Editor’s note: This collection of biogaphies is abstracted from Dana Ullman’s well known book, The Homeopathic Revolution: Why Famous People and Cultural Heroes Choose Homeopathy
Pythagoras (582–507 BC), the Greek philosopher who is recognized as the father of numbers and of mathematics, was one of the earliest scientists. By his measurements of the length of musical tones, he made the first known reduction of a quality (sound) into a quantity (length and ratio). He also discovered that every musical tone generates a series of additional inaudible pitches that add to the richness of the tone. He quantified these inaudible pitches, called overtones, with mathematic ratios. Trying to understand nature through mathematics remains a basic method and objective of science today.
Pythagoras is credited with originating the concept of the “music of the spheres,” an ancient philosophical concept that regards proportions in the movements of celestial bodies—the sun, moon, and planets—as a form of music. This music may not be normally audible, but ancient scholars acknowledged that each planet and moon created its own motion, sound, and harmony, which the ancients translated into mathematical concepts.
The Pythagoreans were also known to use music to heal the body and elevate the soul. Plato, Pliny, Cicero, and Ptolemy were some of the philosophers of the ancient world who contemplated and wrote about the music of the spheres. This seminal doctrine was made practical and worldly in medieval Europe, where it developed into its most glorious expression in the architecture of great abbeys and cathedrals that were consciously designed to conform to the proportions of musical and geometric harmony (Plant, 2006).
The great astronomer Johannes Kepler (1571–1630) further studied these phenomena and developed laws of planetary motion, describing the relationships of planets and their orbits through numbers and ratios and using them to explain how they influence events on Earth. He was the first to show that our moon influences the tides on Earth. Kepler’s writings are replete with musical references. He desired to create a “symphony of the cosmos,” stating that “the movements of the heavens are nothing except a certain everlasting polyphony.”
At the most sophisticated level, music, science, nature, and healing are interconnected. It is therefore not surprising that some of the most respected musicians of the past 200 years have explored and experimented with inaudible yet powerful nanodoses of homeopathic medicines.
Ludwig van Beethoven (1770–1827) is generally considered the greatest composer in the history of music. He was born in Bonn, Germany but moved to Vienna in his early twenties to study music with Joseph Haydn. Somewhere around 1800 he began suffering from tinnitus (noises in the ear) and hearing loss. The cause of Beethoven’s deafness remains unknown, though various experts have attributed it to syphilis (Hayden, 2003), beatings from his father, lead poisoning, typhoid, or the newest theory, otosclerosis (Mai, 2007).
Beethoven also experienced severe gastrointestinal distress, powerful headaches (he even had several teeth pulled in the hopes of relieving some of his pain), an abscessed jaw, recurrent rheumatic pains, and frequent cardiac arrhythmia (which he set to music in a piano sonata, Opus 81a, Les abieux).
Historians are lucky to have a rich cache of letters to and from Beethoven as well as his Conversation Books, the writing pads that he used to communicate with others when he could no longer hear audible speech. There are references by Beethoven to homeopathy in this written documentation, and it is well known that his doctor between 1820 and 1826 was Dr. Anton Braunhofer, a professor of biology at the University of Vienna. Beethoven’s nephew, Karl, described Dr. Braunhofer as using homeopathic medicine “because he too follows fashions in medicine” (Beethoven, 1981, 21; Mai, 2007, 127). Braunhofer also recommended certain dietary changes, including avoidance of wine, coffee, and spices. Braunhofer admonished Beethoven that he “must live according to nature” (Schweisheimer, 1945).
In late April 1825, Beethoven was suffering from inflammation of his bowel, and in May he was spitting blood. Initially, the prescriptions given him didn’t work, and Beethoven’s nephew complained that he was required to make him specific meals, one rule of which was serving only steak for lunch. Several sources acknowledge that the treatment allowed him to return to work and finish a quartet in July 1825 (String Quartet in A Minor, Opium 132) (Hellenbroich, 1995; Takacs, 2007). By August 1825, Beethoven wrote to his associate and early biographer, Anton Schindler: “My doctor saved me, because I could no longer write music, but now I can write notes which help to relieve me of my troubles” (Mai, 2007, 126).
