Aug 25, 2010
Alternative system of medicine has a long tradition in our country and many other countries of the world. Along with allopathic, both Ayurvedic and Homoeopathy have coexisted in our country giving people a choice to opt for their preferred branch of medicine. In India alone millions of people swear by the virtues and goodness of homoeopathy system of medicine which has been attracting more and more people towards it.
However a systematic campaign is going on for the last few months spearheaded by the British Medical Association (BMA) about Homoeopathy as an alternative branch of medicine giving rise to doubts in the public mind about its efficacy and its scientific basis. BMA has hit below the belt by using some of the harshest phrases to describe homoeopathy. Just come to think of the phrases used by BMA to discredit homoeopathy. Homoeopathy is “non-sense”, “witchcraft” and little more than “pernicious nonsense” and these harshest of the phrases used to systematically decimate homoeopathy has given doubts as to the efficacy of Homoeopathy as an alternative system of medicine.
Despite their best efforts seeking a blanket ban on homoeopathy and homeopathic medicines to be taken off pharmacy shelves, the Home Ministry of the British Government has decided to continue homoeopathy being made available on National Health Service.
Dr Shashi Kanth Tiwari, DMS (Kolkotta) Dip in NIH (Govt of India) M D/Hom, is a Senior Professor and Guide and former Principal of Fr Muller Homoeopathic Medical College and Hospital, Mangalore. He is an authority in homoeopathy so much so his name is synonymous with homoeopathy is Mangalore. Having worked in Fr Muller full time for almost 25 years he has set up a homoeo clinic in Jyothi, in Mangalore a year and half back but continues his association with Fr Muller hospital. In an interview with daijiworld.com Dr Tiwari answers some of the pertinent questions relating to homeopathy, its efficacy and also the compulsions behind the malicious campaign being carried out by BMA.
Q. Do you think the campaign to malign homoeopathy by BMA has any impact on Homeopathy in India?
A. No. In fact 18% of the population in India depends on homeopathy as an alternative health care system. France, which boasts of one of the best health care in the world, has given option for its citizens to opt for homeopathy if they prefer. In Germany where homeopathy originated. It is very popular. But the highest number of people opting for homeopathy is in India. In India it is recognized by law and has better government support than in other countries.
Q. How is the response of the people to homeopathy as an alternative medical system?
A. Homeopathy has a long history in India and particularly in Mangalore. Fr Muller who had reached the shores of Mangalore in 1878 had started to dispense homeopathic medicine to students. In India it was first recognized in West Bengal in early 1940’s where it is still a popular. There is an increase in the number of people opting for homeopathy as a treatment in India because of its efficacy in treating chronic diseases. People in general are now afraid of the side effects of the drugs used in allopathic treatment and choose homoeopathy. In some of the incurable diseases like Cancer homoeopathy can give quality life to patients without many side effects and with less cost. Homoeopathy is cost effective. It is the second most popular and widely used medicine in the world.
Q. You mean to say in homoeopathic medicines drugs are not used….?
A. The basic substances used in all the three systems of medicines are same i.e plants and animals. But the preparation methods of the medicines are different. We also use energy systems like sun rays, magnet and x-rays. The difference is that we use only a few drops of the extracts in the diluted form and that is why the intake of the medicine by patients is very less and there are no side effects. It is not necessary that quality of medicines is affected when quantity is reduced.
Q. Is it the reason why it is generally believed that homoeopathic medicine works very slowly?
A. It is a myth and it has no basis. Except in cases where patients are habituated to using drugs and steroids before switching over to homoeopathy, it may take more time for the medicine to work. Homoeopathy works fast in acute illnesses and slower in chronic cases. It works extremely well in epidemics such as cholera, diarrhea and is very effective in allergy related respiratory diseases, skin problems and digestive disorders.
Q. There is a general feeling that Homoeopathy does not offer immediate relief?
A. Homoeopathy offers very prompt and effective medicine. But the homoeopathic doctor should be able to select the right kind of medicine to be effective.
