Janet has been practising homoeopathy for almost 20 years and regularly lectured since 1992. Her passion for the subject has taken her regularly to India for over 19 years and she has participated in many activities there, including prescribing in rural areas. She is committed to the charity which supports homoeopathic treatment in the slums of Calcutta and frequently organises events to raise funds. She teaches philosophy and practice management at the Allen College of Homoeopathy and supports homoeopaths in practise by offering regular post graduate supervision.
Her practical down to earth approach encourages students to know the scope and limits of homoeopathy and have confidence in what they can hope to achieve in practice.
WHY HOMOEOPATHY THRIVES IN INDIA
Janet Robinson-Banerjea, R.S.Hom
Vice Principal: Allen College of Homoeopathy, England
Homoeopathy in the U.K and India
Having the rare opportunity to study in Calcutta, India and to have the privilege of meeting with a wide variety of homoeopathic doctors over a period of nineteen years, I wish to write about the way homoeopathy is practised, respected and chosen as primary care in India and particularly Calcutta.
Education and recognition
The practice of homoeopathy has thrived in India since 1829 and has been recognised by the Indian government since 1948. The education to practice this system of medicine is regulated and consists of a minimum of five and a half years at university with a degree followed by a one year internship. The graduate is licensed to use the title 'Doctor', work in rural and urban situations, be employed by the government, employed privately or be self employed. The education, usually heavily subsidised by the government, renders the student responsible and skilled in executing post mortems, simple surgery, which includes appendectomy and attending labours. This is in addition to the general practice of medical situations such as recurrent fever, epidemics, rheumatology, neurology, cardiology, osteology, gastrology, dermatology and so on. Those familiar with homoeopathy will understand this list is by no means exhaustive and indeed it is the patient who each presents with unique symptoms which is treated and not the nosological classified disease.
"Homoeopathy is the latest and refined method of treating Patient's economically and non-violently.
Government must encourage and Patronise it in our country...."
The statutory recognition of homoeopathy began over a hundred years after the popularity of the science was recognised and the motion to implement a state faculty in the first province, Bengal was passed and forwarded to the State Government for its implementation in 1943.
After independence, after the formation of National Government on 17th February, 1948 Shri Satis Chandra Samanta, M.P. (West Bengal) moved a resolution for consideration by the constituent-Assembly of India which run as follows -
"This Assembly is of opinion that homoeopathic system of treatment be recognized by the Indian Union and that a General Council and a State Faculty of Homoeopathic Medicine be established at once."
In moving his resolution Shri Samanta advanced the following arguments in support of his resolution namely -
i. The system of medicine known as homoeopathy had been recognized by countries like Germany, France, England and America and also by certain Provinces and States in India, such as Bengal, the United Provinces and others.
ii. The system had been found to be efficacious and treatment thereunder was very cheap. It was, therefore, ideal for adoption in a poor agricultural country like India.
iii. State recognition and control would ensure proper scientific training of those who might practise the system and put an end to quacks and quackery thereby remove risk to life of people treated thereunder.
An amended resolution was moved by Shri Mohan Lal Saxena, Member of Parliament (UP) in the following terms.
"In view of the fact that treatment by the system of Homoeopathy is restored to by many people, this Assembly is of the opinion that the Government should consider
a. the making of arrangements for the teaching of Homoeopathy;
b. the advisability of having Post Graduate Courses of study; and
c. the advisability of regulating the profession and arranging for the registration of practitioners in order to raise and maintain uniformity of standards."
Later in the early 1970's it was noted that there is, however, no Central Legislation for the regulation of practice or for minimum standards of training and conduct of examination in the system of medicine on all India basis. A Statutory Central Council on the lines of the Medical Council of India of the modern system of medicine is a prerequisite for the proper growth of development of Homoeopathy.
The main functions of the Central Council of Homoeopathy would be to evolve uniform standards of education in Homoeopathy and the registration of practitioners of Homoeopathy. The registration of practitioners on the Central Register of Homoeopathy will ensure that medicine is not practised by those who are not qualified in this system, and those who practise, observe a code of ethics in the profession. The Bill is intended to achieve these objectives".
-(Gazette of India, 1-12-1971, Pt. II, S.2, Ext., p. 837)
Thereafter the Homoeopathic Central Council Bill as recommended by the Joint Committee was passed by both the houses of Parliament and was given assent to by the President of India on 17TH DECEMBER, 1973.
The recognition and regulation of Homoeopathy is rigorous and provides first rate education for doctors which are deemed equivalent to medical doctors who use pharmaceutical drugs as the mode of treatment. Refreshing to note that for over 60 years there has been approval, support and recognition for homoeopathy.
