Interview with The American Homeopath known as AH!, journal of the North American Society of Homeopaths

Questions.

AH: How long have you been involved in homeopathy?

FT: I was a successful patient in the early 1970s, and soon started to read books, before long I had decided to study the subject as a social scientist, and my thesis was going to be called ‘The social construction of a rejected science: homeopathy’. I was intrigued by the story of the London cholera epidemics, that the success of the London homeopathic hospital was ‘against reason truth and science’ so that the report of the Board of Health on this success was suppressed in Parliament. It could have been due to better hygiene in the hospital, that the patients were brought in at an earlier stage of the illness, that they were better nourished, but it was the official response, and the fact that the Secretary of the Board of Health himself came out for homeopathy if he ever got sick, and my early discovery of Bradford’s Logic of Figures (Boericke & Tafel 1900) which showed how the success in epidemics was matched all over Europe and N America hat decided me to study this phenomenon.

My subject was then rejected at three universities as not a proper subject. But I started at London University Goldsmiths College and after a couple of years became entranced.

AH: Where did you go to study homeopathy?

FT: The College of Homeopathy in London was then quite new. I was taught by Robert Davidson, Misha Norland, David Mundy, David Curtin, and Martin Miles, the latter I consulted as a sort of test to see if he walked the talk and he did, and helped me through some health problems. I also recall Sheilagh Creasy in later years but I always slept through her lectures as she left no room for independent thinking. It was pedagogically unsound and had no resources, a primitive library, and a syllabus and assessment system that moved about when you breathed at it. I noticed this as I came from a University background. Sometimes I learned homeopathy because of the college and sometimes despite the college.

AH: What were the students like back then?

We were mostly adults, a majority women, mostly with previous or current careers and families. We all had this obsessional interest in homeopathy. We needed to take every remedy we learned, or at least to prescribe it at the first available opportunity. We invited every guru we could find to supplement our learning which is how we ended up with George Vithoulkas and Vassilis Ghegas. I can still recall that the Stolen Essences circulated in photocopied form like forbidden literature. Other students at that time included Jeremy Sherr, John Morgan (who founded Helios), Robin Logan (who edited the journal as my successor), and Richard Pitt. I then went to Calcutta and Athens for further studies.

AH: What has it done for you?

It took me over until it is a river that flows through my life. But it has saved my life. In 1991 I had peritonitis and was supposed to undergo abdominal surgery and intravenous metronidazole. I refused, and was labelled insane to refuse. I escaped from hospital, barely able to stand up, staggered home in a cab and took Pyrogen and later China, and here I am. Some years later I had undiagnosed whooping cough for months until Roger Morrison gave me Drosera 50M during a visit to the Bay Area. And two years ago I was taken to hospital in an agonising emergency (recently reported in Homeopathy Today). I had kidney stones and Calcarea carbonica cracked them before the surgeons got to me. Calculus renalis finished the cure.

AH: How did you find out about it?

FT: My dentist sent me to his brother who was also a dentist who had given up and was doing homeopathy, he had studied with Dr Margery Blackie. It worked first go. And I stopped drinking coffee by the pint,

AH: What were you doing before?

FT: University teaching in social sciences and in service training of social workers in London. Before that social and community service in the Jewish community in France, Israel and the UK.

AH: What was the British homeopathic community like at that time?

FT: That time was the mid 1970s. There was no discernable community at first. There had been a major air crash where so many leaders of the medical homeopathic community were killed on their way to a Liga conference. There were some anthroposophical doctors. There were two small study groups in North and South London, there were still 5 hospitals with a few doctors and all over the country isolated so called ‘lay’ homeopaths and some supporters and patients and self help magazines. Look at your library and look at the dates that books were published and you will see a famine until the 1980s which reflected the situation exactly.

The Society of Homeopaths was founded in 1978 and so was the first college. This brought together the students of those first 2 groups, taught by John Da Monte of North London (father of NASH member Jonathan Damonte) and Thomas Maughan of South London.

AH: Where did you study?

FT: At the College of Homeopathy in London. I enrolled in order to observe what was being taught and to whom, for my thesis but gradually abandoned it in order to become a practitioner. Parts of the thesis were published in the Journal of the American Institute of Homeopathy by the helpful and appreciative Karl Robinson, after reluctant peer review by Harris Coulter. I am happy to say that both have become firm friends since then.

I had been Alonissos with the first UK group to study with Vithoulkas in 1984. I went on to study in Calcutta in 1985-6 and then back to Greece again.

