Homeopathy: God Save the Queen's Medicine

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"I believe what prevents men from accepting the homeopathic principles is ignorance, but ignorance is criminal when human lives are at stake. No honest man faced with the facts of homeopathy can refuse to accept it. He has no choice. When I had to face it, I had to become a follower. There was no choice if I were to continue to be an honest man. … Truth always demands adherence and offers no alternative."

Sir John Weir, physician to King George VI and to four generations of British monarchs

Queen Elizabeth II (1926-2022) passed away at the impressive age of 96…and her mother, Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother (1900-2002) lived until the even more impressive 101 years of age. This longevity may not just be happenstance or even genetics, but it may in part be due to the fact that they had both been active advocates for and users of homeopathic medicine.

The use of and advocacy for homeopathy dates back many generations to the 1830s. Queen Adelaide (1792-1849), wife of King William IV, first made public her special interest in this "new medicine" in 1835. Other British aristocrats shared the Queen's interests, including the Marquess of Anglesey who crossed the British Channel to go to Paris for treatment by the founder of homeopathy, Dr. Samuel Hahnemann (1755-1843).

Queen Adelaide had been suffering from a serious malady that the court physicians could not deal with. The Queen called for the services of one of Hahnemann's oldest and most faithful colleagues, Dr. Johann Ernst Stapf (1788-1860), who cured her, creating the first of many supporters of homeopathy from British royalty.

Various kings and queens of Great Britain since Queen Adelaide have openly sought medical care from homeopathic physicians. Queen Victoria (1837-1901) was treated by Dr Frederick Quin, the personal physician/homeopath to Prince Leopold of the Belgians, who was the great uncle of Prince Albert, Queen Victoria's much loved husband. A recent popular movie, Young Victoria chronicled their love affair (www.imdb.com/title/tt0962736).

Princess May, who later became Queen Mary (1865-1953), wife of King George V, headed the fundraising efforts to move and expand the London Homeopathic Hospital. King George V (1865-1936) was appreciative of homeopathy because it provided him with the real practical benefit of treating his seasickness, a condition that he tended to experience often because of his fondness for sailing.

King George V was known to have been treated for this condition with Tabacum, a homeopathic dose of tobacco that was prescribed by his homeopathic doctor, Dr Sir John Weir (1879-1971)[i]. Because the smoking of tobacco is known to cause symptoms of dizziness and nausea, homeopathic doses of this medicine can help to relieve these common symptoms experienced during seasickness. 

During more recent times, a study published in a medical journal published by the American Medical Association found that Cocculus compositum (aka Vertigoheel, a mixture or formula of homeopathic medicines) was as effective as a conventional drug for dizziness…and was safer.[ii] This study showed that homeopathic treatment showed a clinically relevant reduction in the mean frequency, duration, and intensity of vertigo (dizziness) attacks.

Ironically, his son, who later became King George VI (1895-1952), had a completely different experience with tobacco. By contrast, he was a chronically addicted to tobacco, leading him to an early death. Still, King George VI was appreciative enough of homeopathy that he even named one of his prize racehorses Hypericum, which he named after a famous homeopathic medicine for injuries to nerves.

King George VI was known to be an expert user of homeopathic medicine himself, and in 1948 he showed his and his family's profound appreciation for homeopathy by formally granting the use of the royal title to the London Homeopathic Hospital, which was known as the Royal London Homeopathic Hospital for many decades, until 2010, when it became the Royal London Hospital for Integrative Medicine.

The 2010 film, "The King's Speech," depicts the compelling story of King George VI (played by Colin Firth) and his speech therapist, Lionel Logue (played by Geoffrey Rush). Lionel Logue was neither a physician nor a conventional speech therapist, but his treatment strategies were impressively successful. 

The British Royal Family has been known for being exceedingly conservative and embodying traditional ideals of family and public service, but they are also known to have special appreciation and even advocacy for certain unconventional treatments that worked, whether conventional medicine accepted them or not. Such were their experiences with Mr. Logue's speech therapy, as well as with internationally respected, widely practiced, but often misunderstood science and art of homeopathic medicine. 

The wife of King George VI was Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon (1900-2002), and they had two daughters, Elizabeth and Margaret. Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon eventually became known as "Queen Elizabeth, Queen Mother," to differentiate her from her daughter who was known as today's Queen Elizabeth II (1926-2022).

