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Homoeopathy was discovered by a German Physician, Dr. Christian Friedrich Samuel Hahnemann (1755-1843), in the late eighteenth century. It is a therapeutic system of medicine premised on the principle, “Similia Similibus Curentur” or ‘let likes be treated by likes'. It is a method of treatment for curing the patient by medicines that possess the power of producing similar symptoms in a healthy human being simulating the natural disease, which it can cure in the diseased person. It treats the patients not only through holistic approach but also considers individualistic characteristics of the person. This concept of ‘law of similars' was also enunciated by Hippocrates and Paracelsus, but Dr. Hahnemann established it on a scientific footing despite the fact that he lived in an age when modern laboratory methods were almost unknown. 

Homoeopathic medicines are prepared from traces of animal, plant, mineral and other natural substances, by a standard method called dynamisation or potentisation, which comprises of successive dilutions and succussions to raise the inherent curative power of the drugs to maximum. The medicines thus prepared through ‘potentisation', attain their potential enhanced enormously to combat ailments while at the same time absence of toxicity is assured. The medicines are usually proved in healthy human beings, to ascertain their curative properties. The system believes in the existence of a self- regulating force in the organism, which plays a vital role during health, disease and cure. The symptoms are considered as the body's natural reaction to the illness and help to find a remedy against the illness. The remedies work by stimulating the body's defense mechanism to correct itself naturally. This therapy adopts an individualistic and holistic approach towards the sick individual. A homoeopathic doctor does not treat in the name of disease, rather the treatment is targeted against the “patient” who is suffering from a particular disease. The physician perceives all the derangements at physical and mental levels of the patient, brings about conceptual image of the patient through totality of symptoms and selects the medicine, which is most similar to the symptomatic totality of the patient.

Homoeopathic medicines are cost effective, palatable, have no adverse side effects and can be administered easily. In some cases, the medicines can be prescribed on the basis of symptoms of the patients, without depending upon the cumbersome and costly diagnostic modalities. Homoeopathy has been useful in treatment of psychosomatic disorders, autoimmune diseases, geriatric and pediatric disorders, ailments during pregnancy, obstinate skin diseases, life style disorders and allergies, etc. It also has a positive role in improving the quality of life in incurable chronic diseases like cancer, HIV/AIDS, terminally ill patients and incapacitating diseases like rheumatoid arthritis, etc. Its popularity is gaining momentum, all over the world. 

HOMOEOPATHY IN INDIA

Homoeopathy which was introduced in India approximately two centuries ago, is an important component of India’s pluralistic health care system. The Government of India has made sustained efforts for growth and development of Homoeopathy and other traditional systems of medicine including Ayurveda, Yoga, Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Sowa Rigpa. (collectively identified by the acronym AYUSH). Due to the sustained efforts of the government, an institutional framework of Homoeopathy has been established at the Centre as well as in all the states. There exists a highly commendable infrastructure in the form of 195 undergraduate and 43 post graduate homeopathic medical colleges with regulatory mechanism for quality university education, autonomous research council with 22 institutes and units; 2,83,840 registered homoeopathic practitioners; drug safety regulations with 403  drug manufacturing units.

AYUSH services are included in the health care delivery system of the country at all levels of primary, secondary and tertiary health care. The Government of India has a number of programmes and initiatives for promotion of AYUSH systems and an increase in health care coverage in the country. The regulations ensure that quality of care is maintained and medical pluralism permits patients to opt for treatment of their choice. 

Healthcare services in Homoeopathy are provided by 235 hospitals and 8117 dispensaries run by state governments and municipal bodies, Central Government Health Scheme, labour ministry and railway ministry. The Government of India launched the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM), to carry out necessary architectural correction in the basic health care delivery system in the country. A strategy in the NRHM is to mainstream the Indian systems of medicine and Homoeopathy to facilitate health care through these systems. Under NRHM, AYUSH facilities have been co-located in 512 district hospitals, 2739 community health centres and 9112 primary health centres in 2015. “AYUSH Wellness Centre” has recently been inaugurated by Hon’ble President of India, Shri Pranab Mukherjee on 25th July 2015 at the President’s Estate, New Delhi.

Since the last two decades there is a consistent focus to enhance quality of services, with initiatives to upgrade education, research and drug development and escalate health care delivery for which many initiatives have been taken up by the Government of India. These can be seen at http://ayush.gov.in/.

