Dr. Timothy Fior has been practicing family medicine and homeopathy for 29 years and is a co-founder, past president, and current vice-president of the Illinois Homeopathic Medical Association. He is currently a Lecturer in Clinical Sciences at National University of the Health Sciences in Lombard, Illinois where he teaches a class on homeopathic case taking, case analysis and case management. Dr. Fior is the founding medical partner at the Center for Integral Health in Lombard Illinois, near Chicago. He authored Essentials of Homeopathic Medicine and was a contributing author to Rajinder Singh’s book Meditation as Medication. http://www.centerforintegralhealth.com/
AS: You’ve been practicing homeopathy for over thirty years. What led you to explore and embrace homeopathy?
TF: I went to medical school with the intent of practicing holistic medicine. It took me a while to realize that holistic medicine was really a very broad subject with many disciplines which each could take a lifetime of study and practice to become proficient.
While in medical school and later in my family practice residency, I met Dr. Joel Shepperd in Chicago and found out about homeopathy, and saw that he had a thriving and very successful practice. At this point homeopathy was a theoretical type of practice for me, but it certainly seemed to be a lot less toxic than conventional medical practice.
Then as a resident, I began prescribing drugs to many very sick patients. Sometimes they got better, sometimes they didn’t, and sometimes they got much worse and some even died.
It really disturbed me that our tools in medicine could cause more illness and even death, and it seemed to me impossible to practice conventional medicine and live up to the Hippocratic dictum of First do no Harm. So, at the end of my residency I decided to move to Chicago and apprentice with Dr. Shepperd to learn homeopathy.
Then I saw that homeopathy worked beautifully for many conditions and was very safe. Even things that were incurable in conventional medicine could be helped and at times cured.
So here I am 30 years later still practicing homeopathy and continually trying to improve my practice so I can help even more people with homeopathic medicine.
AS: I wish more allopaths could have that crisis of conscience that led you to homeopathy. You’ve lectured at six medical schools. How did you bridge the gap between the allopathic perspective and homeopathy? How were you received by those audiences?
TF: At first, as an allopathic physician, when I started studying and then using homeopathy in practice, I felt like I had one foot on the north rim of the Grand Canyon and another foot on the South Rim. I was afraid I’d fall in and be lost.
However, as my homeopathic experience increased and my confidence in homeopathy increased, I felt better about homeopathic practice and saw even more the dangers of allopathic medicines.
I started lecturing at several of the medical schools, most regularly at Univ. of Illinois at Chicago where I was asked to give a one hour lecture on homeopathy every year for about 10 years in their complementary medicine elective class.
I got pretty good at giving that lecture to the point that many of the medical students became very intrigued by homeopathy. However, this was about the time that the Shang Lancet article appeared (i.e. 2005) and homeopathy came under increasing attack. 2011 was the last year that I taught that class and they just stopped asking me to teach. I was disappointed.
However, when one door closes, another opens. Thus, I had started teaching a 4 hour per week homeopathy class in the ND curriculum in 2008 at NUHS and so that kept me busy and I even wrote an ebook, Essentials of Homeopathic Medicine for this course which is available online.
I’m still teaching this course 11 years later. Concurrently over the last 3 decades I’ve been working to get homeopathic courses approved by the American Academy of Family Practice (AAFP) for CME credit for physicians.
It was always a struggle, but in the last 3-5 years a door closed and they will no longer grant any credit for homeopathic medicine courses through the AAFP or the AMA. My feeling is that allopathic medicine is so much under the influence of Big Pharma, that they have consciously closed the door on homeopathy.
Although a few allopathic specialists may still go against the flow and study homeopathy, I feel the bulk of licensed homeopathic practitioners in the future in the US will come from the ND profession. And I’m ok with that.
The barriers to teaching about homeopathy in allopathic institutions in Illinois are so great at this time, that I don’t expect it to change anytime soon.
AS: Yes, the false Shang study and the specious reports from the Science and Technology Committee (UK) and NHMRC (Australia) have undermined homeopathy around the world. We’re seeing this extraordinary healing science, maligned by lies.
TF: The “twisted science” that we’re seeing used against homeopathy is a generalized phenomenon which is occurring in other fields like nutritional research, medicine in general and other fields.
Basically, when research has been captured by industry, and the regulatory agencies and media and even congress have been captured by industry, then only the viewpoint favorable to industry thrives.
In medicine, Big Pharma has captured the FDA and CDC and the media and now even social media and search engines are being affected by Big Pharma’s influence. In homeopathy in the US, we flew under the radar and were largely ignored for many years. This was the situation when I first discovered homeopathy in the mid 1980’s.
Conventional doctors were even at times intrigued by homeopathy and there wasn’t much negative press. But then as homeopaths’ influence grew, homeopathy became visible on the radar screen of Big Pharma and conventional medicine.
Then the negative studies started appearing and the media began printing regularly negative stories about homeopathy. At the 2015 FDA hearings on homeopathy, it was telling to me that the homeopathic industry claimed that they were about a 1 Billion dollar industry in the US. However, the scientific skeptics present kept saying that it was a 3 Billion dollar industry.
The gap just didn’t make sense, until I thought about our practices and how people get better and cut down on many of the allopathic medicines that they take. Thus, money spent on homeopathic medicines, especially when people are getting better, means that money is being taken away from conventional medicine.