I think we in the U.K are a little behind the so called developing country.
The experience of these doctors is vast and in a country where religion, myth and superstition control much of the way people live, homoeopathy thrives.
It thrives, not because of faith or ignorance but knowledge that homoeopathy (in the correctly trained hands, see above) does no harm, produces no side effects and indeed improves symptoms and consequently quality of life.
In India homoeopathy is considered mainstream medicine and as such it is rare to find someone who has not used it or heard of it as a system of healing. The homoeopath is respected and regarded as a general practitioner in many families from the poorest village to the big industrialists who have funds to choose whatever medical treatment is available.
Why is homoeopathy valued so highly?
I have several theories of why homoeopathy is valued so highly and after a survey of over 100 patients who use homoeopathy I am certain that a combination of the following, in no particular order, are relevant for most patients-
Natural and safe
Positive experience of family and friends
Confidence in the science
Having total or wholistic approach
Observing the continued popularity of homoeopathy and the direct recommendations made between family members and within communities I have to comment that even with restricted income, families are drawn to homoeopathy because of experience and observation. They understand that success of treatment is likely because they have seen it time and time again.
They do not 'try' homoeopathy, they choose the system because they know it is efficacious, they have seen it, they know it and they have confidence in the outcome.
India is said to be a 'developing' country. It has a history of thousands of years, it has produced Gandhi, numerous famous laureates and is the largest democracy in the world.
What about successful outcomes?
Success with homoeopathy is often attributed to belief or faith but in the experience of the patients I have seen over the twenty years of my practice this is not so.
The science and art of homoeopathy has to be understood thoroughly and when it is, the application is simple and consistent with theory and logic. It is this logic that I wish to share with you and to share the importance of simplicity and consistent prescribing.
There are no short cuts in learning, there may be methods of learning that aid speed or retention of information but the skill required to regularly see up to one hundred patients a day, means a vast knowledge of Materia Medica. It has been said that 'Indian doctors learn by rote, blindly follow Hahnemann and prescribe therapeutics'. Not very complimentary for a team of people who practice in primary care, are fully relied on by patients who have choices and have a dearth of success which is largely taken for granted and rarely published.
*My observation allows me to say that yes, the Homoeopathy students in West Bengal learn by rote, memorise the Material Medica, Organon of Medicine and vast quantities of Medical science and by so doing have a huge repertoire at the ready, with no need of repertory, fear of ignorance or lack of knowledge in the practice. They practice with information relevant to the task in hand. This may involve diagnosis, application of theory, patient interaction skills and finally the confidence to prescribe the most similar medicine which is required to start the process of cure in the patient.
*Following Hahnenann's Organon of medicine, yes. Following an instruction book which is comprehensive, tested and prepares the reader for almost any given medical situation, yes. No other interpretation or confusion in understanding, straightforward, practical application of the principles.
*Prescribe therapeutically? I doubt there would be as much success if this approach was used exclusively. There are various routes towards the best prescription and in some instances a therapeutic medicine is required. In other cases a constitutional miasmatic prescription is the best route, in others a peculiar, rare symptom will guide to the similimum. If the Organon of medicine is understood, then the practitioner has a knowledge of which route is best when and combined with knowledge of Materia Medica elimination of unsuitable medicine or routes can take place in the consultation.
*Study, absorb, observe, study, learn, memorise, study, immerse, study.
100 patients a day?
Makes a good story doesn't it? It needs to be seen and having been involved with the doctors of Calcutta for almost 20 years I can share a little of the necessities required for such a clinic. See above before you read on.*
Patients often know the answers to the questions, they understand what the homoeopath's need to know, patients are familiar with the style of consultation. Aetiology, Presenting Complaint, Location. Sensation Modalities and Concomitant; Generalities and Miasm.
The prescribers also need to understand the scope and sphere of action of the medicine and match this simila to the patient as he is presenting. There is no need for conjecture or assumption, no need to delve deeply into the psyche but to understand what the patient is saying, how the discomfort or disease is affecting him, now. Take the information and regard the patient objectively with the aim of finding the single best medicine which will commence healing and good health following.
With this method of enquiry or tracing the picture in good case taking the medicine will be revealed, however it can only be revealed to those who have knowledge of homoeopathic Materia Medica. In a truly busy situation there is hardly the scope for the repertory to be used. However in some cases a prompt for a particular modality is required and a glance at the repertory might just be helpful. The emphasis is on a quality prescription and this can rarely be achieved with the repertory alone.
Finally I wish to comment that surely a billion people from a country that invented zero, cannot be wrong?
Central Council for Homoeopathy India