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!
I was talking about this, this morning with a lovely client and mentioned I'd write a little on how to do it. It's really super simple - you write, longhand, 3 pages of anything. Instead of me telling anything about it, firstly I think we should have Julia Cameron, author of The Artist's Way and who uses the morning pages as a vital tool of the process.
"Morning Pages are three pages of longhand, stream of consciousness writing,
done first thing in the morning. *There is no wrong way to do Morning Pages*–
they are not high art. They are not even “writing.” They are about
anything and everything that crosses your mind– and they are for your eyes
only. Morning Pages provoke, clarify, comfort, cajole, prioritize and
synchronize the day at hand. Do not over-think Morning Pages: just put
three pages of anything on the page...and then do three more pages tomorrow."
In these strange times I've found them brilliant, and also recently in dealing with a long standing conflict I've found them incredibly liberating.
I've written from a space of not over-thinking, of flowing and allowing. Sometimes stuttering and stalling but each day writing my three pages. Today Byron Katie's questions crept in and were incredibly helpful, I'm not suggesting you mix and match tools - but my word, it worked for me this morning and shifted something HUGE. Phew, such a relief. I do think asking questions can be such a great tool and often describe Byron Katie's questions as a traffic light system to stopping me believing my story and bringing me back to reality.
If you've not explored Byron Katie's work before, I recommend it! Her website www.thework.com is a great place to start and I think it can be helpful to do daily, we have so many beliefs that keep us trapped in our story. Maybe I'll write more about that another time.
Sending love, Em x
The Times view of homeopaths promoting bogus coronavirus treatments: Junk Medicine
"British homeopaths are promoting bogus treatments for the coronavirus" they say...
Monday April 13 2020, 12.01am, The Times
If you've been with me for a while, this is following the same pattern as previous blogs based on newspaper "fiction". The article is posted below, with relevant points I feel are worth exploring which will be in italics. I will include links to discover more, should you be interested to do so.
The number of recorded deaths of hospital patients in this country with Covid-19 now exceeds 10,000. Sir Jeremy Farrar, director of the Wellcome Trust and a government adviser on the pandemic, warned yesterday that Britain was likely to be among the worst-affected countries, if not the worst of all, in Europe. In a public health crisis of such severity it is a natural human impulse to seek protection against infection. We report today that hundreds of homeopathic practitioners across the country are promoting treatments that purportedly provide it.
No. No they are not. Hundreds of practitioners are not doing this. Having worked with, studied with and got to know so many homeopaths - no one I know is talking about protection against infection. I do know people are talking about giving remedies that might help people be healthier though - that's what we do. I did also hear that in Cuba there are a group using homeopathic medicines as potential prophylaxis for the virus. They follow a history of successfully using homeopathy to deal with potential epidemics in the country which is particularly interesting and perhaps a story The Times might like to report on. Conclusions of a study, working with leptospirosis that was reported in 2010 stated: "The homeoprophylactic approach was associated with a large reduction of disease incidence and control of the epidemic." Interesting indeed.
More interesting yet (for me at least) are the facts that it wasn't conducted by homeopaths, it was scientifically robust, and had the results they gained come from the conventional scientific world, they would have been shouted from the rooftops. Did you hear about it? If you're reading this from outside of the homeopathic community the chances are you didn't. Were they able to publish in any of the medical journals they set it to, despite having been published before? No. Why might that be? Not that it wasn't a successful, interesting study. If you're curious, the excellent documentary film Magic Pills explores it further. And also talks about the other diseases that the Cubans successfully used homeoprophylaxis for. It's $4.99 to download - and a perfect time to find out more about it - addressing many of the issues raised in the media recently around homeopathy, looking at both sides of the argument.
Their claims are bogus. The basis for them is not medical science but superstition and wishful thinking. The practitioners who provide these supposed remedies are instilling false hope, profiting from vulnerability, and putting lives at risk. Their activity is exploitative and unethical, and it needs to be shut down straightaway.
