Homoeopathy was discovered by a German Physician, Dr. Christian Friedrich Samuel Hahnemann (1755-1843), in the late eighteenth century. It is a therapeutic system of medicine premised on the principle, “Similia Similibus Curentur” or ‘let likes be treated by likes'. It is a method of treatment for curing the patient by medicines that possess the power of producing similar symptoms in a healthy human being simulating the natural disease, which it can cure in the diseased person. It treats the patients not only through holistic approach but also considers individualistic characteristics of the person. This concept of ‘law of similars' was also enunciated by Hippocrates and Paracelsus, but Dr. Hahnemann established it on a scientific footing despite the fact that he lived in an age when modern laboratory methods were almost unknown.
Homoeopathic medicines are prepared from traces of animal, plant, mineral and other natural substances, by a standard method called dynamisation or potentisation, which comprises of successive dilutions and succussions to raise the inherent curative power of the drugs to maximum. The medicines thus prepared through ‘potentisation', attain their potential enhanced enormously to combat ailments while at the same time absence of toxicity is assured. The medicines are usually proved in healthy human beings, to ascertain their curative properties. The system believes in the existence of a self- regulating force in the organism, which plays a vital role during health, disease and cure. The symptoms are considered as the body's natural reaction to the illness and help to find a remedy against the illness. The remedies work by stimulating the body's defense mechanism to correct itself naturally. This therapy adopts an individualistic and holistic approach towards the sick individual. A homoeopathic doctor does not treat in the name of disease, rather the treatment is targeted against the “patient” who is suffering from a particular disease. The physician perceives all the derangements at physical and mental levels of the patient, brings about conceptual image of the patient through totality of symptoms and selects the medicine, which is most similar to the symptomatic totality of the patient.
Homoeopathic medicines are cost effective, palatable, have no adverse side effects and can be administered easily. In some cases, the medicines can be prescribed on the basis of symptoms of the patients, without depending upon the cumbersome and costly diagnostic modalities. Homoeopathy has been useful in treatment of psychosomatic disorders, autoimmune diseases, geriatric and pediatric disorders, ailments during pregnancy, obstinate skin diseases, life style disorders and allergies, etc. It also has a positive role in improving the quality of life in incurable chronic diseases like cancer, HIV/AIDS, terminally ill patients and incapacitating diseases like rheumatoid arthritis, etc. Its popularity is gaining momentum, all over the world.
HOMOEOPATHY IN INDIA
Homoeopathy which was introduced in India approximately two centuries ago, is an important component of India’s pluralistic health care system. The Government of India has made sustained efforts for growth and development of Homoeopathy and other traditional systems of medicine including Ayurveda, Yoga, Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Sowa Rigpa. (collectively identified by the acronym AYUSH). Due to the sustained efforts of the government, an institutional framework of Homoeopathy has been established at the Centre as well as in all the states. There exists a highly commendable infrastructure in the form of 195 undergraduate and 43 post graduate homeopathic medical colleges with regulatory mechanism for quality university education, autonomous research council with 22 institutes and units; 2,83,840 registered homoeopathic practitioners; drug safety regulations with 403 drug manufacturing units.
AYUSH services are included in the health care delivery system of the country at all levels of primary, secondary and tertiary health care. The Government of India has a number of programmes and initiatives for promotion of AYUSH systems and an increase in health care coverage in the country. The regulations ensure that quality of care is maintained and medical pluralism permits patients to opt for treatment of their choice.
Healthcare services in Homoeopathy are provided by 235 hospitals and 8117 dispensaries run by state governments and municipal bodies, Central Government Health Scheme, labour ministry and railway ministry. The Government of India launched the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM), to carry out necessary architectural correction in the basic health care delivery system in the country. A strategy in the NRHM is to mainstream the Indian systems of medicine and Homoeopathy to facilitate health care through these systems. Under NRHM, AYUSH facilities have been co-located in 512 district hospitals, 2739 community health centres and 9112 primary health centres in 2015. “AYUSH Wellness Centre” has recently been inaugurated by Hon’ble President of India, Shri Pranab Mukherjee on 25th July 2015 at the President’s Estate, New Delhi.
