In 2012, the head of the American Food and Drug Administration issued a press release to the American public. Her words were, “The American public needs to remember that all medicines have side effects”(1). Of course, she was mistaken. What she meant to say was that all allopathic medicines have side effects, because homeopathic medicines do not.
According to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, the fourth leading cause of death in the U.S.A. today is the short term use of correctly prescribed allopathic medicine(2). This statistic alone should cause alarm. However, when we also take into account that there are very few studies which measure the long term effects of allopathic medications upon human health, we can only imagine what effects these dangerous medicines have over a ten to twenty year period. Common sense would dictate that if something is bad for you in the short term, it is probably much worse in the long term.
If questioned, most people would probably say they have some general awareness of the dangers of allopathic medicine. However, as is the case with global warming, GMO foods, and environmental toxicity, the real dangers of allopathic medicine have largely been kept from the American public. The true extent of the danger to human health by short term use of allopathic medicines, as well as the potentially catastrophic dangers of their continued, long term use are largely not understood by the average person. Even educated people seem to often take the ostrich posture when it comes to using allopathic medicine.
Doctors know that most cancers take 10 to 20 years to develop before they are even recognized(3). What factors have caused cancer rates to dramatically increase since the early 1900’s? Is it merely coincidence that antibiotics, aspirin, immunizations, and other modern, allopathic medicines were also first being used on a widespread basis during the early 1900’s?
If there was a safe and effective form of medicine, that was a valid alternative to allopathy, what would it look like? One answer is homeopathy.
A Very Brief History
Homeopathy is a branch of medicine that has its roots in the medical practices of many ancient cultures and traditions. In the late 18th century, a German medical doctor and researcher named Samuel Hahnemann “discovered” a common thread running though many of the ancient medical texts which he was translating. What Hahnemann realized was that in Ancient Rome and Greece, as well as in the Arabic kingdoms, physicians had successfully cured certain diseases using the principles of like cures like. Hippocrates himself used many medicines in this manner. The ancient Indian Vedic medical texts also speak of using the principal of “like cures like”. Perhaps the simplest example of this approach is the Ancient Egyptian and Greek practice of using bee venom to treat inflammation(4).
Over a 50 year period, from roughly 1790 to 1840, Hahnemann developed a complete and thorough system of medicine. This system cures by administering highly diluted doses of medicines that, in their gross form, would cause the same constellation of symptoms that the patient is suffering from.
During the early and mid 19th century, the new medicine of homeopathy quickly spread around the world. In America, homeopathy established a widespread presence. By the year 1900, there were over 100 homeopathic hospitals in the U.S. Homeopathic medical colleges and hospitals were also established throughout Europe and South America(5). During this period, many volumes of medical texts were published, each giving extensive documentation of cured cases. Diseases such as tuberculosis, malaria, cancer, heart disease, liver disease, etc. were effectively and routinely cured through treatment by the best homeopathic physicians. These well documented examples can be studied today by anyone who has the interest to read them.
In the mid 19th century, homeopathy found its way to India, where it spread like no place else on earth. In the sub continent today, homeopathy still flourishes. Homeopathic medicine is recognized as one of the state supported medical systems and boasts over 120 five year, homeopathic medical colleges, as well as over one hundred thousand homeopathic hospitals and clinics. It is estimated that, in India today, over 90 million people use only homeopathy, for both minor and major ailments. It is used by all classes of society, but especially by the educated, upper classes. Experienced homeopaths are regularly called upon as the first and only responders to serious diseases. This includes many infectious diseases such as typhoid and malaria, as well as chronic problems such as congestive heart disease and kidney disease.
Homeopathy has survived the test of time, as well as the relentless attacks from the allopathic majority. During the last 200 years, billions of patients have been successfully treated with homeopathic medicines. The last 40 years in particular, have witnessed a great resurgence in homeopathic medicine. A new generation of doctors have embraced the old masters work, and taken this time tested practice into the 21st century. One can find professional homeopathic practitioners in almost every country. The World Heath Organization now lists homeopathic medicine as the second most widely used system of medicine on earth today(6).