HISTORY OF HOMOEOPATHY IN INDIA

Homoeopathy was introduced in India when some German missionaries and physicians started distributing homoeopathic medicines amongst local inhabitants. However, Homoeopathy took roots in India in 1839 when Dr. John Martin Honigberger successfully treated Maharaja Ranjit Singh for the paralysis of Vocal Cords. Dr. Honigberger settled in Kolkata (the then Calcutta) and became popular as Cholera-doctor. Later, Dr. M.L. Sirkar, a reputed Physician of his time, also started practicing Homoeopathy. He edited the first Homoeopathic Journal ‘Calcutta Journal of Medicine' in the year 1868. In 1881, many renowned physicians including Dr. P.C. Mujumdar and Dr. D. N. Roy established first Homoeopathic College - the ‘ Calcutta Homoeopathic Medical College'. Dr. Lahiri, Dr. B. K. Sarkar and many others made personal efforts in establishing Homoeopathy as a profession. They are well known for their contribution to the growth of Homoeopathy not only in West Bengal but also in the whole country.

Over the years, the number of amateur homoeopathic practitioners grew steadily and most of them approached the Government to accord recognition to Homoeopathy. The turning point came in 1937 when the Central Legislative Assembly resolved, “That this Assembly recommends to the Governor General in Council that he may be pleased to introduce Homoeopathic treatment in government hospitals and give homoeopathic colleges in India the same status and recognition as in the case of allopathic colleges”. Later, in the year 1948, the same Assembly adopted yet another resolution about Homoeopathy, which was followed by constitution of the Homoeopathic Enquiry Committee. In 1949, this Enquiry Committee submitted its report recommending that Central Homoeopathic Council be constituted. In 1952, a Homoeopathic Adhoc Committee (later re-christened as ‘Homoeopathic Advisory Committee' in 1954) was constituted, which was to advise the Government on all matters related to Homoeopathy, namely homoeopathic education, homoeopathic research, regulation of practice, pharmacopoeia, rural medical aid, drug manufacture, family planning, financial aid to homoeopathic colleges, dispensaries, hospitals and cooperation with International Homoeopathic Medical League. In 1973, the Parliament passed the Homoeopathy Central Council Act for regulating homoeopathic education and practice in the country. 

CURRENT GLOBAL SCENARIO

Homoeopathy is currently used in over 80 countries. It has legal recognition as an individual system of medicine in 42 countries and is recognized as a part of complementary and alternative medicine in 28 countries.[1] WHO considers Homeopathy as one of the most commonly used forms of Traditional & Complementary Medicine (T&CM).[2]

Three out of four Europeans know about Homoeopathy and of these, 29 percent use it for their own health care.[3] Studies have identified Homoeopathy to be the most frequently used CAM therapy for children in European countries.[4],[5],[6],[7],[8],[9] The National Health Interview Survey 2007 (of past 12 months), estimated 3.9 million adults and 910,000 children used Homoeopathy in North America.

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[1] 2001 Legal Status of Traditional Medicine and Complementary/Alternative Medicine: A worldwide review. Geneva: World Health organization; 2001

[2]WHO;Safety issues in the preparation of homeopathic medicines 2009; URL: www.who.int/medicines/areas/traditional/Homeopathy.pdf

[3] Sarsina PR di, Iseppato I. Looking for a person-centered medicine: on conventional medicine in the conventional European and Italian setting. eCAM 20011; doi:10.1093/ecam/nep048

[4] Grootenhuis MA, Last BF, de Graaf-Nijkerk JH, Wel M. van der. Use of alternative treatment in pediatric oncology. Cancer Nursing 1998; 21(4): 2828

[5]Steinsbekk A, Bentzen N, Brien S. Why do parents take their children to homeopaths? an exploratory qualitative study. Forschende Komplementarmedizin 2006;13(2): 8893.

[6] Ekins-Daukes, Helms PJ, Taylor MW, Simpson CR, McLay JS. Paediatric homoeopathy in general practice: where, when and why?. British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology 2005 59(6):7439.

[7]Huber R, Koch D, Beisner I, Zschocke I, Ludtke R. Experience and attitudes towards CAMa survey of internal and psychosomatic patients in a German University Hospital. Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine 2004;10(1): 3236

[8]Hartel U, Volger E. Use and acceptance of classical natural and alternative medicine in Germanyfindings of a representative population-based survey; Forschende Komplementarmedizin und Klassische Naturheilkunde 2004;11(6): 32734

[9]Langler Alfred, Spix Claudia, Edelhauser Friedrich, Kameda Genn, Kaatsch Peter,Seifert Georg. Use of Homeopathy in Pediatric Oncology in Germany; eCAM 2011; doi:10.1155/2011/867151

 

 



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