Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Why Homeopathy Isn't Widespread in the United States

I've recently completed a 16-hour beginning homeopathy class, and am eager to share the knowledge I've gained. This post is the first in a series on homeopathy basics. 
Homeopathy is a system of medicine that is fundamentally different from conventional (allopathic) medicine.  Whereas allopathic medicine focuses on suppression of symptoms, homeopathy seeks to correct the underlying imbalance that caused the symptoms in the first place. Homeopathy achieves this by strengthening the body's own defenses, thereby allowing the body to heal itself.

Homeopathy Used to Be Well-Known in the United States

In the 1800's, homeopathy was much more well-known here in the United States than it is now. According to Homeopathic Medicine at Home,

In 1890, there were 14,000 homeopaths as compared to 100,000 conventional physicians. In some areas -- New England, the Middle Atlantic States, and the Midwest-- one out of every four or five physicians was a homeopath. There were twenty-two homeopathic medical schools and over a hundred homeopathic hospitals.

The allopathic medicine establishment took strong measures to suppress homeopathy as a form of medicine.

The American Medical Association was formed in 1846 as a direct response to the founding of the American Institute of Homeopathy two years earlier. Homeopaths were denied admittance to standard medical societies. A member of such a society who consulted with a homeopath was punished with ostracism and expulsion. (In 1878, a physician was expelled from a medical society in Connecticut for consulting with a homeopath -- his wife!)

The AMA and the pharmaceutical industry paired up against homeopathy, eventually buying the homeopathic medical schools and hospitals. Once these homeopathic institutions were bought, they were converted into allopathic institutions such as New York Medical College and Marshall Hale Hospital. That of course led to a complete decline in homeopathy in the United States in the early 1900's. 

Use of Homeopathy is Widespread in Other Parts of the World
While homeopathy was nearly eradicated in the United States, it's use continued to proliferate in other parts of the world.  Currently, one-in-two doctors in India are homeopaths. Homeopathy is used extensively throughout Europe, and there are homeopathic hospitals and pharmacies in nearly every major city. According to a Homeopathic Medicine: Europe's #1 Alternative for Doctors,

(I)n France...[homeopathy] is the leading alternative therapy. In 1982, 16 percent of the population used homeopathic medicine, rising to 29 percent in 1987, and to 36 percent in 1992 (8). In 2004, 62 percent of French mothers used homeopathic medicines in the previous 12 months. A survey of French pharmacists was conducted in 2004 and found that an astounding 94.5 percent reported advising pregnant women to use homeopathic medicines...

...17 percent of the British population use homeopathic medicines. The respect accorded homeopathy and homeopathic practice by British physicians is evidenced by a 1986 survey in the British Medical Journal that showed that 42 percent of physicians referred patients to homeopathic doctors.

Good Enough for the British Royal Family
According to The Homeopathic Revolution: Why Famous People and Cultural Heroes Choose Homeopathy, the British royal family has used and advocated homeopathy since the early 1800's and they still use homeopathy today. There are also many other famous people who use homeopathy, including:
  • literary greats such as Louisa May Alcott, Charles Dickens, and Alfred Tennyson,
  • sports stars such as David Beckham, Martina Navratilova, and Elvis Stojko,
  • celebrities such as Catherine Zeta-Jones, Jennifer Aniston, and Ashley Judd, and
  • politicians and peacemakers such as Mahatma Gandhi, Benjamin Disraeli, and U.S. Presidents Lincoln, Tyler, Hayes, Garfield, Arthur, Harrison, McKinley, Harding, Coolidge, Hoover, and Clinton. 

Have you tried homeopathy? 


Jen said...

Just used a homeopathic remedy for my daughter's cough this morning, and I had great success with treating my son's seasonal allergies with homeopathy this past Spring. Now, if I can just find a remedy for another son's eczema, I'll be delighted! I'd love to learn more! Thanks for the post! :)

Dr. Victoria Snelling said...

I've been a practicing Classical Homeopath for the past 25 years and my work has been so very rewarding for me. Thanks so much for posting this article!

shend said...

Great information!!! the AMA went after them, like they did the DO (who caved) and the chiropractor (didn't work since they sued and won.) . The president of the AMA in 1901 said they didn't go after the homeopath on principle, but that they came after them because they came in this country and got the money. Yes, they were curing diseases like small pox. You bet!! They told the Homeopathic doctors to go back to being regular MD's or leave the country.

