A.S. You’ve owned Ainsworths Pharmacy in London since 1989 and you supply remedies to the British Royal Family. When you started at Ainsworths, to what extent did the government support homeopathy and homeopathic hospitals?
T.P. The simple answer is that the British government are not directly involved in either the access to or the controversies surrounding homeopathy.
Our National Health System, the NHS, had passively embraced homoeopathy during its formation in 1948 simply because it was part of mainstream private medicines delivery. Homoeopathy was a popular discipline and five homoeopathic hospitals, financed by patricians, wealthy benefactors who enjoyed the services of homoeopathic physicians from the early 20th century, were a nice gift into the new health service under the socialist policies of the then Health Minister Aneurin Bevan.
The answers to this and the other questions below reflect the undeniable impact of concerted campaigns against homeopathy by a body of sceptics. Their employment of social media, political and media connections and adept use of lawyers has created a devastating effect on homoeopathy over the last two decades.
When I joined Ainsworths in 1983 there were three other pharmacists working in our London pharmacy. This was generous to say the least but now totally unsupportable. The pharmacy is situated near Harley Street, the epicentre of London’s private medical district. And this reflected the balance of homeopathy across the private-public medical divide.
In those days two things existed that do not today; A healthy number of practising doctors within the environs of Harley Street who supplied us with private prescriptions, and the presence of homeopathy within the National Health Service (NHS).
An erosion of private doctors arose from two factors; a steady decline, the retirement of older, experienced practitioners and the failure of new blood to replace them. The natural process of replacement was impeded by negative campaign strategies conducted by sceptics which depleted entrants to the field. Young doctors were put off registering on the Faculty of Homeopathy courses and these have subsequently attracted a far higher percentage of overseas students. Dr Brian Kaplan, a good friend who I met in the street outside my pharmacy said to me “Tony, medical homoeopathy has died and it was on our watch!”
In reality it’s quite simple, whilst anyone who has experienced the benefits of homoeopathy will be a life-long advocate, potential entrants to our market are dissuaded by a stronger antagonistic argument.
This is a salient lesson for the entire industry and one we should heed; in the absence of actual personal experience, one idea can be defeated by what appears to be a stronger, more logical one. The history of homoeopathy and indeed vitalist medicine is littered with examples of Arhimanic control by the mechanistic school. Harris Coulter’s magnus opus, The Divided Legacy describes this in epic detail.
When I joined Ainsworths as a young pharmacist in 1983 I was fortunate to experience the heyday of homoeopathy in the UK. We were proud to be the only country in the world with NHS provision of homoeopathy and tragically we have lost it.
A.S. In recent years all 5 homeopathic hospitals have been defunded and now homeopathy is no longer on the NHS. How did all this come about?
T.P. To put this into context, homoeopathy was institutionalised more in the UK than anywhere else in the world. It arrived in the UK with Dr Frederick Foster Harvey Quinn, whose close connection to royalty placed it firmly on the medical map.
Quinn had been on the Grand Tour in Italy and discovered homeopathy purely by expediency whilst succumbing to an illness during his time in Naples. An Italian, Dr Nectar advised him to be treated at the Hospital of the Trinity and his recovery at the hands of homoeopaths established a proverbial conversion on his road to Damascus.
He returned to London and set up a private practice with another Italian homoeopath, one Dr Belluomini for twelve years before establishing the first homoeopathic hospital and homoeopathic society. The Royal London homoeopathic hospital in Queens Square was the first to open and ironically last to close doors to homoeopathy. It was followed by four others in Tonbridge Wells, Bristol, Liverpool and Glasgow all of which were purchased by wealthy benefactors who supported homoeopathy as grateful patients.
Each of the five were both teaching centres and hospitals. Although privately funded, in 1948 these hospitals were, by agreement, ceded to the newly formed NHS in return for homoeopathy being incorporated into the publicly funded service, promising the best healthcare for all. And so, it continued until the turn of the century when a well-orchestrated sceptic movement gained traction using efficient communication methods.
