HOMEOPATHY VS ALLOPATHY
Updated: Oct 26, 2022
Throughout history humans have discovered a variety of healing practices, some, like Chinese medicine, have been around for thousands of years. In Western culture, the dominant mode of treating disease is referred to as Western medicine or allopathic medicine. Yet a second mode of treating disease, discovered in the late 1700s in Europe, has existed alongside allopathic medicine. This mode of treatment is known as homeopathy. As more and more people find themselves dealing with diseases that are beyond the scope of allopathic medicine, they are searching for alternative treatments to help them restore their bodies back to health. This article will explain the meaning and appropriate use of allopathy and homeopathy as well as compare and contrast the experience patients undergo with both types of modalities.
Allopathy is defined in Oxford’s dictionary as the treatment of disease by conventional means, i.e. with drugs having opposite effects to the symptoms. The word “allopathy” derives from the Greek roots “allo” meaning different and “pathos” meaning suffering. Allopathy attempts to combat disease by administering substances that produce other unrelated symptoms than those produced by the disease (www.wikipedia.com/allopathicmedicine). In contrast homeopathy, or “same symptoms,” treats disease by administering diluted and sucussed substances found in the animal, vegetable and mineral kingdoms that would produce the same symptoms when taken by a healthy individual.
Allopathic medicine works best for acute cases where there is an imminent threat to life such as an accident, severe infections, situations that require surgery (broken bone, a heart attack, or a burst appendix); in situations where medical equipment and machinery such as IV fluids, blood supplies, surgical tools, radiology machines, defibrillators, etc may be needed to save a life.
Allopathy can also play a positive role in chronic cases by using data collected from a patient’s blood or urine to detect any abnormalities such as elevated white blood cells, hormonal imbalances, poor kidney or liver function, or high cholesterol levels or track improvement of a condition. However, allopathic medicines fail to cure chronic conditions, as the drugs used are not curative, rather they are palliative or suppressive. The goal of the medications is to prolong the person’s life given their current condition.
Homeopathy, on the other hand, works well in finding a cure for both acute and chronic ailments and may be less appropriate when situations call for emergency treatment or surgery. In acute cases, the remedy prescribed can work almost immediately, fighting the disease with the most similar remedy (the remedy that would exhibit the most similar symptom picture to the one described by a patient) and bringing the body’s vital force back into balance. In chronic cases, a remedy acts in a similar way but because the symptoms have come on over time, the remedy needs to act on a deeper level and may therefore take more time to take effect. Homeopathy can cure acute and chronic ailments and can also play a positive role in the following:
In acute situations such as accidents and surgery, homeopathic remedies can alleviate mental and physical symptoms so the patient has more strength for a full and speedy recovery (Roberts, 168).
In preventative care, the homeopathic remedy can remove “morbific influences that are attracted to temperamental tendencies” (Roberts, 171).
In treating acute and chronic disease using the allopathic approach, a patient enters a waiting room where they fill out a questionnaire covering all the illnesses they have experienced or have been diagnosed with in the past, family history, lifestyle as it relates to smoking, drugs and alcohol consumption, and a brief description of the problem has brought them into the office. Once inside the examination room, the patient sits on a table and a nurse takes their temperature, blood pressure and pulse. The patient is asked what they’ve been feeling and the nurse or physician’s assistant jots down notes to pass on to the doctor.
Once the doctor comes in, he/she listens to the patient describe his/her physical symptoms. The doctor may use tools to check the patient’s overall state of health, he may listen to their lungs or heart with a stethoscope, he may check the eyes, ears, throat, or he may press on various parts of the body to look for pain. The doctor may recommend further testing of the blood or urine in search of an unusual level of a vitamin, mineral, white blood cells, glucose or other substance or there is a problem with hormone production. In some cases, the doctor will also recommend x-rays, ultrasounds or MRIs in order to get a look inside the patient and locate any abnormalities.
A typical visit may last an hour from arrival to departure but actual time with the doctor is limited to about 15 - 20 minutes. Oftentimes, upon leaving the doctor’s office, the patient is frustrated that they were not able to fully express to the doctor everything they had been experiencing, the bigger picture of how they feel overall and how they think they arrived at that point. Symptoms that they thought were not as bothersome and symptoms that they thought were unrelated or unimportant were left unmentioned. Unless the doctor was a psychiatrist, chances are the patient did not discuss their emotional and mental health.
