factor, since he noted that there were other substances and mixtures of substances decidedly more bitter and more astringent than Peruvian bark that were not effective in treating malaria. He then described his own taking repeated doses of this herb until his body responded to its toxic dose with fever, chills, and other symptoms similar to malaria. Hahnemann concluded that the reason this herb was beneficial was because it caused symptoms similar to those of the disease it was treat.