Dr Sreevals G Menon
The renewed and more vigorous attack on the efficacy of homoeopathy as a curative therapy picked up by the media is nothing but a sinister pogrom by the powerful pharmaceutical corporations the world over. The news and the discussion related to it as quoted from those released at UK a few days back, is only based on a latest flare up of events, a part of a few year long series of organized assault against homoeopathy triggered, sponsored and funded by the consortium of allopathic pharmaceutical manufacturers.
The series of events can be traced back to less than a decade. Until then the allopathic and the homoeopathic community including the practitioners and academicians of UK was in close ties and in unison for the cause of healthcare delivery on the private and the NHS frontiers.
If one is keen on finding the genesis of the present tirade, one would find reported in Guardian-online, that The Prince of Wales had ordered a leading independent economist to examine whether the use of complementary therapies could save the NHS money. Homoeopathy was one among the priorities. A draft of the report’s conclusions said ’’economy-wide’’ savings of between £500m and £3.5bn could be achieved by offering spinal manipulation therapies, such as chiropractic therapy, as a standard NHS option for back pain, according to the Times. The report also claims up to £480m could be cut from the prescription drugs bill if 10% of GP’s offered homoeopathy as an alternative to standard drugs, according to the paper. The report was instantly reacted to by the pharmaceutical industry wherein they criticized the Prince. It was reported in www.scotsman.com
The royal family, in a series of public statements had quoted the importance, advantages and benefits of Homoeopathy, the most sought system of medicine by them since more than a century, as the most economic, reliable and effective treatment and urged the NHS to take up Homoeopathy more seriously, with more homoeopathic units under it in place of the few which ran at present. The possible impact on UK’s economy was huge by the growth of Homoeopathy which could save millions of pounds each year spent on allopathic medicines, and could be displaced by the use of homoeopathy in a fraction of the illnesses.
The news pressed the ‘panic button’ for the allopathic pharmaceutical manufacturers and as a sequel Lancet, a leading allopathic journal suddenly come up with an article urging to give up homoeopathy and stating it as medicines which has no drug content and that the outcome as a mere ‘placebo effect’. The interesting observation is that Lancet is known to have always upheld the homoeopathic possibilities, treatment and clinical observations with frequent articles in its previous editions, from its very inception. However, Lancet did succeed in confusing its readers.
For its article, Lancet is known to have conducted drug trials in Homoeopathy. But this time the modes of study and the protocols used were purely those used for the study of allopathic medicines, well connected to the quantitative aspect of the drug with respect to the clinical diagnosis.
The study proves that Homoeopathic medicines are insignificant and carry only a placebo effect. Prominent U.S. scientists strongly rejected findings on homeopathic medicine to be published in the August 27, 2005 edition of the Lancet. They found that they have successfully applied a methodological approach to the articles they reviewed that is highly suitable for drawing conclusions about conventional medicine but is incomplete in evaluating homeopathic medicine. They did not include criteria that would apply to high quality homeopathic research reflecting the nature of homeopathic practice.
Furthermore, a single remedy selection for a given conventionally-diagnosed condition is not homoeopathy, yet there are numerous conventionally-judged high quality studies that were so designed. The analogy would be to test the effects of penicillin for all patients with symptoms of an apparent infection. The quality of the studies would otherwise be excellent in design. However, penicillin will not work for patients with viral infections or bacterial infections resistant to its effects or for persons with fevers from other non-infectious causes – and it thus might show benefit only for a subset of patients with symptoms of infections, i.e., the ones with true penicillin-sensitive infections. How would penicillin fare in a meta-analysis of studies designed to ignore the intrinsic nature of penicillin in benefiting patients, as observed by Dr Iris Bell MD, PhD.
Well aware about the different philosophical structure of Homoeopathy, this study was more than deliberate as anyone who know homoeopathy and its philosophic background close knows that the composite symptom structure, the totality, the miasm and the individualizing elements with respect to the patient and the drug-picture are those based on the selection of medicines and not merely the clinical diagnosis or the pathology though they give clues helping prescription. One could compare this to attempting to read a French book in English, considering the fact that the alphabets used are the same !!.
The lancet has also challenged the plausibility of homeopathic effects given that homeopathic remedies are often administered in dilutions in excess of Avogadro’s number. Dr. Rustum Roy, Ph.D., a distinguished material scientist from Penn State University commented that the chemistry argument made in this study and by conventional medicine in general is false science. “The underpinning of the editorial content of the Lancet as it relates to homeopathy relies on a quaint old idea from the nineteenth century that the only way that the property of water can be affected or changed is by incorporating foreign molecules. This is the Avogadro-limit high-school level chemistry argument. To a materials scientist this notion is absurd; since the fundamental paradigm of materials-science is that the structure-property relationship is the basic determinant of everything. It is a fact that the structure of water and therefore the informational content of water can be altered in infinite ways”.
There has been an allegation on the present development in UK which decides to stop funding the NHS based facilities listening to the remarks by lancet and the observations by those less into detailed exposure into Homoeopathic pharmacology and philosophical background. This is when there is a dire need of funding for the right research for trying to find how the homoeopathic medicines works at the nano-molecular levels with the use of the latest available technology and scientific development.
Absence of Evidence is not Evidence of Absence. There is every possibility that answer lies somewhere in the new sciences like Quantum Physics and Material-Sciences; both of them are in their infancy and man has got a lot of learning to do. One can hope that the advanced technology in nano-medicine could also help unfold the mystery in the successful action of homoeopathic remedies well satisfying the scientific
With time, the lancet impact did fade away. But those that have come up off late are more vigorous, renewed and more organized assaults and well focused on the Homoeopathy ‘wash away’. The prolonged waiting times for homoeopathic consultation at NHS when compared to those of allopathic specialties, and the ever increasing popularity as the fastest growing alternative medicine around the world has had a catalytic impact on this fresh attacks on Homoeopathy. Homoeopathy has had an impact on the per-capita health expenditure at the many pro-homoeopathic countries where it is well evolved, like in India, Belgium etc. In India we have a well evolved department of Homoeopathy under a cabinet minister with extensive reach out of national rural health mission as peripheral homoeopathic clinics.
This is apart from the clinics by local state governments which at some states is present in almost every panchayat, for example Kerala. The private healthcare scenario in Homoeopathy is also well developed, with strong presence of Dr Batras positive health clinics & Bakson’s clinics across the nation & Aditya Institute of Homoeopathic Medical Sciences [AIHMS HOMOEOPATHY] in south India, currently spreading into middle east and south east asia. This is apart from the thousands of independent clinics and hospitals in private sector across the nation.
Dr Sreevals G Menon
National Mass media Officer
Indian Homoeopathic Medical Association