In response to my last editorial, I received a letter from B in which he asked me:
My question to you is, Dr. Bhatia: Is it really necessary to acquire this extra knowledge in conventional medicine as a true, classical homeopath? I thought the motto of a true classical homeopath is: “Treat the patient, not the disease!”
Just studying Hahnemann’s principles, the Materia Medica’s and learning about the drug pictures for homeopathic medicines in depth alone can take many, many years. It never really stops anyway if you are determined enough to deepen your understanding in homeopathy all the time.
However, the aim of a ‘classical homeopath’ from my understanding is to match the essence of the patient with the essence of a remedy according to the totality of symptoms. So where does the knowledge of conventional medicine finds its place in prescribing the correct homeopathic remedy for a patient? I truly believe homeopaths are NOT prescribing for a particular disease! Disease according to Hahnemann and Kent starts in the mind. I even think any manifestation IN THE PHYSICAL BODY (so-called disease) stems from an imbalance in the emotional body. This very knowledge is distinguishing homeopaths from allopaths. What makes a homeopathic prescription so special? The knowledge of the Law of Similars and the Law of the Minimum Dose. No need to know how to analyze a disease, wouldn’t you agree with me?
Hahnemann used to say: “The name of your disease is none of my concern, the name of the remedy should be none of yours.”
So why gain more knowledge in something which has nothing to do with homeopathy and may only in the end be confusing? Is it to attain better and higher credentials? Is it to show conventional doctors homeopaths are just as good as them since they have obtained same knowledge in understanding pathophysiology and diagnosing diseases? Or is it to try and make homeopaths look equal in the eye of an allopathic doctor and therefore they are entitled to charge ‘an arm and a leg’ for a treatment as well? I wonder?
Instead of sending you an email, I have preferred to put this issue in this month’s editorial as this is a very common confusion among our students and I would like to address the answer to all the students.
To your question: Is it really necessary to acquire this extra knowledge in conventional medicine as a true, classical homeopath? My answer would be ‘YES’! Let us now discuss the ‘why’ behind this yes.
First, let us explore the word ‘conventional medicine’. Conventional means ‘conforming or adhering to accepted standards‘ and ‘Medicine’ means ‘the art or science of restoring or preserving health or due physical condition, as by means of drugs, surgical operations or appliances, or manipulations: often divided into medicine proper, surgery, and obstetrics.‘ So conventional medicine includes those drugs, methods and practices which are accepted by the general population as being effective and true.
Since Homeopathy is still not universally accepted, let us call ourselves ‘Unconventional Medicine‘. Although we are considered ‘unconventional’ at present but since we are a system of ‘medicine’, we have at our disposal all the various means of medicine like drugs(remedies), surgery, manipulations etc.
Now what makes the ‘conventional medicine’, conventional? Is it the knowledge of Anatomy, Physiology, Pathology, Surgery, Gynecology, Microbiology, Disease Nosology etc? NO! Most of these sciences developed independently and were later integrated with the ‘conventional’ medicine. And they can be integrated with ANY system of medicine. These sciences do not directly deal with the methods of treatment but they deal with the knowledge of ‘how’ our body functions in health and disease. This knowledge is essential for every practitioner, of every system of medicine. How this knowledge is then used for the treatment is what individualizes each system of medicine.
What makes the ‘conventional’ medicine, conventional, is their ‘scientifically’ proven pharmacology. If they say Paracetamol brings down fever, it is very easy to ‘prove’ that; if they say Diclofenac sodium decreases pain, it is very easy to document that; if they say Norflox kills E-coli, it is easy to come up with a successful study to prove the claim.
Their practice is very consistent with their ‘chemicals effective against disease‘ philosophy. They deliver what they promise and hence they are generally accepted (conventional). Our approach towards health and sickness is very different and we treat accordingly but are we really ‘consistent’? Have we been able to pull out significant studies (not using their approach but our approach) that show results so positive that they are difficult to disprove, disagree or disrespect? Think about it.
