Mohamed Hatta Abu bakar, HMD
The concept and fundamental law of homoeopathy dates back to Hippocrates, the Greek physician who lived in the 5th Century B.C. It was also known by Paracelsus, a German physician of the 16th Century. But it was Dr. Samuel Hahnemann who first proposed and formalised the concept into a scientific system of medicine and as an alternative to the orthodox system.
Dr. Samuel Hahnemann was a German physician, born in Meissen in 1755 and gained his Doctorate at the University of Erlangen. He was very much dissatisfied with the medical practices of his day. These practices include blood letting and purging, which Hahnemann argued were too harsh and often weakened patients more than did their illnesses. Later, he had given up the orthodox practice of medicine and turned to translation of books to sup- port his family.
While translating Cullen's Materia Medica, he was inspired by the discovery that a herbal remedy for malaria, Cinchona tree bark, actually produced symptoms of the disease, such as headache and fever, when taken by a healthy person. He, then, concluded that symptoms were the body's way of fighting illness, and that medicines which produced the same symptoms as an illness could help recovery. His ideas were in effect a rediscovery of an ancient principle first expressed by Hippocrates, 'like cures like.'
This new system of medicine was to be based on gentle ways of helping the body to cure itself. Fighting against disease is the way of allopathy, the gentle way of removing the disease is homoeopathy. Homoeopathy is derived from two words, "homoios" which means "similar" or "like" and "pathos" which means "suffering," "feelings" or "disease." The word "homoeopathy," thus, refers to treating a disease or patient with a principle of "like with like."
Like or similar symptoms does not imply the "same" symptoms which is termed "homo" in Greek. Instead, it means that if a person suffers disease symptoms such as nausea and vomiting, he or she can be prescribed homoeopathically with a medicine which has the ability to induce similar nausea and vomiting.
Homoeopathy focuses on the restoration of equilibrium of the vital force and restoring their optimum strength. Unlike allopathic treatment which considers the material nature of the organism, homoeopathy concerns with the spiritual nature of the organism in the treatment of diseases.
Vital force or as postulated by philosophers as bioenergy is a life force which is essential in living organism. According to Dr. Samuel Hahnemann-the father of homoeopathy, the existence of this life force cause the human organism in its healthy state to be able to feel, act or maintain itself. Without this life force, the body dies.
Vital force is associated with the whole person, relates to the mind, body and spirit while recognizing the intrinsic healing power of the body. Given it is affected by a disease, the forces become weak and bring disequilibrium in the normal state of the human body. Hence, this leads the organism being characterised by the disagreeable and abnormal functions.
Through its own way, homoeopathy aim at restoring the balance or equilibrium of the vital force by stimulating the body's natural defense mechanism or immune system. Cure is then achieved when all the perceptible signs and symptoms of the disease have been eliminated or the inner modification of the vital force has been removed.
There are three fundamental principles of homoeopathy. The most fundamental principle is 'the law of similars.' The secondary principles are 'the law of the minimum dose' and 'the treatment of the whole person.' And if there is a fourth, then it should be the empathy of the practitioner.
The 'law of similars' is well versed by a Latin phrase 'Similia Similibus Curentur' which means let like be cured by like. Thus, homoeopathy will employ such a substance as a remedy in which it is capable of inducing similar or like symptoms in a healthy person to those symptoms exhibited by the patient. For instance, given Ipecacuanha induces nausea and vomitting when taken in large doses by a healthy person, it is therefore wise to prescribe ipecacuanha for the treatment of nausea and vomitting, if other symptoms also agree.
The use of infinitesimally small doses of a properly potentised remedy is the second principle of homoeopathy. It was raised by Hahnemann as mentioned in the Organon because "the highest ideal of therapy is to restore health.......in the least harmful way." Since potentisation developed the medicinal power through dynamisation (dilution and succusion), the higher the potencies the greater the curative power. He, then, proposed that prescribing small doses of homoeopathic remedies were both therapeutically effective and completely safe, with no harmful side effect.
