9:35 pm - Saturday September 21, 2019

Medicinal Therapies & Systems

Homeopathy


Homeopathy is a system of medicine, in which a drug and a disease that produce similar symptoms cancel each other out in some way thereby restoring the patients to, health. This principle of 'Like can cure Like' forms the basis of Homeopathy. It is named after the Greek words, 'Homeo' meaning similar and 'Pathos' meaning suffering or treatment by the same. This system of healing was founded by a German doctor, Samuel Christian Hahnemann (1755). In 1810, he set out the principles of Homeopathy in his book ' The Organon of Rationale Medicine'.

Homeopathy though developed abroad, has become an integral part of the Indian way of life. It is popular among the people partly due to its remarkable healing capacity and partly because of the belief that its remedies are so refined that they don't cause any harmful results.

In Homeopathy remedy is chosen based on the symptoms as well the character and temperament of the patient. In short two persons with same illness may be offered different remedies based on their individual nature.

Origin

The principle of 'like can cure like' ( an illness should be treated by a substance capable of producing similar symptoms to those being suffered by the patient) dates back to the Greek physician Hippocrates (460-377 B.C) in the 5th century B.C. He was the first person to think that disease was the result of natural forces, not divine influences. He believed that careful observation of the symptoms specific to an individual and the persons reactions and his own powers of healing should be taken into account before reaching a diagnosis and choosing a cure. Hippocrates known as the 'father of Medicine' had a collection of several hundred remedies. One of the best examples he provided of the principle of 'like curing like' was using the root of Veratrum album (white hellebore) in the treatment of cholera. In large doses this highly poisonous root causes violent purging that leads to severe dehydration, causing the same symptoms of cholera.

In the early 16th century, Swiss doctor Paracelus (1493-1541) found out that the causes of diseases were linked to external forces such as contaminated food and drink. He also believed that a poisonous substance that causes disease could also cure the disease' if given in very small doses and that physicians should take into account the body's own natural ability to heal itself. Here again the principle of 'Homeopathy' was advocated. But it did not gain popularity for another 300 years, until Homeopathy came into being.

In 1790, while translating 'A treatise on Materia Medica' by Dr. William Cullen, Hahnemann came across a passage about Peruvian Bark or Cinchona. It stated that quinine which is a substance purified from the bark of the cinchona tree, was a good treatment for malaria because of its astringent qualities. This made no sense to Hahnemann who, as a chemist was aware that there were other much more powerful astringents that had no effect on malaria. Deciding to investigate further, he dosed himself with quinine and recorded his reactions in great detail. He begun to develop the symptoms of malaria one after another, despite the fact that he actually did not have the disease. The symptoms recurred every time he took a dose of quinine and lasted for several hours. If he did not take any quinine, he had no symptoms. He repeated the doses of quinine, which he called 'provings' on people he knew well, noting the reactions in great detail. He then repeated the process using other substances such as arsenic and belladonna under strict conditions. The 'provers' were not allowed to eat or drink anything that might confuse the results such as alcohol, tea, coffee and salty or spicy foods. The provers response varied, some showed a few mild symptoms to a particular substance, while others experienced vigorous reactions with a variety of symptoms.

The symptoms that were most commonly found for each substance he called first line or keynote symptoms. Second line symptoms were less common and third line symptoms were rare. The combination of symptoms made up a 'drug picture' for each substance. He continued to conduct experiments for 6 years, testing a wide range of substances. He compiled the 'drug pictures' he had collected from his careful research, and started to test each substance on the sick to see whether they benefited from it. The patients were physically examined and thoroughly questioned about their symptoms, i.e., their general health, the way they lived and their outlook on life and what factors made them better or worse. Thus he build up a symptoms picture of each patient. Then he matched the individuals symptoms picture to the 'drug picture' of various substance. When he established the closest match, he would prescribe a remedy. He found that the closer the match, the more successful the treatment. Thus a new system of medicine 'Homeopathy' was discovered.

In 1776, Hanhemann published his book 'A new principle for ascertaining the curative powers of drugs and some examination of previous Principles', his first work on Homeopathy. In this book, he explained the key principle that, a drug taken in small amounts will cure the same symptoms it causes in large amounts.

Treatment and Remedies

In Homeopathy, illness is classified as acute or chronic. In an acute illness, such as cold, a person becomes ill rapidly and after sometime it subsides with or without treatment. But in chronic cases, a person suffers from continuous or recurrent illness, for example arthritis. The general trend of health is downwards.

