By Dana Ullman MPH

For this and more amazing historical facts and quotes about homeopathy, consider purchasing Dana Ullman’s Homeopathic Revolution: Why Famous People and Cultural Heroes Choose Homeopathy

The first homeopath in California was a ’49er, who came with the gold fever in the fateful year of 1849. Dr. Benjamin Ober arrived in San Francisco on July 3, 1849.

The California State Medical Society of Homoeopathic Practi­tioners was incorporated on April 10, 1872, but only lasted a couple of years due to infighting among its members. In 1877, an new organization was formed and called itself the California State Homoeopathic Medical Society, a name by which it still is known today.

The First East Bay Hospital was Homeopathic!

The first hospital in the East Bay was a homeopathic hospital: the Oakland Homoeopathic Hospital and Dispensary Association, which was founded on November 6, 1877, and was located at Broadway and MacArthur Sts. In 1886 it changed its name to Fabiola Hospital.

A Hospital and a Feminist Experiment!

The Oakland Homoeopathic Hospital and Dispensary was founded by 18 women. When it became Fabiola Hospital , the new bylaws stipulated that the management of the hospital must only reside in a woman’s hands. The bylaws also stated that there must always be women physicians as staff doctors. This hospital provided free and reduced-rate care for 56 years. Due to the difficult economic times during the Great Depression, it was forced to close. Ultimately, the land was sold to Merritt Hospital that today resides but a few blocks from Fabiola Hospital ‘s original site. On the day that Fabiola Hospital closed, the Oakland Tribune headline eulogized, “Fabiola Ends Experiment in ‘Feminism.'” (October 16, 1932).

The First Homeopathic College in California

In 1884, the first homeopathic medical college in California was founded at the corner of Stockton and Geary and was named the Hahnemann Medical College of San Francisco. Two of the profes­sors at this college were Dr. Samuel Lilienthal (the father of the famous Lilienthal family of San Francisco –more information on the Lilienthal family follows) and Dr. James Ward (who served as commissioner of the San Francisco Health Department during the 1906 earthquake).

The college moved to Page St. in 1888 and their teaching clinic was located in the homeopathic hospital just two blocks away. However, when the San Francisco supervisors passed an ordinance prohibiting the location of hospitals within a certain distance to city hall, the homeopaths were informed that their hospital must close. There is some speculation that conventional physicians played a role in the passing of this ordinance. Dr. Ward was arrested for refusing to close the hospital, and, al­though he fought this decision up to the Supreme Court, by the time he won, the loss of revenues created much hardship for the hospital and college.

In the early 1900’s the hospital relocated at Maple and Sacramento and maintained the name Hahnemann Hospital until when it was renamed Marshall Hale Hospital in the 1970s.

1st Woman in American College of Surgeons was a SF Woman Homeo­path

Florence Ward, MD, was the first woman physician admitted into the American College of Surgeons. Dr. Ward was a well-known and respected homeopathic physician who owned and ran her own three-story hospital and sanitarium. Dr. Ward’s specialty was obstetrics, and her hospital utilized homeopathic medicines regularly as well as the most up-to-date medical technologies of that era.

The Homeopathic Connection to the Famous Haas-Lilienthal House

Dr. Samuel Lilienthal was the grandfather of Samuel Lilien­thal who married Alice Haas (daughter of the famous San Francisco merchant William Haas). It was Samuel and Alice ‘s children, along with Madeleine Haas Russell who donated the Haas-Lilienthal House to the city of San Francisco.

Another curious fact about Dr. Samuel Lilienthal was that he was an early champion of women’s rights; he was instrumental in allowing women to gain acceptance to medical schools. He wasn’t the only homeopath who supported women’s rights: the American Institute of Homeopathy admitted women into its organization in 1871, while the American Medical Association didn’t admit women until 1976.

Another homeopath who was prominent in his communities was Dr. C.W. Breyfogle, a homeopath in San Jose, who was that city’s mayor in 1886.

The Dean of Clinical Medicine at “Pre”-Stanford: A Homeopath!

In the 1890’s, Dr. Albert Abrams was professor of pathology and the dean of clinical medicine at Lane Medical College…which shortly afterwards became Stanford. Although he practiced an unconventional type of homeopathy which utilized a questionable medical instrument called a “radionics box,” Sir James Barr, a past-president of the British Medical Association and a contemporary of Abrams, duplicated the doctor’s experiments and described him as one of the greatest medical geniuses the profession had produced in the past half century.  There is no evidence that Leland Stanford received homeopathic treatment, though one of his eight pallbearers at his funeral was Dr. C.W. Breyfogle, a homeopathic physician and former mayor of San Jose.  More details about Leland Stanford and about Albert Abrams are provided in The Homeopathic Revolution:  Why Famous People and Cultural Heroes Choose Homeopathy.

Homeopathy in the Bay Area Today

There are at least 50 licensed professionals in the Bay Area who practice homeopathy as their primary therapeutic modality. The majority of these professionals are medical doctors, although there also are dentists, podiatrists, veterinarians, physician assistants, nurse practitioners, acupuncturists, and chiropractors.

Homeopathic Educational Services, a Berkeley company that offers mail-order services of homeopathic books, tapes, medicines, and software, is a major distributor of homeopathic materials in the U.S. Visit their website at:

Other Tidbits

Another tidbit about Dr. Samuel Lilienthal is that his brother was Rabbi Max Lilienthal, one of the most respected rabbis in the world of his day. Although Rabbi Max never moved to San Francisco , the Lilienthal family was very prominent in the San Francisco Jewish community.

When Dr. Sam (as he called himself) was in New York , he occasionally penned children’s stories for a New York Jewish newspaper under the pen-name “Uncle Sam.”

Besides authoring Homeopathic Therapeutics, Dr. Sam was considered one of the most rapid and best German translators. He was the editor of American Journal of Homeopathy and professor at the New York College for Women and at the New York Homeopathic Medical College .

His son, James Lilienthal, was also a homeopath. He established a free dispensary for the poor on Mission St., and he serves as professor of children’s diseases at the Hahnemann College of the Pacific.