Wilhelm Heinrich Schuessler was born in Zwischenahn in the grand duchy of Oldenbourg (now Federal Republic of Germany), on August 21, 1821, where he also spent his childhood. He was unable to attend grammar school up to the end and had to catch up on his school leaving examination before his state examination in Oldenburg.
Schuessler was very good at languages. He had knowledge of Greek and Latin; he spoke Italian, Spanish and French. In later years, he even occupied himself with learning Sanskrit. His concern with these languages can be proved by his archived books in his literary remains. The Schuessler family was very poor, and it seems that Wilhelm Heinrich has supported himself by teaching languages and as a private tutor until he was able to start with his studies at the age of thirty. He probably also received money from his elder brother, Ernst Georg, under the condition to work as a physician in homeopathy at a later point in time.
He studied in Paris for one year, where the faculty of medicine enjoyed a particularly good reputation. After that, he continued his studies in Berlin where he experienced the radical change in medicine from natural philosophy to natural science. One did not any more proceed from philosophical endeavours, by which the findings of essence, laws, forms and appearances of visible nature were gained, but from the experiences and from the empirical experiments. The findings in natural science are gained by observation, measuring, comparison, and experiment.
At that time, amongst others, Justus von Liebig and Rudolf Virchow were teaching. Their research had considerable influence on Schuessler, the student of medicine. Also Berlin was unable to keep him there for more than a year. Finally, it was in Giessen that he not only continued his studies but he also obtained a doctorate.
After his doctorate, Schuessler went to Prague. There were very good teachers of homeopathy, probably one of the reasons for him to extend his knowledge. After one semester in Prague, he submitted a request to the Grand Ducal government for admission to the medical state examination. This request was declined by the government because he was on the one hand unable to render the required maturity certificate, and on the other hand he had been unable to produce complete four years of studies, which were demanded according to an Oldenburg Regulation of April 30, 1831.
In 1857, Schuessler repeatedly submitted requests for the admission to the state examination after he had made up for his high school examination at the “Altes Gymnasium”. This time, Schuessler was able to provide all necessary documents for the admission to the state examination, and an examination date was set. The medical state examination, which lasted several days, was completed on August 14, 1857.
The quite extensive and comparatively strict regulation with regard to medical issues are quite amazing. The Collegium medicum, i.e., the Grand Ducal Oldenburg Ministry of Health, was established on September 14, 1818 for the examination of future physicians, surgeons, midwives, and veterinary surgeons. Furthermore, individual members of it were called on for the preparation of expert opinions.
Thus, it also had to decide on the approval of Schuessler as a doctor of homeopathy. In Schuessler’s days, former pupils of Samuel Hahnemann, the founder of homeopathy, were still alive. The new healing method was quite disputed amongst physicians and was frequently strongly opposed.
In the medical associations, homeopaths were not admitted, and it was more than once that a person was labelled “the former physician” if he had meanwhile turned towards homeopathy. Although the physicians had a negative attitude towards homeopathy, people enthusiastically accepted it because even then, confidence in the conventional medical healing methods had been shaken. Because of its success, many people turned towards homeopathy, but also other healing methods enjoyed great popularity as for example Pastor Sebastian Kneipp.
309 citizens of Oldenburg now submitted a request for the admission of a homeopathic physician. They pointed out the young Dr. med. W. H. Schuessler, who had recently passed his exam well, and who had agreed to practice homeopathy here. The permission for his establishment (only a limited number of physicians were admitted) was issued on January 2, 1858.
Schuessler took up residence in Oldenburg. Despite his low medical fees, he was already in a position to buy a building site in 1877, and to start building his house into which he moved in 1880 and where he resided until his death.
Only scarce information exists about his private life, which in the first place is related to the fact that he had always refused to make biographical notes. His private life was so quiet and went without any outward appearances that it is indeed difficult to report about it. After Schuessler had first of all compiled his Biochemistry, nothing else existed for him than the improvement of this doctrine. He regarded this as his only task. We know that he had difficulties in his youth, a situation, which he had kept in his mind all his life. He was reserved by nature and introverted. It could be that this was also one of the reasons for him to remain unmarried.
After his admission as a homeopathic physician in Oldenburg, Schuessler had finally arrived there where he was able to start on his path as a physician. He was still a homeopath and there was yet no mention of biochemistry, – this came 15 years later.
Soon, Schuessler began to deal with articles of current medical and homeopathic problems. They were published in professional journals and have often met with responses. Schuessler had to state his opinion on these, which he enjoyed doing with emphasis. In 1861, he joined the Central Association of Homeopathic Doctors, which he left again in 1876 because “the leading gentlemen do not wish to acknowledge my therapy as a homeopathic one” (Schuessler’s own words).
Schuessler’s search for a possibility to minimize the extensive medicinal offer of homeopathy and thus to make it easier to understand, had to bring him sooner or later into contrast with the School of Hahnemann. The “Biochemical Healing Method” was created. Three scientists have to be mentioned here whose research work formed the basis of Schuessler’s life work.
The Dutchman, Jacob Moleschott, taught physiological chemistry in Heidelberg, Zurich, and in Turin. He focussed on the totality of all biochemical processes, which take place in a cell or in the body, with all possible intermediate stages in metabolism. Moleschott’s book, “Kreislauf des Lebens”, [Circle of Life], whose first edition was published in 1852, helped Schuessler to mediate valuable impulses on which he essentially builds up his later healing method.
