Homoeopathy is one of the oldest systems of alternative medicine. However, it has not been able to gain the same stature as its mainstream counterparts viz allopathy. It has been shrouded in debates of efficacy with critics saying that it is a placebo science, lacks standard operating procedures etc. Has homoeopathy failed to achieve its desired reach and potential under the shadows of allopathy and how potent are the claims doubting its safety and efficacy. Will the recent fillip to the AYUSH department translate into good times for homoeopathy practioners and even their integration into the country’s public health services? What needs to be done to get homoeopathy to the forefront of medical care? By Shalini Gupta
The newly created Ministry of AYUSH has an important role in mainstreaming homoeopathy and exposing its full potential in curative, preventive and promotive care
During the last 65 years, homoeopathy has been successfully institutionalised in India. A highly commendable infrastructure in the form of 191 teaching institutions, about 2.5 lakh registered practitioners, 345 drug manufacturing units, an autonomous research council with 32 peripheral units, a regulatory council for quality education at university level, drug safety regulations, pharmacopeia laboratory, pharmacopeia committees, net work of primary and secondary healthcare facilities both in public and private sector are available in homoeopathy in the country.
Inspite of its public acceptance there is some scepticism on the scientific basis of the system from certain corners, the foremost being that the homeopathic remedies in ultra high dilutions do not contain any material substance. As per the existing knowledge anything without material content cannot be considered as a remedy. This is based on Avogadro’s number, that any dilution beyond 10-23 does not contain any original solute; whereas homeopathic remedies are available beyond this dilution. This is the basis of the placebo theory spread by the critics of homoeopathy. Homeopathic remedies are not prepared merely on dilution, but through a highly scientific process called dynamisation/ potenisation. Scientific research has repeatedly demonstrated that homeopathic remedies even at 10-400 dilutions contain nano particles, hence the placebo theory doesn’t hold true.
Another criticism homoeopathy facing is non-reproducibility of results and inappropriate standard operating procedures. This come from people who never tried to understand the philosophy and principles of the system and tried to find answers based on the science that they are familiar. Inferences are drawn based on the analysis of data based on the parameters fixed on wrong methodologies. In homoeopathy, the key concepts are individualisation and drug dynamisation. Any evaluation of a homeopathic remedy for its therapeutic efficacy without following these core concepts is bound to give fallacy in results.
The Indian healthcare system shares one-fifth of the world’s diseases load. The Indian medical systems and homoeopathy are based on strong medical philosophies and prevailed the concerted onslaught by its detractors. The fact in the medicine is that every medical disciple can offer something in healthcare and no medical system can address the entire requirement that the patient need. Holistic health is the one look into the need of the sick and provides customised healthcare, both promotive and preventive as well as curative, where ever possible. Understanding the patient is the cornerstone in holistic healthcare preached by homoeopathy.
The invasion of pharmaceutical conglomerates in deciding the health policy and political compulsions for its implementation had altered the holistic view practiced by homoeopathy and other Indian systems on wellness to disease-oriented patient-care services. Healthcare of the future shall be pluralistic, where in each of the recognised system is contributing its strength on a rational manner. Coexistence of different system is the strength of Indian healthcare delivery, which even the developed countries are looking up to. The newly created Ministry of AYUSH has an important role in mainstreaming homoeopathy and exposing its full potential in curative, preventive and promotive care. Homeopathic Medical Association, Indian Institute of Homeopathic Physicians and the Indian Homeopathic Medical Association have an important role to take the efforts of the Ministry of AYUSH at the grass root revel while we at the Global Homoeopathy Foundation are continuously making efforts to bring the mainstream basic and applied science in creating more evidences on the strength of it.
– Dr Eswara Das, Chairman, Global Homoeopathy Foundation (GHF), Former Consultant Advisor (Homoeopathy) GoI
The shortage of human resources needs to be addressed at PHCs and that can be done by integrating AYUSH practitioners including homeopaths
Homoeopathy is a modern science which holds a lot of potential which is conveniently neglected in India with no official patronage from the government. Kerala is a fine example of the impact of homoeopathy on public health as well as its financial benefits to the government. I feel there is a lack of vision behind the health policies which need to take into account- the need of the people, the resources available, and how to use them to the fullest. We are spending crores on public health but we are not getting the desired results because one particular science has hogged the limelight so far.
