Since its inception 200 years ago, homeopathy has attracted support from European royalty, the educated elite, and leading artists. It was thus no surprise that the most expensive painting ever sold was that of a portrait of a homeopathic physician, Dr. Gachet, drawn by her personal friend and patient, Vincent Van Gogh. Although homeopaths use exceedingly small doses of medicines, it seems that people greatly value portraits of them. In this case, the portrait of Dr. Gachet sold for $82.5 million.1
Homeopathy is considerably more popular abroad than it is in the United States. Homeopathy’s popularity in Europe and Asia is particularly impressive.
The Explosion of Homeopathy in Europe
According to recent surveys in France, an astounding 40% of the French public have used homeopathic medicines, and 39% of French physicians have prescribed them.2 At least six French medical schools offer courses leading to a degree in homeopathy, and homeopathy is taught in all pharmacy schools and in four veterinary schools.3
In a prominent French news magazine President Francois Mitterand and six medical school deans called for more research on homeopathy, and the author of this article editorialized, “It is a fact that homeopathy obtains results, sometimes spectacular results.”4
One further bit of evidence for the growing acceptance of homeopathic medicines as a household items in France is that the most popular cold and flu medicine is not Contact or any other conventional drug; it is a homeopathic remedy.5
Homeopathy is not as popular in England as it is in France, but according to an article in the British Medical Journal, 42% of British physicians surveyed refer patients to homeopathic physicians.6 Another survey of British physicians discovered that 80% of recent graduates wanted training in either homeopathy, acupuncture, or hypnosis.7
The Scots hate to be overshadowed by the English, and this is true in homeopathy too. According to The Times of London, homeopathy is now the fastest growing alternative therapy in Scotland. The number of Scots who have used homeopathic medicines have more than doubled from 1985 to 1990, increasing from 5% to 11%. Similarly, in 1985 23% of those Scots interviewed in 1985 said they would “seriously consider” going to a homeopath, and in 1990 this figure grew to 40%.8
Homeopathic medicine is very popular in Germany as well. One respected author estimated that 20% of German physicians use homeopathic medicines occasionally.9 At present, the most popular hay fever remedy in Germany is a homeopathic medicine, and other homeopathic medicines for the common cold, sore throats, and circulatory problems are in the top ten of their respective categories.10
To further aid the growth of homeopathy, the late President of Germany, Karl Karstens, and his wife, Dr. Veronica Carstens, who is a medical doctor and a homeopathic physician, recently started a homeopathic research foundation.11 Numerous new research efforts in Germany and throughout Europe have begun in the past couple of years.
It is also interesting to note that homeopathy is gaining such respect in medical and business circles that one of the leading German homeopathic manufacturers is owned by the same company that owns the BMW car company.
In addition to homeopathy’s popularity in France, England, Scotland, and Germany, it is also very popular in The Netherlands, Belgium, Austria, and Greece.
Homeopathy Goes Mainstream in India
Despite homeopathy’s impressive popularity in Europe, it is even more popular in India. Presently, there are over 100,000 homeopathic doctors and over 100 four- and five-year homeopathic medical colleges in this country. Considering how many more trained homeopaths there are in India compared with the U.S., perhaps one day India will send a Peace Corps team of homeopathic physicians to America.
Homeopathy has achieved such respect that in 1987 the government established homeopathic drug detox clinics in six different police stations in New Delhi. A recent conference in India which described impressive results in the homeopathic treatment of drug addiction received accolades from India’s Minister of Health and Family Welfare, the Finance Minister, and the Chief Justice.12 In addition to the Indian government’s support of homeopathic drug detox clinics, they have also supported various research projects and homeopathic hospitals and clinics.
Even Mother Teresa, who for many decades has served India’s poorest citizens with medical care, has added homeopathic care to the services offered at her missions. Mother Teresa has a special interest in homeopathic medicine because of its effectiveness and low cost.
At present, four charitable homeopathic dispensories are run under the guidance of the Mother’s Missionaries of Charity. One of these dispensories primarily provides homeopathic medicines to poor and sick children in Calcutta, while the other three provide homeopathic medicines to anyone who needs them. Considering the serious health problems that poor people in India experience, it is truly miraculous that homeopathic medicines are so effective as the primary method of treatment for many children and many adults.
Mother Teresa opened her first charitable homeopathic dispensory in Calcutta in 1950. She is known to prescribe homeopathic medicines herself sometimes.
Dr. (Sister) M. Gomes, a physician who has worked at the Mother’s Mission in Calcutta since 1945, notes that one of the obstacles to the spread of homeopathy in the Mother’s work is inadequate funding for homeopathic hospitals.