Since the last two decades there is a consistent focus to enhance quality of services, with initiatives to upgrade education, research and drug development and escalate health care delivery for which many initiatives have been taken up by the Government of India. These can be seen at http://ayush.gov.in/.
HISTORY OF HOMOEOPATHY IN INDIA
Homoeopathy was introduced in India when some German missionaries and physicians started distributing homoeopathic medicines amongst local inhabitants. However, Homoeopathy took roots in India in 1839 when Dr. John Martin Honigberger successfully treated Maharaja Ranjit Singh for the paralysis of Vocal Cords. Dr. Honigberger settled in Kolkata (the then Calcutta) and became popular as Cholera-doctor. Later, Dr. M.L. Sirkar, a reputed Physician of his time, also started practicing Homoeopathy. He edited the first Homoeopathic Journal ‘Calcutta Journal of Medicine' in the year 1868. In 1881, many renowned physicians including Dr. P.C. Mujumdar and Dr. D. N. Roy established first Homoeopathic College - the ‘ Calcutta Homoeopathic Medical College'. Dr. Lahiri, Dr. B. K. Sarkar and many others made personal efforts in establishing Homoeopathy as a profession. They are well known for their contribution to the growth of Homoeopathy not only in West Bengal but also in the whole country.
Over the years, the number of amateur homoeopathic practitioners grew steadily and most of them approached the Government to accord recognition to Homoeopathy. The turning point came in 1937 when the Central Legislative Assembly resolved, “That this Assembly recommends to the Governor General in Council that he may be pleased to introduce Homoeopathic treatment in government hospitals and give homoeopathic colleges in India the same status and recognition as in the case of allopathic colleges”. Later, in the year 1948, the same Assembly adopted yet another resolution about Homoeopathy, which was followed by constitution of the Homoeopathic Enquiry Committee. In 1949, this Enquiry Committee submitted its report recommending that Central Homoeopathic Council be constituted. In 1952, a Homoeopathic Adhoc Committee (later re-christened as ‘Homoeopathic Advisory Committee' in 1954) was constituted, which was to advise the Government on all matters related to Homoeopathy, namely homoeopathic education, homoeopathic research, regulation of practice, pharmacopoeia, rural medical aid, drug manufacture, family planning, financial aid to homoeopathic colleges, dispensaries, hospitals and cooperation with International Homoeopathic Medical League. In 1973, the Parliament passed the Homoeopathy Central Council Act for regulating homoeopathic education and practice in the country.
CURRENT GLOBAL SCENARIO
Homoeopathy is currently used in over 80 countries. It has legal recognition as an individual system of medicine in 42 countries and is recognized as a part of complementary and alternative medicine in 28 countries. WHO considers Homeopathy as one of the most commonly used forms of Traditional & Complementary Medicine (T&CM).
Three out of four Europeans know about Homoeopathy and of these, 29 percent use it for their own health care. Studies have identified Homoeopathy to be the most frequently used CAM therapy for children in European countries. The National Health Interview Survey 2007 (of past 12 months), estimated 3.9 million adults and 910,000 children used Homoeopathy in North America.
BENEFITS OF HOMOEOPATHY
1. It can be used by pregnant and nursing women;
2. It can be used by children and infants;
3. It does not interfere with medications taken by a person;
4. If an incorrect remedy is selected, it is completely safe and will not harm the person at all;
5. Other than occasional, mild, and short-lived symptom aggravations which pass quickly and tend to be followed by improvements in the symptoms of a person, there are no side-effects of homeopathic remedies. This symptom aggravation is actually regarded by homeopaths as a sign that the correct homeopathic remedy has been selected and usually results in symptom improvements;
6. It can be used for chronic or acute conditions;
7. It is an individualized system of medicine which treats the person, not merely the symptoms. The symptoms, however, are addressed when using this approach and are typically improved;
8. Homeopathy is a holistic approach to healing: one that involves the body, mind, emotions, and spirit of the person being treated;