AH: Did you have more contact with Greek homeopathy?

FT: I gave my first historical paper on Kent at the first UK conference in 1983. Vassilis Ghegas was there as a guest (translated by Roger Morrison) and I was asked to look after him. I told him about my uncle, an Athens allopathic doctor who had married my mother’s sister. It turned out that my uncle had become Dean of the Athens medical school and taught medicine to Vassilis and many other Greek homeopaths like George Papaphillipou whose children played with my uncle’s grandchildren….. ! My uncle soon gave me a copy of Vithoulkas’ Science of Homeopathy, which had been a gift from Vithoulkas…. I was encouraged to do an observation placement at the Athens clinic in case I could persuade my uncle Gardikas to come over to homeopathy.

There was another story which started on Alonissos and that was the story of flushing. (for another time}.

Vassilis then came to London for 8 long seminars in 2 years, attended by both medical and professional homeopaths, and this really was a turning point in raising standards here so that we all became more appreciative and skilled in single remedy prescribing. It helped make us into homeopathic adults.

If readers wish to study my articles on the Origins of Kent’s Homeopathy (the influence of Swedenborg); and Steiner and the Simillimum please email me or look at my website under ‘resources’.

www.homeopathyhelpline.com/articles-resources.

AH: You have studied homeopathy in India. What was that like?

FT: I loved homeopathy in India. I needed Ignatia all the time in the poverty of Calcutta, but I learned so much clinical experience there, which I could never have gained in the UK, and without this I could not have been successful in the National Health Service. Seeing patients cured of blindness, cancer, gonorrhoea, appendicitis, and just plain fevers or back strain, endlessly all day every day for weeks, all different, all skilled and humane. I thank especially Dr SP Dey of Calcutta who had studied in London with Foubister; he has developed interesting pictures of the remedies Lyssin and X-ray. Dr S Dubey is a master of materia medica, who I saw at work in out-patients with a queue into thew street, a market porter with back-ache one minute and a Rajah with an injury from Polo the next.

I was called on the phone from London on my last night in Bombay, in the spring of 1986 and asked to find Rajan Sankaran and invite him to England. I doubted that this would be possible, I had a dinner date with Nandita and then a plane to catch to Cairo. I had met the youthful Rajan at the seminar he organised to bring Vithoulkas to Bombay for the first time since he had been there as a student. We found Rajan and I shall never forget seeing him choke on his chapatti when I asked him to come and speak to us at our conference. He was a brilliant success as we all now know, and he even contributed Aurum to my repertory of flushing.

AH: How did you get involved in the journal? 

FT: I had an academic background, I had been involved with a journal of social work education, I had these historical articles ready for republication in the UK, and I was there, willing and ready when the previous editor became a parent and needed to help look after his baby. I took the files from him in the maternity ward waiting room.

I was editor of the Homeopath from 1986 until 1993. [And again for 3 years more recently]. I loved doing that work, editing the journal. My first language was German and I have to be very careful with my writing style which sometimes in German word order appears to be.

During that time I also made contact with the brand new HomeoNet. One night in about 1986 or 1987 I logged on for the first time and there was this guy with 3 names looking for a remedy he could not obtain in California. I emailed him to ask which potency and how urgent it was for shipping and had it sent right away from Helios. I logged on again and announced ho pleased I was to be of service on my first ever night online. Mr 3 Names was David Kent Warkentin and we have been firm friends ever since. {Unfortunately David Warkentin died a few years ago].

Also I started a schmooze or contact group for editors of homeopathic journals, a sort of internet list which was very useful. I also started to post articles from the journal and made contacts which led to my first visit to the USA.

AH: You are quite an avid book collector? How did that start?

FT: Avid? This is real pathology here. I mean I have 3 printed versions of Allen’s Encyclopaedia. An original from 1880, a reprint from Gregg of Lichtenstein from the 1930s, a modern one from Jain of New Delhi, and who needs it anyway as it is in ReferenceWorks. Right from the start, the books were there and they were cheap, and I needed them for my research, they were not often found in libraries but they were there for sale. Also a library book was stolen from my cycle bag while I was riding, and old Hahnemann volume from about 1845, so I felt I had to find a replacement which took me 8 years but on the way I took everything I could find. Now of course there is the internet so I can find more and more, and even sell my duplicates on eBay.

