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’. Homoeopathy 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. Homoeopathy 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 regulating force (Vital 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 picture of the patient. Thus the dictum goes “ Homoeopathy treats the patient, and not the disease”.
Homoeopathic medicines are most cost effective, palatable, have no adverse side effects, 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. As such, its popularity is gaining momentum, all over the world.
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.
Ever since, Homoeopathy has grown as a National System of Medicine and enjoys Government’s support at national and state levels. Now a significant percentage of the people opt for Homoeopathy for their ailments. Besides, there is a vast infrastructure of hospitals, dispensaries, research institutions, medical colleges, registered medical practitioners and reputed pharmacies all over India . Thus, India has become the world leader in Homoeopathy with tremendous potential of manpower and institutions.