Homeopathy was a system of medicine introduced in 1796 by a German practitioner, Samuel Hahnemann. This eighteenth century medicine is relatively modern compared to the 5000 year old Ayurveda. Homeopathy was once a very successful and highly rated system of medicine. In the Cholera epidemic in the 19th century, Homeopathic hospitals were more successful than Allopathy of that time in curing people. As a result Homeopathic schools mushroomed all over Europe and America. The subsequent development in modern medicine resulted in a brief period of recess for this system before a second boom since the 1970s. Homeopathy works on a very unique philosophy i.e. to fight fire with fire.
THE PRINCIPLE IDEA OF HOMEOPATHY
Homeopathy believes treating an aggravation with a mild dose of the same aggravation can help relieve the symptom. It is a unique methodology. For example, if a diabetic patient is to be treated, practitioners of Allopathy and Ayurveda will suggest drugs which will eliminate blood sugars or work towards the same. In Homeopathy, a highly diluted sugar pill which hardly retains 0.0001% of the original substance will be given to treat the disease. The philosophy of Homeopathy is to fight fire with fire; hence a diluted version of the substance that causes the symptom is used to produce an immune reaction which will improve the health condition.
Homeopathic practitioners dilute a substance multiple times and many times it is observed that not even a molecule of the original substance is found in the final product. The makers shake the solution vigorously at every stage and claim that the solution remembers how the solvent diminished. When this is administered to the patients it will evoke a similar reaction from the patients and the disease or symptom will disappear.
HOMEOPATHY IS NOT INDIGENOUS TO INDIA NOR IT IS A HERBAL TREATMENT
One of the popular misconceptions about Homeopathy is many people believe it is a concept which originated in India. The Government of India tagging Homeopathy alongside India’s indigenous medicines like Ayurveda, Siddha and Yoga hasn’t helped in this aspect (AYUSH Ministry). In reality, Homeopathy is not an ancient Indian practice. It was introduced in India only in the 19th century during British rule. Around this time Homeopathy was also popular in England.
Homeopathy gained a lot of popularity in the west because back then mainstream medicine was dominated by weird practices like purging and blood-letting. Homeopaths offered a painless alternative treatment method. Their relative success during the Cholera epidemic made them amongst the most popular system of medicine.
Another notion amongst Indian people is that homeopathy is herbal or natural medicinal system. It is true it doesn’t use too many toxic chemicals. On most occasions the tablets are mere sugar pills because of rigorous dilution. But unlike Ayurveda or Siddha, this system of medicine is not herbal or plant based. It does not even give enough importance to the psycho-somatic nature of disease like Ayurveda. In some other aspects, Homeopathy is more close to Allopathy than Ayurveda.
SIMILARITIES WITH AYURVEDA
Hahnemann, the conceptualizer of Homeopathy believed the philosophy of modern medicine which is to treat the symptoms with heavy medications is wrong. He believed there were underlying causes which caused the disease in the first place and recommended treating them with diluted medicines. He called these causes “miasms”. They are also three in number (psora, syphills and sycosis) and are often compared with the Tridosa principles of Ayurveda. This is again a misconception. The definition and explanation given to use of these concepts is quite different in Ayurveda and Homeopathy. One way to make them look similar, though it is not the right way is to say tridosas are indicators which can be balanced to restore a health in an individual in Ayurveda. Same way treating miasms can help cure the disease holistically as per Homeopathy.
During the covid-19 pandemic Ayurvedic medicines were widely used for treatment and almost always provided positive results. Homeopathy also claimed to help cure covid-19 with Arsenic Album suggested as the leading drug. Kollywood actor Vishal, claimed to have recovered from covid-19 with the help of Arsenic Album and other Homeopathic medicines. But ironically as a proof of our claim in the previous paragraph Vishal claimed he took Ayurvedic medicines when in reality he used Homeopathy. This shows the confusion amongst Indians and their inability to differentiate between indigenous Ayurveda and German born Homeopathy.
HOW IS AYURVEDA DIFFERENT?
Homeopathy has failed the test of science of many occasions. Many of its medicines have failed to provide results when tested using modern scientific methods. This is not to say all of Homeopathy is quackery. It might still have something to offer but most of it is based on differently thought non mainstream principles. Ayurveda on the other hands has coped with time with high efficacy. Many of its medicines have stood the test of time and science. More and more Ayurvedic medicines are being accepted by the scientific community. Many main stream companies have started offering Ayurvedic products. Ayurveda is thus quickly evolving into an evidence based medicine; Homeopathy is still playing catch up.
The psycho-somatic nature of diseases is discussed in Homeopathy. It also uses placebo to better effect than Allopathy but still it doesn’t treat all diseases as psycho-somatic. The treatments recommended are also not as complete and integral as in Ayurveda. Ayurveda is a lifestyle and a cure for illnesses, the same cannot be said about Homeopathy. It is a cure but not a lifestyle.
Also, Homeopathy doesn’t have the 5000 year old evolutionary history of Ayurveda. Ayurvedic doctors like Sushruta have performed surgeries as early as the 5th Century C.E. Homeopathy despite being an 18th century medicinal system doesn’t have any complex therapies.
WHY IS AYURVEDA BETTER?
Ayurveda can evolve with adaptation to technology and go on to treat critical illness and emergency cases. This evolution is looking very likely and is possible because the basic philosophy and knowledge of Ayurveda has stood the test of science. Most scientific tests on Ayurvedic medicines are showing positive results compared to the mixed results, at best for Homeopathic medicines.
Ayurveda also has more doctrines and describes more diseases and offers remedies for all. Its system is also designed in such a way that experts in Ayurveda can adapt and find cures to new diseases. The 5000 year long success of Ayurveda cannot be compared to the ups and downs of Homeopathy over the last couple of centuries.
People who prefer Homeopathy shall pick it. Ayurveda has its unique niche. One area where more awareness is required, is to make people understand Homeopathy is not any herbal remedy nor is it indigenous to India. It also has a different working philosophy compared to Ayurveda.
Ayurveda is a complete lifestyle management system. It also has cures for almost all kinds of diseases. Its medicines are derived directly from plants, animals or naturally occurring minerals. It is also quickly evolving into a science backed evidence based medicine.
People of India and beyond are free to choose their preferred medicinal systems but should understand the differences between the systems of medicines. They should know what they are going for.