Critical Analysis – Homeopathy

Homeopathy is a holistic system of medicine
first coming into popularity over two hundred years ago. The term is a
combination of homoios (similar) and pathos (suffering) and is based on the ‘law
of similars’ meaning that substances that cause sets of symptoms in a well
person can cure a sick person of those same symptoms (Mcintyre, N. 2002). Homeopathic
remedies are produced by diluting the therapeutic substance in either water or
alcohol and using the method of succusion (deliberate agitation) in between
dilutions ‘potentising’ the preparation. Homeopaths can match a single remedy
to the patient’s unique condition.

 

Homeopathy’s benefits include affordability: A homeopathic
doctor (HD) in India is half as
expensive as a medical doctor (Prasad, 2007). In Western nations such as Australia, a HD can treat
the whole person with a single remedy, making it more or as affordable as
conventional healthcare. Transportability: a roving HD can travel to rural and
remote areas with a kit of medicines, thereby treating those who would
otherwise not receive any healthcare. Homeopathy
is often considered the safer alternative. This is especially so with children,
babies or with elderly patients who are more likely to be prescribed multiple
drugs presenting significant risks (Mallet, Spinewine & Huang, 2007). Homeopathy can offer a single remedy per patient,
removing the need for potentially dangerous polypharmacy. Riley, Fischer
& Singh, (2001) concluded that homeopathy is equally as effective as biomedicine
in treating upper and low respiratory tract complaints including allergies and
ear complaints.

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Although new research has shown that
homeopathic remedies contain ‘nanoparticles’ of the substances they are made of
as well as silica from the glass they are processed in (Chikramane et al., 2010),
it is difficult to pin-point an exact mechanism of action that applies to all
homeopathic treatment and is communicable across disciplines.

 

The philosophical understanding and basis
for practice can sometimes differ among homeopaths causing further confusion.
Homeopathic treatment relies on the HD’s ability to interpret the symptoms accurately
and this is idiosyncratic to each homeopath. As a result homeopathy can produce
everything from astonishing to poor results depending on the practitioner
(Cartwright, 2002). In addition, an accurate homeopathic consultation may be
considerably more time consuming than a conventional medical consultation.

Despite the success
of homeopathy in significantly saving lives during the European epidemics of
the 19th and early 20th centuries, the advent and victory
of antibiotics and vaccines in conventional medicine slowed down the popularity
of homeopathy. In recent times however, antibiotic resistant bacteria is again
pushing us to seek alternatives. Homeopathy has been shown to successfully
replace antibiotics in recurrent acute rhinopharyngitis in children (Trichard,
Chaufferin & Nicoloyannis, 2005).

Nobel laureate Luc Montagnier continues his study of electromagnetic
waves found coming from DNA particles at high dilutions – the positive results
of which could be favourable in the study of the homeopathic mechanism of
action (Enserink, 2010). It may still be some time before the available
evidence can persuade biomedical science to accept and integrate homeopathy into the
mainstream. Even so, around 500 million people
successfully use homeopathy worldwide (Bell & Schwartz,
2013).

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