Trained as a physician in Berlin in the mid 1870s, Ferdinand Hueppe (1852-1938) first became an army surgeon. Subsequently, from 1880 to 1884, he went on to study with the internationally famous physician-scientist Robert Koch. Under Koch’s leadership, Hueppe made several significant advances in microbiology and was nominated for the Nobel Prize several times in his career.
Ferdinand Hueppe was an early key figure in the development of the hormesis concept. In his 1896 book entitled Principles of Bacteriology, Hueppe indicated he had been able to extend Hugo Schulz’s initial findings in yeast by showing low dose stimulation/high dose inhibition of bacteria by toxic agents. Emphasizing the primacy and importance of Schulz’s scientific results, Hueppe stated they should be considered as valid observations despite Schulz’s controversial belief that his findings provided an explanatory principle for the medical practice of homeopathy. This statement by Hueppe, a prominent figure in the world of microbiology, played a notable role in strengthening the hormesis concept in biological circles in the early decades of the 20th century.
Because of the prominence of Hueppe’s connection to Robert Koch, along with his own strong professional career, the “concept” of hormesis became internationally known and cited as Hueppe’s Rule. In fact, the terms Hueppe’s Rule and the Arndt-Schulz Law became somewhat competitive terms for what was subsequently called hormesis in the latter part of the 20th century. While the term Arndt-Schulz Law is occasionally still cited in the literature, Hueppe’s Rule is an historical note in the terminological evolution of the dose response relationship.