Reaching out to the world

Making a case for the sweet pill

Even as sceptics carry on a campaign against homeopathy, over 200 studies and evidence-based realities exemplify it as a safe, dependable and effective mode of medical treatment.

Homeopathy is a wellness system that focuses on the entire individual for healing, not just on a particular illness in isolation. It has drawn universal admiration from unbiased allopathic practitioners and successfully treated millions of patients worldwide. According to WHO, it is already the world’s second largest medical system.

Unfortunately, this youngest, most gentle and humane line of treatment has been the subject of a tirade by vested interests, especially in the UK. They argue that homeopathy is just a “belief” medicine, and that there are no large-scale studies which have established that its curative powers are not simply the result of a placebo (dummy pill) effect.

The attack is based primarily on a ten-year-old study by A Shang et al published in The Lancet. Since then, the study itself has been called into question, with many professionals dubbing it “poor.” On the other hand, over 200 large-scale studies have demonstrated the efficacy of homeopathy and disproved that it is a placebo.

Those who derogatorily label homeopathy as dogma, faith healing, cult therapy and snake oil would do well to introspect. The British Medical Journal reports that just 11 per cent of treatments used today carry actual evidence of medicinal or clinical efficiency.

Consider these facts: No one has ever died from taking homeopathy medicine. Allopathic drugs are the third largest killing agents in the US after heart attacks and other illnesses. An observational study of 6,544 patients during a six-year period featuring over 23,000 homeopathic consultations was published in The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine a few years ago. Its results showed that 70.7 per cent of patients reported positive health changes, with 50.7 per cent recording their improvement as “better” or “much better.”

The Experience of Care and Health Outcomes in Europe has demonstrated the therapeutic efficacy of homeopathy. A total of 19 publications, using validated scores for quality of life [QoL], evaluated the effectiveness of homeopathic medicines in 19,804 patients. Results showed that homeopathy is as efficient as conventional medicine in general practice.

Homeopathy has proved safe and effective in epidemics too. The Journal of the American Institute of Homeopathy reports that during a major outbreak of meningitis in Brazil in 1974, 18,640 patients were given the homeopathic nosode, Meningococcinum as a preventative. Only four cases of meningitis were reported in this group. On the contrary, 6,340 people, who formed the control group and did not receive any treatment, developed 32 cases.

Over 2 million Cuban citizens at high risk in a leptospirosis epidemic in 2007 were given a preventative homeopathic preparation. Researchers found that there was a significant decrease in the incidence of leptospirosis in the group that received preventative homeopathic treatment.

Sceptics should note that the lead researchers of the Cuban homeopathic leptospirosis programme were not homeopaths but the world’s leading experts on leptospirosis vaccination and implemented the use of the homeopathic leptospirosis prophylaxis as a desperate measure, when Cuba was overwhelmed by a record hurricane spell. The homeopathic preventative remedy proved far more successful than conventional vaccine.

Homeopathy has never shied away from being tested. It, in fact, conducted double-blind, placebo-controlled studies as far back as the early 1800s. Conventional medicine, embarked on its first placebo-controlled study only in 1948. Homeopathy also pioneered the concept of multicentre study which eliminates the influence of unexpected variables such as ethnic factors and human error. The first multicentre study of a homeopathic remedy was conducted in 1906. Such a study of an allopathic drug was conducted only in 1944.

Isn’t it time to set the record straight and accept homeopathy’s scientific underpinnings, precision and evidence-based therapeutic effects?