Thoughts on the world, homeopathy, mindfulness and food...
A collection of blog posts - feel free to respond with your thoughts and comments - I love to have feedback - thank you!
So, an update from my blog where I talked about heading over to Malta for a research conference; I said I might, and I did. I danced. Barefoot, under the full moon, and then I swam, with beautiful mermaid like homeopaths, in the sea as the moon shone on us. And I felt blessed that there are people doing the work that is being done out there. I danced on the same dance floor as some remarkable people (to be fair I think all people are remarkable, but on this occasional these were doing remarkable research-y things).
From Stephan Baumgartner, who got interested in homeopathy at the age of 17, and decided that he had to study in a different field to try and be able to explain how it worked, so undertook a PhD in physics, and now supervises and researches; to his students, full of life, enthusiasm and interest for the topic and their research. From Alex Tournier, previously involved in research for a large UK organisation now heading up the Homeopathy Research Institute, to Peter Fisher who is The Queen's doctor and is active in working with and supporting homeopathic research. From Liz Thompson, working tirelessly in Bristol supporting patients with cancer (and other chronic conditions) - one of them being my sister, to Emma Marcías-Cortes presenting on depression and homeopathy having done the study within a hospital setting in Mexico. Doctors all of them. Whether PhD or medical doctors, all with higher qualifications, intelligent, enquiring minds and wonderfully curious natures.
Not, that is, that everyone attending was a doctor or had a doctorate, nor was there any feeling that everyone should have. It was an inclusive event of everybody and the spirit of co-operation was high between all. The feeling that we need a global conversation, to help and assist homeopathy in its growth and development was a strong one.
To be amongst the people there, amongst the research going on and being presented all weekend was a privilege and an honour. The conference, much of it organised by Rachel Roberts (who also during the conference presented an in-depth analysis of the shockingly flawed Australian Report into homeopathy) and Simon Wilkinson-Blake, with help from others, stood out as a fabulous event. An incredible, seafront venue, excellent hotel, amazing service. Presentations were of high quality and intriguing, and the feeling to come away with was priceless. The connections made between other homeopaths working around the world was so valuable.
There'll be more updates available on the conference as time goes by - do keep an eye out on the Homeopathy Research Institute page (which is well worth exploring anyway, for anyone, particularly for more sceptically minded readers of this blog), and on their Facebook page. And for homeopathic colleagues, I'd pop a note in your diary for London 2019 which will be the next HRI conference.
A quickie blog - as I watched updates of the fire in London today it brought back memories of just over 5 years ago.
One fateful morning, around 2am, I awoke, convinced that we were about to be murdered. Gunmen were trying to break down our door, and shots rang out in the dark night. Shouting and an excited rabble of people added further to the confusion. Why would they be shouting that our house was about to be burnt down if they weren't trying to flush us out and kill us?!
To give a little bit of backstory, it probably hadn't helped that I was reading a novel set in Rwanda in the time of the Hutus and Tutsis, covering some of the massacres that happened in 1994. We'd come back from camping the night before and I'd read til 11pm or so, so waking at 2am to crackling sounds, gunshots, and people shouting my dream morphed with reality to create a terrifying time for me. How would I, how could I protect Isla from this? Would we survive?
Fortunately the reality wasn't as bad as my initial waking 'reality' but it was still pretty horrendous. We are one of a small terrace. The middle of 5 houses, and one of the end houses was on fire. A fire that had started presumably in the loft space or upper part of the house, flames were licking ten foot into the sky. My neighbour, with her knuckles bleeding by that time, was hammering on our doors - front and back - the terror and a deep sleep had made me particularly to raise. The gunshot sounds were (apart from being common apparently - I later learnt) ammunition exploding as there were bullets stored in the loft too.
Standing away from the houses and watching it, wondering if we would have any possessions and if the fire crew would be able to put it out before it spread along the terrace, was a strange experience. It probably was not helped by my lack of usual pile of clothes on the bedroom floor - arriving back from camping and having a much desired bath meant I had no PJs on, so clinging a dressing gown around me in the warm night - which was probably the least of my worries but still makes me smile - a warning never to be too tidy!!
The fire was put out by around 5/6am, but they had to go through my immediate neighbour's loft to access it fully. So we were 'safe', and as close as I'd ever like to be to that again. The entire first floor was wiped out by the fire and whilst no people were harmed there were pets who sadly died in it.
Experiencing it was huge for me, and I was aware at the time that homeopathy could help me deal with the shock. For some reason I decided that I would experience the shock, so that perhaps I might be better able to understand how shock affects a person. It's a while ago for me but I remember waking early, sleeping far less, feeling 'wired' much of the time and definitely being on overdrive. It went on weeks until I decided enough experiencing this was enough and for me, went with Aconite as a first option, repeated several times, which definitely helped me to move forwards with more sleep, less anxiety. Mindfulness exercises helped, but for me the homeopathy definitely helped to smooth the edges.