Ultimately, Beethoven expressed such appreciation to and for Dr. Braunhofer that he composed two canons in his honor (of forty-three canons in total): the Four-Part Canon in C Major (WoO 189, “Doktor, sperrt das Tor dem Tod”—“Doctor, bar the gate to death, notes save from distress”) and Canon in Two Parts in C Major (WoO 190, “Ich war hier, Doktor”—“I was here, Doctor.”).[i]
Over his life Beethoven had sought the care of various conventional physicians and was known to refer to them as “medical asses” (Hayden, 2003, 78). Composers such as Beethoven, literary greats such as Goethe, and many others in the creative arts were known to join the political leaders[ii] and the wealthy classes of Germans in going to homeopathic doctors and to spas and natural medicine centers in Teplitz, Marienbad, and Driburg (Maretzki and Seidler, 1985, 395–396).
In early February 1826, Ignaz Schuppanzigh (1776–1830), a violinist, friend, and teacher of Beethoven,[iii] assured Beethoven that Braunhofer was very skillful, and further, he told him that their mutual close friend and confident Nikolaus Zmeskall, who had suffered from gout, was particularly enthusiastic about homeopathy (Albrecht, 1996, 132).
In late February 1826, Braunhofer treated Beethoven for symptoms of dysentery and gout, at which time he discouraged Beethoven from drinking coffee, because, the doctor said, it would be bad for his stomach and his nerves over the long term, even though the stimulant effect would seem to provide temporary relief (Mai, 2007, 127). Braunhofer prescribed a homeopathic dose of Cinchona officinalis (Peruvian bark, from which quinine is a primary ingredient), and Beethoven later expressed gratitude for the benefits he received from the doctor’s treatment.
Although Beethoven moved to Baden, some 300 miles away from Vienna where Braunhofer practiced, the composer sought Braunhofer’s care when he traveled to Vienna. When Beethoven asked Braunhofer to come to Baden to treat him, Braunhofer declined, saying that it was too far a distance to travel. Several historians note that Beethoven did not follow the doctor’s advice to stop drinking wine in 1826 and that this created some tension between the doctor and his patient. Braunhofer’s advice to stop drinking was indeed sound, especially in light of the fact that Beethoven died in 1827 of cirrhosis of the liver (Schweisheimer, 1945). Although Beethoven scholars say that he was not a “drinker,” he was very fond of table wines, consumed in moderate quantities, and was very reluctant to abstain.
It should also be noted that even though the emperor of Austria had declared the practice of homeopathic medicine to be illegal in 1819 and even though it remained illegal until that emperor died in 1835, homeopathy was still practiced by a small and select group of highly respected physicians and even priests. Dr. Matthias Marenzeller, captain of the medical corps in Vienna, was a leading advocate of homeopathy, as was Father Veith (1787–1877), pastor at the famed St. Stephens Cathedral in Vienna. Homeopathy was appreciated enough in 1820 that even Prince Schwarzenberg, commander-in-chief of Austria’s allied armies against Napoleon, went to Leipzig, Germany, to seek treatment from Dr. Samuel Hahnemann, the founder of homeopathy.[iv]
Another interesting connection between Beethoven and homeopathy is the fact that two days after he died, Dr. Franz Hartmann visited his home and obtained a lock of hair from the famed composer.[v] Dr. Hartmann was the close friend of Schubert as well as the homeopath to Robert Schumann and his wife Clara (see below).
Nicolo Paganini (1782–1840), the famous Italian composer who some consider the greatest violinist who ever lived, was a patient of homeopathy’s founder, Samuel Hahnemann, MD. Paganini, like many people of his day, suffered considerably under conventional medical treatment. Hahnemann could not help but notice that all of Paganini’s teeth had fallen out, his mouth had become ulcerated, and his jawbone was abscessed due to mercury treatment (probably resulting from being diagnosed with syphilis at an early age).
