History and Principles of Homeopathy
There is a lot that can be said about Homeopathy but before moving on to the introduction of Homeopathy I highlight two important questions surrounding it and waiting anxiously to be answered:
1. Does Homeopathy really work?
2. If it works then what is the real scientific explanation?
Homeopathy is being used as an alternative treatment method by a very large number of patients worldwide. It has a significant following in Subcontinent. Because the patients reporting in routine conventional practice are many a times found using homeopathic medicine so it is imperative that we should understand clearly what they are actually taking so that we can plan our treatment and align our expectations accordingly.Historical Background & Basic Principle of Homeopathy
The founder of Homeopathy was Samuel Hahnemann born in 1751 in Germany.
He was a doctor who graduated from a conventional medical school in Germany.
He left his practice due to disagreement with the treatment practices of his time labeling those as cruel and started making his livings from translation of books.
He first proposed the theory of " Like treats Like
" in 1796. According to this theory, " A medicine which produces a particular set of Symptoms when taken by a healthy human is likely to cure an illness with similar set of Symptoms. This theory got support from a sizable block of practitioners and patients worldwide while it also received a strong condemnation from the conventional medical circles throughout its history. Homeopathic Pharmacy
The homeopathic practitioners use medicines listed in their own pharmacopeia commonly called materia medica.
The materia medica was originally prepared by Hahnemann and a significant number of medicines were added to it in the following years by his followers.
The medicines were tested through a process called as "Proving" whereby a healthy individual was given the medicine to be tested and the symptoms thus proved were listed.
The dispensing of homeopathic medicines involves certain peculiar concepts which are listed below.
The homeopathic medicines are sequentially diluted in alcohol, water or sugar through processes of succussion or trituration.
These methods are supposed to reduce the toxicity of drugs while simultaneously increasing the healing power of drug; a concept famously known as drug potentiation.
It is worth noting that at commonly used homeopathic dilution of 30C not even a single molecule of drug exists in the alcohol or sugar base usually given to the patients.
Homeopathic proponents attribute the effectiveness of drug healing power in spite of its physical absence from the base or vehicle to the transfer of energy imprint to the vehicle molecules. Homeopathic drug selection
A complementary book called "Repertory"was prepared from the list of symptoms of different drugs such that for each symptom the list of probable drugs was provided. For selection of appropriate drug in individual case a list of symptoms taken from the patient was compared with those of the drug and through careful comparison the drug closest in the symptom list was selected.
The selected drug is then prescribed to the patient in dilutions according to physician's own judgement. After initial prescription the symptoms are reassessed and the remedy is re-selected which may be different from the initial drug. The disease is treated through a single remedy or multiple sequential remedies.
There is a concept of homeopathic "aggravation
" according to which the symptoms of disease may increase after initial prescription. This aggravation is considered as a positive effect indicating that the natural healing power of human body is being activated.Homeopathy Practice Trends and Types
Homeopathy is rarely being practiced in its original classical form, according to basic principles. More often its practice is deviated to a certain extent from the defining principles. Classical Homeopathic Practice
The traditional and pure homeopathy practitioners are rare but they follow the treatment principles laid down by Samuel Hahnemann. They use traditional homeopathic medicines which are nothing but utmost dilutions of the mother tinctures to an extent where not even an iota of original medicine is likely to be present in the medicines.
They select the remedy after jotting down the vital symptoms and then re per tori zing those to select the most likely single remedy.
They start with only a single remedy and will wait for this single drug to take full effect.
They will then again take the symptoms at the next stage and select the next single remedy.
This treatment cycle will continue till the disease is completely cures.Current Trends in Homeopathic Practice
Nowadays most of the homeopathic practitioners use a combination of drugs with closely related symptom sets to the patients symptoms.
Similarly many of the combinational homeopathic medicines available in the market are claimed to be effective remedies of certain diseases.
These combinational medicines and their use for specific diseases instead of selecting medicine purely on the base of symptoms is clearly in violation of basic homeopathic principles.