There are many other remedies that might help in PTSD and also in acute shock. I'd always look to consult a homeopath for more assistance - particularly for working with PTSD.
Sending love to everyone involved and a part of the incident in London today, but also all over the world where things are going on causing acute shock and trauma daily.
Find a homeopath near to you in the UK at www.findahomeopath.org
I've recently returned from the Homeopathy Research Institute Conference in Malta where I was working for the HRI. I had a wonderful time, and feel the need for a blog update around the conference in general very soon. But I'm currently feeling proud of myself and thought would share it here in case it struck a chord with anyone else.
So, back at the end of December, just after (but not like the morning after the night before kind of thing) my solstice gathering, I thought I'd like to have another wee drinking challenge. This time, to not consume alcohol for a year. Later in the year, on the 27th March to be exact, I shared this with my daughter - that I was going to do this. "I don't think you'll be able to do that mum" was her encouraging response. Well, this mama loves a challenge, so, so be it - my dry year started again* (I'd had a sip of red wine and that wasn't good enough apparently for my 10 year old setter of protocols).
I've just been through what I had flagged up as my biggest test, the conference, with prosecco and wine flowing freely, many good friends drinking alongside me, music and dancing, and am happy to say I passed. I danced barefoot under the stars, swam under the full moon, laughed, chatted and enjoyed every minute of it. Less sleep than perhaps maybe I needed, but that's life and it was exciting to be there. And no hangovers. No feeling ropey, and really just feeling pretty great.
I'm excited to be continuing with it, and had a lovely chat with a friend around it all whilst in Rome, which it may help to share here - my feeling is that it's a challenge, a game, something to play with and experiment with, as opposed to a fixed need to comply with anything. It makes things easier for me to do; to see it as this, rather than a direct instruction, which I may be prone to resist and move away from (even my own - I can be that obstinate!).
There's different views, some feel that alcohol is helpful in preventing dis-eases, others it enhances our great time (but I want to have a great time consciously?!) and I feel here isn't the time and place for that discussion. From what I've read I'm unconvinced about the evidence around the reduction in dis-ease. If Malta has taught me nothing else it's that your research needs to be a high standard, replicable too, and I'm not sure what I've read so far has shown me that. I would be intrigued to read much further, but there is a large pile of fascinating books in the way, and I'm enjoying experimenting with my own health (and I feel good for it!) first before I delve into the research around this more.
I think this may continue for me, in a flexible way, like my whole food plant based lifestyle does. I can eat whatever I want to but happily choose to do it this way. Should there come a time I change my mind, then I change but for now can't see it being anything other than how it is for now. Kefir, of course, with its probiotic and fermented qualities does not count.... ;)
I know I've mentioned it already but if you wanted to try it out then perhaps to set it up as a game, a challenge, which always helps me. We're all different though so if that doesn't sound good and you want to have a go, work out what would work for you and have a play. Clearly I'm not referring to people with a serious addiction issue and always professional help should be sought in these cases.
*Celebrating the initial dates not the re-start - gotta be proud of each bit!
I've had such a beautiful day today that it's tinged with a little sadness that I'm leaving this part of the world tomorrow, where the elderflower is coming out (champagne anyone?!), the buttercups are flowering in the meadows and my potatoes are taking over our teeny garden space. I'm very content being here, working in a 1:1 environment, seeing clients, working with social media and walking in nature daily (I'm still trying to run...). It's the perfect time for barefoot walking here at the moment and I've also made it into the river for a few swims - complete with heron flying overhead, fish jumping and great company. It's heavenly. Visit Yorkshire if you've not been - and come in May/June time, it's been really wonderful this season. Or better yet maybe don't - and all the quieter for me ;)
But leave it I shall, and I jet off to a conference tomorrow. Well, first for my preconference mini break for Tuesday and some of Wednesday. The conference is the Homeopathy Research Institute Conference, and this year runs in Malta attracting delegates and presenters from around the world. The research is all of a high quality and the conference program is packed, allowing for many presentations in the short time that we're there. I'll be working there so won't see everything but do know that the last two conferences were all available online afterwards for people to download the presentations, and will be able to catch up later on the interesting bits that I missed.
And interesting bits I expect there will be a-plenty. I've been musing recently over the state of homeopathy, and homeopaths in the UK in particular but also around the world. The skeptic attacks, which have escalated over the last 10 years seem to have had something of their desired effect. Less NHS homeopathy facilities, less homeopaths, more fear in the community. We no longer describe what we can help people with on our websites, we talk in vague terms of 'helping the whole person' and whilst to some extent this is right - it's truly amazing how many times you give a remedy for some symptoms and the patient returns the following month to say how something they never told you about is so much better, to another way of thinking it's not helpful. People want to know if you've helped with depression, insomnia, IBS, anxiety before in practice. Still the people who've been helped with those and tell their friends and they appear to be not stopping talking.
