ABSTRACT : Lifestyle is one’s way of living. Health requires the promotion of a healthy lifestyle. Poor lifestyle choices give rise to a cluster of diseases known as lifestyle diseases. Lifestyle diseases have been acknowledged to be common in the developed countries, and lately, India has fallen a prey. Homoeopathy is one of the most often sought-after treatments among the other alternative therapeutic methods. It is commonly used as curative, and in some incurable cases, even palliative. It is a cost-effective, hassle-free, gentle healing art that improves the quality of life and thus increases the survival period.
The study aimed to throw light on the gentle art of healing and its contribution in serving humanity.
ABBREVIATIONS: non-communicable diseases (NCDs), lifestyle diseases (LSDs), World Health Organization (WHO), Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), disability adjusted life years (DALY), ischaemic heart disease (IHD), chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), complementary and alternative medicines(CAM)
India is perceiving a rapid health upheaval with an emerging non-communicable diseases (NCDs) burden causing substantial morbidity and mortality in both urban and rural populations with considerable debt in potentially productive years(35-64 years of age) of existence(1). Lifestyle diseases (LSDs) may be chronic diseases of long term and gradual development or they may culminate in rapid death. Lifestyle diseases are preferably referred to as ‘non-communicable diseases’ or ‘civilisation diseases’ symbolised as those diseases whose incidence is based on people’s everyday habits and the consequence of people’s improper relation with their environment. It is a non-infectious and non-transmissible medical condition or disease but is likely to progress continuously. Despite recent progress in coping with acute illness, chronic disease’s practically epidemic proportions have left citizens desperate to opt for alternative therapies.
It was Hippocrates who first related disease to the environment. Centuries later, Pettenkofer gave the multifactorial concept of diseases. As the human organism is holographic, no level is entirely independent. It is only the field of homoeopathy that takes this holistic approach into account. Homoeopathy is one of the most common alternative medical systems. It is an authoritative approach that can support lifestyle problems and play a key role in postponing and controlling the development of associated disabilities. It can raise peoples’ level of efficiency, innovation and serenity by eliminating vulnerability to upsetting influences.
DISABILITIES RELATED TO LIFESTYLE DISORDERS
Globally, between the ages of 30-69, 14.2 million people die prematurely each year from diseases such as heart attack, diabetes and high blood pressure(2). Some of these diseases have been lethal in contrast to inherited or infectious diseases. “Lifestyle diseases” are an epidemic and “trigger a much greater threat to public health than any other epidemic,” said Shanthi Mendis, lead author of the WHO’s chronic diseases prevention and management report. In 2012, NCDs killed 38 million people, 16 million of whom were under the age of 70(3).
The impact of chronic diseases on people’s lives is severe when measured in terms of loss of life, disability, family misfortune, poverty and economic loss to the country. According to report published in 2017 by ICMR (Indian Council of Medical Research): 3 of the 5 prominent individual causes of disease burden in India were NCDs, with ischaemic heart disease and chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases as the top two causes and stroke as the fifth leading cause. In 2016, the spectrum of disease burden or disability adjusted life years (DALY) rates among the state was 9 times for IHD; 4 times for COPD; 6 times for stroke and 4 times for diabetes across India. Of the total deaths from major disease groups, 62% were caused by NCDs(4).
Diet and lifestyle are the primary factors which have been found to affect the susceptibility to many diseases. The major contributing factors to lifestyle diseases include poor eating patterns, physical inactivity, wrong body posture, disturbed biological clock, addictions such as drug abuse, tobacco, smoking and boozing, exposure to industrial pollutants, and environmental toxins. In the modern age, among the risk factors “stress” has gained alarming popularity as the cause and trigger of various diseases.
- Common lifestyle diseases
The four main types of lifestyle diseases are(5):
- CARDIOVASCULAR DISEASES (CVD)
- CHRONIC RESPIRATORY DISEASES
The other lifestyle diseases include hypertension, obesity, osteoporosis, alzheimer’s disease, arthritis, artherosclerosis, chronic liver disease or cirrhosis of liver, visual impairment and blindness, accidents and injuries, and so on. These diseases can be prevented and shortened by changes in food, lifestyle and climate. This is motivating in such a way that if a person takes a step towards improving his/her lifestyle, the disease burden can be significantly reduced. But one needs to be vigilant as it needs to be tested before it’s too late.
