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History of Homeopathy

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A little History

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Ancient Barbaric Medical Practices … almost unbelievable

bullet The Birth of Homeopathy
bullet The Evolution of Homeopathy
bullet Historical Healing in Homeopathy
bullet Present Status of Homeopathy
bullet Homeopathy in India
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A little History
  Hippocrates - the Greek physician (5th century B.C.) is considered to be the central figure in the history of medicine. It was he who thought that disease was the result of external forces and not divine influences which was thought at that time. Central to his beliefs was the idea that careful observation of the symptoms specific to an individual, and also that persons reaction to disease should be taken into account before reaching a diagnosis. He was the first physician to propound the principle of "like can cure like" He wrote “by similar things a disease is produced and through the application of the like it is cured” which later on became the basis of homeopathy. Roman physicians especially Celsus and Galen increased the knowledge and understanding of the structure and function of the human body but the Hippocrates' Theory "like can cure like" was largely ignored. Although Greek and Roman medical traditions survived in Persia, it was not until the 16th Century that European Medical Study resumed and progressed.

In the early 16th century, the Swiss doctor Paracelsus stated that the causes of disease were linked to external forces such as contaminated food and drinks.
He believed that plants and metals contained active ingredients that could be prescribed for an illness. This belief was based on the unique fact that the external appearance of the plant gave an indication of the ailments it could cure - a theory that became known as the Doctrine of Signatures. E.g. Chelidonium Majus was used to treat liver and gall bladder diseases because the yellow juice of the plant looked like bile. What a wonderful logical understanding of those times!

Paracelsus also believed that physicians should take into account the body’s own natural ability to heal itself i.e. the immune system. Again the “like can cure like” principle was advocated but it was ignored by Paracelsus’ fellow physicians for over 300 years until Homeopathy was founded.
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Ancient Barbaric Medical Practices … almost unbelievable
 

Despite the growth of medical knowledge it has to be noted that the general health of the population deteriorated as more people moved to crowded, dirty industrial cities and standards of public hygiene declined. Medical practice became more and more violent with many physicians using blood letting and purging as a means of cure. Treatments with extremely toxic chemicals such as arsenic, lead, bismuth was the norm.

One French doctor blood let so much that the comman man of those times jokingly estimated that he spilled more blood in his medical practice than was spilled throughout the entire Napoleanic Wars.

It was against this GROSS background that Homeopathy was born!

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The Birth of Homeopathy

Homeopathy was founded by Dr Samuel Hahnemann, a German Physician, a Scholar, A Chemist (1755 – 1843). Dr Hahnemann setup his practice after qualifying as a doctor in 1779. Although Hahnemann worked mainly as a doctor, he supplemented his income by writing articles and books on medicine and chemistry. Being well aware of the barbaric medical practices of those times, Hahnemann in his writings protested against the harsh medical practices of the time, especially blood letting and purging and the drastic doses of medicines that were administered to patients often with terrible side effects. Such was his holistic medical vision even in those times, that he advocated the importance of better public hygiene, sensible eating, fresh air and exercise. Hahnemann became increasingly disillusioned with conventional medical practice and eventually gave up being a doctor to work as a translator. In 1790 while translating a “Treatise on Materia Medica” by William Cullen, Hahnemann came across a passage about the Peruvian Bark or Cinchona which was to change his life and the lives of many people throughout the world.
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In his book, Cullen stated that the Cinchona Bark was a good treatment for malaria because of its bitter and astringent qualities. This made no sense to Hahnemann who as a chemist was aware that there were other much more powerful astringents that had no effect on malaria whatsoever.

Cinchona Bark was a good treatment for malaria because of its bitter and astringent qualities. This made no sense to Hahnemann who as a chemist was aware that there were other much more powerful astringents that had no effect on malaria whatsoever.

His inquiring mind made him to investigate further. For several days he took the Cinchona Bark extract. To his astonishment he began to develop the symptoms of malaria one after another like fever, chills, etc. despite the fact that he actually did not have the disease. The symptoms recurred every time he took a dose of the Cinchona Bark and lasted for several hours. If he did not take the dose he had no symptoms.

Thus Hahnemann recorded that Cinchona Bark was effective against malaria because it can produce similar symptoms in healthy people. He then went on to repeat the process using other substances that were in use as medicines in large doses such as arsenic and belladonna. The Law of Similars – similia similibus curentur was thus established and the foundation of Homeopathy was laid.

Homeopathy is derived from the words ‘Homeos’ meaning similar and ‘Pathos’ meaning suffering.

In practice this means that a drug which is capable of producing a certain set of symptoms in a healthy body when taken in large physiological doses, will relieve or cure a similar set of symptoms in the diseased organism when it is given in small homeopathic doses.

