The history of homeopathy begins with the discoveries of its founder Samuel Hahnemann (1755-1843), a German physician. Hahnemann’s first comments about the general applicability of the law of similars came in 1789.
Maybe the most prevalent reason that allopaths disliked homeopaths and homeopathy was expressed at a 1903 AMA (American Medical Association) meeting by a distinguished orthodox physician. “We must,” he said, “admit that we never fought the homeopath on matters of principle; we fought him because he came into the community and got the business.” Most physicians, even now, will not admit that economic factors play a chief role in what is practiced and what is allowed to be practiced. It only makes sense then that Hahnemann’s principles constituted a philosophical, clinical, and economic threat to orthodox medicine.
The growing popularity of homeopathy in the United States started shortly after Hans Gram, a Danish homeopath, emigrated in the US in 1825.
The first homeopathic school in the US, the North American Academy of the Homoeopathic Healing Art, was founded in Allentown, PA, 1836 , by Dr. W. Wesselhoeft (1794-1858) .
Dr. von Lippe emigrating to the United States in 1839. He presented himself to the sole school of the homeopathic practice in this country – the old Allentown Academy of the Homoeopathic Healing Art. After assiduous application he was granted his diploma from
Dr. Constantine Hering (1800-1880), as President of the institution, on July 27, 1841. Dr. von Lippe filled the chair of materia medica in the Homoeopathic College of Pennsylvania from 1863 to 1868 .
In 1844 they organized the American Institute of Homeopathy, which became America’s first national medical society. In response to the growth of homeopaths, in 1846 an opposing medical group formed, which then vowed to slow the development of homeopathy. This organization called itself the AMA or American Medical Association.
Shortly after the formation of the AMA it was decided to eliminate all the local medical societies of physicians who were homeopaths.
In 1848, the Homeopathic College of Pennsylvania was established by Constantine Hering, Jacob Jeanes and Walter Williamson, to provide training in what was then an emerging system of medicine called homeopathy. In 1869, the Homeopathic College was renamed in honor of Samuel Hahnemann, one of the pioneers of homeopathic medicine, as Hahnemann Medical College. In 1982, Hahnemann Medical College gained university status as Hahnemann University. In 2002, the Drexel University board of trustees voted unanimously in favor of merging Hahnemann University into Drexel .
In 1849, the AMA established a board to analyze quack remedies and nostrums and to enlighten the public about the nature and dangers of such remedies.
In 1855, the AMA put into effect a “consultation clause” in their code of ethics which spelled out that orthodox physicians would lose their membership in the AMA if they even only consulted with a homeopath or any other “unorthodox” practitioner. This of course meant that if a physician lost membership in the AMA, that in some states he no longer had a license to practice medicine. The AMA did everything possible to eradicate homeopaths from the practice of medicine, and the effects of these actions are still felt today.
1875 marked the year Michigan legislature voted to give money to a new hospital as long two homeopathic professors were allowed to teach at the University of Michigan.
In a 1890 Harpers Magazine article Mark Twain mentioned the great value of homeopathy: “The introduction of homeopathy forced the old school doctor to stir around and learn something of a rational nature about his business. Good old Mark also proclaimed “that you may honestly feel grateful that the homeopath survived attempts of the allopathists to destroy it.”
By the early 1900s, there were 22 homeopathic medical schools, more than 100 homeopathic hospitals, over 60 orphan asylums and old people’s homes and more than 1,000 homeopathic pharmacies in the United States.
In 1910, the Carnegie Foundation issued the infamous Flexner Report, an evaluation of American medical schools headed by Mr. Abraham Flexner and of course in cooperation with leading members of the AMA. While pretending to at least be somewhat objective, Flexner in his report established guidelines to endorse orthodox medical schools and condemn homeopathic ones. The report gave the most credits to medical schools with a full time teaching faculty and institutions that taught a pathological and physiochemical analysis of the human body. Homeopathic colleges did not get as high credits because there preference of employing professors who were not only teachers or researchers but also in clinical practice. Even though homeopathic schools included many basic science courses, they offered courses in pharmacology, which the Flexner report found to be a waist of time.
By 1906, the AMA’s Council on Medical Education had created a list of unacceptable schools that in 1910, and closed hundreds of private medical and homeopathic schools and named Johns Hopkins as the model school. As you might have guessed, homeopathic colleges, in general, were given poorer ratings by Mr. Flexner’s report. One of the implications of the report was that only graduates of schools that received a high rating were permitted to take the medical licensing exams. In 1900 there were 22 homeopathic colleges, by 1923 only two remained.
Between 1930 and 1975 it seemed that the AMA’s oppression of homeopathy was complete. By 1950 all homeopathic colleges in the U.S were either closed or ceased to teach homeopathy. There were only 50 to 150 practicing homeopaths in the country, and most of them were over 50 years old.
