It is common to measure a person by the company they keep. Likewise, it is common to measure any subject by its advocates. And in this light, the field of homeopathic medicine is standing on the shoulders of cultural giants, of scientific and medical geniuses, of political world leaders and royalty, of religious and spiritual teachers, of literary greats, of sports superstars, of world-class musicians and artists, and of corporate and philanthropic leaders.
It is not surprising to learn that 11 American Presidents (from Lincoln to Clinton) and heads of state from France, Germany, Great Britain, Norway, Mexico, India, and Pakistan have advocated for homeopathy. Seven different Popes were either known to request homeopathic treatment for themselves and/or who gave the highest awards that they could offer to non-clergy to medical doctors who prescribed homeopathic medicines to people who suffered from infectious disease epidemics during the 19th century. Further, dozens of highly respected rabbis, Muslim clergy, and Eastern spiritual leaders have been known to advocate for homeopathy, several of whom were known to be active prescribers of homeopathic medicines themselves.
Many literary greats from all over the world have been known to be serious advocates of homeopathy in their own lives, many of whom were known to integrate stories of the use of homeopathic medicines in their writings. Advocates of homeopathy includes Mark Twain, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Washington Irving, Emily Dickinson, and Louisa May Alcott, while just some of the European literary masters who appreciated homeopathy includes George Bernard Shaw, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Charles Dickens, Fyodor Dostoevsky, and Anton Chekhov.
Even major medical doctors and world-class scientists advocated for and/or experienced the profound benefits from homeopathic treatment, including Charles Darwin, Sir William Osler, Emil Grubbe, MD (the first doctor to use radiation in medical treatment), Harold Randall Griffith, MD (one of the fathers of anesthesia), Charles Frederick Menninger, MD (founder of the famed mental health institution called the Menninger Clinic), and C. Everett Koop, MD (former Surgeon General).
If the above names and reputations and their connections to homeopathic medicines were not known, here are some Nobel Prize winners who were known advocates of homeopathic medicines and their connections to this medical specialty.
Emil Adolf von Behring (1854–1917)
Emil Adolf von Behring won the first Nobel Prize in medicine or physiology for his discovery of the diphtheria antitoxin. Later, he discovered the tetanus antitoxin. For many years he served as military captain of the medical corps to the Pharmacological Institute at the University of Bonn, and then was given a position at the Hygiene Institute of Berlin in 1888 as assistant to Robert Koch (1843–1910), one of the pioneers of bacteriology. He then became professor of hygienics in the Faculty of Medicine at the prestigious University of Marburg. Because of his significant discoveries in immunology, Behring retains a highly regarded place in its early history.
In 1892 Behring actually experimented with serial (homeopathic) dilutions and found paradoxically enhanced immunogenic activity, but he was advised to suppress this experiment due to the aid and comfort it would provide to homeopaths. Only after he won the Nobel Prize did he feel comfortable in making public these experiments (Behring, 1905; Coulter, 1994, 97).
Behring broke from orthodox medical tradition by recognizing the value of the homeopathic law of similars:
“In spite of all scientific speculations and experiments regarding smallpox vaccination, Jenner’s discovery remained an erratic blocking medicine, till the biochemically thinking Pasteur, devoid of all medical classroom knowledge, traced the origin of this therapeutic block to a principle which cannot better be characterized than by Hahnemann’s word: homeopathic. Indeed, what else causes the epidemiological immunity in sheep, vaccinated against anthrax than the influence previously exerted by a virus, similar in character to that of the fatal anthrax virus? And by what technical term could we more appropriately speak of this influence, exerted by a similar virus than by Hahnemann’s word “homeopathy”? I am touching here upon a subject anathematized till very recently by medical penalty: but if I am to present these problems in historical illumination, dogmatic imprecations must not deter me.” (Behring, 1905)[NOTE: Please note that the Nobel Prize-winning scientist is quoted in 1905 as referring to anthrax as a virus, when, in fact, we know today that it is a bacteria.]
Behring actually made a plea for homeopathy to be granted “citizenship of medicine” (medicinisches Biirgerrecht) and that it no longer be taboo for physicians to practice it. Behring even said he would go to a homeopath himself: “If I were confronted with a hitherto incurable disease and could see no way to treat it other than homeopathy, I can assure you that I would not be deterred from following this course by dogmatic considerations” (Behring, 1905; Coulter, 1994, 98).
