The Founder of Homeopathy
Homeopathy's roots emerge from the findings, teachings and writings of Dr. Samuel Hahnemann (1755-1843). Hahnemann graduated from medical school in 1779 and started his own medical practice. He soon began his first homeopathic experiments in 1790, as a result of his disillusionment with such common medical practices of the day as purging, bloodletting, and the use of toxic chemicals. At one point, he gave up his own daily practice to begin working as a chemist while translating medical texts. It was when Hahnemann began working on a project to translate William Cullen's Materia Medica into German that he began his quest for a better way of providing healthcare using the principles of "Similars." While working on this project, he became fascinated with a species of South American tree-bark (cinchona) which was being used to treat malaria-induced fever. Hahnemann ingested the bark and discovered that it caused symptoms similar to malaria. He continued his research into "cures" and the idea of "similar suffering," and began compiling his findings. Similia similibus curentur, the Latin phrase meaning "let likes be cured by likes," is the primary principle of homeopathy. A homeopath searches for a substance that produces in a healthy person those same symptoms a patient experiences.
The First U.S. Homeopathic School
Students of Hahnemann founded the first homeopathic medical school in the United States in the late 1800’s. It gained recognition because of its success in treating the many disease epidemics rampant at the time — including scarlet fever, typhoid, cholera and yellow fever.
The school’s method of treatment became very popular in the early 1900’s. At that time, there were 22 homeopathic medical schools, 100 homeopathic hospitals and over 1,000 homeopathic pharmacies. Boston University, Stanford University and New York Medical College were among those educational institutions that were teaching homeopathy. However, it was not long after this period of time (in the early 1920’s) that many of the schools closed — mostly due to the decline of homeopathy’s popularity which was greatly effected by the American Medical Association. This was also around the time when modern drug companies began releasing drugs that were easy to administer to patients, a trend that also contributed to the decline of homeopathy.
The Homeopathic Resurgence
Although the United States experienced a dwindling interest in homeopathy in the 20th century, other nations, including countries in Europe and Asia, were experiencing a steady growth of homeopathic teachings and interest.
Today, nearly all French pharmacies sell homeopathic remedies and medicines; and homeopathy has a particularly strong following in Russia, India, Switzerland, Mexico, Germany, Netherlands, Italy, England, and South America.
Homeopathy is also rising again in the United States. This resurgence has been documented by the National Center for Homeopathy in Virginia, which stated that Americans spent 230 million dollars on homeopathic remedies in 1996. It has also been said that sales are rising rapidly at about 12 – 15% each year.
Doctors, scientists, researchers, corporations and the general public are all responsible for the accelerated expansion in the interest of homeopathic products, research and educational initiatives.
Homeopathic Training in the U.S.
A homeopath must undertake many years of study and clinical experience. Homeopaths can be medical doctors, and in the United States, many homeopaths are also chiropractors, naturopaths, osteopaths, nurse practitioners, dentists and veterinarians.
Many training programs exist in North America today. See our directory for a list of homeopathic schools, organizations and other providers. The National Center for Homeopathy (NCH), in Alexandria, Virginia, can provide an updated list of new and developing programs in the United States.
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