So back to the conference. It's amazing how much we seem to have to justify what we do. I don't know of another profession who has had the need to do it as much as in the world of homeopathy (so please do tell me if you're aware of one). It's always a treat to be amongst people where you can have a conversation about your work without waiting to either have to explain more (which is of course fine) or be told it's pointless and doesn't work (clearly contrary to much of your experience working with it on a daily basis). But to see repeated results, in both laboratory and clinical settings. To observe plants respond to homeopathic remedies (surely that at least has to get rid of the placebo argument?), to see the results of many researchers from all over the world. And also to hear their stories. I was in Rome 2 years ago, but not in Barcelona two years previous although Gustavo Bracho was there. It was him who inspired Ananda More (my interview with Ananda is here) to make Magic Pills, a documentary film about homeopathy which had its World Premiere last night. Gustavo found that despite having successfully used homeopathy in an epidemic (with a group of 2.3 million or so people) he was initially unable to publish his findings in any conventional medical journal. Gustavo wasn't a homeopath, but he was a scientist and part of the Finlay Institute in Cuba, and importantly, a part of a solution to a leptospirosis epidemic. It's not just us in the UK that there's a clamp down on it appears.
Interesting. So out I go, out of my quiet nature bubble of my woods, rivers and leave my wolf and family and head into the beauty of Malta, the beauty of being around people who really get what I do (which isn't to say there's not plenty of them here too). Some fabulous homeopathy research updates. And maybe just a little bit of dancing too...
I am constantly grateful to our horse for introducing me to homeopathy. The placebo argument feels slightly less strong in a ton of horse, taking a tiny white tablet which was given in a carved out bit of carrot for five days**. Which stopped us having to have 6 weekly steroid injections into her eyelid, and ultimately seemed to save her eye (especially a relief having spoken to others who had the same condition and ended up with a one eyed horse - good for a pirate comedy or something but seems a little bit wasteful if there's another way). And for nearly dying on the conventional treatment for Cushing's disease, then making a total comeback on that with a trialled and proven effective homeopathic treatment for that.
I am all for the vets not being bullied like they are being for something I see doing such beautiful work. Read more about what you can do to help.
I am pretty happy that non-trialled, individualised homeopathic prescribing helped me drive my car, or us be driven, with a happy dog, not one that would vomit each time we went out. There is nothing amusing about arriving somewhere with vomit dribbling down your inner thigh because you'd sat in the back to hopefully help the dog have an easier journey and she chose to vomit all over you in return...
Please support the vets if you're a user or supporter of homeopathy - sign up to their newsletter and let's say thank you in the best way that we can right now, by standing together with those who feel to be on some kind of crazy frontline right now.
Have a read of their website here and please do sign up for their newsletter.
** Although to give some their case, they would say she knew we knew we wanted her to get better. Why we didn't want her to get better whilst paying a fortune to other vets I'm not sure. I haven't grasped that bit of their argument yet.
Inspired by a blog I read recently - The Top 10 Poisons To Keep Away From Your Kids, which had information, but not so much of a survival guide. It gave you the what but not the how.
So I thought I'd mention a few things that I'd been thinking over for a while about getting by in today's busy, modern world.
Vaccines were one of the top things mentioned in the article, and I would like to say here that this isn't something that I choose to advise clients on, although my belief around pretty much every decision we make is that it needs to be an informed choice. There are pros and cons to both sides of any argument, some of which aren't highlighted often. There are many books, webpages, there are now documentaries you can watch and see other sides of a long argument and make a more informed decision. It's not an easy decision to make, or at least it wasn't for me. What I do find reassuring though, is that there's lots can do to minimise negative reactions to them e.g. using homeopathic medicines, certain supplements to help eliminate toxins and reduce inflammation. You may choose to be supporting the gut with certain foods and probiotics. Negative reactions to vaccines can and do occur and they seem to be swept under the carpet by the medical establishment, but there are ways to help support the body should these happen. CEASE Therapy is another system that has worked well for helping over toxic systems to return to a better place of balance. Working with homeopathy, isopathy, and orthomolecular medicine, it's another option that may help support patients if this area appears to have been challenging health-wise.
Foods were mentioned in the article - I find in this area it's easier to avoid issues (although label reading makes me feel like a neurotic mum but I get over that and get on with it). I remember reading years ago how MSG was linked to Motor Neurone Disease aside from many other issues - and there is no need for it in foods anyway... I'm not sure who or what is driving the current trend towards 'no added sugar drinks' - honestly, give me sugar over these sweeteners any day (I may be the only one so make your own choices) but I aim for no sweeteners in drinks (those handy to pack fruit shoots are a no-no here).
Freshly juiced drinks can be a wonderful alternative - and the kids can get involved (and the big kids) in creating crazy concoctions. Maybe to start with stay pretty simple - a 2 apple, 1/3 lemon base is a good start to then add other bits gently into - try strawberry, or carrot and see where you go from there. I'm going to have another juicing/smoothie session coming up soon so shout if you'd like to come along for some ideas (email@example.com). You can also add sparkling water so no one feels like they're missing out (OK almost anyway).