Allopathy was the most irrational science 300-400 years back, but as it has evolved, got government funding, gathered evidence and pharmaceutical backing, it has gained ground. Homoeopathy is the first evidence based science if you ask me, since the drugs results are proved on human beings, rather than trials and errors on mice and monkeys. With an independent charge minister being appointed for AYUSH and more responsible fund allocation, I feel that it is still insufficient keeping in mind the potential of alternative medicine. Since the formation of the state of Maharashtra homeopathic doctors are practicising allopathy. When an AYUSH doctor is working as a medical officer in a hospital, he/she can also do private practice, contrary to what allopaths say. All big and small hospitals in metros, small cities and remote places including ICUs are run by AYUSH practitioners. Our national and state health policy should keep in mind the benefit of public, rather than being system based. No science is perfect, every science has limitations. With limited funding, a policy which is inclusive would be best.
The shortage of human resources needs to be addressed at PHCs and that can be done by integrating AYUSH practitioners including homeopaths. Homeopaths learn the allopathic point of view in several segments during the curriculum, only the pharmacology and its clinical application was missing which is being addressed by the government. I have taken initiative for such amendments and inclusions.
The government should take initiative to take this science to the public and let the public be benefitted by its potential. We should have atleast five regional government homeopathic colleges. Even one government college in the state can improve the level of education imparted as a whole, something which even private institutes look up to. These institutes will also help promote research in homoeopathy, which is not there in the private sector. For instance, homoeopathy has worked excellently in the outbreak of chikungunya and dengue by some NGOs and private practitioners, but if it had been research based and the findings reported, the resultant exposure would have led to increased usage of the drugs. I would suggest setting up a separate directorate of homoeopathy and inclusion of homoeopathy as mainstream medicine in public health of India to alleviate its plight.
– Dr Bahubali Shah, President, Maharashtra Council of Homoeopathy, Mumbai
Homoeopathy is a 21st century medicine in the world as it is safe it means no side effects and comes in everyone’s pocket
Homoeopathy was discovered in 1796 in Germany. So it is about 220 years now. It does not seem to be very old comparing with other. But since homoeopathy has its roots in the vedic time so it becomes really ancient! Homoeopathy belongs to the holistic viewpoint as was in Vedic period for everything in life. But about 2000 years before, due to politically changing scenario, this holistic viewpoint changed to a reductionist viewpoint.
In medicine, this is called as biomedical viewpoint. In 1900, a big battery of scientists contributed to this biomedical viewpoint and the holistic viewpoint was almost set-aside but never wiped off. From 1920 onwards, with the discovery of subatomic physics (quantum physics), the holistic viewpoint started taking leap in every walk of life, as well as medical field. AYUSH as a new ministry in India is doing its best for homoeopathy too. WHO records prove that homoeopathy is the second best popular system accepted around the world. People have understood that allopathy is no good for any chronic conditions as well as prevention. With huge expenses on health, people are still not healthy. Some alternative is needed and homoeopathy offers a solution. IRDA is already saying all mediclaim must include homoeopathy in plans people buy.
Over the period of time mindset made about health was person’s health in the hand of doctor. This needs to be changed. It means person’s health in his hand. Also, we call healthcare but so far its disease care. Let’s go and work on healthcare. This very change will put the holistic viewpoint in forefront so homoeopathy will also come in front. Homoeopathy is a 21st century medicine in the world as it is safe it means no side effects and comes in everyone’s pocket. So it has a great future ahead.
– Dr Pankaj Aggarwal, Senior Homeopath, Agrawal Homoeo Clinic
The popularity of homoeopathy is only expanding rapidly, primarily because of its patient-centred, individualised approach
Homoeopathy is, by far, the most recent of medical sciences. It is also the fastest growing medical system in the world. It is used by over 500 million people and the second largest medical system across the globe as per WHO. The homeopathic industry is purportedly growing at a whopping 20 per cent vis-à-vis conventional pharma, pegged at 12-14 per cent. Homoeopathy was founded by Dr Samuel Hahnemann, MD, a conventional physician and chemist, in 1796 — the same year that Dr Edward Jenner published his paper on vaccination, which also incorporates the homeopathic principle of ‘similars,’ or ‘likes cure likes’ precept.
