Homeopathy – Persistent Lie or Potent Cure?

When it comes to our valuables, our health is at the top of the list. As the vulnerable and impermanent things that we are, any disruption to our bodies and well-being is a top-priority problem that needs to be addressed. Despite the incredible advancements in the medical field over the years, there still remains a large and active group of proponents of homeopathy – but just what is the practice and how does it maintain such a large and persistent following?

Homeopathy was first invented in the early 1800s by a German physician named Samuel Christian Hahnemann (1755-1843) as a result of his displeasure with the medicine of his era. The medical field during Hahnemann’s was quite brutal, and could often be found operating on a blunt-force approach. In a time where anesthesia or a sterile surgical environment weren’t seen as necessary, one could say there were countless improvements that could be made to the field.

Enter Hahnemann. His quest to improve the field lead him to what he perceived to be an amazing discovery: “similia similibus curentur” – or that “like cures like”. This principle was founded by Hahnemann after he had ingested a small piece of cinchona bark and developed the symptoms of malaria. Cinchona bark contains quinine, the drug used to treat malaria. From this, Dr. Hahnemann concluded that the things which induce symptoms can be used to treat the illness itself. Sound familiar? It should – vaccines operate on this very same principal.

The point where homeopathy deviates away from vaccination is in is the beliefs over substance dilution. Homeopaths not only advocate that “like cures like” but that the more diluted that a medical remedy is in water, the more effective it is. This is nothing new when it comes to medicine, as doctor’s frequently dilute mixtures with water to ensure that concentration of the dose is more evenly distributed. Homeopathy, on the other hand, takes a very different approach.

Oftentimes, homeopathic remedies are diluted so many times over that the resulting mixture contains next to nothing of the original substance. While many scientists will point to the lack of molecules within the final solution, homeopaths have claimed that the infinitesimal doses are somehow more effective than conventional medicine – stating that the “essence” of the remedy remains within the water. There is no fundamental principle of physics which states that such an occurrence could take place, and the medical community has done much over the years to paint homeopathy in a light more akin to mysticism than anything else.

Yet while many homeopathic remedies contain next to nothing of the original substance’s properties, there are some homeopathic medicines that do in fact posses a substantial amount of the original drug. Although this may seem like a good thing at first glance, it must be remembered that the claims homeopathic medicines make are not evaluated by the FDA. Furthermore, these medicines are often taken by patients who are taking over-the-counter prescriptions as well. If their homeopathic remedy does indeed contain a concentration of a drug that is not disclosed on the packaging, severe side-effects could occur.

When one looks at all the potential drawbacks of homeopathy, it becomes quite easy to wonder just why anyone would turn to such a method of treatment. The answer may lie more in the way homeopathic practitioners interact with their patients than anything else. Many homeopaths specialize in extensive consultations and meetings with their patients. In fact, one could argue that the interpersonal relations between patient and healer has more to do with the healing that occurs when an ill person is given continuous support and positive interaction rather than the efficacy of the drug within the tincture.

As strange as it may sound to some, this is nothing new. The benefits of a positive outlook and strong support network for those that are going through an illness is nearly more vital than the administration of any drug. While “good vibes” certainly won’t kill off a cancer, love and support will allow the patient to fight back against the illness with much greater effectiveness.

This phenomenon is evidenced in the manner which some of the world’s greatest treatment facilities operate: they develop a patient treatment plan that is unique to everyone, and arguably focuses on the mental well-being of the individual far more that on the mere physical attributes that need to be tackled with medication. When one compares this to the often cold and detached nature in which some hospitals function, it’s no wonder that people are turning to forms of treatment that feature a much more interpersonal relationship.

Homeopathy is unlikely to go away any time soon – or at all for that matter. And while there are certainly drawbacks to the system, perhaps the best way forward for a new medicine would be through a symbiosis of homeopathy and conventional medicine.

Perhaps then we may be able to stem this growing tide of detachment that has come to plague the medical industry. Some may claim that the disappearance of interpersonal relations stems directly from the overly-pharmaceutical-dependent approach that many doctor’s take. When meeting one’s quota is the name of the game, it doesn’t take long for hospital visits to feel like a conveyer-belt through a meat grinder. Take your number, get your medication, and get the hell out.

In a world that is growing increasingly more populated each day, we cannot afford to continue down the path of isolation and detachment – particularly when our wellbeing is at stake. Medicine has undergone incredible transformations since the ancient days of unsanitary operating rooms, but it’s easy to see why an over-reliance on the purely physical attributes are a detriment to the public health overall. A malady exists within the mind just as much as it does within the body, and caregivers who are able to provide an environment for healing and restoration will see their visitation rates spike highly as a result.

There is, however, another alternative: in the future, there would be no need for interpersonal care over medical matters dealing with anything but the mind. As gene therapy begins to enter widespread public use over the coming years, we may very well find ourselves poised on the precipice of becoming nearly immune to all sort of infectious diseases, genetic maladies, and general pitfalls regarding our health. The current state of gene therapy is the stuff of science-fiction to many, but the rapid innovations in the field as of late are have been absolutely staggering. If technologies such as CRISPR can maintain their momentum, there’s no telling what the medical landscapes of the future will look like.

While homeopathy’s days might be numbered, there is certainly much that can be gleaned and extracted from the processes upon which it operates. No matter how miraculous our machinery becomes and how rapid our recoveries are, nothing will ever replace the healing power of compassion, caring, and close interpersonal relationships.

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