Homeopathy: Its Early Days and Evolution


German chemist and physician Samuel Hahnemann takes the credit for founding an alternative to conventional medicine. More than 200 years ago, Dr. Hahnemann developed a medical system known today as homeopathy. In 1779, Dr. Hahnemann finished his medicine course and started his own practice. He started performing his homeopathic experiments 11 years later, with a humane medical approach in mind. Hahnemanns disenchantment with some of the inhumane aspects of traditional medicine, such as using toxic substances, blood transfusion, and purging, pushed him to develop an alternative way to treat various illnesses. According to Dr. Hahnemann, the ideal way to cure diseases is to perform it quickly and mildly with permanent and safe results.

Dr. Hahnemann almost ended his medical practice in favor of practicing chemistry and medical translation. He started his efforts in giving better healthcare through the homeopathic principle of similars (or like cures like) when he worked on a translation project involving Materia Medica by William Cullen. As he was working on the project, a tree bark called cinchona (which originated from South America) that was used as a remedy for fever induced by malaria sparked his curiosity. Hahnemann discovered later that the bark produced the same symptoms with malaria, and he kept his studies on the idea of similar suffering and cures. Hahnemanns findings gave birth to the principle similia similibus curentur or like cures like.

In the late 1800s, Hahnemanns students established the first homeopathic school in the United States. The school earned a good reputation because it succeeded in curing a wide range of diseases that were prevalent during those times such as yellow fever, typhoid fever, scarlet fever, and cholera. It was not until almost a century later that the way of treatment advocated by homeopathic medical schools gained much popularity. In the 20th century, homeopathic medicine had become widely used. There were already 100 homeopathic hospitals, 22 homeopathic schools, and over 1,000 homeopathic drug stores during that time. Some of the premiere educational institutions such as New York Medical College, Boston University, and Stanford University also started to teach homeopathic medicine.

However, the popularity of this alternative medical system declined too soon because of the opposition by the American Medical Association. In the early 1920s, modern pharmaceutical companies started manufacturing drugs that are easy to use. Many homeopathic schools closed down as well. These two events led to the declining interest of people in homeopathic medicine, especially in the United States, Asia, and Europe.

Despite that, homeopathic medicine still keeps on growing these days. Nowadays, this medical system is widely used in India, Germany, Russia, South America, Netherlands, England, Switzerland, Italy, and Mexico. In France, most drug stores provide homeopathic medicines and remedies.

Likewise, homeopathic medicines have been reclaiming its former glory in the United States. According to a research conducted by the Virginia-based National Center for Homeopathy, sales of homeopathic remedies increase at about 12 to 15 percent every year. Trainings for would-be homeopathic practitioners are rising in the United States as well.


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