The third principle is individualization which emphasized the holistic nature of homoeopathic treatment. It follows that the person will not be treated simply as a bearer of disease. Instead, a physician should consider the constitution of the patient, his affective and intellectual character, his way of life, his habits, family relationships, etc. in the treatment. Homoeopathy need to match symptoms-person-drug relationship rather than just symptom- drug which form the basis of conventional allopathic medicine. It, therefore, requires different medicine for different people suffering from the same disease.
Applying the three principles of homoeopathy in treatment is very fundamental. However, it would be helpful if a practitioner is able to develop the potential for caring, responsiveness, patience and understanding towards the patient. This should complete the emphasis on the holistic nature of homoeopathic treatment. Thus, the empathy of the practitioner is sometimes regarded as the fourth principle of homoeopathy.
Those fundamental principles of homoeopathy, especially the individualisation of treatment and the Law of Similars would undoubtedly lead to and require different remedies for different people with the same disease. It surely differs with allopathic treatment in this respect since allopathic medicine could be used to treat any people with the same disease. Panadol or paracetamol could probably be used to any individual who suffers from fever or headaches. In additon, modern allopathic medicine is not given in potentised form like the homoeopathic practitioners do.
Factors leading to the choosen of a remedy can be traced to the symptoms, the causes of the disease and the miasmic factors. Given the above factors necessary for treatment, a person seeking medication for problems such as fever, headache, diarrhoea, constipation, gastric, etc. may not receive the most effective medicine without further consultation and invidualized treatment.
For example, a patient suffered from headaches may be prescribed Belladonna only if symptoms coincide - such as throbbing pains, redness, worse from touch and lying down but better from rest. But Nux Vomica is suited for splitting headache with nausea, vomitting, constipation and aggravation of pain after meals, mental exertion and on stooping while better from rest. Glonoin is usually prescribed if headache is associated with exposure to sun or fire. On the other hand, for headache due to indigestion of fatty foods or disease of female organs and characterized by worse from heat and warmth, should be prescribed Pulsatilla Nigricans.
Causes of the disease also contribute significantly to a correct remedy. Sudden onset of fever or exposure to dry, cold wind or fear may be enough with Aconite. Fever due to falling from a tree may need Arnica. While for fever due to getting wet in rainy season but warmth ameliorates most symptoms indicated Dulcamara. But for simple fever cause by exposure to damp weather and characterised by pain all over the body especially in the loins can be treated with Rhus Tox.
If an acute disease proves intractable or takes too long to cure, one should look into the underlying constitutional fault. The theory of miasm which presents the causes of chronic disease suggest a practitioner to be more careful in applying the law of similars. Thus for one who perpetually suffers from skin troubles or itches, may be traced to psora which indicates certain remedies especially Sulphur or other remedies such as Psorinum, Graphites, Silicea, Petroleum, etc. For those who acquire bilateral frontal bone-ache, loss of health, mental weakness, tendency to deep seated ulceration and aggravation of pains at night might be suspected to acquire syphilitic dyscrasia which suggest remedies such as Mercurius Solubilis. or the nosode Syphilinum, etc. As to chronic suffering from sycotic dyscrasia that leads to anaemia, pasty looking complexion, pale lips, almost transparent ears, warts on several parts of the body, etc., may thus be prescribed with Thuja or the nosode Medorrhinum, etc.
Under circumstances where certain diseases are characterised by many different symptoms, knowledge of the causes of the disease is important. Due to the need for the necessary follow-up measures searching for dyscrasias, individualisation of treatment is vital. Thus, homoeopathic treatment often requires different remedies for people suffering the same disease.
Acute diseases and chronic diseases are two types of diseases broadly categorized by Hahnemann. Acute disease is of a temporary short acting nature. It is characterised by having three stages - the initial stage, progress and the decline stage, i.e. recovery or death. Chronic disease is a more or less permanent nature, with no definite onset, course and end. It is said to be deep seated 'in the blood,' with life long suffering without recovery or may be recurrent.