Organic foods are my preference, and I would say these are probably dictated by availability and individual budget. Buy the best you can with the budget you've got (and check out the dirty dozen and clean fifteen for more ideas).
Making your own instead of processed food. It's easy - although admittedly more time consuming - but a great investment.
We choose to stay away from animal products which was for health based reasons after reading The China Study. The whole thing is well worth a read, and less arduous than I thought it would be (I put it off for ages), but in case you're tempted to leave it too, there's a cheat sheet here - www.wellandgood.com/good-food/china-study-cheat-sheet-10-things-you-need-to-know/. If you want to eat and drink animal based foods, then I'd definitely go organic, grass fed wherever possible, and also cut down on consumption to where you can.
It's easier than ever to buy natural cleaning products and I would choose to do this over add toxins to your home. It's slightly less easy to make them - although many can be fairly easily created - I am aware that the 'just whip up some natural window/toilet/shower cleaner' might be the straw that breaks the natural living commitment's back - so take it easy and buy clean cleaners to start with.
Have some 'good house plants' around - spider plants are easy to care for requiring minimal attention and apparently doing a great job of getting rid of toxic substances in new houses and ready build furniture. We try and have one in most rooms.
Some toxins need to be taken, for example, my sister has been on a hefty cocktail of chemo drugs for a brain tumour. And she has been able to help her body deal with that using homeopathy, along with other therapies. She sailed through radio - to the amazement of the medical staff around her, again using supportive therapies. There are many things you can do to make 'harder' times that bit easier and help to minimise side effects.
Have a watch of Dr Jean-Lionel Bagot here, where he talks about how he helps patients minimise side effects of chemotherapy and other treatments, using homeopathy.
This is a system I've opted to use with people. My preferred choice in working with anyone is that homeopathy is used as part of an integrated system. Having an 'either/or' approach is often not helpful, and it's my preference to be a part of a team, not a solo practitioner.
Get the wifi switched off - especially at nights. I think we're doing a whole experiment in constant radiation at the moment, and the way our direction of health is going, I'm not sure I'd be volunteering to stay in it til the end. At nights our body has the space to help repair damaged tissues and this is important healing time. We're also more susceptible to it then it appears, so especially if you've small children in the house, but really for anyone - switch off at night.
Don't go crazy over this stuff (I tried that last year and it really didn't help me) - I think it can really hard to negotiate your way through - even sometimes the yogurt aisle (no Nestle (obviously I've been boycotting them for years ever since their formula milk debacle in Africa in the 90s), no dairy, minimal packaging (and make sure it's recyclable)... and sometimes you may just have to recognise this is the world we live in and that's how it is. So be kind on yourself whilst trying to figure out a way through, seek help and make sure you remember to go barefoot now and again and dance around the kitchen whilst you cook (your organic, whole food, plant based dinner with coconut oil (from sustainable sources of course) no GMOs, MSG and aspartame)...
Thanks for reading - and do get in touch with any queries or comments,
So, I've said it. There is so much of talking about what we can do, proving that homeopathy works (and I'm excited to be going to Malta next week to the Homeopathy Research Institute Conference - where I know that will be demonstrated time and again that homeopathy works, in vitro, in labs, in plants, in people, with statistically significant results), and sharing of success stories. There is so much defence to both the well meaning doubters and the pharma funded vitriol that we feel we have to do. We may have to do. There are people would prefer we didn't do what we do. So maybe it's normal that we don't talk about the fact we might not be able to 'fix' everyone.
I see results in my clinic. Many people get better. Many people recommend their friends/family members/colleagues. When I ask clients where they heard about me, the biggest group are those from word of mouth. So I'm doing something OK. But there are people who I haven't been able to help as much as I would like.
My promise is never that I'll make anyone better. It's that I'll do my best to help deal with what's going on for them and to help move to a healthier place. I've often an image of where and what I'd like that to be, and many times we get there, sometimes we don't. But I work hard to do my best in each case.
Encouraging, as a practitioner, are the cases we see the 'masters' of homeopathy present in seminars, where they worked together with clients and 20 remedies later, months down the road, after they had made some small shifts but on finding 'that' remedy that really matched the individual, the changes were profound and long lasting. There is reassurance to be gained that I'm not alone at not knowing everything right away. And I'm aware it's a fairly high standard I hold myself accountable to, but to think that I can totally understand a person after a 2 hour time could be seen as quite arrogant. Sometimes I can get it, other times it takes me more time.
I was pondering this today on our drive to visit my daughter's homeopath. There were a few issues that I had wanted her to consult with someone for, and we went to a few well known, and a few well recommended people over the last 5 years. With mixed results. Then on seeing Annie, her current homeopath, she perceived well what was going on for her, gave a remedy and things really moved. Does this mean the others were no good? Definitely not. Some present internationally and are really excellent at what they do. But they weren't the right person for her.
