Interview with George Vithoulkas:
An interview with George Vithoulkas, an internationally known writer, lecturer and homeopath, explaining the homeopathic approach to healing, its method and goal.
George Vithoulkas is an internationally known writer, lecturer and homeopath, founder of a homeopathic clinic and centre for training in Athens, Greece. His enthusiasm and dedication have inspired countless numbers of lay people to use homeopathic medicines when necessary; he has earned the gratitude of hundreds of suffering patients and through his vision and insight made the homeopathic approach to health, disease and cure come alive for hundreds of medical students and students of homeopathy wherever he has lectured. While he was visiting London recently on a lecture tour, I had the opportunity of meeting and interviewing him.
While Mr Vithoulkas was busy making tea for us before we settled down to "the interview proper" I asked him to talk about health and its definition – to focus on normality and health before addressing the topics of disease and cure. The question seemed to appeal to him, he chuckled, his eyes lit up and before I could say "notepad" or "cassette recorder" he had launched into an enthusiastic reply, his tea-making temporarily forgotten. Health is that harmonious state both within the organism and between the individual and his environment; it is a question of relationship – relationship between the different aspects of a person's make-up, for instance, a person and his relationship with his spiritual nature. And homeopathy is a system of medicine which aims to help one attain or regain that harmony. Part of that harmony, perhaps one of the most important elements in it, is to enable people to achieve their highest goals – their ideals, consciously recognized or not. Often, people hinder themselves from accomplishing their own aims, not consciously or deliberately, but simply through carrying with them some inimical, obstructing reaction – perhaps of anger, or fear, or irritation. Homeopathy, maintains George Vithoulkas, may, when skillfully used, aid a patient to free himself of such emotional disharmonies, thus opening the way toward harmonious living.
That is a pretty impressive definition of health and I wondered how he had arrived at it and under what influences? I thought I detected within that definition an inclusiveness which embraced not only Western views but Eastern ideas too. Well, it was a matter of years and years of study, experience of the application of homeopathy, observation of and contact with spiritual teachings. Which teachings? "Oh, many, many", he said accompanying his words with that Greek arm-winding gesture which means "More than I could possibly say, or remember". Where? He had exposed himself to many different spiritual disciplines in Greece, in Europe, in Africa and in India. He had spent three years in India, but wherever he had gone he had searched for experience, facts and information that would all fit together to give as complete a picture as possible of a human being's constitution, potential, strengths and weaknesses. Homeopathy was the thread that held all this together and motivated his studies and travels.
Why homeopathy? Indeed, what is homeopathy? What is its history and its present applications? Early in the 19th century, Samuel Hahnemann, a German physician, published a book (Organon of the Art of Healing) in which he set out the basic principles of a new approach to medicine and healing. He called this new system "homeopathy" (from the Greek word meaning ëlike'), since one of its first principles was that a remedy can cure a disease if it produces similar symptoms to those of the disease in a normal healthy person. The whole of homeopathy derives from this basic law.
But what does this mean in practice to you or me, consulting a homeopath? Suppose you had consulted the homeopathic doctor because you were unable to shake off a bad case of flu; with symptoms such as high fever, aching throughout the skeleton, but particularly in the limbs, much thirst but no appetite etc. The homeopath would ask detailed questions, sometimes taking as much as an hour or two, especially for the initial visit, thus building up a thorough picture of you and how you react individually to various stimuli – heat, cold, etc; how you behave in certain circumstances. At this point you might interrupt to ask how questions like these could possibly be relevant to the complaint you so desperately want cured. To this question George Vithoulkas would reply (and all his colleagues, with him) that as a system of medicine homeopathy is, in very marked contrast to the allopathic approach, geared towards treating the whole person, not the disease. So any medicine prescribed is for you and not, as is the case in orthodox Western prescribing: "Here, take this for the flu".
