Homeopathic medicine – a genuine alternative or hocus pocus?
The phenomenal demand underlying the growth of homeopathic medicine and other alternative medicines is patient demand, not just in the UK, but around the world. There are those who question the underlying motives of patients who turn to homeopathic medicine, seeing it as ‘evil quackery’ and desperately try to build a case for the ‘true sciences of drugs, surgery and radiation’.
The reality is that many people are clearly unhappy with the conventional treatment they have been offered, and as such fears and disappointments are rarely addressed, then it seems inevitable that more will flock to alternatives such as homeopathic medicine. Patients seem to prefer that to strong drugs, surgery and few significant health gains after years of trying. (These are the central criticisms patients repeatedly make of scientific medicine).
Sceptics refer to the clinical improvability of homeopathic medicine and the ludicrous nature of minimum doses. This appears to be an argument based on ‘it cannot work’ therefore ‘it does not work’. Although it is still not clear how homeopathy works what is certain is that it does.
One popular anti argument against homeopathic medicine is that of self-limiting diseases – some diseases do spontaneously get better if they are left alone (which is why people often wait as long as possible before going to see a doctor) – however more patients come to homeopaths having exhausted all other forms of scientific medicine (which has often ended up aggravating the condition or created new pathologies). Doing nothing for ‘self-limiting diseases’ is not the reason homeopathic medicine appears to help patients. Indeed, if it was, then why bother with all the expensive drugs which comprise the main and often only approach of modern allopathic medicine?
Another criticism leveled against homeopathic medicine is that consultations are longer than one of most general practitioners, (as a large amount of patient data is collected during its course which helps specifically to match remedies to the clients needs), so there is a placebo response by contact with a sympathetic person for an hour. If this is true why not give G.P.s longer than an average of three minutes which appears to be only time enough to prescribe an expensive drug!).
It is also incorrect to claim that there is a routine or rote-prescribing approach in homeopathic medicine, and a one remedy only approach (such as grass pollen for all cases of hay fever). There may be a lack of scientific research based ‘evidence that homeopath medicine is clearly efficacious for any single condition’, but while this is probably strictly correct it is also somehow misleading as it of course depends on what you define as evidence. While research into such therapies have been disappointing thus far for researchers on both sides, the sheer weight of anecdotal evidence gives rise to the common-sense notion that there must be some basis for such therapies by virtue of the fact that they have lasted this long.
Patients are not fools. They know whether they are getting better or not and they would certainly not pay vast sums if there was no progress being made (and the ‘free’ NHS system was effective). Patients are demanding homeopathic medicine and other holistic therapies – a return to more natural and harmless therapies which work, and increasingly prefer them to strong drugs and surgery. That is the central and uncomfortable reality which medicine faces today.
If you are interested in exploring or studying homeopathy or attending our student clinics then contact Ellen Kramer MCPH, ARH, Course Director of The College of Practical Homeopathy
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