The team of Roger Morrison, M.D. and Nancy Herrick, P.A. first came to homeopathy in the 1970’s, through the influence of George Vithoulkas. Their work has also been profoundly influenced by the revolutionary ideas of Dr. Rajan Sankaran. After the Hahnemann Medical College of Philadelphia was converted to allopathy in 1935, no American institution was dedicated totally to the study of homeopathy-not until Nancy Herrick, Roger Morrison, M.D. , Bill Gray, M.D. , and Jonathan Shore, M.D. , with others, founded the Hahnemann College of Homeopathy (HCH) in Berkeley, California in 1985, thereby igniting whole new generations of homeopaths. Married in 1985, the Herrick/Morrison team also helped found the Hahnemann Medical Clinic in 1984.
Roger and Nancy have recently branched out and bought a turn-of-the-century church in Point Richmond, California (built in 1906). They have converted the church proper, with its European stained-glass windows and fine redwood paneling, into the new classroom for HCH. The new Hahnemann Medical Clinic resides in the attached commercial space. Their lovely courtyard garden is festooned with many varieties of homeopathic source-plants and flowers.
AH: When did you each first hear the word “homeopathy”?
Herrick: I had just graduated with a master’s degree in psychology and early child development. I had a job in Michigan as the director of a preschool for autistic children. It was an intense program-these children were very ill. I was taking a week off from my job to take a yoga retreat. During the retreat there was going to be an announced break with lectures on something called homeopathy and kinesiology. I was completely disinterested in the lecture on kinesiology but when they started to discuss homeopathy, I suddenly felt like I was on fire! I quickly felt, “This is it, this is what I want to do with the rest of my life!” I realized that homeopathy could do more for these disturbed children than I was able to do for them. That’s how I began; with a very strong, clear perception of what one could do with homeopathy. So the lecturer announced a one-week course on homeopathy and I immediately signed up for it. I eventually moved to the Bay Area where I began scrounging for fellow homeopaths. I saw a flyer for an iridology class and thought to myself, “Maybe there’ll be someone there who knows about homeopathy.” I twiddled my thumbs, waiting until the end of the lecture, when the lecturer asked, “Does anyone have any questions?” I said, “I have a question, but it doesn’t have anything to do with iridology. I want to know if anybody knows any homeopaths?” Someone raised their hand and said “I do.” It was Dana Ullman and he told me to see him at the end of the lecture. So I spoke with him and he said, “Yes, we have a study group you will need to apply to. You will need to read Kent’s Philosophy.” So I wrote my application, which he still has-he sent me a copy of it the other day! I immediately joined the study group and from that group we formed the Hering Clinic, in 1975.
AH: Who was at the Hering clinic at that time?
Herrick: Marty Block, Jack Guralnik, Cory Weinstein, Randy Neustaedter, Kathy Kallrdar, Peggy Chipkin, Steve Cummings and Christine Ciavarella.
Morrison: Randy was the founder of the Bay Area study group, wasn’t he?
Herrick: Yes, Randy Neustaedter was the founder. Liz Gregory, our receptionist, came soon after. We all paid ourselves the same amount; even the receptionist made $5.00/hour. The first day we opened the clinic we booked appointments for three months, and there were ten of us!
Morrison: I never actually heard the word “homeopathy” for quite some time after I knew the word existed. I had read about it in a journal, “The Laughing Man Magazine,” where Bill Gray had written an article about homeopathy. I thought the article was a bunch of bull and I tossed it out. Some hours later, in the middle of the night, it came to me: “What if what he said was really true?” I was already in medical school and I already had some pretty strong ideas about what was true and what was not true. In this article, Bill spoke of a Greek homeopath, a Mr. George Vithoulkas, and his experience at his clinic in Athens, Greece. I wrote a letter to Bill Gray, in Fairfax, California, to which he never replied. Then I wrote to Vithoulkas in Greece (where Bill was actually living!). Bill then replied to me and invited me to one of George’s seminars in May of 1978. I went to my dean of student affairs. The dean offhandedly rejected my request. “We can’t allow our students to go off to places like Greece, to study homeopathy, Mr. Morrison… Mr. Morrison, hmmm, where have I heard that name? Aren’t you the one who Dean Rosenberg was talking about? Hmm, I think Dean Rosenberg would be happy to let you go to Greece.” What had happened is that I had made quick friends with Dean Rosenberg, who had become a running buddy of mine. We had met through my efforts in starting a student organization for preventative medicine. And that’s how I got to go to Greece.
