Saturday, 29 November 2008

A Rational Choice

Mo Morrish was one of my lecturers at the British School of Homoeopathy and I was also fortunate to have him as my supervisor for student clinical cases. His lectures on the principles and philosophy of homoeopathy were always inspiring and often included literary or scientific quotes, music, art or poetry from very diverse sources which he used to illustrate his points very clearly.

His book ‘Homoeopathy, A Rational Choice in Medicine’ is aimed at readers who want to know more about the effectiveness, safety, history or principles of this form of treatment. There have been a lot of negative comments about what we do in the media recently and I feel this is a valuable tool to counter many of those criticisms. Sadly, I doubt many of those critics will take the time to read it. 

This is a very short and eloquent book which gives a simple overview of homoeopathic medicine. At only 66 pages it can be easily read in one sitting but contains many thought provoking passages and references should you want to explore further. You may be a complete sceptic, a satisfied patient, a student or an experienced practitioner. I think this book has a lot to offer us all.

Jo Rhodes is a participant in the Amazon EU Associates Programme, an affiliate advertising programme designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to

Monday, 17 November 2008

British Homeopathic Association

The British Homeopathic Association have revamped their website and it has a huge amount of interesting information, research and other articles for you to browse through.

Some very clear info about homeopathy and what to expect from treatment, as well as articles on specific topics, case studies from patients and an A-Z (well it goes from ADHD to urinary infections so technically A-U!). All the articles have been published in their magazine 'Health and Homeopathy' which is well worth a read whatever your level of knowledge of homeopathy.

On a very different subject I was shocked to see this article in the news. The NHS could have to pay out as much as £12bn in compensation to patients for clinical negligence. That amount of money is the equivalent of around ten percent of the whole NHS budget. This estimated figure comes from the NHS Litigation Agency which pays out patient claims.

Friday, 24 October 2008

Like cures like

One of the core principles of homeopathy is let like cure like. In practical terms that means we use remedies made from substances, which in larger amounts, would cause similar symptoms. Just think what happens to you when you chop up a strong onion and you can see why a homeopathic remedy made from onion might be useful for hayfever. Another example is that a remedy made from coffee might be appropriate for helping someone with insomnia.

This principal of like cures like is also used in conventional medicine but not as frequently as in homeopathy. In patients who are in a persistent vegetative state there have been some successes when they have been given sleeping pills.

A very recent example is of children in the USA with extreme peanut allergies who have been given small amounts of peanut protein in liquid or powder form. Initially they are given the equivalent of one thousandth of a peanut and this amount is slowly increased over time. Four children who have completed years of the treatment are now able to tolerate 13 to 15 peanuts without showing even mild symptoms.


Another case of like cures like, and one with a strong homeopathic connection, is the use of radiation to treat tumours. Dr Emil Grubbe developed blistering and tumours on his hands and neck while he was experimenting with X Rays as a student at the Hahnemann Homeopathic Hospital in Chicago in the 1895. As the radiation was very clearly the cause of the tumours one of the professors suggested it might be a useful therapeutic tool in treating cancers. Dr Grubbe was the first person to use radiation therapy on Mrs Rose Lee
for breast cancer in 1896 and she benefited from this treatment. For reasons which remain unclear, he is often referred to as a radiologist, physicist or doctor but his homeopathic connections and credentials rarely get a mention!

Dr Emil Grubbe (1875-1960)

Monday, 20 October 2008

Food for the Brain

As well as being a homeopath I am very interested in how diet and lifestyle can affect health and mental health in particular. I recently went to London to attend a conference organised by Food for the Brain - they are a charity whose aim is to raise awareness of the link between learning, behaviour, mental health and nutrition. Food for the Brain have done some excellent work, particularly in schools and young offenders institutions. These studies have shown great improvement in learning ability, attention and behaviour by using supplements of vitamins, fish oils and/or improving diet.

The speakers at the conference were leaders in their field and had come from all parts of the world to present their current research. The conference covered nutrition and child development, Alzheimers and memory loss, addiction and psychiatric disorders.

The majority of the conference delegates were nutritionists but it was interesting to see that there were also many nurses, psychiatrists, GPs and teachers who wanted to know more about current developments in these areas.

