What Science and History may owe to Homeopathic Medicine

Medical News Today:

The Homeopathic Revolution : Why Famous People and Cultural Heroes Choose Homeopathy (North Atlantic Books, 2007), Dana Ullman presents strong evidence derived primarily from Charles Darwin’s own letters about the treatment he received from a homeopathic physician. 

 Eleven U.S. Presidents, seven popes, Sir William Osler, J.D. Rockefeller, Charles Kettering, and C. Everett Koop are among those famous people who were known to have benefited from homeopathy. Perhaps most surprisingly is the evidence of Charles Darwin’s use of homeopathic medicines and the significant results he received from them.

It is well known that Darwin became very ill during his trip to South America in the late 1830s. His health continued to decline, and he was so ill that he couldn’t attend his own father’s funeral in 1848. He suffered from severe and constant nausea, heart palpitations, widespread boils, and trembling for 12 years, and by 1849, he had suffered from fainting spells and spots before his eyes for two years. According to Darwin’s letters, he was not able to work one day in every three.

Finally, in 1849, he sought the treatment from Dr. James Manby Gully, a homeopathic physician who owned a hydrotherapy spa. Although Darwin was skeptical of homeopathy, he obediently took the prescription of homeopathic medicines his doctor gave him, and within a month, his health was considerably better. Darwin didn’t have nausea for a month, gained some weight, took a seven mile walk (which he was previously unable to do), and then wrote to a friend, “I am turning into a mere walking and eating machine.” After just a month of treatment, he had to admit that Dr. Gully’s treatment was not quackery after all.

Ullman also has uncovered some of Darwin’s own experiments using extremely small “homeopathic” doses of various ammonia salts and watched their significant effects on insect-eating plants (Drosera rotundifolia). He was so shocked by his experiments that he had his son replicate them, and ultimately, he felt embarrassed to have to report on their surprising findings. Although Darwin provided details about the exceedingly small doses he tested, he never used the word “homeopathic” when referring to these experiments. He wrote, “I am quite unhappy at the thought of having to publish such a statement” about these results. An endorsement of homeopathy by Darwin at that time might have led to great antagonism against his new theories about life and evolution.

Many famous people benefited from Dr. Gully’s care, including Charles Dickens (novelist and writer), Alfred, Lord Tennyson (poet), Florence Nightingale (famed nurse), George Eliot (British novelist), Thomas Carlyle (Scottish essayist, satirist, and historian), Edward Bulwer-Lytton (British novelist, playwright, and politician), Thomas Babington Macaulay (first Baron Macaulay, poet and politician), and Bishop Samuel Wilberforce. Further, three prime ministers sought Dr. Gully’s care, including William Gladstone, Benjamin Disraeli, and George Hamilton-Gordon, as well as Queen Victoria herself. Hamilton-Gordon described Dr. Gully as “the most gifted physician of the age.”

According to Ullman’s book, other leading physicians and scientists who used and/or advocated for homeopathy, including Sir William Osler (the “father of modern medicine”), Emil Adolph von Behring (the “father of immunology”), August Bier, MD (the “father of spinal anesthesia”), Harold Griffith, MD (founding president of the World Federation of Societies of Anesthesiologists), Charles Frederick Menninger, MD (founder of the Menninger Clinic), and C. Everett Koop, MD (former Surgeon General of the United States).



  1. Darwin’s use of “homeopathic” doses is an idea contradicted by Dana Ullman himself. The dilutions are not shaken, nor do they approach the level of dilution common in homeopathy. That is the ammonia salts are still detectable. Don’t homeopaths insist that the shaking would transfer the memory of the salts, therefore making them homeopathic and potent. Dana Ullman has insisted on previous occasions that this is required for a solution to be homeopathic.

    Comment by Jeff Garrington — 31 December 2007 @ 6:55 pm

  2. ‘Darwin’s use of “homeopathic” doses is an idea contradicted by Dana Ullman himself’ – reference?

    Homeopathy is not just about dilutions – it is about using a substance with effects similar to the symptoms suffered (please see the discussion on ‘Sleep medication to treat a sleep-like-state’). Just because it hasn’t been shaken or diluted to levels common today doesn’t mean it isn’t homeopathy. This is becoming a common misconception lately.

    What you may be alluding to is that high potencies are needed to effect a long lasting benefit.

    References for your examples of ‘insisting’? ‘Insisting’ is not a word I feel I can agree with. If anything, you are the one doing the insisting.