SCOPE OF HOMOEOPATHY
- Why an alternative system of medicine?
The chronic diseases arising from lifestyle disorder imposes a great burden on humankind both in terms of health and wealth. These big fat costly diseases that one falls prey to, demand regular treatment, expense, and in some cases without much relief. These inroads on human health by modern medicines allure sick humanity towards a more gentle and inexpensive system. Their quest for relief ends them in an alternative system of medicine. The AYUSH system of medicines, especially in rural areas, is well accepted by the community because they are comparatively secure, efficient and readily available. For instance, individuals with diabetes are 1.6 times more likely to use complementary and alternative medicines (CAM) like homoeopathy than those without diabetes(6-7). This ignites a ray of hope and scope for the homoeopathic physicians.
- Principles and dynamics of homoeopathy
The homoeopathic system is a scientific discipline founded on rules, concepts and techniques that are sound and verifiable. However, in its application to the individual patient, it is also an art. Homoeopathic medicines, on the other hand deal indirectly with the chemistry and structure of the physical body by dealing with substance and energies at the next and more subtle levels. Like every other science, Homoeopathy is also guided by its philosophy and fundamental principles of therapeutics. It is a system of medicine founded on a definite law “similia similibus curantur” which means “like cures like”. Homoeopathy may be defined as the therapeutic method of symptom similarity wherein the medicines selected can produce the most similar symptoms of the disease to be cured in healthy persons. Dr Hahnemann systematised this law by doing “provings” or systemic recordings of symptoms produced by substance on healthy human beings.
“Homoeopathy treats the patient not the disease” is a commonly used epigram in homoeopathy. It adopts the holistic concept of disease whereby the disease is not considered something different from the whole life force. Hence, by sick, Dr Hahnemann meant sicknesses of the whole body and not merely an organ or a part of the body. The human being is more than the mere sum of its physical components, a fact most dramatically evident at the moment of conception and death. From this is surmised the presence of an “intelligent vital force” which animates, guides and balances the organism on all levels in both health and disease. Hence, the internal derangement of vital force which manifests as disease appealing through signs and symptoms is the sole object of treatment. A potentised substance selected according to the law of similars, is then prescribed to reinforce the dynamic level. The precise approach to each patient is, therefore, highly individualised.
- What has homoeopathy to offer in such a crisis?
Dr Hahnemann mentioned in his momentous work “Organon of Medicine”(8) in aphorism 4, “he is likewise a preserver of health if he knows the things that derange health and cause disease, and how to remove them from persons in health”. Further in aphorism 6, he stated that lifestyle is one of the factors of accessory circumstances that should be considered to remove the maintaining cause of the disease.
With regards to homoeopathy, he asserted in the footnote of aphorism 109 “It is impossible that there can be another true, best method of curing dynamic diseases (i.e., all diseases not strictly surgical) besides homoeopathy, just as it is impossible to draw more than one straight line betwixt two given points”. Following “modus operandi” homoeopathy has time and again proved itself with some of its miraculous cure which could not be affected otherwise. From soothing the suffering of the patients to permanent restoration of health, homoeopathy has been efficacious. This has been illustrated in various works of Dr. Hahnemann and also other eminent stalwarts.
Let us consider some clinical cases given by Dr J. Compton Burnett(9), a renowned converted homoeopath, showing the efficacy of homoeopathy concerning the major lifestyle diseases.
- A gentleman of middle age, resident in London was considered in a dying state. He received various allopathic treatments, but his disease Aneurysm of the aorta got worse. After proper case taking, the principal remedies were Aurum metallicum, Chelidonium majus, Carduus marianus, Ceanothus americanus, Glandium quercus, Aconitum napellus, Ferrum metallicum, Cactus grandiflorus, and Baryta muriaticum; the first-named and the four last being directly specifically curative. Dr Compton mentioned, “my knowledge of the use of Barium is due to Dr Flint, and this is not the first or second time that Homoeopathy has cured aneurysm”. Hence, after Barium, the patient was healthy and leading a happy life.