As my collection became known I was consulted often. David Warkentin once asked me to explain the Latin abbreviations for remedies in Boericke which were not in, or differed from those of Kent. This, and my HomeoNet activity led to my becoming the UK agent for MacRepertory (with my friend Michael Thompson) for 12 years or so.

AH: How many books are in your collection now?

FT: 6200 volumes including journals by the year. Also so many bottles, medicine cases, curios, portraits, statues, you name it. This includes many books in French and German. I love writing book reviews. Greg Cooper at www.minimum.com has just this week collected a list of my reviews under my name in his author lsitings. I was quite surprised. Now it is almost 10,000 volumes and minimum is www.nature-reveals.com].

AH: What is your pride and joy? 

FT: The first Organon in English was the 4th German translated and published in Dublin in 1833, and my 5th edition German Organon from Dresden also of 1833. I think I also treasure books written by friends and colleagues and given to me, like Robin Logan just gave me his book on Eczema translated into German.

AH: What is the strangest item?

FT: I have a small statue of a character in the French cartoon Asterix the Gaul, named Homeopathix! But I also have a cameo of Hahnemann done in marble on agate in about 1840 found in a junk jewellery store. I have a clock with a picture of Hahnemann on the face and another with Boenningausen. I have an empty 19c box labelled Fry’s Homoeopathic Cocoa.

AH: Has anything negative happened or anything upset you about homeopathy?

FT: In about 1975 I was puzzled to learn that my materia medica hero John Henry Clarke was a leading campaigning anti-Semite in Britain in the mature years of his life until he died in 1931. I did not know what to make of this information and kept my own counsel for some years. I pieced the story together and nobody here wanted to know. I even discovered that the Nazis used and abused homeopathy in the camps. So in 1991 I gave the story as a lecture in Seattle to an IFH meeting at the John Bastyr School, and again at a HANP conference in Portland OR. It was well received and I published it as Homeopathy Around the World in our UK journal as I was editor; and if any reader wishes for a copy let me have an email message.

AH: A few years ago, the Society of Homeopaths voted to drop the extra E from homeopathy (homoeopathy). What is your position on that topic?

FT: Linguistic nonsense and practical 21st century commonsense. And it was actually a decision to drop the diagraph (homœopathy) for homeopathy. I imagine Google appreciated this change.

This is so trivial a question by the side of some of the heroic history of homeopathy. Did you know that homeopathy (at the hands of Dr Joseph Kidd) saved the lives of many people dying of typhus and dysentery which accompanied the potato famine in Ireland in the 1840s? I have written a book about that. Did you know that the first homeopathy in Australia was practised by a Benedictine friar called Rosendo Salvado who literally walked into the bush from Perth and set up a mission in 1857. There he cared for the aboriginal people in sickness and in health. I was in Perth and of course found the place and discovered some 25 old homeopathy books in the monastery library and old remedies from Goulds of London, in their museum. These are more important than a change of spelling.

AH: How has homeopathy grown since your involvement?

FT: Exponentially. I mean the patients keep on coming, the Society Register nears 1000, Helios Pharmacy and so many other businesses are here and thriving. I have spent 13 years part time working in the National Health Service. I never dreamt I could do this and it was the best part of my practice. The main GP for whom I worked has died and I still hope to find another.

AH: What do you see as challenges facing homeopathy in the future? What are problems we face now?

FT: These are the same problems, of ethics and integrity, of being true to our principles. They are the problems of how to convince the state and commercial apparatus of the society in which we live that we are genuine, and that we can solves some of the health problems of our own and other nations. These issues cannot be solved by those who seek to destablise homeopathy, who have begun to see the established homeopathic societies as bureaucratic and requiring revolutions and rival societies. They are tilting at windmills. It is iconoclasts and free thinkers who become homeopaths and they now wish to challenge us instead of the allopaths. They want us to prescribe two remedies at once, or claim miracle cures of cancer, or found unsustainable small schools of homeopathy based on their own egos.

AH: Any observations about American homeopathy and homeopaths?

FT: I have visited a few times, only on the west coast, and since about 1983 I have subscribed to American homeopathic journals. I read them on the subway or between patients. I observe that it is mainly the same few people who write for them, and devote themselves for years to their organisations. I admire this devotion. I applaud the idea of a single register for homeopaths of all professional backgrounds and which we could have here. I am not sure if it is utopian. I hope one day someone will invite me over again as I had such a great time on each of my voyages.

AH: Favourite non-homeopathic book read recently.

FT: Dante Gabriel Rossetti, a book about the Pre-Raphaelite artist with a huge number of illustrations by my talented art historian brother Julian Treuherz who has just organised a major national, even international exhibition.

