I N T E R V I E W
DANA ULLMAN, M.P.H.
Author of The Homeopathic Revolution:
Why Famous People and Cultural Heroes Choose Homeopathy. www.homeopathicrevolution.com
Courtesy : Louise Mclean, Editor, Zeus Information Service www.zeusinfoservice.com
Dana Ullman has written numerous articles for magazines, academic journals, authored many books, organized conferences for homeopaths (for 20 years he organized the annual conference for the National Center for Homeopathy in the US) and is often quoted in various media and internet sites.
His main website is: www.homeopathic.com
14th August 2008.
By Louise Mclean,
Editor, Zeus Information Service www.zeusinfoservice.com
Early on Sunday morning, 3rd August, I rushed out to Heathrow Airport to meet Dana, who was flying home to San Francisco after his summer holiday in Italy. Despite a little mix up, we nonetheless found each other and managed to fit in a breakfast interview. Dana was full of energy and enthusiasm and here is what he had to say on a multitude of topics concerning homeopathy.
LOUISE: How long did it take you to research your book, The Homeopathic Revolution?!
DANA: I’m laughing because it is something that I have been working on for several decades! In fact I have always collected what I consider fascinating facts and figures about homeopathy. So I have collected the historical and present day information in various files about famous people. Good writing is weaving together bodies of information but the actual writing of the book went relatively fast, over a year’s period of time. I also admit to experiencing a fair amount of magic on a regular basis. What I mean is that whenever I would start working on a chapter on politicians or peacemakers, corporate leaders or philanthropists, I would actively seek, read books, go online and then all of a sudden someone would email me some vital information which would just happen to be about the chapter that I was working on!
LOUISE: Amazing synchronicity!
DANA: Yes, even beyond synchronicity. I am just always amazed at the regular experiences of ‘coincidence’. It is remarkable and it also let me know I was on the right track. The 16th century French essayist, Michel de Montaigne, once wrote: “No wind blows on a ship without a port of destination.” When we are doing good work, the Universe ultimately supports it. A wind seems to come to help one’s journey. That’s not to say there aren’t obstacles. To me part of the hero’s journey is accepting the obstacles and not being put off by them but seeing them as steps on the way and then all of a sudden some gift would be given to me of yet more evidence that I should consider.
The idea for the book came shortly after Coretta Scott King (Martin Luther King’s wife) passed away and the media in America highlighted the fact that she died in an alternative medicine hospital in Mexico where she was seeking out homeopathic treatment. As soon as I read that, I literally threw down the gauntlet and said to myself, ‘That does it! Here’s yet another person people know and respect who sought out and/or appreciated homeopathy.’ Maybe it was too late in her life but at least she sought it out. And I said I am going to connect the dots of all the most famous people who had some kind of treatment or experience of homeopathy.
At first I wasn’t certain that I was going to have enough information for a book. Well the book ended up being almost 400 pages! I had more than enough information. It is like the work that Sue Young is doing on a regular basis which I appreciate greatly. She has been running with a lot of this historical information and the internet certainly makes our lives a lot easier in terms of finding it.
I never expected to find stories of 7 different Popes, let alone 11 American Presidents and so many other Heads of State. I never expected to find so many literary greats and so many cultural heroes, names we all know and respect.
I will tell you a personal story about my father who was a paediatrician and an allergist. When I got into homeopathy he was sceptical because he didn’t know what it was. In the 1980s I mentioned to him that Yehudi Menhuin was the President of one of the top homeopathy organisations in the UK. My father had once had the opportunity to become a professional violinist and he had always had the highest regard for Yehudi Menhuin because he was not only a great musician but also a wonderful philanthropist and so he was very moved to hear that this man was an advocate of homeopathy.
Sometimes a person needs convincing about homeopathy by research, others need a personal experience and other times people need to know that someone they have heard of and admire uses it. I simply try and tell people whatever they need to know to convince them that they should investigate it or try it.
I have written a lot about research in homeopathy and I’ve written a lot about how people can use the medicines at home to treat themselves and their families. The third strategy is to simply show that so many of the most successful, most respected and even most famous people in the last 200 years have been advocates. This is all part of a body of evidence that will encourage people who may not be familiar with homeopathy to consider becoming familiar with it.
LOUISE: And so have you found a lot of outlets for the book or is it mainly on your website and on the internet?
