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A Brief History of Homeopathy in Egypt

The history of homeopathy begins with the history of medicine in the ancient world. One of the earliest records of the homeopathic principle is in the Ebers papyrus, which describes Isis using scorpion venom to cure patients exhibiting similar symptom pictures to those caused by scorpion bites. Ancient alchemical texts say that the principle of “Like cures Like” was first codified and used in Ancient Egyptian medical practice and then mentioned again in Paracelsus’ texts in the Middle Ages.

The systematic application of homeopathy in medicine by its founder Samuel Hahnemann, and the subsequent rapid spread of this system of treatment in Europe, probably precipitated the first homeopath, Dr Benoit Mure, to come to Egypt in 1851 with the British colonial regime. The 1931 Directory of Homeopaths in the UK listed two practitioners under Cairo. However, as opposed to India, where homeopathy flourished and has become integrated into national medicine, the latter half of the twentieth century showed no dramatic rise in the use of homeopathy in Egypt. There may have been a few prescribers, but these were mainly Europeans already familiar with homeopathy looking for a safe healing modality for their families and friends.

In the early 1990s things started to change. Cassandra Marks, a British homeopath, arrived in Cairo with osteopath Sylvie Imbert. They came into contact with Dr Hoda Zikry, a doctor practising at a hospital in Heliopolis. Hoda was so impressed with what she saw, that she started to study under the tutelage of Cassandra Marks and was beginning to apply what she learned on her patients.

A year or so later, having founded H2RC2, I started a correspondence course with the School of Homeopathy in Devon, run by Misha Norland. I quickly realized that this was not the most effective method for studying a healing science and Divine Providence, in the shape of Dr. Hassan Abbas Zaki, former minister of economics and long time pioneer in promoting alternative healing methods, and Carol Boyce, who ran a homeopathic charity with the express purpose of spreading homeopathy in developing countries, intervened. An agreement was made with the homeopathic charity Homeopathy for Change, whereby it would send out qualified homeopaths at regular two month intervals for about 10 days to train interested persons.

Upon the suggestion of Dr. Hassan Abbas Zaki, classes were held at the Imhotep Society and about 25 people attended these sessions regularly for about three years. A star studded roster of homeopaths visited Egypt and the great variety of methods of practice laid the seeds for a pluralistic and non dogmatic approach to the study and practice of homeopathy. These homeopaths, who we would like to thank once again for offering their generous time in helping establish homeopathy in Egypt, are (in chronological order of appearance!) : Carol Boyce, Ian Watson, Robin Murphy (N.D.), Margaret Roy, Dorothy Wallstein, Linda Shannon, Michael Thompson, Dr. Gabriela Rieberer, Cassandra Marks, Dr. Subramata Banerjea.

I am currently director of H2RC2, and have received diplomas from Robin Murphy (C. Hom.) and the London International College of Homeopathy founded by Peter Chappell (International Certificate of Homeopathy). I’m running a second three year training course (started 2006) in cooperation with the Lakeland College of Homeopathy in the UK, and hope to graduate another group of enthusiastic homeopaths.

I have worked as a holistic health consultant at the Ghaly Medical Center in Maadi, Cairo, and lectured on homeopathy to interested medical professionals and lay people in Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia.

Pharmacology professor Dr. Mahmoud Saeed has been instrumental in gaining Ministry of Higher Education approval for a postgraduate CAM (Complementary and Alternative Medicine) department in Tanta University’s Faculty of Medicine, Dept. of Pharmacology. The unit’s core disciplines will be homeopathy and traditional Arabic and Western herbalism, but there will also be extensive research into the safety and efficacy of CAM in Egypt.

Dr. Saeed was the first President of the newly established NGO, the Egyptian Scientific Society of Homeopathy, whose avowed aim is to promote an increased awareness of this modality of healing and generate sufficient momentum for homeopathic remedies to be made available to the general public in pharmacies throughout Egypt, as they are in almost all of Europe as OTC (over the counter, non-prescription) remedies. In addition, it hopes to promote the increased use of homeopathy by the medical profession as well as lay practitioners, by ensuring practitioners are adequately trained according to international standards, thereby also preventing the misrepresentation of this healing science by poorly or inadequately trained enthusiasts. With about 80 homeopaths to date trained to European standards, the Egyptian homeopathic community is now the largest in the Arab world.

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