The Queen Mother was known to be particularly appreciative of the famous homeopathic medicine, Arnica. In William Shawcross's 1,100 page authorized biography of Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother, he charts her gradual conversion after marrying the Duke of York in 1923. Shawcross notes: "Throughout her life she would hand out arnica tablets to anyone with a bruise or worse," adding that for her, homoeopathy was an intelligent approach to illness.[iii]

 She realized that some people are skeptical of homeopathy, but she knew that such skepticism was common in people who didn't understand homeopathy or had simply not used it. She commonly used Arnica on her dogs whenever they injured themselves and encouraged her friends to use it.

Queen Elizabeth II ascended to the throne in 1952 and has been a long-time patron to the Royal London Homeopathic Hospital, which underwent a $35 million refurbishment in 2005. When Queen Elizabeth II visited the Hospital in 2000, she looked straight at the picture of Sir John Weir, who was the previous King's homeopathic physician, and said "he did a lot of good for my father." To keep up with the times, in 2010, this hospital changed its name to Royal London Hospital for Integrative Medicine.

Ultimately, Sir John Weir was not only the homeopathic physician to King George VI, he had also provided homeopathic treatment for six other monarchs, including King Edward VII, George V, Edward VIII, Duke of Windsor, George VI, Elizabeth II, King Gustav V of Sweden (1858-1950), and King Haakon VII of Norway (1872-1957).[iv]

The early growth of homeopathy in Britain in the mid-1800s became possible in large part through royal support and from the British aristocracy. The first British homeopath to British royalty, Dr. Frederick Quin, was a son of the Duchess of Devonshire (1765-1824), and thus himself an aristocrat. When Quin began his full-time homeopathic practice in London in 1832, he primarily treated members of his own noble class.

Until 2018, the homeopath to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II was Dr. Peter Fisher, a Cambridge-trained medical doctor, rheumatologist, and homeopath. Dr. Fisher was also the medical director of the Royal London Hospital for Integrative Medicine. Sadly however, in 2018, riding his bicycle on "Bike to Work Day", Dr Fisher was hit by a truck and killed instantly. 

Other European Monarchs' Love for Homeopathy

The British royalty were not the only monarchs to embrace and advocate for homeopathy. Ultimately, royalty from every European country also did so. In the mid-19th century, a remarkable 77 homeopathic physicians served as the personal physicians to monarchs and their families.[v] More detail about these physicians and their treatment of various monarchs are readily available.[vi]

Napoleon III and Empress Eugenie of France were known advocates of homeopathy. In fact, Napoleon III bestowed the Knight's Cross of the Legion of Honor upon his family's homeopathic physician, Dr. A.J. Davet, as well as upon Dr. Alexandre Charge for his remarkable results using homeopathic medicines in treating patients with cholera; and upon Dr. J. Mabit for his work as the head of a hospital in Bordeaux, where he consistently found that homeopathic treatment was effective.

Numerous kings, queens, and dukes from Germany, Austria, Italy, Spain, and Prussia were known promoters of homeopathy, as were Czar Nicholas and Czar Alexander II of Russia. Despite the immense power that these monarchs had at that time, the robust resistance to homeopathy from conventional physicians was so strong that these monarchs were unable to overcome the economic might of the doctors and pharmacists of that era. One reporter noted that even the czars of Russia were unable to breakdown "the Chinese wall by which the medical hierarchy surrounds its domain."[vii]

Still, these monarchs had their choice of ANY health care, and they consistently chose homeopathic treatment, making homeopathy "The Royal Medicine."

Misinformation about Homeopathy in the Mainstream Media

Newsweek magazine published an article entitled, "King Charles III Has a History of Promoting 'Quackery' Alternative Medicine."[viii] This highly partisan article quoted from only two sources, both of whom are known to be extremely antagonistic towards homeopathy. The author also quoted a Cleveland Clinic newsletter that claimed to say, "There's no strong evidence for homeopathy's effectiveness greater than a placebo."

