The history of homeopathy in the Russian Empire
until World War I, as compared with other European countries and the USA: similarities and discrepancies

by Alexander Kotok, M.D.
On-line version of the Ph.D. thesis improved and enlarged
due to a special grant of the Pierre Schmidt foundation.

2.6 Comparative Aspects: Homeopathy in Europe and the USA during the same period

2.6.1 Britain

Paul F. CURIE (1799—1853)

The first homeopathic body in Britain, known as Homeopathic Association, was established in 1836, headed by Lord Robert Grosvenor. The two most important figures in that association were an influential layman, William Leaf (?1804—1874) and Dr. Paul François Curie (1799—1853). In 1837, the association succeeded in opening a dispensary in Finsbury Circus, whilst in 1842 it raised sufficient funds to establish a homeopathic hospital in Hanover Square in London. Dr. Curie was at the head of the hospital. Having reached its main goal, i.e., opening a homeopathic hospital, the association ceased240.

Dr Frederick Foster Hervey QUIN (1799—1878)

The second in number and first in its importance British homeopathic organization, the British Homeopathic Society (BHS), was established by a prominent homeopathic practitioner and organizer, Dr. Frederick F. H. Quin (1799—1878) in 1844, although since 1834 Quin had planned the opening of a society. Quin was elected to be its chairman and headed the society until his death. Quin's society was strongly oriented to be a professional organization, supported by the well-born clientele of highest rank.

The constitution of the BHS was clearly modelled on those of the Royal College of Physicians [...] and the Royal College of Surgeons [...]. It was to be a hierarchical body with clearly defined categories of membership, the Society being controlled by fellows and officers who were long-standing members and successful practitioners. It was a society which only allowed full membership to qualified practitioners, although, unlike the Colleges, it had no statutory licensing powers241.

In fact, it was Dr. Quin who established first the "homeo-aristocratic" connections and the aristocratic image of homeopathy in Britain later on. Although till very late in the 19th century this image worked well, securing further development and flourishing of homeopathy, it played also a negative role, which is analyzed in the chapter "Allopathy vs. Homeopathy".

Another attempt of establishment of a lay homeopathic body was undertaken by a group of homeopaths lead by Dr. John Epps (1805—1869). The new organization was to propagandize homeopathy among laypeople. The society, founded in 1845 and called the English Homeopathic Association (EHA), proved to be short-lived.

Unlike Quin's society, the EHA was open to both lay and professional membership, and existed for the purpose of advancing homeopathy. The membership fee was low, with the aim of collecting a large number of small donations rather than a few large ones. The committee aimed to publish and distribute, as far as possible without charge, pamphlets about homeopathy, translations of Hahnemann's work and statistics collected in homeopathic dispensaries242.

Nevertheless, the main task of the EHA was to support the hospital at Hanover Square opened by its predecessor, this is to say, the Homeopathic Association. The BHS, in the face of Dr. Quin, strongly criticized the "unprofessional" organization, and finally achieved its split. A group of EHA's members established its own body, the British Homeopathic Association, in 1847. After the London Homeopathic Hospital, for whose establishment the Association was to raise funds, was opened in 1849, the Association was on that year disbanded as completed its mission243.

As to the EHA,

The rival organization continued its existence. The Hanover Square Hospital was closed, instead the new one - Hahnemann Hospital - was instituted in 1850 at 39, Bloomsbury Square. Leaf was among the vice-presidents and Curie again on the staff. In this battle between the two main groups, Leaf and Curie also had successes - when internal conflicts started within BHS, some of its supporters turned to EHA244.

The hospital was closed after Curie's death in 1853, but the EHA remained alive for several more years.

When it disappeared there was no formal patients' organization for the rest of the century. In the provinces groups of patients supported practitioners in their efforts to open and run dispensaries and hospitals245.

In the 1840s homeopathy in Britain had experienced a swift rise.

Apart of Chelsea, Bristol and Manchester dispensaries [...] by 1846 four more had opened in London (North London 1842, East London 1843, Islington 1845 and Pentonville 1846); seven more in the provinces (Liverpool, 1841; Glastonbury, 1843; Northumberland and Newcastle, Brighton, Leeds and Cheltenham, 1844; [...]); one in Edinburgh (1841); and two in Ireland (the Dublin Homoeopathic Institution 1844 and the dispensary of the Irish Homoeopathic Society, 1845 which opened in the same year as the formation of the Society itself). Two other provincial societies were also probably formed in this period - the Cheltenham Homoeopathic Medical Society, and the Northern Homoeopathic Medical Association. Such developments, of course, were partly the consequence of an increase in the number of homeopathic doctors246.