So maybe that’s where the 3 billion dollar figure comes from, and it may represent a line in the sand which when crossed has Big Pharma fighting back to destroy homeopathy. Of course, they are masters of the media, so they have been very successful in their attacks on homeopathy.
In response to one of these many attacks, I started looking at all the research, and there is a lot. The Carstens database ( www.carstens-stiftung.de/hombrex ) has catalogued 1,373 clinical trials in homeopathy and 2,418 homeopathic basic science research studies as of today, and is adding new studies all the time.
The Swiss Health Technology Assessment of homeopathy which took a more global view of homeopathic research, cost effectiveness, etc. was very positive for homeopathy but didn’t get much traction in the media.
Five systematic reviews/meta-analyses of homeopathy in general for all conditions have been published and four of the five were positive for homeopathy. Only the seriously flawed Shang study was negative.
Although Shang purported to compare 100 studies of homeopathy with 100 studies of conventional medicine, their conclusion was based on 8 clinical trials of homeopathy and 5 trials of conventional medicine. So they had to ignore over 90% of the data in homeopathy to reach their conclusion.
And they did not reveal which 8 homeopathic studies they used until several months after the study’s publication. What kind of science is that? That’s science with an agenda! Massage the data until you get the result you want.
That’s “twisted science” which isn’t science at all but more like corporate propaganda. In the NHMRC (Australian) study they did the same thing. They said they looked at all the systemic reviews available, and found 57 systemic reviews containing 176 individual studies.
However, they then set an unprecedented threshold of 150 participants for the trial to be considered reliable. After applying other criteria as well, they were left with only 5 reliable trials, and of these only one trial had positive results so they assessed the overall evidence as negative.
The Homeopathic Research Institute (HRI) went through the study with a fine tooth comb to reveal all these fatal flaws, which included undisclosed conflicts of interest, lack of a homeopathic expert on the committee, etc., etc.
Then HRI found out that in fact the published report was a second go round, and that there was a first report which was not released, likely because they found positive evidence supporting homeopathy.
Thus the “release the first report” movement was born (https://releasethefirstreport.com/). So science has been twisted into a way to advance corporate interests, whatever they may be.
Even the editors of some of the biggest medical journals like NEJM, Lancet and JAMA have admitted this and are saddened by it. Corporations profit wildly from this distortion, but the world’s population is deeply harmed by these deceptions.
So, although it is disheartening, I think we need to keep fighting back. Thank God for groups like the HRI and others that are looking to explain the mechanism of homeopathy and are trying to keep researchers honest. We have truth on our side, so in the end I think we will prevail.
AS: You co-founded the Illinois Homeopathic Medical Association and have served as both its president and vice president. What part do state homeopathic associations play in sustaining homeopathy?
TF: The state homeopathic associations are working to keep homeopathy alive on a professional level and on a local level. Organizations like the NCH and AIH are working more on a national level.
At the IHMA we are trying our best to stay alive by having our meetings and study groups at the ND college (NUHS.edu) and bringing speakers there as well. Unfortunately, the ND students run up quite a bit of debt and have many other competing therapeutic interests, so only a fraction of them (perhaps 20-25%) really keep an interest in homeopathy.
Recruiting new members is difficult, but at least NDs have an interest in homeopathy. Younger MDs and DOs very rarely have an interest in homeopathy in our area. We have actually looked at teaming up with the AIH to have a dual local and national membership to strengthen both organizations a while back.
Mandatory state and national membership was a model that the AMA instituted to good effect years ago. In theory it was a good idea, but didn’t work out because our organization allows all licensed practitioners to join, including DCs (ie Chiropractors) and NDs. The AIH has recently let NDs join, but still has not included DCs as members. So each state organization is helping support homeopathy as best they can in the local milieu.
AS: The health minister of France just announced that homeopathy will no longer be reimbursed under their national health system. It was another case of ignoring the massive evidence for homeopathy. Aside from presenting yet more evidence, what strategies could the homeopathic community employ?
TF: Users and practitioners of homeopathy need to become politically active and start lobbying for more and better access to homeopathic medicines and practitioners.
This is beginning to happen a bit in the US with American’s for Homeopathy Choice leading a campaign to stop the implementation of the FDA’s new draft guidelines for the regulation of homeopathy.
The AIH and other homeopathic organizations are working with AHC to force the FDA to reconsider these guidelines and consider instead to revise the CPG 400.400 which the homeopathic industry felt needed only some tweaking.
Talking to our congressmen and senators and sending letters is another way to exert some influence. Also, the homeopathic pharmacies have to become more involved with supporting these grass roots movements as we all have a lot at stake.
We can use the model of India where the government supports homeopathy and it is thriving and growing. This model needs to be replicated around the world.
AS: Do you have any closing thoughts to share with our readers?
TF: Just that we are going through a difficult time for homeopathy in the US right now as we are being attacked from all directions. However, homeopathy is an amazing healing art that has survived for over 200 years despite such attacks in the past and I believe it will continue to survive and thrive.
I feel privileged to have studied it and to be practicing homeopathy as a physician. I think homeopaths are practitioners who can truly aspire to and follow the dictum of “First do no harm”.
In allopathic medicine today, without the use of a modality like homeopathy it is virtually impossible to do this. For this gift of homeopathy, I am truly grateful to my teachers and role models and to my patients for patiently waiting for me to find the right remedy for them and to God for devising such a unique system of healing and to Samuel Hahnemann for describing the task before us homeopaths so well!