I'm not suggesting a merry-go-around as people head from one person to the next in search of a 'magic bullet' remedy. But to bear in mind that not every one of us is right for every one out there. And all our knowledge differs. I've a wonderful case recently where I felt like I was working for ages on something with them, and coming up with nothing. Then on reading a 'new' remedy, a penny dropped, I gave it and great, great results within a short space of time. In a condition that modern conventional medicine has no answers for, so it was particularly lovely to be able to help.
It can also depend on our own state of health that we're in when we begin the process. Some people are in a very chronic, broken down place and there may be palliation possible but not reversal of dis-ease. Others, it's possible to reverse and see the 'rapid, gentle and permanent restoration of health' that was Hahnemann's aim. Case to case will differ on an individual basis. I think we have more idea after an initial session and two follow ups although things can take more time sometimes to see where they're going.
I'm also not suggesting everyone hangs in there forever, but sometimes it is not an instant process and takes work and a little bit of time and patience. No homeopath worth their salt (in my opinion) would tell you they got 100% results 100% of the time. So yes, it's possible that homeopathy might not work for you, but I can pretty much guarantee your homeopath will work hard to do their best for you.
That, I guess is one of the challenges of our role. This medicine is precise, is beautiful and life changing but as to one size fits all? That would certainly make our life easier. For example we have 1152+ homeopathic medicines listed for head pain. Easier to just pass the paracetamol? But long term... I'm very happy I didn't just stop there.
Happy to answer questions you may have around homeopathy or how it may or may not help what you're going through. I'm fully booked until 27th June at the moment, but always happy speak if that helps and we can arrange to properly consult later if needed.
With best wishes,
I've been 10 years at Craven Clinic and it's time for adventures new, both closer to home and further away.
It's been a wonderful time there with much learning, but now time to work from Skype with people at distance, as well as from two locations in Embsay. Generally people travel to me - from Manchester, Settle, Keighley, Bradford, Leeds, Otley, Ilkley, Harrogate and Wakefield as well as from more locally, and they usually do so by car, so my providing a change of location will mean parking is actually easier.
There is also level access at one of the locations I'm available from - so if this is important to you then please say when booking your appointment.
I do also provide home visiting, where people are unable to travel to me but Skype doesn't provide an option for them. Skype does provide a helpful alternative for many - some people are too far away to travel to me or in different countries - I've worked with people as far away as Hawaii, Australia, Germany or simply further away within the UK.
My feeling is that I want to get out into the community with what I do more and am excited about offering informal workshop sessions (on a donation basis) around my kitchen table. These will start in June - although June is so busy with clients I'm trying to work out where best to fit them in at the moment...
I do also do talks and workshops with groups too - and as far as working ahead, I've a talk booked in February 2018 so do shout if you want me to come along and talk to your group - I've done talks about homeopathy, raw foods (chocolate/juicing and smoothies/raw desserts/raw mains), and mindfulness and have had some lovely feedback from sessions I've done.
Work is busy with seeing people and doing the social media work that I do for organisations - and I'm loving it all. But please do be patient if you wanted an appointment - currently (it's the 29th May as I write) - I can offer one on the 14th June, one on the 27th June and then from the 28th June onwards. There are no Saturday sessions available until the 8th July now as they're all booked up with work and an exciting research conference in Malta.
I am always happy to chat about how I might be able to help, and think it's important that people feel right with the person they're working with. As such I'm pleased to offer a free half hour phone session if you're thinking about working with me.
Catching a few minutes out of Ananda More’s busy day, I managed to find out more about her soon to be premiered film and the motivation behind making it. Ananda, homeopath and first time filmmaker, has been making Magic Pills, In Search of Evidence, a documentary film about homeopathy for the last 6 years.
Interview first published at www.findahomeopath.org
The world premiere is on the 3rd June at the Illuminate Film Festival (tickets available here: http://illuminatefilmfestival.com/magic-pills).
The film reveals aspects of homeopathy some would rather suppress and ignore as inconvenient truths. It shows several projects from around the world, looking at the science and the statistics, the scandals and also hears from individuals with different ways of thinking about the ongoing argument that homeopathy has been a part of for over 200 years.
The trailer for Magic Pills is here.
As a homeopath myself I can be known to rant about the treatment of homeopaths and homeopathy but making a film is a huge step forward into sharing our story with the world. What was the tipping point that inspired you to make it?
It was 7 or 8 years ago, we had a conference here in Toronto, and Dr Gustavo Bracho, from Cuba, presented at the conference. He was presenting a lecture on how the Cuban government had successfully stopped an epidemic using homeopathy. They weren’t homeopaths, they were pharmacists, biologists, and immunologists and the institute was used to creating vaccines for infectious diseases. Because of the circumstances there wasn’t enough time to produce enough vaccine for the population, needing to do something, they created a homeopathic remedy and used gave it to 2.3 million people. The results were astounding and the epidemic was arrested. Dr. Bracho later explained to me that they were shocked that no medical journal was willing to publish their work, and they gave ridiculous excuses that had nothing to do with the validity of the research.
