The story that Pierre Curie’s grandfather homeopath Paul Francois Curie was the first person to study Radium is based on an error made by John Henry Clarke, who attributed the first experiments in radium to Paul Francois Curie in his book Radium as an Internal Remedy in 1908. However, this must be an error – as Paul Francois Curie died in 1853, and Wilhelm Conrad Rontgen’s discovery of X-rays was in 1895, and Antoine Henri Becquerel‘s discovery of radioactivity was in 1896. Radium was discovered in 1898 and isolated 1902.
Nonetheless, Pierre Curie and Marie Curie had a long history of homeopathic research to base their experiments on. Paul Francois Curie’s grandsons Pierre Curie and his brother Paul Jacques Curie invented the Piezoelectric Quartz Electrometer, which Marie Curie used to extract radium from pitchblende in 1898.
However, homeopaths had been experimenting with Uranium as a treatment for diabetes since 1860 (Anon, The North American Journal of Homeopathy, Volume 10; on nitrate of uranium in diabetes, (American Medical Union, 1862). Page 384). In 1896, the sad experiments of homeopath Emile Grubbe would have been well publicised in the press. Emile Grubbe was the first person to use lead as protection against x rays. Emile Grubbe also recommended x-ray for the treatment of acne and on Lupus Vulgaris. Emile Grubbe, in consultation with his colleagues at the Hahnemann Medical College of Chicago, Joseph Pettee Cobb (1857-?), Professor of Physiology in Hahnemann Medical College and Hospital of Chicago, Reuben Ludlam (1831-1899), one of the founders and Dean and Chair of Physiology, Pathology, and Clinical Medicine at the Hahnemann Medical College of Chicago, and J E Gilman (?-?), Professor of Materia Medica at the Hahnemann College in Chicago, decided to try x ray to treat breast cancer. Emile Grubbe also tried x ray in the treatment of urinary calculi, cancer of the wrist, cancer of the uterus and delerium. Emile Grubbe was the originator of the Memorial Award of the Chicago Radioloical Society. Despite horrible disfigurement from his own experimentation, Emile Grubbe eventually had to give up lecturing after his body was made ‘a testing laboratory’ for the poorly understood effects of x-ray.
The year 2006 marked 100 years since the death of Pierre Curie. It is therefore appropriate that we remember his life and his work, which was cut short by his untimely death from an accident on the Pont Neuf, Paris, on April 19, 1906.
He had already accomplished much during his life, both before the discovery of radium with Marie Curie, in work co-authored with his brother Jacques on piezoelectricity, and afterwards, when he published the results of several experimental studies with radium and radon.
He came from a medical family, and his grandfather Paul Francois Curie was a famous homeopathic physician. Pierre Curie has, in print, unfairly been relegated to the background-his own scientific contributions having been overtaken by the fame of Marie Curie, probably because she outlived him by 28 years.
The first UK homeopaths were all close colleagues of Dr. Samuel Hahnemann [1755-1843] in Paris and they came to England specifically to set up homeopathic practice in the 1830s. They were Frederick Hervey Foster Quin, Paul Francois Curie, grandfather of the scientist Pierre Curie, William Leaf , a rich London Silk Merchant, and Thomas Roupell Everest [1801-1855].
Frederick Hervey Foster Quin, William Leaf , Paul Francois Curie and Thomas Roupell Everest seem to have been part of an ‘inner sanctum’ of Samuel Hahnemann‘s protégés in Paris. They established practices in the UK and later free dispensaries for the poor and also several hospitals.
William Leaf and Thomas Roupell Everest might perhaps be better described as ‘lay homeopathic zealots’, and Paul Francois Curie tended in the same direction…. Apart from Frederick Hervey Foster Quin himself, three other converts were very important in establishing homeopathy in the UK. These were the silk merchant William Leaf, the Parisian homeopath Paul Francois Curie and Rev Thomas Roupell Everest. All were intimate members of Hahnemann’s circle in 1840s Paris at the close of his life.
Thomas Roupell Everest published Heal the sick and cleanse the lepers as you preach the gospel: A sermon, preached in the Church of St. Augustine, Old Change, Cheapside, on Wednesday, April 9, 1851, in aid of the Hahnemann Hospital on Wed 9 April 1851, a sermon he had preached in London, delivered in favour of the said hospital, which was a homeopathic venture of Paul Francois Curie.
Other researchers in Radium widely collaborated with homeopaths and their previous work on radium, see Paul Degrais,