I have had two Homeopathic doctors in this country and had to look outside this country to find one that helped me. I couldn't be more pleased with the results.

Shamilton said...

I have never used anything but Homeopathy and Chiropractic adjustments (and Weston-Price, GAPS like diet) on my children now 10 and 13, and hope never to. Homeopathy has been particularly helpful in "acute" situations for us. We are still working to resolve our intestinal issues (mine and the children), which are plentiful, but are making progress.

Jill B said...

Awesome! Homeopathy helped our dog tremendously when she had a long-lasting rash after her first puppy vaccinations. The fact that homeopathy works so well in animals is testament to its validity--it can't be explained away by placebo effect. I would love to learn more about using it for my family. Thanks for starting this series!

Sonja said...

I've used homeopathy before with good results.

How do you feel about the extreme dilution of the active substance? It is diluted so much that supposedly there is no more of the active substance left. How does it work?

Sarah Smith said...

Hi Sonja,
Yes, homeopathic remedies are very diluted (and they actually become more powerful the more they are diluted). Once you get to potencies greater than the 24th (which is Avogadro's number), there are no molecules of the original substance left.

I know this is hard to understand, but homeopathy does work (and afterall, there are many things we don't fully understand, but that doesn't stop them from still occurring). Homeopathy works on the quantum (energy) level; the correct remedy is the one that actually matches the body's own energy signature (that's probably not the correct term for it, but that is the way it makes the most sense to me). This is why the wrong remedy will often do nothing at all, but the right remedy will work wonders.

A constitutional (long-term) problem will be healed by finding the remedy that matches person's own base energy level (and this is something that really has to be done by a professional homeopath as finding the correct constitutional remedy is a rather intricate process). For acute illnesses (such as colds, flus, scrapes, etc), the correct remedy will match the body's energy signature that corresponds to the illness. Identifying the correct remedy for an acute illness is much more simple and can be done even by people with little or no training (but plenty of willingness to spend some time researching through a few books).

Brooke said...

Herbal medicine was also as popular at the same time period and fell victim to the Flexnor report. I study medicinal herbalism. One of the teachers I like, Matthew Wood uses small drop dosing based on homeopathy.

Sumayah said...

I'd like to do some homeopathy courses online to be able to use it for my family. Do you know of any?

Sarah Smith said...

This is the only online homeopathic training I know of (I haven't tried it):

The beginner's class I just took was $200, and Alan Saxon traveled here to where I live to teach it. We just had to have a total of 5-6 students paying $200 each (depending on how much airfare is to where you live). It was an amazing class.

LPJohnson said...

My childhood doctor was an MD that also used homeopathy. He immigrated from Germany, smelled of raw garlic & vinegar, treated us with UV lamps in the winter and doctor's orders included eating liver at least once a week, as well as delivering babies at people's homes. Oh, the country doctor of yesterday...

Michele said...

The premise of homeopathy is no different than any other energy-based healing modality, which is that certain energy signatures or movements can repair/impair or correct/disrupt energy flows, which seemingly affects physical manifestation organized as form. Acupuncture, qi gong, reiki, and color/light therapies are other examples. For years after a near-fatal injury I visited many energy healers practicing all of these types of energy modalities. The mystery behind how they work is nothing like what is thought.

Take another step back from "quantum energy mechanics" and consider the bigger picture. We are realizing that life is absolutely nothing like what we believe it to be. NOVA recently ran a special called The Fabric of the Cosmos revealing very interesting perspectives. All is inter-related.

row row row your boat ... xox

Soli said...

Homeopathy is something I do want to learn in more details. I've had a few instances of using homeopathic remedies this year, most notably calendula after a bad cut for which I probably should have gotten glue. One week after a deep cut from a sharp knife, and there was NO sign. No scar either.

Anonymous said...

I like a lot of your website but this turned me off a bit.

here is my opinion eloquently written by mark sisson, a huge primal advocate.

Sarah Smith said...

I've seen Mark's opinion on homeopathy before, back when I was first starting GAPS a couple years ago. At the time I read it, I didn't know any reason to disagree with him. However, in the last year and a half, I have learned much more, and I think he is wrong.

