George Vithoulkas interviewed by Dr. Manish Bhatia
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Dear friends, today we have with us one of the most illustrious homeopaths of all time. He is an Honorary Professor of the Moscow Medical Academy (Academy of Medical Sciences), Professor in the Kiev Medical Academy and Collaborating Professor in Basque Medical University (2001-2004). In 1996, he was honored with the Right Livelihood Award (also known as Alternative Nobel Prize, www.rightlivelihood.org) “…for his outstanding contribution to the revival of homeopathic knowledge and the training of homeopaths to the highest standards”. Please welcome, the one and only, George Vithoulkas!!
MB: George, welcome to our Hot-Seat! It is a pleasure to have you with us.
In our recent email exchange, you discussed an article published in the TIMES discrediting homeopathy (http://www.timesonline.co.uk/). I know your concern about what is going on in the name of classical homeopathy and your argument that homeopathy is going down because of the articles like the one in TIMES by Jamie Whyte that present homeopathy as a voodoo medicine.
In a similar way you were concerned with the Lancet article. Your argument further is that such articles have a negative repercussion all over the world. Concerning the TIMES article, I believe it is very weak in its reasoning. Then in the Lancet study, it has already been shown that the whole study was poorly conducted and biased in many ways. Why are you so concerned about such articles?
GV: I agree that Lancet made a huge mistake in publishing such an article but we must not forget that Lancet represents the most hard core conventional medicine and they are protecting their premises, therefore they are excused. The article in the TIMES is another matter.
I agree that the article in the TIMES is weak in its arguments and that it is written by somebody who does not know what real Hahnemannian homeopathy can do. What concerned me is the fact that such a respectable newspaper allowed such an article to be published. My thinking is that if the general English population had respect for this healing method a paper like this could never have seen the light of day in a paper of this magnitude. This means that homeopathy has lost to a major degree its respectability and reliability in this country.
In 1984 the same newspaper, TIMES, wrote in its front page when I arrived in London to teach: "the king of homeopathy is coming to London" After two years of teaching to a group of thirty to forty English homeopaths the BBC 2 decided to make a documentary on my life and teaching, and gave a very positive impression of homeopathy. Several supportive articles were written at the time and also the Guardian hosted a long positive interview with me. How come that after twenty years the same newspaper -TIMES- is hosting such a nasty article about homeopathy? Is it because a journalist is prejudiced and vicious against homeopathy or perhaps because of extreme nonsense that are heard and published by different so called "modern homeopaths" the last ten years?
Either we take the responsibility and we exercise self criticism as to what led to this negative situation or we will never be taken seriously.
The crux of the matter is: are these "modern homeopaths" able to take on serious, life threatening conditions with homeopathy or will either make a mess of it or fly away from the situation? I think this should be the subject of discussion for a next debate in your web-site, as to who has the right to teach.
MB: Why according to your opinion matters in England took such a bad turn?
GV: After the two years of my teaching classical homeopathy in London in the years 1983-85 to this small group of English homeopaths there was a huge explosion in classical homeopathy. I was wondering what happened to such a visionary group. My assumption is that they were trapped in egotistic motives and let the whole movement been degenerated. I am not sure I can only guess.
What I see and hear is that those who are projected as ‘modern teachers’ today - in their eagerness to say something new in every appearance - they spill out incredible nonsense.
Why then we complain about the article in the TIMES? They reflected the general impression of the public concerning homeopathy. I am sure that at this moment there are some good classical homeopaths in England but they remain obscured.
MB: The argument of Jamie in the TIMES is a weak one as some people claim that we have proof that homeoprophylaxis is working.
GV: Though I agree that the argument of Jamie Whyte is weak, I, on the other hand totally disagree that homeoparophylaxis is well documented. There is nothing really documented. There are only few trials and a lot of misunderstandings.
MB: What do you mean?
GV: I will explain. When Hahnemann wrote that Belladonna will protect from scarlet fever he gave it during the epidemic. In every epidemic we all know that there is one remedy, which is covering in a significant percentage the symptomatology of the epidemic. We call this remedy the "genius epidemicus"
If this remedy is given in the whole population during the epidemic, it will probably prevent some cases in to going in to the full exposure of the epidemic. Unless we understand the mechanism of action of such an idea we will be making wrong assumptions.
MB: What is you opinion concerning the action of Belladonna as a homeoprophylaxis in scarlet fever?
