Acknowledgement: The interview, "Looking forward" was first published in the journal the American homeopath, volume 21, 2015, and is reprinted here with permission from the journal."
Looking forward : what do eminent homeopaths see?
Vatsala Sperling, RSHom (NA), CCH, MS, PhD, PDHom
Homeopathy as a healing modality is over two hundred years old. We happen to be in a good position to celebrate our past because we have the facts and figures that give us a sense of the history of homeopathy and its survival through the past two hundred years. But how do we embrace the future? How do we even know what the collective future of homeopathy is going to be? In an attempt to address this question, and to scan the horizon of our homeopathic past, present and future, I heard the presentation by Dr. Prafull Vijayakar on “Predictve homeopathy” during the tenth annual JAHC and I also had the honor of speaking with a couple of esteemed homeopaths, Kim Elia and Dr. Peter Fisher.
Dr. Vijayakar pointed out that Hahnemann invented homeopathy for much greater purpose than simply treating cough, cold and eczema. To achieve that intended ‘greater purpose’ Dr. Vijayakar uses what he calls “predictive homeopathy”. When advances made in the modern sciences, for example, genetics, embryology and immunology are used in conjunction with Hahnemannian principles of classical homeopathy, according to Dr. Vijayakar, the outcome of treatment can be predicted like a mathematical equation and impossible cures can be achieved in cases with irreversible pathology. By combining hard science with homeopathy, Dr. Vijayakar has given hope and help to countless patients who were given up as incurable. “Homeopathy begins where allopathy ends” he said “that is the future of homeopathy. It is not just holistic but it is wholistic – because we treat the man in disease and not just the disease in a man. This is accomplished when we stick to Herrings law of cure and the seven cardinal principles of homeopathy. These principles are the theory of vital force and the six laws, namely, law of simple, single, similar, minimum, drug dynamization and drug proving. The process of achieving impossible cures begins with deeper understanding of human physiology, immunology, biochemistry, embryology and genetics. Homeopathic prescriptions exert their effects on all these aspects of the human being. It is rather lame to limit ourselves as physical, mental or emotional prescribers. In the wholistic aspect of homeopathy, mind and body are interconnected and one cannot be without the other. So, why not aim to treat the whole man instead of focusing on his physical, mental and emotional symptoms alone? In fact, doing that can invariably lead to suppression.”
Dr. Vijayakar shared scores of cases in which he had considered the structure, build and look of the patient, his basic nature, emotions, attachments, sensitivities, physical and mental upsets that he is prone to, his tolerance for various external stimuli like heat, cold, sun, wind, moon, rain, sound, light and electrical field, his desires and aversions, thirst, appetite and other strange, rare and peculiar symptoms. He said that when all these details are factored in, we arrive at the genetic constitutional similimum and such a prescription can bring about structural and enzymatic changes in the individual and re-create lasting homeostasis.
To elaborate further, he quoted aphorism 15 emphasizing that the dynamis and the body have a close relationship and these two together constitute “unity”. He pointed out that in this aphorism Hahnemann had envisaged his foresight for the genetic code that enables the expression of the symptoms as well as an individual’s entire personality in illness and in health. This genetic code is inherited and as mentioned in aphorism 7, these inherited codes lay the foundation for expression of various miasms. Dr. Vijayaker encouraged the audience to familiarize themselves with his book, “Predictive homeopathy” volume 1 (also volume 2, 3 and 4 are available).
“Ours’ is a rare science” he said, “it is one of the very few sciences that is based on philosophy as described in the Organon. Almost everything Hahnemann wrote two hundred years ago can now be verified in the light of the modern sciences. Our future will be bright if we follow our philosophy diligently and apply it accurately.”
When I met with Kim Elia and asked him, on behalf of the American Homeopath (AH) “What is your view about the future of homeopathy? Where is it heading?” he had just completed presenting the movie, “Like cures like” and received a thundering applause for his efforts. He said that we are facing a certain challenge in the present time.
KE: Education of the homeopaths is not what it could be. We need to bring our standards to a higher level. One reason homeopathy declined in the early part of 20th
century is because the educational standards had come down. Understanding what is homeopathy will also help. People need to go back to the original source and understand the fundamental principles of the science and art of our profession.
AH: You mean, the Organon is the touch stone and every flavor of homeopathy should emanate from it?
KE: Sure. Hahnemann wrote an article in Medical Observer. He mentioned in it that we should read classical writings of Greek and Roman writers. With such a reading, you can develop critical thinking skills and sharpen your ability to differentiate. Many homeopaths are not educated in these classics. They are easily swayed by all the different ideas that have not been tested. Before proposing the theory of miasms, Hahnemann worked on it, tested it for twelve years. He wanted to make sure that what he said was clinically true. But right now, a lot of untested and unsubstantiated ideas and concepts and even books are floating around. Training our mind to read critically will allow us search for and find the kernel of truth.
