The role of home­opa­thy in the pur­suit of well­ness

As the well­ness in­dus­try in Aus­tralia flour­ishes, what role will be as­signed to the much ma­ligned field of home­opa­thy?

Living Now - - Health - By Clare Pace

While home­opa­thy re­mains on the fringes of ac­cep­tance in Aus­tralia, the rest of the world takes a dif­fer­ent view with the World Health Or­ga­ni­za­tion claim­ing it is the fastest grow­ing, and sec­ond most utilised sys­tem of al­ter­na­tive medicine in the world1. At­ten­tion should be turned to the po­ten­tial role home­opa­thy can play in the pur­suit of well­ness.

Well­ness can be viewed as a con­scious choice; a life­style; a har­mo­nious flow of en­ergy be­tween an in­di­vid­ual and the world they live in that comes from the in­te­gra­tion of mind, body, emo­tion and spirit; which in turn leads to op­ti­mal im­pact on the in­di­vid­ual, the com­mu­nity and the planet.

On a per­sonal level, well­ness strate­gies en­deav­our to teach in­di­vid­u­als ways in which they can op­ti­mise and pos­i­tively im­pact their health and well­be­ing on all lev­els. This op­ti­mi­sa­tion may be through strate­gies such as nutri­tion, life­style ad­just­ments, yoga, med­i­ta­tion, pos­i­tive psy­chol­ogy, or com­ple­men­tary and al­ter­na­tive medicines (CAM).

Home­opa­thy is one such CAM which has the po­ten­tial to be one of the most ef­fec­tive ther­a­pies utilised in the pur­suit of well­ness. Both well­ness and home­opa­thy are holis­tic in prin­ci­ple, work within a well­ness par­a­digm (cul­ti­vat­ing and pro­mot­ing well­ness) as op­posed to a dis­ease par­a­digm (man­ag­ing dis­ease), and view health dy­nam­i­cally. Well­ness is mul­ti­fac­eted and de­pen­dent upon en­ergy and in­te­gra­tion; home­o­pathic medicine like­wise seeks to stim­u­late an in­te­gra­tion of mind, body, emo­tions and spirit, and

Well­ness strate­gies en­deav­our to teach in­di­vid­u­als ways in which they can op­ti­mise and pos­i­tively im­pact their health and well­be­ing on all lev­els.

cre­ate a har­mo­nious bal­ance of en­ergy in­ter­nally and in ex­ter­nal in­ter­ac­tions with their en­vi­ron­ment.

Home­o­pathic reme­dies are de­rived from min­eral, plant, an­i­mal, and syn­thetic sub­stances. They are pre­scribed based on an in-depth eval­u­a­tion of the whole per­son (to­tal­ity of symp­toms), and the law of ‘like cures like’ i.e. what­ever can cause signs and symp­toms in a healthy per­son can also cure those symp­toms in a sick per­son. The reme­dies are pre­pared through a process of se­rial di­lu­tion and suc­cus­sion, based on the tenet that the more a crude in­gre­di­ent is di­luted, and shaken with im­pact for ac­ti­va­tion, the safer and more ef­fec­tive it be­comes. The cor­rectly cho­sen rem­edy will stim­u­late the body’s in­nate heal­ing abil­ity, and ef­fect deep and last­ing heal­ing on mul­ti­ple lev­els, lead­ing to en­hanced and op­ti­mal well­ness.

One of the great­est bar­ri­ers to ac­cep­tance of home­opa­thy within Aus­tralia is the lack of sci­en­tif­i­cally ac­cept­able ev­i­dence, so it re­mains a highly con­tentious is­sue. A re­cent sys­tem­atic re­view by the Na­tional Health and Med­i­cal Re­search Coun­cil of Aus­tralia2 con­cluded that there was no com­pelling ev­i­dence to sup­port the ef­fi­cacy of home­opa­thy in any clin­i­cal con­di­tion. Con­versely, home­opa­thy has proven ben­e­fi­cial in the long-term care of peo­ple with chronic dis­ease3, and a re­port by the Swiss Fed­eral Of­fice for Pub­lic Health4 stated that there is clin­i­cal ev­i­dence to sup­port the ef­fi­cacy of home­opa­thy in a num­ber of clin­i­cal con­di­tions. One ex­pla­na­tion for the dis­parate con­clu­sions re­gard­ing ho­moeopa­thy’s ef­fi­cacy is the ex­is­tence of plau­si­bil­ity bias5, par­tic­u­larly with re­gards to the mech­a­nism by which home­opa­thy works. As home­o­pathic medicines are di­luted and work on a dy­namic level their ac­tion is in­cred­i­bly dif­fi­cult to mea­sure, and even more dif­fi­cult for peo­ple to ac­cept. De­spite pos­i­tive find­ings in the first sys­tem­atic re­view of home­opa­thy, au­thors re­jected its ef­fi­cacy due to the sci­en­tific im­plau­si­bil­ity of its mech­a­nism5.

A fur­ther prob­lem cited with judg­ing the ef­fi­cacy of home­opa­thy with ex­per­i­men­tal re­search (such as ran­domised con­trolled tri­als), is that it fails to take into con­sid­er­a­tion the ther­a­peu­tic value of treat­ment by a home­opath6. Home­opa­thy is a com­plex sys­tem and re­duc­ing it to the medicines of its trade demon­strates a poor un­der­stand­ing of that.

It should be re­mem­bered that the aim of home­opa­thy is ul­ti­mately to treat peo­ple, not con­di­tions, and the treat­ment is highly in­di­vid­u­alised and long act­ing, mak­ing mea­sur­ing its ef­fi­cacy par­tic­u­larly dif­fi­cult, and near im­pos­si­ble within the rigours of sci­ence.

Yet it is the very dy­namic na­ture of home­opa­thy that makes it such a pow­er­ful tool in the pur­suit of well­ness: by restor­ing bal­ance and align­ment to the in­di­vid­ual in a safe, last­ing, and in­ex­pen­sive man­ner, the in­di­vid­ual is poised to think and act pos­i­tively from a place of align­ment, cre­at­ing a self­per­pet­u­at­ing cy­cle of well­ness.

Home­opa­thy is not en­tirely with­out its risks though, and con­sumers need to en­sure they con­sult a qual­i­fied and ac­cred­ited home­opath. To lo­cate an ac­cred­ited ho­moeopath you can visit the Aus­tralian Home­o­pathic As­so­ci­a­tion web­site. As the well­ness in­dus­try in Aus­tralia flour­ishes, and sci­ence con­tin­ues to rel­e­gate home­opa­thy to the quack­ery cor­ner, per­haps it is time Aus­tralia caught up with the rest of the world and recog­nised the value of home­opa­thy in the pur­suit of well­ness. ■

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