Behring also showed a certain sophisticated understanding of Hahnemann’s contribution to medicine and pharmacology: “The concept that the sick person reacts differently to medications than the healthy one, which had to be established empirically by therapeutic trials, also played a role in Hahnemann’s thinking” (from a Behring article in 1915, quoted in Coulter, 1994, 96).
The point here is that Behring understood that homeopaths determine the effectiveness of a medicine by conducting experiments in toxicology in which relatively healthy people are given repeated doses of a substance until symptoms of overdose are created. Every simple or complex substance will create its own toxicological syndrome of symptoms, and homeopathic doses of that substance can and will heal people who have that similar symptom complex. The logic here is because symptoms of illness, from whatever cause, are adaptive efforts of the body to fight infection or adapt to some sort of stress, the use of a medicinal agent that mimics the body’s defenses will provide immunological benefit to the sick person.
In 1898 Behring asserted that Koch’s discovery of the Tuberculin bacilli and his use of it to treat people for tuberculosis falls under the homeopathic principle, as does Pasteur’s rabies therapy (Coulter, 1994, 96). Koch and Pasteur could not and certainly would not give homeopathy credit for any insight or contribution to their discovery, or if they did, they and their new medicine would have been harshly attacked.
By the mid-1890s, as a result of Koch’s claims, London homeopath Dr. James Compton-Burnett (1840–1901) used homeopathic doses of the tuberculous sputum to treat fifty-four people, calling this medicine Bacillinum. Compton-Burnett aptly differentiated his medicine from Koch’s:
“The difference between our old friend [homeopathic] Tuberculinum or Bacillinum and that of Koch lies in the way it is obtained; our is the virus of the natural disease itself, while Koch’s is the same virus artificially obtained in an incubator from colonies of bacilli thriving on beef-jelly; ours is the chick hatched under the hen. Koch’s is the chick hatched in an incubator.” (Compton-Burnett, 1890, xiii–xiv)
Brian Josephson, PhD (1940- )
Brian Josephson, PhD. is a British physicist who won a Nobel Prize in Physics in 1973 for work he completed when he was only 22 years old. He is currently a professor at the University of Cambridge where he is the head of the mind-matter unification project in the Theory of Condensed Matter research group.
Responding to an article in the New Scientist (October 18, 1997), Josephson wrote:
“Regarding your comments on claims made for homeopathy: criticisms centered around the vanishingly small number of solute molecules present in a solution after it has been repeatedly diluted are beside the point, since advocates of homeopathic remedies attribute their effects not to molecules present in the water, but to modifications of the water’s structure.”
Simple-minded analysis may suggest that water, being a fluid, cannot have a structure of the kind that such a picture would demand. But cases such as that of liquid crystals, which while flowing like an ordinary fluid can maintain an ordered structure over macroscopic distances, show the limitations of such ways of thinking. There have not, to the best of my knowledge, been any refutations of homeopathy that remain valid after this particular point is taken into account.
A related topic is the phenomenon, claimed by Jacques Benveniste’s colleague Yolène Thomas and by others to be well established experimentally, known as “memory of water”. If valid, this would be of greater significance than homeopathy itself, and it attests to the limited vision of the modern scientific community that, far from hastening to test such claims, the only response has been to dismiss them out of hand. (Josephson, 1997)
Josephson’s remarks on the structure of water have been confirmed by more recent research (Roy, et al., 2005). Professors of material sciences, in conjunction with an MD/PhD homeopath, have written a review of basic science research on the important but technical subject of the structure of water. These leading scientists described how the process of making homeopathic medicines changes the water to turn it into a medicine and differentiate it from simple or plain water. The shaking process, an integral part of making homeopathic medicines, is now known to create bubbles and nano-bubbles that change the pressure and structure of the water.
Josephson was interviewed by the New Scientist (December 9, 2006), and asked to comment on how he became an adovcate of unconventional ideas. He responded:
“I went to a conference where the French immunologist Jacques Benveniste was talking for the first time about his discovery that water has a ‘memory’ of compounds that were once dissolved in it – which might explain how homeopathy works. His findings provoked irrationally strong reactions from scientists, and I was struck by how badly he was treated.”