AH: Who are your other homeopathic heroes?

James Compton Burnett, user of every available potency and idea, well ahead of his time, campaigning against his friends the enemy. I recall a patient of mine needing Carduus marianus. Burnett never told us enough about the remedies he used, but he told his friend Clarke who wrote down (B) whenever the information came from Burnett. So I studied this remedy well, and learned it has pain in the left lobe of the liver with lung symptoms. My patient had not only allopathically incurable liver degeneration but bronchitis. 6c of Carduus did not work. So I gave mother tincture daily and it did the trick. Burnett is my hero.

Alongside Morrison and Clarke I have Vermeulen’s tomes open at my side and the Complete Repertory is my companion all the time. I adore Didier Grandgeorge in French. Anshutz is very useful and Foubister is deep.

Benoit Mure from Lyon in France introduced homeopathy to Malta, Sudan, Egypt and to Brasil where he carried out numerous heroic provings in his short life, they are in ReferenceWorks. He created mechanical trituration and succussion machines and an unreadable Logarithm Repertory.

Randall Neustaedter is another hero. I always have his book the Vaccine Guide, and always suggest it or lend it to patients with an issue about shots. One great volume.

Julian Winston was another inspiration but not of course for patients, but for his writing about his collection and our constant exchanges of information and small gifts.

I once gave Miranda Castro a box of Chocolates for her birthday wrapped with a ribbon like a box of chocs should be. But inside were the new potencies 6. 30, 200. She laughed so loud one could hear it across the city. Miranda’s wisdom and laughter make her another hero of mine.

AH: As an editor of The Homeopath, have you seen any changes in the types of articles submitted over the years? 

I am not sure about changes. I am sure that there are articles all the time which would fail undergraduate university assessments. They make assertions without evidence and hold certain truths without justification. I would bin them faster than many current editors do. Or I would make lengthy tutorial comments and hope that the authors would send better versions. Peer review is needed. Also self-published books (and I know, I produced one) require severe criticism from colleagues and from non-homeopaths, as there will be no publisher’s editor to test the book for veracity or readability. There are some real turkeys out there with attractive titles and nonsense between the boards. We need better criteria for publication like those for assessment for registration. The same goes for provings. Many provings are done with primitive or complete lack of design and ethics and care for the provers.

AH: You have been one of the pioneers of converting homeopathic literature to electronic databases. What has been your participation?

I used to advise in the early days about abbreviations, and most fun, I used to scour my library for volumes which I thought to be worth including. There are still some which could be added. I supply my catalogue to David Warkentin regularly for perusal. I do hope that there will be a philosophy section soon in ReferenceWorks. I also have spotted some plagiarisms where certain modern authors have copied works and even taken on the spelling mistakes, so leaving clues. I do wish that modern authors will regard contributions to a database as part of publishing. I read books all the time but when working on a case I search them in my Mac, and so do we all.

I love to use the computer as a teaching tool. So look at this example case:

  • Chilblains in the toes and feet is the presenting symptom.
  • There is obvious alcohol abuse, delirium tremens, desire for alcohol, a staggering gait and the red nose of a drunkard.
  • With alcohol comes mirth, laughter, generosity and obesity.
  • There are some delusions, a bad judge of size, feels his body is diminished and every small hole is a chasm.

(See end of article for the solution to this puzzler.)

AH: Tell me about the Homeopathy Action Trust www.homeopathyactiontrust.org

This is the latest name for a charity which has been going for some years with a consumer or patient arm, the Friends of Homeopathy, originally to support the Society of Homeopaths and its members. The main founders were Mary Clarke, (former General Secretary of the Society), John Morgan (pharmacist, owner of Helios, and homeopath) and myself. But we are really part of a wider team. The main aims are to support research, low cost clinics, students in need, and public education and awareness. There has been cooperation with the Society to create Homeopathy Awareness Week each summer for the last few years as a public display of homeopathy. It works!

AH: What brought you to your published work on potato blight?

The first translation of the Organon into English was in 1833 in Dublin and I knew that the new Irish homeopaths did not know. So for their first conference I brought them a gift of a facsimile. (Since then I have located an original for them which is with Nuala Eising). At that conference I was asked would I come back and give them a talk on the history of homeopathy in Ireland. I did not know what that history would be but I knew there was something.