Schuessler was also inspired by a passage from Moleschott’s work, which was also a guiding principle for him:
“The structure and the viability of the organs are caused by the necessary amounts of the inorganic components; and this is the reason that the in recent years awakened acknowledgement of the relationship of the inorganic substances to the individual parts of the body, the acknowledgement, which neither arrogantly despises nor exuberantly hopes, promises a bright future for agriculture and medical science.”
In the face of the intervening facts it can no longer be disputed that substances which remain during incineration, the so-called ash constituents, belong to the inner composition and thus to the forming and specific basis of tissues as essentially as those substances which volatilize during incineration. Without a base providing glue there is no true bone, also no true bone without bone earth [= the mineral components of the bones], no cartilage without cartilage salt, or no blood without iron, and no saliva without potassium chloride.” Schuessler expressly commits himself to these words of Moleschott in the year 1879, “The above words have in six years largely evoked the idea in me to use the inorganic salts in question – and only these – for healing purposes.“
Rudolf Virchow, a scientist working in Berlin since 1876, had great influence on the development of Schuessler’s biochemistry with his book on “Cellularpathologie”. This book, a fundamental pathology, published in 1858, has an influence on medicine that continues right up to the present day even if new findings have considerably limited the totalitarian claim. This means that this work alone is decisive for the understanding of pathological changes of the cell.
Justus von Liebig is the third scientist whose research had great influence on the work of Schuessler. He taught in Giessen and his research field was mainly the domain of plants and animals; he also used the term of “Nährsalze” [mineral nutriments]. His influence on Schuessler is clearly evident from the following test:
“For agriculture, the inorganic substances of the plants have already found their way into utilization in agricultural chemistry. I have undertaken to transfer the chemistry of the tissues of the animal organism into the domain of therapy.”
“According to this, my therapy is an analogue of agricultural chemistry. Just as one (as every rationally thinking farmer knows) can bring ailing plants to thrive by watering them with a solution of their respective salt, so I cure the sick animal tissue by means of an administration of molecules of an inorganic salt, which is homogenous for that person whose functional disturbance is conditioned by the respective disease.”
(Law of the Minimum, Page XXX)
From the year 1872 onwards, Schuessler was intensively engaged with his new healing method and used only the new function minerals in his practice. In March 1873, he published his findings for the first time in the “Allgemeine Homöopathischen Zeitung“ under the heading of an “abridged homeopathic healing method”. Mainly the older homeopaths reacted carefully, indeed, even sceptically on this first announcement. Schuessler was requested to provide an indication formula (possibilities of application) and some detailed medical histories in order to initiate trials for the examination of the effectivity of the remedies.
It is of great significance to point out here which great upheavals the new findings of Schuessler gave rise to, indeed, what kind of revolution they provoked. Homeopaths in particular had to learn countless remedy pictures (at the time of Dr Schuessler, by his own account, 200 different remedies existed). Furthermore, many splendid scientists were active in the creation of these remedy pictures. Now, however, it would be possible to get along with only 12 remedies for all curable diseases. This was simply inconceivable.
Already as a homeopathic physician, Dr. Schuessler was subject to criticism and challenging opinions. And now, as he was setting himself apart from the homeopathic direction with his biochemical healing method, he was even more in the focus of controversies and critical contestations. He was never tired of taking his view again and again and to define it.
In 1874, the work of Dr. Schuessler appeared as “Abridged Therapy” in a brochure.
In this, he also stated the mineral substances selected by him, – in those days in an order unaccustomed to us:
With this, the real triumph of the “Biochemischen Heilweise nach Dr. med. Schuessler“ [Biochemical Healing Method According to Dr. med. Schuessler] began. This small brochure of only 16 pages was to make history of medicine one day and reach 32 editions in an extended form. Already the second edition, which became essential after one year, comprised – owing to the necessary extensions due to suggestions and responses to inquiries – already 48 pages.
Although this treatment method was quite disputed; it spread out very fast and also met with great interest on behalf of the physicians. Very quickly, the function minerals became known abroad and soon, translations into all important languages of the publication of Dr. Schuessler’s function minerals existed.
It is only due to Schuessler’ strength of will and to his power of persuasion that we are today able to know, apply and spread his biochemical therapy. He was a man who courageously stood up for what he was convinced of. He defended his healing method against any attack, and in the course of these disputes, continuously new arguments came up, which proved to be very valuable.
Already in 1885, his many supporters in Oldenburg founded the first biochemical association. Later, the many biochemical associations, which were founded in succession, were gathered into the Biochemical Union of Germany. It still exists today and proves by its high number of members the interest in biochemistry even in our time.
In everything connected with his person, he was very reserved and extremely modest. On March 14, 1898, Dr. Schuessler suffered a stroke from which he, however, recovered fast so that he was able to finish the last corrections of the 25th edition of his “Abridged Therapy”. On March 30, 1898, in his 77th year, he passed away peacefully.
Dr. Wilhelm Heinrich Schuessler left us a healing method which enables us to touch upon the life of people on the physical level in a holistic way, to provide and to care for health, and to take the necessary measures in case of functional disturbances.
to be continued…