DU: Elaine, I’m here, can you see me?
EL: Yes I can, Dana!
DU: I’m in my bathrobe!
EL: I couldn’t help noticing. Why are we here and what are we doing? Oh! Here’s an idea, let’s talk about your book, The Homeopathic Revolution. Are you up for that?
DU: As you can see, I’ve only just gotten up! However, I’m up for anything dealing with homeopathy, you know me, I’m a homeoholic!
EL: Hey, me too!
DU: Let’s get started then!
EL: Let me begin by saying, thank you for writing about this subject: famous people who use homeopathy. I think we all knew that certain people, like Charles Dickens and Mark Twain and Longfellow and Harriet Beecher Stowe and Nathaniel Hawthorne and Emerson and Thoreau and Gandhi…
DU: The problem is, Elaine, you could go on and on–which is pretty much the point of my book!
EL: You have a point there. I was just going to say that I think we all knew that many famous people supported homeopathy; but, they’ve been just names up until now. What you’ve done in The Homeopathic Revolution is show the actual conversations these people have had, just as we have had so many times: what remedy should I take, what potency, etc., it makes you feel very close to them. I have something in common with Charles Dickens now! These “empty” names have become our friends, thanks to you! But I wonder, who came as a surprise to you?
DU: To me the biggest surprise was good ol’ Charles Darwin!
EL: Yes, same here!
DU: The two longest stories in the book are of Charles Darwin and J. D. Rockefeller. I was already familiar with Rockefeller’s interest in homeopathy, but, Darwin’s story was truly amazing. In fact I remember reading something about Darwin that was so unbelievable that I put it on the back-burner because I just didn’t believe it! I figured that it would be too much a part of medical history if that were true, and then finally I began doing the research, going through Darwin’s letters, going through many, many, many biographies, and I uncovered a bevy of amazing information, that even though Darwin, himself, was skeptical of homeopathy, he went to a homeopath at a time he was very, very sick. Although he wrote his seminal book in 1859 (which, by the way, makes the year 2009 the 150th anniversary of the publication of his book), ten years before hand he was so sick that he wrote to a cousin of his that he was dying; and he WAS dying! He was so sick, that he had the following symptoms for at least 2 to 12 years:
DU: Fainting spells
DU: Spots before his eyes
DU: Constant nausea and vomiting
EL: I hate it when that happens….
DU: Heart palpitations
DU: Severe trembling
DU: Severe boils over much of his body
EL: You can’t beat that….
DU: and he could not work at all one out of every three days.
DU: So, his cousin, and the Captain from the Beagle, recommended that he see Dr. James Mamby Gully who had written a book about hydrotherapy. Gully was a homeopathic doctor who was a member of the British Homeopathy Society. He insisted that homeopathic treatment was an essential part of water cure treatment in chronic disease and so, Darwin, as he wrote, took the homeopathic medicines “…without an atom of faith in them.”
DU: But within 8 days he developed a skin rash, and although he said that he had this skin rash, he said that he was feeling better than ever. Darwin noted that people who had experienced gout–the arthritic condition with pain in the big toe–would actually feel better when the toe pain would increase. So, Darwin said that his skin symptoms were like other people’s gout. The point here is that Darwin was talking about something that homeopaths have been talking about for two hundred years and that’s the healing crisis, the externalization process or Hering’s Law: that skin symptoms were not necessarily a skin disease but rather an externalization in the process towards healing, especially if they increase after a homeopathic medicine. Within the month, Darwin was walking seven miles a day and he called himself an “eating and walking machine”! The nausea was gone, and he said that he was a new man and never again did he report any of the symptoms that I listed before–the heart palpitations, the fainting spells, the spots before his eyes; though, shortly after he left Dr. Gully’s spa, where he brought his whole family, he did get the nausea back and he had it the rest of his life. All his other symptoms were gone and he was energized to do and complete his important work.
EL: Do we know what caused his horrible disease?
DU: We don’t know. I’ll tell you this. Darwin became ill while he was on The Beagle in South America. There are different theories and a lot has been written about what he was suffering from but it’s all inconclusive. So, we don’t know for sure the actual disease he had but we do know what made him better–Dr. Gully’s treatment.
EL: That’s a great story! Let’s talk about the beginning of your book. It’s a history of homeopathy, and I think people will be shocked to hear that the history of homeopathy around the world kind of resembled something of a witch-hunt against homeopaths.