9. Homeopathic remedies are readily available and can, therefore, be used by anyone;
10. Homeopathic remedies are typically inexpensive and therefore provide an affordable approach to healing;
11. Homeopathic remedies can be stored for long periods of time;
12. Homeopathic medicine is non-invasive; and
13. There are many studies proving the effectiveness of homeopathy, when used correctly.
ACUTE CASES CAN BE TREATED WITH HOMOEOPATHY
Every month, I get dozens of cases of viral fever. During the change of season, the cases are far more numerous. In fact, viral fever cases might top the charts if I were to see all problems for which patients visit me. It has been consistently so over the last 1 decades. Therefore I have a lot of first hand experience treating viral fever. The profile of the patients varies. From an infant to an old woman to a young executive, all sorts of people get affected with this. Fear of fever may be unfounded
When it comes to treating viral fever, I have seen that patients often fear fever. They think of it as a nuisance which is stopping them from their routine and other important works. It needs to be understood that the fever is just an outward expression of an inner problem. It is there because the body is trying to fight with an infection. The real problem is the infection. But patients tend to think of fever as the real problem.
One must realise that the normal defense mechanism of the body fights any infectious agent by raising the temperature of the body. This is because the infecting agents like viruses cannot survive in high temperatures. The fever helps the body to neutralise the virus. Normally, patients do not understand this aspect of the fever and its importance. On the contrary, they expect the medicine to bring down fever immediately. How Allopathy treats Viral Fever and abuse of antibiotics
The normal practice is to use anti-pyretics like Paracetamol or Crocin to bring the temperature down artificially. This approach is advisable only when the fever in itself becomes a threat. This can happen in hyperpyrexia or when the temperature is more than 104 F. At that time, there may be dangers associated with high temperature itself. In the case of infants, this can happen at temperatures above 102F . Under other circumstances, this approach is counterproductive. When one takes Paracetamol, it reduces the body temperature within half an hour or so. As the effect of the Paracetamol reduces in about 6 hours, the fever comes back and one has to repeat the dosage. If the body temperature is brought down suddenly, as happens when one takes Paracetamol or Crocin, the virus gets more time to multiply and proliferate. This allows the infection to spread. This is counterproductive as then the fever will take more time to resolve. Also, antibiotics are routinely prescribed by doctors or taken over the counter by patients. This is quite dangerous. WHO and all major medical bodies in all countries have been routinely cautioning against the abuse of antibiotics. This routine abuse of antibiotics is making the bacteria more and more resistant. It also diminishes the immunity of the body. How the immune system gets strengthened or weakened over time
The body’s immune system is in itself capable of dealing with infections. It is only when it is completely overwhelmed that some help needs to be provided. Otherwise it should be allowed to handle the infections on its own. There is an added benefit of this approach. Every time the immune system neutralises a bacteria or a virus, some antibodies remain in the memory of the body’s various defensive blood cells. This allows the immunity to fight off a similar infection the next time an infectious agent tries to invade. Thus it helps to strengthen the immunity. On the other hand, routine use of strong medicines does not allow the immunity to develop. The body becomes used to the aid of antibiotics and the bacteria become more and more resistant. Therefore one needs stronger and stronger antibiotics every time round. How Homeopathy cures viral fever and strengthens natural immunity
Homeopathy treats viral fevers differently. Homeopathic medicines help the immunity to fight the viruses. They do not bring down the temperature of the body artificially. If you are taking a homeopathic medicine for viral fever, your fever will not come down within half an hour as happens after taking a paracetamol or any other anti-pyretic. It happens because the medicine does not intend to do so. Rather, it intends to fight the virus and annihilate it. Of course, this takes some time. This means that the fever may persist for a day or so. But once the infection is subdued, the body starts to reset its temperature to the original levels. It is because the body does not need to keep its temperature at higher levels anymore. Therefore, once the fever comes down, it does not come back. In my practice, I have seen that it takes just about 2 days on an average for viral fevers to be cured with the proper homeopathic medicines. Advantages of Homeopathy in curing viral fever
The homeopathic approach has multiple advantages. First and foremost, it leads to strengthening the immunity of the body. This is in stark contrast to the antibiotic approach which leaves the natural defense mechanisms of the body weakened. The antibodies produced by the body’s immunity live in the memory of the immune system forever. Anytime a similar virus tries to invade the body, the antibodies spring into action immediately and do not allow the virus to proliferate and spread. So it helps the body to fight further infections. The second advantage is that there are no remnant after effects of the fever. It is often seen that patients tend to have prolonged weakness after a course of antibiotics. Some report loss of appetite. At times, the taste of the mouth remains bad for days. Weakness is another thing that remains for a long period of time after taking antibiotics. None of these things happens when you take Homeopathy. Once the fever is cured, one feels perfectly fine. You can immediately start your routine work. There is no weakness afterwards. The taste of the mouth also remains fresh as ever. Your appetite is also as good as ever.
