Schwabe News Volume 5 | Issue 2 | February 2014
India has got many healthcare systems. Medical systems are broadly divided into allopathy and complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) systems. Ministry of Health and Family Welfare regulates education and practice of all the systems. Under the Ministry, Department of Ayush regulates CAM systems including Ayurveda, Unani, Siddha, and Homoeopathy. According to reports, people using these systems are increasing. The trend of choosing the homoeopathic system of medicine changes depending upon the economic background of the people, place, religion, education, promotion and support by the Government, availability of practitioner and medicine, cost, disease/condition for which the treatment is sought, stage of the disease/condition, scope of the system in a particular disease/condition, popularity of the physician, patients’ belief, etc. The trend varies very differently from urban area to rural area. Further, the decision of the patient to stick to which system of medication depends on the trust on the doctor, overall relief felt by the patient for his different ailments, doctor’s past experience, his influence in the society, etc. Moving to the rural area, choice of treatment depends on the availability according to time and distance, cost effectiveness, belief (either self belief or belief of others). Even though the trend exists on the above factors, there is a lack of clarity in this subject due to insufficient data.
This study was conducted to explore the trend of patients in choosing the homoeopathic medical system for their ailments from different parts of the country. A survey has been conducted among patients in 11 homoeopathic centers covering metropolitan, urban, semi-urban and rural areas. The survey contained a questionnaire seeking different details like whether he/she is the first time user of the system, if not since how long using this system, who had referred, if a doctor has referred then whether he is from the same system or other, if other means the doctor is from which system of medicine, economic and educational background of the patient, disease/condition for which the treatment is sought, place, religion, what is the opinion of the patient towards the system, etc.
As per the results, a total of 2,500 individuals participated. 678 incomplete questionnaires were excluded from analysis. From the remaining 1822 participants the male-female ratio was close to equal, i. e. 904 (49 %) males and 918 (51 %) females. With regard to the time period of using homeopathy, more respondents (350 or 32 %) have been using homeopathic treatment for less than 6 months. Respondents who have been using homeopathy for the last 5 years (less than 6 months + 6 months to 1 year + 1 to 3 years + 3 to 5 years) amounted to 960 (88 %). Whereas only 129 or 12 % of respondents have been using homeopathy for more than 5 years. Among the first-time users, the majority (1235, 68 %) were referred by friends and relatives. A significant number (367, 21 %) of respondents were referred by doctors. Only a very few (142 8 %) respondents found out about homeopathy through newspapers, magazines, books and other printed media. In this survey, the majority of doctor referrals (216, 59 %) were from allopaths, followed by a significant number (102 or 28 %) from Ayurvedic practitioners. There were cross referrals also between homeopaths (33 or 9 %). Around 30 % of users were from the very low income bracket. There were fewer users of homeopathy among educated people (27%). The number of users of homeopathy was also significantly lower in the ‘no education’ category (11%). 125 (3 %) respondents participating in this survey were from villages and 1697 (97 %) were from towns.
Many workers in the past have given experimental evidence of water molecules of different structure even in extremely diluted solution. This paper of Vittorio Elia et al. on this line is briefly as below:
The authors present the results of several experimental methods. (FT-IR spectroscopy, UV–vis spectroscopy, fluorescence microscopy (FM), Atomic Force Microscopy (AFM)) evidencing structural changes induced in extremely diluted solutions (EDS), which are prepared by an iterated process of centesimal (1:100) dilution and succussion (shaking). The iteration was repeated until an extremely high dilution is reached, so that the composition of the solution becomes identical to that of the solvent—in this case water—used to prepare it.
The experimental observations reveal the presence of supramolecular aggregates hundreds of nanometres in size in EDS at ambient pressure and temperature, and in the solid state. These findings confirm the hypothesis—developed thanks to previous physico-chemical investigations—that formation of water aggregates occurs in EDS. The experimental data can be analyzed and interpreted with reference to the thermodynamics of far-from-equilibrium systems and irreversible processes.
According to the authors of this paper, homoeopathic care has not been well documented in terms of its impact on patients' utilization of drugs or other complementary and alternative medicines (CAM). The objective of this study was to describe and compare patients who visit physicians in general practice (GPs) who prescribe only conventional medicines (GP-CM), regularly prescribe homoeopathy within a mixed practice (GP-Mx), or are certified homoeopathic GPs (GP-Ho).
The EPI3-LASER study was a nationwide observational survey of a representative sample of GPs and their patients from across France. Physicians recorded their diagnoses and prescriptions on participating patients who completed a self-questionnaire on socio-demographics, lifestyle, quality of life Short Form 12 (SF-12) and the complementary and alternative medicine beliefs inventory (CAMBI).
A total of 6379 patients (participation rate 73.1%) recruited from 804 GP practices participated in this survey. Patients attending a GP-Ho were slightly more often female with higher education than in the GP-CM group and had markedly healthier lifestyle. They did not differ greatly in their comorbidities or quality of life but exhibited large differences in their beliefs in holistic medicine and natural treatments, and in their attitude toward participating to their own care. Similar but less striking observations were made in patients of the GP-Mx group.
Patients seeking care with a homoeopathic GP did not differ greatly in their socio-demographic characteristics but more so by their healthier lifestyle and positive attitude toward CAM. Further research is needed to explore the directionality of those associations and to assess the potential economic benefits of homoeopathic management in primary care.
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