To those not familiar with it, the term homoeopathy raises either a mixture of suspicious disbelief or doubtful amazement. The alternative medicine, at times viewed as a kind of magic, is in fact capable of yielding positive results by providing holistic healing solutions. At least, that is according to world-leading homoeopathic practitioner Dr Rajan Sankaran, who was visiting Thailand to raise awareness of homoeopathic medicine.
Based on the idea that the body has the ability to heal itself, homoeopathy involves two main principles. One, it uses the "similar theory" or the law of "like cures like" healing discovered in 1796 by German physician Samuel Hahnemann, who was frustrated with conventional medicine. Hahnemann found that a substance that brings on a symptom in a healthy people can be used to heal the symptom in a patient.
Onions are used to explain this law. When we cut an onion we will get watery eyes, as if we had a cold. Onions have long been used as a cold treatment. Homoeopathic remedies are selected by how they match the symptoms.
"But there is something more than that." Dr Sankaran said the second key idea behind homoeopathy was individualisation and wholesomeness. Speaking at a seminar recently held at Bangkok's leading private hospital, he pointed out Hahnemann also found that one of the remedies used on volunteers did not just affect part of an organ. The entire of body seemed to react and his mindset changed the way he feels.
"The remedy doesn't affect just parts but the entire organism. And a disease is not contained to part of the organism but is determined to the whole organism," said the Indian homoeopath.
Homoeopathic treatment aims to give holistic healing to patients rather than just handling the symptoms, while modern medicine seeks to manage or suppress symptoms and organ pathology, he said. Homoeopathy also believes that the body and mind are closely connected. As a result, homoeopathy doesn't treat only patients' physical but also their psychological conditions.
"This is why homoeopathic doctors need to understand the whole person of the patient _ the body, the mind and emotional state," said Dr Sankaran.
"Modern medicine considers and treats a disease as something local. When you have an epidemic, you try to move the epidemic. When a patient has high blood sugar, modern medicine aims to lower blood sugar. But the idea may not work at the long run as a disease is not local."
At the event, the homoeopath showed participants video records of cases complete with photographs and demonstrated clinical evidence as to how effective homoeopathy can be. Some of his successes include depression, diabetic foot ulcer, autoimmune hepatitis, rheumatoid arthritis, steroid nephritic syndrome, orbital hemangioma (vascular lesion of the orbit), osteolysis of bone, (a condition that weakens bones and may cause holes to form in them) severe molluscum (a viral infection of the skin) in HIV children and cardiomyopathy (heart muscle disease).
Dr Rajan Sankaran
One interesting case involved a Catholic priest who suffers from Lyme disease _ an emerging infectious disease _ that is generally treated with antibiotic medicine. After a discussion with the patient, Dr Sankaran explained that he found the priest generally enjoying physical activities and movement. When he's not moving, the priest would experience stiffness or tightness. Muscle tightness also occurred when he was stressed before giving a sermon or during a basketball game.
Dr Sankaran elaborated that, in the priest's case, his stress manifested in the form of tightness and stiffness, also causing him a backache. It turned out to be a fear of immobility _ the fear that he might not be able to play his favourite game of basketball _ that ran deep in his mind. Sensation and emotional experience is capable of bringing on both mental and physical problems.
"And you will see each individual has a completely unique characteristic and experience of stress. And that characteristic or experience is a pattern that is embodied in the person and programmed to perceive and react to the reality in a very specific way, not only emotionally but also physically," he said.
What homoeopaths like Dr Sankaran would look for is a remedy with a particular feature. He found it in Rhus-tox, which is a dilution of poison ivy.
"I gave him a tiny dilutes several hundred times and then his Lyme disease was gone," the homoeopath said, showing a video recording of the priest's testimony, stating the remedy not only took care of his disease but the entire problem including his backache and unhealthy emotional condition.
Dr Sankaran explained he usually took time to go over the details of patients, from head to toe, asking many questions about their likes and dislikes, about diets, bowel habits, sleep patterns, as well as their work life. More importantly, he attempts to learn about patients' mental state and their temperament including moods, anxieties, fears and even dreams as well as the way they react to various physical and psychological effects. Often, homoeopaths need to know about patients' specific behaviour and relationships to uncover the underlying experiences and sensations which are the basis of their individuality and self-expression. And these findings are often found to connect to the thread of the whole case.
These questions allow homoeopaths to figure out what may have triggered symptoms, and help them identify the most suitable remedy among 4,000 that have been documented to have worked successfully.
"What homoeopathic doctors usually do is only to reflect what is inside of their patients, their inner problem, and make them aware of it. When that experience comes into their awareness that is close to their senses, it's greatly healing," Dr Sankaran said.
Homoeopathic remedies are not about material substances, he added. What homoeopathic doctors believe is energy medicine is dynamic medicine. What they do is to stimulate a person's own healing mechanisms by reflecting to that person what he/she already has inside. By doing this reflection, healing happens.
"It's like playing the song from outside what already playing inside of you. And that's the law of similar," he said.
"When you are in grief, what do you really want to do? You want to have a conversation with somebody who has a similar loss rather going to a movie theatre and watching a funny movie. That's homoeopathy. Watching a funny movie while you're in grief makes you faint and gives you a headache. It's exactly going into the opposite direction."
When asked whether homoeopathy has any limitations, Dr Sankaran answered: the approach can't do too much in surgical cases and advanced degenerative diseases. It's the treatment of choice for chronic conditions and also it can help most acute conditions.
Many scientific studies have shown that homoeopathy works. The Swiss government includes homoeopathy in the state's insurance system. The World Health Organisation has also recognised this alternative mode of medicine as the second-largest system of medicine in the world. However, scepticism of its healing process is still wide.
"The most important reason for the doubt, particularly in modern medicine, is a lack of awareness of what it can do," said Dr Sankaran who has more than 30 years of experience in practise and teaching homoeopathy and who wrote The Spirit Of Homoeopathy where he explained his idea that disease originates from a false perception of reality.
"It's very important for us to communicate because patients absolutely deserve the best of modern medical treatment and also deserve the best homoeopathic remedy. And if modern medical doctors and homoeopaths can work together, especially in chronic conditions."
Part of the seminar was dedicated to a demonstration of homoeopathy application in clinical trials in cases of prophylaxis in leptospirosis and rheumatoid arthritis. By doing this, Dr Sankaran hopes to increase awareness about the possibility that modern medical doctors can cooperate with homoeopaths for the best interest of patients.
"It doesn't mean that if you're right, I'm wrong. This attitude is not good," he said. "Is it possible that you're right, I'm right too. Every possible matter helps. Be awake to what the other science is doing. So we can have wonderful cooperation."
About the author
- Writer: Sukhumaporn Laiyok