AH: So, deviation from the foundation of homeopathy allows for confusion to proliferate?
KE: Yes, Inability to think critically adds to that.
AH: What is the role of schools? They formulate the curriculum.
KE: Many of our educators are not trained to think critically and they are unaware of the seminal work in homeopathy – though in practice, they are great homeopaths. Our schools have to make it mandatory for our students to read the original writings of masters like Hahnemann and Boeninghausen and understand their work in totality.
AH: How will such an education affect the future?
KE: With a clear understanding of the seminal work in Homeopathy, with our critical thinking sharpened, we will become unified. We will become more affective in promoting and advancing our profession. People who are passionate about homeopathy will unite and we will speak as one voice. It is difficult but possible. In the mid-19th
century Presidents of the US were advocating homeopathy.
AH: What about difference of opinion? This is bound to happen as our profession is based on innovation and creativity.
KE: Innovation has to be within the epistemological approach consistent with that laid out by Hahnemann. Waving a pendulum and finding a remedy is not homeopathy. You have to define homeopathy and Hahnemann has done the ground work – he published Medicine of experience in 1806 and then the 6th
edition of Organon in 1842. These are our scientific epistemology.
AH: So we can have difference of opinion and innovation but going forward, we must speak as one voice and we must be very clear about the fundamentals of homeopathy and how we define our work.
KE: Yes. Take for example, homeoprophylaxis. This word is incorrect. What we mean here is iso-prophylaxis. Iso = same. Homeo = similar. In isoprophylaxis, the actual disease agent is given to the patient. In homeoprophylaxis, a substance that can create a state similar to the disease is given to the patient. Such usage creates confusion.
AH: What is your message to the students of homeopathy in the US?
KE: Go back to the basics, to the primary source. Don’t just memorize facts. Develop critical thinking skills. Recapitulate the original creative process. Define our profession and speak as one voice.
AH: That is what Hahnemann did. He was creative and original. He never took anyone’s word. He experimented, tested, observed and did all his work from the scratch. So we have a good example that we could emulate.
KE: In speaking as one voice, we must show civility and respect for our opponent instead of attacking them. We have to have a dialog instead of personal and vitriolic attacks. A discussion, a dialog is healthy. Fredrick Schiller has said, ‘We are not our belief systems’. We could have a belief. Someone comes along and disproves our belief. We have to go along with that and have the courage to see the truth. Truth is more important and stronger that our belief system.
AH: Truth based on sound foundation can stand the test of time. It did so in Hahnemann’s time and it will do so in our time too. Our Organon is an example. Ever since it was written, it has stood the test of time. That is our foundation and we stick by it as we innovate, experiment, define our profession and speak as one voice as we march forward into the future…
KE: Exactly. That, in a nutshell, summarizes my view of the future of homeopathy.
Next, I met with Dr. Peter Fisher. His life-long passion for research in homeopathy is well known. I wanted to find out what he thought about the past, present and future of homeopathy.
AH: Dr. Peter, in your last thirty years as a homeopath, what changes have you seen?
PF: Lots of changes. Homeopathy has come under vicious attacks. But the biggest change is the growth of research. We now have more than 300 randomized controlled trails and over 100 clinical trials of homeopathy. Homeopathy has emerged into the scientific field. But it is highly disputed by the skeptics even though the volume of scientific work is increasing rapidly. We now have some idea about what is happening in extreme high dilutions which do not contain even a single molecule of the original substance. Various scientific techniques have helped us see the structural change in these high dilutions.
AH: Modern techniques are helping explain homeopathy to scientifically minded public?
PF: There is a bit of credibility gap. Main idea of homeopathy, the law of similar and the problems around high dilution – these challenge the skeptics. Modern techniques help us understand the high dilution. Jean Louis Demangeat has used Nuclear Magnetic Resonance, and Louis Rey has worked with low temperature thermal luminescence to give laboratory based evidence for structural changes that happen in high dilutions. Jon Sainte- Laudy did a whole series of reproducible tests in independent labs and multi-center studies that favor homeopathy.
AH: Based on these findings, can we by-pass the skeptics and expect a brighter future for homeopathy?
PF: Mainstream medical opinion is that homeopathy does not work because of high dilution though there are plenty of clinical and scientific evidence. People who control the medical establishment do not accept these. However, homeopathy can deal with the current medical problem in public health. People suffer from morbidity and chronic diseases and they are given multiple pharmaceutical drugs. These drugs interact with each other and the patients have to endure multiple side effects. This is one area where homeopathy can make an important contribution and help reduce the need for polypharmacy. Another field where homeopathy can create a considerable impact is antimicrobials. The current state of multi-drug resistant germs in community based as well as hospital acquired infections is appalling. We are running out of antibiotics and resistance to available antibiotics is spreading at an alarming rate. It takes decades to invent new antibiotics and in twenty years or so, we may not be left with any effective antibiotics. The germs would become resistant to all the antibiotics we currently use. In this area, there is good evidence that when antibiotics are used inappropriately or needlessly – homeopathy can be effective in reducing the use of antibiotics.