DANA: I have to admit that it is challenging getting the word out. There is a lot of noise we all experience from the news, various medias and the internet. So although the book has gone into its second printing, I expected it to be into its eight printing or tenth printing by now. I expected this book to really hit a nerve in a profound way and even possibly be on a best sellers list. So it has not reached my personal expectations. It’s a very popular book but I expected it to be more of a breakthrough book.
LOUISE: Are you able to get it into bookshops?
DANA: One never knows where a book is. You see it on Amazon, you see it on various sources, I don’t know where it is in the world.
LOUISE: I feel there is a kind of media censorship with homeopathy.
DANA: Sadly the world doesn’t know much about homeopathy, so I have some sensitivity to bookshop stores that may not want to sell the homeopathy books because they don’t sell that well. The difference with The Homeopathic Revolution is that whether one is interested in homeopathy or not, we all have an interest in knowing what successful people do to help them become successful. How they become healthy is an integral part of someone’s creativity and/or success so I thought this book would touch a nerve in people. It has begun to but of course we have a long way to go.
LOUISE: I think that homeopathy has just started to have a revival in America siince the days when the AMA contributed to making it almost die out.
DANA: Homeopathy is still quite small here. I think what is happening in England is interesting in terms of all the attacks. I think the attacks are taking place because of homeopathy’s integration within the mainstream, that it is being taught in various Universities and the medicines are being sold in Boots and various mainstream pharmacies. So that is threatening. To be candid, I look forward to the time when homeopathy is attacked in America because that will mean that homeopathy is achieving some degree of integration that is threatening.
LOUISE: It’s almost like there’s no such thing as bad news. If it’s attacked in the newspapers, then people will ask ‘what’s this?’ and want to know about it. Before that, they may never have heard of it.
DANA: I don’t want to say the attacks homeopathy is experiencing is good news and I don’t think any bad news is good news. I am just saying it is a symptom of a disease and it’s a symptom of homeopathy’s successes that it is being attacked and that it’s worthy of attack.
LOUISE: What they do is first they completely ignore you. For years there was nothing in the media at all about homeopathy in the UK, nothing. They kept it out. Homeopathy has become so popular and they don’t know what to do, so then they have to attack it.
DANA: The media is funny because they will cover you to bring you up and they’ll cover you to bring you down – this sells in newspapers, magazines and TV. Ultimately in the 21st century, I strongly believe that homeopathy represents the very modern if not futuristic medical paradigm because to me it is a form of nano-pharmacology. I like that word because nano is the only word in our language which means both very very small AND very powerful. I encourage my colleagues to use it too and use the word nanodoses. Part of its definition means one billionth but its real origins comes from the word which simply means very small and so I don’t think of it as simply a billionth. It is very small and very powerful.
Ultimately if you think of what an ideal drug should do, to me an ideal drug should be something that augments immuno-competence and that’s what homeopathy does. I don’t mean simply strengthen the immune system because the immune system doesn’t always need strengthening. Sometimes it’s too hyperactive and that is what auto-immune disease is all about. In other words homeopathic medicines can and will augment immune response when necessary and they will tonify it when it’s overactive … and that’s what we are seeing again and again in the clinical practice of homeopathy.
LOUISE: Balances out the system.
DANA: In fact there is a new study that is coming out shortly which is a re-analysis of the 2005 Lancet review of Shang. The researchers got it accepted in a major international journal of research. What they have finally done is what Shang didn’t do. He didn’t review ALL of the high calibre research but only a small part of it. He ignored comprehensive analysis entirely. I think he knew exactly what it was but he didn’t want to report on it, as it was too positive. Instead he only reported on trials with very large numbers of subjects because when you do that, most of those studies use one remedy for everybody without any degree of individuality.
LOUISE: We individualise.
DANA: We do individualise but sometimes the single remedy or the formulas will work for a broad number of people.
LOUISE: Like Mixed Pollen for hayfever.
DANA: That’s right or Oscillococcinum. But for some reason they did not include any of David Reilly’s research. http://www.bmj.com/cgi/content/abstract/321/7259/471
I don’t know why they ignored it.
LOUISE: It was too positive.
DANA: In fact they had a remark in the Shang article published in the Lancet, where they specifically made reference to trials on respiratory ailments and that the results were robust, but they said they couldn’t trust them because there were only 8 studies. But then again they based their entire analysis on 8 homeopathic studies and 6 conventional ones. So they can’t have it both ways and this new journal article in the Journal of Clinical Epidemiology which is ranked as one of the top international journals of reviews of research, has accepted the new studies.