GV: The explanation is that since the symptoms of the patients with scarlet fever were matching the symptomatology of Belladona then this remedy will act as a curative remedy only for these people of course, and not as a preventive. So a curative response were misunderstood and misinterpreted as prophylaxis. Under no circumstances we, homeopaths, could be talking about homeoprophylaxis in the way that vaccinations are used and acting today.
MB: So there is no meaning in researching the idea of prevention through a homeopathic remedy?
GV: If we want to research the hypothesis of Hahnemann's idea of prevention then we can give remedies during an epidemic and this only after we have treated some cases and found out the "genius epidemicus" that covers well such an epidemic. After such a trial, we can compare these results with a group of no vaccinated population and after repeating it a few times publicize the results.
In this case we may find some substantial difference in favor of homeopathy but to what extend we must say it with all honestly. But the practice of giving before hand potentised remedies without knowing whether an epidemic will manifest or not and claim that this remedy works as protection, is to say the least, irresponsible.
A remedy will act and prevent only once the symptoms of this remedy are starting to manifest already, and the remedy could then act as a curative agent in the very beginning stage of the epidemic not as a prophylactic.
The difference is enormous in explaining to the public what exactly we are doing, instead of giving the impression that we have discovered another way for preventing diseases.
MB: Would you prefer the vaccinations as are used today?
GV: By what I said so far I do not want to give the impression that I accept un-critically that vaccinations, as practiced today by conventional medicine, is a correct procedure. In my book "The Science of Homeopathy" I have given an overall impression of how these vaccinations work according to my understanding, and this is not a healthy way. But what we are talking today is a different matter: whether we, as homeopaths, have the answer to the prophylaxis or not. If we do have it then give the evidence and give the research, if we do not have it do not delude people in to believing we have them. Some tragic event will sometimes happen after such irresponsible behavior and the repercussion against homeopathy will be felt all over the world. And for that reason Jamie Whyte is right. But I believe she used this extreme example in order to attack a system that has lost credence in England not because of the issue of vaccinations alone.
MB: Have a look at the interview with Dr. Issac Golden
GV: You give the example of research by Golden in your interview.
The arguments raised by Golden in this interview are not substantiated and scientifically thorough, so I will refrain from making comments on that as I feel he is a nice man with good intentions. But here we are talking about a very serious issue: the health of the people and no one will excuse us because we had good intentions. Nobody can take us seriously before we ourselves are serious in our endeavors and research.
MB: Give an example of what you mean by saying we are not serious.
GV: I will give only a simple example. Golden in his interview with you claimed that after giving repeated doses of several remedies to a population for prevention he observed no proving symptoms developing in anyone of them.
On the other hand those who are doing the "new" provings of remedies claim that after giving one dose of a remedy in high potency (beyond the Avogadro number) hundreds of symptoms were developing in most of the provers. The usual ending was that soon after such a proving there was a book published with the new proving costing twenty Euros! And that was not the end. Soon after these publications certain homeopaths have already found cases needing these peculiar remedies and the patient was cured!
Why are we offended when conventional doctors are saying: is this a science or is this a playground for charlatans?
MB: Which of the two versions is the correct one according to you? Can symptoms be produced by a high potency, yes or no? In aph. 128, Hahnemann did say that the proving should be conducted in 30c potency.
GV: The reality is somewhere in between. As I am writing an article on the issue of provings I will not go in to the matter deeply. Suffice to say that in order to have symptoms from a high potency the prover has to be sensitive to the substance. So those few sensitive ones will develop symptoms from the prophylaxis remedies, may be very few of them, but there are going to be some in both groups. But what is incredible is that the majority of symptoms attributed to the remedy during a "modern" proving are nothing else but the mass hysteria of participants in the proving. Can you imagine the confusion created in our ranks when such un-substantiated provings are entering the tools of our work like the repertories and the computers?
If these so important issues do not concern some "modern homeopaths", I am also not concerned if their feelings are hurt if they cannot tolerate criticism for their public actions.
MB: Why you are so severe in your expressions?
GV: I would like to say here something very important that will clarify a lot of misconceptions that are going on in the name of classical homeopathy.
The mechanism of action of both the "placebo effect" and the "homeopathic similimum" are the same.
The placebo effect can be initiated by the autosuggestion of the patient which forces a mobilization of the defense mechanism through strong feelings of faith. That is how all spiritual healing, radionics, yoga, meditation and all the other fringe therapies are working.