A recent government report said

A diet lacking essential nutrients or containing ingredients that are detrimental, is likely to have adverse consequences for brain function, mental health and behaviour. Evidence of the links between nutritional status and childhood disorders, depression, aggressive and anti-social behaviour merits further publicly funded research. Because of the major potential benefit for the fields of education, crime, health and well-being of vulnerable sections of society, we believe more research is urgently needed in this area and we recommend that more Government resources are devoted to this.

The Associate Parliamentary Food and Health Forum, 2008

For more information have a look at the Food for the Brain website

Friday, 12 September 2008

Brian Kaplan

Dr Brian Kaplan is a homeopath and a medical doctor based in London. His book, The Homeopathic Conversation, is one of the most inspiring books I read while I was studying homeopathy.

He has an excellent blog on his website which deals with the negative press homeopaths seem to be getting a lot of at the moment. We are continually criticised by members of the medical profession for being dangerous and/or ineffective but the report he mentions in his most recent post shows how few of their own treatments are safe and effective. This is very graphically illustrated in the pie chart which shows only 13% of modern medical treatments are proven to be effective.

Tuesday, 26 August 2008

Northern Green Gathering 2008

Earlier this month I went to the Northern Green Gathering which was held at Lime Tree farm near Ripon. I was working with the Travelling Homoeopaths Collective to provide a clinic at the festival.

Northern Green Gathering is an annual camping event focused around sustainable living and green campaigns which has been running since 1998. The camp was powered entirely by sustainable means - wind turbines and solar panels - and the aim was to ensure minimal impact. The site also has composting toilets, recycling was encouraged, and all on-site food was organic and vegetarian.

The weather was not kind to us with a fair bit of rain and very strong winds but a good time was had by all. There was loads of stuff for kids to do, a big craft area as well as a permaculture and gardening area and a large campaigns tent where there was information and literature on environmental and other issues.

Our clinic was based in the healing field where there were lots of free classes and workshops including yoga, tai chi, meditation, Tibetan chanting and even how to make softpots (plant pots made out of old tights!)

Lime Tree Farm is a beautiful location and a fine example of conservation in action. The farm has wonderful roundhouse, tepee, lake and a stone circle, a bird hide and woods.

Tuesday, 8 July 2008

Glastonbury 2008

I had a great time at Glastonbury and it was wonderful to have some good weather for a change!

I worked as a volunteer with the Travelling Homoeopaths Collective who provide drop-in clinics at various festivals over the summer. Working in the clinic was often a very busy, but rewarding, experience. Many people popped back in to see us to let us know they were feeling better after their remedies so it was nice to have some instant feedback.

We helped with a variety of conditions including dodgy tummies, cystitis, hangovers, coughs and colds, sunburn and skin rashs. By far the most common problem we treated was hayfever. Most people who came to us were taking medication which usually kept their symptoms under control. Spending a few days in a dusty, festival site with lots of unfamiliar pollen and their symptoms came on with a vengeance.

There are several published research papers which show that homeopathic treatment is effective for hayfever. Hayfever is an excellent example of the individual nature of homeopathy. A remedy is chosen based on the symptoms so we need to know what is causing the person the most trouble, is it constant sneezing, itchy and runny eyes, burning nasal discharge, hoarseness or anything else.

Three of the most commonly used remedies for hayfever are

Allium Cepa Burning nasal discharge causing sore nostrils and upper lip, itchy and watery eyes, sneezing

Euphrasia Eyes severely affected with profuse burning and watering, burning and swelling of eyelids, sneezing, nasal discharge which does not burn

Wyethia Particularly good for symptoms confined to the back of nose and throat; dry and intensely itchy; dry wheezy cough

Some of these homeopathic remedies are available over the counter and can be helpful when symptoms appear.
However, hayfever is a deep-seated condition, and constitutional treatment from a qualified homeopath over two or three seasons may be able to cure the condition completely. I recommend starting treatment before the hayfever season in order to strengthen general health and reduce sensitivity to pollens.

I thoroughly enjoyed my festival experience, and am looking forward to doing another clinic with the Travelling Homoeopaths at the Northern Green Gathering near Ripon in August.

Travelling Homoeopaths Collective
Northern Green Gathering

Homeopathy worked for me

This is a great website which has been set up by H:MC21, Homeopathy: Medicine for the 21st Century. They are a group of homeopaths who have created the site to counter the criticisms levelled at homeopathy and alternative medicine by some sections of the media.