If Homeopathy has to become a global phenomenon, it will have to show consistency and uniformity in education and practice. I have raised these issues in my past few editorials and will not discuss them further here. I’ll come back to our original question.
The knowledge of the structure and the function of human body is equally essential for the homeopaths. Unless you know what is normal, you can not distinguish the ‘abnormal’. Unless you know, what is health, you can not distinguish sickness. I will not call this knowledge, the knowledge of ‘conventional medicine’. Open your repertory and try to find a page where the knowledge of human body is not called for to distinguish between the normal and abnormal. Any symptom that relates to colour, pain, size, pulse, respiration, location, appearance etc. will require knowledge of the human body.
The knowledge of disease (nosology) is also helpful in many ways. First, it lets you distinguish between the common and the uncommon. In aphorism 153 Hahnemann says (Underline mine):
In this search for a homoeopathic specific remedy, that is to say, in this comparison of the collective symptoms of the natural disease with the list of symptoms of known medicines, in order to find among these an artificial morbific agent corresponding by similarity to the disease to be cured, the more striking, singular, uncommon and peculiar (characteristic) signs and symptoms of the case of disease are chiefly and most solely to be kept in view; for it is more particularly these that very similar ones in the list of symptoms of the selected medicine must correspond to, in order to constitute it the most suitable for effecting the cure.
But how do we differentiate what is common and what is uncommon? It is the knowledge of ‘disease’ that lets us distinguish between what belongs to the disease pathology and what belongs to the patient. Whether the ‘palpitations, worse lying down‘ is peculiar to the patient or is a common symptom of valvular dysfunction or the ‘Stitching pain in rectum at the time of menses‘ is a common symptom of endometriosis or an uncommon symptom of the patient, can only be made out if you understand the symptoms that are common to ‘disease pathology’.
The knowledge of conventional medical subjects also helps you distinguish between surgical and non-surgical cases. Look at the footnote of Aphorism 7:
1 It is not necessary to say that every intelligent physician would first remove this where it exists; the indisposition thereupon generally ceases spontaneously. He will remove from the room strong-smelling flowers, which have a tendency to cause syncope and hysterical sufferings; extract from the cornea the foreign body that excites inflammation of the eye; loosen the over-tight bandage on a wounded limb that threatens to cause mortification, and apply a more suitable one; lay bare and put ligature on the wounded artery that produces fainting; endeavor to promote the expulsion by vomiting of belladonna berries etc., that may have been swallowed; extract foreign substances that may have got into the orifices of the body (the nose, gullet, ears, urethra, rectum, vagina); crush the vesical calculus; open the imperforate anus of the newborn infant, etc.
Hahnemann himself said that surgery and antipathic methods might be of use at times. How will you know if the ‘heaviness in lower abdomen‘ is due to a large vasical calculus or uterine fibroid if you can’t diagnose them? Surgery is a reality and although it is done by conventional medicine doctors, surgery per se is not strictly in the realm of conventional medicine.
Homeopathically speaking, the knowledge of pathology also helps you decide about the underlying miasm. The pathology a patient develops reflects the underlying tendencies that the patient has and if you understand the pathology, you can get a cue to the miasmatic influence that the patient was born with.
Apart from this, the homeopaths of the modern era should have some basic knowledge of allopathic pharmacology too. These days, there is hardly any patient who comes to us without taking allopathic medicines. The symptom picture is often mixed as a result of suppressions, side-effects, medicinal symptoms etc. To cure such patients, we have to have some understanding of the agents which are causing these changes.
So, we do need the knowledge of the sciences associated with conventional medicine but not to show that we are equal, not to show our diagnostic capabilities, not to speak in the medical jargon to impress the scientific community and to confuse the patient. We need this information to improve ourselves as true classical homeopaths and for the betterment of our system of medicine!
I hope this brings out my views clearly. You can share your own experiences and thoughts with me at email@example.com
Dr. Manish Bhatia