Today, one out of every three Americans uses some form of alternative medicine, either along with their conventional (“standard,” “traditional”) medications or in place of them. One of the most controversial–as well as one of the most popular–alternatives is homeopathy, a wholly Western invention brought to America from Germany in 1827, nearly forty years before the discovery that germs cause disease. Homeopathy is a therapy that uses minute doses of natural substances–minerals, such as mercury or phosphorus; various plants, mushrooms, or bark; and insect, shellfish, and other animal products, such as Oscillococcinum. These remedies mimic the symptoms of the sick person and are said to bring about relief by “entering” the body’s “vital force.” Many homeopaths believe that the greater the dilution, the greater the medical benefit, even though often not a single molecule of the original substance remains in the solution.
In Copeland’s Cure, Natalie Robins tells the fascinating story of homeopathy in this country; how it came to be accepted because of the gentleness of its approach–Nathaniel Hawthorne and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow were outspoken advocates, as were Louisa May Alcott, Harriet Beecher Stowe, and Daniel Webster. We find out about the unusual war between alternative and conventional medicine that began in 1847, after the AMA banned homeopaths from membership even though their medical training was identical to that of doctors practicing traditional medicine. We learn how homeopaths were increasingly considered not to be “real” doctors, and how “real” doctors risked expulsion from the AMA if they even consulted with a homeopath.
At the center of Copeland's Cure is Royal Samuel Copeland, the now-forgotten maverick senator from New York who served from 1923 to 1938. Copeland was a student of both conventional and homeopathic medicine, an eye surgeon who became president of the American Institute of Homeopathy, dean of the New York Homeopathic Medical College, and health commissioner of New York City from 1918 to 1923 (he instituted unique approaches to the deadly flu pandemic). We see how Copeland straddled the worlds of politics (he befriended Calvin Coolidge, Herbert Hoover, and Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt, among others) and medicine (as senator, he helped get rid of medical “diploma mills”). His crowning achievement was to give homeopathy lasting legitimacy by including all its remedies in the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act of 1938.
Finally, the author brings the story of clashing medical beliefs into the present, and describes the role of homeopathy today and how some of its practitioners are now adhering to the strictest standards of scientific research–controlled, randomized, double-blind clinical studies.
From the Hardcover edition.
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|Title of Business & Economics eBook: Copeland's Cure|
|Release Date: 07-22-2009|
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|Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group|
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“Like a Pleasant Dream”
The land near Dexter, Michigan, flat in some places, rolling in others,
was, in the early 1800s, one of the healthiest-looking regions in
America. Bordering the Huron River and Mill Creek, the territory was
fertile and green. Crystal-clear lakes, rapids, streams, and marshes
were surrounded by cottonwood trees, sugar maples, black walnuts, elms,
and ashes. Meadows overflowed with wildflowers. Sunfish, perch, and
bulletheads flourished in the waters. Red squirrels, grey foxes,
turkeys, and wild pigeons roamed the thick woods.
Frances Holmes Copeland’s ancestors had traveled from the Berkshires in
Massachusetts to a region near Dexter in 1825, the very year it was
founded by Judge Samuel William Dexter, who said he came to Michigan
from New York “to get rid of the blue devil . . . which like a demon
pursues those who have nothing to do.” The town, in a county called
Washtenaw, was laid out so that every house received sunlight. The
early settlers lived in log cabins and grew corn and wheat, and later
also barley, oats, clover, and apples. Sawmills soon abounded as lumber
became an important business, and before long, the log cabins had sash
windows, shingle roofs, and doors. The Potowatami and Mohican Indians
lived nearby–first settling near the streams–and the people of Dexter
eagerly exchanged liquor, tobacco, flour, or powder and lead for
buckskins, beeswax, furs, and venison.
By 1847, when Roscoe Pulaski Copeland arrived in Michigan on a covered
wagon with his parents, Joseph and Alice, and ten siblings, fr