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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.

Worldwide Popularity

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.”

Explanation:

  • Our homeopathic doctors will understand and record complete details of your complaints and symptoms.
  • They will then match your symptoms with thousands of homeopathic medicines and select just one medicine, which matches your complaints the most.
  • The selected remedy is one that has been proven effective in producing symptoms exactly like yours in a healthy individual.
  • Also, this medicine should have proven efficacy in curing patients with diseases similar to yours.

Principle 2: Single remedy for multiple complaints

“Treating man as a whole with one single remedy which is most similar in all his sufferings”

Explanation:

  • In allopathy, you have different specialists for every disease and you may end up consulting more than one doctor for multiple complaints. There is a heart specialist, diabetologist, skin specialist and so on.
  • Homeopathic doctors are trained to treat a wide variety of illnesses. They will select one single remedy, which will relieve or cure all your health troubles.
  • For example, if you consult our doctors for hair fall and tell them that you also have headaches or acidity, they will suggest a medicine that will take care of your hair fall and also provide relief from headaches and acidity.

Principle 3: Individualisation

“No two patients get the same remedy even though they may be having the same disease.”

Explanation:

  • Each individual is unique in his/her nature and temperament. Even the symptoms are different in different people suffering the same ailment.
  • In allopathy, everyone with the same disease can be suggested the same remedy.
  • However, in homeopathy, selecting the remedy is not entirely based on what you are suffering from, but more on the characteristic features of your symptoms and you as an individual.
  • Homeopathy considers your nature, temperament, likes and dislikes, which are peculiar to you, thus setting you apart from other people with the same disease as you.

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.”

Explanation:

  • Dr Hahnemann observed that if your skin complaints are treated externally with the application of creams, symptoms may disappear temporarily but lead to more severe illnesses in future.
  • Suppression may temporarily remove your suffering but put you at a higher risk of developing more serious illnesses.
  • While working on your case history (homeopathic consultation), our doctors will discuss all the health problems you suffered since childhood till date. They will ask what treatments you have taken in past and the outcome of those treatments.
  • With this, the doctors will know if there is any link between what you are suffering now and what you have suffered in the past, and the role your past treatment played in developing your current health problem.
  • The remedy suggested after detailed case-taking aims at curing your ailment and not just suppressing the symptoms.

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.”

Explanation:

  • A homeopathic doctor is always guided by this principle in understanding whether the treatment is helping the patient or putting him/her at the risk of more serious illnesses in the future.
  • When you are being treated for any complaint, it should reduce in intensity and frequency.
  • After any treatment, your health should never progress from milder illnesses to more severe ones.
  • Homeopathy treats you from within, not just externally. There is a defined order in which a cure should take place, as per nature’s law. Our doctors are well trained in assessing your treatment outcome according to these principles. This will ensure that your treatment is heading in the right direction.

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.”

Explanation:

  • Homeopathic medicines do not cause any side-effects.
  • Lots of care is taken in preparing homeopathic medicines by a process called the dilution method. The substance used to prepare the medicine is either diluted in water or medicated alcohol.
  • The dilution is carried out in a progressive way, up to the level where only a minor trace of the original substance remains in the actual medicine given to patients. This method of dilution is so refined that one hardly finds any measurable trace of medicinal substance in it.
  • Recent advances in nanotechnology and experiments carried out by IIT Mumbai, a renowned institution of engineering and research in India, has demonstrated the presence of the original substance in minimum quantities in homeopathic dilution.

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 professional homeopath has to go through the same rigorous 5-year course as any other allopathic doctor, including one year of internship at a hospital.
  • Subjects like Anatomy, Physiology, Gynecology, Surgery and Medicine are taught in allopathy and homeopathy.
  • To become a Doctor of Medicine in Homeopathy [M.D. (Hom)], one needs to study for another three years, followed by a one-year fellowship course in dermatology.
  • It takes almost 10 years overall to make a good homeopath.

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.