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Medical drama

Ever since the British Medical Association called homeopathy ‘witchcraft’ last week, practitioners of the alternative medicine the world over have been up in arms against the statement. We had an allopathic doctor and a homeopath argue the case.

health and fitness Updated: May 20, 2010 13:49 IST
Sai Raje

Media professional Subhashini Sarangapani, 27, used to suffer from severe acidity until a few years ago. In fact, the problem was so acute that she would suffer from it almost every month. “Imagine never being able to eat out at a restaurant. The acidity was terrible,” Sarangapani remembers. It was something that even a five-year allopathic treatment hadn’t been able to cure.

Then she decided to give homeopathy a try and it worked very well. “After I had taken the dose for a month or so, I was fine. I never had acidity trouble again. Had I known that it would work wonders for me, I wouldn’t have suffered for five years,” says Sarangapani.

Like her, scores of people in the country are satisfied with an alternative medicine like homeopathy because they claim that it really works for them, sometimes in ways that even allopathy cannot. Many people report that homeopathy does a better job of treating their long-term or chronic conditions like recurrent infections, skin conditions, tonsillitis, and chronic fatigue.

Take the case of 28-year-old Deepika Aggarwal, who used to suffer from frequent infections like colds and cough. She researched and checked on a recommended homeopath’s success rate before opting for the treatment.

“It’s helped me a great deal and improved my general health as well. Now I don’t get frequent infections like I used to. I only resort to allopathy in case a health problem lasts over a week,” says Aggarwal.

But most allopathic or regular medical practitioners have strong doubts about whether or not this alternative medicine works.

What allopathy says
“The theoretical basis of the homeopathic system of medicine itself, is flawed,” argues Dr Anand Bhave, consultant physician, practising in Thane. “How can a drug have a positive effect on the body in an extremely diluted form? It’s obvious that a larger medicine dose has a stronger effect and if you dilute it to 1 in 10,000 parts, its effect is going to be minimised further,” says Bhave.

Allopathy, on the other hand, adds Bhave, is strongly supported by medical trials and empirical evidence of what medicines work and what don’t. Modern medicine changes as newer research and trials challenge old beliefs. “There just isn’t enough empirical data to prove that homeopathy indeed works and because of a lack of new evidence, it never changes,” says Bhave.

Allopathic practitioners also don’t buy the argument that if many people are opting for the treatment and are happy with it, then it must be good.

“Many people who have used homeopathy swear by its ability to cure chronic conditions like tonsillitis, skin conditions etc. But with a homeopathic treatment typically lasting over a long period, who’s to know whether it was the homeopathy that actually helped cure the condition?” says Bhave.

A homeopath’s view
“How homeopathy actually helps cure chronic conditions is because of the homeopath spends a great deal of time getting to understand individual patients and takes factors like the pace of the disease and immunity into consideration. Yes, allopathy is good at managing immediate conditions like heart attacks, accidents etc. But homeopathy’s individualistic treatment gives it the human touch that allopathy lacks,” says Dr Hemant Nandu, a homeopath practising in Matunga.

“It’s quite shocking that the BMA termed homeopathy as ‘witchcraft’. To me, it seems like a conspiracy by drug and pharmaceutical majors to curb the rising popularity of homeopathy,” says Nandu.

Homeopaths also feel that there isn’t such a thing as a lack of empirical evidence or clinical trials in homeopathy. “Our medicine trails are different. Yes, they take time. But homeopathy is very individual focused and we don’t have animal-tested drugs. All our drugs are instead tested on individuals who are best matched for them,” says Nandu.

What’s homeopathy?
According to the Society of Homeopaths in the United Kingdom, homeopathy is a system of medicine which is based on treating the individual with highly diluted substances given in mainly tablet form, which triggers the body’s natural system of healing.

Scientifically it can not yet be explained precisely how homeopathy works, but new theories in quantum physics are going some way towards shedding light on the process.

What is allopathy?
Strangely enough, Samuel Hahnemann, the founder of homeopathy, coined the term allopathy. Allopathic medicine refers to a broad category of medical practice that is also called western medicine, biomedicine, scientific medicine, or modern medicine” with
varying degrees of acceptance by medical professionals in different parts of the world.

Sources: www.wikepedia.com and www.homeopathy-soh.org

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