An Interview with Acclaimed Homeopath Professor George Vithulkas
By Adrian Vrettos & Alexia Amvrazi
Last stop on the ferry line heading into the sunset from Volos off towards the Northern Sporades lays Alonissos, an unspoilt, pine-cloaked island. This unique island chiefly draws many visitors who come to swim in its clean emerald waters, dine on lobster, walk on its many forest paths and see the rare Mediterranean Monk seal as it’s one of the few remaining habitats of this endangered species.
Quite surprisingly it also draws streams of visitors for a completely different reason too. As we drove around the Milia area, five kilometers from the port town of Patitiri, we were intrigued by the clusters of atypical tourists walking along the sides of the road with purpose in the midday sun; women clad in a saris, east Asian ladies holding sun umbrellas, northern Europeans dressed quite formally rather in the usual T-shirt and shorts; and soon the mystery was solved when we discovered that these small groups were in fact doctors, on the island to attend courses at the International Academy of Classical Homeopathy, the only institution in the world dedicated exclusively to the teaching of Homeopathic Medicine..
The Academy, which is directed by the multi-awarded and highly recognized Professor George Vithoulkas, opened its doors in the early 90s. We had both heard about the internationally acclaimed Greek homeopath and the Alternative Nobel Prize (Right Livelihood Award) he was honored with in 1996 ‘for upgrading Classical Homeopathy to the standard of a science’, and being fans of homeopathy and complementary medicine overall we were thrilled to find that right there on Alonissos we had the opportunity to visit the Academy and meet the Professor himself.
Mind you, it wasn’t easy, as the professor is extremely busy year round. Apart from his courses and seminars, he records lectures that go to universities far and wide in the world. In the past the professor would travel to the universities he taught at, but he now prefers to remain more settled on his beloved island of Alonissos, where lives with his wife year-round, apart from attending important international conferences where he is regularly invited to talk. The illustrious homeopath is a real legend on the island, where everyone speaks of him with awe and respect, and this reputation and great regard transmits to medical communities and not only, worldwide. He was a protagonist in the resurgence of classical homeopathy after the Second World War, and continues to strive for the better understanding, use and acceptance of homeopathy in our modern age.
After applying for an interview with the professor by fax, we decided to visit the large stone Academy building and peruse its lovely peaceful grounds and the reference library, where one can buy some of his most famous books ‘The Science of Homeopathy’, ‘Materia Medica Viva’, ‘Classic Homeopathy for Anxiety and Jealousy’, ‘A new Model For Health and Disease’ and ‘Homeopathy – Medicine for the New Millenium’ in Greek and in English. It was there that we had the great luck to bump into the Professor himself and introduce ourselves in person. He was friendly and accommodating, and agreed to an interview, which is something he rarely does because of his lack of free time. He offered us plenty of additional background material for our preparation, showing his no-nonsense efficiency and professionalism, and kindly invited us to visit him at his organic farm villa a couple of days later.
When we arrived at the picturesque location, set away from the road on a hillside covered by pine forests, we were most fascinated to see a red electric car parked in the driveway, and Professor Vithoulkas told us how he had been offered this vehicle as a gift by a German doctor at an international conference. This is only one example of the devotion shown to him by his students and colleagues; the entire, very elegant lecture theatre at the Academy was a gift from a Greek heart surgeon. The car, just like with his home, which is surrounded by olive, plum and apricot trees loaded with plump fruits, sheep grazing the nearby fields, turkeys making a commotion and the deep blue sea sparkling in the background, truly represents his life philosophy of living with awareness and esteem towards the environment, the society, as well as oneself. Nibbling on a plate of freshly-picked apricots, we comfortably began our conversation.
So what brought you Alonissos?
I came here in the late sixties to seek out a man whom I had been told was very wise. I found him and we talked; he asked me what I did, and I thought to myself oh here I go again, I will have to explain what homeopathy is to a shepherd, but as soon as I told him he looked at me and gave me an excellent definition, in fact I think it was the precise definition that is in the Encyclopedia Britannica. It turned out that this Shepard was extremely knowledgeable, he probably had a photographic memory, but he was not particularly wise. On the bright side I really liked Alonissos, so I eventually bought this land and have gradually made it my home.
Do you live here all year round?
Yes for a long time now, I used to travel a great deal all round the world you know, teaching and lecturing and currently I am a professor at the Kiev Medical Academy, Medical Faculty of the Basque University in Spain, and the University of Medicine in Moscow, but I do not travel much any more so I do my courses by video mostly. But this has been my base for years, and we therefore built the International Academy of Classical Homeopathy here on Alonissos.