As soon as I got to Athens, I went to the clinic. It was all very foreign to me. There were twenty or so patients in the tiny waiting room, waiting to be seen. I sat down and was soon approached by a patient who was, of course, speaking Greek. I told her, “I’m sorry, I don’t speak Greek,” and she said in English, “Oh, you came all the way from America for treatment!” I said, “No, I am an American doctor” and she got all excited because American doctors are so prestigious in Greece. All the rich Greeks go to America for their medical problems and she wanted to give me her medical history. I remember she had a twenty year history of migraine headaches, and after receiving a remedy from Mr. Vithoulkas, the migraines stopped. Now it was time for her follow-up. Then she proceeded to tell me about her niece who had been cured of lupus, and about various other family members who had been cured by George Vithoulkas. While she was talking to me, the woman sitting next to her nudged her and asked her what was going on. She must have told her I was an American doctor because the second woman asked her to please describe her medical problems, how she was cured, and how her family had all been cured by George Vithoulkas. Pretty soon everyone in the waiting room had gathered around me and were all talking excitedly in Greek! By the end of that little session, even though I had still not spoken with a doctor, I was completely sold on homeopathy-there was something miraculous going on.
Two or three days later, when the conference actually started, the first homeopath I actually spoke with was Richard Hruby, an osteopath. Dean Crothers was there, Maisie Panos, Jackie Wilson, Dan Dixon, David Anderson, Alan Levine, Virginia Flattery, Bill Gray, and Ruth Rogers, who died the next year. I was 24 years old at the time. I was rather shy and didn’t mix a lot. Then, in came Irene Baxas, a superb Greek homeopath who was the first Greek doctor to work with George when he came to Greece. Dr. Baxas introduced George Vithoulkas. I remember what she said at the time: “George Vithoulkas has loved homeopathy more than the love of any woman. He has dedicated his life to this art, to the service of humanity.” I thought, “Wow.” And then George spoke. He began the lecture by saying, “What does medicine try to bring people?” People said, good health, etc. But George said, “No, the goal of medicine is to bring happiness to people.”
This was so completely antithetical to everything I had been taught in medical school. Nobody had ever mentioned the word “happiness” the whole time I was in medical school. But it was so obvious to me that that was why I wanted to be a doctor in the first place-to help people be happy, and to experience happiness myself. He went on to speak of homeopathy in such an incredible, inspiring way that I decided then and there that I wanted to become a homeopath. I asked him about it and I met with Bill Gray who told me what I needed to do-that I absolutely should not do a residency because I would get burdened down with all this extra (allopathic) knowledge and I wouldn’t be able to be an effective homeopath. Bill was very inspirational to me. I asked George if I could come study homeopathy with him in Greece, and he said no, but that maybe I could come and work with him for a month or two. I said okay, and should I learn to speak Greek? He said, “Yeah, yeah, sure, learn to speak Greek.”
I also met David Warkentin at that time, in Athens, but he wasn’t allowed into the seminar because he wasn’t a doctor! So he was hanging around and we became close friends. A year later, I went to another Vithoulkas seminar in Greece, which further inspired me. Then I went to a course in the San Francisco Bay Area, from Bill Gray. It was the first IFH course that Bill taught, only then it was called the IFPH then, for the “International Foundation for the Promotion of Homeopathy.” During that course I met Nancy where she was seeing patients in Dr. Grays office.
Herrick: I don’t remember actually meeting Roger; he was part of a large group of mostly men doctors. They were extremely intimidating, so I would always stroll by them. They always hung out in a big group in the hallways.
Morrison: We all knew who she was. She was a big-wig, and we were little peons! She was THE Nancy Herrick, not to mention that she was the most beautiful woman in the room (much laughter).
AH: And then?
Morrison: Finally, in 1981, George agreed that I could come to Greece to work beside him. I was there for two years. Nancy and I began corresponding and we developed a long distance romance. Our entire romance developed by overseas correspondence.
There is an old Greek proverb which says roughly, “Love is like a flame and distance is like the wind. If the flame is strong, the wind fans it higher, but if the flame is weak, the wind blows it out.” I came back to California with an idea of starting a clinic with Nancy, Jonathan Shore, David Anderson, Christine Ciavarella, Harvey Powelson, and David Warkentin. Thus began the Hahnemann Medical Clinic. We hoped that George was going to work in Berkeley with us, but shortly after he arrived, it became clear that we would never be able to work it out.
We all moved (to work at the Hahnemann Clinic) at the same time. Vicki Cochran and Jonathan Shore had a smaller office in the city and Jonathan had another office in Mill Valley. Bill Gray closed his office in Fairfax and joined us. Greg Mantenfeld, David Anderson and Christine Ciavarella joined us from the Hering Clinic, and Peggy Chipkin joined us too. Michael Quinn moved up from San Diego to start the pharmacy. David Warkentin went to work full-time developing MacRepertory and later, ReferenceWorks. We opened all those practices, plus the pharmacy, on January 4, 1985, and then we started the first class of Hahnemann College in September. It’s only been fourteen years, it seems longer.
Herrick: Yes. I remember when Roger gave his first seminar-it was an exciting event. Then we started giving seminars together; our first was in Norway in 1986. We went on to give six seminars in Norway, then some in Holland, Germany, England, Switzerland, Finland, Australia, and New Zealand. Wherever we go to teach, we always take some extra time off and go on a little holiday together. The only place I ever went without Roger was to India to study with Rajan Sankaran in 1992. I had read his book and was intrigued by his revolutionary way of thinking, but I had never met him. Through correspondence, he invited me to come sit with him in his office for a month and see patients. I arrived in Bombay and was waiting nervously in the hotel lobby. Rajan suddenly appeared and asked, “Are you Nancy Herrick?” so I followed him out of the hotel to the car. All through the hotel, he was singing at the top of his lungs-he never stopped!
Herrick: Yes! And I thought, “Oh my God, what have I gotten myself into?!” All the way to his clinic he didn’t say a word, he just sang! We walked into his clinic, and he asked me to sit with him. His first case of the day was shown into the room. We worked from 9:00 am until 11:00 that evening. I was so jet-lagged that when we arrived at his apartment, I was shaking. I was not accustomed to seeing so many patients in a day. We had seen 150 patients! I was extremely intrigued with his work. He was just beginning his study about animal, vegetable, or mineral remedy source as reflected in the patient’s behavior; it has since become a revolution in the practice of homeopathy. He convinced me very quickly of its accuracy.
AH: Tell us about your new book on provings, Nancy.
Herrick: Both Rajan and Dyvia were huge inspirations to me for doing those provings. When I was there he had just gotten lion’s milk (Lac Leoninum). Only in India would someone go and milk a lion for a homeopathic remedy. Can you imagine!
AH: Only with a very long arm…
Herrick: (Laughter) They did it in a wildlife preserve. He was a temporarily-caged lion.
Morrison: It was a she-lion, that much I am sure of!
Herrick: Rajan would use all the clues the patient gave-how they were dressed, whether they came in with their family, etc. I was continually amazed with how much he could perceive of the totality in the patient’s presentation. It opened up my mind a lot. And this was done seeing 150 patients a day. And doing it all happily, cheerfully, with friends coming in for short visits-all the while with 50-100 patients in the waiting room! And no patient complained, ever.
Herrick: I came back and taught our class about my experience in India, and it caught fire! All of Rajan’s ideas. I would say that he is next to George in the significance of his teachings. Then I started doing provings. My first proving was on lion’s milk. Rajan had come to do a seminar shortly after I returned from India and he brought it as a gift. I decided to do a proving on it because he had done one-I wanted to see if the results would be similar.
AH: That’s a valuable feature to compare for accuracy and validation.
Herrick: Yes. Right before my proving on Lac Leoninum, I was having difficulty believing that anything would pan out with it. As the meeting began, the provers began telling stories of having dreams of cats. One prover had a dream of someone sitting in a corner licking their hand, with a furry arm! It was unbelievable, all this cat stuff was coming up. There was a well-developed theme of stealing, which puzzled me. After the proving I was researching lion behavior and learned that lions steal about half their food from hyenas, who do all the work-the hyenas make the kill. Then the lions come in and steal the dead animal. People in the proving had dreams of stealing and desire to steal. One prover walked into a department store and saw perfume on the counter. She later reported, “I didn’t want or need perfume, and I could afford to buy it, but I wanted to steal it.” . We can go into nature and learn its secrets in a way that nothing else can do. I got completely excited about doing provings, and as you know, I’ve gone on to do twelve provings, eight of which I published in my recent book, Animal Minds, Human Voices. I am planning to publish another book on my most recent provings
We can go into nature and learn its secrets in a way that nothing else can do.
AH: What are your newly proven substances?
Herrick: Rosa Gallica-an ancient yellow rose, Ayahuasca-the hallucinogenic plant from Brazil, true Lotus from Auroville in India, Ginseng, a new proving on Anhalonium, and Mandragora.
AH: Tell us about your book Desktop Guide To Keynotes and Confirmatory Symptoms, Roger.
