– Interviewed by Rowan Jackson, Feb. 28th, 1996

Dr. Maesimund Panos, MD. a Grand Dame of American Homeopathy, has a life-experience in Homeopathy that spans nearly a century, or more if we include her father’s work as a homeopathic physician during the Civil War. She is a living bridge between the pioneers of the earlier part of this century, and all of us who have been nourished and educated by her books, including: Homeopathic Medicine at Home (Tarcher) with Jane Heimlich, and Homeopathy as Art and Science a collection of Dr. Elizabeth Wright Hubbard’s writing which she edited with her daughter Della DesRosiers. She and her daughter have also edited a homeopathic goldmine, the “Cumulative Indices of The Homeopathic Recorder and The Proceedings of The International Hahnemannian Association from 1881-1958. ” It is a dazzling collection of articles made available through The Woodward Foundation which Dr. Panos co-founded. This interview took place in three parts over the winter of 1995-1996.
 AH: Tell me about your father, homeopathy and you, and how you became a homeopath.
 Panos: My father was a third generation physician. He practiced homeopathy but his main interest was in non-operative orthopedics, trying to restore the balance of the body through mechanical means -not so much by manipulation. His father had developed a body brace. At that time body braces were heavy leather and steel. Intolerable! He developed a spring steel, very light weight thing that did what he called muscle re-education by gently pushing the body into its proper alignment. My father inherited this and used it along with homeopathy. He fought in the Civil War and we have his commission, signed by Lincoln, hanging in our entry hall. I was a child of his old age.
 AH: Where did your father practice?
 Panos: He had a health plantation outside of Jacksonville, Fla., which is where I spent the first six years of my life. It was an ante-bellum plantation and he would have the patients come and stay there. He would make business trips hither and yon and my mother would take care of his patients when he was away. She became a very good prescriber, although she never studied medicine. She learned materia medica very well, but of course nobody ever knows it all.
 AH: What was his name, what was it like there?
 Panos: My father’s name was Edmund Prior Banning Jr. He came from Westchester County in New York. He had practiced in various locations and had a brother who was a physician. The plantation was called Mulberry Grove Health Plantation and he would take on six patients at a time. It was eight miles outside of Jacksonville, reached by horse and buggy -so when you went to town, you went for the whole day.
 AH: It must have been wonderful.
 Panos: Oh it was, but I used to ask anybody who was going to town to find me a playmate. At one time they brought home a gypsy girl and we had a good time together but they had to take her back. Then a young Greek fellow came to this country to study medicine. He was working in a Greek restaurant as a waiter and learned that my father, who was a rather distinguished looking gentleman, was a physician. He traded stations, got to serve him and made his acquaintance. My father’s sons didn’t want to go into medicine, so he became part of our family. His name was John Panos. When my father lost his plantation, he moved to Dayton, Ohio. I was six. John Panos joined us there. My father died when I was eleven; John Panos looked after the family and my mother went to work outside the home. She had always worked, but now she had to work for pay. In 1939, John Panos and I were married. He had gone to medical school by this time and had a very good practice.
 AH: Did you ever see your father practice? What did his office look like, what books did he use ?
 Panos: His office was our living room. He didn’t have a waiting room full of people; he worked by appointment. He would be in the office with a patient with the doors closed. That’s all I know about that. Patients always spoke very highly of him. He used no medicine except homeopathy. He had a problem with his vision so my mother would read to him and she learned quite a bit. One of the books she learned to use was Cowperthwaite’s Materia Medica and Therapeutics. It had to be re-bound. I’ve had a lot of books re-bound since then.
 AH: When did your father die?
 Panos: I was born in 1912. He died in 1923.
 AH: What was the homeopathic community like then? Was it difficult to practice?
 Panos: No, not then, that came later. I remember the Homeopathic Medical Society in Dayton and a picnic out at somebody’s farm. It was quite a lively crowd.
 AH: What was it like being the wife of a homeopath? Were you at all involved in your husband’s practice practice?
 Panos: I didn’t pay much attention… I had my hands full with the children and the household. I was quite content with that. Then after his death, in 1947, his patients kept coming to me and asking what to do. There were no other practicing classical homeopaths in the area, and I couldn’t stand not knowing what to do, so I went back to college for my pre-med classes in Dayton. I was rejected from one medical school for being too old. They said something like: was I kidding? I was 41 at the time. I ended up at Ohio State. It was what I wanted to do, so I did it. My mother took care of the children the first year while I had to live there, I was a bachelor girl!
 AH: Do you think homeopathy is a calling?
 Panos: I think medicine is a calling and it’s just a matter of which tool you feel like using. I feel, as far as I can see, that we have a far superior tool and I’m just sorry that more physicians don’t feel that way. There’s an organized movement to abolish homeopathy that I am very concerned about -those so-called, “quack busters.”