In homeopathy the cure takes place from a similar mobilization of the defense mechanism through the correct remedy, the similimum. I will say it more grossly in order to be understood more clearly. If the initial reaction of a defense mechanism mobilization is the discharge of serotonin in the blood then this reaction is similar in both cases. This placebo phenomenon, which I have been talking for years in my teachings, is responsible for the "miraculous" cures that very frequently are witnessed by some homeopaths from these "new" remedies. Whatever they might have given to such suggestive patients would have reacted in a similar way. What is not known is that these placebo cures are taking place only in conditions where the patient belongs to the uppermost layers of health according to the theory I brought out the last few years. Of course one must have listened to the information given in my teachings before one can understand fully what I am talking about now. In other words these placebo cases happen with patients that are considerably healthy, though the suffering and the pathology may look severe.
In cases where the pathology is deep then the placebo effect will be superficial and the amelioration will last only a very short time, in the same way that the wrong but the close remedy will react as well.
I have also said repeatedly that 40% of the cases treated by homeopaths all over the world belong to the placebo group. I know this is an outrageous statement I am making now but it is true. The real cured cases which are responding to the right homeopathic remedy need to have several parameters to confirm the action and these parameters differentiate them from the placebo group, such as return of old symptoms, etc.
The placebo group also will never be effective in severe degenerative cases like neuromuscular diseases, multiple sclerosis, autoimmune diseases, severe mental disorders, in emphysema, in severe allergic conditions, etc. There you need to find, not only the first remedy, but also the correct sequence of remedies and knowledge of case management before you can attain curative results.
MB: George, this is very controversial. Here in India, the homeopaths get to treat a whole lot of pathologies on a daily basis. Most doctors here also do not find it necessary to give 2 hours for a first consultation, as is considered necessary in the West. So cures by suggestion and psychotherapy are very much ruled out. Yet we come across so many cures that it is very difficult for me to agree on this. Functional symptoms may disappear during a placebo cure but pathologies can not –at least not on a regular basis.
GV: You are right when you talk about Indian homeopaths that are treating severe pathology cases. I am talking about the Western hemisphere homeopaths that are treating mostly deep pathology and a lot of mental cases. The misunderstanding springs from the fact that most homeopaths are not aware of my exposition concerning levels of health .The Indian cases, though the pathology is severe, are uncomplicated cases which belong to the uppermost levels. The remedies in these levels are usually clear and if the remedy is found the results look miraculous.
The western patients with a lot of suppression from chemical drugs, a lot of vaccinations and a lot of stress develop deep psychosomatic pathology and become extremely complicated cases for a homeopath to treat. A lot of these cases are mentally unstable patients who are seeking solace in anything: a prayer, yoga meditation, a new remedy, a healing session, anything new and exciting will give the impression of amelioration.
I listened once to a German lady homeopath who was claiming to be extremely successful with a lot of patient’s. When I asked her from which pharmaceutical company she was purchasing her remedies, she told me that she produced the remedies herself. She would write in a piece of paper the remedy and the potency and through a machine will produce it instantly. Tell if this is not a hundred percent placebo effect.
The lady was so successful financially that she donated a big amount to the Foundation of "George Vithoulkas Stifftung” in Germany.
But apart from this, my experience has been that all the people with severe deep pathology belonging to lower levels of health , when one observes their cases, one sees the reference to all previous remedies they have received from which there has been some amelioration for a period of time, but never did this amelioration touch their real pathology.
I myself have given by mistake the wrong remedy that belonged to another patient and the patient who received the remedy reported that he was ameliorated.
Such reports and such cures are all placebo if they are not followed with certain parameters that are known to all homeopaths and they would be, for example:
An initial aggravation , a return of old symptoms, a sign of the diseases going from centre to circumference, from a higher to a lower etc. What is not known is the information that I have given to the students that once the disease has gone deeper and the health has been lowered significantly; there is a time when the organism does not any more produce acute conditions. A real cure will bring the organism back to the possibility of manifesting high fever with inflammation.
All this knowledge I am at the moment preparing the second volume of the The Science of Homeopathy in which I will give all the details as taught in the video courses which are also presented in front the Indian Branch of the Academy. Contact Hiralal Agarwal (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Dr. Santosh Kothari (email@example.com) for more details about the video courses through the Indian Branch.
MB: So no new ideas are permitted?