Homeopathy is medical science, and fortunately in many places it is treated as such. Instilling false hope? For a start, I'd be intrigued, I am intrigued by the idea of false hope. If we were to step aside from the homeopathy issue for a moment and think about hope instead of fear, think about the placebo effect instead of the nocebo effect, think about those stories - you must have heard them too. You know the ones, where a patient is given the wrong diagnosis and they follow the anticipated path of disease and subsequent death. The other was so very ill, told they were well and recover. you know that one? I suppose the message is it works out like that because the placebo effect is very strong. Continuing to take homeopathy out of it, if 30% of people can recover due to placebo which I've seen suggested elsewhere, then hope feels to me to be an important part of the picture. Streaming constant fear into our living rooms feels to be criminal. This feels to me to be putting lives at risk. I'm well known to rant about this one to friends and family, so will kick away my soap box before I get started there.
Covid-19 is an infectious disease caused by a coronavirus that was unknown before December. There is no cure for it. Scientists are working at breakneck pace to develop a vaccine. The notion that the highly diluted substances that homeopaths describe as remedies may offer protection from this threat will appear, to most people, intuitively implausible.
I don't want to get too far off point, but having heard many contradictory reports to it being unknown before December, having heard that the virus genome analysis looks like it was around from September 2019, I find it difficult to believe it was unknown before December. To be honest there are many viruses that are unknown to most of the public all the time. This one has attracted untold media attention and I doubt it's unknown to anyone now.
Yes there is no cure for it. As with the common cold, as with 'flu. As with so many things. All the more reason to boost our own immune system and get excited about the things we can do to be healthier. Which I've seen pretty much nowhere in mainstream media. Again, not so helpful. Wash your hands. Is that the best we've got? "Breakneck pace to develop a vaccine" sounds all very well - however to my awareness coronavirus vaccines are notoriously difficult to develop and have been previously attempted and abandoned. So we wait and see.
Yet our investigation using a database developed by the Good Thinking Society, a pro-science charity, reveals that British homeopaths are promoting herbal concoctions as a counter to Covid-19. One homeopath based in London is charging new patients £150 an hour for his “Coronavirus Remote Consulting” service, with an additional £20 monthly fee for sending prescription treatments from pharmacies.
For a start, homeopaths, unless they're also herbalists, are very unlikely to be promoting herbal concoctions. This rings warning bells for me in the accuracy of reporting to begin with. And if they are, then we're talking about herbal medicines not homeopathy, rendering the references to homeopathy in the article quite pointless.
The euphemism for this sort of ministering to the sick and vulnerable is complementary medicine, but it would be more accurate to refer to it as pseudoscience. And it has always been this way. Homeopathy was dreamt up by a German physician called Samuel Hahnemann in the 1790s. Its premise is that a patient can be cured of a malady by administering a drug or substance in so heavily diluted a form, either in water or alcohol, that sometimes not even a molecule of the original substance remains.
Dreamt up. A great phrase. Brilliant put down really. It discounts years and years of hard work, refining, countless case books, hundreds of happy patients, including many of the rich and famous of the times. Recoveries from illnesses that conventional medicine had no answers for.. It discounts millions of people using homeopathy around the world. It discounts thousands of practitioners working everyday with health and so much more. If you get the opportunity to read some of the old texts around homeopathy, Dr Elizabeth Hubbard for example. Totally inspirational. Also have a read of Rima Handley's A Homeopathic Love Story for a brilliant scene setting of where homeopathy came out of, but also the passion, the incredible work and amazing results. Dreamt up. In your dreams The Times.
It seems that the authors of the article have not heard of nanotechnology, nano medicines? Not just a euphemism for homeopathy, nano-medicines are something the conventional world are getting excited about, approved by the FDA since 1995. More on that here. And, do you know what? There is evidence to suggest this may be one way homeopathy may work too. Interesting. If you'd like to read about that more, here you go, or if you're more of a watcher, you might like the clip below from the film Magic Pills, mentioned earlier.
If you're intrigued by Professor Bellare, I was lucky enough to hear him talk at a conference several summers ago. There's more here if you'd like to explore the nano-medicine idea further.
There is no evidence that homeopathy is effective. A report by the House of Commons select committee on science and technology in 2010 concluded that homeopathic treatments performed no better than placebos, or dummy medicine, and that the principles on which they were based were scientifically implausible.
