Homoeopathy myths: A dose of reality

Get your facts about homoeopathy right, before you dismiss it as placebo

homoeopathic medicinesAmong the many questions I get asked about homoeopathy, the weirdest is: "Does homoeopathy involve witchcraft?"

People ask this because homoeopaths seldom reveal the name of the medicine and rarely write a prescription. Most homoeopaths mix their own medicines. Obviously, it's a misconception.

I have come across many more wrong notions about homoeopathy [not all of them weird] in my practice, some of which I am sharing with you here.

Homoeopathy takes too long to show results.

This one is widespread and deep-rooted, which makes it rather difficult to erase. It exists mainly because people compare the results they get from homoeopathy with what they get from conventional medicine.

But we are often unsure if the relief is a cure or just palliation of symptoms. A homoeopath traces your problem back to the time your symptoms first appeared and identifies their cause—a physical trigger, an emotional shock, climate change, injury or ill-effects of other medications.

Hence, though the results start showing quickly, the time taken for absolute cure depends on the severity and durations of your symptoms.

Homoeopathy is only for chronic cases.

Often, in case of a health complaint, people first try allopathy. They consider alternative medicine only after they have changed medicines—and sometimes even doctors—in vain. By then the symptoms have been long standing and the case becomes chronic.

This is the reason that homoeopathy is considered suitable only for chronic cases. But homoeopathy need not be considered as the last resort. It can be successfully used to treat not just acute cases but also emergencies.

Homoeopathy works only because of the placebo effect.

homoeopathic pillsDue to the high dilutions used in preparing homoeopathic medicines, there have been allegations that it is nothing more than just a placebo.

But recent research by professors at the Indian Institute of Technology, Mumbai, used nanotechnology concepts to explain how homoeopathy works.

According to them, when substances were diluted even to one part in 10 raised to 400, they retained considerable amounts of the original substance. So even if the medicines are diluted, the effects are apparent. It's not all in the mind afterall; it's also in the medicine.

Homoeopathy does not require blood tests or examinations.

Homoeopathic physicians are not oracles who can detect the disease without examining you. They do suggest investigations, if required. Investigations help a doctor diagnose a disease and understand the progress of the treatment.

Perhaps this misconception popped up because in the past, doctors had to rely solely on their experience and guesswork to diagnose a disease and know if the medicine is helping—but that was before advances in technology.

Homoeopathy requires too many details, which is time-consuming.

This is not always the case. Treatment is given even without taking detailed case history. In case of children or unconscious/comatose patients, treatment is administered on the basis of whatever details shared by parents or relatives. Observations made by the physician also play a big role in diagnosis and treatment.

Homoeopaths ask you only those questions that are relevant for your treatment. Any information you share with your doctor about your medical history only helps her treat you better. Also, how much information a physician asks depends on the case.

I can't have coffee, eat onions or curd during my treatment.

Whatever dietary omissions are suggested are because those particular foods are bad for your condition and have nothing to do with homoeopathy. And mind you, even a doctor following modern or ayurvedic medicine will place such restrictions on your diet.

I can learn homoeopathy by reading a book.

All registered homoeopathic physicians are required to complete a five-and-half-year-course in homoeopathic medicine. They need to study anatomy, physiology, diagnosis, dosage and various drug interactions in order to medicate a person.

A book might give you names of remedies for specific conditions, but you would still lack the context and the complete knowledge. It would be foolish to experiment just because you believe homoeopathic medicine is nothing more than a do-it-yourself alternative therapy.

Moreover, you might end up taking the wrong medicine. What's worse, you may waste precious time in getting the right treatment.

Every system of medicine has its pluses and minuses—none is complete. What may work in some conditions may not work well in some others. Homoeopathy too is no miracle cure but millions have benefited from it and it's only fair to give it the credit it deserves.

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Grazilia Almeida-Khatri
Grazilia Almeida-Khatri is a homoeopath, yoga trainer and a wellness coach. She endorses yoga as a way of life and conducts yoga retreats for individuals and corporates. She is also trained in Pilates by Michael King, who is based in the UK. Grazilia is a practitioner of the Body Mirror System of healing as taught by Sir Martin Brofman. She lives in Mumbai and offers consultations in person and also on Skype.

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