A great scholarly written book describes hundreds of well-known and respected physicians, scientists, politicians, corporate leaders, and literary greats who used or advocated using homeopathic medicine. 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.
In the new book, 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. Ullman suggests that Charles Darwin would not have lived long enough to have completed his seminal work, The Origin of Species, in 1859 if he didn’t get homeopathic treatment ten years previously.
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.