This rise continued in the 1850s:

By 1853, 178 doctors in Britain and Ireland had publicly declared their allegiance to the new school, six veterinary surgeons had done so, 57 dispensaries and three hospitals had been opened, and nine societies formed. In-patients and out-patients at hospitals and dispensaries had numbered in excess of 150,000 by 1852. Fourteen years later, in 1867, the number of self-confessed homeopaths had grown to 251, veterinary surgeons to twelve, and the number of hospitals (five) and dispensaries (59) to 64. Readership for homeopathic literature was sufficient to sustain two quarterly journals and three monthly publications, and practitioners could give their adherence to any of four major medical societies247.

The number of dispensaries continued to increase until approximately 1876. (1857 — 33, 1860 — c.45, 1867 — 64, 1868 — 70, 1870 — 80, 1874 — 117, 1876 — 120). Afterwards there was a drastic decline followed by stagnation: 1880 — 45, 1895 — 39, 1900 — 35, 1909 — 34, 1930 — 25)248.

The number of homeopathic doctors reflected the negative tendencies in British homeopathy at that period:

In 1874, there were under 300 practitioners [...].. Fourteen years later, in 1888, things were much the same, with only 278 doctors listed in The Directory [...] By 1909, numbers had shrunk to 196 [...]249.

Dr William Bayes (1823—1900)

The decline of homeopathy in Britain which became evident in the 1870s, may be well illustrated with the history of the London School of Homeopathy, founded by Dr. William Bayes (1823—1900) and intended to be a teaching center providing homeopathic education after the Hahnemann Homeopathic Hospital ran by the EHA had been closed. "From the very beginning there were small audiences. In 1883, only one attender appeared. In 1884, there were none at all [...]"250.

In 1885, the School amalgamated with the London Homeopathic Hospital.

As to the complete number of homeopathic doctors in the 19th century, "In all, there had probably been no more than 420 declared homeopaths during the whole period"251.

British homeopathy entered the 20th century without great expectations. Nevertheless,

Through stark recognition of the grim facts of decline [...] several notable attempts were made to resuscitate British homeopathy, as its fortunes began to collapse after 1890 [...]. Yet all these efforts failed to revive interest in the therapy amongst UK clinicians, or to elevate the numbers of homeopathic doctors, which continued to fall, and homeopathy thus remained a stagnant backwater for most of this century, until the late 1970's [...]252.

2.6.2 Germany

Dr Johann Ernst STAPF (1788—1860)

Germany, the birthplace of homeopathy, had the priority in the establishment of the first homeopathic journal and the first homeopathic society in the world. The journal, namely "Stapf Archiv für homöopathische Heilkunst", was established in 1821 and edited by Hahnemann himself until his death in 1843, in cooperation with his pupil Ernst Stapf (1788—1860). According to JРїС—Р…tte, this homeopathic periodical played an important role in

[...] Facilitating scientific communication and in the allocation of scientific recognition and the public representation of its basic principles and tenets. [...] Especially in Germany, where there were no homeopathic medical colleges, the homeopathic journals performed an additional function, namely teaching and training in research253.

Though being so important, almost all the homeopathic journals appeared to be short-lived because of financial and personal problems of the editors. By 1848, Germany was the first in the world list of homeopathic periodicals: it had 5 periodicals (at that time: France — 4, Spain — 1, the USA — 1, Brazil — 1)254 but this advantage disappeared in that same year. Among those five journals the most significant were: "Archiv für homöopathische Heilkunst" (1822—1848), "Allgemeine homöopathische Zeitung" (has been issued since 1832), and "Hygea" (1834—1848), a mouthpiece of the opposition to Hahnemann's "pure" homeopathy. Among the later periodicals, it is worthwile to note "Zeitschrift für homöopathischen Klinik" issued from 1852 to 1874 by Bernhardt Hirschel (1815—1874). In general, since 1848, there were never more than 3–4 journals issued at the same time in Germany until the beginning of WWI.

German homeopathic hospitals, like almost all continental hospitals except for the London homeopathic hospital and St. Jacques in Paris, proved to be not too long-lived: Leipzig 1833—1842; Moers 1843—1859; Köthen 1855—c.1915, 1872—1878; Munich 1836—1837, 1859—1879, 1883—1912; Stuttgart 1886—1900, 1914—1919; Berlin 1904—1917255.

The number of physicians practicing homeopathy in the period under study may be evaluated between 200 and 300 doctors approximately, with a peak reached in the 1870s. According to Tischner, the following statistics reflect the change in the number of homeopathic doctors in Germany:

1834 — 88
1844 —147
1860 — 264
1876 — 298256.

