Before I start this dialogue, I would like to remind the readers that I have just launched a blog on my website www.lookingbackmovingforward.com for discussions about how we feel about our profession, how we feel about what is discussed in the interviews, for us to share our experiences and to create an international place to meet and chat in the matrix. Feel free to come and visit and contribute your thoughts.
So Happy New Year everyone and welcome to the first slice of Looking Back Moving Forward for 2009! This month I have chosen Francis Treuherz, a very long term member of our homeopathy community. Enjoy!
Thursday 3 March 2005 found me in Kilburn visiting the fountain of knowledge that is Francis Treuherz, a fellow of the Society of Homeopaths. He swept me upstairs to the library in his high ceilinged Victorian house, and as I relaxed in his patients’ worn velvet throne, I was immersed in the sights, sounds and smells of our heritage. Nearly every book written about homeopathy adorns the many shelves of Francis’ clinic room. Exciting trinkets once owned by our renowned forefathers and mothers are displayed for his patients and fellow scholars of homeopathy to view. For the several hours that I was with him I felt that I had stepped back in time.
How it all started for Francis:
ROWENA: What got you into homeopathy in the beginning Francis?
FRANCIS: I was a successful patient actually. I went to see my dentist one day and made some joke about a dirty needle, because I had had hepatitis years before, and he said, “You have made that joke before – go and see my brother, he is a homeopath”.
I had no awareness of the word, although there was a Manchester Homeopathic Clinic at that point in an old building right next to the university. I must have driven, walked, or been on the bus past it countless times, with no conscious knowledge of it. This was in the early 1970s. I had had hepatitis in 1966, seriously.
So I went to see his brother. At the time, I was drinking coffee intravenously and the first remedy he gave me was Nux vomica, but that really was because of the coffee. Then I got another remedy and I remember, very, very quickly,
feeling well. I used to ride a bicycle everywhere and I could no longer really ride; I just didn’t have enough energy, and after the remedies I was back on my bike.
I heard about a couple of homeopathic study groups. One was taught by John Damonte in North London, which Misha Norland was attending, and the other was taught by Thomas Maughan in South London. I was holding down full-time and part-time jobs, at the Open University and London University at the time, so I didn’t have much time other than that for private reading. I decided to try and register for a PhD because I felt this was a subject worthy of study and I was interested in the history of homeopathy and in particular, as I was a social scientist, the reactions to successful homeopathic treatment of the cholera epidemics in the nineteenth century.
There had been a cholera epidemic and the then secretary of the Board of Health made a report to Parliament. He added that if he got sick he would go to the homeopaths despite his initial prejudice. He stated their mortality rate was about sixteen percent compared to the general London hospital mortality rate, which was about sixty percent. It could have been that the patients were brought in at an earlier stage of their illness; the homeopathic hospital could have been more hygienic and perhaps the patients could have been better nourished as they were from a higher economic class. The reaction from Parliament was that “This was against all reason, truth and science” and the figures were suppressed.
So I called my proposed thesis ‘The Social Construction of a Rejected Science’ and my idea for a PhD was rejected. The Open University said that homeopathy was not a proper subject to study. However, it was prevailed upon the London University to accept me because, after all, I had been teaching there for eleven years and I was an examiner. I wrote long chapters on Kent’s philosophy and the origins of Kent’s thought and on Rudolph Steiner and the apparent confusion between homeopathy and anthroposophy among homeopathic practitioners. I was trying to look at what the boundaries were of homeopathic science. I began to look at the work of Bach and got as far as the bibliography, which was actually published, but I never got round to writing that chapter because I discovered that a college had emerged where homeopaths were actually being taught.
So I went to see the principal of the College of Homeopathy (COH), Robert Davidson, and asked if I could find out what he was teaching. He replied that the only way I could enter his classes was if I enrolled as a student. I appreciated the way an observer changes the subject under observation and that it would be less of a problem if I was one of the students so I agreed, although, I thought, the notes I would be taking might be different. I wrote down everything the teacher said and before long I became so fascinated that I ended up carrying on seriously studying and the PhD was abandoned along the way.