It is not by chance that this renewed worldwide interest in homeopathy has also sparked a new round of vicious attacks by the allopathic establishment. A group of scientists, some with links to various pharmaceutical drug companies, have undertaken a campaign in the press and on the internet to wipe out homeopathy. They continually publish false accusations and uneducated, misinformation about homeopathic medicine. The fact that the scientific mechanism of homeopathy is not understood, and that homeopathy uses small dilutions, have fueled these “scientists” opinions that homeopathy is only placebo. These “experts” are thoroughly convinced that homeopathy is a fraud. In response to this, I suggest that anyone, with true curiosity about homeopathy, go observe in a successful homeopathic clinic. In the hands of a skilled practitioner, homeopathic medicine is incredibly effective. It causes no harm, and cures disease from the root.
Three Basic Principals
The three basic tenets of homeopathy are: The Law of Similars, The Minimum Dose, and The Individualization of Prescriptions.
The Law of Similars
The law of similars simply states that what causes disease will also cure it. The theory behind this law suggests that the human immune response is stimulated by receiving a non harmful dose of a substance that, in its gross form, would cause similar symptoms to what the patient is suffering from. Examples of this law have been given in the previous section.
The Minimum Dose
This law states that the smallest amount of medicine needed to cure disease is the one that must be given. Each homeopathic remedy is comprised of an infinitesimal amount of a particular, medicinal substance. Through experience, Hahnemann came to realize that he obtained the best results after drastically reducing the amount of the medicine, which due to the law of similars is also a disease causing agent, given to his patients. After diluting his medicines in water to extreme levels, he also vigorously and repeatedly shook (succussed) these medicines between each dilution. What he realized, and what subsequent generations of homeopaths have confirmed, is that remedies become stronger and stronger the more the original substance is diluted and succussed.
Although this fact contradicts our deeply held notion that “more is stronger”, never the less, this is what Hahnemann discovered empirically and what still works today. In some sense, Hahnemann predated the modern notions of sub atomic theory and quantum physics. In the world of quarks, photons and parallel universes, homeopathy is quite at home. Homeopathy is often criticized because no one can truly explain how it works. One only need remember that, until 1992, no one knew exactly how aspirin worked either. Yet, this inconvenient fact did not stop allopathic physicians from prescribing it for just about everything!
The Individualization of Prescriptions
In homeopathic medicine there is no remedy for arthritis, no remedy for headache, no remedy for kidney stones and no remedy for halitosis. In fact there is no remedy for any disease name. Diagnostic labels are helpful to the physician in order to understand the progression of disease and the prognosis of disease. They are of not much help in treating symptoms. This is why homeopathy adheres to the law of individualization of medicines based on the totality of each patient’s symptoms.
A case of typhoid can not be treated successfully without first determining which of the symptoms presented are common to typhoid and which are peculiar to that patient. While it is true that the chosen remedy must include the common symptoms of typhoid, it is more important that the chosen remedy reflect what is strange, rare, and peculiar in each patient. Subtle observations, such as the patient’s preferred sleeping position, when and where perspiration comes, the color of the skin, whether the patient is frequently thirsty or hungry or neither, become of the utmost importance. If the patient likes fresh air, then one remedy may be chosen. If the patient abhors any type of motion, then a different remedy must be selected. In this manner, the peculiarities of each disease and each patient will lead to the selection of a remedy that will cure that disease. Poorly selected homeopathic remedies will act poorly, or not at all.
Also, the doctor must be willing to change remedies when the disease picture changes. In an extremely acute condition, this may be required after five minutes. In chronic cases, this may be required after five years. In chronic cases, the mental and emotional nature or character of the patient plays a major role in finding the best medicine. Because each individual is unique, there are, at present, thousands of homeopathic medicines available to treat the vast variety of human expression.
Suggestions for Further Reading
1. Dana Ullman’s website is really the best. He has excellent articles and videos about the history of homeopathy and it’s current practice. He also has the best list of links to other web sites of particular interest.
2. For scientific studies showing the effectiveness of homeopathy Dr. Nancy Malik has an excellent web site.
3. Whole Health Now has an excellent web site with a lot of good information
4. Fifty interesting facts about homeopathy
5. History of homeopathy and the cholera epidemic of 19th century England
Caution! If you read the Wikipedia article on homeopathy, be aware that Jimmy Wales, its founder, is an acknowledged, active opponent of homeopathy. His Wikipedia site reflects his personal bias. Read all the facts first, then make your own decision.