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'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 :)
Anne* consulted me last May as she had been on daily prophylactic antibiotics for 8 years following a bladder operations in both 2002 and 2008. Due to these not going quite as planned she now had to self-catheterise 5 times a day as was unable to pass urine.
She had been alternating between two different antibiotics but had recently been told that she had developed immunity to one of them and they were no longer effective for her to take. She was worried that by having to take them daily she may not be able to use them when really needed, and would really like to stop taking them. Plus, although she was taking them to prevent infections, she was still getting UTIs (urinary tract infections) so they weren’t working as effectively as intended.
11 months prior to seeing me, she’d had cystitis that took three courses of antibiotics to clear, although each time after she finished the 7-day course, 24 hours later she’d be back where she was with them again. She had been on and off extra antibiotics (additional to the daily prophylactic antibiotics since then) as well as other medication for various things.
Anne had been told she has IBS, symptoms were managed with diet more than anything although still suffered with constipation and diarrhoea at times.
Taking other symptoms into account, and aspects of Anne as a whole person (likes, dislikes, her character and how she is in the world) I prescribed the remedy Calc Carb 1M in a split dose (one tablet the first evening, one the night after) but also Apis to keep with her in case of a UTI.
I advised that I would not recommend coming off the prophylactic antibiotics until we had got the UTIs under control, and even then, only under guidance of the doctor who had prescribed them (or her conventional medical team involved).
She returned in June to update me that she’d been off the prophylactic antibiotics for 3 weeks but had had 2 UTIs in that time. The first one, one Calc Carb and some Apis had helped to clear it up but the second the Apis had not helped and she’d ended up on antibiotics again. I advised not stopping the prophylactic a/bs until further down the line when things were more settled, but was heartened to hear that we had helped at least one of the UTIs.
I prescribed Calc Carb in an LM3 dose to take daily, and some Belladonna for the UTIs (and as she was going away some Cantharis just in case the Bell didn’t help her).
She returned in July to tell me everything had been fine – taking the Calc drops daily and a couple of times had felt some irritation and had taken the Belladonna which had cleared that up straight away. Prophylactic antibiotics being continued. Sometimes having stomach pains and may have diarrhoea but not as often as before the remedy. A bit less constipated than before the remedy too.
Not getting an abdominal pain that had been getting before or the dragging feeling since taking the remedy.
In August we had a phone consultation, she had a UTI, tried Belladonna which hadn’t helped, advised to use the Cantharis which helped clear it up. Increase Calc Carb to LM4.
September (whilst touching wood) she told me had been brilliant whilst having been away, a couple of twinges and nothing else. She’d taken Belladonna on perhaps 4 occasions and had only needed one tablet each time.
Still taking the Calc Carb LM4 daily and the prophylactic antibiotics. Would take the acute cystitis remedies wherever she was going (Belladonna and Cantharis) just in case. She had discussed with her Dr the possibility of reducing the dose of prophylactic antibiotics. CT scans had showed no kidney stones.
She had also come off her amitriptyline which had been taking for several years to deal with anxiety that she’d experienced at a difficult time in her life. Was finding that Helios sleep remedy (that she’d got from her health food shop) was helping her if had a difficult night.
October was cystitis had been fine, feeling sick quite a bit though. Gave Kali Carb 1M
January sickness still there, was improving but very present. Gave Calc Carb LM4, Gaertner (which can be a really useful remedy where there have been a lot of antibiotics taken) and to take Carduus Marianus (milk thistle) before meals.
March – really good. No stomach pains and had been walking further (we had previously discussed more walking exercise) – up to 20 miles last week and 14 the week before. Nausea gone, she stopped prophylactic antibiotics a month ago (with the blessing of her Dr) and now only taking statins and blood pressure tabs. Constipation/diarrhoea same as had been for a long time, can get really uncomfy and gassy. Gave Calc Carb 1M
Anne returned in April been away, lovely week away and lots of walking. The remedy had ‘been brilliant’ and digestion was a lot better. Still issues with diarrhoea and constipation but reduced from previously. Sleep was improved, not been getting up in the night. Re her original complaint, the UTIs, no problems at all and really happy about that.
The case is currently ongoing and there’s other things we’re looking at but a huge improvement and one happy lady.
*name has been changed
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