Had they done that with a conventional vaccine – and according to the WHO vaccines are to be used before an epidemic not during one, because a vaccine can take months to stimulate an immune response, and multiple doses, and it’s often hard logistically to get a vaccine to a population because there needs to be a cold chain to ensure a vaccine is safe and effective. Had they have managed to do something similar with conventional medicine the world would know about it, or at least the medical world would know about it and I felt the story had to get out there and…
And the leap to making the film?
It was going round in my mind I had to make a film about it. This story needed media exposure. I emailed Dr Bracho and said I felt I had to tell the story and he told me I could go and visit anytime and speak with him. I found out later he’s very camera shy, he’s had interviews in the past where things he’s said have been twisted and taken out of context. But he welcomed me, the people at the Finlay institute were all very kind.
What was the most important thing you had to learn to make the film?
I have a bachelors degree in drama so I suppose that helped, I don’t know, part of it was going out and doing it hands on. The first time I went to film I had a friend who was a camera man and filmmaker and editor, he’d recently graduated from film school and really kindly donated his time, I started to learn from him. Then I did some courses, learnt more about documentary filmmaking and started to learn about the equipment, techniques, and the language, even still I’m still learning – it doesn’t stop.
Producing the film is what’s the hardest part, finding the funding, the accounting and things are always changing, navigating distribution, finding people I should be working with and not working with, I ended up producing the whole thing by myself. That has had its challenges – it’s a fairly rare thing to do and also hard to be trusted as a new producer in the world to get funding when they don’t know what your film will be like, or if you even have it in you to finish. Now I’m navigating distribution, marketing, every day I’m learning something new – I feel like I’ve done a degree in filmmaking!
The film takes into account many views of homeopathy, and you interview people with very different opinions to your own – how was it for you interviewing people who had such a polar opposite view to yours about homeopathy?
I guess for me I came into this with a homeopathic mind, in the work we do we’re supposed to listen to a person’s perspective without judgement. I went into this open and willing to learn that homeopathy didn’t work. Is this really placebo and something that we’ve blinded ourselves to? I went into it really open to learning that it’s just a scam, a placebo.
I feel I went in with an open mind, but the things I saw were so awe inspiring that I became convinced that homeopathy does work and I came out a lot more confident in my practice. I am convinced of the efficacy of homeopathy as a practitioner and more able to accept people get better because of the work we’ve done together and accept that the homeopathy itself has made a significant difference for them.
It’s hard as a homeopath, I don’t know if anyone gets 100% results, I certainly don’t and when I’m not getting success on a case I take it very personally. I question my skills and question homeopathy itself. Making this film has stopped me from questioning homeopathy. If I’m not getting the results, maybe I’ll need to look again at the case with fresh eyes, or get a colleague to look at it with me and sometimes need to work harder to understand what’s going on.
Thank you for that. It’s really helpful I think for people to hear that you went in totally questioning it and open minded, prepared to learn that what you’ve studied hard for might all be not true. I think some of the issue, and people talk about it, is how we’ve got a lot invested in what we’re doing, maybe that you’ve studied for years and then at that stage of ‘it can’t not be true now’.
I think a lot about confirmation bias and about how in my life I’ve changed my mind so many times about what I’ve believed and encountered, so I’m always open to changing my mind. I mean, I believed homeopathy was a scam first when I first learned about it and I believed that for many years. When I was first in India and I was in the hospital and injured, all these people kept telling me to go use homeopathy and I laughed at them.
It really wasn’t about defending a position for me and I think I’ve shown that on a lot of levels. I thought I had a very scientific approach, and I think I’m still scientific in my approach. But before I was willing to believe what any expert told me and the studies that had been done, and it took a lot of looking and understanding in terms of how science works and about how biased science can be. Science is just a process and it’s open to interpretation and human interpretation, and we’re biased, we all have our own subjective approach.
Maybe there’s something about having ‘that experience’ yourself. You talk in the film about how you took your first remedy and literally 15 minutes later you felt better. That experience changes somebody’s way of looking at the world. Lots of people haven’t have that experience, they’ve not tried homeopathy or witnessed that, in which case it does sound like a load of rubbish…
It’s easy to say to someone ‘Oh, your experience is placebo’, ‘it’s consultative effect’, ‘it’s just a coincidence’, but I think things change once you’ve gone through that experience, you’re more willing to consider that you were wrong about your beliefs.
So maybe we’re stuck in that place and maybe it’s about doing it enough times sometimes…
Maybe, but also… so my question was ‘are we as homeopaths stuck in that place too?’, and I was trying to be open. I really was questioning that, I wanted to know ‘am I perceiving everything differently?’, ‘am I approaching every study that’s negative with a certain perspective for a reason or are they really fraudulent and are these complaints that we have really genuine?’
