Homeopathy in Brazil

Homeopathy in Brazil

In about 1810, Jose Bonifacio de Andrada e Silva, a politician and a student of natural science and mineralogy, knew about homeopathy through an exchange of letters with Hahnemann.

Dr. Antonio Ferreira Franca used homeopathy in Bahia in 1818, but found little support. In 1837, Dr. Duque Estrada learned homeopathy from a student, Frederick Emilius Jahn, who had come from Leipzig to study in Brazil. Although they were both interested in homeopathy as a science, neither took up the practice.

In 1836, the Academia Imperial de Medicina published articles against homeopathy. The formal impetus to establish homeopathy in Brazil came from Benoit Mure, a Frenchman, who came to Brazil on business in 1840. With Vincent Jose Martins (from Lisbon) they founded the Homeopathic Institute of Brazil in 1843. The first Organon in Portuguese was translated by Martins in 1846. The first journal, The Hahnemannista, was published in 1846.

After 1840, homeopathy was widely discussed by the press, and the discussion opened the doors to the works of Jose Martins and other homeopaths. A three-year homeopathic school was founded in Rio in 1845, graduating the first class in 1847, making it the second homeopathic school (after Hering's Allentown Academy [1835-42]) in the world, but the Imperial Government did not allow the graduates clinical practice.

Some years later, after differences between Mure and Dr. Duque Estrada, there was a split resulting in two different institutes: the Instituto Hahnemanniano do Brasil (1859) and the Congregacio Médico-Homeopatica Fluminense. Weakened by the split, they soon ceased operation. In 1847, Benoit Mure returned back to France. In spite of all the problems, homeopathy grew and spread in Brazil.

Many homeopaths, with a little pharmacy in hands, went from city to city, to fight several epidemic or endemic diseases, mainly cholera. During the cholera epidemic in Rio in 1855, 388 cases were treated with homeopathy with a 2% death rate, while the allopathic infirmary had a 40-60% death rate. In 1878, Saturnino de Meirelles and others re-created the old Instituto Homeopatico do Brasil and in 1880, changing the name to Instituto Hahnemanniano do Brazil, (IHB), which still exists.

In 1912, The IHB created the Homeopathic Hospital and the Faculdade Hahnemanniana, that taught homeopathy integrally with medicine. In 1918, the IHB was allowed to graduate homeopathic MDs and pharmacists. In 1924, the name was changed to Escola de Medicina e Cirurgia and in 1932 the National Council for Education ended the homeopathic teaching.

In the 1980s there was a resurgence of homeopathy. The AMHB (Brazilian Homeopathic Medical Association ) and the council of medical specialties of the AMB (Brazilian Medical Association) began to discuss integration of specialties. In Brazil, only MDs, veterinarians and dentists are allowed to prescribe both homeopathic and allopathic drugs. AMHB determined the homeopathy courses have a minimal curriculum and three years duration. It is offered as a postgraduate course for MDs. At the end of the course people have to take a test that AMHB gives each year, and have to pass the test to be registered as a homeopath in the Medicine Federal Council.

Homeopathy is taught in a few universities in different states. In Rio there are now five courses. In the last decade homeopathy has been mostly in the domain of pluralist prescribers. The AMHB has always promoted unicist "classical" homeopathy.

There are about 12,000 homeopaths in Brazil but few of them have the title from AMHB. The country is represented in the LMHI.