Francis and the late Harris Coulter:
The first really good grasp I had of the history of homeopathy was a French book by someone called Denis Demarque, Homeopathy, the Medicine of Experience[i], which looked at the whole gamut of the history of homeopathy, and Harris Coulter’s Divided Legacy. I read that very early on, before I was studying to be a homeopath. One of the reasons for choosing a project on the ideas of Kent and the influence of Swedenborg was that that was something that Harris had avoided.
I sent that early chapter of my PhD to the American Institute of Homeopathy, for publication in the American Journal of Homeopathic Medicine[ii] and they sent it to Harris Coulter for peer review. I never heard. So I wrote to Harris asking for his advice, not knowing that he had been sent it for peer review, and he thought “Oh no, not an article on Swedenborg – I cannot stand that!” Then he realised I had got inside it in some way and said it was okay to publish, and we became firm friends and he has been one of the biggest influences ever since. Harris is steeped in the history of homeopathy and homeopathy philosophy, without being a practitioner.
A digression; One day I was in my bedroom and I heard
the answer phone going, and it was Harris Coulter saying he was going to Moscow and his plane
was going to come to London for a stopover later that day. I rushed
to pick up the phone, he was in Washington at the time, and luckily
I was free and I picked him up from the local station. We sat
and talked about homeopathy and got books from the shelves. I
had this big pot of mushroom soup, we drank red wine and I had
the most marvellous day. Later he went to Moscow and then to Paris
and the next thing I got was a phone call saying that he had had
He was due in Ireland, a month after that meeting of
ours, to talk at the Irish Conference. I simply packed an enormous
briefcase with every book he had ever written and took it over
there and we lit a candle at the beginning of the Conference when
he was due to speak, as I didn’t know whether he was alive or
not. I fished out of my bag one book after another, and talked
about his work and explained what he had done.
When I returned home, I received a phone call from one
of his sons asking me if I would go to Paris where he was in hospital
to see him. I just dropped everything and went by Eurostar. I
walked in there early in the morning, and there he was with a
tube in his face, lying there in a stupor. “Hello Harry”, I said. “Hello Fran” he said. They wanted
someone whose voice he might recognise.
It was the only time in my life I have pretended to be
a doctor. The nurse came in and I asked her what medicine
he was going to be given. She replied, “Opium” and I requested that it wasn’t given to
him. But she came in an hour later, and again I asked her not
to give it to him. As the day wore on he began to sit up and we
had a conversation. He wasn’t really always there, his mind kept
drifting off, but by the end of the day he was sitting up, and
by the end of the second day he was drinking from a cup instead
of from a tube. He had told me a lot of names and addresses of
people to write to tell them where he was. I was testing his memory,
but he couldn’t remember his own address. So it wasn’t quite right.
He had been proving opium, the remedy he needed, as it was given too
Unfortunately he has remained partially paralysed and
disabled. The last thing he wrote was the introduction to Julian
Winston’s book The Faces of Homeopathy[iii]. This was a few years ago now. It is possible
that Harry took too much Arnica. He used to travel a lot and use an enormous
amount for jet lag. So yes, Harry was a big influence.
The Homeopathic Helpline:
ROWENA: How did the Homeopathic
Helpline come about?
upon a time I worked above a pharmacy for many years in East Finchley.
I was already working there when I got recruited for NHS work and I stayed working there as well.
The pharmacist, David Needleman, had studied homeopathy. He didn’t own the
shop and the owner said that now he was doing homeopathy all these
people were coming along for free advice and ringing him up and
blocking the shop line. The owner asked David to get his own phone
line. David thought of getting a pay line but obviously he couldn’t
do it seven days a week, so when he had a day off I was his first
reserve and I still am.
I suddenly realised when I was on duty on the first working
day after Christmas, the day when everyone nowadays goes shopping
– every homeopath in the land was still on holiday. Everybody
who had suppressed their flu or cough over Christmas now rang the Homeopathic
Helpline and I got over one hundred calls a day –
and this winter it has been like that almost throughout December
and January. It is very, very busy and routinely homeopaths now
put the number on their answer phones and patient literature.