DU: Actually, we’re still going through this period! Historically, homeopathy and homeopaths have been attacked in America and in Europe. And even though homeopaths at that time were almost entirely medical doctors who had done conventional medical training, the problem was that homeopaths were not just practicing a different system of medicine, they were very critical of the conventional medicine of the day; and, imagine if you owned a pharmacy, at that time they were called apothecaries, and the allopathic patients would come in with prescriptions for between four and ten different drugs in pretty large doses, whereas the homeopathic patient would come in with a prescription for a very small amount of a single medicine, and the laws were such that the pharmacies were only allowed to charge based on the amount of drugs they prescribed; so, it wasn’t cost-effective for them to provide and sell homeopathic medicines to customers; so, the pharmacies began to rebel. They began to make fake homeopathic medicines and these shenanigans forced Hahnemann and his followers to make their own medicines themselves (Hahnemann would sometimes get arrested for doing this because you weren’t allowed to make medicines). It was really an economic situation of the regular apothecaries not being able to make homeopathic medicines and make a living doing so. It’s akin to what’s happening today with the big drug companies making alot of money selling their drugs, and we homeopaths providing some critique of them and selling our medicines at an incredibly cheap and all-too-inexpensive price.
EL: So, back to your book….
DU: The thesis of my book is that we in homeopathy today stand on the shoulders of everyone that stood before us and that we stand very tall because the shoulders of the people before us represent many of the most respected cultural heroes of the past two hundred years, and not just literary greats or political leaders, but clergy, spiritual leaders, corporate leaders, philanthropists, leading world class musicians, artists, sports stars, celebrities of both the stage and screen. Some skeptics talk about my book as being a celebrity-filled book, and actually there’s only one chapter that deals with Hollywood celebrities (and one chapter that deals with musicians), but the great bulk of the book consists of what I call “cultural heroes”, people we know and respect that were among the smartest and most productive people offering something to our culture and that’s why we know their names today.
EL: Here’s something you made mention of that I found astonishing: Only a handful of drugs have lasted on the market for more than thirty years!
DU: There is a certain evolution to the use of a drug. Initially, a new drug comes on like gangbusters with great fanfare and it seems to be very effective; but, then over time, more research is done and it’s found to not be as effective as originally thought; then, with more research, it’s found to be not only less effective than originally thought but is causing even more problems with side effects. The drug often is still used though it has been found to not work well and has been found to cause numerous serious problems…until a new drug has been found, comes on with great fanfare and high expectations until it, too, later, is found to be not as effective as previously assumed and is found to cause numerous problems (the cycle continues).
EL: I take it this trend has not registered with the allopathic community? They don’t look at it as, “We keep failing!”
DU: No, they look at it as progress! In fact, they criticize the homeopaths for “not changing and growing.” The difference is that in conventional medicine, the drugs that they use don’t cure and are dangerous and they realize it. In homeopathy we do expand the number of medicines we use but we don’t throw any of the old ones away, they’re still effective for those symptoms that they’re known to cause. The system of homeopathy is a rigorous one and is a system based on a principle in nature that we find repeatedly in evidence. These medicines that we use and have used for two hundred years are still effective for that syndrome of symptoms they’re known to cause, and even though we are using more medicines and even though homeopaths are using Expert System software to help find the medicines, the old medicines are still tried-and-true and effective.
DU: I like reminding people that homeopathy became popular in the 19th century for one reason more than any other and that is its effectiveness in treating the infectious disease epidemics of that era, and I’m talking about Scarlet Fever, Typhoid Fever, Cholera and Yellow Fever; and, the death rate from these different infectious diseases by percentage was often between two and ten times higher under conventional treatment as compared with homeopathy. So there is that, what I refer to as that body of evidence, and it is much more significant than people realize.
EL: Dana, but really, they say we have “no research” all the time, but, it’s patently untrue, is it not?
DU: For people who are interested in the research side of homeopathy, the other book that I have written and for which I’m very proud, and for which I continue to write, is an e-book called Homeopathic Family Medicine, and this is an e-book because it’s the most up to date and comprehensive body of clinical research on homeopathy. The benefit of writing an e-book is that it allows me, as the author, to update it on a regular basis and allows a person that purchases it to either purchase it as a one-time download or as a two-year subscription, and every three or four months I add about ten new studies!
EL: Really, that many?
DU: So, it’s a very dynamic body of information, it keeps growing and so people out there who have any interest in the research side of homeopathy, you might subscribe to this e-book that’s available at www.homeopathic.com. I should also mention that in addition to providing information about research, it covers the discussion of more than a hundred common ailments and in about 85 of them, I also give specific known homeopathic medicines and some of their differential materia medica, so it’s a practical book.
EL: Why not materia medica information on all the diseases?
DU: Because for certain diseases like heart disease and cancer, there’s too many medicines to mention, they’re too complex to deal with in a simplified fashion; but, I’m very proud of this book and once again I think it is important for homeopaths to know what is our evidence base, because even though the patient in front of us may not be skeptical of homeopathy, I have found that his or her partner might be skeptical, or his or her parents, or their neighbors or other health professionals might be skeptical.
EL: Yes, that’s very true. Dana, your father was a doctor, right?