If you have been helped by homeopathy then you can sign the declaration on the website to show your support.

Friday, 23 May 2008

Health Insurance Companies

The following list of Private Medical Insurance Companies all cover homeopathy and recognise members of the Society of Homeopaths. Depending on your level of cover, policies may pay some or all costs of treatment by a complementary practitioner, some companies may need a referral from a GP. Contact the company directly for more information.

Birmingham Hospital Saturday Fund

Contact: Claims
Telephone: 0121 454 3601
No GP referral required


Contact: Claims
Telephone: 01475 492 187
GP referral required

Civil Service Healthcare

Contact: Claims
Telephone: 0208 410 0440
GP referral required


Contact: Claims Helpline
Telephone: 01462 688 100
GP referral may vary

First Assist Insurance Services Limited

Contact: Claims
Telephone: 01202 292 464
GP referral required

Forester Health

Contact: Claims
Telephone: 0208 628 3434
No GP referral required

Health Shield

Contact: Claims Department
Telephone: 01270 588 555
No GP referral required


Contact: Claims
Telephone: 08702 425 454
No GP referral required


Contact: Claims Department
Telephone: 0870 333 1174
GP referral may vary

Norwich Union Healthcare

Contact: Claims
Telephone: 0870 155 5789
GP referral required

Patient Aid Association

Contact: Claims
Telephone: 01902 371 000
No GP referral required

Pinnacle PLC

Contact: Claims
Telephone: 0208 207 9100
No GP referral required

Provincial Hospital Association

Contact: Claims
Telephone: 01234 267 371
No GP referral required

Standard Life Health Care

Contact: Claims
Telephone: 0161 475 3404
GP referral required

Westfield Health Scheme

Contact: Claims
Telephone: 0114 250 2000
GP referral required

Saturday, 10 May 2008

Oh Calcutta

In January 2008 I went to Calcutta for a month to spend time at the Bengal Allen Institute. The course was organised by Dr Subrata Banerjea and was a combination of lectures and visits to slum clinics and lecturers consulting rooms. The first, and most striking thing about the trip, was that there is absolutely no animosity between homeopathy and allopathy in India. We were taught by homeopaths and also by a medical doctor, they work together in harmony. It can happen!

In India there is no form of state health system so people have to pay for all treatment themselves whether this is medication, blood tests, scans or surgery. This means they also choose what type of treatment suits them and will pay to see an allopathic doctor, a homeopath or an ayurvedic practitioner. Surgery and biopsies are expensive procedures which are financially out of the question for many people. We saw patients in the clinics from all social backgrounds, from people living in slums to a multi-billionaire shipping magnate. All of them chose homeopathy and use it because they know it works for them.

One of the criticisms levelled against homeopathy in Europe is that we spend so much time listening to patients that they are likely to feel better just because they are having a nice chat and being listened to. In India the patient certainly doesn't get time to chat but the results are still very impressive.

In one slum clinic session we saw 50 patients treated in less than 3 hours! Many of the consulting rooms were far from restful places. Often there were several students observing and a queue of patients waiting to be seen either in the same room or just outside.

Calcutta is a bustling and noisy place but I loved it and had a great time there. The clinics and lecturers were an inspiration and it was a fantastic opportunity to see a huge number of difficult cases successfully treated with homeopathy.

One of our lecturers, Dr Basu, in the consulting room at his home.

Sunday, 4 May 2008

Indian Homeopathic Pharmacies

In England there are a handful of specialist homeopathic pharmacies and shops. In India, and especially in Calcutta, that is not the case. There are many, many shops, clinics and pharmacies particularly around BB Ganguly Street. They are always full of people waiting to collect remedies or to see a homeopath.

Just around the corner from the Bengal Allen Institute was the dispensary and offices of the National Homeopathic Pharmacy. It was a fantastic old building with cabinets everywhere full of books, tinctures and remedies. It always seemed very chaotic in there but the system worked and we always got what we had ordered!

Tuesday, 15 April 2008


A huge thankyou to Mike for letting me use his photos for the website.
If you want to see more of his work then check out his page on flickr.

