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Medical Absolutism, Cary Angell

The following is a paper I wrote about the neglect of homeopathy in the wake of western medicine. enjoy!!

Medicinal Absolutism
A sick man struggles into a doctor’s office and discovers a line of patients scattered around the waiting room like feeble involutes. Exhausted and in agony from an increasingly swelling thyroid gland, he cumbersomely fills out the required paper work which permits him to receive the doctor’s care. After waiting for hours behind countless other patients, the man's time for medical assistance finally arrives. After a brief examination, the doctor leaves the room then quickly returns and reports his analysis of the man’s illness. “The results are inconclusive,” the doctor says. “We will need to refer you to another doctor, a specialist.” From one doctor to the next, to the next, to the next, the sickly man ventures; every time hoping that the next physician will provide a fraction more insight into his worsening condition. After months of visits to multiple doctors with inconclusive results and multiple drug prescriptions, the man seeks to find an alternative method for healing himself. He soon discovers a homeopathic physician and, frustrated to his core with doctors, reluctantly schedules an appointment. While being examined by the homeopath a tissue sample is taken of his glands. The man soon realizes that none of the other doctors had ever taken a sample of the swollen tissue for analysis. “How could they have ever known what truly was in my neck if they never actually looked?” he pondered. After a brief time outside the room, the homeopath returns with his analysis of the man’s sickness. “It seems that you have a fungus growing inside your thyroid gland,” the doctor states. He continues to tell the man that the growth is completely benign and can easily be removed by reducing the pH level of his entire body. Relieved to hear such good news, the man rushes home to his family to report the analysis. He soon learns of natural ways to reduce the pH balance in his body via his diet, and, after a few weeks and absolutely no prescription drugs, the man’s swollen glands reduce to nearly a normal state.
The preceding story of a man with his ailment being influenced into needlessly purchasing costly prescription drugs by modern medical physicians is an all too common scenario for many American patients. However, this medicinal absolutism is not usually apparent, even to the doctors that prescribe the medicine. The doctors are educated to administer this form of analysis and treatment. It is of paramount importance that medical doctors be more appropriately versed in holistic healing techniques. They are instead taught how to prescribe drugs for various symptoms, using the very minimal evaluation of their patient’s condition. The situation is almost like a quick table turn around at a restaurant. “Get them in, get them out, and sell them drugs,” seems to be the unspoken motto of most physicians. This situation has been overturned by many homeopathic doctors in favor of the patient. Homeopathic medicine is a rich understanding of the delicate balances of one’s anatomy and physiology. Treating the whole system as a single entity, instead of western medicine’s more focused reductionalist approach, has become a driving force within the homeopathic movement. The most striking attribute about homeopathic medicine is that it works; as in the true account of my father and his swollen thyroid glands.
So if the preceding is true, why is there absolutely no commendation by the American Medical Association (AMA), which governs drug development, to further the development of homeopathic treatments? Dana Ullman, an author with his masters in Public Health from U.C. Berkeley, explains, “One of the most important reasons that orthodox physicians and drug companies dislike homeopathy is the inherent in the homeopathic approach that is a sharp critique of the use of conventional drugs (37).” Homeopathy claims that the use of suppressive drugs “masks” patients’ symptoms and thus further deepens their diseases. This is a strong blow to drug developing industries that are in the business of selling drugs. The AMA is in a conflict not with the principals of a homeopathy, but with his stealing of the business.
To derive a more educated and unbiased opinion about which is the more viable medical practice, a brief synopsis of both medical techniques is required. Allopathic is a term given to a medical doctor who performs conventional types of medical practices; “A conventional practice refers to a doctor whose primary focus is on the suppression of symptoms through drugs that counteract them” (Western Medicine). Beginning in the late 1800s, Louis Pasteur recognized bacteria as the cause of diseases (Woolfe 43). In observing this, medical doctors began to treat their patients more efficiently by targeting the foreign pathogens causing the particular disease. Allopathic doctors strongly believe that in targeting the disease at its roots, they are destroying the disease at its roots (“Choosing the Right Practitioner”). The development of microscopes also helped doctors to efficiently target sources of diseases and better treat patients. In strengthening their theory of the origins of diseases, allopathic practitioners began to rely heavily on their scientific equipment and training to diagnose their patients (Woolfe 109). To diagnose a patient a medical doctor performs a sequence of clinical tests in which doctors gather scientific results that they then use to identify the ailment. Once the illness is determined a medical doctor prescribes an “engineered prescription to treat it” (“Choosing the Right Practitioner”). In some cases, surgical removal or invasive procedures may be performed to treat a patient, in addition to prescribed drugs (Western Medicine).
