Gill Graham reviews the new homeopathy film Magic Pills. The film by Ananda More presents the truth about homeopathy and counteracts the critics’ propaganda with facts.
As an experienced, highly qualified homeopath and someone who is no stranger to working with theatre companies, such as ‘One Yellow Rabbit’ and ‘SunoLoka,’ Ananda More is, in my opinion, the ideal person to make a film about homeopathy. At the University of Alberta she learnt many theatrical skills from writing and directing to acting and stage-managing. ‘Magic Pills’ is her debut film; it exposes what the media in general doesn’t dare to discuss regarding health and financial interests.
In her fundraising video she describes the essence of the film as follows: ‘Our current medical system is broken. It focuses on profits and disease, rather than people and wellness. It has few answers for chronic illness, and many of the treatments have side effects which can be worse than the original illness they’re meant to treat. Homeopathy could be one of the more affordable and effective forms of medicine available. It’s been used to treat everything from Cancer to AIDS and even to prevent disease, with very compelling results. There is an increasing body of evidence in the scientific literature to support the 200 years of clinical homeopathic experience, but this evidence is concealed and falsely ridiculed by a system afraid of alternatives.
We are making this film to shine a light on the scientists, doctors, and health practitioners whose work has been hidden from the public, wrongfully discredited and silenced in the name of scepticism and public protection. The film examines large scale use of homeopathy in disease prevention, cancer treatment and AIDS/HIV, along with very compelling scientific research and evidence to support the idea that homeopathy is not only plausible but effective and affordable.’ http://magicpillsmovie.com/about-movie/
Ananda More graduated with honours from the Ontario College of Homeopathic Medicine in 2005, then studied with Sunil Anand in Pune India, volunteering at a Homeopathic Hospital in Chennai, India. On her return to Toronto she started practicing with Riverdale Homeopathy and eventually bought into the business. In 2007 she started the Homeopathic Master Clinician’s course with Louis Klein. She currently sits on the council of the College of Homeopaths of Ontario and has served on the board of the OHA. She has also studied with Vega Rozenberg, Jan Scholten, Liz Lalor, Rajan Sankaran, Russell Malcolm and others. She helped expand the work of Riverdale by creating a seminar series, inviting teachers from around the world to teach in Toronto, helping to build the online store, and supporting Riverdale’s growth into a vibrant center for homeopathy. Clearly, this combination of skills has enabled her to undertake such an adventurous, revolutionary project, and she has done so with style and integrity.
Critique of the film ‘Magic Pills’
I was lucky enough to spend a few hours chatting with Ananda, who produced, and directed this pioneering new film, which challenges the claim presented by the mainstream media that there is no evidence to support the use of homeopathic medicine. I personally feel this is an inaccurate assertion and I’m delighted to be in a position to address the balance of opinion with overwhelming evidence to the contrary, based on what is strongly evidenced, throughout the world, in this film.
The film will be premiering on June 3rd 2017 at the Illuminate Film Festival in Sedona. Its goal is to reach out across the gulf and open a dialogue that can lead towards a fairer understanding of the evidence for homeopathy. The film juxtaposes the criticisms of the sceptic community with large scale, real world use and success of homeopathy and presents some of the genuine scientific data. It is an important issue to confront and investigate as Ananda states:
‘If homeopathy really does work, it could not only save billions of dollars in healthcare and improve patient outcomes, but it would also require a major paradigm shift and cause science to revisit some of its most basic tenets. The film is a ‘fly on the wall’ documentary with elements of ‘verité,’ with real life cases unfolding in front of the camera; in cinematography terms ‘verité,’comes from the term ‘cinéma vérité, from the French meaning ‘truthful cinema.’
The film begins with Ananda confronting the media after the gross distortion and misrepresentations of her, and other homeopaths, and the facts about homeopathy. All of that had grave repercussions leading to the erosion of journalistic integrity and academic freedom.