It is true that homeopathic remedies are very diluted, and that they work on a different plane than allopathic medicines. (Homeopathic medicines work on the energy of the body, which acupuncture does as well.) But after having used homeopathic medicines, studied how they worked, and having seen their amazing results, I know that homeopathy does work. Not only does it work, but it works better than any other form of medicine we've ever tried (conventional allopathic, acupuncture, nutrition, GAPS, etc).

The argument that it must be a placebo effect is not a valid one, because homeopathic medicines work on animals as well as humans (there would be no placebo effect with animals). Additionally, homeopathic medicines can sometimes cause negative reactions (called aggravations), and negative reactions are not part of a placebo effect. If you are interested in learning more about how homeopathy actually works, I would recommend The Science of Homeopathy by George Vithoulkas. If not, that's fine too. To each his own.

Tamara Kajari said...

Dear Sarah,

I've stumbled upon your pin on the Homeopathic Remedies pinboard and am so glad I followed your link here. I have two girls, 10 and 14 years old and homeopathy is like another member of our family :) For years we've been using benefits of the clinical homeopathy but the real surprise and success came with the classical one. None of us had any serious health issues but the long term benefit of having the right "constitutional" remedy is hard to describe. I'm sure you know what I'm talking about. Some of my (our) personal experiences are described in my article on but I'm planing on sharing more of my humble knowledge on homeopathy. Thank you for this blog and I hope to find more time to read all your articles. In the meantime I wish the so called modern and developed world will do much more effort in embracing homeopathy in stead of supporting the big pharma. With best regards,

Tamara Kajari

Sarah Smith said...

Hi Tamara,
Yes, as you said, the benefits from constitutional remedies are hard to describe. You almost have to see it to believe it. Since starting her constitutional remedy, my daughter is less emotional (she used to cry at the drop of a hat), more even-tempered, sick much less often, eating better, and the list goes on and on. It is hard to believe that a homeopathic remedy could make such a difference, because they work so differently than conventional (allopathic) medicines. We are also seeing amazing results with our son in his constitutional treatment.

Welcome to this site!

Tara said...

Hi Sarah, Can you suggest a good way to locate a homeopath? I have been growing increasingly interested in homeopathy, having experienced only a bit of it here and there, but would like to learn and experience more of the benefits, such as constitutional remedies and so forth. But I don't know how to find a competent homeopath; I don't really know what I'm looking for, to know that the person is qualified, skilled, etc.
Thanks for any help you can offer!

Anonymous said...

An 18th Century midwife's diary changed my life. Martha Ballard delivered 800+ babies in her lifetime (the last one the month she died, age 75, rode a horse) and lost only ONE mother! And that was during a scarlet fever epidemic. This diary presents a picture of "social medicine," where the community provides care through a network of neighbors. The midwife is the major "professional" caregiver, assisted by women who act as nurses, dressing wounds, administering medicines, etc. Another level of care is provided by neighbors who are "sitters," spending the day/night at the bedside of the one who is ill. A doctor at that time had an additional profession -- storekeep, judge, farmer -- and was only called in when all else had failed.
Martha's diary covered not only her midwife's duties, but also her homemaking, which including gardening and cooking duties.
I became convinced that we are destined to go "back to the future," and now I'm studying Natural Living in depth and have upended my diet. I intend to start bartering for eggs and whatever else I can find amongst my friends and have plans for my minifarm.
Off I go to have my morning cordial of Astragulus and prune juice!
Thanks for the post and comments. I'm PINNING!
Abby in Ohio

Vera Volfson said...

Hi Sarah,
There is a certification body called Council for Homeopathic Certification (CHC) that certifies classical homeopaths in Canada and North America. The website is
When you get certified, you can put letters CCH (Certified Classical Homeopath) after your name.
To find a list of homeopathic practitioners go to the National Center for Homeopathy
and search for practitioners in your area that have CCH after their name. If the practitioner is also ND the letters you look for should be DHNAP (Homeopathic Academy of Naturopathic Physicians) To receive that title the same requirements apply as for CCH (CHC does the certification for both)
Many homeopathic practitioners work remotely, phone, skype, email.
I hope that was helpful.
Vera Volfson, CCH