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The definition of homeopathy can be etymologically observed as a compound word based on two Greek words, homois and pathos. Homois means “same” or “like”, whereas pathos means “suffering”. Therefore, homeopathy is a form of medicine that comes in as an alternative of the clinical medicine that brings in the concept of curing symptoms in people using the same substance that is believed to have caused the disease or ailment. It is simply based on the principle of using a small dose of the substance that caused the symptoms to trigger the body’s natural immune system for healing. It is based on the principle of similia similibus curentur meaning” like cures like” (Day, 2000, p.12).
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The History of Homeopathy
The origin of homeopathy dates back to the 18th century, specifically to 1796 and a scientist named Samuel Hahnemann, who propagated this form of medicine to universal acceptance. He also introduced the concept of “like curing like” (Stokes, 1999, pp.23-5). Homeopathic remedies according to Hahnemann cure the root cause of the symptoms, and the course is administered repetitively for the sick individuals till they fully recover.
The homeopathic remedies were prepared in stages, the first stage being the identification of the substance that caused the symptoms in sick people through a careful analysis and evaluation of the symptoms. This was to prevent a misconception of the symptoms since this would lead to the use of the wrong substance to administer the treatment. The fragile nature of this practice is founded on the very same driving ideology behind it of like cures like. It, therefore, follows that like must be identified to be administered for treatment (Herring, Mary& Molly, 2002, p.121).
Upon the identification of the substance that caused the symptoms, the cure is prepared by diluting it repeatedly in distilled water or alcohol under controlled conditions so as to attain the precise concentration required. After the process of dilution is complete, the substance is forcefully stroked on an elastic body, a process that Hahnemann referred to as succusion. He also said that every step of dilution followed by succession gave the cure a greater ability to heal the sick person. In the modern times, homeopathy is mainly administered using a tablet form. A good example of how homeopathy works is by taking a substance that produces certain symptoms and working with it. For example, coffee when drunk in large quantities may lead to agitation and also sleeplessness. According to this form of medicine, the symptoms of sleeplessness and agitation would be cured by taking the coffee, diluting it in distilled water or alcohol, followed by a specific form of very vigorous shaking (referred to as succession) and; finally, you have the end product as the homeopathic medicine.
In practice, it is important to observe that this concept has been widely used in conventional medicine despite it gaining its fair share of criticisms. For example, patients with Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder are being treated using a stimulant known as Ritalin, which is produced from the substance that produces the symptoms of ADHD (Jonas, Wayne, & Jennifer, 1996, p.54). Another good example is where patients, who are highly allergic to pollen, are treated by using small doses of allergens so as to de-sensitize the allergic patients.
Since the 1790s, the practice of Homeopathy started gaining popularity in many nations of Europe, Asia and the United States of America. After the death of Hahnemann, in 1843, other practitioners came into a scene, and many new proofs were made with regard to the Materia medica, which is a Homeopathy workbook, and documenting the various proves increased in volume tremendously.
Currently, there is much advancement in the practice of homeopathy: many modern remedies have been formulated, and they have come in to replace older forms of treatment and develop further to treat symptoms whose remedies are yet to be identified. The dynamic nature of the studies in Homeopathy has brought about remedies that are still being elaborated.
Homeopathy suffered the decline of the practice, in the 1930s, due to the deviation from classical Homeopathy by some practitioners, who shifted to more mechanical ways of treatment rather than continuing with the Homeopathic philocophy (Jacobs, & Jennifer, 2000, p.76). This only served to widen the rift between Homeopathy and conventional medicine. In the 1970s, the state of affairs changed, and the practice experienced revival. Despite its decline in Europe and USA, there were still a good number of Homeopaths in India. George Vithoulkas is one of such homeopathic practitioner. He underscored the importance of treating the patient rather than the symptom only. He stressed on the aspect of understanding the state of mind of the patient. It is important to note that the new remedies were based on the studies that go beyond the physical symptoms to rather the psychological aspect (Vithoulkas, 2010, p.56). Dr. James Tyler Kent, an American homeopath, was amongst the homeopaths, who paved the way for the new remedies based on understanding that the remedy states as images and pictures and not just a mere collection of symptoms (Kent, 2009, p.89).
Dr. Sehgal from Delhi, in the mid-1980s, formed the opinion that one could possibly prescribe medicine to a patient by observing his state of mind. By conducting psychoanalysis of the patient, Dr. Sehgal found it possible to administer treatment by going beyond the “what” to the “how” a patient narrates his condition (Sehgal, 2001, pp.71-3). He found an interesting way of merging the symptoms and treatments in the Materia Medica with the observations he made of the patient’s state of mind. For example, when an individual exhibits the symptoms of the fear of darkness and a great desire for light, the remedy prescribed Stratmonium, according to the Material Medica. In the same way, a patient may be severely anxious that he does not know the ailment that he is suffering from and may have a great desire to know it and treat the condition. Dr. Sehgel would interpret this as the fear of darkness and the desire for light. Despite the great discoveries that revolutionized the field of homeopathy, he was criticized for adopting the mental aspect and ignoring the physical symptoms.