In choosing a remedy, Hahnemann considered Paganini’s personal habits and appearance. There are various stories about Paganini’s life that show him to be a man of great frugality. He was known to bargain incessantly for a lower price and to purchase used clothing. Once he purchased clothes, he would wear them and patch them continually, insisting that “an old garment is an old friend.” This story is meaningful to homeopaths because it helps explain why Hahnemann prescribed homeopathic Sulphur for him.[vi]
Because of Paganini’s good looks and fame, women were very attracted to him. Hahnemann prescribed for him, but shortly afterwards, the doctor stopped treating the violinist-composer after Hahnemann determined that Paganini had gotten too familiar with his young wife, Melanie (Handley, 1990, 114). After Paganini’s death, a love letter to Melanie Hahnemann was found among his possessions.
Frédéric Chopin (1810–1849) was a Polish composer who is one of the most famous and influential composers for the piano.
During the 1840s, half of the population of France and England contracted tuberculosis, and two-thirds of its victims died. When Chopin became ill with tuberculosis, he and his lover at the time, the French novelist and feminist George Sand (aka Amandine-Aurore-Lucile Dupin, 1804–1876), sought care from Dr. Jean Jacques Molin (1797–1849), a homeopathic physician who became Chopin’s most trusted doctor. Dr. Molin was twice elected president of the Society of Homeopathic Medicine in France. Chopin claimed that Molin had the “secret of getting me back on my feet again” (Atwood, 1999, 349). During the harsh winter of 1847, Chopin credited Molin with saving his life.
Jane Stirling, a student and benefactor for whom Chopin named two compositions, was a strong advocate for homeopathy, and she was influential in securing homeopathic medical care for Chopin when he traveled. Stirling wanted to take Chopin to Scotland and England for concerts and new students, but Chopin was resistent due to the wet weather that would exacerbate his condition. Against better judgment, Chopin left for Edinburgh, arriving during a heavy fog. At the train station was Dr. A. Lyszcynski, a Polish homeopath who Jane had thoughtfully provided to give Chopin homeopathic treatment during his visit. However, due to the weather and the dampness of his lodging, Chopin’s health worsened.
Upon his return to Paris, he was saddened to discover that his homeopath, Dr. Molin, had died. He sought homeopathic treatment from two other homeopathic doctors, Dr. Roth and Dr. Leon Simon, but he wasn’t satified with either of their treatments. Chopin then resorted to orthodox medical treatment which also provided inadequate relief. He died at only 39 years of age. Chopin was buried in Père Lachaise cemetery, the same cemetery where Samuel Hahnemann was laid to rest.
Robert Schumann (1810–1856) was a German composer and pianist who is considered one of the most famous Romantic composers of the first half of the nineteenth century. Some modern-day historians have suggested that he suffered from syphilis, though there is some controversy about this diagnosis. However, even skeptics of this diagnosis acknowledge that his chronic symptoms and his early death at age 46 may have resulted from overconsumption of mercury (a nineteenth-century treatment for syphilis). Schumann sought treatment from one of Hahnemann’s colleagues, Dr. Franz Hartmann. He was not cured, but this didn’t dissuade him from pursuing other homeopathic treatment (Hayden, 2003). Later, he sought the care of another homeopathic doctor, Wolfgang Muller, who determined that Schumann was suffering from drug-induced toxicity.
Schumann’s wife, Clara Wieck Schumann (1819–1896), was also a famous pianist and composer. In fact, she is considered by many to be the premier female musician of the nineteenth century. Clara was a personal friend of Dr. and Mrs. Hahnemann in Paris. She performed at Hahnemann’s Sixtieth Jubilee (the sixtieth anniversary of his doctoral degree), in Paris in 1839 (Haehl, 1922, II, 370–371). Her father, Friedrich Wieck (1785–1873), a noted German piano and voice teacher, had been a patient and a friend of Hahnemann’s when they lived near each other in Leipzig, Germany.
Richard Wagner (1813–1883) was a leading German composer and conductor who is primarily known for his operas. His most famous compositions include Tristan and Isolde, Parsifal, and Der Ring des Nibelungen, commonly referred to as The Ring or The Ring Cycle, all of which are regularly performed throughout the world today.
Wagner’s use of leitmotif (a recurring musical theme) has had a strong influence on many twentieth-century film scores, notably John Williams’s music for Star Wars. Even American producer Phil Spector’s “wall of sound” was strongly influenced by Wagner’s music.
