What homeopathy is not

Dr Rajesh Shah, MD(Hom): Dr Shah heads Life Force, in Mumbai, India.

In Summary: Misconstruction has surrounded homeopathy ever since its inception. Even after 200 years, homeopathy has remained the most misunderstood or ill-understood medical science ever; unfortunately, within the homeopathic profession as well. Diversity of view-points on the scope of treatment in the profession may no be a healthy sign for the growth of the science. Homeopathy is among the youngest of medical sciences calling for modern approach and extensive research. Some points related to misinterpretation about various facets of homeopathy, by the homeopaths, are raised and discussed. )

From dictionaries to encyclopedia to websites and books, it is almost explicitly explained ‘what is homeopathy’; however, it is equally important to discuss about what homeopathy is not.

Homeopathy is one of the most mysterious science streams, which is highly ill-understood, misunderstood, over-understood and hence there exists confusion in the minds of not only the lay-people (patients) but also the homeopaths themselves.

After having spent almost three decades in the study, learning, practicing, teaching, promotion and research in the field of homeopathy, I will rightfully share my thoughts and concerns; explaining what actually is not homeopathy.

Homeopathy is not a miracle medicine:

Many people believe that homeopathy is a miracle science, it can make magical cure in even most incurable diseases such as cancer, comatose stages, paralysis, etc. Actually, it is not. Homeopathy is simple a science based on certain laws (law of similars, comparable with that of vaccinations); with its own scope and limitations. There are rules, parameters and methods of application, which determine the scope of treatment.

Homeopathy is very effective but please do not expect magic or miracles.

Homeopathy is not a panacea:

One of the myths about homeopathy is that it is a cure for all, a panacea. It is not. Homeopathy enjoys all the joys of scope of its application, as well as the limitations of the science. No medical science can be a panacea.

Homeopathy can cure early stages of Rheumatoid arthritis but not the deformities, which go with it, as an example.

Homeopathy is not just the mind-based medicine:

One of the hardest concepts about homeopathy is that homeopathy is based largely on the understanding of the mind. The homeopathic fraternally is also not fully saved of this mis-belief. The study of the mental attitudes, the emotions and the mind-set is one of the important aspects of patient-study in homeopathy. However, it is not the sole determining factor.

Many homeopaths, especially in the western world, have a delusion that homeopathy is almost identical with mind-medicine. Homeopathy study encompasses, actually, the disease, the nature of pathology, the kind of immunological or hormonal changes, the physical components (perspiration, thermal preference, sleep, etc) and the mental sphere; all or most of them put together, depending on the case.

Homeopathy is more than psychosomatic:

Many homeopaths tend to relate disease or pathology in patients to some emotional parameter, almost always as cause and effect phenomenon. For example, diabetes due to stress in relationship or arthritis due to grief due to death of a loved one, etc. Psychosomatism is profoundly comprehended and valued in homeopathy; however, not necessarily as a causal phenomenon, but more as a part of the totality. There is no need to forcibly connect major emotions as the cause for development of every disease in all patients.

Homeopathy is not spiritual:

Since homeopathy is based on potentised (incredibly minute) dose of the physical substance, which cannot be measured with the current scientific methods, many have theorized and connected homeopathy with spirituality. It seems interesting to read some correlation between the two; however, it may be detrimental for the growth of homeopathy if taken away from science and towards spirituality. Comparing ‘vital force’ with ‘sole’ and miasms with ‘Buddhism’ will take homeopathy away from scientific growth.

Homeopathy is not-yet-fully-understood science, so, to some, it might look like some form of spirituality.

Homeopathy is not placebo therapy:

The skeptics have always criticized homeopathy as placebo therapy, due to lack of adequate research as per modern medicine guidelines. Since the results using homeopathic medicines are fairly reproducible, measurable and documentable, I would strongly say that homeopathy is far beyond placebo therapy.

Homeopathy is not faith healing:

Next label from skeptics is that homeopathy is nothing but faith healing. Homeopathy has worked million times for those who did not believe in it. Also, babies, domestic and wild animals, respond to homeopathy; proving homeopathy to be more than placebo therapy.

Cases of Hepatitis C, for example, where objective parameter such as drastic reduction in viral load after homeopathic medicines; is very hard to achieve with faith healing.

The skeptics should try out homeopathy, I suggest.