Similarly homeopathic medicines are also marketed nowadays in the form of injections and creams etc. This type of dispensation is again highly questionable in the light of original homeopathic philosophy.
In addition to the combinational homeopathic practice many homeopaths are using antibiotics, NSAIDs steroids etc. This again is in violation of homeopathic philosophy. On the other hand considering the level of their training in our country where they do not receive proper conventional medical training they are not equipped or authorized to use such medicines.Scientific Proof of Homeopathy
No definite scientific proof regarding the mode of action of homeopathic medicine has been brought to light till today.
The requirement of double blinded control studies as positive proof being demanded by the conventional medical circles is disagreed to by the homeopathic circles claiming that this cannot tackle the fact that for each homeopathic prescription for any individual case of a single disease diagnostic entity a different homeopathic remedy may be needed which will violate the basic structure of double blinded control study for confirming the effectiveness of homeopathic drugs.Scientific Research and Homeopathy
Homeopathy needs to be put to specially designed research tests to tackle the issue of controversies surrounding it for about 200 years.Adjuvants in homeopathic practice
Certain techniques are being employed by homeopathy practitioners these days which help in their diagnostic efforts. These techniques are not related or specific to homeopathic practice rather they fall into metaphysical region and are not clearly explained in the current physical sciences.
These techniques include:1. Pendulum dowsing:
In this technique the homeopathic physician rotates a pendulum over patients hand with the proposed medicine in that hand to confirm the matching of drug healing power to the patient's disease. The clockwise movement or as designed confirms the correctness of selection.Ideomotor Response:
Scientists often attribute the phenomena related to the category of pendulum dowsing to a poorly described neurological phenomenon called ideomotor response. They consider it to be a subconscious motor response of the performer under influence of his past experience or background knowledge.2. Radionics & Radiesthesia:
Radiesthesia is the perception of transmitted subtle energies and radionics is transmission of subtle energies to the patient for healing purpose. Specially designed electronic machines are used to select the homeopathic drugs or transfer the homeopathic healing energy. Future of Homeopathy
200 years have passed since the birth of homeopathy and millions of people have so far been given homeopathic medicines. Homeopathic literature is full of success stories and we can found around a significant number of satisfied homeopathic users.
The irony is that the conventional medical circle has always remained skeptical about the authenticity of homeopathy as a treatment system.
This skepticism of the conventional circles is justified as they want the homeopathy to pass the test of modern research methodology. They want homeopathy drugs to qualify double blind RCTs to prove efficacy.
The homeopathic physicians on the other hand do not consider the demand of double blind RCT to be the just one. They claim that the homeopathic medicines are not employed per se in individual diagnostic entities rather in homeopathic system each diagnostic entity for example typhoid disease will or can be treated by different remedy in individual patients.
The solution as we see exists in a specially designed study model to confirm the efficacy of homeopathic treatment rather than to confirm the efficacy of homeopathic drugs. We propose an extended triple blind study model to confirm the efficacy of homeopathic treatment. This test if properly performed few times under different settings in all likelihood can give a clear indication of the value of homeopathic treatment rather than anything else.
Extended Triple Blind Study To confirm the efficacy of homeopathic treatment we propose an extended triple blind model
In this model there will be four variables to be evaluated for efficacy
- The Homeopathic Treatment
- The placebo Treatment
- The Homeopathic doctor
- The Placebo Doctor
The patient, The doctor and the evaluator will all be kept ignorant of actual settings.
The patient will be seen by a qualified reputed homeopathic doctor or a placebo doctor (a person who poses as a homeopathic doctor to the patient).
Instead of any particular drug the complete classical homeopathic treatment modality will be compared to the placebo treatment modality.
The evaluator of outcome does not know about the variables and will just record the unbiased findings while the data analyst will be in picture of actual variable settings.
Further controls can be added to this trial like:
- Carrying out the tests in homeopathic practice setups or conventional care setups.
- The homeopathic treatment can be classical single remedy treatment or complex simultaneous remedies selected together by the homeopath.