    Notice: I will be making this thread a no comments thread in a couple of days as comments about Dana Ullman should be made to Dana Ullman.

    Comment by homeopathy4health — 31 December 2007 @ 7:42 pm

  3. No I am not alluding to higher potencies. I am simply referring to the difference between potenised water and none potenised water.
    Once shaken the memory is transferred ( part of homeopathic folklore) I’m at a loss to understand how you don’t think its important.
    The comments on “Sleep medication” make my point better than I can.

    Comment by Jeff Garrington — 1 January 2008 @ 11:43 am

  4. by Dana Ullman, MPH ©2005
    “Homeopathy is the Rodney Dangerfield of alternative medicine because it simply doesn’t get the respect that it deserves,” asserts Dana Ullman, MPH, noted spokesperson for homeopathy. “However, recent research and this new study are changing attitudes toward the science and art of homeopathic medicine.”
    Scientists and physicians have maintained skepticism towards homeopathic medicine because of the exceedingly small doses used in this pharmacological specialty. Skeptics of homeopathy have asserted that there is “nothing” in the medicines because there are no molecules left in the highly diluted solutions. However, new research published in the prestigious Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences (1999) suggests that there may be something active in homeopathic medicines after all.
    Two Italian professors of chemistry, Vittorio Elia and Marcella Niccoli measured the amount of heat emanating from plain double-distilled water and compared that with double-distilled water in which a substance was placed. Both the control water and the treated water underwent consecutive dilution between one to thirty times, with vigorous shaking in-between each dilution, which represents the common pharmacological method in which homeopathic medicines are made.

    Comment by Jeff Garrington — 1 January 2008 @ 12:39 pm

  5. Dana Ullman again, posting as JAMES GULLY.
    Also, a group of highly respected scientists have confirmed that the vigorous shaking involved with making homeopathic medicines changes the pressure in the water that is akin to water being at 10,000 feet in altitude (Roy, Tiller, Bell, 2005). These world-renown scientists have verified how the homeopathic process of using double-distilled water and then diluting and shaking the medicine in a sequential fashion changes the structure of water (Roy, Tiller, Bell, 2005).

    Comment by Jeff Garrington — 1 January 2008 @ 1:10 pm

  6. I’m finding it hard to follow you Jeff but I think what you are trying to say is this: Darwin was treated with substances that were not ultradiluted therefore he was not cured homeopathically. I can’t see evidence from your references that Dana Ullman agrees with this. My responses on ‘Sleep medication…’ cover this but to reiterate: a similar substance can promote healing even if it is not ultradiluted, this is why quinine was used for malaria. The problem is that non-ultradiluted similar remedies may create strong/toxic effects of their own. Ultra-diluted remedies do not cause this.

    Thank you for the information about research.

    Comment by homeopathy4health — 1 January 2008 @ 2:46 pm

  7. Sorry my points refer to the statement pasted here:Ullman also has uncovered some of Darwin’s own experiments using extremely small “homeopathic” doses of various ammonia salts and watched their significant effects on insect-eating plants (Drosera rotundifolia).
    To dilute “only” does not make a “homeopathic dilution.”
    Their is no mention at all in Darwin’s letters of shaking and banging at any stage of dilution.

    Comment by Jeff Garrington — 2 January 2008 @ 7:56 am

  8. It is clear that Jeff Garrington has not read my book, “The Homeopathic Revolution: Why Famous People and Cultural Heroes Choose Homeopathy,” in which I discuss Darwin’s experience with Dr. James Manby Gully, a physician who specialized in hydrotherapy AND homeopathic medicines. Garrington has seemingly not even read my online summary of a PORTION of my information on Darwin/Gully at: http://www.homeopathic.com/articles/view,128

    People can learn more about what this book covers at: http://www.HomeopathicRevolution.com (a table of contents, a sample chapters, and a series of support quotes from various MDs and professors of medicine are provided).

    Knowledge is a cure for ignorance, and too many skeptics of homeopathy ironically have an unscientific attitude towards the subject.

    Comment by Dana Ullman — 13 January 2008 @ 11:32 pm

  9. Your correct I have not read your book. I simply supplied a reference from you. A correct reference I presume.
    However you apparently seize on any opportunity to plug your book. You could have just answered my question.

    Comment by Jeff Garrington — 14 January 2008 @ 4:10 pm

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