OF all the medical practitioners that I have met, this gentleman left the gravest of all impressions. And, perhaps, this meeting was the briefest of all, lasted not even a minute.
It was at a local homoeopathic store that I met him, a middle-aged man with a nondescript personality. He was buying a book at the counter.
Keen on starting a conversation with me while I was purchasing my medicines, he showed me a book, which he thought was an interesting one. After my order was executed, and as I turned to leave the store, came the shock. He introduced himself as a self-styled homoeopathic comrade who was practising out of interest in the evenings and worked as a government employee in the morning hours.
He asked me if I had ever cured a case of AIDS? Before I could answer, with a broad smile (as if he knew my answer), he told me that he had treated several cases and he could cure AIDS in 24 hours. If ever I had an HIV positive case, I should refer it to him!
Dumbfounded as I was, I left the store in a hurry with his visiting card in my hand. Never before had I realised how deep quackery had penetrated our system and how great damage had been done by such pretenders.
Why is it that so many lay people take to practising homoeopathy? Why is it that homoeopathy is so vulnerable? The answer lies in Hahnemann’s endeavour to create a highly evolved healing system whereby the disease symptoms obtained from an individual would decide the medicine and not the “disease labels”. At the front-end homoeopathy looks simple to practise. For lay people prescribing only on symptoms makes homoeopathy look uncomplicated. But at times it can have serious consequences. For example, a case of breathlessness during a heart attack may look like a simple case of an asthma attack to a lay man-turned-homoeopath. Obviously, he would treat accordingly.
The “only” knowledge of symptom application can make the lay practitioner take a casual approach to an otherwise serious problem. It is difficult for him to ascertain the finer details necessary to treat serious chronic and complicated cases.
Curing a few cases of headache and stomachache is not enough to start a medical practice and does not justify the pretense of being a homoeopath. Such lay men are able to get some results only by fluke.
It is very necessary to realise that the homoeopathic system is not meant for lay people to practise. It is a highly complicated system. It requires all the medical knowhow to support the symptom application. A true homoeopath puts in years of hard work before he takes to healing others.
If the practitioners of homoeopathy want their system meet the challenges of the growing medical awareness and save it from pretenders, they will have to discard conventions that stand in the way and adopt more useful ones. To begin with, they need to be transparent in what they prescribe. Secrecy may seem a reasonable way for protecting trade secrets, but it is really not in the larger interests of either the patients or doctors. It only benefits the pretenders ruining homoeopathy.