GV: On the contrary, new ideas are necessary but nobody should present them publicly before testing them again and again. Of course new experiments and new ideas are necessary and are permitted as our science is an expanding one and nobody has the absolute truth of it. We still have to learn a lot. I also have given out new ideas but I spoke publicly about them after thirty years of observation and testing. And when I gave it to my students I asked them to test them and see for themselves whether they are right or wrong. I also had to confirm these ideas when I presented live cases in my post graduate teachings.
MB: Those who are working on new methods/ideas, also claim that their ideas are based on years of observations, are clinically verified and have been tested by hundreds of other homeopaths. How will the community at large decide which way to go? And how do we know which new work should be promoted further and which one should be criticized. Should such decision be based on personal opinions or do we allow our system to evolve naturally based on the clinical experience of the whole community?
GV: The system will eventually either evolve or degenerate in a similar way that degenerated after the death of Kent. It went actually in to oblivion. Everything will depend again on individual decisions, and the knowledge and the integrity of such individuals.
As I said before we have to reject what is obviously crazy, it does not matter how much their originators claim they have tested it.
I believe every homeopath is aware of the 2004 research done in order to find out whether a high potency could produce the keynote symptoms of some well known remedies:
Homeopathic proving symptoms: result of a local, non-local, or placebo process? A blinded, placebo-controlled pilot study.
Homeopathy, Volume 93, Issue 4, October 2004, Pages 179-185
H Walach, J Sherr, R Schneider, R Shabi, A Bond and G Rieberer
The result was a total disaster. Those who took the remedy had similar symptoms to those in the placebo group! And what was worse NOT ONE of the provers manifested the well known keynotes of the remedies. In this serious research one of the designers of the study was exactly the one who promoted, more than any one else, the provings of new remedies and wrote several books with thousands of symptoms after one dose of the remedy! Is this a testing of years? Or is it a shame?
In any case one can see that new ideas, as in, if you look like a vegetable take a vegetable remedy, etc., that come from the "modern teachers", are falling into disrepute a few years later. You may say this is O.K. let it be like this and the system will balance by itself. I say no, it is not O.K. because some hundreds of innocent or naive students have been deluded in the meantime believing this nonsense and eventually become disappointed and are giving up. Because a teacher, who brings a myth to the public is going to bring another myth as soon as the previous one has exausted its influence.
On the other hand history has shown that the system did not balance after Kent who was facing similar situations. It took 50 years until some individuals decided to sacrifice a lot in order to restore it to its rightful level of excellence.
MB: What happened in Greece where you have been teaching again the last 10 years?
GV: Contrary to what happened in England and in USA an upward trend was observed in Greece with a culmination of a Master's degree in the Aegean University. It is very high in the evaluation of the Greek universities. Public Universities in Greece are still carrying a lot of prestige and their decisions are backed by the state and the ministry of Education. The step forward of accepting a Master's degree was really an amazing decision on the part of the University senate and were based only on the evidence that we were able to demonstrate to the authorities for the effectiveness and usefulness of this therapy.
The University people were amazed with such views as expressed in the TIMES article and are awakened to the fact that such nonsense is existing within the ranks of homeopaths. In the West things are not running with the relaxation and looseness that exist in this blessed country of India.
MB: Homeopathy is a growing science and people are going to come up with new hypothesis and many would like to experiment on many issues that are not well understood yet. We can have debates, discussions and disagreements on these within the community but when it comes to fighting for homeopathy, everyone should stand united.
GV: Before we continue this discussion we have to agree on certain issues. For instance, ideas like potentizing a song, or the Berlin wall, or the feather of an eagle if the patient looks like an eagle, or writing the name of the remedy on a piece of paper and letting a glass of water stand over it or that if one looks like a vegetable you must choose a vegetable remedy, or that we do not need to prove remedies because we can use our imagination to determine the symptoms, etc. are, to say the least, ideas that have degraded homeopathy and caused articles like the one in TIMES to appear. If then we agree that all this is nonsense or craziness then the question should be presented as follows: should we be united around an idea which is solid and workable - Hahnemann's teachings - or an idea which is crazy?
Whom should we support rather and be united with, the experimenter of new ideas even if they are crazy? Or should we be united around those who are doing serious work in showing to the world the excellent therapeutic results of this science?