- Another case mentioned by Dr. Compton was of a lady in Belgravia with Angina pectoris. Unwanted domestic drudgery, loss of loved ones, fright, loss of fortune, had led to it. Apart from the anginal attacks, there was a chronic, constant pain across the precordia, running away under the left breast. For years blisters had been applied at intervals with temporary relief, till they could no longer be borne. The patient was quite depressed, sulky, and morose; menses suppressed. Aurum metallicum, 3 trituration, 6 grains every four hours cured the constant pain in a week, and the anginal attacks had not occurred so far and the patient smiles now and is bright. The menses, however, had not appeared and for this, she remained under his treatment.
- A case of an asthmatic gentleman of 50 years of age, with moderate emphysema of the lungs. At first, he was almost always short of breath on exertion and had bad nocturnal attacks of dyspnoea and cough. After a prolonged course of constitutional treatment, he was only partially cured which led Dr Compton to finally prescribe one drop powder of Aralia racemosa 3x which cured the case permanently. Dr Compton, through his various successful cases of chronic cough, confidently recommends Aralia racemosa for nocturnal cough that occurs either immediately on lying down or in first fore-midnightly sleep.
- A case of cancer of the left breast in a middle-aged woman with a deep crack in the angle of her mouth on the left side with thick indurated edges, probably of an epitheliomatous nature. Dr Compton prescribed a homoeopathic preparation of Condurango for about three years, with gradual, slow amelioration and eventually perfect cure.
The cases entirely convince, and even in the searching light of fifty year’s further enquiry, these homoeopathic treatment sparkle with truth. Thus, one can get an idea of the broad spectrum of scope that the homoeopathic system of medicine has to offer mankind even in the most challenging cases.
Human society has changed much over the last centuries and this process of ‘modernisation’ has profoundly affected individuals’ lives. Nevertheless, this condition can be managed effectively by homoeopathy. In addition to curing chronic diseases, homoeopathy stimulates the defense mechanism and balances the constitution of the patient. As more and more people are successfully treated, there would be less need for artificial drugs which are used for transient relief from suffering. However, in order to demonstrate the effectiveness of homoeopathy in these non-communicable diseases, which is the need of the hour, more evidence needs to be produced.
1. Park K., Textbook of Preventive and Social Medicine, 25th edition; 2019, M/s BanarsidasBhanot Publishers, Pune, 362.
2. Park K., Textbook of Preventive and Social Medicine, 25th edition; 2019, M/s BanarsidasBhanot Publishers, Pune, 364.
3. Jain N. Homoeopathy- an option to Lifestyle Disorders, 2015. Available from: https://www.homeobook.com/homeopathy-an-option-to-lifestyle-disorders/[accessed 10th September 2020].
4. India: Health of the Nation’s States 2017 Published by ICMR. Retrieved: Jan 2020.
5. State planning commission, Management of Lifestyle diseases through AYUSH, 2014. Available from: http://www.spc.tn.gov.in/spc_reports/Ayush.pdf[accessed 10th September 2020].
6. Egede LE, Ye X, Zheng D, Silverstein MD. The prevalence and pattern of complementary and alternative medicine use in individuals with diabetes.
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7. Mehrotra R, Bajaj S, Kumar D. Use of complementary and alternative medicine by patients with diabetes mellitus. Natl Med J India. 2004;17(5):243-5.
8. Hahnemann S., Organon of Medicine, 5th& 6th edition; 2009, B. Jain Publishers Pvt. Ltd., New Delhi, 31,32,81.
9. Burnett J.C., 50 Reasons for being a Homoeopath, 6th edition; 2018, B. Jain Publishers Pvt. Ltd., New Delhi, 15,33,34,35,36,68.
Dr Sabiha Naaz, PGT,
Deptt of Practice of Medicine,
RBTS Govt. Homoeopathic Medical College & Hospital,