Although he wasn’t very demonstrative, Kent adored his wife. He was very much affected when she became ill in 1878. Neither he nor any of his most competent allopathic or eclectic colleagues had the slightest success with the asthenia, weakness, persistent insomnia, and anemia, which obliged her to keep to the bed for months on end.
As time went by her condition deteriorated. His wife then asked him to consult a homeopathic doctor who was already quite old and who had been recommended to her as being very knowledgeable. Kent didn’t like this idea because he had already consulted everybody who had any kind of reputation in Saint Louis, and for a condition which seemed to him more and more serious he thought it would really be grotesque to consider something like Homeopathy with “its ridiculous little doses.”
Dr. Richard Phelan came one afternoon in his carriage, and remained for more than an hour questioning the patient and “asking silly questions,” which seemed to Kent so unrelated to her illness that he couldn’t help laughing mockingly behind his whiskers as he leaned against the end of her bed.
The doctor asked about her mental state, her fears, her desires, her preferences in food, with many details, while quite obviously she had no digestive disturbance. He asked her about her indisposition’s, her reactions to cold, to heat, to climactic and seasonal influences, etc. He auscultated and examined her, and asked Kent for a glass of water, which he brought.
When Kent saw him putting a few tiny little globules into the water, telling her to take a teaspoonful every two hours until, what a nerve, she fell asleep – when she hadn’t even closed an eye for weeks – Kent decided the man was a fool or an imposter, and showed him to the door very unceremoniously.
He was in his office in the room next door to his wife, preparing one of his lectures and, not wanting to make her feel bad, went two hours later to get her little spoonful of medicine, without any conviction. But after this second dose he was so absorbed by his work that he forgot to return to her room. He only remembered four hours later, and what was his stupefaction, on entering the room, to see his wife profoundly and peacefully asleep – something that hadn’t happened for a very long time, in spite of many drugs conscientiously administered.
The old doctor came back every day and little by little the patient improved until she recovered. What no professor of medicine, however famous, had been able to do, this simple homeopathic physician had accomplished: promptly, gently, and permanently restoring his wife’s health. Kent was profoundly impressed, and since he was fundamentally straight and honest, he felt obliged to apologize to his colleague, confessing his skepticism and complete lack of confidence on his first visit, and his total conversion after the remarkable improvement in his wife’s condition. Such a result, the evolution of which he had seen day after day, couldn’t possibly be mere chance. Could Homeopathy be a really valid system? He was so stirred up by the cure that he resolved to study this therapy thoroughly.
Kent began to study Homeopathy in earnest. He devoured “…every scrap of literature that had ever been published in America on this subject.” He resigned from his teaching duties and professional medical memberships and devoted his time to mastering Homeopathy. He began teaching Homeopathy and then moved to accept the position of Dean of Professors at the Post-Graduate Homeopathic Medical School of Philadelphia. In 1897 Kent published his Repertory of the Homœopathic Materia Medica, which is still in use today. An initial skeptic, Kent’s dedication established him as one of the pillars of Homeopathy.