Oh my word. That old chestnut. "No evidence that homeopathy is effective". Wow. That anyone can still print that amazes me. There are years of evidence that it is effective. There are case notes on top of case notes. There are trials. There is a growing bank of evidence, and it's hugely exciting. The 2010 report and how it was carried out is shocking by the way, once you really start to look into it. You might like to find out more here. Whilst I'm here, The Australian Review, the most recent, and particularly damning review which echoed around the world, feels to be shrouded in mystery. The first review was abandoned, a new team was formed and the second review found that homeopathy was not effective in helping any medical condition. Particularly alarming now, given that recent investigations have discovered that “Contrary to some claims, the [first] review did not conclude that homeopathy was ineffective.” Read more here. More on the background of the Australian Review issues here.
In fact, whilst we're still on the topic of lack of evidence, and the author is about to move onto the Royal Family patronage, here's Dr Peter Fisher on that one. Dr Fisher was homeopath to The Queen until his recent death and speaks clearly about some of the issues involved here..
The supposed discipline of homeopathy retains its place in public life not because scientific researchers see a place for it but, in part at least, because it enjoys high-profile patronage. The Prince of Wales has urged that “science and homeopathy must work in harmony”, which is a bit like calling for an alliance of locksmiths and burglars.
Err... yes they do. Plenty of scientists, despite there being no glamour, no huge accolade, and plenty of stick to be taken, are intrigued, fascinated and very involved in homeopathy. Nice analogy, but no. I saw this clip doing the rounds today and feels so super relevant I wanted to share it here. Says it beautifully. Also "there is no scientific evidence homeopathy works" - wrong. Have a read here. And if you didn't watch Dr Peter Fisher a moment ago, do have a look at the short film above.
The Society of Homeopaths, even so, maintains the trappings of a professional organisation and keeps a register of accredited members. It reports to an independent regulatory organisation, the Professional Standards Authority for Health and Social Care, which is responsible for protecting the public. In a global pandemic that has infected more than 1.8 million people and shut down the world economy, false hope is seductive and deadly. British homeopaths are spreading it, and they must be held accountable.
I would argue that the media is spreading terror, and they should be held accountable. False hope from homeopaths? For a start homeopathy is far more efficacious than this article would have you know, and for seconds British homeopaths are a tiny, tiny group. If they are able to spread anything around the world then perhaps they and the medicine they are using is far more powerful than The Times, and the Good Thinking Society, who appear to be behind this article, would like us to know.
Homeopaths ‘risking lives with bogus coronavirus treatments’ runs the headline. Seriously? Again. But yes, indeed, another article. There are so many incorrect statements here I thought I'd run through it a step at a time as I'd done previously. The Times is in normal font. My comments in italics.
Monday April 13 2020, 12.01am, The Times
One website claimed that homeopathy can be “very highly effective in treating flu, and Covid‑19 is no exception”.
Medical experts have condemned homeopaths they accuse of giving false hope to coronavirus victims by offering bogus treatments.
Can we look at the word bogus for a start? From the Urban Dictionary, Bogus is a word going back a couple hundred years which refered to counterfeit money and anything else that's fake. It also means wrong, uncool, unfair, unreal, off, messed up. Popularized in the late '80's ...
Homeopathy has a long history also dating back a couple of hundred years - however should you wish to look at the history of homeopathy in epidemics and pandemics, you'd see a far less "bogus" picture than The Times may wish to paint. What you'd see is homeopathy out-performing conventional medicine. Time and again. And, you could argue that back then, in those historical times, the medicine of the time wasn't that great. Fair point perhaps. However recent history shows how effective homeopathy can be too. The study in Cuba where homeopathy was used as a prophylaxis for leptospirosis was hugely effective. There is a BMJ article on it here. A longer piece in homeopathy journal Hpathy here. Perhaps we should write it off as the Cubans were homeopaths running the trial so it couldn't have been accurate? Except they weren't. Dr Gustavo Bracho was Advisor to the President and General Director of Finlay Institute, Havana, Cuba, and head of the Homeopathy and Biotherapic Projects at the Institute. He is an experienced researcher in molecular and cellular biology, and has headed the Adjuvant Group within the Immunology Department of Finlay. In 2005-2006 he was a researcher in a Collaboration Project with the Flinders Medical Centre, Adelaide, Australia, examining vaccine production methods.
