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  1. 1. KNOW YOUR SCOPE Dr. Smita Brahmachari “The physician’s highest and only calling is to make the sick healthy, to cure, as it is called.” “The highest ideal of cure is the rapid, gentle and permanent restoration of health; that is, the lifting and annihilation of the disease in its entire extent in the shortest, most reliable, and least disadvantageous way, according to clearly realizable principles.” - Samuel Hahnemann, Organon of the Medical Art1, Aphorisms 1 and 2 These wise words are the opening of the Organon, Homoeopathy’s bible and the culmination of the life work of its founder, Samuel Hahnemann. Written 150 years ago, they speak volumes about the state of medicine today. In fact, the public at large and also the medical profession itself are becoming increasingly aware that modern medicine must come up with new means and new ideas for tackling chronic diseases. Despite undoubted progress being made over the past decades in crucial fields of medicine, despite the fact that we so often hear of new ‘major breakthroughs’ paving the way towards achieving a definitive cure for this or that disease, and despite the fact that our knowledge of the intimate mechanisms of the various diseases has increased enormously as a result of techniques of molecular biology, it has to be admitted that, as far as general practice and the vast majority of patients suffering from the chronic diseases are concerned which includes contamination of the environment by toxic agents, ever-growing numbers of diseases induced by increasingly potent drugs themselves, degenerative diseases to which errors of diet or life-style contribute, allergies, autoimmunity and immune deficiency, large numbers of neurological and psychiatric diseases, psychosomatic disorders, and tumors, the actual practical benefit of such knowledge is not exactly spectacular! The conventional medicine (Allopathy) does not claim to cure chronic diseases such as diabetes, arthritis, hypertension, auto – immune diseases etc, but merely controls the symptoms using medicines which the patient must take for the rest of his life. Far from being gentle, many medications have side effects which are uncomfortable, harmful or even fatal for the patient, requiring multiple other medications to alleviate problems cause by the first set. It is also very expensive method of treatment.
  2. 2. In spite of the above all facts the enormous progress of conventional medicine in this century has reinforced the opinion that allopathic treatment by means of ‘opposites’ is the only and most effective form of treatment and, generally speaking, has also strengthened the view that it is only a question of time before a treatment is found for every disease. The great epidemics of infectious diseases have been defeated by a combination of improvements in living conditions, hygiene, vaccinations and antibiotics. Our knowledge of disease due to vitamin, enzyme or hormone deficiencies has furnished new weapons in the struggle against diseases such as pernicious anemia, dwarfism and diabetes. If it were not for the problem of finding donors, transplants would already be routine therapy for a sizeable number of diseases. Cortisone and its derivatives are solving many problems of immune hypersensitivity. 2 Coming to discuss the role of Homoeopathy in current scenario, it has the best answers to the crisis faced by modern medicine. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), Homoeopathy is the second largest system of medicine in the world. WHO says the annual sale of homoeopathic drugs accounts to Rs 8,400 crore globally. By 2017, the market will be Rs 52,000 crore. It further adds that homoeopathy is practiced in 66 countries and the treatment is individualized. It seeks to stimulate the body's defence mechanisms to prevent or treat illness. A recent industry study had predicted that Indian homoeopathy treatment market is likely to grow 30% annually, and pegged it around Rs 4,600 crore. Homoeopathy costs one fifth of an allopathic consultation in any government set up.3 Over the years, homoeopathic medicines have been used successfully for treatment of various conditions such as acid peptic diseases, anxiety, atopic dermatitis, autism, behavioral disorders, bone fracture healing, conjunctivitis, chicken pox, depression, dysmenorrhoea, headaches, herpes zoster, influenza, injuries, migraine, menstrual irregularities, pre-menstrual syndrome, psoriasis, psychosomatic disorders, phobias, renal calculi, stress disorders, substance abuse, upper respiratory tract infection, vitiligo, common complaints during pregnancy and lactation, or dentition complaints in children, etc. A data analysis 4 of about 1.1 million patients attending homoeopathic dispensaries in Delhi providing primary healthcare re-affirms these conditions as the most frequent reason for consultation. Homoeopathy is also used in conditions such as cancers, HIV/AIDS, terminal illnesses, etc. for providing symptomatic care and improvement in quality of life.
