Small Is Big Medicine

Words: Dr Rajgopal NIDAMBOOR

Homeopathy has evolved — since its inception 200+ years ago — into a refined discipline of patient bespoke diagnosis and prescription. It offers a wide range of remedies for use in therapeutic practice and preventative medicine. It is not only safe, low-cost, and effective, it also holds the promise to be the medicine of the future — for more reasons than being merely gentle, holistic, and dependable.

While it’s popularly believed that homeopathy is most useful in treating chronic illnesses that fail to respond to modern, or conventional, medical treatment, the fact is — it is just as useful in acute conditions, not to speak of self-care for minor illnesses. A complete system of healing, homeopathy is based on the simple understanding that ‘like cures like,’ or similia similibus curentur. In other words, ‘what can cause, can cure.’

Homeopathic remedies are made from small, nay tiny, amounts of substances found in nature. They have no damaging side-effects, or toxicity. Research evidences that homeopathic remedies, perhaps, work in our body much like enzymes, or hormones. Enzymes and hormones, which are available in the body in similar minute quantities, as we all know, have extremely dynamic, tangible, vibrant actions and effects in our body.

Homeopathy has proven useful in treating several diseases for which conventional medicine has but little to offer. Yet, thanks to its low-cost, which endangers the profits of the pharmaceutical industry, and its powerful lobby, homeopathy, which does not follow conformist medical thinking, has been continually attacked by the orthodox, or conventional, medical establishment — and, for all the wrong reasons.

What makes homeopathy a simplistic science so ‘complicated’ is its unpretentious theory — which is also its basic philosophy. This is a barrier no less that most conformists cannot surmount. Worse still, the conventional establishment, to highlight a study published in The Lancet, juxtaposed by the more recent ‘findings’ in Australia, have called for an end to homeopathy, without taking into account its unique nature of application and practice. Among other topics, The Lancet had also challenged the plausibility of homeopathic effects given that homeopathic remedies are often administered in minute, nay infinitesimal, amounts.

The late Dr Rustum Roy, PhD, a distinguished material scientist from Penn State University, US, articulated that the chemistry argument made in The Lancet study, and by conventional medicine, in general, was false science: “The underpinning of the editorial content of The Lancet as it relates to homeopathy relies on a quaint old idea from the nineteenth century that the only way that the property of water can be affected, or changed, is by incorporating foreign molecules.” He added: “This is the Avogadro-limit high-school level chemistry argument. To a materials scientist this notion is absurd, since the fundamental paradigm of materials science is that the structure-property relationship is the basic determinant of everything. It is a fact that the structure of water and, therefore, the informational content of water can be altered in infinite ways.”

Patient-Specific 

Homeopathy does not have specific remedies for specific diseases like conventional medicine. It treats the individual who has the illness, and not just the disease itself. Here goes — when two individuals, for example, have the same disease, they may, according to homeopathic tenets, require different remedies, in agreement with the distinctive expression of their illness. Evaluating it on parameters relevant to conventional, or orthodox, medicine — as The Lancet study, for example, did, like other studies before — would, therefore, be a canard. This is also a travesty, no less, at a time when the US Food and Drug Administration [FDA] recognises homeopathic remedies as official drugs — including manufacturing, labelling, and dispensing. What’s more, homeopathic remedies also have their own official compendium — the Homeopathic Pharmacopoeia of the United States, first published in 1897. There are, in addition, other pharmacopoeias applicable in countries where homeopathy is practiced.

Popular Worldwide 

It’s estimated that 600 million people receive homeopathic treatment on a yearly basis worldwide. The World Health Organisation [WHO] reports that homeopathy is the second largest medical system people depend upon for primary healthcare around the globe.

Homeopathy is quite popular in Europe, the continent where it first originated. In France, pharmacies, for instance, are required to carry homeopathic remedies along with conventional drugs. In the UK, homeopathic hospitals and clinics are part of the national healthcare system — albeit some of them no longer exist, thanks to the present ‘anti-homeopathy movement,’ or dispensation. Homeopathy is just as popular in Latin America and Asia — what with India being the real star, thanks to the presence of millions of homeopathic adherents and hundreds of thousands of professionally qualified homeopathic medical doctors in its ranks.