 AH: Do you have any advice for husbands or wives of homeopaths?
 Panos: I’m not big on advice. For family harmony, you’d have to have a certain amount of interest because there are obstacles and a certain amount of stress if you’re swimming upstream. So I think the husband or wife would have to have enough interest to be sympathetic with the problems and not be defensive, just be understanding.
 AH: When did you re-marry?
 Panos: In 1970. We just celebrated our 25th.
 AH: Is he a doctor?
 Panos: No.
 AH: You broke the trend!
 Panos: Fortunately. He made more money than I ever made and we have nothing to argue about!
 AH: What’s his name?
 Panos: John Holtvoight. My first husband’s name was John too. I guess I’m kind of enamored with Johns.
 AH: Tell me more about your training and early experience.
 Panos: After I graduated from Ohio State Medical School I took my internship in St. Petersburg, Fla. I always wanted to go back there. I took my residency in Columbus. I had planned to go back to Florida to practice, had even selected a piece of land, but when I returned, a doctor I knew there was so shocked that I was doing homeopathy, she told me I should see the chief of staff at the hospital, that I might have a problem. Well, he said that since it was a city hospital, he couldn’t keep me out, but that I should be prepared to be ostracized. I said, “Who needs it!” People that want me, that’s who! So I went back to Ohio, where there was an invitation from a Washington D.C.  homeopathic group who wanted me to work with Dr. Julia Green. I consulted my friend, Dr. Whitmont, and said, “Oh, she’s so old, what can she teach me?” He said, “You have no idea. She may forget your name, but she’ll never forget her materia medica.” I got on the Greyhound and looked into it. Dr. Green and I hit it off very well but I didn’t know if I wanted to live in Washington. It was so big! She arranged for my lodging with some of her patients who lived within walking distance of her home. So I stayed with them and I could walk down in the evening and study with Dr. Green, and during the day go to the office with her and sit in the back room and study. When she had a patient she thought wouldn’t mind, she would send for me to come and sit in on the consultation. So that’s the way it went. It was pretty nice, and the girls and my mother soon joined me in Washington.
 AH: I’m an ex-anthropologist, if there is such a thing, and it is so nice to hear a story that illustrates the transmission of knowledge through the feminine -almost matrilineal.
 Panos: Dr. Green was an excellent teacher. Of course I also went to all the homeopathic meetings, though there weren’t many then. I met Elizabeth Wright Hubbard and she too was a wonderful teacher. She and Dr. Green didn’t hit it off too well, but I liked both of them. Dr. Hubbard was practicing in Manhattan. She was the first woman President of the American Institute of Homeopathy, editor of The Homeopathic Recorder and subsequently the editor of the Journal of the American Institute of Homeopathy. She taught at the post graduate school in Senexet, Conn., the retreat center for the Unitarian Church, where we used to hold our classes. That’s where I became acquainted with her.
 AH: What year did you start practicing with Dr. Green?
 Panos: It was September of 1959. I knew Dr. Hubbard for about eight years. I believe she died in 1967.
 AH: How did The Art and Science of Homeopathy come about?
 Panos: Elizabeth Wright Hubbard was the editor of the Homeopathic Recorder for several years. I have a good collection of those journals and so was able to get a number of the articles and editorials from them. My daughter and I put them together as a book.
 AH:Was she as funny in person as she comes across in her writing? Can you recount any stories?
 Panos: Yes, she did have quite a sense of humor, but I’m sorry I can’t remember any stories.
 AH: What can you tell me about Dr. Green’s practice -what was her pharmacy like -what books did she use?
 Panos: The Washington Homeopathic Pharmacy was in downtown Washington. They wondered why she didn’t order from them. The reason was that in a pier cabinet which somebody had built for her she had kept her wonderful collection of remedies, all centesimal, which she renewed by grafting. Dr. Green said she had gotten them from the widow of a homeopathic doctor who had used them for many years, and they still worked.
 AH: So, Christopher Whitmont encouraged you to go to Washington -how did you two meet?
 Panos: After John Panos died, the Homeopathic Recorder continued to come to the house. I would always read it and was always on the lookout for names I hadn’t seen before. Dr. Whitmont had written an article on Natrum Muriaticum and it made a deep impression on me, and so I noted that he lived in New York. Some time later, I accompanied my mother and her husband there. She became ill and I called him up. It was like walking into another world. My goodness, the extent of his knowledge!
 AH: What year was this?
