The Place of Homeopathy in Alternative Medicine
are in: a new study, conducted by Dr. David Eisenberg of Harvard
Medical School and published in the Journal of the Medical Association,
indicates that Americans are more likely to visit an alternative
medical practitioner than a primary care physician and they are
spending far more money on therapies that fall outside the mainstream.
Visits are up 47% since 1990, raising the question: does this represent
a dissatisfaction with Western allopathic medicine or is it a reflection
of the patient's desire to take a more active role in their health?
After listening to thousands of my patients, I am convinced that
both reasons are valid.
a study is bound to stir up a reaction in the Western medical community.
"Instead of tolerating alternative therapies," the editors of The
New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) said recently, "the government
should be regulating them more strictly, given the documented cases
of people harmed by tainted or misleadingly labeled herbal remedies."
In addition, they said, alternative remedies-from homeopathy to
healing touch to guided imagery - are getting a "free ride", since
they are not held to the same standards of proof as conventional
or allopathic medicine. It is this last statement that I want to
scrutinize as unfair to certain medical modalities, especially Homeopathy.
Western medicine in fact is very often guilty of these very same
arguments that were brought up in the scathing NEJM article. How
many medications, heralded as break-throughs only months or years
ago, are now completely forgotten because they did not bring what
they promised. Just as some of those supplements, they were fads
promising rapid cures, but now are rapidly replaced by the new fads
who have their fifteen minutes of fame.
I do have to agree with NEJM as far as nutritional supplements are
concerned. They are too often considered a panacea, overprescribed
and mostly unjustified. Almost every year one particular supplement
becomes the "miracle cure", only to fall from grace the next year
when the next fad appears. When you read about any "miracle cure",
get out the salt shaker. It is often a lazy way to live "more naturally" without putting any effort into life style and dietary changes.
Some of these nutrients have achieved scientific status, however,
such as Vitamin E and Vitamin B6 as allopathic studies have demonstrated.
And with the exhaustion of our soil, nutrients are not as abundant
as they used to be, possibly necessitating some additional supplementation.
Herbs are yet another story. I was invited last year to introduce
homeopathy to second year students at Tufts Medical School. Before
my arrival, the professor had written on the blackboard some thoughts
about "herbal medicine," believing that this was what Homeopathy
stood for. His arguments were compelling and convincing. Herbal
effects, he said, are difficult to monitor since mixtures usually
contain more than one herb. So in case of a positive effect, we
don't know which one worked, and in case of an allergic or adverse
reaction, we don't know which one is responsible. Point
said, people can get sick from herbs and exhibit toxic side effects,
even liver failure. True, although he forgot to mention that these
cases are extremely rare, and usually caused when the patient ignores
the prescribed amount and overdoses of his own free will. Of course
nothing was mentioned about the fact that more people every year
die from medications than from motor vehicle accidents, or that
one third of illnesses in the U.S. are "iatrogenic" or "doctor/drug"
induced. The recent issue of NEJM focusing on the dangers of alternative
medicine chose to highlight two patients suffering mild symptoms
from an herbal preparation containing digitalis mislabeled as plaintain.
No mention was made of the thousands of patients who die each year
from overdoses of medication prepared from digitalis. Digitalis
toxicity is a well-known feature in the Western medical landscape,
to the point that it is taken for granted and hardly worth mentioning.
Nor is the fact that dozens of men have died so far from Viagra
in its first few months on the market; remember the hue and cry
over tryptophan, which was taken off the market when only a handful
of people died from it?
also made the same point as in NEJM: that alternative medical modalities
should be subjected to the same vigorous scientific checks as allopathic
medicine such as "double blind" studies. This brings up two questions:
Is Western medicine actually tested by double blind studies? And
is this a valid way of assessing medication?
The first question is quickly answered. According to their own allopathic
studies, 67% of prescriptions are made for side effects of the drugs,
not on the effect demonstrated by the double-blind study. In other
words, there is no double-blind test to back up 67% of the prescriptions
for medications in this country. As for the validity of such testing,
it does not apply to Homeopathy, as I will demonstrate by explaining
the Laws and Principles of Homeopathy. (Homeopathy cannot be lumped
together with herbal medicine and vitamin therapy, however, which
are closer to Western medicine and do not share Homeopathy's laws.)
Our first Law, that Like cures Like, was formulated and applied
by the Hippocrates, the Father of Medicine, then further elaborated
and put into practice by the famous German physician, Samuel Hahnemann
(1755-1843). The opposite Law in allopathy (Western medicine), "the
Contrary cures the Contrary," leads only to a worsening of the disease,
controlling the disease to some extent without curing it, while
creating side effects. If you can't sleep, take a sleeping pill.
