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Advocating Homoeopathy

Department of Repertory, Dr. M. L. Dhawale Memorial Homoeopathic Institute, Palghar, Maharashtra, India
Corresponding author: Dr. Nikunj J. Jani, Department of Repertory, Dr. M. L. Dhawale Memorial Homoeopathic Institute, Palghar, Maharashtra, India. drnikunj@gmail.com
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This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial-Share Alike 4.0 License, which allows others to remix, tweak, and build upon the work non-commercially, as long as the author is credited and the new creations are licensed under the identical terms.

How to cite this article: Jani NJ. Advocating homoeopathy. J Intgr Stand Homoeopathy 2021;4(1):1-3.

India has always affirmed the value of medical pluralism and has given national status to all ‘alternative’ systems of medicine. Hence, homoeopathy, along with the other AYUSH disciplines, must be considered as a part of the mainstream. This has been strongly emphasised by the Central Government through promoting AYUSH from a department to independent status.

Worldwide, homoeopathy has enjoyed a lot of public patronage over the centuries and continues to be a preferred system of medicine.[1] In India, the market for homoeopathy is growing at nearly 25% annually; it is estimated that over 100 million people depend on it for their health care needs.[2] In a cross-sectional survey carried out in 2017 in India, 66.7% of the respondents had taken homoeopathic treatments earlier, while among those who had never taken it before, 31.9% were not even aware of homoeopathy. The survey also reported that even if a significant number of people had knowledge about homoeopathy, certain myths or misconceptions were very much present.[3]

Another cross-sectional survey conducted in 2019 in India also reported that homoeopathy was preferred treatment for common ailments,[4] first aid and injury-related minor ailments. The use of homoeopathy was thus restricted only to common ailments, mostly due to lack of awareness of its wide utility in a wide range of diseases and disorders.

A survey in Tamil Nadu, India, reported that people in the age group of 25–40 years preferred homoeopathy as a treatment of choice.[5] Interestingly, a cross-sectional survey from Karachi, Pakistan, also highlighted the preference toward homoeopathy in the age group of 31–45 years. This survey also reported that only 28.25% of the participants preferred homoeopathy for their ailments, over conventional medicine, even after 67.5% of the population had taken homoeopathic treatment in the past.[6] All these surveys reported a need to create more awareness regarding the use of homoeopathic treatment among the general population.

Social media is now all prevalent in our lives and its use has been increasing significantly. It serves as a useful medium to disseminate knowledge regarding health, illness and a host of issues of concern in public health in a timely, relevant and transparent manner.[7] Considerable attention is now being given to applications of social media to medicine.[8] Its use has accentuated in the past year while nations and communities have been grappling with the COVID-19 pandemic. The use of social media platforms has positively influenced the awareness of public health behavioural changes and public protection against COVID-19 and can be utilised as an effective tool to increase public health awareness through dissemination of information to targeted populations.[9]

Twitter is currently the most popular form of social media used for healthcare communication.[10] Twitter is quite popular among the medical community as it provides medical professionals a global, diverse and broad audience, ranging from fellow physicians to trainees to patients.[11] To access information, all one needs to do is have a Twitter account. It enables us to not only access information but also participate in interchange by replying to the tweets, retweeting them, endorsing them, creating hashtags, which, in turn, creates communities and groups about similar diseases or clinical conditions. Through these, we can have conversations, ask queries to celebrated physicians, seek solutions and even raise awareness to ensure public engagement on issues.[12]

Unfortunately, along with the positive uses of social media, there are numerous negative issues that are now coming up more routinely. Across the globe, there is a massive rise in the spread of false, inaccurate or incomplete health information.[13] With all the good enumerated above, social media has also been a convenient handle for introducing contempt, promoting ridicule and at times initiating a demeaning discourse on alternative medicines, especially homoeopathy. There is a rising trend to classify all the alternative forms of medicine under a single category:#pseudoscience.[14]

