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Homoeopathy: tried and tested



Student going about their work at the Government Homoeopathic Medical College in Bangalore. — Photo: K. Murali Kumar

WHEN SAMUEL Hahnemann conducted his experiment with the cinchona bark 200 years ago, which led to his discovery of the principle that "like cures like," the basis of homoeopathy, the German physician would not have imagined that thousands of people all over the world would one day follow in his footsteps. And take up this discipline to provide succour to the sick through simple remedies.

The term "Homoeopathy" is derived from the two Greek words, "homoios," meaning "similar," and "pathos," meaning "suffering." It actually means to say that it is a method of treatment with remedies taken in small amounts, which when given to healthy people will produce the same symptoms as of the particular disease.

The story goes like this. When Dr. Hahnemann was experimenting and consumed certain drugs, such as the Cinchona bark (which is the source for quinine), he fell ill and was affected by symptoms which were exactly the kind that people affected with malaria would get. He did the same with other herbs and minerals and the result was the same. This made him realise that these drugs when prescribed in small amounts would help cure the disease. In due course, he began treating people through this principle and a new form of medicine was thus born.

In homoeopathy, the aim is to eliminate the root cause of the disease and that is why it does not suppress the symptoms, making it different from conventional or allopathic medicine.

Principles

Homoeopathy is based on three main principles:

The law of Similars: This law says that the selected remedy is able to produce symptoms in a healthy person similar to that observed in the patient, thus leading to the principle of "let likes be treated by likes."

Single Remedy: Homoeopathic medicines are always administered in a single, simple unadulterated form.

Minimum Dose: The remedy selected for a sick person is always prescribed in a minute dose, so that it will cure but will not bring on any toxic effects on the body. It only acts as a trigger to stimulate and strengthen the existing defense mechanism of the body. The medicines are specially prepared in homoeopathy through a process called "Drug dynamisation" or "Potentisation." The remedies prepared in this way retain maximum medicinal power without producing any toxic effects on the body.

In India, even though homeopathy has been mostly overshadowed by alternative systems of medicine such as Ayurveda and of course, conventional medicine, it has managed not only to survive but also thrive, mostly because of its simple curative principles. There are die-hard patrons of homeopathy who swear by its goodness, mainly because it does not produce side-effects and is cost-effective. And there are many practitioners who in their own quiet corners have been doing service to the community and healing the ill.

Embraced all over the world, this alternative branch of medicine is popular in India, and there are a number of institutions that exclusively teach homoeopathic medicine, apart from medical institutions that are dedicated to all branches of medicine.

According to Micheal Tomlinson, Vice-President of the Australian Association of Homoeopaths, "India has been the great exception to the rule that homeopathic education has not been strongly institutionalised — a number of government-accredited courses have existed for many years. A typical homeopathic course at a medical faculty or university in India looks very much like a medical course."

Students joining a homoeopathy course go through training that is usually four to five-and-a-half years in duration. They study the subjects that students of conventional medicine also learn which ranges from anatomy, physiology, histology and biochemistry to bacteriology, forensic medicine, surgery, gynaecology and obstetrics. They learn the basic philosophy and the scope of homoeopathy early in the course and then learn homoeopathic pharmacology, which is different from the pharmacology practiced in allopathy. Students then have to undertake a period of internship which may be six months to one year long. "This branch of medicine was very popular before World War II all over the world. Later, it was overshadowed by the advent of allopathic form of medicine. But now the trend is that more and more people are realising the goodness of homoeopathy and not just here but worldwide, homoeopathy is gaining popularity," says B.N. Prakash, Principal of the Government Homoeopathic College in Bangalore.

The college is the only Government- run medical institution dedicated to teaching of homoeopathy in Karnataka.

"A person who wants to practice this form of medicine should be hard-working and sincere to this science. We often tell students that they should not take up homoeopathy from the point of view of job opportunities but for the love of this system."

Eligibility

The eligibility for the under-graduate course, called Bachelor of Homeopathic Medicine & Surgery (BHMS), is Pre-University or 10+2 or equivalent in Physics, Chemistry, Biology with minimum 45 per cent marks. The duration of the course is five-and-a-half years, including internship. There is also a Diploma course of four years duration. At the post-graduate level, one can specialise by doing an M.D. in Homoeopathy, which is of three years duration.

At the all-India level, selection for BHMS is through the all-India entrance examination which is the same one that MBBS aspirants take. Some private medical colleges conduct their entrance examinations individually. The all-India examination is conducted by the Central Board of Secondary Examination, Delhi which is called the All-India Pre-Medical/Pre-Dental Entrance Exam to select the candidates at the national level (except in the States of Jammu & Kashmir and Andhra Pradesh) for admission to roughly 15 per cent of the total seats in the colleges of each State. Andhra Pradesh and Jammu & Kashmir do not admit students from other States. Information about the examination can be obtained from the following address:

All-India Pre-Medical/Pre-Dental Entrance Examination Unit, CBSE, 17-B, Indraprastha Estate, New Delhi-110 002.

Schedule

The announcement for the all-India pre-medical examination is made in January and tests are conducted in March or April. State-level examinations are announced in January and conducted in March-April. The national-level institute examinations are announced usually in January-March and conducted in May-June.

Merit ranking of this entrance exam is applicable for admission to MBBS, BDS (Dentistry), BHMS (Homeopathy), BAMS (Ayurveda).

In Karnataka, as in some other States, entrance for the under-graduate course in Homoeopathy is through the common entrance test (CET) conducted by the CET Cell of the State Government.

Students studying this system of medicine in the State are also compulsorily required to spend a part of their internship (around one month) in a rural or remote area and treat patients there.

Job opportunities

Qualified homoeopaths can find employment in Government and private hospitals or clinics, charitable institutions, research institutes as researchers or in medical colleges and training institutes as teachers. But a lot of them prefer to do post-graduation and specialise in a particular field.

List of homoeopathy colleges (with courses and intake) affiliated to the Rajiv Gandhi University of Health Sciences (RGUHS):

Government Homoeopathic Medical College, 1778, 22 `B' Cross, Magadi Main Road, Bangalore-560 040. Ph: 080-23359413. BHMS: 40 seats.

Fr. Muller's Homoeopathic Medical College, Fr. Muller's Road, Kankanady, Mangalore - 575 002. Ph: 0824-2436301. BHMS: 40 seats; MD Hom. in Homoeopathic Materia Medica: Six seats; Organon & Homoeopathic Philosophy: Six seats; Homoeopathic Repertory & Case taking: Three seats.

Bhagwan Buddha Homoeopathic Medical College & Hospital,

Srinidhi Complex, Mallathahalli, Bangalore - 560 056. Ph: 080-23211056. BHMS: 40 seats.

B.D.Jatti Homoeopathic Medical College & Hospital, P.B.No.42, D.C. Compound, Dharwad-580 001. Ph: 0836-2446430. BHMS: 75 seats, MD Hom. in Homoeopathic Materia Medica: Five seats; Organon & Homoeopathic Philosophy: Three seats; Homoeopathic Repertory & Case taking: Three seats.

Al-Ameen Homoeopathic Medical College, P.B.No.54, Chandpur Colony, Bijapur-586 101. BHMS: 25 seats.

ASNSS's SB Shirkoli Homoeopathic Medical College, Anant Vidyanagar, P.B. No.16, Gandhinglaj Road, Sankeshwar-591 313. BHMS: 25 seats.

Shiva Basava Jyothi Homoeopathic Medical College, Chavat Galli, Court Road, Belgaum - 590 002. Ph: 0831-2469965. BHMS: 40 seats.

Bharatesh Homoeopathic Medical College & Hospital, Dharwad Road, Belgaum-590 016. Ph: 0831-2429756. BHMS: 100 seats.

AM Sheikh Homoeopathic Medical College, Nehru Nagar, Belgaum-590 010. Ph: 0831-2473253. BHMS: 100 seats; MD Hom. in Homoeopathic Materia Medica: Three seats; Organon & Homoeopathic Philosophy: Three seats; Homoeopathic Repertory & Case taking: Three seats.

HKES Homoeopathic Medical College and Hospital, University Road, Gulbarga-585 105. Ph: 08472-2421620. BHMS: 75 seats; MD Hom. in Homoeopathic Materia Medica: Six seats; Organon & Homoeopathic Philosophy: Six seats; Homoeopathic Repertory & Case taking: Six seats.

Some colleges

outside Karnataka:

White Memorial College of Homoeopathy, Attoor, Tamil Nadu. It is affiliated to the Dr. MGR Medical University, Chennai and is approved by the Central Council of Homoeopathy, New Delhi. Ph:04651-282292/272434. E-mail: whitememorial

colleges.com

Nehru Homoeopathic Medical College and Hospital, B-Block, Defence Colony, New Delhi-110024. Admission is based on merit through marks obtained in the qualifying examination (PUC or 10+2).

E-mail: education@delhi homeo.com

SAHANA CHARAN

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