Homeopathy is not necessarily ‘single remedy’ magic:

The homeopathic professionals have been taught to be dogmatic about the use of ‘single remedy’ at a time, for all patients, all the time. It is very hard to break this fixity and evolve from this rigid shell; which even the father of homeopathy, Dr Hahnemann, could not outgrow in his time. The homeopaths tend to be either emotional when it comes to talking about the use of more remedies in a give case or shy away from discussing about it. The profession has yet to enter into a scientific discussion about so-called poly-pharmacy (multiple medicines).

No complex case be cured using a single remedy forever, barring only a few exceptions.

I deal with very severe pathologies such as Ulcerative colitis, Ankylosing spondylitis, Trigeminal Neuralgia, Nephrotic Syndrome, etc. where it is not possible to administer a single remedy and wait. Every delay could be detrimental and not justified.

Homeopathy is not just ‘single dose’ therapy:

‘Single remedy, single dose’ are the magic phrases found in homeopathic textbooks; no more relevant in today’s medical practice. I have practiced the said phrases very religiously for over a decade and half; and have evolved from the dogmatism.

Sticking to the idea of single remedy and single dose could even lead to criminal intransigence.

Homeopathy is not dream-based treatment:

Some teachings have led to create a cloud of delusion amongst some homeopaths, which believe that the practice of homeopathy can be based on the understanding of patient’s dreams. Study of dreams is one of the twenty odd parameters in homeopathy; one of the most unreliable, indeed. Its importance should not be over emphasized.

Most treatments do not lead to suppression:

Over importance to the theory of suppression of diseases in homeopathy is misleading, vey often. Yes, use of immunosuppressive medicines such as corticosteroids, etc. leads to suppression of immune system, eventually taking the disease to deeper levels. This is very well understood in homeopathic philosophy.

However, extension of the concept of suppression, whereby some believe that anti-fever (paracetamol, Tylenol), pain killers, antibiotics, always lead to suppression; and must always be avoided. This is not true, in my opinion. This calls for scientific debate.

Homeopathy is not that slow:

The proponents of homeopathy claim that homeopathy is not slow. Actually, this is partly true and partly not. Homeopathy is not slow in chronic diseases. It relatively slow in acute diseases and could be very slow in the treatment of critical diseases.

Homeopathy is not very fast acting medicine:

Homeopathy is not very fast, either. Let me be honest. Homeopathy is neither very fast nor very slow. We need research to make homeopathy faster, I would say.

Homeopathy is not simply ‘constitutional medicine’:

Any contradiction to concept of the constitutional medicine is a potential trigger for third world war, amongst homeopaths at least. After twenty-five years of intense homeopathic practice, I believe that the ‘constitutional medicine’ is a hype created in the profession. It calls for a review and re-evaluation. It is a huge topic, cannot be discussed in length here.

In brief, I would say, all cases may not find a constitutional medicine and can still be treated with success.

Homeopathy is not suitable for all acute and critical diseases:

One school of thought is that homeopathy can cure each a every acute and critical disease such as cerebral malaria, bacterial meningitis, acute renal failure, severe pneumonia, acute myocardial infection (heart attack), and the like.

I strongly opine that it is not true. Homeopathy is a science having a limitation whereby severe acute and critical disease situations cannot be consistently treated with success. Please read the word ‘consistently’ with emphasis. Success with some cases, on some occasions, may not be enough. The results have to be comparable with the modern medicine; in order that we ethically claim success of homeopathy in severely acute and critical illnesses.

Every disease is not curable, even if the remedy is right

Many people and some homeopaths believe that if symptoms of the patient match with some medicines, every disease becomes curable. In other words, if the medicine selection is perfect, the cure is certain; irrespective of the nature of the disease. This is not true. The curability of any disease depends on several factors such as 1. Nature of the disease. For example, hepatitis (inflammation of liver) may be curable; while cirrhosis (scarring) of liver is not curable. 2. Extent of pathological change. For example, a fewer patches of Alopecia Areata (hair loss patches) are curable; but total hair loss (Alopecia totalis) is not curable. 3. Reversibility of the disease process and outcome. Inflammatory arthritis can be helped but Osteoarthritis (bony overgrowth) cannot be reversed. 4. Selection of the correct homeopathic remedies.

Homeopathy is not beyond the modern medical science:

The well-evolved medical knowledge acquired by medical science is very much required for the evolution of homeopathy. Homeopathy does not claim to be beyond the modern medical science. In fact, it is high time to understand that homeopathy and medical science are not distinctly different as far as the ‘medicine’ is concerned. They are not contrary but complementary and collaborating; belonging to the same medical science.