Bogus? I think not.
Across the country, hundreds of homeopathic practitioners have been identified using the pandemic to drive sales of “remedies” and consultations.
Again, I think not. No one is "driving" sales of homeopathic medicines. Except one thing I did find really interesting was that as soon as this began, sales of homeopathic remedies and supplements soared. Too early for any "driving force", I feel. This came from the people. To the point that pharmacies were overflowing with orders, I think totally unprecedented times. People wanted something to support their health and they voted with their orders.
The Times built a database together with the Good Thinking Society, a pro-science charity, to identify practitioners selling virus-related products and services. The investigation uncovered a wide range of examples that experts say could place lives at risk.
Even where to start on that one. The Good Thinking Society, a renowned anti-homeopathy organisation...
Sage Homeopathy, a north London-based business, states on its website, that homeopathy can be “very highly effective in treating flu, and Covid-19 is no exception”.
To be fair, I'm not all that on board with this one. Homeopathy can be highly effective for so many, many things, but we don't treat conditions, we treat people. We treat symptoms and give remedies based on the individual. I don't know if homeopathy can help anything and never guarantee that it will do. I can say afterwards where it has helped though. Do have a watch of the video here. There's some really fascinating information shared.
Also this video from medic Dr Elizabeth Thompson who talks about how homeopathy helped her with COVID-19 like symptoms.
It adds that in the past few weeks it has “treated the symptoms associated with this virus — high fever, dry persistent cough, difficult expectoration, intense muscle pain, chills, stabbing headache, loss of taste and smell, unquenchable thirst, relapsing symptoms and complete exhaustion with slow recovery”. The website states that fees are £25 a week for “all remedies and daily check-in by phone”.
The NHS advises that people should seek proper medical advice.
Of course. And I don't know any homeopath who would say otherwise. That said, I've heard of several people, who've consulted medics (do continue to do so - I would never suggest someone didn't), for example in A&E, who were told to go home, they weren't ill enough for admission. The most up to date advice via the NHS site is for less severe symptoms to take paracetamol and wait it out. Do wash your hands and stand 2m away from anyone. So, if there was another option to help with uncomfortable symptoms - surely it could be worth it? We had COVID-19 like symptoms earlier and self isolated for the appropriate time. Was it another virus? Does it matter? My main point was that homeopathy helped. Why would I not want to use it? There also seems to be an issue that homeopaths are charging for their services. This is their work. That's cheap. There is work behind the scenes to do on assessing which remedy to give. There is work in sending remedies out. Less than £3 a day for a fair amount of work. Fair play if it was hundreds, maybe it's worth noting or complaining about, but that is nothing.
Over recent decades the Prince of Wales has consistently campaigned for homeopathic treatments. However, The Times understands that he did not receive homeopathic treatment when he contracted the virus.
Prince Charles is the patron of the Faculty of Homeopathy and once wrote a letter to the public titled “Science and homeopathy must work in harmony”.
Yup. So they should. And, to be fair, I think they can and they do in many places. The UK seems to be fairly backwards, or at least the skeptic community, in thinking so. And yet globally there is loads of really fascinating research going on. This popular video recently did the rounds and shows how homeopathy works in plant models. The scientific study, led by a Swiss research group, showed homeopathic arsenic to be more effective for treating poisoned duckweed than water alone.
Practitioners suggest a range of homeopathic treatments for coronavirus including phosphorus, bryonia and ipecac.
Well, yes. These are remedies that can help in many situations and have been used for many, many years. But again, I refer you back to my mention of symptoms, not labels. We are not treating diseases, we're treating people.
South Devon Homeopathy advises the plant aconite, for less severe symptoms, and arsenicum — highly diluted arsenic — “if the symptoms become more severe”.