I also want to let you know there have been a number of new plant studies that some Swiss and Italian researchers have conducted, showing powerful effects of homeopathic doses on plants.
LOUISE: I don’t think that’s the Placebo Effect!! So did you meet the researchers when you were on holiday in Italy?
DANA: No, I met them two years ago in London at the Royal London Homeopathic Hospital conference. Stephan Baumgartner is a leader in the group.
LOUISE: Very interesting.
DANA: But I want to tell you about something else. Before going to Italy, I flew to Brazil to meet with a homeopathic company that has a new homeopathic formula product that has totally blown my mind! This is a group of mostly physicians and scientists who I also met in London 2 years ago at the same conference. They came with a large contingent of researchers and have a product called Canova. If you have read the journal Homeopathy of the UK Faculty of Homeopathy, it is the best academic journal with the best information on research. This journal has published some good research on Canova, and there have been about a dozen other basic science studies published in conventional science journals showing its powerful immunomodulating effects.
LOUISE: I heard that Professor Edzard Ernst is on the Editorial board of Homeopathy.
DANA: Yes, he is on their editorial board but I don’t mind having dialogue with our critics.
LOUISE: He used homeopathy and he thought it was great and now he is saying the opposite.
DANA: It is a tad ironic that one of his own studies in 1990 tested a homeopathic formula in the treatment of people with varicose veins, and it showed positive results!
Back to the subject of Canova, it is a formula product and I met the players of this organisation. Their website has over a dozen basic science studies published in conventional scientific journals, showing what is called immunomodulation. Immunomodulation will modulate the immune system, strengthen it and stimulate it if it is depressed and/or relax it if it’s overactive… and the research is very impressive! I have talked with the people involved in the company and an oncologist who has had 10 years of experience using it! The head of the company is a doctor who was the Secretary of Health for the state in Brazil where he lives. His assistant was the Secretary of Education who got promoted to Secretary of Science, Technology and Higher Education. Then I talked to an oncologist who has treated 1,800 cancer patients with this product. www.canovadobrasil.com.br
and they have links to all the original research there. The biggest clinical study is in development right now.
I talked with the oncologist who treated 1,800 patients and asked him, “what are your results with treating patients with pancreatic cancer?” Normally 95% of people die within the first year. I asked him: “What percentage of people survive a year or longer.” He said “100%”. I said I find that hard to believe. I assume we are talking about 10, 20 or 30 patients? He says, “No, I am talking about 350 to 400 patients.” He had a woman in his office who was a patient and put her on the phone. I talked with her and she had pancreatic cancer 3 years ago. She was a woman in charge of Brazil’s research at their FDA-like agency.
Then one night I was talking with some Brazilians at a club listening to music and they asked what brought me to Brazil. When I told them, the woman said she had a friend who was taking that product. I asked what her friend’s problem was and she said breast cancer. I wanted to know how long she had it and was told 10 years! So I was able to verify its benefits talking to someone not related to the company at all.
LOUISE: A combination of the right ingredients which is most suited to the human body.
DANA: It was interesting that the potencies in Canova are not above 24x, primarily 11x to 20x. So they are in the material dose. That is often good for people with chronic disease with pathological tissue change.
The ingredients of the product that they list are only 5 but there are others. We will soon go public with the details of this formula. However, the challenge that we will have in the U.S. is that we will be marketing this medicine as an “immunomodulating drug” for people with serious illness, and because of this, it can only be sold as a ‘prescription drug’, that is, one that can only be prescribed by medical doctors and naturopathic physicians. I realize that this prescribing limitation will create its own controversies. However, in the U.S., drugs (including homeopathic medicines) that are prescribed for people with cancer, AIDS, Hepatitis C and various auto-immune diseases are not ‘over-the-counter drugs’. I’m pleased that this company is being forthright enough to assert benefits from a homeopathic medicine in treating people with serious pathology.
LOUISE: I believe homeopathy is very big in Brazil?
DANA: It’s not as big as say France.
LOUISE: I am very pleased to see that homeopathy is taking off in America at the moment. Mike Adams who runs www.naturalnews.com and Dr. Joseph Mercola www.mercola.com have both recently been putting out articles on homeopathy which they didn’t do in the past and they have huge email lists reaching millions. It’s great because we’ve got to get it promoted which you and I are both in to. Get the word out: ‘It works, it works, it works!’
