Allopathic and Homeopathic Assumptions About Healing

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By: Alan Schmukler
There is a hospital not far from where I live that treats cancer patients with a six-million electron volt radio therapy linear accelerator. Another treatment is a drug called Fluoroucil which carries this warn­ing: "gastrointestinal haemorrhage and death may result . . . even in patients in relatively good condition."

What assumptions about life, illness, healing, and immunity gave rise to such treatments? And what are the corre­sponding assumptions in homeopathy, that led it in the opposite direction?

Allopathic medicine starts with the reductionist idea that living things can be explained purely in terms of their chem­istry. We are complex biological ma­chines, but machines nonetheless. Like any machine, we are no more than the sum of our parts. If you understand the parts, you'll understand the whole. Life is about stuff.

You can see these assumptions on many levels. A huge transplant industry has evolved, with its attendant need for parts (and the knotty questions about who gives them and who gets them). There is talk about "farming" them from baboons and other un-consenting life forms. Prob­ably the ultimate expression of life as a machine is the growth of the biotechno­logical industry with genetic "engineer­ing" and the patenting of life forms.

The allopathic philosophy can also be seen in the approach to research. With powerful microscopes and sophisticated tests, scientists explore increasingly smaller parts of the organism; the cell, cell membrane, nucleus, mitochondria, DNA etc. The presumption is that if you know how the parts work, you'll under­stand the whole and be able to manipulate it. An immense research business has developed.

If life and disease are about chemis­try, allopathic medicine must treat dis­ease at the physical, chemical level. If the body is a machine, without volition, heal­ing must be accomplished from without. You have to make the body get better. This leads to aggressive treatments with powerful and toxic drugs and radiation. From this perspective, the patient's state of mind is not relevant to treatment.

The immune system (seen as being made of cells and proteins) gets little emphasis. It is known to be able to pre­vent illness, but is not much use once you get sick. Then allopathy prescribes strong medicine. It's also an inconve­nience when it stimulates allergies or if you happen to have an organ transplant. In fact, because of their work with trans­plants, allopaths know a lot more about how to suppress the immune system, than how to stimulate it.

In the few areas (e.g. interferon) where the immune system is explored, the focus is on isolating some factor and using it by itself. This again leads to side effects since it bypasses the body's feed­back system.

Allopathy is unsurpassed in treat­ing mechanical or structural problems and modern surgery has relieved much suffering. Where allopathy falls short, is in dealing with metabolic distur­bances, especially those resulting in chronic disease. Here, there is little talk of cure, and treatment is symptom­atic. The disturbances which cause chronic disease are so subtle, that the scalpel and the drug are blunt instru­ments, and homeopathy, with its wholistic/vitalist view, must be em­braced.

The science of homeopathy assumes that all living things, aside from their chemical/mechanical nature, are infused with a life force or vital principle. This "vital force" gives life to the inert ingredients . . . the collection of atoms and molecules. It is energy with volition . . . or the organism's intelligence. This is an old concept which is known in India as Prana and in China as Chi. Wilhelm Reich referred to it as the Orgone.

In this model, life is directed by harmonious energy and disease is a dis­turbance of the harmony. Since disease is a disturbance of energy, you are not going to find it by looking through a microscope or doing a blood test. What you will find are the effects of disease, the symptoms and signs. Pathology, such as cancer, nephritis, emphysema, are not the dis­ease, but the result of it. The disease was the imbalance that gave rise to them.

Since the vital force exists in the whole organism, any "sick" part must have arisen from the disharmony of the whole. A corollary is that, whatever you do to one part will affect all the other parts. Therefore, to cure, you must treat the whole person. In homeopathy, the smallest unit of life is the whole organ­ism.

Because disease is a disharmony in a subtle force, homeopathy uses another subtle force to correct it. It has evolved remedies that operate on an energetic, rather than material level. Consequently they are safe and without chemical side effects.

Treatment also focuses on the whole person. A remedy must be chosen which resonates to the essence of this person. It is made from a substance which mirrors the disturbance in the vital force. Since feelings, perceptions, and mental state are the central aspects of a person, the homeopath must understand his patient in a most intimate way. This leads to an empathetic, relationship between doctor and patient.

Homeopathy assumes that the or­ganism has an intelligence and a volition, allowing it to actively heal itself. Therefore the remedy doesn't make the person get well rather, like a good therapist, it interacts with him to evoke a healing response. Rather than simply fighting pathogens, homeopathy addresses the immune system by constitutional treat­ment, with a remedy matched to the whole person. In this way it enhances that system in the broadest, most meaningful way.




Short definition of the three main medical modalities treated in LILIPOH

A therapeutic method based on the rule similia similibus curetitur — 'let likes be treated by likes.' The two ele­ments of this tenet are the effects of drugs on the healthy body and the clinical fea­tures of disease; in either case all being taken into account which is appreciable by the patient or cognizable by the physi­cian, but hypothesis being excluded. Medicines, selected upon this plan, are administered singly (i.e. without admix­ture) and in doses too small to cause aggravation or collateral disturbance. Homeopathy also subsumes the existence of a vital (or life) force which, when stimulated by the proper substance, gives the body the possibility of healing itself. Homeopathy was inspired by Samuel Hahnemann (1755-1843.) Excerpted from Hughes, Principles and Practice of Homeopathy. . . For more information contact the National Center for Homeopathy.


Anthroposophical Medicine
A modern holistic approach combin­ing homeopathy, naturopathic medicine and elements of allopathic principles. This approach, inspired by Rudolf Steiner (1864-1920 views the forces in nature, the human being and the cosmos as re­lated to each other and supplements the ideas of natural :(physical) science with a description of the higher, non-physical, principles in the human being, bringing added insights to diagnosis, health and healing. Many therapeutic disciplines have been developed within the Anthro­posophical approach including medicine, nursing, art therapy, hydrotherapy, cura­tive eurythmy and more. Some of these have been described in this issue. For more information, contact the Physician’s Association of Anthroposophical Medicine, or the Anthroposophical Society in America

Naturopathic Medicine:
The term "naturopathy" was coined in the U.S. at the turn of the century, as a combination of the terms "nature cure" and "homeopathy." The founder of naturopathy, Benedict Lust, was trained in the methods of the European nature cure movement.

He added homeopathy, herbalism, and manipulation to the repertoire and upgraded the educational standards to the physician level. After that point, "naturopathy" became "Naturopathic Medicine." Today, the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians and the Institute for Naturopathic Medicine have banned the use of "naturopath” and "naturopathy." The reason is that there are probably hundreds of people in the country who practice lay naturopathy, or who purchase ND degrees for a few hundred dollars. None of them are naturopathic physicians.  Establishing the distinction between the two groups is vital. For more information contact Bastyr University.

Note: LILIPOH is grateful to David Macallan, N.D. for furnishing the above definition.

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