By Clifford Sawhney June 2001 Homeopathy, arguably the safest alternative medicine is making a strong global comeback, despite having lost the first round to allopathy AVOGADRO’S NUMBER AND PLACEBO CUREHomeopathic substances (if liquid) are diluted in alcohol and/or water and shaken vigorously. If solid, the formulation is finely ground and mixed with powdered lactose. This diluted formulation is then further diluted. The process continues till the required dilution is reached. By which time not even a single molecule of the original substance may remain. Dilutions of such a high degree militate against a principle called Avogadro’s number. Chemicals consist of molecules and atoms. Since there are far too many molecules to count individually, and they are too small, the moles are counted instead. One mole = Avogadro’s number of an object, which is 6.022 x 1023. This means one mole of a substance contains 6.022 x 1023 atoms. When a substance is repeatedly diluted, even the mole of the original substance no longer exists. Now, scientists muse, how can the original substance cure when it no longer exists? In 1988, French scientist Jacques Benveniste claimed that although the original substance might not be present in a remedy, its ‘memory’ exists in the water where it was first dissolved and this ‘memory’ effects the cure. Benveniste’s findings were published in Nature magazine. Most scientists are still not convinced. Research EvidenceA study, published in the Lancet, examined over 100 randomized, placebo controlled trials and found an odds ratio of 2.45 in favor of homeopathy. The authors concluded that ”the results of our meta-analysis are not compatible with the hypothesis that the clinical effects of homeopathy are completely due to placebo.” Clinical trials in Europe have suggested a positive effect on conditions like allergic rhinitis (Reilly et al., 1986), fibrositis (Fisher et al., 1989), and influenza (Ferley et al., 1989). ‘It is certainly not a placebo. I will give two instances for the critics to ponder. (1) How can a remedy produce a placebo effect in a one-month-old child with diarrhea? (2) How does homeopathy work in veterinary practice?’ asserts DR A.U. Ramakrishnan from Chennai, India. DR Mukesh Batra too pooh-poohs the placebo cure theory, mentions Jacques Benveniste’s findings and adds: ‘I could give you a hundred cases of diabetics whose reports show that their blood sugar levels decreased after taking homeopathic treatment. If you say that’s automatic regression due to lifestyle changes, yes, it’s possible. But the fact remains that I’ve been pumping them with sugar and in spite of that their sugar comes down! There’s got to be something medicinal to get those results. Moreover, scores of double-blind trials have been conducted that conclusively prove the efficacy of homeopathic medicines.’ Jacques Benveniste’s case may hold a conclusive answer. In the 1990s, some scientific journals ran stories debunking Benveniste’s research. French scientists Charpak and Jacob and American magician James Randi claimed Benveniste was a “fraud”. When the French monthly, Science et Vie, splashed the allegations, Benveniste sued. In September 1998 a Paris court convicted the French publisher for libeling DR Benveniste, ruling that Science et Vie produced no evidence to corroborate its charge. James Randi subsequently denied making any allegation of fraud. Therein lies a tale in itself. SPIN-OFF SYSTEMS Within a century and a half of its development, homeopathy spawned Bach flower remedies and Biochemic tissue salts. Biochemic Tissue Salts The Biochemic system owes its origins to DR Wilhelm Heinrich Schuessler, a German doctor of medicine who was also a biochemist, physicist and homeopath. Between 1872 and 1898, he discovered that inorganic matter essential to health comprised 12 mineral tissue salts: Calc Fluor, Calc Phos, Calc Sulph, Ferr Phos, Kali Mur, Kali Phos, Kali Sulph, Mag Phos, Nat Mur, Nat Phos, Nat Sulph and Silica. A deficiency in any of these led to weakened cell structure and ill health. When the deficiency was corrected, the cells again functioned normally and health was restored. Biochemic tissue salts—also called cell salts—are minerals in an energy form. The first signs of tissue salt deficiencies are visible in the face, much before physical symptoms occur. By reading the face signs and supplementing with the appropriate tissue salts, one can achieve a balanced correction at the cellular level, which enables the body to heal itself. Thanks to DR Schuessler’s findings, tissue salts are today used to treat acute and chronic conditions of viral, bacterial or fungal origin as they boost the body’s own defence mechanism to counteract an infection and heal itself. Except for very rare cases of lactose intolerance, these salts are safe and gentle remedies that have no toxic or side effects. They can be safely used to treat young and old alike, including pets and plants. DR Schuessler’s therapy finds confirmation through the statement of Noble Prize winner DR Linus Pauling: ‘You can trace every sickness, every disease and every ailment to a mineral deficiency.’ Bach Flower Remedies The system was founded by DR Edward Bach, a London consultant, bacteriologist and homeopath. DR Bach gave up a lucrative practice in 1930 to find remedies in the plant world that would restore vitality to the sick so that they could overcome negative states of mind and heal themselves. The remedies treat mental disorders in a natural way by flooding out negative feelings and emotions. The system uses essences made from flowers. DR Bach discovered 38 flowers that between them cure all known negative states of mind that afflict mankind. He listed these under seven headings:• Anxiety and apprehension• Uncertainty and indecision• Loneliness• Insufficient interest in present circumstances• Over-sensitiveness to ideas and influences• Despondency and despair• Over-care for the welfare of others. Dispensed in liquid and preserved in brandy, these remedies are benign in action, making them suitable for anyone. They attack problems at the root not by tackling physical complaints, but by changing negative states of the mind, which cause sickness and hinder recovery. A worried fearful mind saps an individuals vitality and makes the body lose its natural resistance. If peace, harmony and contentment return, the body begins its own natural healing process. Life had gone into a tizzy the day 32-year-old Michael S. (name changed to protect identity) joined Burson-Marsteller Roger Pereira—one of India’s top PR agencies—as a copywriter. With deadlines piling up faster than one could spell the word, there were days when staffers didn’t know whether they were coming or going. Every night as he headed home, Mike felt totally zonked. Three years into the job and, in 1993, Mike developed vitiligo—a form of leucoderma that turns the skin white in patches. The cumulative stress had taken its toll. Frantic, Mike visited a skin specialist. There was an even chance of a cure, the doctor assured him. But the cost for the full course of therapy was prohibitive. Dejection, however, gave way to hope when Mike met a renowned Mumbai homeopath who was treating him for a sinus problem. The homeopath rated his chances of a cure at 60 per cent. Besides, the treatment would cost him nothing extra, as Mike had joined the clinic’s one-year package earlier. THE ROOTSBy May 1996, the white patch below his right deltoid had faded and the white strands of hair had turned black. Homeopathy had saved Michael from a colorless future—at a fraction of what allopathy against alternative medicine would have cost. Semantically, homeopathy traces its origins to two Greek words, Homois meaning similar and pathos for suffering. Historically, the story begins with the ancient Greek physician Hippocrates—the founder of western medicine—who first mooted the idea of curing ‘like with like’ over 2,500 years ago. Aristotle is also said to have practiced this system and Paracelsus described it in the Middle Ages. The Chinese, Indians, Greeks, Mayans and Native American Indians also used the law of similars. Today the king of alternative remedies worldwide, it was only in the 19th century that homeopathy developed scientifically. The credit for this goes to the German physician, Dr Samuel Hahnemann (1755-1843), a practitioner of conventional medicine. In the 18th century, medicines contained toxic amounts of arsenic, lead and mercury. Prevailing medical practices included purging, blistering and bloodletting—even the use of leeches—to drain the body of poisons that supposedly caused disease. Hahnemann believed that these practices did more harm than good. Distressed, he gave up medical practice and kept the home fires burning by translating medical, scientific and botanical treatises. HAHNEMANN’S SYSTEM While translating William Cullen’s Materia Medica in 1790, he stumbled upon the law of similars. Intrigued, he experimented by testing certain potions on himself (referred to as provings). To begin with, he took cinchona bark—which contains quinine and is used to treat malaria—and discovered that it produced exactly the same symptoms as malaria. From these observations, he concluded that minuscule doses of a medicinal substance cured symptoms similar to those that they produced. Besides, every substance not only affected the body, but also the mind and emotions. Hahnemann re-tested his theory by giving malaria sufferers concoctions of cinchona bark. They improved dramatically! He
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