By Louise Mclean, LCCH MHMA
This special 25th Anniversary Conference was held on a sunny day in London at the Hotel Russell, Russell Square. Built by the architect Charles Fitzroy Doll in 1898, the hotel is a spectacular example of late Victorian Renaissance Revival architecture and has an imposing entrance filled with crystal chandeliers. The Conference was situated in the Woburn Suite, with very attractive spacious rooms for registration, refreshments and lunch, as well as a lovely theatre-style conference room with all the latest high tech gadgetry. I arrived at 9 am to find people relaxing and helping themselves to coffee and biscuits, catching up with the latest news.
At 9.45 a.m., Fiona McKenzie introduced the Chairman, Dr Surjit Randhawa, who gave the opening speech and talked of how the HMA was founded by the late Dr Pyara Singh and himself in 1985. He thanked everybody for its success and noted that the conference coincided with homeopaths all over the world celebrating Hahnemann’s 255th birthday the day before on 10th April. He said the HMA was a truly international organisation with members in Japan, India, Pakistan, United Arab Emirates, Canada and the USA and that the HMA wanted to promote the benefits of homeopathy to its members and to the public.
Dr Brian Kaplan – "Defending Homeopathy in the 21st Century"
The first speaker, Dr. Brian Kaplan, began talking at 10 a.m. Brian told us how he first studied homeopathy at the Royal London Homoeopathic Hospital in 1982 with the late Dr. Eric Ledermann. He felt the attacks of the past few years on homeopathy were of ‘unprecedented ferocity’. He said that when Frederick Foster Hervey Quin studied with Hahnemann in Liepzig and brought homeopathy to Britain, he endured attacks and satire, and that the jokes and arguments that we hear nowadays, were just the same then. In response to them, Quin built the Royal London Homoeopathic Hospital and nearly fought a duel to stand up for what he believed in!
Dr Kaplan ran through a list of suggested responses to the attacks on homeopathy, including the fact that the smallest division of the Universe is not a molecule, atom, electron or a quark and said that science still had a great deal to investigate. He also told us how he likes to push the BMJ Clinical Evidence book into the face of detractors. It clearly shows that only 13% of medical drugs are proven to be beneficial, 6% of little benefit, 8% a trade off between benefit and harm, 23% unlikely to be beneficial, 46% of unknown effectiveness and 4% likely to be ineffective or harmful.
Brian talked about one of our main critics, Sense about Science, who receive funding from the pharmaceutical industry. He said homeopathic hospitals are accused of being a waste of money, when in fact they cost the NHS £10 million annually which is .001% of the NHS drugs bill and that the cost of drugs wasted in Hampshire alone was £10 million.
He mentioned the huge bias in the media and the massive publicity given to the articles and books of Prof. Edzard Ernst, Dr. Simon Singh and Dr. Ben Goldacre. He felt that liberty and democracy should mean the protection of minority views and that the bullying was ‘bullying, illiberal, pernicious and vicious’. He said one of our key defences is the support of the Royal Family, pointing to Sir John Weir who had treated King George VI as well as four other Kings and three Queens. He also said we should be careful about being questioned on prescribing prophylactics, the effectiveness of which cannot be proven and to keep off the hot topics of malaria, vaccination and HIV.
After this sobering lecture we all took a break and went next door to the lovely spacious dining room to enjoy tea, coffee and biscuits and to discuss what had been said.
Professor George Vithoulkas
- ‘The Levels of Health’
– Part 1
The next talk was given by Professor George Vithoulkas coming to us live via video link from Greece! That the HMA had managed to organise this was impressive and even though the picture broke up a little, the sound was good and it was wonderful to see the great man live telling us about his new book on the theory of the 12 levels of health.
Professor Vithoulkas started explaining why he had written the book. He said that many homeopaths wondered why you could successfully treat some patients for example with cancer or Parkinson's and others not. With Level 1 being the highest state of health and strongest genetic inheritance, he talked us through to Level 12 which were people with incurable diseases. He said that with Levels 10 – 12, you can give remedies that will ameliorate but it will not last. He tended to give lower potencies such as 12c for these levels, as if you go too high even with the correct remedy, the system can become irritated and cause too much of an aggravation.
Vithoulkas wanted us to understand the importance of the patient being able to produce a fever and preferably one over 38˚F. It seems that a high fever is a sign of reactivity of the patient demonstrating the ability to heal itself. So the ability of the patient to produce a high fever is in direct proportion to their ability to heal in response to the correct remedy. This fever can be produced with, for example fl u, cystitis, etc. He said that if the body can produce a fever higher than 38˚F, this is a sign of good health and strong immune system.
Vithoulkas said that when the body is bombarded with chemical drugs and antibiotics, it will retaliate producing more and more acutes, but these drugs will affect the system until there is less and less possibility of producing a high fever. When the acutes eventually stop, this is the beginning of deep chronic degenerative disease.
