1796: Samuel Hahnemann first describes the Law of Similars (“Like cures like”).
1830s: Homeopathic schools begin to open in the United States.
1838: Repertory to the More Characteristic Symptoms of Materia Medica, a homeopathic reference, first appears in English.
1842: Oliver Wendel Holmes Sr.—physician, critic of homeopathy and father of a Supreme Court justice—publishes the scathing “Homeopathy and Its Kindred Delusions.”
1847: The American Medical Association is founded, offering a decidedly unfavorable view of homeopathy.
1885: Hahnemann Hospital opens as a homeopathic facility in Philadelphia.
Mid-1900s: Homeopathic schools dwindle and disappear. Hahnemann Hospital is sold to new owners, who switch to allopathic medicine but retain a homeopathic library and some elective courses.
1972: The Center for Education and Development of Clinical Homeopathy is founded with the goal of teaching practical, pragmatic homeopathy at campuses across the country, including one in Philadelphia.
2011: Nobel-winning virologist Luc Montagnier says that “high-dilution remedies of something are not nothing,” supporting a controversial tenet of homeopathic medicine. The four-year American Medical College of Homeopathy opens in Arizona.
Criticism: There’s no actual active ingredient in the prescription. That’s true–the original ingredient has been diluted to the point of vanishing. But its energy signature remains, which homeopaths say can effect change in the body.
Criticism: It’s no better than placebo. Some scholarly studies have shown that to be the case, but other studies show otherwise. Patients with similar symptoms are treated in different ways, so the methodology of some studies can’t effectively measure real-world results.
Criticism: How are smaller doses considered more powerful? The bigger the denominator, the stronger the dose. It’s known as hormesis, the idea that a small amount of something can be better than either none of it or a lot of it.
Criticism: Homeopaths aren’t doctors. While there is no legal license required to operate a homeopathic practice in Pennsylvania, homeopaths are accredited to varying degrees, including credentials from the private Council for Homeopathic Certification.
See also “Homeopathy’s Rocky Road: Will the Castoff Practice Ever Join Mainstream Medicine?”