Homeopathy is a system of medicine that is based on the Law of Similars. The truth of this law has been verified experimentally and clinically for the last 200 years.
Let’s look at an example: If your child accidentally ingests certain poisons, you may be advised to administer Syrup of Ipecac to induce vomiting. Ipecac is derived from the root of a South American plant called Ipecacuanha. The name, in the native language, means “the plant by the road which makes you throw up.” Eating the plant causes vomiting.
When a group of healthy volunteers took this substance to determine the effects of this drug, they found that the drug induced other symptoms as well. The mouth retained much saliva. The tongue was very clean. There was a cough so severe that it led to gagging and vomiting. There was incessant nausea. While it is expected that vomiting would usually relieve the nausea, this was not the case.
Such an experiment, using healthy volunteers, is called a proving, and it is the homeopath’s source of information about the action of a drug. Of what use could this plant be? If a person were suffering from a gagging cough after a cold, or a woman were experiencing morning sickness with incessant nausea that is not relieved by vomiting, then Ipecacuanha , administered in a minute dose, especially prepared by a homeopathic pharmacy in accordance with FDA approved guidelines, can allay the “similar” suffering.
Samuel Hahnemann described this principle by using a Latin phrase: Similia Similibus Curentur, which translates: “Let likes cure likes.” It is a principle that has been known for centuries. Hahnemann developed the principle into a system of medicine called homeopathy, and it has been used successfully for the last 200 years.
This has been a subject of debate for a long time now. While we cannot label any form of treatment as wrong or inferior, a comparative study based on a few factors would definitely help to bring to light a few underlying differences between the two forms of treatment.
Homeopathy: The word homeopathy has been derived from Greek hómoios- ὅμοιος which means “like-” and páthos πάθος which means “suffering”. Joint together to form homeopathy which means that when a substance causes symptoms of a disease in a healthy person, will cure the same disease in a sick person, in more simple words “like cures the like”.
Allopathy: The word allopathy has been derived from the Greek word állos, which means “other” or, “different” and πάϑος, páthos, which means “suffering”. Joint together to form allopathy, which means “other than the disease”.
Homeopathy: The concept is based on the reaction to a disease as two different individuals may react differently to the same disease. The unique reaction is treated and so the same disease may have different medications based on the unique reactions. The cure focuses on the individuality of the person and so two individuals suffering from the same disease may be prescribed different medicines.
Allopathy: The concept is based on the disease and not on the reaction. Treatment is same for two different individuals suffering from the same disease.
Homeopathy: The approach is holistic wherein the body is assisted to heal itself naturally by improving the immune system.
Allopathy: The approach aims to treat the disease alone. The focus is on the disease and not the causes and cure is at the cost of suppressing immunity.
Health is priceless and for restoring one’s health no amount spent is very high. However, we all have limitations and that’s when cost effectiveness matters.
Homeopathy: The medicines are very reasonably priced. They are affordable by all sections of the society.
Allopathy: The price is very high when compared to homeopathy. In fact some medicines are beyond the reach of the financially deprived.
Homeopathy: If administered under proper guidance of a physician, homeopathy medicines do not have side effects. The only caution is they should not be taken in excess.
Allopathy: These medicines have their own set of side effects and may be short term or long term.
Although homeopathy use has been prevalent over the past two hundred years, there are a few sceptical views regarding the use of homeopathy. Let us examine the common myth related to use of homeopathy.
Myth 1: The science behind homeopathy healing has not been proved.
Fact: Homeopathy is science-based on logic and experimental data. The medicines are prepared in a standardised manner. There are over 3000 remedies that have been tested and whose clinical efficiency has been proven.
Myth 2: Homeopaths are not qualified doctors.
Fact: There are over 180 colleges in India and more than 1000 abroad. These are recognised colleges and offer degree and diploma courses. This involves extensive study which includes human body, mind and philosophy and practical training in hospitals. In India the degree courses are of 5.5 years and upon successful completion the students are awarded the degree. There are post graduate courses available too.
Myth 3: Homeopathic medicines are only placebo.
Fact: This myth is based on use of sugar pills in homeopathy. Sugar pills are just used as the medium. The real medicine is in a liquid form and is prepared from natural medicinal substances. Homeopathy is also available in liquid form as tinctures.
Myth 4: Homeopathy medicines take long to work.
Fact: The duration of treatment depends on two main factors – nature of the disease and the immunity of the patient. Since homeopathy improves the body’s ability to resist diseases it takes a little longer to work effectively and is continued until natural immunity takes over. For minor infections usually one dose is enough. The stage at which cure was sought also plays a major role in the length of the treatment. Basically the faster the better. In acute illnesses homeopathy takes long but cures the ailment completely from the root.