Yet, in due respect and in actual fact, two Cleveland Clinic surgeons published a meta-analysis of 21 clinical trials using homeopathic medicines and found significant benefits that patients experience in recovery from various types of surgery, especially facial plastic surgery.[ix]

This Newsweek article also didn't bother to reference the most recent meta-analysis on clinical research in homeopathy, which found that the results of homeopathic treatment is different from that of a placebo. Further, a much more comprehensive review of clinical research on homeopathy acknowledged that, "Five systematic reviews have examined the RCT (randomized controlled trials) research literature on homeopathy as a whole, including the broad spectrum of medical conditions that have been researched and by all forms of homeopathy: four of these 'global' systematic reviews reached the conclusion that, with important caveats, the homeopathic intervention probably differs from placebo."[x]

It is common practice these days for mainstream media to simply interview skeptics of homeopathy who are known to have an axe to grind. It is more than ironic that some media disparage "misinformation" and yet, they indulge in it often when writing about alternative medicine…and other subjects, which are influenced by their major Big Pharma advertisers. Readers beware.

DANA ULLMAN, MPH, CCH, is one of America's leading advocates for homeopathy. He has authored 10 books, including The Homeopathic Revolution: Why Famous People and Cultural Heroes Choose HomeopathyHomeopathy A-ZHomeopathic Medicines for Children and InfantsDiscovering Homeopathy, and (the best-selling) Everybody's Guide to Homeopathic Medicines (with Stephen Cummings, MD). Dana also created an e-course How to Use a Homeopathic Medicine Kit which integrates 80 short videos (averaging 15 minutes) with his famous ebook that is a continually growing resource to 300+ clinical studies published in peer-review medical journals testing homeopathic medicines. This ebook combines the descriptions of these studies with practical clinical information on how to use homeopathic medicines for 100+ common ailments. This ebook is entitled Evidence Based Homeopathic Family Medicine, and it is an invaluable resource. Dana has been certified in classical homeopathy by the leading organization in the U.S. for professional homeopaths.

Thanks to Penny Edwards for some helpful editing of this article.


References

[i] Morrell P. Tobacco: Two Royal anecdotes. BMJ. 29 January 2001, 322:203. http://www.bmj.com/content/322/7280/203.2.extract/reply

[ii] Weiser, M, Strosser, W, Klein, P, "Homeopathic vs. Conventional Treatment of Vertigo: A Randomized Double-blind Controlled Clinical Study," Archives of Otolaryngology­­­­--Head and Neck Surgery, August, 1998,124:879-85. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/9708713/  Although Tabacum is a leading medicine in homeopathy for vertigo/dizziness, this ingredient is not in this specific homeopathic formula medicine. The homeopathic medicine formula, Vertigoheel/Cocculus compositum, has been found to be effective for various ailments for which dizziness is a leading symptom. 

[iii] Payne, D. Homoeopathy and the Royals, BMJ, August 3, 2011. https://blogs.bmj.com/bmj/2011/08/03/david-payne-homoeopathy-and-the-royals/

[iv] In 1939, King Haakon VII of Norway bestowed upon Sir John Weir the Knight Grand Cross of St. Olav, the highest honor granted by his country (Homoeopathy, 1939).

[v] Everest, Rev. T. R. A Popular View of Homeopathy. New York: William Radde, 1842. https://wellcomecollection.org/works/rprj87c6

[vi] See the chapter "The Royal Medicine: Monarchs' Longtime Love for Homeopathy" in Ullman D. The Homeopathic Revolution: Why Famous People and Cultural Heroes Choose Homeopathy. Berkeley: North Atlantic, 2007.

[vii] Historical and Statistical Report of the Rise, Progress, and Present Condition of Homeopathy in Russia, Transactions of the American Institute of Homeopathy, 1876, vol. II.

[viii] Landen, X. King Charles III Has a History of Promoting 'Quackery' Alternative Medicine. Newsweek. September 9, 2022. https://www.newsweek.com/king-charles-iii-history-promoting-alternative-medicine-1741553

[ix] Knackstedt R, Gatherwright J., Perioperative Homeopathic Arnica and Bromelain: Current Results and Future Directions. Ann Plast Surg. 2019 Nov19.   https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/31800557

[x] Mathie RT et al. Randomised placebo-controlled trials of individualised homeopathic treatment: systematic review and meta-analysis. Systematic Reviews, 2014; 3: 142. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25480654/

Disclaimer: This article is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of GreenMedInfo or its staff.
Sayer Ji
Founder of GreenMedInfo.com

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