Very basic, but relevant info - you could perhaps think that the article actually wanted to share something helpful with the public. Aconite can be a great remedy to take at the start of a cold, flu - and was a fabulous remedy for my daughter with croup many moons ago. Arsenicum helped me along with symptoms at various stages too.
Edzard Ernst, emeritus professor at Exeter University, warned that the pubic was being put at risk by the promotions. He said: “Such marketing is misleading, dishonest and endangers public health.
“To offer homeopathy for the treatment of or the prevention of coronavirus is unethical to the extreme.
“The Society of Homeopaths have the duty to forbid these things and protect the public; unfortunately, they also have a very poor track record for doing their duty.”
Perhaps, and I think this is a very real problem, the public is being misled by being told homeopathy is a waste of time. Perhaps, something that could help individuals is being ignored. Perhaps that is unethical. It just strikes me that if there's something more elegant, more refined than "just take paracetamol for everything", that might help with symptoms - fatigue, fever, shortness of breath perhaps. These were the ones it helped us massively with for example - perhaps we should be talking about it more, not less.
In a statement, the Good Thinking Society said that the Society of Homeopaths is failing to meet the standards required from it by the national regulator.
“Any responsible register — especially one which continues to enjoy the accreditation and conferred legitimacy of the government’s Professional Standards Authority — should make it absolutely clear that their registrants should not make any claims regarding coronavirus, and certainly should not be selling patients ineffective treatments during this crisis,” said Michael Marshall, project director at the Good Thinking Society.
To be fair, should the GTS have their way we as homeopaths should not make any claims about anything. We could say we're nice people. Perhaps. But as to the long efficacy of homeopathy in epidemics? I'm sure we shouldn't talk about that. At all.
The homeopaths advertising their services were approached for comment but had not responded by the time of publication.
Well, fair enough really. It's not like there was going to be a balanced article written.
Interesting times. Probably one of the easiest summaries of the current situation. I'm having a lot of conversations with people as to whether it might be a wake up call - to the way we live, to how we care for our planet, to how we care for each other.
We've never watched an isolated disease in the same way ever before, and that isn't to say that we shouldn't. It isn't to question what we're doing. Others are questioning some of that far louder than I, with far more authority - infectious diseases experts, medical professionals from various fields. But what I would ask is perspective. As of taking this screen shot, around 8.15am this morning, 56,000 people had died today. It's clearly an American site but doesn't make a huge difference where the stats are coming from, the comparison is the same.
Look at our spending - today - look at the cars produced. 19 million cars produced today to our 135,000 births. Do we need all of that? Some would say economy. I, in my less educated way around those matters, might say greed. An insatiable greed, which possibly is tearing us apart - can we use a global wake up call to help address this?
Do we need the shiniest, newest, best, or the one that works longest. Why are white goods not made to last? Why are we constantly marketed to about needing more? There isn't room for it all. And we are drowning in stuff. Just as, in later stages of this virus, we are drowning in mucus. The lungs of the earth are blocked, our lungs are blocked. How about less stuff, more space to breathe?
And, whilst adhering to government suggestions, how about some space to look at how we can take care of ourselves better. How we nourish ourselves instead of eating junk food and expecting our bodies to function well. How we exercise to stay well, not to look good. Anybody can have a bikini body - take your body and stick a bikini on it. Surely it shouldn't be once a year for a 2 week summer holiday. We need to learn how to support our immune system, how to enhance how we live, how to value this one body we have. After all, if we haven't got that, we haven't got anywhere to live.
I write, wishing you well in supporting yours and those loved ones to you.
Lastly, I can't leave this without writing briefly about how homeopathy has helped massively in many epidemics through history - there's video links in earlier blogs. We are not treating a named condition, we are treating symptoms and I'm seeing clients with flu-like symptoms currently doing really well using homeopathy. www.findahomeopath.org may help if you need to find someone near to you. Most homeopaths I know, myself included, are working via online systems so that's another option widely available.
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
Laughter Yoga Leader
Focussed Mindfulness Practitioner
Dip (SNHS) Kinesiology
Dip (SNHS) Holistic Nutrition
Certificate in Whole Food, Plant Based Nutrition