A client who visits a homeopath will be asked to talk about themselves, their family life and history, and their vocation. He/she asks the patient the reason for their visit and writes down detailed notes as the client continues to describe how they are generally feeling on a physical, emotional, and mental level.
After more than an hour, the client has been encouraged to express themselves, their fears, their pains, their story. Meanwhile, the homeopath has been taking notes in order to form a complete picture of that person and his/her symptoms. Upon leaving, the client feels like they have been able to express their condition fully, had ample time with the practitioner and the practitioner understands the full picture of that person in that moment in time. It is not unusual for the client to report feeling better after their interview and even connecting issues that had been seemingly unrelated helping them to get clarity of their situation.
Based on the test results, the doctor provides a diagnosis and most likely prescribes medication to either alleviate the symptom/s or eradicate the specific pathogen (bacteria, fungus, parasite, etc) that seems to be causing the disease. Allopathic medication acts on a physical level, masking the symptoms that the patient describes. The doctor will ask the patient to schedule a follow-up visit within 2-4 weeks to evaluate the progress of the patient’s treatment. Due to the palliative effects of some drugs, the patient may report feeling better for several weeks, even months, but as time goes by, the patient may experience new symptoms as the disease has progressed to a deeper level or may suffer from a reaction to the medicine. The result is a sicker patient with many more appointments on the horizon and moving further away from a state of health.
Allopathic medicines used for the treatment of acute disease can either kill a pathogen that may be causing some of the symptoms or suppress the symptoms by masking them such as with pain, fever, cough, headache. Allopathic medicines used for the treatment of chronic disease such as high blood pressure, thyroid, anxiety, cholesterol, are not meant to be curative; in these cases medication is used for management of the symptoms to prevent further progression or prolong life.
Based on the first visit, the homeopath prescribes the first remedy by selecting the remedy that most closely matches the mental, emotional and physical symptoms described by the client (the simillimum) and schedules a follow up visit within 1-3 months time - sometimes sooner. If the prescription is correct, the client will experience improvements on many levels. Homeopathic remedies treat all the symptoms at once, working from the above downwards, from within outwards, from more important organs to less important ones, and in the reverse order as their onset. Depending on how long one has been sick, it may take some time to fully restore balance.
Homeopathic remedies are diluted and potentized to (1) prevent the risk of poison or severe side-effects from the substance (2) use the remedy’s energy in assisting the person’s vital energy to restore balance and eradicate symptoms. Sometimes when a potency does not perfectly match the disease state of the person or if a remedy is repeated too often, an aggravation of symptoms may occur temporarily but homeopathic remedies do not cause any permanent side-effects.
In conclusion, as their name indicates allopathy and homeopathy hold opposing views on the medications/remedies they administer. Allopathic doctors administer chemical substances that produce different symptoms to palliate or suppress the symptoms that most disturb the patient, focusing on a particular symptom in a specific region of the body. Homeopathic doctors administer highly diluted remedies taken from the mineral, vegetable and animal kingdoms, potentized through succussion in order to reach their energetic curative form. The doctor selects a single remedy after he/she gathers a full symptomatic picture of the physical, mental and emotional state of the patient.
Both allopathy and homeopathy have a place in treating patients. In fact, where one fails the other prevails. Allopathy is best applied in cases where a patient is having a life threatening emergency, broken bones and anything that requires special equipment that can be found at a hospital. Moreover, tests performed by allopathic physicians can prove useful in determining the deviation from normal levels of various substances in the body. Homeopathy is best at achieving a cure in cases of acute illness as well as cases of chronic illness where a patient has been suffering from a variety of symptoms over the years. Homeopathy can also assist in relieving bothersome symptoms before or after a surgery as a substitute to narcotics. Each mode of treatment should be considered based on the condition of the person’s morbidity and the ability of the medicine/remedy to elicit a total cure, restoring the patient back to health.
Roberts, Herbert A. The Principles and Art of Cure by Homeopathy. B. Jain Publishers. 2005. Pages 168-171.