Josephson went on to describe how many scientists today suffer from “pathological disbelief”; that is, they maintain an unscientific attitude that is embodied by the statement “even if it were true, I wouldn’t believe it.”
These stories from many of the most respected scientists and physicians of the past 200 years present its own strong body of evidence for the efficacy of homeopathic medicine. When you add to these significant personal experiences with the large and growing body of evidence from basic sciences as well as from clinical research, it can and must be asserted that only those with a closed and unscientific mind would assume that homeopathic medicines are only or primarily a placebo response.
Luc Montagnier, MD (1932- )
Dr. Luc Montagnier, the French virologist who won the Nobel Prize in 2008 for discovering the AIDS virus, has surprised the scientific community with his strong support for homeopathic medicine.
In a remarkable interview published in Science magazine of December 24, 2010 (Enserink, 2010), Professor Luc Montagnier, has expressed support for the often maligned and misunderstood medical specialty of homeopathic medicine. Although homeopathy has persisted for 200+ years throughout the world and has been the leading alternative treatment method used by physicians in Europe (Ullman, 2010), most conventional physicians and scientists have expressed skepticism about its efficacy due to the extremely small doses of medicines used.
Montagnier, who is also founder and president of the World Foundation for AIDS Research and Prevention, asserted, “I can’t say that homeopathy is right in everything. What I can say now is that the high dilutions (used in homeopathy) are right. High dilutions of something are not nothing. They are water structures which mimic the original molecules.”
Here, Montagnier is making reference to his experimental research that confirms one of the controversial features of homeopathic medicine that uses doses of substances that undergo sequential dilution with vigorous shaking in-between each dilution. Although it is common for modern-day scientists to assume that none of the original molecules remain in solution, Montagnier’s research (and other of many of his colleagues) has verified that electromagnetic signals of the original medicine remains in the water and has dramatic biological effects.
Montagnier’s new research is investigating the electromagnetic waves that he says emanate from the highly diluted DNA of various pathogens. Montagnier asserts, “What we have found is that DNA produces structural changes in water, which persist at very high dilutions, and which lead to resonant electromagnetic signals that we can measure. Not all DNA produces signals that we can detect with our device. The high-intensity signals come from bacterial and viral DNA.”
Montagnier affirms that these new observations will lead to novel treatments for many common chronic diseases, including but not limited to autism, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and multiple sclerosis.
Montagnier first wrote about his findings in 2009 (Montagnier, Aissa, Ferris, et al, 2009) and then, in mid-2010, he spoke at a prestigious meeting of fellow Nobelists where he expressed interest in homeopathy and the implications of this system of medicine (Nobel laureate gives homeopathy a boost, 2010).
French retirement laws do not allow Montagnier anyone who is over 65 years of age to work at a public institute, thereby limiting access to research funding. Montagnier acknowledges that getting research funds from Big Pharma and certain other conventional research funding agencies is unlikely due to the atmosphere of antagonism to homeopathy and natural treatment options.
Gabriel García Márquez
Gabriel García Márquez (1927–2015) is a Colombian novelist and journalist who won the 1982 Nobel Prize in Literature. He is considered one of the greatest South American writers of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Perhaps the most well-known of his many novels is One Hundred Years of Solitude. Many of his writings are drawn from his own life. Because his father was trained as a medical doctor and a pharmacist who practiced homeopathy, this medical subject has been a part of several of his novels and short stories.
In Love in a Time of Cholera, the godfather of the novel’s protagonist is a homeopathic doctor, and ironically, the protagonist is fighting for the affections of a woman who is married to a conventional physician. Also, in an autobiographical short story called “Serenade: How My Father Won My Mother,” published in the New Yorker (February 19, 2001), Garcia Márquez wrote: “Over the course of the year, Gabriel Eligio gave up his worthy profession of telegraph operator and devoted his talent as an autodidact to a science on the decline: homeopathy.”
In his most recent novel, Living to Tell the Tale (2003), Garcia Márquez chose to incorporate elements of his own life with some fictional twists. His heroine, a much-loved mother, is a “lioness” who fights a long battle with her family to marry a violin-playing telegraph clerk. Then, struggling in poverty when her husband abandons her and her eleven children, she seeks to make a better life for her family by making a living as a homeopathic pharmacist.
Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941)
Rabindranath Tagore was a Bengali polymath who reshaped Bengali literature and music in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. He was the author of Gitanjali which is known for its “profoundly sensitive, fresh and beautiful verse.” He became the first non-European to win the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1913.
He asserted, “I have long been an ardent believer in the science of Homeopathy and I feel happy that it has got now a greater hold in India than even in the land of its origin. It is not merely a collection of a few medicines but a real science with a rational philosophy as its base. We require more scientific interest and inquiry into the matter with special stress upon the Indian environment” (Bagchi, 2000).
George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950)
George Bernard Shaw was one of England’s most respected playwrights. Shaw is the only person ever to have won both a Nobel Prize (Literature in 1925) and an Academy Award (Best Screenplay for Pygmalion in 1938). In his play The Doctor’s Dilemma (1906), Shaw showed the dilemma that doctors inevitably face between their need to care for their patients and their need to practice, often using dangerous drugs and performing unnecessary operations in order to earn a livelihood.
In the play’s preface, Shaw wrote:
The test to which all methods of treatment are finally brought is whether they are lucrative to doctors or not. It would be difficult to cite any proposition less obnoxious to science than that advanced by Hahnemann, to wit, that drugs which in large doses produced certain symptoms, counteract them in very small doses, just as in modern practice it is found that a sufficiently small inoculation with typhoid rallies our powers to resist the disease instead of prostrating us with it. But Hahnemann and his followers were frantically persecuted for a century by generations of apothecary-doctors whose incomes depended on the quantity of drugs they could induce their patients to swallow. These two cases of ordinary vaccination and homeopathy are typical of all the rest.
He continued: “Here we have the explanation of the savage rancor that so amazes people who imagine that the controversy concerning vaccination is a scientific one. It has really nothing to do with science. Under such circumstances vaccination would be defended desperately were it twice as dirty, dangerous and unscientific in method as it really is.”
Thankfully, Shaw goes on to assert that times and things are changing, “Nowadays, however, the more cultivated folk are beginning to be so suspicious of drugs, and the incorrigibly superstitious people so profusely supplied with patent medicines that homeopathy has become a way of rehabilitating the trade of prescription compounding, and is consequently coming into professional credit.”
In 1932 Shaw wrote an essay, Doctors’ Delusions, Crude Criminology and Sham Education, which included a story about the homeopathic treatment he received for a hydrocele. This accumulation of fluid around the testicle normally requires surgery, but Shaw experienced a rapid cure without recurrence.
Shaw once challenged Sir Almroth Wright, a noted conventional physician, to look into homeopathy’s ability to cure many “incurable” diseases. Wright expressed complete incredulity, while Shaw retorted that Wright had no scientific attitude or simple curiosity. This short conversation was a classic:
Almroth said, “This thing is absurd and impossible; let me put it this way. Would you, Shaw, trouble to get out of your chair if I called from the next room. ‘Do come in here and see what I have done—I have turned a pint of tea leaves into pure gold.’”
Shaw responded back simply saying, “Certainly I would.”
Mother Teresa (1910-1997)
Mother Teresa studied homeopathic medicine with Dr. Diwan Jai Chand (1887–1961), a highly respected Indian homeopath whose two sons and grandson are also leaders of Indian homeopathy. Mother Teresa told others that she would not do a “physician’s prescribing” (that is, she would not treat people with chronic or potentially fatal illnesses) but instead would use homeopathy in many first aid situations.
According to a report from a conventional physician who worked closely with Mother Teresa from 1945 through at least 1988, the Mother “believes that homeopathic treatment is indispensable for the poor and distressed people of India in particular, [and] all other countries of the world in general, for its easy approach, effectiveness, and low cost” (Gomes, 1988). Mother Teresa’s mission opened a charitable homeopathic dispensary in Calcutta in 1950 and it is reported that the Mother prescribed homeopathic medicines herself and assisted homeopathic physicians.
