Homeopathic medicine is until now at odds with the established norms of medicine. It is founded on two premises which, if not properly explained, seem meaningless. The first is the principle of “similars.” “Like cures like” is one fundamental premise on which homeopathy stands. According to this principle, an ailment can be treated and eventually cured simply by administering small doses of substances which give off the same symptoms that a particular ailment does. For example, since onions affect a profuse letting of tears, it is therefore believed that it can be used to reduce the symptoms of hay fever.
Based on this view, the very symptoms of an illness are positive signs themselves that the body’s system (life energy) is fighting against the illness. Another premise of homeopathy is “the more diluted a substance, the higher its potency” (O’ Mathuna & Larimore, 2001). This proposal left many medical practitioners cynical since it contradicts established scientific findings. Most of the homeopathic cures if taken in concentrated or large doses can become toxic.
Homeopaths, therefore, dilute the ingredients of their cures in water or alcohol.
They do not dissolve and dilute their remedies once, but many times. This process would increase the effectiveness and potency of the treatment. Of course, this belief and approach to administering a cure poses problems to scientists. For one thing, it is well founded in medicine that the more diluted a substance, the lesser it will contain its essential qualities and thus less potent or less effective rather than promising a cure. Any ingredient when dissolved or diluted loses its original qualities (O’Mathuna & Larimore, 2001).
Homeopathy believes that human beings are made up of a more complex parts rather than mere physical. It believes therefore that the thinking patterns and emotions (negative or positive) of the person affect the physical aspect of his or her being. Although, these aspects are usually relegated to the realm of the spiritual, the belief that man’s psyche affects the body is taught by Psychology. There are illnesses which are rightly designated as psychosomatic, which means that their origins are of the mind. Because of this deduction from Psychology, the otherwise hard to accept view of homeopathy because of its seemingly primitive nature has somehow become plausible.
Some observers see this overall cynicism as the result of differing cultural backgrounds. Western people, since more technologically oriented, find a non-traditional approach to medicine difficult to accept, while those whose origin is eastern are more inclined or likely to adopt homeopathic medicine. In spite of all these discrepancies though, all agree in principle that human beings are not just mere mechanisms of the flesh, but more – if not too complex – intricate than that.
German physician Samuel Hahnemann (1755-1843) was a typical medical practitioner of his time. He published his book “Organon of Rational Medicine” in 1810 wherein he clarified and explained the rationale behind homeopathy which according to him was since the ancient times were already practiced by known figures as Hippocrates (c.460 B.C.) and Paracelsus (1490-1541). Actually, today, when writings and discussions touched homeopathic medicine the name of Hahnemann automatically comes in. He is considered one of the fathers, if not the originator of homeopathy (O’Mathuna & Larimore, 2001).
One of the facts in conventional medicine is the effects of anxiety to the overall health of the patient. If the patient is of gloomy disposition, the likelihood is that he will be prone to bouts of depression which eventually will cause chemical imbalances to the patient’s body and hence lead to other possible diseases. Too much anxiety can cause stomach problems. The clear scientific evidence that supports the benefit of homeopathic treatment is the fact that it can cause, as in other medicines, a placebo effect in the minds of those being treated. And as a proven fact, placebo effect has been known to have curative result to many previously sick people (Ernst, 1999).
Although the system of homeopathic medicine, when explained, is more palatable to the mind, the skepticism among its critics could not be pacified. They criticize the absurdity of this kind of treatment and concluded that to engage in this kind of therapy is to waste time. One known skeptic, James Randi, even offered a challenge for anybody who could provide concrete evidence as to the healing powers of homeopathy. He promised he would give away 1 million dollars to anyone who could convince him (with credible evidence). There was actually a group of physicians and scientists who bit at his offer. The experiment failed and Randi retained his prize money.
In closing, it should be noted that although there might be some truths as to the potency of homeopathic treatments, necessary precautions need to be taken by those entertaining this approach. First, to recommend this kind of treatment to people afflicted with various diseases requires a thorough explanation of this treatment, and may call for an abandonment of some established tenets of conventional medicine. This situation is arbitrary and therefore very uncertain. A lot of patients who chose to opt alternative medicine – including Homeopathy – are those who got frustrated and tired of dealing with the harmful side effects of laboratory produced medications. Some whose case are in the category of terminal sickness decided to try the alternative, i.e. the outside cures offered by unconventional medicine, and may actually do away with mainstream diagnosis and treatments. This may result to undue harm to the sick person (Ernst, 1999).
Many experts who did examine the claims of homeopathy say that placebo and this type of treatment are not any different. Because of the relative harmless effects of homeopathy many followers of the treatment modality may see and experience cure and healing much like a placebo result (Bopp, 2007).
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