These data, obtained from a review of the profession by principal leaders in the early 20th century, demonstrate the phases of development homeopathy endured, as it was introduced (1825-1836), developed a substantial small following (1837-1845), went through an early growth period (1846-1852), then took off at an incredible rate (1853-1857/8) [Plot 1]. This process is very much in agreement with the plots generated for studies of innovation. If we consider the growth in popularity that ensued during the 20th century, we come up with something that closely resembles the Gartner plot (not displayed), referred to colloquially as "hype cycles".
The peak years in annual growth in numbers of people becoming certified in this profession shows to major peaks at 1852 and 1857.
The research question for this moment is "why are there these obvious peaks in acceptance?"
Since 1993, I have been teaching that cholera was the reason Americans began questioning the value of allopathy. The failure of allopaths to explain, treat, or eliminate cholera from our nation’s history made many question their controversial practices, in particular the administration of mineral remedies and the continued use of the lancet. Homeopathy was one of three major alternatives to allopathy during this time. The homeopaths had successfully taken the teachings of the great epidemiology mathematicians in England, an duplicated their studies on various institutions, hospitals, clinical facilities, prisons and asylums, and when mortality rates for patients were compared between homeopathy and allopathy treated patients, every study demonstrate allopathy mortality rates were at least twice those of the homeopaths (more on this to be posted).
To this day, the methodology, validity and outcomes for these results remain undeniable and are the crux of why allopathy was about to fail.
The return of cholera in 1854/5/6 renewed people’s faith in the non-allopathic professions. In addition, the recent history of the public health failure that ensued in the military hospitals at the Crimean War solidified such claims for the borderline doubters still out there truing to decide (this is cited as a major reason in the homeopathy journals themselves).
For whatever reason, there was an explosion in recruitment of individuals interested in learning and practicing homeopathy, about a quarter of whom were regular allopathic MDs. The allopathic medical profession was now financially, politically, and at the government level, floundering.
In the U.S. , the advancements made by the military due to the Civil War help suppress these previous failures in the profession. The role of the lancet was reduced, although not eliminated, as homeopaths continued to publish their supporting statistics on lower mortality rates linked to homeopathic treatment.
The bar charts in this presentation demonstrate the large numbers of stated that engaged in the enrollment of new homeopaths.
The homeopathy profession also become a popular culture craze a short while later. Even with a lesser number of MDs interested, due to a number of steps the AMA took to disenroll or delicense MDs practicing this profession, the public was still interested and the homeopathic schools and hospitals developed by then flourishing in spite of the legal and gubernatorial promotion of allopathy.
Beginning around 1882/3, State Medical Licensure boards were required to have an Eclectic, Allopathic and Homeopathic MD on board, to monitor and maintain their specialty’s credibility.
For the next 50 years, what few officially trained homeopaths there were, continued to practice according to their faith. Fortunately for the allopathic profession, the role of statistics in demonstrating success with regard to patient mortality rates became a less popular way to engage in this medical political argument.
The ending of many major epidemic patterns helped solidify the support for allopathy. Quarantine, not better practice or reduced death rates, was one major reason allopathy re-emerged around the turn of the century. The other major reason allopathy began to prevail around 1900 was the development of a strong anti-fraud and "anti-quackery" program, with political and publishing power, more than support generated by way of clinical success.
The strengthening of the bacterial theory for disease, accompanied by the refusal of homeopaths to accept the bacterial theory, were the reasons homeopathy ultimately lost much of its support by the public during the 1920s and 1930s. Both World Wars continued to strengthen the basis of the bacterial theory, a concept the Civil War helped to initiate due to the sanitary/microbial theory it gave rise to.
Homeopaths tried to counter this reduction in popularity during WW II by entering the war as a specially train medical group. For the next 50 years, it was mostly the popular culture version of homeopathy and the naturopathic profession that kept this profession alive.