He studied medicine at the universities of Breslau and Berlin, graduating from the latter in 1859. In that year he was appointed physician at the Allerheiligen Hospital, Breslau; in 1868, chief physician at the municipal poorhouse; in 1869, privatdocent;in 1874, professor in Göttingen University (which chair he still held in 1903); and in 1877, director of the university hospital and dispensary.
Ebstein's specialties were malassimilation and defective nutrition, in the treatment of which he introduced several new methods. He eliminated the carbohydrates from the food almost entirely, but allowed fat to be taken with adequate protein; his theory was that fat contains nutritive matter equivalent to two and a half times that of carbohydrates. The following, by Ebstein, related to this:
- "Die Fettleibigkeit", etc., 7th ed., Wiesbaden, 1887
- "Fett oder Kohlenhydrate", Wiesbaden, 1885
- "Wasserentziehung und Anstrengende Muskelbewegungen," ib. 1885
- Oertel, "Die Ebsteinsche Flugschrift über Wasserentziehung," Leipzig, 1885)
In this field Ebstein was considered one of the leading specialists of the world.
His other notable works included:
- "Nierenkrankheiten Nebst den Affectionen der Nierenbecken und der Urnieren", in Von Ziemssen's "Handbuch der Speziellen Pathologie und Therapie", 2d ed., vol. ix.
- "Traumatische Leukämie," in "Deutsche Med. Wochenschrift," 1894
- "Handbuch der Praktischen Medizin," ib. 1899
- "Die Medizin im Alten Testament," Stuttgart, 1901
- "Handbuch der Praktischen Medizin," (with Gustav Schwalbe), ib. 1901
- "Die Krankheiten im Feldzuge Gegen Russland," ib. 1902
- "Dorf- und Stadthygiene," ib. 1902
- "Die Medizin in Bibel und Talmud" (New Testament and Talmud), ib. 1903.
- Pagel, Biographisches Lexikon, s.v.
- Meyers Konversations-Lexikon, s.v.
- Brockhaus, Konversations-Lexikon, s.v.