The tipping point was the 2010 House of Commons Science and Technology Committee’s review of homoeopathy.
This was a glorified witch-hunt held on camera, whose intent to malign homoeopathy as a credible doctrine was transparent. This malfeasance has been heralded as evidence for the lack of evidence but was nothing more than a cheap charade paraded on camera for the public’s consumption.
Witnesses were carefully selected to give evidence to a parliamentary committee chaired by vested sceptic interests. The Evidence Check was steered by super sceptic Dr Evan Harris a GP a Liberal Democratic Party MP who subsequently lost his seat at the next general election. Such evidence as was collected was reviewed off camera and a hand-shake deal declaiming the scientific merits of homoeopathy was made by three MPs in a back room in the Commons.
After the publication of the report the sceptics lost no time in attacking the soft underbelly of UK homoeopathy. They hit paydirt with NHS provision – how dare the cash-strapped NHS waste money financing charlatan medicine!
Since the Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs), who commission most of the hospital and community NHS services in the local areas for which they are responsible, were all keen to demonstrate a saving they found a willing audience. Irrespective that the total budget for NHS spending on homoeopathy in the UK was of the order of £4 million of a global budget of over £200 billion.
Even this figure is a vast distortion as it includes the costs of running the hospital as well as the homoeopathic costs and the hospital offers integrated medical practices. The stated cost for NHS homoeopathy was therefore £94,412 and the total current healthcare expenditure in 2019 was £225.2 billion, equating to £3,371 per person. Total current healthcare expenditure in the UK accounted for 10.2% of gross domestic product (GDP) in 2019, compared with 9.9% in 2018.
The sceptics simply wrote to every CCG and insisted they remove funding for homoeopathy. If the CCG balked, they hired Bindmans, an extremely well regarded City law firm, to write threatening letters exposing their profligacy. They all crumpled like a cheap suit and removed all payment for the provision of homoeopathic consultation and prescriptions from the NHS.
A Judicial Review costing some £60,000 was filed by a group consisting largely of the British Homeopathic Association (since renamed Homeopathy UK or HUK for short). It failed miserably because it attacked the process by which NHS England had proscribed access to homoeopathy and the judges decided that the process was not at fault.
Evidence, including that which I presented to the court on the exponential decline in Ainsworths NHS prescriptions, was compelling but the decision to make a change to policy was judged to be under the competency of the provision service under their own terms of reference. The case could have been won if the point of attack was honed to the problem rather than the process by which it was conducted.
NHS England conducted a consultation exercise and sent the summary of their proposal around to stakeholders. Their proposal in 2017 was to remove homoeopathy for the NHS and the Judicial Reviews found nothing at fault with their process of canvassing opinion and then acting upon it. See caption below extracted from the 2018 Judicial review.
After the 2010 report was published the sceptics also approached the government and insisted the licenses granted by the MHRA (see below) be rescinded on the grounds they lacked scientific merit. Two comments evolved from this. The Prime Minister (David Cameron) stated that the government’s role was not to intercede in the discretion of practitioners to prescribe for their patients, that professional freedom was sacrosanct and the law should not overstep the mark.
Secondly the medicines regulator (MHRA) complained that removing the regulatory controls (ie licenses) from homoeopathic products would take them out of control and be a retrogressive step as they would simply go underground. So the sceptics broad sweep was limited to two areas of success; limiting entrants into homoeopathy and removing access to publicly funded homoeopathy via the NHS. The latter was a bully-boy, cruel tactic that simply removed access to the poorest in society.
A.S. Is there anything the homeopathic community could have done differently to deal with the attacks?
T.P. Hindsight is a wonderful thing but to be honest I think not. It’s true the sceptics were well organised and utilised social media in an effective manner, and we were disparate, disorganised and therefore unable to meet this challenge at the time.
They took information, passed it around and acted upon weak areas in our defences with remarkable accuracy. The show has now moved onto Germany where they are re-enacting the same drama. Two of their leading lights took over the media very effectively; Simon Singh and his wife were instrumental poisoning the well at the BBC and proliferating attacks by their so called Good Thinking Society (GTS).