Another homeopath who has advanced the practice and laid the foundation for greater advancements is Jeremy Sherr, who made proves that the scorpion, chocolate and hydrogen amongst other new remedies could be used to heal a great deal of ailments. Jeremy Sherr was following the works of Dr. Rajan Sankaran, who also emphasized the importance of studying the mind of a person and not just observing the random and seemingly unconnected symptoms in a patient. He said that the main cause of the symptoms of the patient was his general perspective of situations which may have sprung from a root of delusion, which is an altered state of reality in the patient. For example, if a person sees himself as a helpless individual in the position that is dangerous, he may adopt the delusion of a child in a dangerous situation and may respond by clinging and panic. The clinging and panic is, in reality, a state of mind that has been affected by the delusion (Sankara, 2011, p.24). Dr. Rajan also observed that the individual may receive dreams that are based on his deluded state of mind. This discovery introduced another level of diagnosing the symptoms in patients. For example, by knowing the dreams of patients, the homeopath will have a greater understanding of the basis of the disease and thus aid in giving the right treatment. New remedies are also being based not just on the interrelation with dreams but also on observances of the patients’ likes and dislikes, the patients’ interests and hobbies, the books he likes reading, and the movies he likes watching. This approach acts as a pointer that helps to understand the inner state of a patient.
Dr. Sankaran advanced another new way of curing the ailments of individuals by observing that there are three kingdoms from which a remedy can arise, namely the mineral, plant and animal kingdoms. He was able to observe that if a patient had a problem with sensitivity, the remedy should come from the plant kingdom. If a person’s symptoms and problems revolved around his structure and maintaining of stability, he needed remedy from the mineral kingdom. If a person had problems that revolved around the struggle to survive, then his remedy would come from the animal kingdom.
Dr. Sankaran undertook to study the periodic table to gain an insight of the elements, and he also studied the different plant families so as to come up with new remedies based on a deeper understanding of the kingdoms. In his studies, he discovered a level that is deeper than physical symptoms and also deeper than the set of mind or the patient’s dilution. He discovered the sensation by studying the different plant families. He discovered that each family has its own sensation and that the difference was the degree of desperation in the different families. The degree of desperation is unique to every person and is directly connected with the remedy. In his study, he analysed the different degrees of sensation, however, Dr. Sankran further realized that there is a dimension that is greater than the sensation, and that is the dimension of energy (Ullman, 2005, p.9). He realized that each patient has a unique energy pattern, which can be expressed through body language and hand gestures. Through this discovery, homeopaths come up with new remedies based on the patient’s deepest level that is their sensation and their energy patterns.
The three kingdoms are considered when it comes to treating various ailments, and from this perspective Dr. Scholten chose to further explore the periodic table in an attempt to get a deeper understanding of the mineral kingdom. Through his efforts, he classified the whole table from the first to the seventh period. He states that the periodic table can be related to homeopathy, and a journey from the first to the seventh period represents a scale from infancy to maturity, from the state of lack to a state of abundance (or otherwise stated, from a position of dependence to a level of independence) (Scholten, 2001, p.121). Through his works, mineral related remedies can be more accurately identified as he made the observation that minerals on the right hand side of the periodic table represented more authoritative figures in the society who are of a higher class.
Importance of Homeopathy
Many people and specialist have had mixed feelings and reactions towards homeopathic treatments. Its efficacy has come under sharp criticism as people are uncertain of thousands of products that have been brought forward for people to consume. Additionally, the government and regulatory agencies have their role to ensure that consumers are not exploited, and they (consumers) receive quality services (Lucas, 1978, p.88). The most crucial question that most people are asking is whether homeopathy is effective or useful. This question has lingered in peoples’ mind, and many specialists have remained quiet for various reasons. Therefore, there is a need to learn how various aspects relate to homeopathy, including facts and fictions that relate to this topic. These aspects are utilized as bases to advance various view points and arguments regarding homeopathy.
Scientists have carried out research with an aim of finding out whether homeopathic treatments are effective, and they have found out that the efficacy of homeopathic treatments, and their proposed mode of action is far-fetched. According to other specialists and especially the scientific community, their proposed means of action is a sham (Zott, 2012, p.23). Another organization that has spoken openly about this is the American Medical Association, which has openly described homeopathy as quackery, and all remedies that are listed under it are openly described as unethical.
Hahnemann said that diseases were caused by an incident he referred to as miasmas and, therefore, designed mechanisms to respond to it. He claimed to have achieved this by a series of diluting some substances using selected solvents such as distilled water or alcohol. This process was also followed by a process he referred to as succession, in which the above solution is stricken on an expandable body to increase its helpfulness. Dilution is to be repeated continuously until the initial substances cannot be traced. This process was to be repeated several times, and a cure for a disease was supposed to have been developed.