We talked about the different mind-sets of people with their views of homeopathy and homeopaths. One thing I find interesting is how you use in the film different projects using quite different systems of homeopathy. Within the homeopathic community we can get a bit ‘you’re using that, I’m using that’. What are your thoughts about everything sitting alongside each other?
I think we, we haven’t had the time, the money, the research, to really learn everything there is to learn about homeopathy, and I think we’re just sitting on the tip of an iceberg, so I think everyone’s systems are very legitimate and I think we can learn a lot from each other and I think if we start getting dogmatic about how we practice or about how other people shouldn’t practice, we do everyone a disservice.
We do disservice to our patients because we’re not willing to look at other techniques that might help in a situation where we might be stuck, we do a disservice to our community, because we become fragmented – that’s what’s led to the state of homeopathy today. The Flexner report was successful in shutting down homeopathy because homeopaths weren’t organised and today homeopaths should…
…there isn’t enough unity and working together to really become a force.
If I could give you one wish to do with homeopathy what would it be?
My biggest goal with the film is to broaden the dialogue, and have I think we’ve had the media against us and a lot of the scientific world, not all the scientific world, I think a lot of the scientific world is open to what we’re doing and are sceptical in a genuine way, wanting to learn. But because I think there’s so much at stake, not just the pharmaceutical and the medical industry but – how we understand and perceive the world and how it works, it’s been hard to accept us. I think what I want, what I wish is for a more open minded genuinely sceptical society that is willing to invest in research and to openly to look at evidence and bring homeopathy in to the healthcare systems around the world.
What I feel that we’re suffering from right now is the power of what I’m calling the pseudo sceptics, because I don’t think they’re genuinely sceptical – they’ve decided that homeopathy can’t work and they’re going to do everything in their power to demonstrate that, even if it means not presenting the whole story, and they’re doing everything in their power to stop more research from happening as well – so why are they so scared of research? – they call it a waste of money, but most of the research being done in homeopathy is coming from dedicated funds to research in alternative medicine.
My question is, why are they scared of research? – what are they scared that we’re going to learn and find out? – is it going to flip their worlds around too much, is it like finding out the world is round?
You need to be able to say, ‘OK I believe this and what’s the evidence for and against my belief? Have I really understood what I experienced in my own life’, then you can shape an educated vision. I learned from Irene Schlingensiepen-Brysch a homeopath in Germany, we spoke a about scientific philosophy and this notion that you can never know the truth you can only approximate truth – and all we can do is try to do studies that try to falsify our theories and our hypothesis and find out what is false, but that finding out what is true, maybe that’s impossible.
There’s so much we don’t know and scientific opinion changes constantly and we’re always discovering new things that were right in front of our faces and we didn’t see, like, for example a lymphatic system in the brain, a drainage system for the brain – people always wondered how wastes were removed from our brain and they thought they didn’t get removed then just last year they discovered there is a drainage system for the brain. So, we’re always learning new things, always observing new things and we’re always missing things that are right in front of us because we don’t know how to see them yet.
For me the biggest thing is that science is a process, it isn’t an answer, it isn’t absolute knowledge, it’s a process of learning and observing and it’s not absolute.
I know there are lots of interested people asking me (so there must be many more wondering), when can we expect to see the film at screenings outside Canada and the United States?
It’s a bit of a process and all in the works and a there’s a hierarchy in how the film is released. The film festivals want to have the premieres and if it’s available elsewhere the film festivals are less inclined to show it. The reason I really wanted to go the film festival route, which isn’t a necessary route, but I felt it will legitimise the film and bring a broader audience to the film.
So, we have to be patient?
Yes, we have to be patient. The other thing is, I have wonderful people helping me, but I’m the main promoter on this and I haven’t been able to prepare all the marketing and get myself ready for the premiere – and at the same time be able to get my whole community screening program in place. The community screening approach is a very common way to distribute films that have the intention of having a social impact, as the lingo calls it, impact distribution. We want to make the film available for community screenings, and that means that anyone that wants to hold a screening can reach out to us, they do have to pay a licence for the screening but it’s pretty nominal and the idea is with that we send them a Blu Ray or a DCP.
They can show the film, they can show in theatres, in communities, they can show it in their living room, the idea also is to create the discussion, and try to figure out ways to create more change and broaden the perspective of the media, maybe lobby government, help to work towards changing policies around homeopathy and healthcare policies and towards alternative medicine in general.
I’m still trying to figure out what that’s going to look like, what the action plan is going to be and how everyone can contribute on that level as well. And then the film, once someone buys the licence, they can then turn around and charge tickets for people to come and see the film, hopefully use it as a fundraiser or cover all the expenses of showing the film.
OK, then we stay tuned and sign up to the newsletter?
Yes, and then that way you’ll find out when there’s a screening near you or how you can host a screening. We’re going to hopefully get it on video on demand platforms. Our goal not to reach a homeopathic audience –but to reach a broader audience of people. We need the homeopaths and we need the supporters of homeopathy to help propel the film to that audience as well. Sign up to the newsletter here.
Do you need funding to be doing all this?
It’s hard once the film is done – and we did it on a really really small budget, a lot of it came from my own pocket and I put 6 years of my life into it – but now there’s money required for developing the website, developing the materials, marketing is very expensive. Everything takes another bunch of money to get out there, the hope is that through licencing fees, more donations and hopefully some grants, we can put some money towards all of that that needs to be done. I wish I could give it all out of it out for free, but the expenses keep going up and up – it’s been very hard to raise money for this film outside of private investors – grant and funding bodies are very scared of films like this.
There’s a donate button on the website and it would be so appreciated if people would like to do so. As much as we all want to make everything available and be altruistic there’s expenses related to everything, like just having a DCP made is close to $1000. And unfortunately filmmaking and everything that goes around it is an expensive endeavour. Those of us producers who are making documentary films are dependent on the good will of everyone around us to make it happen.
Lastly, you cover some really hot topics in the film. In the UK we’re not allowed to talk about anything that might be able to treat cancer, we’ve just had Vaxxed here in the UK, and the vaccine discussion is heating up. What’s your feeling, I mean, I think they’re amazing stories to get out to the world, I feel like we’ve been suppressed for so long, the Cancer Act was in 1939 so since then we’ve been not allowed to say that anything can be helpful in dealing with cancer apart from maybe supporting it and you kind of go straight in there for the jugular – how is that?
I guess I put myself in a tricky situation, where some homeopathic organisations are scared to support the film, because it’s “going there”. They’re scared of the sceptic attack against them, of being associated with something that’s presenting what’s going on in the world. I mean, it’s not me saying I can treat cancer, it’s me showing what is possible in India, where homeopaths who are allowed to treat cancer, and are considered full-fledged members of the medical community, and receive an excellent medical education, I’m showing what they’re doing and what they’ve been capable of and the results they’ve been having, and so I don’t think I’m making any untoward claims of what I can do as a homeopath.
They’ve created a culture of fear around us being able to talk about what’s going on in the world and about us being able to show what is really possible. We always act out of fear on all of those things and I’m trying to break that here.
Thank you Ananda. It’s been a pleasure to chat and I can’t wait to hear more about the premiere and progress of Magic Pills, In Search of Evidence.
Em Colley MARH RHom BSc(Hons)
... said a lady recently in a cafe near us. Although I've heard it from plenty of folk, other waitresses in other cafes, medical staff and pretty much anyone really. Though there seems to be a growing awareness that gluten isn't always the good stuff, and to be fair, I don't yet know if gluten is the demon or the processing and chemicals that are used to create the product we know and consume today.
I'm not about to delve deep into the research here - mainly because I waffle away in between my getting on with reading with my daughter, tidying up from the day, sorting the washing and the rest. But should you be interested in more research around it and well referenced text exploring issues around gluten - from anxiety, depression, inflammation, bones crumbling as well, of course of intolerance reflected in gut symptoms, and Celiac Disease.
I think we're on the tip of the iceberg with seeing issues related to gluten, and if I could ban just one type of food... nope it'd still be dairy. But with it if I could ban more it'd be meat, fish and gluten. Clearly most of the sandwich, pizza, pasta eating world will be glad I have no magic wand. But it's worth an experiment or two if you're struggling with random aches and pains (with the proviso that you should always get to a Dr and get them properly checked out).
I went over 2 years with a ache in my back that would drift off by 11am or so and I'd think I should get it looked at then wouldn't as if felt better - you know what they say about cobblers wives - but then doing a week of juicing and no more back pain led me to wonder if there could have been something I was eating. And it turns out my joint pain and gluten go together hand in hand (quite literally - my fingers feel still and sore and it's harder to use them), presumably caused my inflammation in my body in response to something in the gluten.
No I'll not die if I have it, but if I can feel good or less good... Yes sometimes I slip but it's bit boring for those around me as I complain and groan about my 'gluten hangover'. So nicer not to bother.
I'm not a fan of the whole 'gluten free' ranges of everything - which often have a zillion other things in that don't sound good to me. But perhaps a potato, sweet potato or rice instead of pasta? Easy GF swaps making me smile.
Love to hear what you think and if you feel better without it - or even if you think it's a fad too :)
I'm a Homeopath working in the Skipton (North Yorkshire) area. I am also able to offer food intolerance testing using Kinesiology and advice around diet and lifestyle.
Em Colley MARH, Practitioner of Classical Homeopathy, BSc(Hons) Psychology and Neuroscience
Focussed Mindfulness Practitioner
Dip (SNHS) Kinesiology
Dip (SNHS) Holistic Nutrition
Certificate in Whole Food, Plant Based Nutrition