DU: Yes, he was a pediatric allergist in Los Angeles. And allergy, of course, is that medical specialty where they give a small dose of that which a patient is allergic to.
EL: Sounds radical.
DU: So, you could say I have this Law of Similars in my very bones.
EL: Was your father disappointed in you for not following in his footsteps?
DU: Of course, initially, he dismissed homeopathy. But when I asked him if he even knew what it was, he said he didn’t. But after I cured my sister of a very serious problem and for which he had taken her to five different specialists….
EL: Good lord! Five?
DU: …and even after having exploratory surgery twice…
EL: Good heavens!
DU: …nothing had helped this daily abdominal pain that she had; but one dose of Calcarea carbonica 200C, and it was all gone. And what was so amazing was that my sister was skeptical about this result, even though it disappeared, after two years, within the first week of taking the remedy; but, it impressed my father so much that he changed his point of view and said that from now on, when people in our family get sick, we should try homeopathy first.
EL: What a great story! How did you come to learn about homeopathy?
DU: When I was 19 I was a senior at UC Berkeley and a colleague of mine gave me a book on the subject. I read it, it sounded interesting but I didn’t know what to do with it! And then, while I was there, I was volunteering at the Berkeley Free Clinic and someone put a sign up that said, “Study Group In Homeopathy Forming” and that group became a group of doctors and several other people including Bill Gray, Corey Weinstein, Lou Klein, Roger Morrison, David Warkentin (who developed MacRepertory), Randall Newstaedter, Stephen Cummings, Nancy Herrick, Peggy Chipkin…and this group of people met weekly over a five year period, and at different times people began their practice and then began teaching others.
EL: What a great beginning, these are all very big names in homeopathy!
DU: It is really quite remarkable how this one group formed and ultimately created so many of the modern day leaders in the field, but, I’m a big believer in kismet, I believe that there’s magic that happens every single day and I don’t believe in coincidence.
EL: But, you got into trouble in the beginning, didn’t you?
DU: That’s right. In 1976, I was honored to be arrested for practicing medicine without a license. They ended up setting the trial date for Samuel Hahnemann’s birthday!
DU: A certain irony there.
EL: I’ll say!
DU: So, as it turned out, we didn’t have to go to trial because two weeks before the trial date we submitted to the court a proposed solution which they agreed to that allowed me to continue my practice as long as I continued to not call myself a doctor and as long as I continued to refer patients to doctors, which I had always done. They differentiated medical care from health care and agreed that they are complementary. It did not establish what we’d call a legal precedent but it did in this case create a social precedent about how one court chose to deal with this complex legal process, and now in California, there are laws that allow people to practice. We are a “freedom of choice” state like Minnesota where people can engage in health practice without conventional medicine license.
EL: Have I mentioned the name of your book lately?
DU: Why, no, I don’t believe you have…..
EL: It’s The Homeopathic Revolution.
DU: And the subtitle is, Why Famous People and Cultural Heroes Choose Homeopathy.
EL: Wait a minute, let me check that…. Yep, that’s what it says.
DU: What ended up stimulating me to write this book was when Coretta Scott King, widow of Dr. Martin Luther King, passed away. The American media made note of the fact that she was in an alternative medicine hospital at the time in Mexico seeking homeopathic treatment.
EL: I think many people will be surprised to hear that!
DU: And, whether this was too late in her life or not, it still gives a certain degree of pleasure to me that people we all know and respect in a very profound way still see the benefits and/or wisdom in trying systems like homeopathy; so, because of this, in my book, I have my own “I Have A Dream” speech. It’s my own personal dream of what I imagine for health and medical care in the future. It’s a dream of an integrative model, integrating homeopathy within a comprehensive health care system and integrating it in our own lives; so, I hope there are other dreamers out there, I hope that other people will help us create and manifest this dream of homeopathy. Homeopathy is a system of medicine I call nano-pharmacology–nano meaning “dwarf” or very very small, but also with the perception of being very powerful, and that’s what our medicines are: very small but very powerful. I also call homeopathy “medical biomimickry”–a way of learning how to mimic nature in order to create solutions. That’s ultimately what we’re doing with homeopathy, we’re looking for medicines from nature that will mimic the symptoms that we have as a way of creating a healing process.
EL: Didn’t Hahnemann say in The Organon that medicine should mimic the way cures occur in nature? He gave examples: an infectious disease that’s similar to a person’s chronic disease will eradicate the chronic disease; but, an infectious disease that’s unlike the chronic state will suspend it for a time, but not cure it. Medicine should mimic nature, that was his message. Thank you, Dana. This is probably a good time for me to say, go back to sleep!
DU: OK, Elaine, thanks for the call and much appreciation to you and Dr. B.
Dana Ullman, MPH
Homeopathic Educational Services
2124 Kittredge St.
Berkeley, CA. 94704
Elaine Lewis, DHom, CHom