Q. The detractors are saying there is no evidence to show Homoeopathy worked beyond the placebo effect…
A. The placebo effect means a patient gets better only because he believes the treatment will work and in many instances patients gets better of the psychological boost and not because of the medicines they consume. However, homoeopathy offers relief beyond placebo effect. There have been many clinical trials that prove homeopathy works. In the past 24 years there have been more than 180 controlled and 118 randomized trials into homeopathy. In each case, the researchers concluded that the benefits of homeopathy went far beyond that which could be explained purely by the placebo effect. A draft report of WHO just a few years back has showed homoeopathy is beneficial and this has sent a panic wave among big pharmaceutical companies who feel threatened by the popularity of homoeopathy.
Q. There is a general feeling prevalent in public mind that allopathic treatment may s not work in people, who are dependent on Homoeopathy for a long period. Please clarify?
A. Again it is a canard. In fact such patients respond much better to other forms of treatments. This is mainly because their body has been made stronger and any medicine can work easily on such a body.
Q. How is the efficacy of medicine or drug proving is conducted in homoeopathic medicines?
A. In homoeopathy drug proving is done on healthy human being and not on animals as is being done in Allopathic treatment. It is done on volunteers who are capable of describing even the minutest changes in detail. As such our drug proving is more scientific. The provers will be given only one drug at a time. Each drug produces certain peculiar symptoms and these guiding symptoms form the totality of the drug.
Q. Doubts are raised about homoeopathy as a science…..?
A. Homoeopathy is a proven science. It is the most logical and scientific system of medicine. The doubts are raised because of the use of small quantity of substance. As a method of treatment it has withstood the tests of time for more than two centuries. Unlike the allopathic treatment our dose of prescription is individualized and not generalized. Even if two people come with similar symptoms the medicine we prescribe varies depending on even slight variations in symptoms or the temperaments of people. That is why we pay extra attention in knowing the symptoms of the diseases in detail. .
Q. How do symptoms help in pinpointing the disease?
A. Homoeopathy system is based on the law of Similia Similibus Curentur which means ‘let likes be cured by likes’. In other words this s system of medicine is based on the theory that substances which cause symptoms in a healthy person can cure the problems in a sick person when vastly diluted proponents of the same are administered, giving a curative effect. In homoeopathy a sick person with his given symptoms is treated as a single entity. We don’t take into consideration just the diseased organs of the patient. We believe that behind every expression there is a cause and that cause should be identified to provide effective treatment. We tackle the root of the problem rather than its effect. Totality of the symptoms is the basis for the prescription and not merely the name of the disease.
Q. Does Homoeopathy work in all kinds of sicknesses?
A. Homoeopaths are basically physicians and not surgeons. So homoeopathy does not have much scope that requires surgeries such as where there is an extra growth, obstruction, malignant tumors etc. Though homoeopathy has very good medicine for stones, it cannot offer a remedy if a bigger stone causes obstruction, in which case surgery is the answer.
Q. Do you think Homoeopathy is at crossroads now?
A. I don’t think so. The campaign against homoeopathy started outside India. In Britain pharma companies are very strong and they are trying to say homoeopathic medicine is not effective. In fact more and more people in India are drawn towards homoeopathy rather than depend on mainstream health care. In America after the invention of antibiotics, there was a reduction in homoeopathic medicine users. But again it is picking up in a big way.
Q. What made you opt for a career in Homoeopathy when it was not yet popular in India?
A. I had suffered from Cholera as a child when I was 11 years old and was saved from certain death only by homoeopathy medicines. It left a lasting impression in my young mind and took up Homoeopathy as a career.
Q. What brought you to Mangalore all the way from Uttar Pradesh?
A. I hail from Balia in Uttar Pradesh. Soon after I finished my studies I saw an advertisement about a vacancy in Fr Muller. I was selected and I joined as the first staff of Fr Muller Homoeopathy College in 1985. I joined as a tutor initially and began sitting in the out patient department from August 1985. For the last 26 years Manglaore is my home. In Mangalore, homoeopathy is popular mainly because of Fr Muller Hospital.
Q. What about your children. Are they interested in taking homoeopathy as a career?
A. My elder son is doing his MBBS internship in Gulbarga and is showing keen interest in taking up homoeopathy. Younger son is still studying in PUC.
Q. What is the advice to the public and future homoeopaths?
A. For the public I would say they should not fall prey to the rumour mongers. They should decide for themselves whether homoeopathy has worked for them or not. Homoeopathy students should realize they have a good career if they concentrate on their system and work sincerely.
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