If you are constipated, take a laxative. The result? The laxative
creates more constipation. An ever-increasing dose is needed to
get the same result because of the natural law, "Every action is
followed by an equally strong and opposite reaction."
Vaccinations, heralded by Western medicine as the crown jewel of
prevention, follows homeopathy's first law that "a similar disease
cures a similar disease." But then vaccinations are administered
in mixtures, which is just as bad as administering herbs in mixtures.
Plus they are given to babies before their immune systems are fully
formed. Result: direct toxicity easily observed (from SIDS, to epilepsy,
deafness, cortical blindness, mental changes, etc.) to delayed effects
which only a homeopathic physician would recognize (warts, recurrent
infections, deepseated organic diseases and auto-immune disorders).
Vaccinations are also repeated too often and in much too high doses
compared to the minute doses of homeopathy. A better solution would
be to give vaccinations according to all Laws of Homeopathy, not
just the first Law.
The second Law is the most controversial: use the infinitesimal
dose, a dose so small that no molecules are left in the substance.
Result: a gentle cure, speedy, with no side effects, allergic reactions
and toxic after effects. In numerous studies (the Benveniste study
at the Louis Pasteur Institute in France was one of them), the activity
of these homeopathic remedies have been demonstrated with the laboratory
methods of Western medicine. Of course, not one scientist can explain
this phenomenon through existing physical and chemical Laws, but
do we have the audacity to say that we know everything that there
is to know in these sciences? Of course not. I also want to draw
the attention of my medical colleagues to the Arndt-Schultz Law
of Arndt-Schultz which says that, "Minimal doses of a drug stimulate,
medium doses inhibit and large doses destroy cellular activity."
Pasteur should have known this when he introduced his "mad-dog"
or rabies vaccination, killing thousands of innocent people before
he finally reduced the doses. This was 1888 and unfortunately, he
did not learn from the genius of Hahnemann who already 100 years
before Pasteur and Koch, cured epidemics of scarlatina, typhoid
fever, cholera, syphilis, gonorrhea and TB! That success alone has
given Hahnemann his well-deserved place in history but he did so
much more. Why does allopathy hides the results obtained in such
epidemics? Just look at the statistics from the terrible Spanish
flu epidemic of 1918. Patients treated with Homeopathy had a death
rate less than 5%, with Western medicine more than 45-50%! And in
the great cholera epidemic of 1831-1832 in Europe, starting in Russia,
the death rate among patients treated with Homeopathy was almost
nihil versus 50-60% in Allopathy!And
these same remedies used in 1831 are still successful in such epidemics
Just this week (November 15, 1998), an excellent series appeared
in the Boston Globe regarding frightening medical experiments performed
on mental ill patients: their medications were deliberately withheld,
they did not give true informed consent, and they were subjected
to horrific side effects of withdrawal and the new unproved drugs.
These facts border on criminality; an alternative practitioner would
have gone to jail long ago for treating patients like this. And
I wonder how many doctors would subject themselves to the same treatment?
But this is what Homeopathy has done! The majority of homeopathic
remedies were safely tested on Homeopathic physicians, their students
and family members. Western physicians should have the courage to
subject themselves to the same drugs, experiments and procedures
they subject sick people and animals to.
The other Laws guiding the Homeopathic physician in his treatment
and management of the patient are not relevant here. My only goal
of this article is to show that Homeopathy stands apart from allopathic
modalities through its scientific approach. No other modality, Western
medicine included, is governed by so many infallible Laws of Nature.
I would encourage my fellow physicians, before rejecting Homeopathy,
to study and apply it. Countless detractors have done so before
and have become the best advocates for Homeopathy. Aude sapere!
Dare to know! Humanity will be the better for it.
Luc De Schepper, M.D., Ph.D., D.I.Hom., C.Hom.,
Lic.Ac. is a Western medical doctor, acupuncturist and homeopath with
over 200,000 patients in 27 years of practice. He is the founder of
the Renissance Institute of Classical Homeopathy in Cambridge, MA
and the author of eleven books on homeopathy, acupuncture and holistic
health care, including The People's Repertory (a how-to guide to homeopathy)
and Human Condition Critical (an introduction to the laws and principles
of homeopathy in chronic diseases). He has been a popular guest on
numerous television shows in the United States and abroad as well
as being interviewed on dozens of radio shows. His books are available
at your health food store, from Full of Life Publishing, or visit
his website: http://www.drluc.com/ , which also
has his previous EarthStar articles.
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