Is it not rather strange to ask serious people to accept nonsense rather than asking the crazy ones to stop slandering those serious doctors who have integrity and knowledge and can show to the world what homeopathy can do? I know a lot of homeopaths who would detest this nonsense but are afraid to come out and criticize such "modern" ideas.
MB: Some methods are used by 'some' people that do not fall into the realm of strict homeopathy - be it sleeping over the remedy name or putting a glass of water on a remedy name and then drinking the water or using pendulums to find the remedy. The first thing to notice here is that there are only a handful of people who are using such methods. If out of half a million homeopaths, 20 or 50 people use some methods that border on the verge of shamanism or voodoo, it is not going to affect the homeopathic movement at large.
GV: I do not agree that there are only 20 or 50 people who believe this type of medicine and call it homeopathy. In USA and England it is the majority, that is why negative publicity is strong and the outcries from USA and Canada reaching me are: where can we find a good homeopath. As I said there are such good homeopaths but they are obscured by those who shout the most pretending to bring along "new things" in homeopathy.
MB: Every time there is an article denouncing homeopathy, we get to hear that there is no research to show that homeopathy works. Homeopaths really need to do some introspection on this. I don't mind people using energy healing that does not fall in the realm of homeopathy or science in general. But such things should not be called Homeopathy. There should be some guidelines for this, approved by senior members of the community.
This again calls for an international forum of senior members that will filter everything that is written about Hahnemannian homeopathy. Professional bodies do have weight and help in lobbying with Governments at various levels. We need to work on this.
GV: I appreciate you very much when you talk in this way. It is this kind of solid proof that forced homeopathy to be entering in to a University level as a Master’s degree in Greece.
Greece is one of the most conservative countries of Europe and the Aegean University is one of the best in the evaluation of the 22 Greek Universities. If the international community does not understand that we must separate from craziness and we must fight bias and vested interests I feel there is going to be a very long way before humanity enjoys the real benefits of Hahnemann's discoveries.
MB: George, you have been instrumental in resurrecting homeopathy in the West. In the last three-four decades, homeopathy has again become very popular and the trend seems to continue. You have worked tirelessly for homeopathy all your life. What is your vision for the future of homeopathy? Where do you see homeopathy 20-25 years from now?
GV: If people with integrity knowledge and strength appear and if they will be willing to fight inertia, vested interests and selfishness then there is hope, that we will be living in a better world , more healthy, more sane more fair and free.
I do not believe this will happen and inertia and selfishness will take the upper hand. We will go through a lot of cycles before the world accepts that this system of medicine is really in accord with the forthcoming revelations from quantum theory which people, at the moment, are afraid to call by its real name which is the universal substratum of the sublime love and wisdom.
MB: I agree but I really hope that we will get to see our beliefs regarding our system getting verified in our own life times! George, I would love to continue this discussion further but time and space put a restraint here. May be we will continue the exchnage in another issue of Homeopathy 4 Everyone. I would like to thank you for the thoughts and concerns that you have shared with us today and I hope your work will continue to inspire many future generations of homeopaths!
George Vithoulkas is today an Honorary Professor of the Moscow Medical Academy (Academy of Medical Sciences), Professor in the Kiev Medical Academy and Collaborating Professor in Basque Medical University (2001-2004).
In 1996, he was honored with the Right Livelihood Award (also known as Alternative Nobel Prize, www.rightlivelihood.org) “…for his outstanding contribution to the revival of homeopathic knowledge and the training of homeopaths to the highest standards”. United Nations (Development Forum) consider this award “Among the world’s most prestigious awards”, while TIME Magazine called Jacob Uexkull, the award’s inspirator, as one of the 37 “heroes” of 2005 .
In 2000, George Vithoulkas was honored with the Gold Medal of the Hungarian Republic, from the country’s President, for his work in the homeopathic medicine.
In 1995, he established International Academy of Classical Homeopathy in Alonissos, in which he is the director. In this Academy, George Vithoulkas gives the gist of 40 years of his experience and his recent ideas of levels of health. In his teachings, he gives details that will help the doctor or practitioner to determine the state of health of each individual patient and also the possibility to be estimated whether a case is curable with homeopathy and the amount of time and remedies that will be needed to accomplish a cure.
Every year, during the summer months, groups of doctors and practitioners from various countries are being trained there, doctors and practitioners from Germany, Italy, Sweden, Norway, United Kingdom, Russia, U.S.A., Canada, Austria, Japan, India, Mexico, Brazil and of course Greek doctors.