Mother Teresa added homeopathic care to the services at her missions. She opened her first charitable homeopathic dispensary in Calcutta in 1950. At present, four charitable homeopathic dispensaries are run under the guidance of the Mother’s Missionaries of Charity
The above stories are excerpted from this book (which is now available in English, German, Chinese, Japanese, Hungarian, and Russian):
Dana Ullman, The Homeopathic Revolution: Why Famous People and Cultural Heroes Love Homeopathy. Berkeley: North Atlantic Books, 2007.
(This book is FULL of amazing verified stories about the use and advocacy of homeopathy by 11 American Presidents and a dozen other heads of state, world-class physicians and scientists, seven Popes and other clergy and spiritual leaders from the West and East, literary greats, sports superstars, corporate leaders and philanthropists, renowned musicians and artists, women’s rights leaders, and monarchs and royalty.)
Bagchi, A. K. Rabindranath Tagore and His Medical World. New Delhi: Konark Publishers, 2000.
Behring, A. E. von. Moderne Phthisiogenetische und Phthisotherapeutische: Probleme in Historischer Beleuchtung. Margurg: Selbsteverlag des Verfassers, 1905.
Compton-Burnett, J. Consumption and Its Cure. London: Homoeopathic Publishing, 1890. (Now available in a compendium of his work called The Best of Burnett, New Delhi: B. Jain, no date.).
Coulter, H. L., Divided Legacy: A History of the Schism in Medical Thought. Berkeley: North Atlantic Books, 1973, volume III.
Enserink M, Newsmaker Interview: Luc Montagnier, French Nobelist Escapes “Intellectual Terror” to Pursue Radical Ideas in China. Science 24 December 2010: Vol. 330 no. 6012 p. 1732. DOI: 10.1126/science.330.6012.1732 https://www.science.org/doi/abs/10.1126/science.330.6012.1732
Gomes, Dr. (Sister). Personal communication, October 14, 1988. (Dr. Gomes was a conventional physician whose mother’s life was saved by homeopathic medicine, and thereafter, she has prescribed it to her family and patients.)
Josephson, B. D., Letter, New Scientist, November 1, 1997.
Montagnier Luc, Aissa Jamal, Ferris Stéphane, Montagnier Jean-Luc, Lavallee Claude, Electromagnetic Signals Are Produced by Aqueous Nanostructures Derived from Bacterial DNA Sequences. Interdiscip Sci Comput Life Sci (2009) 1: 81-90. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/45272907_Electromagnetic_Signals_Are_Produced_by_Aqueous_Nanostructures_Derived_from_Bacterial_DNA_Sequences
Nobel laureate gives homeopathy a boost. The Australian. July 5, 2010. http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/health-science/nobel-laureate-gives-homeopathy-a-boost/story-e6frg8y6-1225887772305
Roy, R., Tiller, W. A., Bell, I., and Hoover, M. R. The Structure of Liquid Water: Novel Insights From Materials Research; Potential Relevance to Homeopathy, Materials Research Innovations, December 2005, 9:4. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/14328917.2005.11784911
Ullman D. Homeopathic Medicine: Europe’s #1 Alternative for Doctors. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dana-ullman/homeopathic-medicine-euro_b_402490.html
DANA ULLMAN, MPH, CCH, is one of America’s leading advocates for homeopathy. He has authored 10 books, including The Homeopathic Revolution: Why Famous People and Cultural Heroes Choose Homeopathy, Homeopathy A-Z, Homeopathic Medicines for Children and Infants, Discovering Homeopathy, and (the best-selling) Everybody’s Guide to Homeopathic Medicines (with Stephen Cummings, MD). Dana also created an e-course How to Use a Homeopathic Medicine Kit which integrates 80 short videos (averaging 15 minutes) with his famous ebook that is a continually growing resource to 300+ clinical studies published in peer-review medical journals testing homeopathic medicines. This ebook combines the descriptions of these studies with practical clinical information on how to use homeopathic medicines for 100+ common ailments. This ebook is entitled Evidence Based Homeopathic Family Medicine, and it is an invaluable resource. Dana has been certified in classical homeopathy by the leading organization in the U.S. for professional homeopaths.
He is the founder of Homeopathic Educational Services, America’s leading resource center for homeopathic books, tapes, medicines, software, and correspondence courses. Homeopathic Educational Services has co-published over35 books on homeopathy with North Atlantic Books.