  3. 3. Clinical research studies have been published on different clinical conditions such as acute otitis media, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, autism, behavioral disorders, benign prostatic hyperplasia, cervical spondylosis, chronic sinusitis, chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases, preclinical hypothyroidism, HIV infection, Japanese encephalitis, learning disabilities, menopausal complaints, complaints associated with withdrawal of drug substances, ovarian cysts, scabies, upper respiratory tract infections, urolithiasis, warts, etc.4 Clinical outcome studies record the patient's self-reported response after treatment. This reflects the validation of age old written experiences but these studies further require pragmatic and randomized control trials 4 which are now being targeted. In the year 2005, Lancet, one of the most reputed medical journals of the world published a controversial article, “Are the clinical effects of Homoeopathy placebo effects? Comparative study of placebo controlled trials of Homoeopathy and Allopathy” by Shang et al. in its Vol. 366, Aug. 27, 2005, at a time when there is a paradigm shift from the conventional therapy to Homoeopathy compelling its users to look at it with derision and suspicion. It was rightly answered by an article published by CCRH, Newdelhi titled “Homoeopathy will not end by pseudo - analysis”. The more one dilutes a medicine with proper succussion, the more potent it becomes, and this perhaps is the corner stone of Homoeopathy system of medicine. The most powerful homoeo medicines do have the highest dilution factors. While this enormous dilution principle remained the pillar of this 18th century healing science which seeks to deal with the disease holistically rather than addressing the manifesting symptoms, it also proved to be the Achille's heel for its detractors. If you go on diluting a solution containing hundred per cent of the material further and further, there won't be any of the particles from original material left in the remaining solution beyond of point of dilution. Homoeo remedies come through the process of `infinitesimal dilutions'. How a ‘medicine’ without any active substance can evoke a therapeutic response, skeptics ask benchmarking with the principles of modern allopathic medicine which relies on dose- related response of medications. No active ingredient in a formulation means that the pill or liquid can
  4. 4. be nothing more than a placebo. They claimed that the 'high potency' homoeo medicines can only be placebos as no drug particle can exist beyond a certain point of dilution. But the theory that extremely low dilutions can have no starting material seems to have taken a big jolt very recently as Indian researchers detected particles of original materials in abysmally low dilutions. Certain high potency – that means extremely diluted—homoeo remedies made from metals still contained measurable amounts of starting materials even at one part in 10 raised to 400 parts. ``We used solutions with potencies of 30c and 200c. They are well below the Avagadro's number that states there can be no starting materials beyond a point of dilution. Our experiment proved that particles do exist even at 30c and 200c,'' said Prasant Chikramane from the Chemical Engineering Department from Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Mumbai and the lead author of the study. Avagadro's number corresponds to homeopathic potencies of 12C or 24X (1 part in 1024).5 The researchers utilized electron microscopy and electron diffraction techniques to detect the nano particles in the diluted solutions. Six metals and their respective homeopathic medicines manufactured by the leading Dr Willmar Schwabe India Private Ltd and SBL India were used for the analysis. The medicines were gold (Aurum metallicum), copper (Cuprum metallicum), tin (Stannum metallicum), zinc (zincum metallicum), silver (Argentum metallicum) and platinum (Platinum metallicum).5 I have cited here two major Indian articles for answering the controversies faced by our system. But there are many other such befitting replies. If anyone is interested to verify the efficacy of homoeopathy in an unprejudiced way, must involve homoeopathic experts who believe in and treat as per classical homoeopathy i.e., comprehensive homoeopathic history taking followed by the prescription of a single individualized remedy, possibly with subsequent change of remedy in response to changing symptoms, formulating the protocols/ study designs/ methodology, in conformity with the doctrines of homoeopathy, particularly for the in-vivo studies and undertaking in vitro studies involving experts of the concerned areas, by adopting randomized controlled trials.
  5. 5. However, there are certain limitations to homoeopathic treatment; with a compelling indication for surgery and substitution therapy or with advance pathologies, where regulative therapy is no longer sufficient. In such cases, it can be used, at best, for palliative alleviation. Both the conventional medicine and Homoeopathy have significant contributions to the health care delivery system. The merits of one system should not be cited to nullify the benefits of the other. Because ultimately the health of the patient matters. Another way I think it has compelled us to come out of dormant state to be vociferous in protesting against such malicious propaganda on Homoeopathy. It is important for all of us to work more meticulously, on modern scientific parameters, creating enough documentary proofs as per the need of the hour, without jeopardizing the tenets of Homoeopathy, so that our studies leave no gaps when such analyses are repeated. “Homoeopathy is the only true science and art of medicine in which all curable patients find health and new life when this most difficult of all arts is practiced by an indefatigable discriminating physician in a pure and conscientious manner.” ( aphorism 60)6 References 1. Hahnemann S. Organon of the Medical Art, edited and annotated by Wenda Brewster O’Reilly. New Delhi: B.Jain Publishers (P) Ltd, Indian edition; 2010. 2. Immunology and Homoeopathy, historical background, Paolo Bellavite, Anita Conforti, Valeria Piasere, Riccardo Ortolani, Evidence Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine. 2005 December; 2(4): 441–452. 3. Homoeopathy doctors double in two decades, The Times of India. New Delhi: 1st September 2012. 4. Principle and scope, Homoeopathy science of gentle healing. 2013; 22 – 24. 5. The nano effect of Homoeopathy, The Times of India. New Delhi:12th August 2011. 6. Hahnemann S. Organon of Medicine, 5th ed. New Delhi: Pratap Medical Publishers (P) Ltd, Indian edition; 1994.
  6. 6. Author : The author has done her post-graduation from National Institute of Homoeopathy, Kolkata in the subject Homoeopathic Repertory. She is presently working as Medical Officer in Dept. of ISM &Homoeopathy under Govt. of NCT Delhi. E-mail id: