Re-examining Homeopathy

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The ‘new biology’, which became at least partially credible for most people with the defining of PNEI (psycho-neuro-endocrino-immunology) or, that thoughts and feelings affect hormones and physiology, leads us to the conclusion that intention, belief, conviction, faith, prayer etc. cannot be conveniently separated from real, physical medicine.

There is of course still a major cultural challenge for the Western mind in the West for approaching ‘physical’ ailments with types of healthcare that are essentially psychotherapeutic (in its very boradest sense). It is not credible to true materialists, and must be less potent or real than interventions on ‘the body’. There is also the stigma where a person is expected to be somehow in control of their mind, but forgiven for not being in control of their body. This can be traced back to the influence of Descartes on Western thinking, but that is another topic.

Homeopahty is a practice to which this theme seems highly relevant. The survival of homeopathy as a practice has been significantly challenged in various ways in recent years.  It exists in a now awkward space in the health and medical culture.  

On the one hand it was ‘invented’ by a Western physician and began with biochemicals of known medicinal function, and it has generally involved prescribing of a pill or pills that the patient takes according to a schedule. In these aspects it has the characteristics and rituals that we associate with orthodox medical practice.

On the other hand, a large part of the practitioner-patient interaction comprises a very detailed psychological investigation including many subtleties of perception. Importantly, this involves relationship building. Further, the medicine given is often acknowledged by all to be so diluted that biochemical reactivity could not plausibly be the mechanism of action.

Out of this difficult and usually-avoided paradox, come not only the mirthful and withering critiques offered by rationalist skeptics, but also a strange silence from the friends and practitioners of homeopathy. The latter group, while often expressing an enthusiasm for the new biology (which sees consciousness as  primary over matter), rarely want to connect that in explaining the mechanism of their chosen practice.

Unconvincing threads of argument emerge about the possibility of various physical transmission mechanisms that may deliver the medicinal effect: alterations in the shape of aqueous hydrogen-oxygen lattices for example. While some of these theories are based on credible phenomena, the attempts to fit in all the homeopathic paraphernalia of multiple dilutions and non-physical substrates (remedies like ‘moon’ or ‘hydrogen’) soon give us a sense of desperation.

The reality is that the homeopathic community, remaining confident in its ability to deliver effective therapy,  struggles to advance any reasonable theoretical model of their practice or give any credible answer to the skeptics, as it still clings onto the false-confidence that Western thinking has in the idea of physical causation.

We can wonder what Dr Hahnemann and his followers would have said when asked about the mechanism of their medicines if they had the advantage of a 21st century perspective ?  

It is my suggestion that they would have been naturally at ease with the idea that a given life- or mineral-form making the base of a remedy has an ‘informational signature’, or a set of relationships to the human mind: individual and collective, conscious and unconscious, formed during millions of years of shared evolution and co-habitation. The characteristics of the base substance, its distribution, known biological effects, its historic uses all contribute to its place in the collective mind of man. In a consciousness-led view of reality, symbolic interactions of this type have huge significance as we recognise that they are the very substance of our perceptions, which drive our behaviours, which drive our subsequent experiences in health and other areas.

If we make a shift towards this, inevitably inexact, view of how reality works, it then becomes a very grounded and potentially powerful method of psychotherapeutic intervention to give a dose, diluted to whatever degree, of a substance, to trigger a change in the psycho-neuro-endocrino-immunological behaviours of the patient- and to hope for a ‘cure’. Probably this is a better place for the word ‘cure’ than any intervention that is based on suppression of symptoms or where withdrawal of the supply of medicine results in a relapse.

Further, it lets us become more at ease with the quite common practices of many homeopaths, not to actually give a pill, or to give a combination mixed without regard for how ‘dilutions’ might counteract each other. It also becomes perfectly understandable why the storage or processing of homeopathic products need bear no relation in the types of standards applied or shelf-lives to orthodox medicines or food-based materials.

The homeopathic ‘remedy’, I am suggesting, without any hint of disdain, should be seen as a trigger for a change in the functioning of a person by psychotherapeutic means. As with other approaches to healing, there may be a detailed consultation, a strong sense of belief, or there might just be an instant of intuition or the transmission of an insight from doctor to patient, perceptibly or otherwise.  In some cases it may be non-personal, where a remedy is sold in bottles to groups of people who relate to a symptom at a certain time in a certain sub-section of people. The effectiveness of these may be of short duration or long, widespread in usage or very narrow.

The observation of many that the homeopathic pill can have an instantaneous effect when it hits the tongue, becomes no longer something that requires for explanation elaborate contortions of materialistic science beyond the tolerance of most. Instead we are observing an instantaneous shift of the person who has come to, or been helped to, a state of readiness and insight, allowing that trigger to initiate the change.

When we adopt this perspective then likewise, the skeptic’s ‘overdose experiments’ come to be seen even by their protagonists as foolish spectacles, proving or disproving nothing.  Abandoning the notions of quantity, that come from a materialist paradigm, but are still present in the homeopathic culture, becomes a very helpful step in promoting understanding of what the machanism is. As with an idea, or knowing of any form, there is no relevance to dosage – you either get it or you don’t.

In the delivery of remedial change of the type we are looking at, there may be an intermediate ‘technology’ involved, such as one of the many remedy-makers or ‘bioresonance’ devices now in usage. These become neither more nor less credible than the traditional prescribing to practitioner or skeptic. They may greatly enhance the ability of a practitioner, if used responsibly, or may trap them in another set of pseudo-scientific beliefs about physical causation, if not.

The only real challenge to the practitioner here might be to step out of the (wholly pernicious but still clung-onto-for-dear-life) idea that doing stuff to the tissues of the body counts as ‘real medicine’ while helping to change the mind does not.  There is ever-increasing scientific evidence to add to our, inwardly known and felt, sense that all is connected in a non-material field that is the precursor and not the consequence of physical matter. (The closer we look at matter, the more it disappears in front of our eyes.) Yet, the temptation to see ourselves as defined by separate and sovereign bodies rather than interconnected minds still fools us, quite a lot of the time. 

It is stepping away from that powerful illusion of physical separation as implying real separation, that allows us to explore the full array of healing modalities in a more rational light.  All therapy is truly a change in the unified field of mind – or a psycho-therapy, we come to realise. It is my contention that homeopathic practice can be helped a lot in its present struggles by appreciating that re-emerging view.

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Mark Conrad

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