Last but not the least, you are not contributing to routine abuse of antibiotics. This abuse of antibiotics is becoming a threat for the medical community as well as the general population. Once the present generation of antibiotics becomes useless, there is no new pipeline to refresh them. Therefore, it is much wiser and healthier to take Homeopathy for your viral fever.
Homeopathy: a holistic approach
There are many benefits of homeopathy – citizens of India increasingly recognise the benefits of a holistic approach to care, where the practitioner views them as a whole, rather than a clinical condition or a set of symptoms and takes the time to listen. From a holistic perspective, the patient is considered as unique, requiring individual assessment and treatment. As an integrated entity, including the physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, social and any other aspects of the total person. Individuals are seen as living systems that are self-healing, self-renewing, homeostatic and adaptive. Health is not merely the absence of disease/illness, but the ability of a system, e.g. cell, organism, family, society to respond adaptively to a wide range of environmental challenges. Disease is considered as a result of an off-balance state of the whole individual (mind and body) rather than a local disturbance. Homeopathy looks beyond the labels of disease to cure their causes rather than merely their symptoms and it stimulates the body’s own natural healing powers to bring health, vitality and well-being. It does not treat superficially by just driving away the symptoms but heals the patient from within. It uses medicines that cover the disturbance of the whole person rather than giving different medicines for different afflicted parts of the body. Patients often report improvement in overall energy, mood, quality of sleep, and digestion, and the disappearance of other symptoms apparently unrelated to the condition being treated with homeopathy.
Homeopathic doctors relate individual patterns of responding to environmental influences, infectious agents and potential stressors to specific homeopathic medicines that can remedy these susceptibility patterns. Skilled homeopathic prescribing requires that the characteristics of the chosen medicine should be as similar as possible to the characteristics of the illness in the patient. The more detailed the understanding of the symptom nuances of the patient, the more accurate the prescription. Thus, homeopathy is highly individualised and based upon a holistic assessment. As well as the patient’s actual complaint and conventional diagnosis, the following factors may play an important part in medicine selection, especially in chronic disease: the patient’s constitution, emotional and mental make-up, the way the patient responds to physical, emotional and mental influences/stress in his/her life, the patient’s personality, temperament, genetic predispositions and any strong family history of particular diseases.
Homeopathy: a complete system of medicine
Homeopathic medicines are aimed at improving the level of health by stimulating the self-regulatory mechanism. Improving the level of health implies reducing any disease process as well as the susceptibility to illness and disease. That means that it is not limited to certain diseases but is universally applicable to all kinds of diseases. It can often be used as a first option in certain medical conditions, keeping more costly and potentially toxic treatment as a second option. In addition, it can offer therapeutic options where conventional treatments have failed or where conventional treatments do not exist for the problem, where they are contraindicated or not tolerated. In many disorders homeopathy should be a first choice treatment instead of a last resort.
In many cases of chronic disease homeopathic treatment can achieve results which would be considered impossible with conventional treatment. The therapeutic possibilities, however, depend on how much irreversible damage has, or has not, occurred, and on the extent to which the organism is able to recover. If the distortion is too great, the damage too severe, the disease highly infectious or life-threatening, the condition becomes more suitable for the stronger methods of conventional, allopathic medicine. Limitations are specific surgical indications, deficiency diseases and very serious diseases in which gross anatomical changes have evolved. However, in incurable stages of a disease homeopathic treatment may relieve a patient to a large extent.