 Panos: 1947 or 1948. When he finished office hours he stopped by the hotel to see my mother. He observed her and prescribed Belladonna. I was staying with friends in the Bronx; my mother’s husband had to return home, so she had joined me there. Dr. Whitmont lived nearby in Pelham and would look in on her as a follow up. One evening he and his wife invited me over for dinner. He picked me up after the house call on my mother. He likes to say that he encouraged me to go into medicine but he really didn’t. He said, “Are you sure this is what you really want to do?” That kind of indirect help. He has now come back into the fold in terms of teaching. I kind of dragged him back in by his coat tails a couple of times. I would set up seminars where he was the principal lecturer. He has a depth of knowledge of the remedies that someone without the psychoanalytic viewpoint would never get.
 AH: Tell me more about your days with Dr. Green, and others.
 Panos: Dr. Green would take leave of our practice when she went on trips because she had always wanted to travel but never had the chance to go. Then I took over her practice after she died. I had a good support system. Dr. Wyrth Post Baker, who has just celebrated his 90th, was very supportive. I never hesitated to get a consultation if I thought I needed it. Better safe than sorry! Dr. William Boyson, of Mechanicsville, Pennsylvania was very helpful to me. We all taught together at the Post Graduate School for Physicians in Homeopathy, when we held it at Millersville State College in Pa. Dr. Allen Sutherland was the head of the school and he was a very good lecturer.
 AH: Are there any substances you would like to see in a proving?
 Panos: None come to mind at the moment, but Bill Boyson would come back from Florida with samples of a number of plants he was interested in and hand them out to his students in the summer school. He was big on that.
 AH: What was it like working in the 50’s in Washington, during the McCarthy era, as a homeopath?
 Panos: There had been a homeopathic hospital when I first visited but it had closed down by the time I moved there. The staff continued at a larger hospital and in the negotiations they had made sure they could continue to write their orders for homeopathic remedies. Most of this was due to Dr. Baker. I think the old hospital was Hahnemann Hospital and the new one is Sibley. I believe it was a very good place to test my wings. On that staff there were surgeons I could consult and one of whom became a dear friend, Dr. Donald Mitchell. I could always call him and say, “I’m not too sure about this patient, I wonder what you think,” and he would say whether or not he felt I could wait to see what would happen. He was always there to bail me out if I needed it.
 AH: How could you ever leave?
 Panos: My mother died, my children grew up and a man I had seen years before wanted me to come here. Since he couldn’t move his business and I could move mine, I did. I closed my practice in Washington in 1972 and moved to Tipp City, Ohio.
 AH: What are your thoughts on the renewed popularity of homeopathy?
 Panos: It had been rather quiet. As long as mainstream physicians thought we were all dead, nobody bothered us. There weren’t enough of us to make a lot of noise. I think this new popularity is a good thing but it has stirred up this quack buster business, and now people have discovered that they can make money on homeopathic medicine and it’s getting faddish.
 AH: Tell me how you became the keeper of the archives of The Homeopathic Recorder and of “The Proceedings of the International Hahnemannian Association.
 Panos: The National Center was having housing problems. To conserve everything, Julian Winston moved them to his fire house in Philadelphia. I asked him if he had some issues I was missing and he said, “I’ll send you all I have,” and he did. Seven big boxes of them! I had to put pallets on the floor of my basement and Dr. Somerson provided me with a dehumidifier.
 AH: You and your daughter have published the Cumulative Indices of The Homeopathic Recorder and The Proceedings of the International Hahnemannian Association for the years 1881 to 1958. In reading over the listings of articles, titles and authors. I am amazed at the treasures that are now available to us. There are thirty-five articles by Kent, including one on Culex and a proving of Cenchris, sixty-five by Hubbard, eighty-six by Julia Green, including Unusual Phases of Well Known Remedies. There are provings by Fincke of Adamas and X-Ray and an article by Whitmont, The Problem of the Soul-Body Relationship in Prescribing. I can’t wait to place my order! How does one do so?
 Panos: By writing to The Woodward Foundation, at 5418 South State Route 202, Tipp City, Ohio, 45371. The Indices sell for $37.50, and I charge $14 an hour for search and copy time and $. 05 per page. I believe it is also available through the various homeopathic book distributors.
 AH: Tell me about Homeopathic Medicine At Home and how it came to be written.
 Panos: Jane Heimlich called and asked me to do a book with her. I was too busy and turned her down. Then I thought some more about it and decided to do it.
 AH: Is her husband the “Maneuver” doctor?
 Panos: Yes, and her parents were Katherine and Arthur Murray, the famous dance team. She is a writer who had been interested in alternative medicine for a while. She would come up for two days at a time, scribble notes on those yellow legal pads and go home to organize it all, then come up again. The book was published in 1980 and I can’t believe they want to do a second edition. I suppose we’ll have to find the time for it.
 AH: Well, Maesie, I enjoyed our talks very much. It’s wonderful getting to know you and I am so grateful to you, as I’m sure countless others are for all you’ve done for homeopathy, the teaching, the writing, and the editing. You’ve inspired all of us. Looking forward to that ‘second’ edition! Thank You. 

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