You teach only qualified medical doctors and dentists at your school. Why is that?
Yes. My aim is to provide these official health specialists and practitioners with a very powerful tool with which to combat or prevent disease and to help their patients get well……. and homeopathy is very difficult to learn, even more so than medicine. With the growth of homeopathy as a successful method, people are no longer suspicious about it; however there are many charlatan practitioners and teachers who are appearing to fill a need since there are too few properly qualified homeopaths… It is my strong belief that homeopathy's eventual downfall could occur mainly due to a number of "creative distortions" that are injected into the main body of knowledge by the "imagination" and "projections" of some "modern teachers' of homeopathy.
Since many of our students are receptive to such myths and stories concocted by flights of wild imagination, many so-called teachers have risen to fill this gap. Believe it or not, there is a Berlin Wall remedy! (He looks on incredulously) And some teach that if you look like an animal you need an animal-based remedy; others go so far as to think that if you write the potency and name of the remedy on the bottle, it instills the given attributes (he chuckles in disbelief). After many years of work we have finally managed to create a Postgraduate Degree for medical students to learn homeopathy in the University of the Aegean, based in Syros (http://www.syros.aegean.gr).
But do you believe that only qualified doctors should be able to learn and practice homeopathy?
No not at all, although this is my policy. I believe that after proper 4-5 year training in a good homeopathy school, any qualified individual may practice.
In your opinion, what lies behind the British Medical Association’s insistence in England that homeopathy should be cut from the National Health Service, since it is an unproven science?
As I mentioned earlier there are unfortunately some practitioners who are not properly qualified and also some who make claims that are just not based on reality, for instance – that homeopathy can be used as a form of vaccine for epidemic – which is simply not true as every individual needs a different homeopathic remedy specific to their case. So these claims bring the entire practice into dispute. That’s one of the reasons; the other is that homeopathy is becoming the medicine of the new millennium, so doctors and especially pharmaceutical companies (with multimillion dollar profits) are feeling very threatened (homeopathy is non-chemical and inexpensive), so this is why they attack homeopathy. It is not coincidental to note, however, that countless medical doctors who were asked to examine the principles and effectiveness of homeopathy, on seeing the results and learning more, have become staunch supporters of this method.
What is your main advice for healthy living?
Basically it revolves around one word – cleanliness. Your conscience is the most important thing to keep clean, but so are the body and mind. Health in the physical body is freedom from pain. But if you don’t have pain is that health? No, you need something else in order to say somebody is healthy – and that is having well being as a general state. But many mentally ill individuals can have strong bodies – a lot of energy, so therefore the definition has to also address the psyche (the emotional part).
Thus, “healthy people” are those who are not overtaken by any passion - the concept of pathos is based on that idea which overtakes and makes a slave the soul (our emotional part). If you are living in the serene state, with freedom from passion, in a state of calm, that is a dynamic state. I feel that I enjoy that state but I do not become a slave to anything. And this leads to the soul – the soul has to be free from selfishness, from ego. Once you achieve this there is an inner click and you enter the world of ideas. The ideas of a selfless man help humanity, while the ideas of a selfish man destroy others. Even in disease there can be harmony. I believe this is the ideal to work towards. A healthy individual is one who is creative, with a double purpose, firstly to help himself, but at the same time being creative and giving to the society, and this the society is equally benefited by what has been created.
Meeting Professor Vithoulkas was indeed a pleasure, for we felt that we discovered the man behind the big name – an individual who has dedicated a 45 year career in which he has personally treated over 170 thousand patients, many of them prominent personalities from the fields of culture and politics throughout the world, such as Indian philosopher Krishnamurti, whose side he stood by for many years as his personal homeopath, and former Greek premier Andreas Papandreou). Above all, as he confirmed to us himself in our discussion, his life has been about a challenging and important mission, to reverse thinking processes that prefer the use of pharmaceuticals over treating the individual holistically, to educate not only the elite but also the masses about the power of nature – and of man himself - to heal, as a process that involves the mind, body and spirit, and to offer, as he put it, “powerful tools” to those who have the position, expertise, clarity of intention and intelligence to use them effectively. Such is a mission that requires serious responsibility and commitment, but also reveals a larger, more valiant hope for humankind.
Find out more about Professor Vithoulkas, his courses and works at: www.vithoulkas.com
For more articles by Adrian Vrettos & Alexia Amvrazi see their website at www.athensguide.com/journalists
For more on the island of Alonissos see www.greektravel.com/greekislands/alonissos