Homeopathy has been a form of medicine for hundreds of years. Dana Ullman, whose father was a medical doctor, a pediatrician and allergist, has dedicated a significant portion of his professional life to the practice of homeopathy. Ullman was introduced to this medical art as a junior at University of California (UC) Berkeley, in 1973.
"A Stanford-trained doctor and a male midwife created a group of people to study homeopathy together: three doctors, two nurses, two yoga teachers, a dentist and several laypeople. We met weekly for five years. Towards the end of that, I was honored to be arrested for practicing medicine without a license. That was in 1976.
We won an important court case settlement by differentiating medical care from health care. We made it clear that I wasn't treating a disease. I was treating a person with a disease.
The courts agreed that was a reasonable interpretation, and that as long as I have written contracts with my patients that differentiate medical care from health care, as long as I refer patients for medical care, which is not what I am providing, then it can work out. I've been doing that ever since," Ullman says.
Definition of Homeopathy
The principles of homeopathy were originally developed by Dr. Samuel Hahnemann (1755-1843), a German physician to the Royal family, and are based in the law of similars, also known as "like cures like."
"Homeopathy is a type of natural medicine that uses nano-doses, really small doses of plants, minerals, animals and chemicals," Ullman explains. "We look to find whatever toxicological symptoms that substance causes. Once you know what syndrome or symptom a substance causes in the toxic dose, you can use specially prepared nano-sized doses of that substance to treat the syndrome that it causes.
The logic of that … [is that] your body does whatever it can to survive. Your symptoms are not the result of breakdown. Your symptoms are the result of that doctor inside of you that is trying to defend you and is trying to heal you. Your symptoms are part of your defenses.
And the very word, 'symptom' means sign or signal, and symptoms are just that. They're signaling us that something's wrong. Instead of turning off that signal, in homeopathy, you turn into the skid.
One of the things that your driver's education teacher probably taught you is that when you skid, you turn into the skid — that's the best way to get control of the vehicle and come to a stop more easily …
In about 20 percent of our patients with chronic illness, [there's] a healing crisis at first, where their symptoms get worse … in the first 48 hours. Sometimes they re-experience old symptoms they haven't had in many months, years or even decades … Especially, it brings out skin problems, or women might have an early menstruation that will be clotted, because it's almost like they're going through detox.
When they begin talking about old symptoms coming back, those symptoms were typically treated in an allopathic way, and thus suppressed. One of the things people have to understand is that when we say conventional medicines work, all too often, that's the bad news.
That means they were effective in suppressing a symptom and a disease, and from a homeopathic point of view, the reason there's more mental illness, more cancer and heart disease, chronic fatigue and immune dysfunction is because we treat illness in a suppressive way.
Our body-mind is so brilliant that it does whatever it can to defend itself and heal. Whatever symptoms we're having are the best effort of our body at that time to defend ourselves. If we cut off that defense, then it's like the body surrenders, and our body gets suppressed and then develops a new serious syndrome."
Homeopathy Was a Leading Medical Treatment Until 1901
In 1900, homeopathy was the leading alternative therapy in the U.S., with 22 homeopathic medical schools, including Boston University, University of Michigan, Ohio State, University of Minnesota, University of Iowa and New York Medical College, which at the time was called New York Homeopathic Medical College.
All of this changed when, in 1901, the Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research was established, and in 1910 when the Carnegie Foundation (in secret collaboration with the A.M.A.) published the “Flexner Report,” with the aim of replacing homeopathy and other natural medicines, such as herbs, with chemical drugs. I wrote about that part of history in "How the Oil Industry Conquered Medicine, Finance and Agriculture."
Ullman also delves into some of this backstory in this interview so, for more, listen to the audio or read through the transcript. Here's just one sordid tidbit:
"In 1860, homeopathy was beginning to gain a lot of traction. Homeopathy was already appreciated by the smartest people in America, most of the literary greats — the transcendentalists, from Mark Twain to William James, Emily Dickinson, Louisa May Alcott and Harriet Beecher Stowe — they were all big advocates for homeopathy.
The American Medical Association was so threatened that they wrote into their ethics code that if any conventional doctor simply consulted with a homeopath on a patient, they would lose their membership in the AMA. In the 1860s, that meant you lost your medical license until, finally, the homeopaths organized and created a separate medical board. So, at least if you got your license revoked from the AMA, you could go to the homeopaths."