Nevertheless, on the next page in Tischner's book the statistics look slightly different: there were more than 300 members of German "Central Homeopathic Society" (Homöopathische Zentralverein) in 1874, whilst only 199 members were left in 1878, and 154 members in 1882257. Tischner did not try to explain such a fast decrease of the members of the society between 1874 and 1878. By 1887, Germany, Switzerland and Austria had some 400 homeopathic physicians altogether258.

According to German "Internationales Homöopathisches Jahrbuch" (probably, of 1892 or 1893), there were 245 homeopathic physicians, 112 pharmacies, 73 societies with 33,000 members and 5 periodicals in 1894259. The Zentralverein mentioned above, counted 162 members in 1904 in Germany260.

Unfortunately, I found no exact statistic figures dealing with the number of homeopathic doctors in Germany later on. On the background of all-European decline of professionally practicing homeopaths since the 1870s, I found no mention that in Germany the picture was different in any aspect, including the number of physicians.

Germany was however most distinguished in the number of both homeopathic lay organizations and their members. It is important to note that there were professional societies where laypeople could participate as honorary members exclusively and lay societies which hired homeopathic doctors for their own needs and issued homeopathic periodicals. For example, the homeopathic society in Karlsruhe, founded in 1833 as "Homöopathische Verein für Grossherzogtum Baden" (it later repeatedly changed its name), reported on 86 doctors and 24 honorary lay members in 1839261. Lay homeopathic societies in Germany developed swiftly since the 1880s and reached a peack by the temporary borderline of my study. Thus, the "Bund homöopathischer Vereine Deutschlands" (Union of Germany's homeopathic societies) founded in 1908, counted 280 societies with 29,000 members by WWI262.

In general, there were 444 homeopathic organizations in Germany during the period 1870—1933, the most important homeopathic domains of influence were Würtemberg (116 societies) and Saxony (106). Prussia had 75 societies, and Baden reported 31 societies. The rest was divided between other German states263.

Distilling plant of the homoeopathic central pharmacy of Dr Willmar Schwabe, Leipsic. Trituration machine, Dr. Willmar Schwabe, Leipsic.

It is worthwhile to note the monopolisation of the German homeopathic medicines' market by the firm "Willmar Schwabe", which occurred after 1890. Pharmacist Willmar Schwabe founded his own empire by the end of the 19th century. Feeling that his success depended upon propagandizing homeopathy, he had opened not only pharmacies and pharmaceutical manufactures, but also publishing houses and bookstores. While in 1891 the company had only two out-of-city (Leipzig) branches, in 1913 it counted 750 branches. The periodical "Leipziger Populäre Zeitschrift für Homöopathie" became the flagship of German homeopathic periodicals and held this position from 1910 till 1939264.

2.6.3 France

Generally speaking, the number of homeopathic facilities and homeopathic doctors in France during the period under study, corresponded more or less to that in Britain.

Saint Luc in Lyon

ImageThe first French "pure" homeopathic society was established in 1833 by Léon Simon and Paul Curie, who later moved to Britain and played there a considerable role in the spread of homeopathy (see above). This was the Paris Homeopathic Society. Short after that, it started issuing the "Journal de médecine homéopathique"265. In the second half of the 1840s, homeopathic societies and periodicals were founded in the main French provinces: Burgundy (Dijon), Aquitaine (Bordeaux), Bretagne (Nantes) as well as in the South of France (Marseille). More than 30 homeopathic periodicals were issued between 1830 and 1870, although many of them were short-lived (3 years and even less)266. During the same period, 12 dispensaries were opened, most of them in Paris. Nevertheless, according to Faure, these facilities pretty often went no further, whilst those existing were represented by one single room267. Around the 1870s, 3 homeopathic hospitals (Hahnemannian and Saint Jacques in Paris and Saint-Luc in Lyon) were opened268 . There were, in 1860, 421 homeopathic physicians in France, 436 in 1863 — mostly in towns of some importance269. These were, according to Garden, licensed physicans. But soon their number decreased, for reasons that were both internal and external to homeopathy.

By 1887, there were some 200 homeopathic physicians, two societies, two hospitals and two journals270. Gaier mentions that in 1900 there were "only around 300 homeopaths [...] [but] of such excellence, that from here homeopathy gradually spread to the world's vast francophone area"271. Unfortunately, he did not refer to the source of these statistics.

In 1919, there remained only 110 homeopathic doctors in France272. I believe that approximately the same number existed by the temporary borderline of my study. Tischner refers the start of the decline of homeopathy in France to the Franco-Prussian war in 1871—72273, and Garden mentions anti-German xenophobia as a possible cause274

Previous Home Next

Copyright © Alexander Kotok 2001
Mise en page, illustrations Copyright © Sylvain Cazalet 2001