Alternative medicine- A faith based cure or science?

I had been wondering what I can contribute to Medha journal. I had been toying with several topics that were crossing my mind. I took some moment from my schedule to think what has changed my life in a positive way recently.

I grew up with a science which has a shade of mysticism to it, it's called “Homeopathy”.


My grandfather was a homeopathy practitioner. And I as a child heard of many homeopathic remedies such as
Arnica, Bryonia, Chamomila, China, Pulsatilla and so on. Several people came to my grand-dad for remedies. And what I heard from all of them that it worked. My grand-dad also told me several case studies from his experiences how these remedies worked for many chronic and acute patients. I too had some positive experience with this remedy when I was a child. One time I had some tumorous bone growth, when I was around ten years old. At that age I could barely walk, I had to walk with some support. And my grand-dad gave me some homeopathic remedy and I was completely cured! Don’t ask me the name of the remedy, as I was so young I did not care to ask, I was just happy that I was walking and running around like other kids.

Several years later, I took shelter of homeopathy once again. My child developed bronchitis like symptoms every time he had cold. Modern science had a label for it — it is called “Asthma”. He was hospitalized one time and had to be treated with oral steroids. And of course, he was prescribed the very common and widely used “Asthmatic patients” buddy Albuterol and Pulmicort! Each doctor shared their own view on how to use this medicine. Some said, use it when he has an asthmatic attack or whenever he has cold, and the other view was to use it for the whole winter, which would be for almost for six months long! My concern as any parent was if there are any side effects to taking these drugs frequently and for such prolong period. Of course the doctors assured me that these drugs were relatively safe and had limited side effects (just recently there was a warning by FDA that prolonged usage of Pulmicort can cause blindness). In-spite of all the reassurances from the doctors I was desperate to look for some alternative medicines for my child.

My husband was very skeptical about my recourse. I was contemplating between Ayurveda and Homeopathy. I chose homeopathy and found a homeopathic doctor with some good referral. I took my son to this doctor who has a MD degree from an Ivy League University of United States. We spent about an hour with this doctor and he asked us several questions related our health, personality, family history, regarding our child’s medicinal history, personality and so on. At the end of the interview he decided on prescribing a remedy based on the interview, with technicality of administration of this remedy. We were little skeptical, however, we followed his directions and administered this remedy to my child.

After almost seven months from his first administration of the remedy, I saw a change in his health pattern. My child did not develop asthmatic attacks every time he had a cold or fever. I started using nebulizers in lesser frequency, to almost rarely.

After experiences in my life, it has made me wonder is homeopathy just a placebo effect as perceived or is there a science to it!

I am neither a doctor nor an expert on this subject matter. However, I read this book by Dr Bill Gray, Homeopathy: Science or a Myth? Doctor and the author had several interesting case studies, homeopathic principles and philosophy of life and its vital force described in this book.

Samuel Hahnemann had developed the principles of Similia and Potentization. Homeopathy is more popular in India, Africa and Europe more than in the US. After talking to the doctor and reading his book, it seemed that lack of funding for Clinical trials has lead to its unpopularity in the US, as we all know that FDA is not going to approve any drugs without safety and efficacy proved in the Clinical trials. However, if you are familiar with homeopathy, then you will know that there is no toxicity with homeopathy in comparison to allopath. Homeopathy is a 200 year-old medical science based on the fundamental principle of actively and powerfully stimulating the body to heal itself.

Interesting excerpts from this book, “Homeopathy’s concept of vital force is experienced by everyone as life energy itself. It is difficult to quantify, but it is the very real difference that occurs between life and death. Enzymes still function, nerve cells fire- yet there is an energetic change of state. To nurture the vital force- relaxation techniques, exercise, sleep, detoxification- helps rendering the vital force more efficient. Homeopathy, on the other hand, seems to directly increase the amount of vital force available. The experience of patients treated with homeopathic remedies is that stresses may come and go as always in life, but the organism’s threshold against them raises.”

The Principle of Similars: A fundamental difference between homeopathic and allopathic medicine is their attitude toward symptoms. In the homeopathic view- whether on mental, emotional, or physical levels- all symptoms are signs of the body trying to heal. The term “homeopathy” is derived from Homoiosimilar, and pathossuffering. The term “Allopathy” is derived from allo – other, pathossuffering. Allopathic medicine considers symptoms as signs of disturbance or alarm. Therefore, the allopathic approach generally manages symptoms by counteracting them – for example, antispasmodics for spasms, antidepressant for depression, anti-allergic or steroids for allergic symptoms. The concept seems to be that disease disappears if symptoms are taken away- but may lead to chronic symptoms later.
Homeopaths, on the other hand, observe that mere suppression of symptoms on one level frequently leads to deeper problems in the long run. For example, suppression of eczema with cortisone often leads to asthma, taking antihypertensive frequently leads to low energy, depression, and sexual dysfunction. These may be considered “side-effects” of drugs, but they frequently persist long after discontinuation. Homeopathic approach is to view each person as a whole individual, focusing on aspects most unique or peculiar. Correctly prescribed, a homeopathic remedy is designed to strengthen the person as a whole. Symptoms of disease then fall away naturally as the vital force increases. A substance which can produce a spectrum of symptoms in a healthy person will cure that same spectrum of symptoms in a sick person.

Challenge was to administer poisonous or powerful substances on healthy people, and make them sick. Serial dilutions of the original substance interspersed with vigorous shaking. The more a remedy is shaken and diluted, the more the curative power is increased (provided the choice of remedy is matched accurately by the Similia Principle)-simultaneously decreasing toxicity. Method of increasing cure while reducing toxicity has been the principle of medicine throughout history. Actual mechanism why this is possible has become clear with the advent of quantum electrodynamics research.

Being a student of science and related to medical science, it was difficult for me to have blind faith in alternative medicine. Skepticism always shadowed over my faith. However, some real life experiences and after reading this book, I made a judgment, that even alternative medicines have science. It is often, considered as blind faith by people, as it is not the conventional medicine. To a large extent it is contributed by us. For example, if you go to India, you will find several individuals practicing and prescribing homeopathic, ayurvedic, or Unani remedies as they are considered less toxic. They have no clue to the science or their education is very superficial, and may not prescribe the appropriate remedy. As a result, people start losing faith in alternative medicine.

I made a judgment that alternative medicine such as homeopathy is not just placebo effect as perceived; there is science to it which is not conventional


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