There is certainly adequate proof that homoeopathy works. Over 180 controlled and 120 randomised trials into homoeopathy have been conducted and corroborated by meta-analyses. In a majority of instances, research has confirmed the healthy, biological and physiological healing benefits of homoeopathy. There are a number of ongoing research (evidence-based medicine) studies in the area too — augmenting the tangible benefits of homoeopathy in the clinical setting, besides patient-based evidence. For sceptics who resort to using phrases like placebo, dogma, and so on, for homoeopathy, they only need to look at themselves. Picture this. The respected British Medical Journal reports that just 11 per cent of all conventional treatments used today carry ‘actual evidence’ of medicinal, or clinical, efficiency.
The popularity of homoeopathy is expanding rapidly, primarily because of its patient-centred, individualised approach, not to speak of the growing side-effect profile, including the dangerous spectre of iatrogenic (drug-induced) diseases, triggered by conventional medications and treatment. That the government recently elevated the erstwhile department of AYUSH to a full-fledged ministry is a welcome move. This will not only help increase the global and local footprint of traditional systems of healthcare, such as homoeopathy, but also duly promote cost-effective AYUSH services, while strengthening homeopathic education in colleges and universities, including clinical practice, aside from facilitating the availability of quality medicines.
We suggest that the key areas for the homeopathic healthcare industry should focus on are awareness, product innovation, quality control and enhancement, accessibility, value-added services, including homeopathic OTC products, and preventative care, not to speak of new research initiatives, while catering to the growing health requirements of people, right from the grassroots’ level, along with data analytics and technology as primary enablers. Besides, it is a given that health consumers will now see a range of cost-effective homeopathic health awareness campaigns emphasising on the importance of health insurance through homeopathic treatment. This will improve the penetration of health insurance policies within the country — including new innovations in the space of alternative health insurance products. This will ensure, no less, that AYUSH reaches out to the remotest corners of the country with its clinics and hospitals and also provide exciting opportunities for players who are willing to invest and grow in the sunrise alternative wellness industry — for the good of everyone’s health and the country’s overall health too.
– Dr Mukesh Batra, Chairman and Founder, Dr Batra’s Healthcare Group
R&D, clinical data management, poor distribution and lack of well-funded manufacturing organisations are some of the areas in which the segment is lacking
We believe that as a system of medicine that has stood the test of time, and given the level of trust that it has from patients across countries, it may be a bit harsh to reject homoeopathy. There are many studies that show homoeopathy to be effective, and some studies that show otherwise. Same could be said to be true for all other systems of medicine. Every system of medicine has it is own limitation and no one is complete in itself.
There are many studies and researches which point to the efficacy of homoeopathy and its working principles. In a study conducted by IIT-Bombay it was concluded that homeopathic medicines contain nanoparticles, so it may as well be considered as nano-medicine. Further, vaccines also work on the same principle that if we expose human body to a small amount of the attenuated pathogens then the body has inbuilt capacity to develop immunity against those pathogens in due course of time.
Research and development, quality education, clinical data management, poor distribution and lack of well-funded manufacturing organisations are some of the areas in which homoeopathy segment is lacking and the same could be improved to make homoeopathy more popular and visible as its mainstream counterparts. There needs to be support from the government for research and development and quality education;introduction and promotion of evidence based and trial supported products, double blind clinical trials, better clinical data management; Introduction of homoeopathy wing in each hospital with quality doctors to get homoeopathy to the forefront of medical care.
Some recent big initiatives of the government like setting up of AYUSH ministry, separate drug regulator for alternative medicines, promotion of alternate system of medicines through various channels and platforms would surely translate into good times for homeopathic as well as other alternate medicines practioners.
– Dr. Manju Singh, Homoeopathy Consultant with 1 mgAYUSH