Once I phoned up a radio station and defended homoeopathy only to have them call the lead sceptic Michael Marshall in to agree with his counter view. In short, we have no platform and this is being played out in the pandemic to pandemic proportions.
Secondly Edzard Ernst the erstwhile Professor of CAM at Exeter university’s Peninsular Medical School is called upon by both the Advertising Standards Authority and the media to attack homoeopathy
So we had a situation in which we were a minnow in a large pond and had very little ability to effect a change in the status quo. We believe the sceptics were funded by BigPharma by covert means and we simply had insufficient resources to compete with legal challenges.
Where did this come from?
If we trace the origin of the 2010 Evidence Check it reveals an interesting story. I believe the issue that promulgated the process was the agreement by the MHRA (Medicines and Healthcare Regulatory Authority) to license the first indicated product under the NR Registration Scheme of Article 16 of the Homeopathics Directive.
In 1993 the European market for homoeopathic products was deemed to be three billion ECUs and yet there were no EU laws to regulate the manufacture and marketing of our medicines. Distribution was hampered by a lack of regulation, as such the manufacturers suffered unnecessary costs in order to supply outside their countries.
Hence the first and second largest of these, Boiron and Dolisos, were obliged to build factories in Italy in order to sell there as no legal framework to market them from France existed. Boiron had grown from a small operation set up by brothers Jean and Henri in 1932 into a multinational operating in 59 countries. In 2005 they bought the second largest company Dolisos from Pierre Fabre after the pharmaceutical company offloaded them after the Roland Conte (MQL) debacle.
The lack of regulatory framework led the EU Commissioners to draft what became the Homeopathics Directive 93/73EEC and the industry were consulted as stakeholders to ensure the laws were adequate and fair.
I spent several years from 93 to 96 trolling back and forth to CIPH (Committee of International Homeopathic Pharmacists) meetings in Lyon, Strasbourg and Milan, negotiating terms with a joint body of the industry and regulators, including the EC Pharmacopoeia Commission.
The resulting Directive was agreed to by the European Council and implemented into Member State law. Each Member State was invited to establish a Regulatory framework to license homeopathic products. If they chose not to do so (as did Greece at the time) they were obliged to accept products licensed in other Member States into their territory.
In the UK the timing of this was opportune for the Conservative government under John Major were keen to reform the fusty old Department of Health and convert it into an efficient service industry for medicines regulation in Europe.
They turned to BigPharma and proposed a faster and more efficient system of medicines licensing than the pen and quill system in use. The industry lapped up the chance and the Medicines Control Agency (MCA) was born. On April Fools Day 2003 this name changed to the Medicines and Healthcare Regulatory Authority as they incorporated Medical Devices.
So the MCA were delighted to form a Homeopathics Unit to implement the Homeopathics Directive, create a registration scheme for acceptance of dossiers from manufacturers, present these regulations in the form of several Statutory Instruments that were to be passed into UK law for the licensing, labelling and marketing of homoeopathic medicines and establish a regulatory framework for inspecting both dossiers and the manufacturers sites.
Of course, we all agreed from the outset that we were not, like BigPharma, rich as Croesus and it was therefore agreed with MCA to charge considerably reduced fees for the pleasure of this service.
In addition, we had no deep pockets for R&D and the idea of conducting RCTs was beyond our capability. Interestingly part of the remit of the regulator is to facilitate trade and MHRA agreed and swallowed both matters in one gulp. They waived the need to do clinical trials to support the indications and provided bottom dollar licensing fees. And this was the straw that broke the camels back.
The fear and attacks are largely due to the implementation of article 16 of the Homeopathics directive by the MHRA back in the late 90s. The directive was designed to facilitate marketing of homoeopathic products in the EU and we ended up with two registration schemes:
- The HR Scheme for non-indicated products (article 14)
- The NR Scheme for products with indications for minor self-limiting ailments (article 16)
Originally we assumed the MHRA would ignore the NR scheme as it was so intensely controversial and one lawyer there described it as the ‘ghost part of the directive that would never see the light of day’. However, the MHRA Homoeopathics Unit got carried away with their success at implementing the Simplified registration Scheme for non-indicated products and the rest, as they say, is history.
When Nelsons tested the water and applied for the first NR product all hell broke loose and this successful application stimulated the 2010 Evidence Check by the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee. See the full report https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200910/cmselect/cmsctech/45/4502.htm
A.S. It seems you’ve always taken a proactive approach in your work. How have you approached the current pandemic problem? Have you made any special remedies?
T.P. I have always felt that everyone in our field brings something special, something of themselves as a healer. In my case I have been drawn to nosodes and the field of what we term Homeoprophylaxis. Since this axiomatically deals with healthy, symptom-free patients, it goes against the grain of mainstream homoeopathy.
In fact, Hahnemann had precious little to say about it other than in throwaway comment. In footnote (a) of Aphorism 33 (ironically, numerologically the number for universal service) he mentioned the children pre-dosed with Belladonna resisted infection with scarlatina.
In accordance with this fact, it is undeniably shown by all experience (a) that the living organism is much more disposed and has a greater liability to be acted on, and to have its health deranged by medicinal powers, than by morbific noxious agents and infectious miasms, or, in order words, that the morbific noxious agents possess a power of morbidly deranging man’s health that is subordinate and conditional, often very conditional; whilst medicinal agents have an absolute unconditional power, greatly superior to the former.
(a) A striking fact in corroboration of this is, that whilst previously to the year 1801, when the smooth scarlatina of Sydenham still occasionally prevailed epidemically among children, it attacked without exception all children who had escaped it in a former epidemic; in a similar epidemic which I witnessed in Konigslutter, on the contrary, all the children who took in time a very small dose of belladonna remained unaffected by this highly infectious infantile disease. If medicines can protect from a disease that is raging around, they must possess a vastly superior power of affecting our vital force.
I have always found this aphorism truly inspirational and employed it as the basis for much of my work in homoeopathy over the last four decades. It is chock full of goodies for us to feast upon. A homoeopathic medicine of the pathogenic material is more capable of generating a response than the pathogen or the underlying miasm. And therefore, you can employ this in prophylaxis of any disease.
For decades I have spoken daily to livestock farmers who run herds of cattle, flocks of sheep chickens, pigs, goats and other species and advised them on remedies for prevention and treatment. Even as I am writing this response today, on a UK New Year’s bank holiday, I am answering a farmer querying remedies for prevention and treatment of digital dermatitis, warts and pneumonia in his calves.
Whether it’s for viruses or bacteria this stuff works guys, if it didn’t these guys would not come back in their thousands and recommend their friends for decades. They mostly all treat herds of over 100 animals and there are plenty of resident parameters with which to measure success, especially on cell count in mastitis.
In 2009 I was asked to speak about veterinary homoeoprophylaxis at an international conference in Havanna organised by Finlay Institute, the Cuban state-owned vaccine manufacturer. Their 2007-2008 leptospirosis study was the largest HP study every conducted with 2.3 million patients and which resulted in an 84% reduction in the incidence of hospitalised cases.
What is little known is that they went on to distribute ten million doses of Swine flu nosode in 2010 with very little response. Why? Because swine flu, although hyped up beyond belief, was not a real threat. In the UK the government spent an eye-watering £1.26billion in vaccines for swine flu and that year we recorded 26 deaths, even some of these were dubiously attributed to the flu.
The message is clear, in order to use HP you need to ensure that you have a real threat and then target the remedy at the causative organism. You need something else too; exposure to that organism in order to acquire a response. George Vithoulkas rales against the word homoeoprophylaxis and says it doesn’t exist. In a YouTube video you can see him remonstrating that no such thing exists and that what we witness is simply a remedy response provoked by a subclinical response to the infection.
I happen to agree, and I feel this point needs to be taken seriously by homoeopaths employing HP. Pre-dosing with the remedy immediately prior to exposure is necessary in order to procure an immune response. The nub of the issue is how long the pre-dose can be active for prior to exposure?
Isaac Golden was at the same conference in Cuba. As many of you know he has written several books on HP and arrived at protocols for childhood prophylaxis. For these to work there must be exposure at some point in the regime. But exposure unless known becomes ambiguous and this is the potential weakness of HP.
At the outset of the pandemic my pharmacy, Ainsworths, was besieged with requests for both remedies for treatment and prophylaxis. Fear spread like wildfire and people in panic bought three times the quantity they normally purchased with everything going express mail for immediate delivery.
For several weeks in March 2020 my staff asked if they could please come in at weekends to clear the every-mounting backlog of orders. None of us had witnessed anything quite like this before. We’d seen plenty of flu epidemics but nothing of this magnitude. There were two aspects to my delivery of the nosode and I’ll discuss these in turn, save to say the opportunity arose to introduce a new species of remedy into the armamentarium.
My first concern was to make a nosode from authenticated source material but in spring of 2020 this was challenging. Neither PCR, LF nor oxygen saturation tests existed for public use and GPs closed their surgery doors to patients. Anyone with a suspected case of Covid-19 was asked to self-isolate and only go to hospital in the case of dire emergency. The sick were treated as pariahs and any contact with them was as fearful as visiting a leper colony, so obtaining a sample was tricky to say the least.
Initially I turned to an authenticated bovine coronavirus sample we had made previously. However, this was not from the SARS-Cov family and my concern was that it was too far off the beaten track in order to be valuable. A call from Dr. Yubraj Sharma, a Faculty of Homeopathy colleague and now Medical Dean came to the rescue.
Yubraj said he had done a ‘Luc Montagnier job’ and had a sample of remedy to offer. The Chinese scientists in Wuhan had uploaded the SARS-Cov2 genome on PubMed and he’d accessed this and run the digital sequence through an amplification circuit to produce an electronic potency, then hand run this to 30c. He’d been using this and claimed success. Later, he conducted a Proving with his students at the Shamanic School of Homeopathy.
I gratefully accepted this and mixed it with the bovine strain as a belt-and braces approach. However, my gut feeling was this was not close enough to the ideal. There was nothing wrong with the remedy except for one crucial factor, it had no physical connection to the original material in Nature.
In order to understand the Unitary theory, you must feel it. A remedy made from actual substance has a permanent connection to the starting material which connects it to the Source and therefore to an infinite life-source. A digital or card-based remedy made in a Sulis machine has a limited life and even this is affected by the intent of the maker.
Why is this important? I recently peer-reviewed an article for the Journal of Homeopathy which emphasised the difference in expiry dates for remedies made in Homoeopathic Manufacture and Homoeopathic Pharmacies. Without a long perambulation I can summarise whereas manufacturers operate on a five-year shelf life for all materials, pharmacies build up massive remedy banks accumulated over decades and longer, sometime with source materials that are irreplaceable.
In pharmacies the expiry date is restricted to the finished product, for without this we could not exist. This may shock some of you, but it is worthy of mention. At the 2018 Faculty of Homeopathy Congress in Liverpool Dr Russell Malcolm presented his magnus opus, a new digital repertory for Bowel Nosodes based on 3000 treated cases. During the questions time I raised the point that nobody had made bowel nosodes in potency since John and Elizabeth Patterson in 1955, hence all the remedies he prescribed were over 60 years old.
This brings me to my second aspect, vibration. What exactly is a remedy and what does it carry or convey? We are so besotted with the physical world we lose sight of all else that exists and like the quote from Antoine de Saint-Exupery’s famous book The Little Prince “And now here is my secret, a very simple secret: It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.”
Our ego mind has no concept or ability to understand feeling and operates on past experience as a parameter with which to assess each unique event in the moment. And in this huge limitation you can at once perceive the conceptual difference between homoeopathy and allopathy. The ego mind, like allopathy, has a glass ceiling above which we as human beings operate with ease. The question is what then guides our thoughts, words and deeds?
