The history of homeopathy in the Russian Empire
until World War I, as compared with other European countries and the USA: similarities and
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
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.
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
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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;
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
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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
Copyright © Alexander Kotok 2001
Mise en page, illustrations Copyright © Sylvain Cazalet 2001