Homeopathic practitioners take an entirely different approach to medicine and how to treat medical issues. Rather than looking specifically at the disease or illness, homeopathic doctors examine the person as a whole. This approach is referred to as holistic healing (The Home of Homeopath). Examination of patients by homeopathic practitioners consists of very similar diagnostic procedures as modern day medical doctors. However, homeopathic practitioners take many other factors into consideration when diagnosing a patient, such as: “personality traits, physical features, the effects of a variety of environmental influences, patterns of disease within families, and family and social relationships” (Lowenberg 211). Homeopathy treats patients in prescribing a remedy that contains part of the actual disease. This type of remedy differs significantly from allopath medicine; “The theory of homeopathy holds that every symptom induced by a toxic dose of a substance in a healthy person can be cured by a remedy prepared from that same substance.” (World This principal is referred to as “like cures like” and is completely opposite of most conventional medicines. Very rarely does a modern drug work along the same principle as “like cures like” (The Home of Homeopathy). Another unusual aspect of homeopathic remedies is the dilution of the medicine which gives it the power to work more effectively and quickly, and with less toxicity. This process of diluting a remedy is a seemingly complicated process; “Current research is focusing on the ability of water to retain an imprint of substances which have been dissolved in it” (Lowenberg 213). This type of medication activates the patient’s immune system to heal itself and fight off the foreign pathogen without outside aid. The drugs administered to the ill are organic and free of any chemically active ingredients. Homeopathy works in stimulating a patient’s health in maintaining and repairing different weaknesses or nutrient deprived areas of the immune system. Homeopathy doctors believe a patient’s body is fully able to heal itself if provided with the right vitamins and nutrients.
In light of the overwhelming benefits of homeopathy, there are also many positive aspects of western medicine, and the drug industries, that we should absolutely appreciate. They are highly regulated and thus only with strict supervision and repetitive testing is a drug allowed to be released. This ensures the safety and reliability of the product. The ability to suppress the painful symptoms of an infection provides relief to the patient thus minimizing discomfort. This allows many people the ability to carry out normal day to day lives without the nuisance of pain and suffering from chronic illness. These are great benefits of having suppressive drugs on the market for doctors to prescribe.
Homeopathy may not be able to provide the instantaneous relief that we can incur through the use of modern prescriptions and surgery. However, is masking the patient’s symptoms really the best thing to do? Diagnosing the ailments is usually done through understanding the pains from which the body is suffering. Masking these pains may increase the overall problem by hiding valuable information that the body is releasing. In the Prescription for Nutritional Healing, the authors state that “The body is a complex organism that has the ability to heal itself - if and only you listen to it and respond with proper nourishment and care (2).” It can be difficult to hear your body’s requirements if you suppress its proverbial voice. So maybe pain is of a greater benefit to the overall well being of the body than we ever could imagine.
Despite what discomforts there may be, I see homeopathic medicine as an invaluable long-term resource for the improvement of an individual’s health. So maybe the synthesis of both western medicine (allopathic) and holistic medicine (homeopathic) can provide a creative solution. Medicine doctor and renowned author Deepak Chopra explains,
“Conventional medicine is superb in dealing with acute medical conditions and traumatic injury, and in providing emergency treatment. But there’s no question that alternative medicine works better for just about everything else, especially for chronic degenerative diseases like cancer, heart disease, and rheumatoid arthritis, and for more common ailments such as asthma, gastrointestinal disorders, and headaches“(Chopra 1).
Both these medical practices have legitimate arguments in favor of their type of practice; however, both refuse to acknowledge the other’s success and achievements in the medical field. If these two types of medical practices would embrace the other and unite, they would join to form the most productive and successful medical treatment possible to man.
Granting the acknowledgments of quick relief and emergency life saving abilities provided by allopathic medicine, we can still see the significance of preventative alternative medicine in battling the most severe killers in the world today, cancer and heart disease. With a lack of sufficient homeopathic knowledge among the general populous of doctors in the United States, we are lacking a fundamental element of good health in our system of treatment of these diseases. There needs to be a more collaborative effort towards the art of self-healing and a movement away from the systematic use of drugs in the treatment of every known physiological and psychological problem. The contribution of better health and living could be of most important benefit to the survival of our species, and it all begins with updating the education process of our physicians. Teaching doctors, so they can subsequently teach patients how to treat themselves, using significantly less costly methods, can be a significant step forward for modern medicine. We need to drastically revise the general medical curriculum to include these more obscure yet effective treatments. Not yielding solely to western medicine may seem to be an outrage to most patients, and most doctors, but I have personally witnessed the success of natural cures. As a firm believer in homeopathic medicine, I am progressing on my endeavor to better my health through a more educated holistic approach to medicine.

Work Cited
Balch, James, M.D., and Phyllis Balch, CNC. Prescription for Nutritional Healing: Third Edition.
Penguin Putman Incorporated, 2000.
"Choosing the Right Practitioner." The PDR Family Guide
To Natural Medicines and Healing Therapies. David W. Sifton, Editor in
Chief. Montvale, NJ: Medical Economics, 2000.
Chopra, Deepak, M.D.. Alternative Medicine: The Definitive Guide. Celestial Arts, 2002.
Home of Homeopathy. 2002. British Homeopathic Institution. 12 Nov. 2005
Lowenberg, June S. The Crossroads between Holistic Practice and Traditional
Medicine. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania P, 1989. 1-269.
Ullman, Dana. Homeopathy: Medicine for the 21st Century. North Atlantic Books, 1988.
Western Medicine. 2002. 12 Nov. 2005
Woolf, Steven H.. American Family Physician. May 1, 1995 v51 n6 p1455 (9).
World 2000. 12 Nov. 2005
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