I was fortunate to have some hints of this in my library and then a descendant donated the records of Dr Joseph Kidd to the Society, and they found there way to me. There it was. I was also intrigued by the fact that Kidd became physician to prime minister Benjamin Disraeli, a former member of the old Jewish congregation in London whom later converted to Christianity.

So I began my lecture, ‘In what circumstances would you dream of eating human flesh?’ Of course the answer is in the famine and this symptom was later in the proving of Solanum tuberosum aegrotans by Benoit Mure. I made the lecture into a short book which was well received and sold out in 7 years. www.homeopathyhelpline.com/books-by-francis

AH: Being such a historian, what do you think of new remedies? New provings?

I am very suspicious of methods, and of results. The best ones I know are done by Berndt Schuster of Bamboo and Kola. Kola was done entirely in LM potencies with a great design. We do need placebos, we need a structure where there is separation from the organiser and the pharmacy and the provers with supervisors as the intermediaries taking initial cases and the continuing histories. We need time, provings take time for the symptoms to unravel. Provers must not meet too early and contaminate the evidence. There are too many symptoms in the repertories from over mentalised provers who are homeopathy students using psychobabble language.

Provings using esoteric methods and concepts like chakras and thinking about remedies instead of taking them merely illustrate the placebo effect.

Of course there are unanticipated synchronous events, but they must be attached to provings and not substitutes for them.

Just as students always wish to prescribe the remedy they studied, provers seem to need to give the remedy they just studied to everyone. Boundaries between provers and their work are to be observed just as we have boundaries between ourselves and our patients and our students. And we need more informed consent for provers also.

AH: Favourite cricket teams, etc?

FT: I loathe cricket. I cannot play competition sports and will not watch them.

AH: Do you see any correlation between Judaism and homeopathy?

FT: I am a member of the oldest Jewish congregation in Britain, dating from the time Cromwell re admitted the Jews, those who came were from Amsterdam and before that fleeing the Inquisition, from Spain and Portugal. Nowadays many have come from other Mediterranean lands and Iraq, Iran and India. It is truly polyglot and I love the melodies, my children love their classes. I go there regularly for a spiritual uplift. It is said that humans wound with a knife and heal with a plaster but the Holy One, Blessed be He, heals with the very same thing with which He wounds. And our writings are full of old remedies like Mandragora (known in Hebrew as Dudaim) for infertility, or even the ash of a scorpion for blindness, and parts of a rabid dog for hydrophobia.

AH: Tell us something about your personal life. Any hobbies?

FT: I have my children: Isaac aged 5, Eliezer aged 10, Sasha and Stefan in their 30s. [Now 15, 20 and in their 40s]. And I am married to Rachel who works in interfaith, Christian-Jewish education and teaches Hebrew at London University. One of the best parts of the week are seeing my last patient of the week and cooking a huge set of family meals for Friday night and Saturday all by myself, usually fish and vegetables and beans and eggs and salads in various styles. I love to cook. My family, the synagogue and cooking are all part of an interrelated hobby I suppose. Other hobbies really are book collecting and surfing eBay on my Mac. I love travelling and walking round new cities, but do rather less of it since I have small children. The same goes for homeopathic conferences. I also love entertaining friends. The redoubtably witty Dana with Clare and Jake, Dick Moskowitz was here all too briefly recently and Lou Klein is expected later this year. Jan Scholten has visited, Roger and Nancy were here, as was Karl Robinson, Chaim Rosenthal, Vega Rozenberg, Paul and Amy, Robert and Judyth, and many more. The CEO of the Faculty of Homeopathy was here last week to look at my collection.

My father spent all his spare time looking after an old people’s home for holocaust survivors like himself. There is one ethical statement I learned from my father and my Rabbi as a child. If I am not for myself who will be for me. And if I am only for myself who am I? And if not now, when? That is why I spend so much time working for the Society of Homeopaths, now I am in my 6th year of office as Honorary Secretary, and formerly I was also on the Board for seven or eight years. I am working for integrity and an honest and well regulated future for homeopathy.

Puzzler solution:

The remedy is Agaricus, a red and white mushroom, the signature colours of the patient Santa Claus. The delusions are how he gets stuck in the chimney. One can use a case like this to teach the basic mechanics of the MacRepertory and ReferenceWorks programs, and move on to families like fungi, and separate the mentals, or look for other remedies for alcoholism, or other mind altering substances. Or search for small rubrics or comparisons. The programs are so rich. http://www.synergyhomeopathic.com

Francis Treuherz 2003
[Minor revisions 2014]