In injuries and accidents, homeopathic treatment can be of immense value. Homeopathy can even help if surgery is necessary. Homeopathic medicines can be given both pre-operatively and post-operatively to speed up healing and to counteract any effects of anxiety, shock and anaesthetics. In general, patients treated with homeopathy make a much more rapid post-operative recovery than patients who have not had this treatment.
Homeopathy: a complete system of medicine
Homeopathic treatment is an effective method of healing – in both acute and chronic conditions, as claimed by millions of patients and thousands of homeopathic doctors. It may even offer long lasting to permanent cure, treating the disease from its roots, for most of the ailments. The body of clinical evidence for the effectiveness of homeopathy continues to accumulate. Several research studies have shown overall that three quarters of the chronically ill patients reported that they felt ‘moderately better’ or ‘much better’. A number of rigorous clinical trials have shown homeopathy superior to placebo; others have shown it to have effects similar to conventional treatments.
Homeopathy is an effective alternative to antibiotics in infectious diseases, producing no toxic side effects and bringing about rapid recovery. Viral infections are also very well treated with homeopathy. In addition, homeopathy is effective for a variety of complaints occurring in children, including behavioural problems. Other medical conditions successfully treated are: skin diseases such as acne, boils, eczema, psoriasis, warts; musculoskeletal pain, arthritis, osteoarthritis, sciatica, bursitis and fibromyalgia; allergies, frequent infections; tension headache and migraine; heartburn, gastritis, constipation, intestinal conditions, irritable bowel syndrome, inflammatory bowel disease; frequent colds, sinusitis, tonsillitis, cough, asthma and respiratory infections; emotional conditions such as depression, anxiety, insomnia; menstrual disorders, premenstrual syndrome, infertility, hot flushes; morning sickness, labour induction, labour pain, lactation problems, breast inflammation (mastitis); coronary dysfunctions, liver disorders, Ménière’s disease. There are many other conditions besides those listed where homeopathy is found to be effective. Homeopathy: a safe treatment
Homeopathy is safe. Unlike other medication, homeopathic medicines are non-toxic and harmless and do not have any adverse side effects. Patients unable to use conventional prescription drugs due to side effects can often safely use homeopathic medicines. Homeopathic medicines are natural, prepared from minute amounts of herbs, minerals and animal products. Their quality and safety are assured by the national medicine agencies based on European Union legislation and European Pharmacopoeia requirements. They are suitable for pregnant women, infants and children without worrying about the dosage.
Many childhood ailments could be very effectively and quickly treated with homeopathy without producing any side effects whatsoever. Unlike antibiotics and other such medicines, homeopathic pills do not hamper digestion, or lower the body’s resistance. Neither do they cause any allergies nor cause any damage, even if taken over a long period. There is no toxicity, no addiction, no dependency, no withdrawal. Millions of people use it to help themselves, their families and their pets without any dangerous physical repercussions.
Homeopathy: a low-cost treatment
Homeopathic medicines are much less expensive than conventional prescription drugs, because they are generic, non-patented and non-patentable medicinal substances, produced at low costs. On average, homeopathic medicines cost less than in acute conditions and a few cents per day (sometimes a fraction of a cent) in chronic conditions.
Since homeopathic doctors need to obtain a large amount of information from their patients, a longer consultation time is required. This means that consultations are more expensive than usual GP consultations. The overall costs of a homeopathic treatment may therefore be comparable to that of conventional treatment. In the long run, however, homeopathy saves money. Under proper homeopathic treatment not only the person’s immediate complaints improve, but also his/her susceptibility to disease decreases as there is a general improvement in health and thus less need for medical consultations. So the cumulative costs are very low.
The long-term gain has been demonstrated by several research studies. They show that patients who were treated with homeopathy used fewer medications, had better health, fewer days off sick, fewer visits to medical specialists, less time in the hospital than patients of conventional physicians. Moreover, there are no costs associated with complications due to adverse medication effects. In other words, homeopathy may offer significant cost savings to public health bodies, and to the economy more widely.