This article first appeared in The American Homeopath, Volume 21, 2015, and is reprinted in HPATHY with permission.
Looking forward: What does an eminent homeopath see?
Homeopathy as a healing modality is over two hundred years old. We happen to be in a good position to celebrate our past because we have the facts and figures that give us a sense of the history of homeopathy and its survival through the past two hundred years.
But how do we embrace the future? How do we even know what the collective future of homeopathy is going to be? In an attempt to address this question, and to scan the horizon of our homeopathic past, present and future, I had an opportunity to speak with Dr. Peter Fisher and present a few questions to him.
This opportunity, however, came into my hands, literally out of the blue. I was attending the Joint American Homeopathy conference way back in 2015. In between lectures, I met with Deborah Hayes, a dear friend and the Editor-in-Chief of the prestigious journal, The American homeopath.
She was planning out the journal that she would publish and release in December 2015. “Our readers would love to know what the future of homeopathy might be. Could you meet up with Dr. Fisher and ask him his views?” Deborah said, as she pointed out Dr. Fisher from amongst the row of several eminent homeopaths.
I had never met Dr. Fisher before but I quickly committed his face to my memory and decided to approach him for an impromptu interview.
Later in the day, when I found Dr. Fisher walking through the hall where mid-day meals were served, I caught up with him and I lost no time in asking, “Dr. Fisher, would you terribly mind if I asked you some questions for an interview?”
Dr. Fisher was surprised by this abrupt and sudden intrusion into his privacy, and he did not hide his surprise. In a very English accent, he asked me, “Who are you? What journal do you represent? Why on earth should I care to answer your questions quite in the middle of my well-earned lunch break?”
Very clearly, Dr. Fisher was taken aback by my very American brashness, my puppy-dog enthusiasm for impromptu journalism, and my paparazzi style directness for scoring an interview. He said nothing for a few minutes, kept a very serious and straight face, and he continued to focus on the food display deciding what to choose for his lunch. Determined not to be turned off, I continued walking alongside, though I was wondering if I had blown my opportunity by being too abrupt and informal.
Dr. Fisher reached the very end of the food display table. Though he had scanned the entire display, he had piled a very small quantity of a few (and very good-for-your-health type) dishes on his plate. My stomach was growling from hunger, rather a bit strongly, as I was quite in the proximity of all the lovely food but I chose to forgo the very thought of eating and instead focus on the interview.
From his long silence, I was feeling almost certain that Dr. Fisher might just tell me to disappear and not bother him with my questions. But to my surprise, he said, “shoot” as he sat down to eat his meal in a presently deserted conference room.
I quickly pulled out my recorder and silently in my heart, I offered a tiny prayer to the almighty God…here I was, a rookie interviewer, completely unprepared for this sudden and unexpected turn of events.
I did not have any formal list of questions out of a can because this interview was suggested to me by my friend Deborah quite unexpectedly and in the spur of the moment.
I had no lead time to research Dr. Fisher and prepare a list of questions. The recorder was on now. Dr. Fisher was ready to do the interview and the questions must come to my mind quite on the go.
We began awkwardly at first…but in-between the mouthful of foods, Dr. Fisher composed himself admirably and with his calm and courteous demeanor, he put me at total ease. He was the homeopath to the queen of England…I was a freshly minted homeopath out of Misha Norland’s school of homeopathy in UK, and this difference between us did not matter at all.
Dr. Fisher spoke to me with passion, energy, enthusiasm, and a true feeling for the future of homeopathy and for these reasons, this particular interview stands out in my mind as an unusual one and it has helped me make up my mind that I would never pass up an opportunity for asking questions and speaking about homeopathy ever in my life. For the love of my profession, this is worth doing.
Once the interview was published in the 2015 edition of the American Homeopath, I sent Dr. Fisher a PDF of the interview. Though he is a busy practitioner in a very senior position and handles a ton of responsibilities,he promptly emailed me a “Thank You” note for conducting and then sharing the interview with him.
When I learned about Dr. Peter Fisher’s sudden and untimely demise while he was biking to work, I recalled the few minutes I had spent with Dr. Fisher and had him answer my questions. This interview is here for you to read and enjoy.
AH: The American Homeopath (the journal that I was representing)
PF: Dr. Peter Fisher (Homeopath to the Queen of England).
AH: Dr. Fisher, in your last thirty years as a homeopath, what changes have you seen?
PF: Lots of changes. Homeopathy has come under vicious attacks. But the biggest change is the growth of research. We now have more than 300 randomized controlled trails and over 100 clinical trials of homeopathy. Homeopathy has emerged into the scientific field.
But it is highly disputed by the skeptics even though the volume of scientific work is increasing rapidly. We now have some idea about what is happening in extreme high dilutions which do not contain even a single molecule of the original substance. Various scientific techniques have helped us see the structural change in these high dilutions.
AH: Modern techniques are helping explain homeopathy to a scientifically minded public?