Homeopath prescribes medicines on the basis of the symptoms and the constitutional type of the patient. A Homeopath decide the patients constitutional type by assessing a person's character and temperament, their fears, food preferences and general factors such as weather, temperature, seasons and time of the day which may worsen or improve physical condition. Knowing the strength and weaknesses of an individual (i.e. his vital force) enables the Homeopath to prescribe the best remedy.

Homeopathic remedies help to speed up recovery, by stimulating the vital force, and strengthening it. The remedies energize the vital force to rid the body of disease, helping it to return to its healthy state.

Remedies

Homeopathy medicines are made from plant, animal and mineral extracts and diluted in varying degrees in order to avoid unpleasant side effects. The remedies range from toxic substances such as snake venom and mercury to common foods such as oats and onions. These are available as lactose tablets, pillules, powder and granules.

The actual process of making remedies is very precise. For remedies derived from soluble substances, such as animal or plant extracts the raw material is dissolved in an alcohol /water mixture that contains approximately 90 percent pure alcohol and 10 percent distilled water (this ratio may vary depending on the substance). This mixture is left to stand for 2-4 weeks, shaken occasionally and then strained through a press. The resulting liquid is known as the mother tincture or tincture. Insoluble substances, such as gold, calcium carbonate and graphites, must first be made soluble by a process known as 'trituration', in which they are ground continually until they become soluble. They are then diluted and used in the same way as naturally soluble substances. The remedies are so diluted that they no longer contain a single molecule of the original substance used to make them and yet they remain extremely effective.

Remedy Potencies

To produce different remedy potencies, the mother tincture is diluted in an alcohol/water mixture according to one of two scales, the decimal (*) and centesimal (c). Between every stage of dilution the diluted tincture is shaken vigorously. In the decimal scale the dilution factor is 1:10 and in the centesimal it is 1:100. To produce a 1c potency of the Alluim remedy, for example, one drop of the mother tincture is added to 99 drops of an alcohol /water mixture and shaken. To produce a 2c potency, one drop of the 1c mixture is added to 99 drops of an alcohol/water mixture and succussed. The number of a homeopathic remedy shows how may times it has been diluted and succussed, for example- 6c has been diluted and shaken 6 times. Beyond a 12 c potency, a homeopathic remedy, is highly unlikely to retain a molecule of the original substance.

Development

In 1831, there was a cholera outbreak in central Europe. Hahnemann's treatment with 'Camphor' was very successful. Dr Frederick Foster Hervey Quin, follower of Hahnemann was one of many people cured of cholera by 'Camphor'. This enhanced his respect for Homeopathy, that in 1832 he set up a Homeopathic practice in London, where he later started the first Homeopathic hospital in 1849.

Homeopathy was established in the US during the 1820's and gained a widespread following. Dr. Constantine Hering (1800-80) and Dr. James Tyler Kent (1849-1916) were two important American homeopaths who continued Hahnemann's work in proving remedies and also introduced new ideas and practices to homeopathy.

The 'Laws of cure', devised by Dr. Hering explains how disease is cured in homeopathy. There are three basic laws of cure: symptoms move from the top of the body downwards; from the inside out and from the most important organs to the least important. Hering also believed that a cure occurred in reverse order to the onset of symptoms. For example, a person generally feels better emotionally before the physical symptoms disappear.

Dr. Kent observed that certain people reacted to certain remedies more strongly than to others. He maintained that people with similar body shapes and personalities tended to suffer from the same types of disease. He grouped people according to 'Constitutional types'. For example, Natrum Mur types tended to be pear-shaped, had a dark complexion, were fastidious, kept to themselves, craved salt and suffered from constipation. High potency remedies were prescribed according to the patients constitutional type and physical symptoms, this came to be known as Classical Homeopathy.

Towards the end of the 19th century, Richard Hughes (1836-1902) an English homeopath questioned the theory of constitutional prescribing by Dr. Kent and insisted that only the physical symptoms of the patients should be taken into account while prescribing a remedy. He also advocated using lower potencies. This led to a split in Homeopathy, between the followers of Dr. Kent, who used high potencies and believed that a persons emotional characteristics and their physical symptoms should be taken into account and the followers of Dr. Hughes. This internal split, suppressed the practice of this system of medicine for sometime. But later Homeopathy experienced a resurgence throughout the world and Classical Homeopathy gained widespread recognition.

 

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