G’nY. In the developed part of the world, homeopathy is not part of the mainstream health plan. In India, however it is. Do you think that the efficacy of homeopathic treatments is undermined in the health care trajectories of the developed nations?
It is not only homoeopathy treatment, all complementary and alternative treatment options are not accepted as a part of mainstream health care in several developed nations globally. In India, homoeopathy as well as other traditional systems of medicine are accepted and made available by the Indian government at many health centres through co-location within an allopathic set-up, like dispensaries and hospitals. India has been cited as an ideal example by health care delivery professionals and policy makers of developed nations for its health model—‘cafeteria approach’ for offering treatment choices to its people. Recently, health care users in many developed countries have urged their governments to offer alternative health care modalities. A campaign ‘your health, your choice’ was launched in 2019 by the people of Australia to demand an enabling environment regarding treatment plans in their health delivery system.
G’nY. Does India have any robust research methodology for documenting the efficacy of homeopathic treatment? Please provide a peer reviewed research status of Indian papers in global publications.
Yes, most Indian researches in homoeopathy follow robust, internationally accepted research designs. Central Council for Research in Homoeopathy (CCRH) is leading by example in conducting contemporary research in homoeopathy as per the scientific guidelines issued by Good Clinical Research Practices of the World Health Organisation (WHO). It has expert committees that vet the protocols developed by the Council’s scientists. Special committees have been set up for various kinds of research such as Clinical Research, Fundamental Research, Drug Standardisation and Drug Proving. Besides, CCRH also has an Ethical Committee and Scientific Advisory Board for overseeing all research projects. The policies, directions and overall guidance for the activities of the Council are regulated by a governing body.
Also, several clinical and fundamental research has been published in international peer-reviewed journals from India, ranging from autoimmune thyroiditis, multi drug resistant pulmonary tuberculosis, diabetic distal symmetric polyneuropathy, acute otitis media, chronic sinusitis, diabetic foot ulcer, gastroenteritis, acute diarrheal diseases in children, HIV infection, kidney stones, to behavioural disorders, alcohol addiction, rhino-sinusitis and acute trachea-bronchitis.
G’nY. What is the infrastructure for homoeopathy in India like? What are the institutes involved with homeopathic research in India?
Till date, 673 ayurveda, yoga and naturopathy, unani, siddha, sowa rigpa and homoeopathy (AYUSH) wellness centres are being run in India by the central government, while another 25,000 AYUSH dispensaries are being run by various state governments. Out of these 7856 dispensaries are of homoeopathy alone. Further, there are 544 AYUSH medical colleges, of which 195 are for homeopathy. The annual student intake in these colleges is around 14,000. In fact 37 per cent of the total number of AYUSH practitioners are of homoeopathy, which amounts to about 0.3 million homeopathic doctors.
CCRH alone has 26 research institutes/ units across the nation. These units conduct research on diseases that are more commonly prevalent in their respective regions. Further, CCRH ties up with many science or research institutes for multidisciplinary research—Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Mumbai, IIT Delhi, Bose Institute-Kolkata, All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) Delhi, Indian Council of Medical Research-Delhi, Delhi State Cancer Institute, Janakpuri, Super Speciality Hospital-Delhi, BRD Medical College and King George’s Medical University-Lucknow, JIMS Institute and Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB)-Hyderabad are some of our prominent collaborators for joint research projects.
Besides, there are private organisations and independent researchers too, many of whom seek grants from the government for conducting their studies under the Ministry of AYUSH’s Extramural Research Scheme.
G’nY. Do all homoeopathy practitioners follow a similar treatment protocol and are there any referral systems in place for homeopathic treatment?
All homoeopathic practitioners follow common principles for homoeopathic treatment. However, their protocol can be slightly different from one another. To some extent, since homoeopathy is based on individualised treatment, which, in turn, is based on how the physician perceives you and your ailments, some degree of variation in prescriptions and methods are expected. However, largely, the treatment protocol can be the same. To bring in more uniformity in practice methods of homoeopathic physicians, the Council has developed Standard Treatment Guidelines, a two-volume publication that has laid out a standard approach of a practitioner to various diseases that are reported to a homoeopathy clinic and the most recommended or used medicines in those diseases are based on various study outcomes and experts’ opinions.
G’nY. What are your views regarding classical vs modern streams of homeopathic treatment?
As long as a homoeopathic treatment is aimed at treating the individual having the disease, and not merely the disease, it is all good. ‘Individualisation’ is the basic principle of homoeopathy. Classical method, as per the tenets of this gentle science is typically the way homoeopathy should be practiced. However, ‘modern stream of homoeopathic treatment’ can be interpreted in various ways. Using computer software for recording a patient’s symptoms and analysing his or her case may be modern, but could still be done for a classical prescription. On the other hand, there could be a doctor giving two or three medicines together for a multi-morbid patient.
G’nY. What do you think the future looks like for homeopathic treatment in India?
With separate Ministry of AYUSH, the future is definitely brighter. India is a frontrunner in homoeopathy, be it infrastructure, research, number of practitioners, pharmaceutical firms, or even number of patients who use homoeopathy. In fact, many eminent practitioners and researchers from other countries turn to India for joint research and clinical programmes. India is also doing hand holding for its border countries who want to adopt our homoeopathy academic curriculum, treatment integration model, or learn through our conferences. But there is a huge responsibility. There is a need to add rigour in every aspect of homoeopathy—quality of education, infrastructure, research and even drug production.