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The Evolution of Homeopathy


After translating Cullen's work, Hahnemann spent the next six years actively experimenting on himself, his family, and a small but growing group of followers. In 1796 he wrote about his experiences with the law of similars in Hufeland's Journal, a respected medical journal in Germany. Coincidentally, in 1798 Edward Jenner discovered the value of giving small doses of cowpox to people in an effort to immunize them against smallpox. Whereas Jenner's work was generally accepted into orthodox medicine, Hahnemann's work was not.

At this time, there was increasing antagonism to Hahnemann and the new school of medicine – Homeopathy. Despite the opposition, homeopathy continued to grow as it offered systematic approach to treating sick people and also because orthodox medicine of 1700 & 1800 was not only ineffective but also dangerous causing more harm than good.

It must be noted that in 1890 Mark Twain acknowledged the special value of homeopathy stating that “the introduction of homeopathy forced the old school doctors to learn about some rationality in their business”.

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Historical Healing in Homeopathy

The most important reason that homeopathy developed such immense popularity was its success in treating various INFECTIOUS EPIDEMIC DISEASES that raged throughout America and Europe during the 1800s.

Medical historians state that Death Rates in homeopathic hospitals was half to as less than one eight compared to those patients in allopathic hospitals. Homeopaths were successful in treating patients suffering from the cholera epidemic in 1849. Their success rate was 95%.

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London Homeopathic Hospital
In 1849, the first homeopathic hospital was founded by Dr. Quin

Also during the 1838 cholera epidemic in Austria the success rate of homeopathy was 80%. The death rate during the cholera epidemic of 1854 at the London Homeopathic Hospital was 30% than that of other hospitals. The results however were suppressed and only published after parliamentary intervention. In an official report, the medical inspector said :
“if it should please the LORD to visit me with cholera, I would wish to fall into the hands of a homeopathic physician” What a statement in those times!!

Homeopathy also successfully treated the yellow fever epidemic of 1878.

Hahnmann himself was the first physician to use homeopathy for treating the epidemic of scarlet fever in 1801. He observed that a child who was being treated with a homeopathic remedy – Belladonna resisted scarlet fever even though all the other siblings were affected. Wondering whether Belladonna had acted prophylactically Hahnemann began giving it to other families after the first ones fell ill and he found it to be protective despite a 90% attack rate among the untreated. This fact was accepted by the Prussian Government.
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Present Status of Homeopathy

Homeopathy throughout its history of 200 years has experienced varying degrees of opposition from orthodox physicians, be it in India, Europe or America. Wherever homeopaths have been given a free environment to practice homeopathy, it has grown and flourished. The Royal Family in Britain has been under homeopathic care since the 1830s.

In France a recent survey revealed that 25% of the French public use homeopathic remedies and over 20,000 french pharmacies sell homeopathic remedies. French President Mr. Mitterand had called for more research on homeopathy.

Homeopathy is equally popular in Brazil and Argentina where it is estimated that over 3 million people have taken homeopathic treatment.
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Homeopathy in India


Homeopathy was brought to India by Dr Honigberger who arrived in Lahore in 1829-1830. The then ruler of Punjab, Maharaja Ranjitsingh was impressed by him when he treated his favourite horse of its bad leg ulcers. On his consequent visit to India in 1839, Dr Honigberger treated Maharaja Ranjitsingh for paralysis of vocal cords and oedema. The Maharaja was relieved of his complains in return Dr Honigberger was made in charge of a hospital and later on went on to practice in Calcutta.

Homeopathy continued to spread in India as Indians found its philosophy and principles a reflection of their belief and culture.

Homeopathy is even more popular in India as it received the support of Mahatma Gandhi who was reported to have said that “it cures a greater number of people than any other method of treatment”.

Homeopathy has been widely practiced in India since the middle of the 19th century and is an officially recognized system of medicine. India has the largest homeopathic infrastructure in the world in terms of qualified doctors in institutions and drug manufacturing industry. There are over 100,000 qualified homeopaths, 180 colleges and over 5000 government clinics. Along with ayurveda , homeopathy, is the second most popular system of medicine in India. Many speciality hospitals , like the Bombay hospital  have homeopathic departments. Large corporate houses like the Tata group have homeopathic medical services for their employees.

According to the WHO, homeopathy is the SECOND largest system of medicine in the world and is experiencing an annual growth of around 20 - 25%. It is estimated that by the year 2017, the world homeopathy market would be equivalent to the current alternative health care market which is Rs 50 - 2000 cr.

The homeopathy market in India today is worth around Rs 630 cr, growing at roughly 20% per annum.

It is known that homeopathy is a more effective means of treating chronic ailments like asthma, chronic cold, sinus problems, indigestion, arthritis, migraine and also certain hormonal disorders like hypothyroidism and diabetes. Where homeopathy scores is in the treatment of children as the medicines are easy to administer.

In a certain survey, 82% of homeopathy users would not switch to conventional treatments. Also if a person enrolls for homeopathic treatment in the early stages of his problem it is less likely that he would want to switch to conventional treatments.
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