Homoeopathy became spectacularly popular in the United States and Europe in the 1800s and its strongest advocates included European royalty, American entrepreneurs, literary giants, and religious leaders. But at the time that it was gaining widespread popularity, it became the object of deep-seated animosity and vigilant opposition from establishment medicine. The conflict between homoeopathy and orthodox medicine was protracted and bitter. We know who won the first round of this conflict. We await the results of the second round. Hopefully, we will soon discover that a “fight” over healing is inappropriate and that various approaches to healing are all necessary to build a comprehensive and effective health care system.
The history of homoeopathy begins with the discoveries of its founder Samuel Hahnemann (1755-1843), a German physician. Hahnemann first coined the word “homoeopathy” (“homoios” in Greek means similar, “pathos” means suffering) to refer to the pharmacological principle, the law of similars, that is its basis. Actually, the law of similars was previously described by Hippocrates and Paracelsus and was utilized by many cultures, including the Mayans, Chinese, Greeks, Native American Indians, and Asian Indians (1), but it was Hahnemann who codified the law of similars into a systematic medical science.