What we are worried about at the moment is that via EU regulation, they might say only people who have state registered qualifications will be allowed to practise. That will mean the qualifications gained at our private colleges may not be recognised. But EU regulation can only be imposed when all 27 member countries have ratified it which has not happened yet.
DANA: I think one of the reasons why the attacks are getting stronger is also because the professional homeopaths are stronger here in Europe. So they are going after them here.
LOUISE: Are there any restriction for homeopathic practitioners in America – I suppose it depends upon the state you live in?
DANA: Every state has its own laws. California and Minnesota are the freer states. Most other states are not enforcing restrictions because the medical board are investigating doctors doing dangerous medical practices, which is a higher risk problem than a natural healer. I do predict there will be some district attorneys who might go after homeopaths if they think that they are dangerous, charging a lot of money, making exaggerated claims or if someone complains. I also predict that some of the spooks, as you call them, will create these bogus complaints just to get more investigations going.
LOUISE: They do that and make a big thing in the newspapers, holding one practitioner up as an example, in order to send a clear message to the rest of us. Fortunately there are few legal cases against natural practitioners.
DANA: I read that great book by Martin Walker ‘Dirty Medicine’. I love him. When his book came out I bought 100 copies from him and I sold some and I gave a bunch away. He is one of these people who has a backbone and he really showed how the quackbusters are so much more livid in England compared to anywhere else. These guys are just crazed, they are so certain of their limited point of view. They diminish anything. You are damned if you do and damned if you don’t. You point to research and they want more. I’m all for more but you just have to acknowledge what’s there. When you look at the body of evidence – all the basic science, all the empirical work, all the historical work. I think one has to be very sceptical to believe it is all psychic abilities and placebo response. When these spooks say homeopathy is for the birds, I agree with them it is for the birds and every other living creature on the planet!
LOUISE: This thing about plants is interesting as a homeopathic practitioner in the US, Phyllis Geordic, was also telling me about this and how they use it in their garden and how their plants grow so much better.
DANA: There is a book that has come out called Homeopathy for Farming and Gardening and I want more people to investigate and read it and expand upon it further to see what works and what doesn’t. I believe that homeopathy really is going to be one of the important technologies for the future, not just for medicine but for planetary health, plant health, for ecological disasters even. I wonder what we can do there?
LOUISE: It’s amazing and once we start proving how it works in the garden, they really do have to shut up about the placebo effect!
DANA: One of my other bodies of information that I am very proud of, which alot of people are not familiar with, is the ebook I wrote called Homeopathic Family Medicine. This is the most up to date and comprehensive body of information on clinical research verifying the efficacy of homeopathy and it is an ebook because I update it every 3 or 4 months. I have several hundred clinical trials that are referenced. Each of them is referenced according to the disease for which they are known to treat. As an ebook, it is organised according to a disease, so you can read about what research has been done to treat people with asthma or allergies or arthritis or ADD or whatever. There is over a 100 ailments provided in this ebook. There isn’t research on every one of them but it is amazing how many for which there is research. It is usually double blind, placebo controlled trials, though sometimes there are other types of studies that are done that have been published in peer reviewed journals which are worthy of reference.
Because a number of people really do need convincing through seeing the research, I am always shocked about how few homeopaths know anything about our scientific evidence. It is not that homeopaths need this information for their own convincing, they don’t. Even the patient in front of them doesn’t need it but the patient’s spouse does, the patient’s neighbours do, the patient’s in-laws do. We are all surrounded by certain people who are sceptical for whom it is good to have this information.
I have been disappointed many times at the ignorance of homeopaths about our body of scientific evidence. It’s almost as though most homeopaths don’t give a damn about what evidence there is or isn’t. Some homeopaths even say that research is impossible with homeopathy because the medicines have to be individualised. They don’t understand that you can do research that allows for individual treatment. It’s tricky to do that but it’s all doable and more important, it has been done. There have been studies of some of the single remedies and some of the formula products which have shown beneficial results. Not all research is positive and you can do a trial in a tricky way so it fails and there have been plenty of those studies done but still the bulk of research on homeopathy has had positive results.
LOUISE: And even when you put all that evidence to the Quackbusters on these websites and blogs, they still ignore it, don’t they?