What particularly struck me, was, despite having being misrepresented and professionally abused, Ananda still had the emotional and physical energy to make this film. Her high intellect and dynamism are palpable. Where I found myself at times pushed to the limits of my tolerance, with a strong desire to verbally confront our detractors and at the many injustices I feel are exposed, she has an air of calm and the ability to stay focussed, a quality which means she does not rise to the bait. I see her as a truth-seeker who wishes to uncover what is a ‘xenophobia in the scientific world,’ in other words, a total intolerance of that which is foreign to their current level of understanding.
Most of us in the homeopathic world prefer to ignore the sceptics and refuse to interact, as any attempt to change their thought processes would be fruitless. However, what Ananda has presented is a reality, whether we like it or not, and is all in keeping with the vérité to which she alludes.
Throughout the film, Ananda travels to many countries and witnesses for herself the successful implementation of homeopathy in diversely different circumstances, using different homeopathic methodologies and protocols. On her travels, she visits Jeremy and Camilla Sherr, who are the founders of Homeopathy for Health in Africa. They have thirty and twenty years’ experience respectively, as homeopaths, and now work alongside medical doctors and hospitals to support the treatment of HIV and AIDS as well as reaching areas that would otherwise have no access to medical care.
Camilla, with her strong character and discernible sense of humour brings us down to earth by expressing how she continues to work with homeopathy despite the abuse from its detractors, and Jeremy assures us that it is vital to work with the medical profession not against it. The many patient examples support the thesis that homeopathy can integrate beautifully with allopathic medicine.
The film is engaging and even as an experienced homeopath, I was intrigued. The film oscillates between the likes of Joe Schwarcz, who is an author, sceptic and a professor at McGill University in Montreal, Quebec, extrapolating and holding forth, with his theories of how it does not work and there is no evidence, to the Sherrs, who as stated above, work tirelessly in the heat and poverty, with hugely positive results. Their hands on experience ‘on the front line’ in my opinion drown any sceptic sitting in his comfortable armchair in Montreal.
In India, the Banerjis head up a Cancer Research Centre in Kolkata. Dr Pratip Banerji (MD) states:
‘Homeopathy is not a religion, it is a science and has to be treated as such.’
They treat thousands of cases weekly, several of which are highlighted. Without divulging specifics, this eminent physician shows and discusses clear evidence of successful treatment. He is speaking as an experienced MD in homeopathy. In true form, the film swings back to Dr Steven Novella, a well-known sceptic, who states that homeopathy is all due to the placebo effect. In the light of the evidence shown here both empirically and statistically, statements such as this are unjustified and show a belief system which is clearly questionable and which needs to be addressed.
Yet more solid evidence is presented of the indisputable success of homeopathic medicine in the treatment of leptospirosis, a tropical disease in Cuba. The work of Dr Gustavo Bracho, PhD in immunology and The Finlay Institute, headed by Dr Concepción Campa is covered in depth and historic breakthroughs recorded. At the same time, and in the same vein, as previously discussed, the positive and overwhelming evidence of effective treatment, this time prophylactically, was blocked and was not permitted to be published in peer review journals. This once more demonstrates a pattern of a need to stifle and suppress clear facts and empirical and statistical evidence. Surely any sane person would be asking why and for what reason?
Ananda continues her journey in search of evidence, to Switzerland, where she meets Dr Jens Wurster and Dr Heiner Frei. Both are distinguished medical doctors as well as homeopaths. Dr. Heiner Frei was responsible for one of the most rigorously designed homeopathic clinical trials which studied the use of homeopathy in the treatment of ADHD. Dr. Wurster’s study focused on the use of homeopathy in terminal cancer patients. Both studies were published in peer reviewed medical journals. Independent of these trials, a study commissioned by the Swiss government which found homeopathy to be safe and effective and a referendum carried out by the direct democratic system in Switzerland enabled homeopathy to become part of the country’s public insurance system, (similar to OHIP in Canada). Clearly and critically, this is of huge significance to the integrity of homeopathy.