We receive calls on everything you can imagine, but we
also get people who have never used homeopathy before but they
have been recommended to call us by a friend. And of course, they
don’t have remedies so we have to have a mental map of
where the people can get remedies from all over the UK.
Neal’s Yard Remedies, a small chain, is actually very, very useful.
We have to be very careful. For example we might say,
“It is possible, and I am just saying this as a routine question,
I think you have got pneumonia, but I don’t know at this distance away.
Why not go and see your GP; you will then have a prescription of antibiotics as a safety net. Then don’t let them frighten
you. If your GP says what you have, then you are welcome to ring
up and tell us, and this will give me an idea as to which remedy
to give.” I know in these circumstances that they have got the
safety net in their prescription. I haven’t said to them to do
anything other than a citizen would say. It may be pneumonia,
it may be something else, but I suggest they go and see their
doctor, get the
diagnosis and ring back. We don’t need the diagnosis to prescribe.
We need the symptom picture. But the doctor can listen or observe or
say which lung is affected, which will help chose the remedy.
For example, I cannot see what sort of rash a person has, on the
Do you often recommend they go to the doctor?
Accident and Emergency, yes. I am going to suggest a remedy –
a child has got a bump to the head and has been unconscious and
may need more than Arnica. I say that if there is any disturbance to
vision; if a squint develops or there is vomiting, I tell them
to go to hospital. I may have said take Natrum sulphuricum but they don’t have it or they might not
obtain it fast enough. Or they may not improve from the remedy
and I am not there to observe and prescribe again. That is where these little kits are so wonderful,
because you can always tell people, if you have got a kit the
Homeopathic Helpline is so much more useful, because there is
a chance that you have got the right remedy.
The Holy Grail?:
ROWENA: How do you feel about
the philosophy that there is one remedy that a patient resonates
with all their life?
is an ideal state. George Vithoulkas once talked about prescribing for people
on his Greek island (Alonissos). Decades ago the patients were simple to
prescribe for and they were on one remedy all their life. But now, there is so much
Western influence – antibiotics, divorce, drugs and all the rest of it. Life
is more complicated and it is harder to be certain of that remedy
for all their life. I also think that when an epidemic turns up
the ‘remedy for all their life’ is not going to help them when
they have got mumps or if they have got septicaemia. They might need Jaborandi or Pyrogenium. Quite often when they turn up with a more
chronic complaint, arthritis or anxiety, the ‘remedy for all their life’ might help
them. And you might think that it should help their sepsis, too, but often it doesn’t and then you are
in trouble if you don’t have other tools up your sleeve.
The question is what to do when the philosophy doesn’t
fit the patient. As long as you are prepared for the exceptions,
philosophical approaches are very useful; they are heuristic devices,
ways of understanding the world and the patients within it.
There have always been innovators and seekers after a
new truth. Eizayaga from Buenos Aires was a medical doctor and fitted his way of prescribing with his
view of pathology. I think his best work wasn’t his attempt
to explain the philosophy but his way of looking at the repertory, which is less well known. If you are new
to medicine, although you have a grasp of homeopathy, and a patient
comes to see you with multiple sclerosis, do you know how to look for diplopia – visual disturbances or whatever else they
So Eizayaga extracted all the rubrics,
which apply to MS from the repertory and created a series of books called his
Algorithms (now available on computer as part of MacRepertory). So I read through the repertory to see
the pathology, not to ignore the individualistic aspects,
but to help differentiate. Eizayaga’s way is not to ignore the
mentals but to look for the pathology to guide the way through
the repertory. Kent’s Repertory is full of pathology and not only the mentals.
Swedenborg talks about the mind ruling the body, and
that is true, but the pathology is still there.
ROWENA: Tell me what you
know of Swedenborg.
Swedenborg had a big influence over Kent. Once upon a time, a long, long time ago,
there was an Englishman by the name of J. Garth Wilkinson. Wilkinson set off on a holiday to Iceland
and he observed the sheep on this volcanic mountain called Hekla.