In India, on Twitter, several modern medicine doctors seem to have made it a personal agenda to club everything under the AYUSH systems as pseudoscience. One can still understand that senior physicians have a negative view about AYUSH systems. Moreover, what is concerning is interns and PG residents branding all the talk about benefits of alternative medicines as pseudoscience. Most of these physicians have thousands of followers; somehow, this enables them to shape the narrative for the common public as well. There is a trend that the followers of such physicians also echo their views and take great pleasure in classifying all alternative medicines, especially homoeopathy as pseudoscience or label it as a farce. Any publication in the print or social media highlighting the benefits of homoeopathy is systematically targeted and ridiculed. Those who support the article are singled out and trolled. At times, their beliefs are questioned. There are physicians who want to even disband the AYUSH ministry and express their ire on them for propagating pseudoscience.

India has the third highest Twitter users in the world after US and Japan; most of these are between 35 and 49 years followed by people from 25 to 34 years of age.[15] If we now look at the earlier surveys about users of homoeopathy, they all fall in the same age group that supports homoeopathy, but is unaware of its full benefits beyond its use in common ailments and first aid. Their opinions may be formed by the social media narratives. How can one promote faith in homoeopathy in the absence of a positive discourse on media?

It is time for homoeopaths take to social media (especially Twitter) seriously to advocate homoeopathy. A lot of homoeopathic institutions have a social media presence, but use it only for putting up information. An active engagement is now needed to propagate the truth and counter the misbeliefs or false information going around. Homoeopathy needs its practitioners, Govt. institutions and educational institutes to engage with peers from modern medicine, general population and sceptics in a meaningful dialogue. We should put forth evidence-based scientific homoeopathy to the world rather than empty, false claims that cause more harm to the profession. We must cease debating on which ‘School of Homoeopathy’ is better at a time when the world is branding everything associated with homoeopathy under a single hashtag – ‘Pseudoscience.’ Hence, all of us must work together to publish evidence-based scientific homoeopathy and ensure its dissemination to the public as well. We also need to make people aware that homoeopathy has a far larger role in healthcare than hitherto accorded to it. Evidence-based papers need to be put up in the social media.

In the current issue of JISH, we have tried to highlight the use of homoeopathy as a curative and adjuvant therapy in diverse clinical conditions, which is not known to the general population. We have an original paper by Dandoti and Kapse that highlights the scope of homoeopathy on quality of life of patients with end-stage renal disease using the Kidney Disease Quality of Life Short Form 1.3 (KDQOL SF version 1.3) scale. The findings will help homoeopaths to venture into complex specialty like nephrology.[15]

We also have two interesting original papers that explain the role of homoeopathy in psychological states occasioned by fright and neurodevelopmental disorders. The paper by Parekh B. explores the expression of fright in patients and elaborates the world of differential Materia Medica to understand the finer shades of fright depicted in the remedies commonly indicated for fright.[16] Another original paper by Kamath S. highlights the challenges faced by homoeopaths in the treatment of autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) and highlights the role of homoeopathy as an important component in the entire clinical management of ASD.[17]

The COVID-19, by compelling people to maintain a distance, has brought telemedicine into focus. An original paper by Niturkar Y. highlights the role and utility of telemedicine in homoeopathic clinical practice. Learnings from this paper will surely help in applying the AYUSH Telemedicine Practice Guidelines in our clinical practice.[18]

All the papers demonstrate the application of homoeopathy in diverse clinical areas usually not found in the public narrative. The need of the hour is for all homoeopaths to stand up to the cause of taking scientific homoeopathy to the social media. It is not an easy task, but here I am reminded by the famous lines, translated in English, by the celebrated Hindi poet, Dushyant Kumar:

‘Who says the sky is impenetrable, Try throwing a stone at it with conviction.’[19]

Conviction is all what we need to advocate the right homoeopathy; homoeopathy needs its advocates to reclaim its tarnished reputation.

References

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