In March 1839, at the tender age of 26 years, Wagner was struck with typhoid fever. In his autobiography, Wagner described what happened after Karl von Holtei, a theatre owner where he was working, insisted that he conduct music in an icy cold theatre at a time when he was already feeling quite ill.
Typhoid fever was the consequence, and this pulled me down to such an extent that Holtei, who heard of my condition, is said to have remarked at the theatre that I should probably never conduct again, and that, to all intents and purposes, I “was on my last legs.” It was to a splendid homeopathic physician, Dr. Prutzer, that I owed my recovery and my life. (Wagner, 1911, 188)
Despite the significance of this experience, it is interesting to note that a review of a dozen biographies of Richard Wagner found that only one book made any reference to this experience (Watson, 1979). When one considers that Wagner’s father died of typhoid just six months after the future composer’s birth, it is no exaggeration to say that it is likely that Richard Wagner’s contribution to music would not have occurred without the homeopathic treatment he received.
Even though the vast majority of people sought conventional medical care, Wagner and many of the most educated and elite members of society sought homeopathic and natural medical treatment. Even though some people chided Wagner for his “quack cures,” the natural medical treatment that he used throughout his life allowed him to live to 69 years of age, despite experiencing various health crises. Wagner was known to frequent water-cure spas, and one of his doctors was Dr. Ernst Schwenninger,[vii] who was the author of a book entitled The Doctor, a scathing critique of conventional medicine of the day.
Toward the end of Wagner’s life, he composed Parsifal (1882), a story in which the protagonist utilizes a central principle of homeopathy to initiate a healing. Parsifal is a story about Amfortas, the ruler of the knights who guard the Grail. These knights also protect the sword that was used to wound Jesus while he was on the cross. However, this sword is stolen, and Amfortas is then himself wounded by it. Amfortas suffers for a long time until Parsifal finally retrieves the sword and uses it to heal Amfortas. This application of using something that causes injury to heal injury is a classic metaphor for the homeopathic principle of “like treating like.”
Samuel Barber (1910–1981), best known for his hauntingly beautiful Adagio for Strings, was an American composer of classical music. His Piano Sonata (1949), was commissioned by the famed Richard Rodgers and Irving Berlin, and premiered by Vladimir Horowitz. This was the first large-scale American piano work to be premiered by such an internationally renowned pianist. Barber won two Pulitzer Prizes, one for his opera Vanessa (1958), and one for a piano concerto, Opus 38 (1963).
Barber’s father, Samuel LeRoy Barber, graduated from Hahnemann Medical College in Philadelphia in 1901 and practiced homeopathy for forty years. He was a founder of the Homeopathic Hospital of Chester County in 1913. This hospital is now a conventional hospital known as Paoli Hospital.
Sir Yehudi Menuhin (1916–1999)was a Jewish American-born violinist, violist, and conductor who spent most of his adult life in the United Kingdom. He began playing the violin at age 3, and his first public performance, with the San Francisco Symphony, occurred when he was only 7. During World War II, he performed more than 500 concerts for the Armed Forces, which earned him the French Legion of Honor and Croix de Lorraine, the Belgium Ordre de la Couronne and Ordre Leopold, the Order of Merit from West Germany, and the Order of the Phoenix from Greece. He also received more than fifty additional honors, including the Royal Philharmonic Society’s Gold Medal, the Cobbett Medal, the Sonning Prize (from Copenhagen), and an honorary knighthood from Queen Elizabeth II (England’s highest honor for a non-British subject).
Due to ailments he experienced from the strain of performing and traveling, he began practicing yoga and meditation and using homeopathic medicines. He became the honorary president of the Hahnemann Society, a leading British homeopathic organization.
In early 1988, I sent him a copy of a book I had written on homeopathy. He responded:
Homeopathy attracted me because it is so subtle, so discreet and so effective in approach to the whole human being, and I have certainly met some remarkable people who practice it. For me it is a personal preference as I try to steer clear of all doctors, as few have this commitment, and it is because I find that the world deals these days so much in terms of size and mass and volume and is always striving for bigger mass and bigger volume. The mentality that seems to dominate is meeting one mass with a greater one in order to overcome the lesser. This is, of course, nonsense, as any thinking human being knows, for it does not apply to human life. Many people close to me have benefited from homeopathy. (July 5, 1988)
More publically, he asserted with great succintness: “Homeopathy is one of the rare medical approaches which carries no penalties—only benefits.” Sir Yehudi further acknowledged that homeopathy’s survival has not been easy as it has had to “withstand the assaults of established medical practice for over 100 years” (Kindred Spirits, 1989).