Homeopathy In The US 

Homeopathy was well accepted, in the US, from the mid-1800s to the early 1900s when the most prestigious medical schools were homeopathic. Do you know that the first medical association founded was, indeed, the American Institute of Homeopathy, in 1844? It took a good three years for the American Medical Association [AMA] to be inaugurated in 1847.

However, by the early 1900s, the financial bond between the AMA and pharmaceutical companies was strongly established. Pharma companies evidently preferred proprietary drugs with patent rights, which could not be unreservedly manufactured. Add to this the AMA’s primary underpinning of revenue emerging from paid advertisements by the pharmaceutical industry, and you had a powerful lobby. Besides, you also had the ‘spectre’ of drug companies which began to recompense leading doctors for endorsing patented drugs. This led to the expected — physicians began to receive ‘free’ samples of drugs. In certain instances — with excellent ‘payoffs’ in kind — from gifts, and incentives, to cars. So, there it was, or is.

When conventional medicine began to be marketed much more aggressively than homeopathy ever could, the “writing on the ‘lesser’ wall” was apparent. What’s more, aggressive marketing and hard-sell, along with other sales manoeuvres, led to the virtual vanishing of homeopathy, in the US, by the 1940s.

Yet another big advantage that conventional medicine capitalised upon, at this point in time, was also the fact that only a select few were conscious of the dangerous side-effects inherent to synthetic pharmaceutical drugs.

How things have changed today — thanks to well-informed appreciation of drug toxicity and its damaging effects on health — and, homeopathy is again getting popular in the US. Figures now indicate that people in the US are slowly but surely returning to this form of treatment in tangible numbers. This has, indeed, been a renaissance of sorts as millions have also begun to rediscover homeopathy and its manifold benefits in many other climes — in the developed and the developing world. 

Benefits 

  • Homeopathy is useful. More than a host of double-blind tests have shown that it works on all types of ailments — acute and chronic. Do you know that the first ‘provings,’ including ‘blind’ tests, were actually developed and conducted by homeopathic physicians, and not conventional medical physicians?
  • It has no side-effects. In all the millions of cases treated with it, homeopathy has never been shown to be toxic to the body, although there have been reports in the US of some OTC homeopathic products being removed from store shelves owing to contamination, or harmful ingredients. What’s more, classical homeopathy is appropriate for treating pregnant women, infants, and children — with utmost safety
  • Millions of lay people — most of them without a smattering of medical, or health ‘grounding’ — use it, especially in remote areas, to help themselves and their families without any hazardous physical consequences
  • The best part — even in the presence of an unintentionally selected, or incorrect, homeopathic remedy, no harm is done. The body simply pays no heed to the remedy and no dangerous effects are caused
  • It is economical and, therefore, easy on the pocket than prescription drugs. Another big advantage — homeopathic remedies have a long shelf-life.

On the ‘flip-side’ though, it would only be appropriate to mention that homeopathic remedies, which are derived from natural substances, are not patentable. It’s, therefore, unlikely that any major pharmaceutical, or drug, company would come forward to provide large funds for wide-scale research and marketing of homeopathic medicines and products — as is the case with conventional medicine.

This is one part. On the other, homeopathy, like other forms of natural medicine, including herbal medicine and nutritional supplementation, is bound to become an enduring part of the healthcare apparatus worldwide, including the US, where it has now resurfaced with transformed vitality — primarily due to its low-cost, remarkable safety, wide-ranging applicability, and also holistic efficacy.

The best part — homeopathy is compatible with self-care, and professional healthcare, at the grassroots level and elsewhere. This is reason enough why it has all the requisites to become an essential part of your and your family’s health management and wellness maintenance programme — for today and tomorrow.

Dr RAJGOPAL NIDAMBOOR, PhD, is a wellness physician-writer-editor, independent researcher, critic, columnist, author and publisher. His published work includes hundreds of newspaper, magazine, web articles, essays, meditations, columns, and critiques on a host of subjects, eight books on natural health, two coffee table tomes and an encyclopaedic treatise on Indian philosophy. He is Chief Wellness Officer, Docco360 — a mobile health application/platform connecting patients with Ayurveda, homeopathic and Unani physicians, and nutrition therapists, among others, from the comfort of their home — and, Editor-in-Chief, ThinkWellness360.

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