Homeopathic Peristroika in the Soviet Union 13
Homeopathy is even relatively popular in the Soviet Union. Although there are only about 500 homeopathic physicians, they are popular enough that most of them charge for their services. Since most Russians receive free conventional medical care, it is indeed a tribute to homeopathy that a growing number of Russian citizens are paying for homeopathic care.
Because Russian homeopaths charge for their services, they have become part of the new entrepreneurial “peristroika” that is presently occurring.
Even Izvestia recently published a series of articles on homeopathy in which they reported that a homeopathic clinic established for factory workers in 1984 resulted in a 10.1% decrease in days lost due to sickness. The series of articles concluded with an editorial that advocated further support for it from the Ministry of Health.
As a further sign of homeopathy’s growing acceptance, President Gorbachev awarded a medal to Dr. Demyan Popov for his work in popularizing homeopathy in the USSR.
Homeopathy is also relatively popular throughout South America, especially in Brazil and Argentina. Homeopathy has become a bit of a legend in Argentina because its greatest hero in the 19th century, General San Martin, was known to carry a homeopathic medicine kit when he travelled.
Homeopathy is also quite popular in Mexico there are five homeopathic medical colleges, including two in Mexico City.
Homeopathy in America
At the turn of the century there were over 20 homeopathic medical schools in America, including Boston University, University of Michigan, University of Minnesota, and Hahnemann College in Philadelphia. There were also over 100 homeopathic hospitals and over 1,000 homeopathic pharmacies. In 1900 homeopathy was more popular in America than anywhere else in the world.14
However, as the result of a concerted effort by the American Medical Association and the drug companies, homeopathy went into a sharp decline. By the 1950s there were less than 200 homeopathic physicians.
Although homeopathy in America is presently lagging behind the rest of the world, Americans hate being second to anybody. Lucky for us all, homeopathy is growing at an extraordinary rate. According to the F.D.A., sales of homeopathic medicines grew by 1,000% from the late 1970s to the early 1980s.15 According to the Washington Post, the number of physicians in the United States who specialize in homeopathy doubled from 1980 to 1982.16
In the past two years homeopathy has received more media coverage than it has in the past 50 years. More research on homeopathy has also stimulated its growth, and more and more new books have been published that have updated old homeopathic knowledge.
Homeopathy may be more popular in other countries, but because America is just waking up to homeopathy’s impressive healing potential, we can all expect a tremendous resurgence of this marvelous healing art and science.
1Suzanne Muchnic, “Van Gogh Painting Sells at Record $82.5 Million,” Los Angeles Times, May 16, 1990.
2F. Bouchayer, “Alternative Medicines: A General Approach to the French Situation,” Complementary Medical Research, May, 1990, 4(2)4-8.
3Poll I.F.O.P., February, 1989.
4“Medecines douches: La revanche de l’homeopathie,” Le Nouvel Observateur, April 12, 1985, 36-41.
5“Herbal and Homoeopathic Remedies: Enhanced Status for Alternative Medicines,” OTC News and Market Report, July, 1990.
6Richard Wharton and George Lewith, “Complementary Medicine and the General Practitioner,” British Medicine Journal, 292, June 7, 1986, 1498-1500.
7David Taylor Reilly, “Young Doctors’ Views on Alternative Medicine,” British Medical Journal, 287, July 30, 1983, 337-339.
8“Take a Little of What Ails You,” The Times, November 13, 1989.
9Lynn Payer, Medicine and Culture, New York: Holt, 1988.
10“Herbal and Homoeopathic Remedies.”
11Berlin Journal on Research in Homoeopathy, Universitatsklinikum Steglitz, 1000 Berlin, Germany.
12“National Congress on Homoeopathy and Drug Abuse,” New Delhi, India, Sponsored by the Foundation for Medical Research and Education and the Dehli Police Foundation for Correction, Deaddiction and Rehabilitation, March 16-18, 1990.
13“A First for Homoeopathy in USSR,” Homoeopathy Today, Winter, 1987-88, 17-20. Also, a personal report from Yuri Sidorenko.
14Dana Ullman, Homeopathy: Medicine for the 21st Century, Berkeley: North Atlantic Books, 1988.
15“Riding the Coattails of Homeopathy,” FDA Consumer, March, 1985, 31.
16Ann Chase, “Options: Homeopathy,” Washington Post, April 28, 1983, 31.
How do I Learn More About Homeopathy?
The best source of homeopathic books, tapes, home medicine kits, and software is:
Homeopathic Educational Services
2124B Kittredge St.
Berkeley, CA 94704
(510) 649-1955 (fax)