Some of you are wondering about the seeming contradiction between what is being posted here, like the last one about how effective homeopathy in epidemics, and how, nonetheless, it seems to be a minor player in the medical world. It is not “minor” in all countries but certainly not the primary system anywhere in spite of its unusual effectiveness.
The answer has to do with our cultural world view. The way we have been moving the last few centuries is increasingly towards materialism. What this means is that how we understand reality is that there is a physical universe we are derived from. The physical universe is the foundation, primary, and we have evolved from it over time.
This is the basis for our science and, as well, for the practice of medicine. This way of seeing things is demonstrated in medicine by the emphasis on laboratory data, various physical tests, X-rays, cat scans, etc. As a result, the patient has increasingly come to be seen in fragments. Instead of considering the whole being, which includes their mental, emotional and physical states as one thing, we look away from them towards our physical devices.
Medicine, a century or so ago, was different in that the focus was on the patient as a being. The doctor would spend much time in the physical exam — palpating, touching, listening, questioning and this was the basis for deciding what was wrong.
Quite different today. You may feel ill, yet the tests done do not show a change so you are told you are not ill though you may feel like crap.
Homeopathy is different. It started when the patient was the focus, as described above, but the way medicines were used was to give drugs, herbs, substances like silver or mercury with the intention of blocking or counteracting the symptoms the person was showing. A simple example would be the person with a fever being given something that would make the fever decrease.
This is the same method as today, isn’t it? Treatment often is done to decrease or eliminate a symptom from expressing itself. Another way of putting it is that the symptoms are considered to be the disease. When Dr. Hahnemann discovered the effect of using substances that would bring about symptoms in the person much like they were having already, he referred to it as using “similar medicines.” Makes sense, doesn’t it? Instead of giving something to make the symptom diminish through the effect of that substance, he gave what would actually bring about those symptoms in a healthy person.
I know, doesn’t make sense. But it was a discovery and he did not anticipate it. He was only studying how substances act on a person and saw this happen without expecting it. He probably was shocked by it. In any case, he spent the next six years researching this with patients and volunteers. After he felt confident that it really did work, he released it to the other doctors who began using it.
As expressed in the earlier post, one of the dramatic things that happened was the extraordinary effectiveness of homeopathy in epidemics and this really confirmed that Hahnemann on to something.
HOMEOPATHY VS. ALLOPATHY
When Dr. Hahnemann coined the word for a “similar medicine” in 1824 he used the word “homeopathy.” I won’t try to spell the German form of it but the first part of the word “homoios,” from Greek, means “like, similar, of the same kind.” The latter part of the word “patheia” means “disease, also feeling, emotion.” So the Greek word he incorporated meant “having like feelings or affections, sympathetic.”
To make the distinction clear to the fellow doctors he called the other form of medicine of that time “allopathy.” Like the word above it comes from Greek “allos” which means “other.” Again the latter part has the meaning as described above. The meaning he had in mind is that this other treatment did not use similar medicines but rather ones that were quite different in their effects. Instead of stimulating the same symptoms the patient had, the did the opposite, they countered the symptoms. The medicines, therefore, were “other” than the symptoms.
Now, after going through this, can you understand why many people will reject the homeopathy idea as nonsense? How could it be a treatment to give something that actually increases the symptoms? Of course, the homeopathic perspective is that this stimulus actually brings about an improved patient response, one that leads to the recovery of health.
Let us contrast the two medical methods like this;
- The conventional, allopathic, method uses medicines that counteract the symptoms — reduce fever, stop allergic reactions, slow down diarrhea, etc.
- The homeopathic method, by studying the details of the patient’s condition, uses a medicine that brings about the same (actually similar) set of symptoms. This stimulates the inherent healing mechanisms of the body.
This comparison points to a significant difference in the two views in medicine. The usual, conventional, one doesn’t have a lot of confidence that the body can heal itself. Substances are given to regulate or control it. The homeopathic method assumes that the only way health can be restored is if the patient’s system does it for itself. The medicines are a stimulus for that to happen.