When the acute fevers stop, a deeper level of inflammation sets in and we start to see the onset of chronic migraines, high blood pressure, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, etc. The organism will manifest a predisposition to weakness and there is sub-acute inflammation, progressing to chronic illness. He said all chronic illness is due to inflammatory processes.
In order to help ascertain the level of health of a patient, the practitioner should always ask them about the last time they had a high fever or acute illness. It is a good sign if it was recent and a bad sign if it was say, 10 years ago.
We then stopped for a delicious lunch which was very well organised with a minimum of queuing and sat down at large tables for some good conversation! Afterwards there was light entertainment to celebrate the 25th Anniversary of the HMA. An attractive singer called Sarah Barker, sang us about eight songs and a huge cake was wheeled in with orange, brown and cream coloured icing topped with the number 25 lit up on top! We all sang Happy Birthday and Dr Surjit Randhawa and Mrs Manjit Sidhu (wife of late Dr Pyara S Sidhu) posed for photographs.
Professor George Vithoulkas – ‘The Levels of Health’ - Part 2
In the second part of this session, we were lucky enough to be able to ask questions via the live video link directly to Professor Vithoulkas.
George Vithoulkas is a classical homeopath and he confirmed this by saying he always goes by symptomatology, not necessarily by miasms or anything else. In other words he prescribes strictly according to the Law of Similars, though he says if several layers are presenting, he will choose the most prominent symptoms to start the case and wait for a clearer remedy picture to appear – ‘as long as you wait long enough’. He reiterated that so long as a remedy produces an aggravation, the case is curable but a very long aggravation might endanger the patient and often a new remedy will appear than can be given in this situation. Vithoulkas said he had rarely used LM potencies and found they still produced an aggravation if they were a close remedy match.
He then discussed autism and believes that there is either a predisposition at birth or that it is caused by too many vaccinations.
Then coming back to the subject of patients with high fevers, he mentioned how those on their deathbeds will often produce one as the very last effort of the organism. If they are in a semi-comatose state and given drugs for the fever, they will die after lapsing back into the coma. If they are given a remedy for the fever, they will often die in awareness and in less pain.
Many people asked Vithoulkas questions and a lively exchange ensued with the microphone being handed around the audience. We then bade him goodbye and went off for a break to eat the Anniversary cake with our tea and coffee.
Andrew Ferguson – ‘Catch more Clients, not the Flu’
Andrew Ferguson was the last speaker who had come to give us advice on how to market homeopathy and improve our businesses. The first thing he spoke of was the way we should answer queries from prospective patients. He told us that if we remove our own doubts and stop worrying about our charges, our worth, etc., this will immediately help to remove our patients’ doubts. He told us that it is useful to answer the questions of prospective patients by starting with the words: ‘My experience is…’ He also advised us to use anecdotes, as patients want to hear that you have treated their condition before.
He said we should not go into long justifications or technical explanations about homeopathy and it is best to ignore or brush over any sceptical objections. We should stick to the positives of homeopathy, focusing on such things as how remedies are included in the price and that consultations are usually monthly which makes homeopathy economical. If there are any serious objections, give a quick answer and move on.
In order to find prospective patients, he told us to look at our existing clients and go to places or connect with groups to find more like them. He said the kind of clients you have are likely to be people you relate to and get on with. What beliefs and values do they have and where would you be most likely to fi nd these type of people? He says it is a fact that we buy from people who are like ourselves! Bring your cards and go to lectures, exhibitions and meetings where your target group congregate. Follow up by calling those people after giving your card.
Andrew said we should make a clear plan of what we want to achieve, i.e. how much money we would like to make in a year and how many patients that would be equal to per week. Look for dissatisfaction in the market which could be a potential for business. What precisely and uniquely do you have to offer and who will buy? Ask yourself if there is something you are missing, that you need to get or do. Make sure your price is realistic and give little extras as incentives.
Do you have a specialisation you can offer and promote, i.e. treating children or women’s problems? Set up a website or find ways to advertise yourself on the internet. You can pay for advertising in magazines if you know your target market. Write a regular column in your local newspaper to advertise yourself. Give incentives, free things or money off. Perhaps create a joint venture with other homeopaths. Find ways to get referrals. Pick what works best for you, so be sincere. You need to be known, liked, seen, valued and respected and Andrew also recommended creative visualisation of what you want.
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With this, the Conference came to end but before we left a final ceremony was conducted for members who had been with the HMA for the full 25 years. There were 22 members who had their names read out and were awarded Certificates of Appreciation, though unfortunately not all had been able to attend. A wonderful day was had by all and after much applause we took our leave of the majestic Russell Hotel with everyone agreeing it had been a wonderful day. We now look forward to another excellent conference in 2011!