Dizzy Gillespie (1917–1993) was an American jazz trumpeter, bandleader, singer, and composer. Along with Charlie Parker, Gillespie was a major figure in the development of bebop and modern jazz, and played a major role in defining Afro-Cuban jazz. Ultimately, Gillespie was a trumpet virtuoso and gifted improviser who added layers of harmonic complexity previously not heard in jazz. His unique style and look included a beret, horn-rimmed spectacles, scat singing, a bent horn, and pooched cheeks, matched by a wonderfully lighthearted personality that endeared many people to him and his music.
After being introduced to homeopathic medicine by his protégé, Jon Faddis, Dizzy had such remarkable experiences that he once told Faddis: “I’ve had two revelations in my life. The first was bebop; the second was homeopathy.”
Ravi Shankar (1920–) is a Bengali-Indian master musician of the sitar. He played a seminal role in the introduction of classical Indian music to Western culture. Initially, Shankar became famous due to being Beatle George Harrison’s sitar teacher.
Ravi Shankar was another appreciator of homeopathy who not only sought homeopathic treatment wherever he lived but also on the road doing concerts. One Boston homeopath who treated him after a concert remarked how open he was with all around him about his strong preference for homeopathic treatment over all other forms of medicine.
Tina Turner (1939–), often called the queen of rock & roll, is an American pop, rock, and soul singer who has won seven Grammies. She has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.
It is hard to imagine, but during the early 1970s this powerful woman was literally brought to her knees by a diagnosis of tuberculosis. She initially sought conventional medical treatment, but continued to suffer, until she sought care from Chandra Sharma, MD, a homeopathic doctor in England. Tina considered him her doctor and her friend. He passed away in 1986, and she wrote in her autobiography: “I miss him more than I can say.” Tina also noted: “Fortunately, his son, Rajandra, was his protégé and is carrying on his work” (Turner, 1986, 156).
In 1985, Vogue magazine reported on Tina’s longtime interest in homeopathy and Buddhism: “Tina Turner looks about thirty-six, and her skin is flawless. She does not deprive herself. She sips wine at dinner, does not diet, does not take vitamins. If she’s feeling particularly stressed, she consults a homeopathic doctor” (Orth, 1985).
In her autobiography, she wrote: “Life in the fast lane wore me down, changes in my diet and homeopathy saved me. Thanks to my Homeopathic physician, for bringing me back to health and always being available for me” (Turner, 1986).
Paul McCartney (1942–), formally known as Sir James Paul McCartney, MBE, is best known as a member of the Beatles, and later, as leader of Wings. He is a British singer, musician, and songwriter who the Guiness Book of World Records lists as the most successful composer in popular music history. He has written or co-written more than fifty top-ten hits, and innumerable other music artists and orchestras have recorded his songs.
Paul’s first wife, Linda Eastman (1941–1998), introduced her husband to vegetarianism in 1975, and she authored several best-selling vegetarian cookbooks. In a 1992 interview, Linda McCartney asserted: “We never go anywhere without our homeopathic remedies. We often make use of them—and that goes for Paul too” (Glew, 1992).
Linda’s interest in homeopathy began when a friend broke her arm, and Linda was duly impressed at how fast the injury healed with homeopathic treatment. But it wasn’t until she had her own case of tonsillitis that she actually tried homeopathy herself. She was prescribed a round of antibiotics that worked but only temporarily. She then went to a homeopathic doctor. Not only did her symptoms go away rapidly, they never returned. She said, “We couldn’t cope without homeopathy.”
Sadly, Linda McCartney died in 1998 due to breast cancer.
George Harrison (1943–2001), also best known for being a member of the Beatles, was a British lead guitarist, singer, songwriter, record producer, and film producer. The Beatles songs that Harrison wrote and sang lead on include “If I Needed Someone,” “Taxman,” “While My Guitar Gently Weeps,” “Here Comes the Sun,” and “Something.” After the dissolution of the Beatles, he created an impressive body of eleven albums, including the much honored All Things Must Pass. Harrison was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame as a solo artist in 2004.