This is the greatest proof that this mode of treatment cannot possibly work. As seen above, this test does not provide information on whether the substance obtained has the ability to destroy disease causing organism. Additionally, the original substance that is diluted is received from reference materials such as repertories and also the patient’s symptoms, the personality, life history, and emotional state (Halil, 1997, p.56).
The requirement that the chosen substance be diluted heavily raises the question of its ability to respond to people’s diseases. Medics among other specialists argue that the potent potion that remains after dilution is not adequate to cure or treat any disease. Other groups argue that there is not even a trace of active ingredient that remains after dilution. The argument that water maintains memory of active ingredient, which is used to heal is seriously deceptive.
In addition to numerous and rigorous scientific tests that have been done to homeopathic products regarding their ability to eliminate disease causing microorganisms, even more greater clinical tests have been done to find out whether these products have any ability to better the health of a patient. Results from sources such as The American Medical Association and Drugs and Foods Administration (FDA) have been negative. These organizations have put their stand clear and are against this rogue branch of medicine. Additionally, FDA has continued to carry out its research concerning the general safety of these products and has recently found various significant violations with large manufacturers of homeopathic products.
Apart from dilution, materials that cause symptoms in healthy people are mostly poisonous or toxic and will severely harm health of a person that takes them (National Herbalists Association of Australia, 1989, p.21). Although some people and firms have been able to move these products in the market disguised as alternative medicine, people buy them without clearly understanding what they are. Some people do not understand them and think they are simply dietary supplements.
Relevance and Trust in Homeopathy
From the above discussion, it is clear that homeopathy is not necessary. This is because it is seriously lacking and is unable to provide reliable means of treating diseases. It is clear that homeopathy is being utilized by people to exploit consumers. People and firms selling such products are sincerely exploiting unsuspecting members of public (International Society of Alternative Medicine, 1985, p.71). Most of large firms pausing as homeopathic specialist have a hidden agenda, and most of them have been seen to use plant parts that they administer to members of the public. There is clearly no product that can deal or heal as many diseases as these people claim.
Additionally, one would expect that products that are sold by homeopathic firms be water as the discussion above alluded. It can also be expected that users are advised to dilute until no component of the medicine bought is left as this is the healing secret; ‘in the memory of water’. There are inconsistencies in their definitions and descriptions as most of products they deal with contrast sharply with what this field describes (Institute of Medicine U.S, 2005, p.32). This shows great ingenuities and further shows that these people cannot be trusted as they are ready to give incorrect information to buyers in order to continue selling.
As discussed, people dealing with homeopathy as specialists or producers of these products go a long way to communicate to the community that the community is consuming their products at their own risks. Unlike other pharmaceutical companies that go a long way to ensure that their operations are recognized by the law, homeopathic specialists do not get certified and continue to supply to the market even after the public watchdog has condemned their products. They do anything possible to get around the law.
In the year 2009, a research was conducted by the British Science and Technology Select Committee (BSTSC) to establish whether homeopathy has any medical use (Hilts, 2003). This organization carried out this research in order to test the validity of information from various quarters that homeopathy has any significance. It was found out that there was no way through which this method could work, and the scientific explanation is simply a deception. At the same time, some professionals and practitioners in homeopathy admitted that explanations as to why it should work have never been scientifically proven (Bu?ning, & Hambly 1993, pp.45-7).
Later in the year 2012, it was found out that several firms that produced these products are probably out to make money rather than help anyone (Stuart, 1981). This was established after some firms were found to ignore even the most basic safety procedures that are meant to protect consumers. FDA inspected one company that produces such products in Britain and sells them around Europe and the US. The company inspected was Nelson’s, and it deals with a wide range of homeopathic products (among them are pain killers, energy, emotional aids, and digestion aids). The findings of this inspection were disturbing, and they indicate a lack of concern for users of such products) (Dillard, & Hirschman 2002, p.98).
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Some Insurance firms have also found out sufficient grounds to decline in covering homeopathic services. One example of these firms that have taken this bold step is BUPA. This is a British Insurance firm that has been considered to be flexible in the provision of healthcare (Lipp, 1996, p.76). This firm has done enough research to establish thefts that these specialists have been committing. Since late 2012, this insurance firm has made its stand that it will no longer cover homeopathic treatment. This is simply because there is no scientific evidence about their ability to cure anything. Additionally, it is also easy to see the conspiracy in which people have gone as far as providing unverifiable information to increase their marginal revenue (Day, 2000, p.121).
In addition to these products not having any potent potion and no any scientifically proven medical significance, it was found to be contaminated with glass fragments. This can show the attitude that such a manufacturer could be having. The cleanliness and the hygiene levels were lower than levels assured by animal feed manufacturers. Moreover, FDA noted in its report that this was not the first time this had happened as the problem was chronically recurrent. It was observed that the manufactures had not implemented any measure to rectify this unfortunate event even after it was discovered for the first time (International Society of Alternative Medicine, 1985, p.78).