Hahnemann was mindful to represent disease as an ‘untunement’ of the vital force, a super-spiritual dysfunction that represented itself in physicality as a disruption to normal function. The symptoms both mirror the dysfunction and present the direction of cure.
We recognise that any treatment which removes symptoms without redressing the untunement is mistaken but Hahnemann made no comment on the process of the vital force itself – he gave this to God.
Dr Edward Bach went further and ascribed the symptoms of disease as ‘as a result of a conflict, when the personality refuses to obey the dictates of the soul, when there is disharmony, disease, between the Higher or Spiritual Self and the lower personality as we know ourselves’.
This article was published in the Homoeopathic World in 1930 but his message fell on deaf ears in our community who were ardently following his work on nosodes. Bach became a pariah and was forced to separate this spiritual message from his work with new herbs, the Bach Flower remedies. His thesis was to treat the attitude of the patient toward their disease rather than their symptoms.
So, I arrived at a point where I now consider symptoms as the direct result of a physical consequence of a refusal to undertake our individual lessons on our unique path in life, or as a lesson that we need to learn. Life is very simple but we as human beings love to complicate it with drama, largely about the unfairness of our lot.
We each incarnate with a specific role, a set of lessons to learn from experience on the physical plane where action in the material world produces consequence. Life is about connecting the dots and reasoning that, in duality, action and reaction are equal and opposite.
So, we are all unique creators, and the creations are made in every moment. Hence being fully consciously aware of your actions in the moment is essential for you to follow your choices and their consequences. Taking responsibility for your choices is also necessary in order to learn the required lessons.
These lessons can only be learned in retrospect by undergoing the necessary experience and this is our role as human beings. Add into the mix that the Earth is a Free Will planet, and we have a choice in any moment to choose our action; whether or not to follow our head or our heart, and so we are presented both a wonderful opportunity to learn or Dante’s Inferno if we decline.
What are we guided by? This question opens a Pandora’s Box and we could spend quite some time discussing these eternal questions, whether this is our head or heart, both or neither. Nevertheless, we all have a still, small voice, inside us, that most compassionate and patient aspect of ourselves that overseas and monitors our conscious awareness.
This Guiding Intelligence gently nudges us on our allotted path so we may achieve our goal in each lifetime and learn who we truly are through the purpose of lessons presented as opportunities, destinies and milestones in our lives.
We are all able to listen to our Guiding Intelligence and at the outset of the pandemic mine guided me to add something into these nosodes to jog matters along. A certain vibration that originates in the realm of life-force and is embedded into each of the Covid 19 nosodes I made over the last two years.
In this way the nosode acts both as homoeopropylaxis and as a vehicle for the delivery of a message.
The response to being nudged by your Guiding Intelligence can be welcomed or rebuffed. The ability to learn and move on is obvious but stubbornness forces many to cling to reasons and justifications to stay the same. In these cases, the person will experience a swift kick in the form of symptoms as the opportunity to clean house presents itself. Where they remain resistant to their message, I use Bach Flower remedies in a specially designed method to free them.
Thank you so much Alan for publishing this informative and well-rounded piece. The present picture of homeopathic thinking and the state of homeopathy in the uk is been succinctly and eloquently set into its historical, socio-economic and political post-covid (?) context in order to make philosophical and theoretical sense of our current situation as practitioners. I can’t tell you how much I’ve appreciated reading it.
A change is as good as a cure. We have erred in asking the wolf to guard the sheep and we have to find another way to conserve Homoeopathy. A fern will regrow from the root when scarified and we have to keep those green shoots visible.
Wow.. Thank you… I’ve learnt a lot. In fact Tony Pincus’s words have reminded me of my still quiet voice… Time to reconnect and listen. Big pharma have a lot to answer for… So glad I’ve always used Ainsworths after discovering homeopathy quite by chance, thanks to an enlightened pharmacist in Wolverhampton. I so hope that it will be kept alive and that the knowledge doesn’t get lost.
An amazing interview .I was saddened at the start of the article by the success of the attackers of Homoeopathy ,but by the end of the article I felt how far those attackers have to come
Brilliant insights ,thank you
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