Harrison also was a film producer, including important films such as Monty Python’s The Life of Brian, plus Time Bandits, Withnail and I, and Mona Lisa.
Harrison’s interest in Indian music and Hinduism sparked international awareness of Eastern music and beliefs. He organized the first large-scale charity concert, for Bangladesh, on August 1, 1971.
A 1992 interview with George Harrison took place in the London office of Dr. Chandra Sharma, a practitioner of homeopathy and Ayurvedic medicine. Dr. Sharma was also known to treat members of Pink Floyd, The Police, and numerous other major rock stars (Beatles Ireland, 1992).
George’s first wife, Patti Boyd, was one of many celebrities who supported a British organization called Frontline Homeopathy that provides treatment to people in underdeveloped countries. Patti introduced George to Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, the founder of Transcendental Meditation, who was not simply a teacher of yoga and meditation but also practiced homeopathy. Later, Patti encourage her second husband, Eric Clapton, to go through drug detoxification with the aid of acupuncture (Greene, 2006, 207).
George’s second wife, Olivia Harrison, also had a special appreciation for natural medicine and encouraged its use by George (Greene, 2006, 221).
Pete Townshend (1945–) is an influential English rock guitarist and songwriter who is best known as guitarist for The Who. Townshend has authored more than 100 songs, and the rock opera Tommy. Townshend suffers from partial deafness and tinnitus due to exposure to loud music during concerts and through the use of headphones. His condition is attributed in part to an infamous 1967 television appearance during which fellow Who musician, Keith Moon, set off a large amount of explosives inside his drums while Townshend was standing in front of them.
In 2000, Pete told a magazine reporter: “I’ve had some treatment for it. I found a homeopathic practitioner who has really helped reduce it tremendously” (Wilkerson, 2006, Chapter 18, note 6). In November, 2012, Pete was interviewed on the David Letterman TV show, and Pete once again proclaimed his appreciation to and for his homeopath for helping relieve his tinnitus.
Cher (1946–) is a total entertainer. This singer and actress has achieved true diva-hood. She has won a Grammy (1999), an Oscar (1989), three Golden Globe awards (1974, 1984, and 1989), and an Emmy (2003). One of the best-selling singers of all time, she has recorded thirty-four albums, seven with her former husband (Sonny Bono), twenty-seven solo albums, and eight compilations of previous work. Films in which she has starred include The Witches of Eastwick, Moonstruck, Tea with Mussolini, Mermaids, Silkwood, and Mask. Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum immortalized her in 1992 with a life-size statue as one of the five most beautiful women of history.
In 1987 Cher was struck by a debilitating viral illness that manifested in chronic fatigue and bouts of pneumonia. She was disabled from working for two years: “I tried regular medicine and it just didn’t work. Doctors said any illness was all in my head. People thought I was crazy.”
Then she decided to do something different: “I turned to a Sikh homeopathic doctor, almost in desperation. He started doing homeopathic stuff with herbs and vitamin therapy. Many doctors didn’t believe in all that back then. Within four months, he’d got me up and back on the road again.”
In addition to seeking care from this unnamed Sikh doctor, Cher sought treatment from a French homeopathic doctor, Dr. Marcel Dinnet. According to famed gossip columnist Liz Smith, Dr. Dinnet is reported to have 10,000 devoted patients in Los Angeles, including Sarah Ferguson (the Duchess of York) and Elizabeth Taylor (Smith, 1988).
Cher pledged her support for the Glasgow Homeopathic Hospital after seeing a TV news report that the government was slashing the city’s health budget by 58 million pounds (around $100 million). She intended her donation of $24,000 to encourage others to pledge cash to help keep the hospital open. The hospital treats 500 in-patients a year. The hospital’s staff and patients have sharply criticized the budget reduction for both medical and economic reasons. They asserted that closing this important natural medicine hospital could lead to higher health care costs for the Greater Glasgow Health Board. Cher further asserted: “I’m not quite sure exactly what that will mean but I’d be prepared to do anything I can to help.” (Sloan, 2004).