Homeopathy - Overview
Homeopathy is a medical science developed by German physician Dr Samuel Hahnemann. It is based on the principle of ‘like cures like’. In simple words, it means that any substance that produces symptoms in a healthy person can cure similar symptoms in a person who is unwell. It is referred to as the ‘Law of Similars’. This idea was understood by Hippocrates (father of medicine) and is also mentioned in ancient Hindu manuscripts. It was Hahnemann, however, who turned it into the science of healing.
Homeopathy is known for its safe and gentle ways of treatment. People across the world prefer homeopathy over conventional medicine, as it has no side-effects, and is non-toxic and non-addictive.
In the last five years, homeopathy has grown three times faster than allopathy [25-30% annually]. It is presently the 2nd largest system of medicine in the world, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).
France is the largest contributor to homeopathy in the world followed by Germany. In England, 42% British physicians refer patients to homeopaths. The Royal family has used homeopathy for three generations. The Queen has carried her 'black box' of ‘white pills’ on her travels. It has been estimated that over 6 million people in the US use homeopathy for self-care, and day-to-day health problems.
In India, over 100 million people depend on homeopathy for health issues. There are around 200,000 registered homeopathic doctors, and approximately 12,000 new homeopathic doctors are registered every year.
Homeopathy is practised in most European countries. It is included in the national health systems of countries like Brazil, Chile, Mexico, Switzerland and United Kingdom. Homeopathy is also practiced with good support from the government in countries like UAE, most Asian countries, and in many Middle Eastern countries.
Apart from curing acute and chronic illnesses, homeopathy has a reputation of providing relief in many difficult as well as rare ailments.
Homeopathy is suitable for all age groups, from infants to the elderly. All homeopathic medicines are safe, provided they are taken under the supervision of a homeopathic doctor.
Some patients experience an increase in complaints after starting homeopathic treatment. This is primarily due to two reasons:
One is the sudden or abrupt withdrawal of the allopathic treatment you have been taking for a long time. This should be avoided. If you are already taking allopathic medication when you begin treatment with a homeopathic doctor, the allopathic medication should be withdrawn slowly after making sure that homeopathy has started helping you. Our doctors will guide you in reducing your allopathic medication. You should also consult your allopathic doctor for the same. This will help you avoid a sudden increase in complaints.
After starting homeopathic medicine, if you experience a short-term increase in your existing complaints followed by a feeling of improvement and symptomatic relief, it is a good sign. In such situations, the increase in complaints is for a short time and not very intense. This will be followed by improvement, which will be long lasting.
If the increased symptoms do not subside in 48-72 hours, your problem could be getting worse and the medicine is not helping it. You should immediately report it to your doctor for further assistance.
Dr Samuel Hahnemann, father of homeopathy, was one among a few of his time to step into the portals of a university and graduate in medicine with an MD. It was the pre-antibiotic era and consisted of many barbaric practices. Conventional doctors routinely used bleeding and excessive purging to treat diseases on the presumption that the disease was caused due to bad blood within the body. Dr Hahnemann was disappointed with this and, therefore, gave up his medical practice.
He dreamed and pondered over a new idea - making medicine safe, effective, sane, humane and gentle.
To support himself, Dr Hahnemann started translating medical books in different languages, as he knew over a dozen languages. When he was once engaged in the translation of William Cullen’s classical work, Lectures on the Materia Medica, in 1790, he could not resist his analytical excitement. Cullen’s statement that cinchona [quinine] bark possessed specific febrifugal [fever-relieving] properties – because it was one of the most aromatic and bitter substances known – aroused his scientific mind and curiosity.
Hahnemann felt that there were many more substances, not just barks, with extremely bitter and fragrant properties. None of them had the strength to cure fevers, especially malaria-like fevers. He was eager to test the idea. He drank a decoction of cinchona bark to test the results. He developed a malarial fever with chills. This laid the foundation for homeopathy. Hahnemann then expounded his principle: like cures like.
From this experiment, Dr Hahnemann derived a hypothesis - “a substance that can artificially produce certain disease-like symptoms on a healthy person; only that substance can cure a similar disease when it is given to the patient in the form of homeopathic medicine.”
For example, when you chop onions, you have watery eyes and a runny nose; you sneeze and cough, and all of it happens due to exposure to the tuber’s active substances. The homeopathic remedy, Allium Cepa, made from red onion can help you overcome a cold or allergy attack in which you may have similar symptoms – watery eyes, runny nose, sneezing, coughing or throat irritation.
Dr Hahnemann started studying the effect of various substances on humans, and systematically recorded the symptoms produced by these substances. These records were then used as reference guide to select a similar remedy for his patients. Cures achieved in this way further confirmed his hypotheses about the concept of ‘like cures like’. Dr Hahnemann thus evolved homeopathy as a scientific system of alternative medicine based on his research and clinical experience of over 12 years.
Homeopathy became widely popular during the 19th century with its success in treating patients during epidemics like cholera. Death rates in homeopathic hospitals were lower than conventional hospitals.
The idea of presenting the key principles of homeopathy is to make our patients and readers aware that the treatment given to you by our doctors is based on the scientific principles of homeopathy. The important homeopathic principles, which guide our doctors in providing treatment, are discussed below.
Principle 1: The Law of Similars or like cures like (The fundamental law of homeopathy)
“A substance that can artificially produce certain disease-like symptoms on a healthy person; only that substance can cure a similar disease when it is given to the patient in the form of homeopathic medicine.”
Principle 2: Single remedy for multiple complaints
“Treating man as a whole with one single remedy which is most similar in all his sufferings”
Principle 3: Individualisation
“No two patients get the same remedy even though they may be having the same disease.”
Principle 4: Long-term results
“Treating your skin disorders and other associated complaints with the application of creams or medicine that temporarily relieve symptoms but do not cure you internally is called suppression. It leads to the development of more serious illnesses in the future.”
Principle 5: Order of Healing
“After any treatment, your health should never progress from milder illnesses to more severe illnesses. There is a defined order in which the cure should happen, as per nature’s law.”
Principle 6- The Minimum Dose
“The dose and repetition of medicine has to be minimum to ensure that the treatment is safe and free from side-effects.”
It takes almost 10 years to become a homeopath
A homeopath in India is not someone who has done a weekend or 'six-week' course in homeopathy.
A homeopath is truly a multi-specialist
Homeopathic practice is never restricted to one type of illness or segment. For example, in allopathy, a dermatologist only treats skin ailments and a gastroenterologist only sees patients with problems in their digestive system. However, a homeopath is trained to treat a wide variety of illnesses, right from common problems like sinusitis and allergic coughs to more serious conditions like rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis and even diseases like cancer. In the true sense, a homeopath is a multi-specialist.