Homeopathy is one of the therapeutic, but the only curative systems of medicine. The homeopathic system has a clearly defined scope and limitations of its own. Hahnemann has clearly remarked that homeopathy is the only possible method of treatment of dynamic diseases.
“Accuracy and efficacy in homeopathic therapeutics is possible to those who have clearly defined idea of the field in which the principle of similia is operative,” says Stuart close in his “Genius of homeopathy”.
At present, we find two different schools of homeopathy; one group believes too much in the homeopathic law and tries to ally the same in curing even the incurable. Probably this school of thought made homeopathy a miracle medicine. Another group believes too little in the efficacy of homeopathy. Their ignorance in the application of this system even leaves the curable cases, incurable.
Only the proper knowledge of the scope and limitations of homeopathy helps one to decide in which cases it can be applied and in which it cannot be. The most confident prescription is possible only by this knowledge. The physician can easily understand that before the development of any pathological condition, there always does exist a functional disturbance. This functional disturbance progressed into functional defects and lead to tissue damage or pathological change. So in enquiring the totality of symptoms, the homeopath enquires the cause of the disease which has lead to this functional defect and hence leads to the pathological change. The homeopathic prescription is aimed at the cause and not at the pathology which is the result of the disease.
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Scope of Homeopathy
1. In dynamic diseases, homeopathy has a large scope: It has a very great scope in the field of vital phenomena and functional changes in the individual patient, irrespective of the name of the disease or its cause. Homeopathy is confined and operative in the field of vital dynamics.
2. Stuart Close says that the living being can be affected primarily by three ways:
- i. mechanical
- ii. chemical
- iii. dynamic
i. Mechanical causes can only be treated by surgical means, physical therapeutics, and hygiene. Examples of mechanical uses are cases of trauma, accidents, injuries, fractures of the bones, etc.
ii. Chemical causes can only be treated by physiological or chemical antidotes, and then followed by appropriate homeopathic treatment for the functional derangement that follows. Examples of chemical causes are poisonings of any kind.
iii. In the dynamic causes of diseases, homeopathy has full scope. The dynamic diseases are those which are caused by miasms.
3. The effects of dynamic causes like intangible medicinal and toxic agents that constantly disturb the mind and body of the patient, come under the scope of similia. Example: mental or psychical, atmospheric or telluric, thermal, climacteric, dietic, hygienic, contagious, infectious, etc can be cured effectively by homeopathy.
4.The disorders arising from prolonged abuse of drugs, fall under the scope of homeopathy. i.e. Iatrogenic diseases.
5. The disorders arising from the bacterial causes, or pathogenic microorganisms, producing their effects through their toxins, or alkaloids, homeopathy has much more to offer. For example, the triumphant success of pioneers in treating the cases like cholera, yellow fever, typhus, and typhoid fever, malarial fever, diphtheria, tuberculosis, and pneumonia, etc are the proof for the above statement. Effective control of epidemic Encephalitis that broke out in the state of Andhra Pradesh with the use of Belladonna, Calcarea carb, and Tuberculinum (B.C.T) by the south Indian homeopaths is one of the best examples.
Limitations of Homeopathy
Stuart Close explains Dake’s postulates in his “Genius of homeopathy”, which gives a clear-cut picture of the limitations of homeopathy. The postulates and their following explanation will make the concept clear.
1. Homeopathy relates primarily to no affections of health, where the exciting and maintaining cause of the disease is constantly present and operative.
For example, a person complaining of severe bouts of cough visits a homeopath. On inquiry, it was found that the cause of his cough is his habit of smoking, as he is a chain smoker and no other cause was elicited. Here, the treatment of the condition is the stoppage of the habit of smoking and not the intake of drugs. Instead of removing the smoking habit, in this case, any prescription will prove futile.
2. Homeopathy relates primarily to no affections of health which will of themselves cease after the removal of the exciting cause or hygienic measures.
i. Deficiency diseases like pellagra, scurvy, protein-energy malnutrition, etc are actually deficiency disorders. They can be treated effectively by supplying essential nutrients like vitamins, minerals, proteins, etc. Need of any medicinal substances would arise in such cases when any complication follows thereby.
ii. Economically poor people, who are living in slum areas and poor dwellings are easily prone to numerous communicable diseases. In most conditions, they can be eradicated by merely improving the standard of living (§ 77). Dynamic homeopathic medicines in such cases are neither indicated nor needed. But suitable socio-economic, hygienic, physical, measures have to be created instead.
3. Homeopathy relates primarily to no affections of health occasioned by the injury or destruction of tissues that are incapable of restoration.
i. Emergency, life-threatening conditions. In most urgent cases where the danger to life and no time for the indicated medicine to act, only usage of homeopathic medicines are not advisable to help of the surgical procedures may be needed.
ii. Accidental cases and severe cases of injuries: Life-threatening cases like asphyxia, and suspended animation, from lightening, from suffocation, freezing, drowning, and poisoning, etc, homeopathic medicines have no role to play. Such cases are not because of miasms and are not dynamic in nature. But there is some physical power acting as the causative agent.
iii. Cases with irreversible pathological changes: Homeopathic materia medica is also called the human functional pathology. This is because all the dynamized medicines during drug proving are discontinued by the prover before the drug produces organic or tissue changes. In the pathologically advanced conditions, the vitality of the vital force may not be sufficient enough to restore health by producing the secondary curative response to the primary action of the homeopathic remedy. In diseases with irreversible pathological changes, the peculiar, characteristic, and individualistic symptoms will be missing.