DANA: Yes, absolutely (laughs). I have in front of me a very powerful statement by one of the world’s leading skeptics of not just homeopathy but of other alternative stuff. It’s a man named Martin Gardner and it comes from a magazine called The Skeptical Enquirer – one of those magazines full of articles published by skeptics. They have a special article about Sir Arthur C. Clark, the science fiction writer who wrote the book which became the movie ‘2001 A Space Odyssey’. Martin Gardner quotes Clark and I love this quote: ‘A sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. When a distinguished but elderly scientist states that something is possible, he is almost certainly right; that something is impossible, he is very probably wrong.’ I fully agree.
Ultimately many of our skeptics insist that homeopathy is magic or that it is completely placebo but guess what, you can’t do what we do in homeopathy through placebo. Besides all the body of scientific evidence, when one does even a cursory review of homeopathy’s history, you cannot explain so many of the successes that we’ve experienced – in treating infectious diseases, epidemics, treating people with very serious chronic illness and life-saving conditions that would normally kill people and having such good results with homeopathy.
LOUISE: Absolutely and when you see a child’s high fever go down within minutes or a haemorrhage stop practically instantly after the right remedy, you have to see it to believe it. In acutes, that’s when you really see the magic happen.
LOUISE: Do you have a busy practice?
DANA: No, I don’t. I don’t see patients. I spend all my time writing about homeopathy, teaching homeopathy, publishing books. You may or may not know it, my company Homeopathic Educational Services has co-published about 35 different books with a Berkeley company called North Atlantic Books. I usually bring the books to them and we co-publish them together. North Atlantic and my company have published some of the best modern homeopathic books, ranging from a couple of books by Whitmont, Bailey’s Homeopathic Psychology, Paul Herscu’s The Homeopathic Treatment of Children, Hamilton’s Homeopathic Medicines for Cats and Dogs, Peter Chappell’s Emotional Healing with Homeopathy . These are an integral part of the modern body of information and if you notice, all these books are extremely reasonably priced. So I have always been committed to making information available at as reasonable a price as possible. To me that is part of my own personal ethic.
LOUISE: In a way you’re more into promoting homeopathy, which is really good, because that’s what we need to do.
DANA: I myself took it seriously and at the same time found the means of providing information about it. I think there’s a tendency among homeopaths to talk to themselves and to talk to the already converted and just expect people to come to them when they’re ready. I think sometimes you need to rattle the bushes and wake people up who may not initially have a prediliction towards homeopathy – to at least have them consider it.
I also found in writing the book The Homeopathic Revolution that not only were there 7 different Popes that used or advocated for it but I found a whole host of other clergy and spiritual leaders ranging from leading Muslim clerics and Rabbis to Eastern gurus and so my hope is that homeopathy becomes one of the means for common ground that can be used to realise that we are all in this together. Even if we have different beliefs, we can have some agreed upon understandings about health and healing which we can share with each other and benefit from each other and heal each other.
LOUISE: Yes, unite the religions a bit.
DANA: Boy, do we need that one!
LOUISE: Is there anything else that you would like to say?
DANA: I hope that homeopaths will consider the importance of supporting homeopathic companies first. If a homeopathic company has a product, buy it from them. Support our own organisations. Support our own companies before rushing off to Amazon and some of the other discount websites. I have also read that some people use machines to make homeopathic medicines as a way of not having to buy them from the pharmacies.
LOUISE: Radionics machines.
DANA: I really hope that people realise how damaging that can be to our industry and I do believe that it is important that we support our industry in order to achieve the success that we’re due.
LOUISE: Keep it alive. I agree.
DANA: I do devote a lot of my time and effort in getting the word out for homeopathy. However, due to all of my volunteer efforts, I need support from fellow advocates for homeopathy. I need people to consider donating money to these active media efforts. If, by chance, someone could come forward with some significant financial support, I would hire a professional PR person with whom I could create an active media response team that would make homeopathy a “household word.”
If your life (or someone close to you) has benefitted greatly from homeopathy, I sincerely hope that you reach out to me and/or to other individuals or organizations who are really making a difference. It is amazing how a reasonable little amount of money can create a significant effect. I hope that someone out there reaches out to help me put homeopathy on the map.
Copyright Louise Mclean 2008
Author’s Note: Interviews are conducted to present the opinions and ideas of people who are doing important work to further the cause of Homeopathy. The views expressed may not always necessarily reflect those of the Author.
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