Tuesday, 22 January 2008

Steve's Testimonial, Leeds

When I first met Jo, I would say I was an open-minded sceptic – however, after our first meeting I could see that her counselling skills alone made the treatments worthwhile. After receiving the homeopathic remedies I found they worked and they have helped me hugely with my recovery and there have been no side-effects.

I would describe Jo as trustworthy, sympathetic and non-judgemental. She has time to talk and has the skills needed to treat the root cause of problems and not just the symptoms.

I would recommend a consultation with Jo to anybody who needs help.

Steve, Leeds

Rachels Testimonial, Exeter

I had developed an ultimately life-threatening fear of eating, following a long bout of bowel disease and subsequent surgery, dropping to 5.5 stone with ever-decreasing hopes of being able to reverse the trend.

Jo stepped in as a concerned friend and a professional homeopath, to give me help prior to my taking myself off into hospital for some long term treatment. Her consistent positivity and cheeriness (during homeopathic consultations and 1:1 chats over the odd latte or two!) gave me a huge amount of confidence and hopefulness for the difficult period ahead.

She prescribed a gentle but rather powerful remedy which was to encourage a healthy appetite and help my poor starving body retain the nutrients it so desperately needed once the intensive re-feeding programme was initiated. Within days, I started feeling hungry (very!) and could feel myself relaxing both mentally and physically before meals. I also found that my inner strength and my resolve increased and were constant, throughout the often traumatic admission - which, I'm sure, was due to the remedy.

I am now almost fully recovered and I most definitely have my life back! A heartfelt THANK YOU to Jo for her timely intervention, her thoughtfulness and her insightful prescription. I never thought I would attain this healthy 'me'....

Rachel, Exeter

Homeopathy Volunteering

I have always wanted to be able to bring homeopathy to people who would never normally have access to such therapies.

I am currently working as a volunteer with the Hub at Connexions based in Settle which helps support young people in the area. I am providing homeopathy, Bach Flower Remedies, advice on diet and relaxation techniques to young people and liaising with support workers, GPs and drug workers where necessary.

When I lived in Bristol I ran a drop-in clinic for homeless magazine vendors and staff at the Big Issue. I used homeopathy and Bach Flower Remedies to help reduce anxiety, sleep problems and other emotional disturbances and also provided homeopathic first aid for such things as injuries, colds, headaches, hayfever and infected wounds.

I have also worked as a volunteer for SANE the mental health charity on their helpline. This involved taking calls from a variety of people affected by mental health issues in some way. The training was intensive and included a great deal of information about the mental health system and conventional treatment as well as excellent counselling training.

Exchange program in Calcutta

In January 2008 I will be attending a homeopathic exchange program in Calcutta at the Bengal Allen Medical Institute. The city has a rich homeopathic heritage and offered the first University and Government approved 5 year full-time homeopathic degree course. The Institute is a registered charity and all profits go towards maintaining a homeopathy clinic in the slums of Calcutta and to providing basic sustenance for hungry children

All across India homeopathy is accepted as being the major alternative to pharmaceutical medicine and is enormously popular, this is mainly due to its low cost and presence in the country for over 150 years.

The exchange programme is run by Dr Subrata Banerjea whose family have been homeopaths as well as medical doctors for four generations. The course is a combination of lectures, homeopathic philosophy, case taking skills, clinical discussion and regular visits to homeopathic clinics, where we will have the opportunity to observe approximately 200 live cases during the programme.

We will also be visiting Darjeeling as a group and seeing patients in a clinic there. After the program finishes I will be spending a few weeks travelling around Kerala in the South before returning home at the end of February.

Homeopathy dilutions

The most controversial aspect for critics is that the remedies are made using extremely high dilutions of homeopathic substances. Conventional science indicates that most homeopathic remedies are so dilute that none of the original substance can possibly be present. However, remedies are made by a process of dilution and vigorous shaking (known as succession) and this combination seems to change the properties of the diluted liquid.

Research over the last few years has led scientists to acknowledge that the structure of water is not as simple as once believed and that vigorously shaken, ultra high dilutions have physical and chemical properties very different from pure water. Researchers like Rustum Roy and Iris Bell have carried out important research in this area.