Bernard Begaud conducted EPI3 study comparing conventional medicine and homeopathy with over 5000 patients suffering from musculoskeletal, upper respiratory tract and psychiatric diseases. Patient coming to homeopaths even with chronic conditions had better outcome and quality of life as compared to those on nonsteroidal drugs. Patients who received homeopathic treatment needed less antibiotics.
AH: During your practice, you have witnessed emergence of many different systems, ideas and new remedies in homeopathy. Please could you tell the readers how to navigate these?
PF: A lot of systems are based on metaphors. As a rule, in homeopathy, about 90 % of prescriptions are for 10 % of remedies. If remedies are selected based on metaphors, and not the law of similar, then it is not homeopathy. That is the danger of following the new methods blindly. We need to stick to core knowledge and stay away from speculations. The Organon is our foundation. It is 200 years old. All homeopaths must study it. Some homeopaths attack vaccination unaware that in the 6th
edition of the Organon, Hahnemann has said that vaccination is a wonderful thing and it has saved the lives of children. Do see the footnote under paragraph 43. Hahnemann seems to have considered that the Jennerian method of vaccination – scratching cowpox pus into the skin – was both preventative in epidemics and curative when it was used against similar disease states. Both homeopathy and Jenner’s cow pox vaccine came around in late 1700s and Hahnemann saw the benefits of cow pox vaccination. In the present day and age, we have been able to eradicate polio, small pox, diphtheria and even tetanus by judicious use of vaccination. I see cervical cancer being wiped out by use of HPV immunization program. We have to wake up to the benefits of vaccination. There can be some adverse effects, no doubt, but vaccination has done a lot of good. Homeopaths would be able to do a lot by staying out of the vaccine controversy and focusing on where they can actually help, I mean, the area of poly pharmacy and anti-microbial resistance. The laboratory evidence are catching up and beginning to shed light on structural changes that occur in high dilutions and plenty of clinical studies are coming out in support of homeopathy. Though skeptics stay strong, I have hopes that homeopathy will not only survive but it will also enjoy a wide ranging acceptance in the future.
It is widely accepted in the homeopathy circles that Hahnemann was quite ahead of his time. When he was experimenting, preparing and proving remedies, making clinical observations and researching on miasms, modern medical, biological and material sciences were in infancy, and Mendelian laws of genetics were waiting to be proven by Thomas Hunt Morgan in 1915. Hahnemann not only laid down a solid philosophical foundation for homeopathy by way of writing the Organon, he also created an enormous body of clinical literature for us to treasure and rely on. This treasure has only been added to by subsequent masters of homeopathy. At present, as pointed out by Dr. Fisher, modern science is catching up and providing proof for many aspects of homeopathy, mainly for structural changes happening in high dilution. Obviously, as Kim Elia said, our job at present is to study our literature with earnestness and ground ourselves thoroughly in the Organon, so that we can innovate and push the frontiers of homeopathy but continue to speak as one voice. In fact, according to Dr. Vijayakar, combining the modern sciences with homeopathy can lead to impossible cures and an almost mathematical prediction of the scope and outcome of using homeopathy for treating a wide range of illnesses.
With such views expressed by homeopaths who have been around for several decades and seen how homeopathy has survived and become stronger over the years, it became quite possible for me to feel optimism and hope for the future of homeopathy, and with this interview, I intend to share this sense of optimism with the readers of the American homeopath. We are literally, in the golden age of homeopathy, when the most mysterious aspect of our science, ultra-dilutions, is beginning to receive laboratory based support. The fact that we have abundant support from positive clinical outcome cannot be ignored. All that we need to do is to deeply understand the past and take energetic strides to greet the future that awaits us…and trust that all will be well, thanks to Hahnemann and the collective destiny of our times.
Vatsala Sperling, RSHom (NA), CCH, MS, PhD, PDHom was the Chief of Clinical Microbiology services at a children’s hospital in Chennai, India, where she published extensively and conducted research with WHO, Denmark. On moving to the USA to start a family, Vatsala pursued an education in homeopathy in Misha Norland’s school. An author of eight books (www.InnerTraditions.com)
and many essays and articles in the field of homeopathy, spirituality and health, Vatsala continues to study with several teachers as well as Drs. Bhavisha and Sachindra Joshi and practices classical homeopathy in Vermont. She has served on the board of directors of North American Society of Homeopaths and she is currently volunteering in the case review committee of Council for Homeopathy Certification. Vatsala can be reached via her website (www.Rochesterhomeopathy.com