Morrison: When I first came back from Greece, my biggest concern was that people knew polychrests but didn’t know the full Materia Medica; they didn’t even fully know the materia medica of the polychrests. The first thing I did was a series of study groups where we would go through the Materia Medica A-Z. From that series of lectures people started asking me to write it down in the form of a book. I was using a lot of George’s material and I didn’t feel right about using it. Eventually Nancy said I should take all of my notes and make them into a book. I started to see what it would look like and then I asked George’s permission. I specifically left the mental states of the remedies for him to describe, because he could do a much better job; I just gave brief summaries of the essences of the remedies as I had learned them in my practice. I went ahead and wrote the Desktop Guide and it was published in 1993. I swore I would never write another book! (laughter) It’s been five years. The book was successful-a lot of people appreciated it and felt it really helped them. Then we decided (the practitioners at Hahnemann College) would write a book together on physical pathology. Bill, Vicky, Jonathan, Nancy, and I were all going to write the book together. We had a planning meeting and divided the book up. When we had another planning meeting, I had written my share but no one else had written theirs. Then we had another meeting and pretty soon I had done all of mine and no one else had done any of theirs (laughter). Finally I began to do Nancy’s part…
Herrick: That’s not fair! (uproarious laughter)
Morrison: That got finished and came off the printer’s press about two weeks ago. I’m never going to write another book!
Herrick: He wants to write science-fiction…
Morrison: That’s what I always wanted to be; a science-fiction writer. I never planned on being a doctor!
Herrick: I have thought of being an interior decorator, or a Waldorf teacher… but homeopathy suits me ideally. I feel that homeopathy is very artistic; it is a creative art. It certainly has its scientific aspects too, but clearly, sitting with a patient-each time is so different. When the patient walks through the door, we have no idea; it is a complete challenge. You can never rest on your laurels. Each case humbles you. Once you hear the patient’s story, you cannot judge or dislike anyone. We must provide a safe space for the patient to unravel their story. I love being a homeopath, yet sometimes, it is the hardest job in the world.
Each case humbles you. Once you hear the patient’s story, you cannot judge or dislike anyone.
Morrison: Recently we made the decision of taking our college one step further. Part of what we did was buy the church in Point Richmond, California. We are also going to be doing research on homeopathy. This means more provings as well as research on clinical conditions, with the Deutsche Homeopathic Union in Germany and a current project dealing with health issues in the elderly, co-sponsored by Stanford Medical School. In addition, we are planning a video course that will be available to everybody. It will be our Introduction to Homeopathy course. We are also going to change our fourth year of the program by adding a teaching- clinic open to low-income patients, for a reduced fee. Two students and an intern will sit in on each case. There will also be paper-case and video-case supervision with a master homeopath. We hope to have six students per day, working four days per week, year round. We need to raise a million dollars to start this project. That’s the latest news.
Herrick: We want to parlay our teaching program into the next level, so that we can provide a better connection to managed health care and better clinical training facilities, with a one-year internship for our students under the guidance of experienced practitioners, such as Roger or Jonathan (Shore), or myself. Our work in the clinic will be purely homeopathic. There will be an intern, the patient, and two students at all times in the consulting office. In that way we can serve lowand mid-income families who traditionally can’t get the best quality homeopathy, or any homeopathy for that matter.
Morrison: We are hoping the students are going to be able to see between 50 and 100 supervised cases per year.
Herrick: Our other big project is in its second stage. It is an outcome study of primary care conditions: sinusitis, otitis media, pharyngitis, and bronchitis.
It is being conducted through Deutsch Homeopathic Union in Germany, with Marianne Heger, M.D. She is the head of research of the largest homeopathic pharmacy in the world-they ship out over seven thousand remedies a day!
Morrison: We are comparing homeopathic versus allopathic treatments for those acute conditions.
Herrick: In the recently completed project, allopathy scored 62% for successfully cured cases, while homeopathy scored 82%!
AH: Tell us about your new book, Roger.
Morrison: My new book is called Desktop Companion to Physical Pathology. I’m worried about homeopaths using the book to base prescriptions only upon physical pathology. But frankly, I also see a very large danger in homeopaths that pay no attention to physical pathology. Our texts are filled with rich and specific information about physical pathology, and I think it’s foolhardy to ignore good, clear physical symptoms. In some ways, I feel my book helps balance some trends we see today in homeopathy-only prescribing on the mentals for instance. So I hope it serves as a counterbalance. By saying that, I’m not pointing at Vithoulkas with his essence pictures, or Sankaran with his central delusion, because I know that both those prescribers have superb grounding in physical pathology and the general characteristics of the remedies. Many homeopaths misuse both Vithoulkas’ and Sankaran’s writings as justification in ignoring the nuts and bolts of a case. I think that my book will help people zero-in on the useful aspects of physical pathology. I hope it is used in the proper way.
AH: Thank you both very much, for taking the time out from your busy schedules to allow me to present you to our community in this way.
Morrison: It’s been a pleasure.
Herrick: I enjoyed it.