They had got bony growths on their jaws and legs. Due to his homeopathic
imagination he thought that it was because of the water, the grass
and the lava – the sheep have got ‘hekla’. So he had a lump of
Hekla mountain brought back to England and made it into a remedy
and behold it was good for bony growths. I looked up Wilkinson
and what I found was, he was a doctor like Hahnemann, who gave it all up and became a translator.
We have heard that before haven’t we? Hahnemann was also a translator.
But what he did was to translate Swedenborg’s mid-eighteenth century Latin into mid-nineteenth
century English. Who wanted to read these translations? People
like Ralph Waldo Emerson, and other transcendentalists on the Eastern
seaboard of the USA. Henry James senior, the father of the novelist, and William
James, the psychologist, ran a magazine called The Harbinger[iv]. Through Henry James, J. Garth Wilkinson’s translations of Swedenborg became known to
the intelligentsia in North America and many of these intelligentsia
were homeopaths, and so Swedenborg’s ideas filtered into the homeopathic
community, not only to Kent, but to all of them. This started in the
1840s and for the next couple of decades.
Swedenborg was a Swede and he was a mining engineer,
philosopher, Christian and a hallucinationist. People afterwards
founded what became known as the New Church of Jerusalem of Emmanuel
Swedenborg, a nonconformist sect, but that is about
as much as I know. They have got a reading room and library in
Bloomsbury. So that is the short version of how Swedenborg came
into homeopathy. We believe that it is possible that Hahnemann knew about Swedenborg, but he never admitted
it. Kent absorbed it in a more wholesale fashion than
a lot of the other Swedenborgian homeopaths, and quotes him.
So what influence does Swedenborg have on homeopathy?
idea of the 6C, 30C, 200C, 1M, 10M series of potencies. Levels of energy in the universe have this harmonic scale,
this series of degrees, for example. The idea of the mind as an
influence on the body is a Swedenborgian concept – forward thinking then, taken for
granted by us now. Oeconomia Regnum Animalis – The
Economy of the Animal Kingdom[v], he wrote it in the mid-eighteenth century,
the body (economia) is ruled by the mind, (anima).
Francis’ take on whether homeopathy
will become dormant again and what makes a good homeopath long
ROWENA: Homeopathy has obviously
gone through a renaissance these last thirty to forty years –
do you see it becoming dormant again?
it is too successful for that. I am an optimist. I hope it has
learned its lessons for keeping its head above water. I just think
it has grown too much.
What do you think has contributed to its growth this time?
world is beginning to realise that allopaths are busy inventing medicines and then withdrawing
them because they are dangerous. There are these things like Methicillin
resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and flu epidemics. If only we could get in there with our foot
in the door, that would make a huge difference.
your experience, do you think we have remedies to combat MRSA?
will depend on the remedy epidemicus. It is likely to be a snake venom like Crot.
horridus or Pyrogenium, but it depends on how it presents in any
hospital or region at any one time. There is an essay by Pierre
Schmidt[vi], which is only in French, on the epidemic
remedy. It has never been translated, but it would
be very useful at this time. It boils down to the economics of
publishing; nobody wants to do translations because they cost
finally, Francis, what do you think makes a good homeopath, long-term?
have to be a fanatic. I don’t mean that you go around converting
everybody! I just mean you have to be fairly single-minded about
the intellectual and emotional demands of the job – and keep at
it. And be a member of a team, that is to say whether it is with
a supervisor or a colleague – you cannot be a loner. If you are
alone a lot you have to find ways of relating to teams, so if
your Continuous Professional Development, like mine, is devoted to reading books and
you are alone, you actually have to go out and meet people and
go to seminars as well and learn from other people.
That is good advice Francis. I know that is why some homeopaths
want to leave our profession, because they feel unsupported and
alone. Many thanks for your time and stories today Francis. What
would we do without you!!
Kingdom, translated by John James Garth Wilkinson, H Bailliere, London, and