A chiropractor, Dr. John Bartholomew Bastyr, N.D., D.C (1912-1995), was a third-generation homeopath from Dr. Adolph von Lippe. His teacher was Dr. C. P. Bryant (who had been, in 1939, president of the International Hahnemannian Association). C. P. Bryant had been taught by Walter Bushrod James who had been one of Lippe’s closest students. He received doctorate degrees in naturopathy and chiropractic from Northwest Drugless Institute and Seattle Chiropractic College, respectively. He became licensed to practice naturopathic medicine in 1936. He is also credited with being the Father of Modern Naturopathic Medicine. Because of Bastyr’s influence naturopaths have been at the forefront of the rebirth of homeopathy in this country. He made sure that homeopathy shared equal emphasis with nutrition, hydrotherapy and botanical medicine in naturopathic education. Dr. Bastyr considered manipulation the most important therapy in his practice.
“Bastyr’s conversion to homeopathy was an important move for the modern naturopathic profession. Homeopathy had been part of naturopathic medicine for decades, but its role had been much more peripheral. The majority of practitioners had not received such intensive, classical instruction as Bastyr. In the 1950’s when Bastyr became involved in establishing and teaching a naturopathic curriculum at the National College of Naturopathic Medicine in Portland, his balanced emphasis of homeopathy as a therapeutic modality coequal with nutrition, hydrotherapy and botanical medicine assured its place in the ongoing development of naturopathic science.”
-Kirshfeld and Boyle, Nature Doctors, Buckeye Naturopathic Press, 1994
Naturopathy, which combined nature cure with homeopathy, massage, spinal manipulation, and therapeutic electricity, was developed in America largely through the work of Benedict Lust (pronounced loost; 1872-1945). From 1900-1938, naturopathic medicine flourished in America. Interest then declined, due to the emergence of “miracle medicine,” surgical advances during WWII, and the growing political sophistication of the American Medical Association (AMA). Chiropractic and naturopathy were taught together until about 1955 when the National Chiropractic Association stopped granting accreditation to schools that also taught naturopathy. In 1956, doctors founded the National College of Naturopathic Medicine in an attempt to keep the profession alive.
Dr. John Bastyr served as executive director. A chiropractor, naturopath and obstetrician, he began his practice in Seattle in the depths of the Great Depression; Bastyr was so revered as a physician and teacher that the Naturopathic College in Seattle was named in his honor. The key to Bastyr’s legendary clinical successes lay in his basic philosophy. In a 1985 interview, asked to distinguish between naturopathy and conventional medicine, he said, “The basic difference is that in naturopathy it’s not the doctor who does the curing, it’s the patient.”
In 1978, after twenty years with only one legitimate college graduating naturopathic physicians (National College of Naturopathic Medicine in Portland, OR), the first new naturopathic medical school, Bastyr University, was opened in Seattle, WA. In 1987, Bastyr University became the first naturopathic college to become accredited by the Council on Naturopathic Medical Education, which is the federally recognized accrediting agency for naturopathic medical colleges.
There are four recognized naturopathic medical colleges in the United States today: Bastyr University, National College of Naturopathic Medicine, Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine & Health Sciences, and University of Bridgeport College of Naturopathic Medicine. There is also one in Canada, the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine. Naturopathic medical training begins with a conventional premedical education. The student progresses to a four-year, scientificallybased medical school program. The first two years concentrate on standard medical school sciences such as anatomy, physiology, chemistry, etc. The second two years are oriented toward the clinical sciences, diagnosis and treatment. Standard medical techniques are taught along with mainstay naturopathic medical therapies. The end product of a naturopathic medical school program is a well-rounded family care physician that specializes in such therapies as: nutrition, botanical medicines, and homeopathy.
The Council on Homeopathic Education is the only organization that accredits training programs in classical homeopathy. To date, it has accredited five institutions: Bastyr University of Natural Health Sciences in Seattle; College of Naturopathic Medicine in Canada, Hahnemann Medical Clinic in Albany, California; the National College of Naturopathic Medicine in Portland, and the International Foundation for Homeopathy, also in Seattle. Notice that three of those are actually naturopathic schools fonded by chiropractors.
Brian Inglis (1916-1993), a distinguished British historian, commentator, and author of a two-volume work, The History Of Medicine, has declared: “the rise of Chiropractic…has been one of the most remarkable social phenomena in American History…yet it has gone virtually unexplored” (Inglis, THE CASE FOR UNORTHODOX MEDICINE, 1965). He was, at the time, unaware of the profound influence chiropractic would have on modern alternative medicine (CAM) as we know today.
Not only did chiropractic saved both the naturopathic and homeopathic professions from extinction in the United States, but it also brougth solid academic grounds for their development towards well recognized health sciences.