Homeopathy: Panacea or Placebo?

Picture this. You enter a Kyiv bar and order a shot of vodka. Just as you’re about to gulp it down the barman snatches it away, puts a single drop of the vodka into a fresh glass and adds water. Still, he doesn’t give you your drink. More water is added to the droplet, until many dilutions later, he presents you with an almost entirely vodka-free snifter – then charges twice the price, on the grounds that it’s far more powerful than “conventional” vodka… What’s On looks into the mitigated world of homeopathy.

The above scenario should not only mean you should be stretchered from the bar in a drunken coma, but is the basic tenant of homeopathy: The “law of infinitesimals”, which holds that the more you dilute a substance the more potent it becomes. A typical dilution is known as “30C”, which means one part cure per million million million million million million million million million million parts of water. Sound like quackery?

Homeopathy maintains its popularity despite the seeming gaps in the logic behind it. And that popularity has not waned for more than a century. In the 1890s, German doctor Christian Hahnemann started investigating the influence of small portions of various substances on the body. Focusing on treating patients by dissolving various substances in water at ratios of one part in 10 or greater, along the way he managed to popularise his teaching in Europe and it even gained favour in the courts of royal palaces across Europe. Here in Eastern Europe, homeopathy remained popular until the Soviets took power and declared homeopathy to be pseudoscience.

A traditional doctor will say the portions of active components are so small that they simply don’t exist in the pills homeopaths prescribe to their patients, basically counting on the placebo effect in their practice. To get a better understanding of homeopathy, we invite traditional medical doctor, Eugene Komarovskiy, to share his opinion on the issue, while homeopath Oleksandr Bohachuk, a doctor at Popov’s Kyiv Homeopathy Centre, speaks about the intricacies of his craft.

Self-Recovery Theory

The first question I put to Dr Eugene Komarovskiy is whether he thinks that homeopathy is a pseudoscience. His answer is definite and unwavering: “Definitely, yes!” He further explains saying modern doctors of medicine can’t take the perception of “charged water” seriously. Asked which diseases can be cured with homeopathy Komarovskiy is coy. “Those diseases that people self-recover from with modification of lifestyle and psychological comfort are not less than 50% of childhood diseases.”

Perhaps it is the psychological comfort that attracts so many people to homeopathy these days. Komarovskiy explains that traditional medicine lacks attention, an individual approach, naturalness and a doctor’s assurance of results. All these factors combine to lure patients in to sense of security and faith, he says. Finally, Komarovskiy underlines that the main difference between homeopathy and traditional medicine lies in choosing patients. “Homeopaths know very well when they can’t help and if they are honest enough they don’t even try to offer a cure. A traditional doctor doesn’t have a choice but to treat a patient. He has to treat everything whether it’s cramps or appendicitis. In contrast, a homeopath would treat only the patient with cramps and of course would manage to do it, as in almost 100% of cases cramps go away on their own.” On that note, let’s see what homeopath Dr Oleksandr Bohochuk says by right of reply.

Treat not the Sickness but the Whole Organism

Bohochuk switched from traditional medicine to homeopathy in the 90s. He says homeopathy, in most cases, works with chronic diseases that are tricky for traditional medicine, as narrow specialty doctors try to cure part of the body without paying attention to the overall situation of the patient. “We are focusing on an individual’s integrity, treating the whole body,” Bohochuk says.

Talking about what can be treated with homeopathy, the answer is vague, but basically summarised homeopaths don’t have a set list of disease as they treat the whole organism. Bohachuk continues: “If we are talking about oncological diseases, of course, we can’t count on homeopathy only, but I’d say that most of the common diseases are treated with our medicines well. Our task is not to get rid of chronic disease completely as that’s extremely challenging but to improve quality of life and prolong it as homeopathic medicine doesn’t harm the body like chemical-based drugs.”

Bohachuk doesn’t reject surgery, but believes it should only be undertaken in those cases where it is really needed, as any unjustified intrusion into the body might only cause harm. What his opponent Komarovskiy says seems to be true. Every homeopath pays a lot of attention to patients. Upon meeting, the main task for a homeopath is to find out as much as possible about the patient no matter how much time it takes, Bohochuk says. “We are working with shades of diseases that’s why two patients with similar symptoms might get completely different prescriptions. That’s also why we need to know every detail of the patient’s life.” Finally, I ask the homeopath a tricky question. If it works so well, why have homeopaths all over the world come under such fire from traditional doctors? He honestly replies: “The weak point of homeopathy is the mechanism of influence. We know the law, we know that the body reacts to the treatment and our patients get better, but we don’t know how exactly it works. Science is on the verge of revealing this secret...so we wait.»

Vadym Mishkoriz

WHAT'S ON, 11/2013 29 March - 4 April

ссылка на информационный источник: http://www.whatson-kiev.com/index.php?go=Page&id=3

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