An acute disease is one in which some viruses or acute disease-germs enter and, having passed through the initial, progressive and decline stages, are extruded out of the body. This can be seen in fever and measles. An acute disease is said to be "sporadic" when it affects only a few individuals here and there; "endemic" when it affects people of a particular locality; and "epidemic" when it rapidly spreads from place to place. Sometimes an acute disease may get cured naturally.
A chronic disease which indicates the permanent entry inside the body can be caused by three miasms, i.e. psora, syphilis or psycosis. A chronic disease is most often transmitted hereditarily. Psora affects chiefly the blood-vessel and liver, and causes eruption of 'itch'(scabies). In syphilis, the virus gains entrance through abrasions on the body surface, usually on the genitals during coitus and traceable to venereal diseases. Finally, sycosis gives rise to local lesions which can be seen in the appearance of fig and warts.
The rise of homoeopathy dated back to 1840s, during the late years of Dr. Samuel Hahnemann's life. A year after his death in 1944, advances in conventional medicines foreshadowed the success of homoeopathy. For instance, the report on the success of homoeopathic treatment of cholera was deliberately suppressed. During the cholera out-break in Great Britain in 1854, only 16.4 % of patients in the Royal Homoeopathic Hospital died, compared with an average mortality rate of 51.8 % in other hospitals.
It has been recognised that the beginning causes for the decline of homoeopathy was the advance in conventional medical treatment coupled with the antipathy on the part of allopaths towards homoeopathy. Discovery of miracle drugs such as sulfanilamide, sulphonamide, amphitamines and barbiturates, penicilline, etc., added with the turning of physician away from homoeopathy explained the trend.
A serious rift grew towards Hahnemann's psora theory and metaphysical ideas between physicians in later years open a way for others to discredit homoeopathy. This occured when followers of the English school who believed in pathological symptoms and modalities as more important than metaphysical symptoms rejected the theory. While the American school had given preeminence to constitutional prescribing and higher potencies in homoeopathic treatment.
The lack of research was also an important reason for the decline. It failed to keep pace with scientific and medical development which began in 1909. Despite large contributions from the multinational companies flow into research and development of modern medicine, no significant step being taken to extend the development of homoeopathy.
The revival of homoeopathy in the late 1970s with a worldwide intetest given was a very recent phenomenon. One factor leading to this change is rising consciousness amongst the population concerning modern drugs. Not only people tend to realise the addictive nature of many prescribed drugs, but there has been increasing concern over serious side effects of many modern drug. In fact, few drugs which were used for years have been removed from the market or were restricted in supply due to the above reasons.
In some cases, such as gonorrhoea, certain disease organisms have become impervious to drug treatment, and thus arise the need for other alternative kind of treatment which are safer. In addition, recently there has been a rise in incidence of new diseases. No treatment yet available to beat some forms of cancer, heart disease and the latest, AIDS. Despites, homoeopathy is in the process of receiving more confidence from the people, given the way of treatment and clinical results of proved medicines.
Nowadays, the cost of modern drugs are becoming more expensive and the same holds true on payments charged by private doctors and hospitals. Especially for people who desire to be treated as people rather than disease bearers, where can they find such a character at least cost except from a homoeopathic practitioner whose "highest and only calling is to make sick people healthy."
Some people also reject the use of animals in medical research. The others are worried about pollution and noises. Some are very concerned and conscious about better nutrients, exercises and modern way of life.
People are now seeking for the natural as to the synthetic health. This, therefore, should be the time for a great revival of homoeopathy as the next best alternative available.
Hahnemann, Dr. Samuel, "Organon of Medicine." (Translated by William Boericke, M.D.)
Bhattacharyya, Heramba Chandra, "The Homoeopathic Family Practice."
Boericke, William, "Materia Medica with Repertory."
Dr. K.C.Banja, "Masterkey to Homoeopathic Materia Medica."
Reader's Digest, "Family Guide to Alternative Medicine."
Author's personal notes from "The British Institute of Homoeopathy."
Author's personal notes from "Akademi Homeopathy Kuala Terengganu."