PF: There is a bit of credibility gap. Main idea of homeopathy, the law of similars and the problems around high dilution – these challenge the skeptics. Modern techniques help us understand the high dilution.
Jean Louis Demangeat has used Nuclear Magnetic Resonance, and Louis Rey has worked with low temperature thermal luminescence to give laboratory based evidence for structural changes that happen in high dilutions. Jon Sainte-Laudy did a whole series of reproducible tests in independent labs and multi-center studies that favor homeopathy.
AH: Based on these findings, can we by-pass the skeptics and expect a brighter future for homeopathy?
PF: Mainstream medical opinion is that homeopathy does not work because of high dilution though there is plenty of clinical and scientific evidence. People who control the medical establishment do not accept these. However, homeopathy can deal with the current medical problem in public health.
People suffer from morbidity and chronic diseases and they are given multiple pharmaceutical drugs. These drugs interact with each other and the patients have to endure multiple side effects. This is one area where homeopathy can make an important contribution and help reduce the need for polypharmacy. Another field where homeopathy can create a considerable impact is antimicrobials.
The current state of multi-drug resistant germs in community based, as well as hospital acquired infections is appalling. We are running out of antibiotics and resistance to available antibiotics is spreading at an alarming rate. It takes decades to invent new antibiotics and in twenty years or so, we may not be left with any effective antibiotics. The germs would become resistant to all the antibiotics we currently use. In this area, there is good evidence that when antibiotics are used inappropriately or needlessly – homeopathy can be effective in reducing the use of antibiotics.
Bernard Begaud conducted an EPI3 study comparing conventional medicine and homeopathy with over 5000 patients suffering from musculoskeletal, upper respiratory tract and psychiatric diseases. Patients coming to homeopaths even with chronic conditions had better outcomes and quality of life as compared to those on nonsteroidal drugs. Patients who received homeopathic treatment needed less antibiotics.
AH: During your practice, you have witnessed emergence of many different systems, ideas and new remedies in homeopathy. Please could you tell the readers how to navigate these?
PF: A lot of systems are based on metaphors. As a rule, in homeopathy, about 90 % of prescriptions are for 10 % of remedies. If remedies are selected based on metaphors, and not the law of similars, then it is not homeopathy. That is the danger of following the new methods blindly.
We need to stick to core knowledge and stay away from speculations. The Organon is our foundation. It is 200 years old. All homeopaths must study it. Some homeopaths attack vaccination unaware that in the 6th edition of the Organon, Hahnemann has said that vaccination is a wonderful thing and it has saved the lives of children. Do see the footnote under paragraph 43.
Hahnemann seems to have considered that the Jennerian method of vaccination – scratching cowpox pus into the skin – was both preventative in epidemics and curative when it was used against similar disease states. Both homeopathy and Jenner’s cow pox vaccine came around in late 1700s and Hahnemann saw the benefits of cow pox vaccination.
In the present day and age, we have been able to eradicate polio, small pox, diphtheria and even tetanus by judicious use of vaccination. I see cervical cancer being wiped out by use of the HPV immunization program. We have to wake up to the benefits of vaccination.
There can be some adverse effects, no doubt, but vaccination has done a lot of good. Homeopaths would be able to do a lot by staying out of the vaccine controversy and focusing on where they can actually help, I mean, the area of poly pharmacy and anti-microbial resistance.
The laboratory evidence is catching up and beginning to shed light on structural changes that occur in high dilutions and plenty of clinical studies are coming out in support of homeopathy. Though skeptics stay strong, I have hopes that homeopathy will not only survive but it will also enjoy a wide ranging acceptance in the future.
It is widely accepted in the homeopathy circles that Hahnemann was quite ahead of his time. When he was experimenting, preparing and proving remedies, making clinical observations and researching on miasms, modern medical, biological and material sciences were in infancy, and Mendelian laws of genetics were waiting to be proven by Thomas Hunt Morgan in 1915.
Hahnemann not only laid down a solid philosophical foundation for homeopathy by way of writing the Organon, he also created an enormous body of clinical literature for us to treasure and rely on. This treasure has only been added to by subsequent masters of homeopathy. At present, as pointed out by Dr. Fisher, modern science is catching up and providing proof for many aspects of homeopathy, mainly for structural changes happening in high dilution.
With such views expressed by a homeopath who has been around for several decades and seen how homeopathy has survived and become stronger over the years, it became quite possible for me to feel optimism and hope for the future of homeopathy, and with this interview, I intend to share this sense of optimism with the readers.
We are literally in the golden age of homeopathy, when the most mysterious aspect of our science, ultra-dilutions, is beginning to receive laboratory based support. The fact that we have abundant support from positive clinical outcome cannot be ignored.
All that we need to do is to deeply understand the past and take energetic strides to greet the future that awaits us…and trust that all will be well, thanks to Hahnemann and the collective destiny of our times.