The practice of homeopathic medicine flourished in both Europe and the US during the late 1800s and early 1900s and was spectacularly popular with European royalty and British aristocracy, American entrepreneurs, literary giants, and religious leaders. It is also practised nowadays in countries in South America and is especially popular in India with one hundred (four year) homeopathic medical schools and more than 220,000 homeopathic doctors.
In the United States in the early 1900s there were 22 homeopathic medical schools and over 100 homeopathic hospitals, 60 orphanages and old people’s homes and 1,000+ homeopathic pharmacies. Members of the American Medical Association had great animosity towards homeopathy after its formation in 1847 and it was decided to purge all local medical societies of physicians who were homeopaths. This purge was successful in every state except Massachusetts because homoepathy was so strong among the elite of Boston.
The AMA wanted to keep homoepaths out of their societies and discourage any type of association with homeopaths. In 1855 the AMA established a code of ethics which stated that orthodox physicians would lose their membership if they even consulted with a homeopath. If a physician lost his membership, it meant that in some States he no longer had a licence to practice medicine.
Drug companies were antagonistic towards homeopathy, collectively trying to suppress it. The medical journals they published were used as mouthpieces against homeopathy and in support of orthodox medicine.
At an AMA meeting, a respected orthodox physician said: ‘We must admit that we never fought the homeopath on matters of principles; we fought him because he came into the community and got the business.’ Economic issues played a major role in what was allowed to be practised.
Homeopathy attracted support from many of the most respected members of society in the US, such as William James, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Louisa M. Alcott, Mark Twain and in Britain among its supporters were Charles Dickens, W.B. Yeats, William Thackarey, Benjamin Disraeli, Yehudi Menuhin. Other famous supporters were Dostoevsky, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and Mahatma Ghandi.
The aristocratic patronage of homeopathy in the UK extending well into the 1940’s and beyond can be easily demonstrated. In the Homeopathic Medical Directories there are lists of patrons of the dispensaries and hospitals. They read like an extract from Burkes or Debretts.
John D. Rockefeller referred to it as ‘a progressive and aggressive step in medicine’ and was under homeopathic care throughout the latter part of his life living to 99 years of age. A strong advocate of homeopathy, major grants of between $300-$400 million he intended for homeopathic institutions were instead used for orthodox medical institutions in the early 1900s, under pressure from his son and his financial advisor, Frederick Gates.