2011 January

Jan's column: What does it mean: homeopathy treats the patient but not the disease?

by Jan Scholten

I just read an article on a website, titled: "What does it mean:homeopathy treats the patient but not the disease? It is a foolish concept. How do you treat a patient without treating the disease?"
It is an old statement, I think, originating from Margery Blacky, but it indeed sounds a bit foolish. Of course, homeopathy treats the disease. That is what the patient is coming for; he wants to get rid of his complaints.
The confusion arises from the word disease. In conventional medicine, eczema is a disease, asthma is a disease, and so on. Seen from the homeopathic point of view, however, those are symptoms or syndromes but not diseases as such. It is like fever; in medieval times, fever was considered a disease, a diagnosis. In our times, it is clear that fever is a symptom and not a disease as such.
Broadly speaking, one can say that diagnoses in conventional medicine are not real diagnoses, just descriptions of symptoms. The real diagnosis is the homeopathic remedy. I have discussed this in my article "Diagnosis Yellow flower" (Diagnosis Yellow-flower). The regular diagnosis can be compared to the plant identification "yellow flower", where all plants with yellow flowers are identified as such. There are however, many different plants with yellow flowers, like sunflower, dandelion, buttercup, and so on; these can be compared with the homeopathic diagnosis.
So, why did the statement "homeopathy treats the patient not the disease" arise? I think it is from the realization that regular diagnoses are not the diseases, and consequently, that is not what we are treating in homeopathy. This statement, nevertheless, is confusing because we are definitely not treating the patient, the person; we are only treating his/her problem, not him/herself.
These considerations have led me not to use the above statement. It is confusing and even wrong, leading to unnecessary criticism. It is much clearer to state that in homeopathy disease is seen as something different than in conventional medicine, and I have noticed that the comparison with plant identification is often very clarifying.

Categories: Columns
Keywords: homeopathy, patient, disease
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