What other characteristics set homeopathy apart from other medical systems? Through his ceaseless experimentation and observation Hahnemann discovered that the then accepted levels of dosage were too powerful and produced an aggravated reaction in the patient. He thus began a process of trial dosing, gradually diluting the basic medicine further and further. At a critical stage in his experiments Hahnemann discovered a process which reduced the toxic effects of the remedy while increasing its healing effects proportionately. Each dilution was submitted to a series of vigorous shakes – now known as succussion – which he found seemed to activate the substance: "The powers, which are, as it were, hidden and dormant in the crude drug, are developed and roused into activity to an incredible degree." He had discovered a way of releasing the life force, or energy peculiar to each substance. It remains true of modern homeopathy that if any prepared remedy is submitted to chemical analysis no trace of the original substance will be found. Thus through a process of dilution and succussion an extraordinary and revolutionary discovery had been made. Modern orthodox medicine finds it impossible to accept homeopathy not so much because it does not work – the evidence that it does is undeniable – but because it fails to understand how it can work.
Well, how does it work? How would George Vithoulkas explain it? He paused, sat back, sipped his cold tea, gave me a look of appraisal and said succinctly: "Energy. It works on an energy level. You could say it is a matter of finding similar frequencies – in disease and cure." Did he mean, I asked, that cure and disease should be matched in frequency? The cure must be as close as possible in frequency, so to speak, to the disease; only then can it stimulate the patient's organism to produce a reaction which will result in cure. This means however that the diagnosis must be absolutely precise, that the potency and dosage are vital to cure, was I right in thinking?
"If you were to visit our clinic for treatment, the doctor, (all staff are fully qualified medical doctors), would spend perhaps two hours with you, before beginning to consider which remedy would be the right one for you and your illness." There was only one remedy which would work? Oh yes. Some branches of homeopathy of which Mr Vithoulkas did not approve used short cuts, prescribed combination remedies, knowing that one or other of the medicines in the combination was the right one, but not taking sufficient time to ascertain precisely which sole medicine would be appropriate. To be a good, effective homeopath required dedication, enthusiasm, skill, experience, years of study and observation, patience and commitment. There are no shortcuts, no fudged solutions.
The younger the better
Did homeopathy work better on certain types of people and was it more effective in certain illnesses than others? Yes, the younger the patient the better – babies and children had stronger, purer, less polluted immune systems, but it continued to be an effective system of treatment for other age groups too; the elderly showed least reaction to it. (Perhaps it was a little-known fact that animals are treated successfully using homeopathic medicines.) Naturally, the earlier a patient receives treatment under a homeopath the more effective the cure. In most cases if disease has reached its end-stage homeopathy can only hope to ameliorate not bring about a complete cure.
Is it as good as a system of preventative medicine? Excellent, because the homeopath would recognize and be able to prescribe for symptoms which the allopath, relying on chemical analysis, laboratory reports etc., would not yet be able to detect or interpret correctly. Would homeopathy therefore be useful in developing countries? Most certainly. Countless lives could be saved, and millions of dollars, if an efficient preventative application of homeopathy were to be implemented. Naturally, it would be applied curatively too.
A great and growing problem is that many viruses are developing immunity to the various antibiotics administered. George Vithoulkas claimed that at a very safe estimate some 85 per cent of all disease dealt with at present by means of antibiotics could be treated successfully with homeopathic medicine. And the beauty of homeopathy is that you do not cause side effects (as do modern drugs) which, as we now know, are sometimes far worse, in the long run, than the initial complaint.
Does George Vithoulkas have a vision of the future of medicine? Very definitely, and he is sure that this will all happen and sees signs of its beginnings: the training of doctors will change because of a growing understanding of human beings, their needs and constitution, their reactions. There will be a new emphasis because of a new definition of man, health, disease. A new emphasis of the spiritual elements in people and life will increase. "I would like to see a clear understanding of the spiritual wholeness of patients." What is alternative now will become accepted and taught in colleges, universities, training centres. "It will come, it is already beginning, people want alternatives, they want more subtle, individually appropriate treatment." The days of the "take two aspirin" are numbered.
From the January 1987 issue of Share International