Hence in pathologically advanced conditions the indications may not be clear and selecting the homeopathic remedy is impossible. Homeopaths can only palliate these irreversible pathological conditions with the usage of low potencies as constitutional medicines in higher potencies may produce killer aggravations.
Example: advanced malignant conditions, cases with grossly damaged valvular heart problems, all the advanced cases of phthisis, fulminate bacterial infections like water-house Frederickson syndrome (cerebral neisserial meningitides infection), etc are some examples of such incurable cases where homeopathic cure may not be possible. Palliation is the only solution.
4. Homeopathy relates primarily to no affections of health where the vital reactive power of the organisms to medicines is exhausted or prevented: a homeopathic medicine produces a similar type of primary action after its administration. As a response to this primary action, the vital force produces a secondary curative response to this primary action, hence cure takes place. So in conditions where the vital force does not possess the power of reactivity, homeopathic medicines cannot produce the desired curative response.
i. In the case of artificial drug disease: The prolonged usage of the powerful material substances (steroids and immunosuppressive medications) depresses the vital capacity of a person. As no vitality is left out to be stimulated by the primary action of the drug, no cure is possible.
ii. Prolonged usage of the allopathic or antipathic medication will make the patient addicted to the drug. During the curative homeopathic treatment, the stoppage of such medicines will be difficult or almost impossible. Homeopathy relates primarily to no affections of health, the symptom likeness of which, may not be perceptibly produced in the healthy organisms by medicinal means nor to affections in which such symptoms are not perceptible.
After acquiring the totality of symptoms by the process of case taking, a homeopath searches for the similimum in the homeopathic materia medica. If the totality of symptoms is not exactly available in the materia medica, the radical cure becomes almost impossible. In short, in those cases where the individualizing symptoms are not available, homeopathy has the least role to play.
5. In the pure surgical and obstetrical techniques homeopathy has no role to play. But the skilled homeopath can utilize their techniques to treat the patient. In § 13 Hahnemann says, “Therefore the diseases that does not come within the province of surgery, homeopathy has a scope.” In short, the pure surgical cases have to be left to the surgeon.
Example: The perforated peptic ulcer, third grade of uterine prolapse, rectal atresia or the esophageal atresia, etc.
6. Idiosyncratic patients: Idiosyncratic patients are quite difficult to cure. Because of their peculiar corporeal constitutions, they prove every remedy they get, especially in higher potencies. Hence, Dr. Kent advises to use lower potencies in such cases and to ascend gradually to higher till you get the desired response.
7. Limitation because of homeopathic materia medica:
i. It is very difficult for any homeopath to remember all the symptoms mentioned in the materia medica.
ii. The lack of proper scientific evaluation in this subject makes some suspect the reliability of the symptoms recorded.
iii. The materia medica is constructed after the drug proving is done. But trustworthiness of the prover determines the reliability and the effectiveness of the symptoms in materia medica.
iv. Homeopathic materia medica contains very few remedies that are well proven according to the Hahnemannian standards. There are still many medicines that require thorough proving.
v. All the symptoms recorded are only the functional disturbances noticed in the prover during drug proving. Hence handling the patient with the structural changes, is the limitation of materia medica, as the proving was never directed in that direction.
8. In the footnote to § 67 Hahnemann says, “In the most urgent cases, where the danger to life, and imminent death allow no time for the action of homeopathic remedy…in such accidents occurring to previously healthy individuals for example in asphyxia and suspended animation from lightening, from suffocation, freezing, drowning, sudden poisonings etc”, to a certain level the antipathy can be used, till the vitality becomes normal and the patient is out of danger.
9. Highly dependable preoperative, post-operative, well-proven, and preventive medications are not available in homeopathy. Many pioneers have contributed various preventive medications in their literary works. But the efficacy of such medicines in today’s context has to be evaluated by thorough research work. Role of the homeopathic medicines in this field has to develop yet.
10. The homeopathic system depends solely on the natural process and the natural laws; it has a limitation in the practice of applying medicines to control natural occurrences. Hence it is no role in the field of contraception, anesthesia, drug-induced abortions, etc.
11. Bias selection of the remedy and individualization: different methods of analysis and evaluation process advocated by various physicians contributed to the development of controversial views in the process of individualization of the patient. The bias of prescriptions has led to confusion and trial and error method as the only way.
12. The theory of vital force and the dynamization of medicine are very difficult to explain by the existing material sciences. Hence homeopathy has been targeted and termed by illiterates as well as the material scientists, as the unscientific medical system. A lot of research has to be done in this field by homeopaths.
The scope and limitations of homeopathy is an important topic for the practitioner and the student as it helps us in screening and handling the cases properly and relevantly. This also helps in applying the law of similia only in the area where it is applicable.
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