This site gives a good overview of one aspect of this debate

A good starting point for those interested in learning more on this topic is:

The effect of high dilutions

In an experimental study of ultra-high dilutions of litihum chloride and sodium chloride which had been vigorously stirred between dilutions, researchers found emission of light even in dilutions beyond Avogadro’s number (10-30 g cm-3). The solutions were irradiated by x- and gamma-rays at 77 K, then progressively rewarmed to room temperature. Thermoluminescence was studied during the process.

Rey L. Thermoluminescence of ultra-high dilutions of lithium chloride and sodium chloride. Physica A 323 (2003) 67–74.

Full article available at

In another study of extremely diluted and succussed solutions (<>-5 mol kg-1, chemically identical to distilled water) researchers found that the diluted and succussed solution resulted in exothermic excess of heat (heat resulting from chemical reactions), higher electrical conductivity and pH compared to an untreated substance. The authors conclude that they show that successive dilutions and succussions can permanently alter the physico-chemical properties of the water solvent. The authors are unable to explain the phenomena.

Elia V, Niccoli M. New physico-chemical properties of extremely diluted aqueous solutions. Journal of Thermal Analysis and Calorimetry, Vol. 75 (2004) 815–836.

Abstract available at

Not really anything about research but a lovely example of homeopathy in action in a crisis.

Just a placebo


The idea that homeopathy is ‘just a placebo’ is a common criticism, however there are several studies which look at treatment of children or animals who could not have been influenced by any kind of placebo effect. These are just two examples of papers which address the issue of placebo.

There are three well-known studies where children given homeopathic remedies showed a highly significant result in the duration of childhood diarrhoea. It should be noted that the World Health Organisation consider childhood

diarrhoea to be the number one public health problem today because of the millions of children who die every year from dehydration from diarrhoea.

Jacobs J, Jonas WB, Jiménez-Pérez M, Crothers D

Homeopathy for childhood diarrhoea: combined results and meta-analysis from three randomized, controlled clinical trials. Pediatr Infect Dis J. 2003 Mar;22(3):229-34

Article abstract available at


Researchers at the University of Glasgow have conducted several studies into the effect of serially agitated high dilutions of an allergen (30C, which contains no molecules of the original substance) on patients with allergic rhinitis. These were not trials of treatment but they were designed to address the placebo hypothesis, using allergy as a model. In 2000 they performed a meta-analysis, reviewing all the data from four studies on allergic conditions, which totalled 202 subjects. The results of this meta-analysis were so substantial (P=0.0004) that the authors concluded that either homeopathic medicines work or controlled clinical trials do not. Because modern science is based on controlled clinical trials, it is a more likely conclusion that homeopathic medicines are effective.

Taylor, M., Reilly, D., Llewellyn-Jones, R., McSharry, C., Aitchison, T. Randomised controlled trial of homeopathy versus placebo in perennial allergic rhinitis with overview of four trial series. British Medical Journal 2000; 321: 471-6.

Full article available at

Bristol Homeopathic Hospital study

Bristol Homeopathic Hospital study
One of the most comprehensive surveys of homeopathic treatment is an analysis of over 23,000 outpatient consultations at the Bristol Homeopathic Hospital from November 1997 to October 2003. This represented over 6,500 individual patients whose overall outcome was recorded at follow-up. More than 70% of these follow-up patients reported clinical improvement following homeopathic treatment. Many of the patients in the analysis had previously received mainstream medical treatment and had either failed to respond satisfactorily or had been unable to tolerate the conventional medication they had been prescribed.

Dr D S Spence, Dr E A Thompson and S J Barron. J. Altern. Homeopathic Treatment for Chronic Disease: A 6-Year, University-Hospital Outpatient Observational Study. Complement. Med. 2005; 11#5: 793-798

Full article available at

See also the news article on BBC website at

Homeopathy Research Institute

I am a member of the Homeopathy Research Institute which has recently been set up with a view to doing quality research and trials which will be published in medical peer-reviewed journals.

The nature of homeopathic treatment is very different to conventional medicine and so double blind, placebo controlled trials do not represent how a homeopath would normally treat a patient. There is work going on in British universities to look at this problem and develop ways of designing trials which will take into account the personal nature of the consultation and choice of remedies.

In spite of this, there is a huge amount of good quality, published research which shows that homeopathy is an effective treatment for a variety of conditions. This paper is a review of positive research and surveys which was compiled by the European Network of Homeopathic Researchers. It contains brief summaries of the research articles, together with full references.