Homeopathy is an effective natural system of health care that uses remedies comprised of micro-doses of substances.These remedies work by stimulating the natural ability of the body and mind to heal.It was discovered almost 200 years ago by a German physician, Samuel Hahnemann, and since that time has been effectively usedin Europe for the treatment of acute and chronic diseases.Interest in homeopathy began to grow in the United States in 1825 and this completely non-toxic system of health care became extremely popular because of its effectiveness in treating the various epidemic diseases of the time.Homeopathic medical schools and hospitals appeared all over the country and the results of treatment with homeopathy was so impressive that life insurance companies offered a discount to homeopathic patients.
This natural health care system was not only generally popular, it also drew the respect of many of our most illustrious Americans. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, William Cullen Bryant,Louisa May Alcott, Mark Twain and Harriet Beecher Stowe were all supporters of homeopathy.
By 1840 homeopathy was being used all over the United States and in 1844 homeopaths founded the first medical organization in this country, the American Institute for Homeopathy.There were 99 homeopathic physicians in the state of New Jersey in 1860.That is one homeopathic physician for every 6800 persons. What happened?
In 1846, an organization was formed by non-homeopathic (allopathic) physicians.This organization was the American Medical Association and one of its goals was to combat homeopathy and other natural healing modalities.They denied membership and consequently the ability to practice medicine to any doctor who even associated with a homeopath.One of the reasons that homeopathy was such a threat to them was that the homeopathic doctors of the day were trained physicians who were following a consistent philosophy of medicine.Another was because homeopaths were sharply critical of allopathic treatment, which they saw as simply suppressing symptoms and depleting health in general.But the true reason may simply have been financial.In a 1903 meeting of the AMA one respected allopathic physician admitted that they never fought homeopaths because of their principles, they fought them because they moved in and got the business.The AMA continued its onslaught against homeopathy up until the beginning of the twentieth century when most of the homeopathic medical schools were closed down or had deteriorated to the point where it was almost impossible to get an adequate education in homeopathy.
The decline of homeopathy
In spite of the efforts of the AMA, homeopathy still existed in the United States in the 1920's and 30's.Mark Twain wrote that "you may honestly feel grateful that homeopathy survived the attempts of the allopathists to destroy it."But two other factors completed what the AMA had failed to do.One was the discovery of sulpha drugs.These were considered to be the "magic bullet".And, indeed, they were extremely effective in a time when most diseases were acute infections that hadn't been exposed to any form of antibiotic treatment.Sulpha drugs quickly became the treatment of choice of both doctors and their patients.They were easy to use and acted quickly.No one considered the possibility of there being any harm in their use.Well, hardly any one.Several decades before this, James Tyler Kent, the great American homeopath, warned his students about this type of treatment.He said that if we insist on treating every superficial symptom without consideration for the whole person, symptoms will move deeper and deeper into the body, causing more chronic diseases until mankind will become so diseased that he will disappear from the face of the earth.
The final blow to homeopathy came with our increased infatuation with technology.We as a country fell in love with machines and with specialization.This changed our consciousness.People began to think of their bodies as machines with interchangeable parts and consulted physicians who were trained in medical specialties emphasizing one part or one system of the body.We even looked at our planet as being made up of unrelated parts.Toxic waste was dumped just far away enough from where we lived with no thought that it would cause any harm to people, animals, or the environment.The concept of the inter-relatedness of everything was completely disregarded and,with this change in consciousness, homeopathy, with its holistic philosophy, fell out of favor.
The rebirth of homeopathy
We are now experiencing the results of this small minded attitude. The toxic waste that was dumped into landfills far away from where we live is reaching us through underground waterways.Our diseases are becoming more chronic and more devastating - just as Kent predicted they would.These problems have created the need for a different way of looking at health and disease. With this, homeopathy and its consideration of the health of the whole person, is coming back into favor. More people are studying homeopathy for self-health care and younger physicians are beginning to study and practice homeopathy.
The future of homeopathy
Homeopathy works by stimulating the immune system, allowing the body to throw off disease naturally.This is especially important because many of our present diseases are caused by immune deficiency and many viruses have become resistant to antibiotic treatment.
This completely non-toxic system considers the whole person, mind, body, and emotions.It doesn't separate one from the other.Because of this, it can treat problems that defy standard medical treatment.It can also be used preventatively, to raise the level of health of an individual and make him/her less susceptible to disease.Finally, with the cost of health care going sky high, homeopathic treatment is very inexpensive, costing a just few pennies to treat most acute illnesses.
It is clear that there is a need for homeopathy now, and in the future.Some have called homeopathy the medicine of the twenty-first century.One thing is sure:those who have taken the time to study it and use it have found homeopathy to be an excellent system of health care with no side effects.Mahatma Ghandi has said " Homeopathy cures a larger percentage of cases than any other method of treatment and is beyond all doubt more economical.It is the most complete of medical sciences."
For further reading on the history of homeopathy I suggest Discovering Homeopathy by Dana Ullman for a concise history and Divided Legacy- The Conflict Between Homeopathy and the American Medical Association by Harris L. Coulter for a more in depth study.