Homeopathy is not against the modern medicine:

Some may believe that ‘modern medicine’ and homeopathy against each other, contrary; kind of enemies! I have always wondered, how such concepts have grown in the minds of medicos, homeopaths and lay-people. Homeopathy is just a science; a part of medical science.

If we look at the evolution of engineering sciences, do we believe that computer engineering is contrary to the electronics; mechanical engineering opposing to electrical or civil engineering’s? Not really. They all are complementing each other. Why don’t we have maturity when it comes to medical sciences?

Homeopathy is not against surgery:

One of the myths among laypeople, modern medicos, as well as the surgeons is that homeopathy is against surgery. Surgery is a part of homeopathy. Surgery is a science and art by itself. Surgery is neither a property of modern medicines nor of homeopathy. It has to be understood that homeopathy is a therapeutic method of treating diseases in certain manner. Surgery is a method of treating diseases in a different manner, without medicines. Both are complementary to each other. Precisely, therefore, the homeopathic training in India trains every homeopath for basic surgery, at undergraduate level, as much as it trains a modern medico. Every qualified homeopath in India is a physician and a surgeon. This is not a case in the western world, though.

While evaluating what homeopathy is all about; it would be equally important to understand what homeopathy is not. I hope this piece of article will stimulate many.

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7 responses to “What homeopathy is not

  1. Errol Klinkerfuss

    Here is a graphic illustration of what homeopathy is not. He gets some things right, but so much is muddled and just plain wrong! He claims long clinical experience, but I don’t believe he mastered real homeopathy before he went off into polypharmacy etc. People who haven’t mastered it always lay the blame onto homeopathy never on themselves and their lack of comprehension. Its not up to date. Hahnemann was senile. The diseases we have now are different and require new methods and remedies to cure. Any excuse to cover a lack of understanding and experience doing it the way it’s supposed to be done. That is: following Hahnemann instructions in the 6th edition of the Organon, using The Materia Medica Pura and Chronic Disease, and Boenninghausen’s Therapeutic Pocketbook. I’m not saying that if you learn the real way you’re going to cure all your patients. And, you’re going to lose patients while you’re learning, but if you don’t stick to the method how can it ever be given the trial it deserves? You can never convince people like this that they are in error, but maybe the people who haven’t made up their minds yet could be saved from going down the wrong road. This is definitely not homeopathy.

  2. I appreciate this article very much, especially the mentioning of the myth of the single remedy. Hahnemann himself was NOT a single-remedy prescriber (the author suggests he was not), he changed his prescriptions a lot. Currently I am reading his Journal from 1821 (Feb to Oct). He changes medications every fortnight or even more frequently. Bönninghausen changed remedies also, like we have seen in cases published here. WHO invented the myth of the “constitutional remedy”? I really would like to know.

  3. Errol Klinkerfuss

    Eduard von Grauvogl later aided by Hering and Kent.

  4. When the picture of the patient’s disease changes and it calls for a new remedy, you change the remedy, no matter how long it has been.

  5. Hahnemann, in 1821, practiced a sort of “polyfarmacy”. A case, picked at random: Fischer, 29th of July, prescription – first day Ars, 3rd day sulph,, 12th day Nit-ac, 22nd day Sulph. In this Journal (D22) I see that more than half of his prescriptions consist of various remedies. He doesn´t wait until the picture changes. Maybe later he started to prescribe single remedies, but in his first year in Köthen he definitely didn´t.

  6. There seems to be a confusion between concepts of polypharmacy and alternating remedies. Polypharmacy involves giving two or more remedies simultaneously. Alternating remedies is where remedies are given one after the other – which is based on the patient’s changing symptoms and the case analysis. Hahnemann and Boenninghausen frequently used alternating remedies, often amazingly predicting a series of remedies based on expectation of symptom change. However to the best of my knowledge neither gave more than one remedy simultaneously, and Hahnemann advised very clearly against it. The author’s text regarding single remedies is confusing, initially I thought he was referring to polypharmacy, and then understood that the issue was alternating or “zig-zagging” remedies. As far as I understand, Kent developed or “embedded” the concept of a constitutional remedy, together with other changes he made to the original methods.

  7. I think you must go by what Hahnemann said in the 6th edition of the Organon, not by the cases from the casebooks. He was constantly experimenting, to look for a justification there of polypharmacy or other unorthodox practices is wrong. The Organon was where he published his refined, tried and true procedures. It was how he wanted people to practice homeopathy.

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