Homeopathy Papers

Homoeopathy in Colombia, South America

The author, Felipe Cardenas Tamara1, writes about the history and current status of homeopathy in Colombia and the difficulties homeopaths there had and have to face.


I want to highlight in this article, in relation to the rich history of homeopathy in Colombia, the following arguments: i) The problem of recognition of homeopathy has to do with a conflict of institutions, which has to be understood from a sociological perspective ii) The conflict about recognition of practitioners, what I call pure homeopaths, by society and the State, has anthropological roots that relate to healing potentials of individuals and societies.
The extinction of homeopathic practitioners, desired by many, has not occurred yet, because of their tenacity and creative efforts to spread their knowledge, and also because homeopathy is an open code science accessible to scholars, wise men and women, who work to deepen the knowledge of homeopathy. This essay will combine historical facts from the beginning and relate those facts to contemporary issues in homeopathy in Colombia. An indispensable text about the history of homeopathy in Colombia is the research done by María del Pilar Guzmán Urrea and called: “”La alopatía y la homeopatía en el siglo XIX: conflicto entre dos prácticas médicas” (Allopathy and Homeopathy in the XIX century: conflict between two medical practices).2

Geographical context
Colombia is located in Northern South America, bordering the Caribbean Sea, between Panama and Venezuela, and bordering the North Pacific Ocean, between Ecuador and Panama, in the timezone GMT -5. The country has boundaries of 6,004 – Brazil 1,643, Ecuador 590, Panama 225, Peru 1,496 (est.), Venezuela 2,050 (km), and a coastline of 3,208 (North Pacific 1,448 km, Caribbean Sea 1,760 km) (km). The presence of Colombia in the Caribbean Sea, through its ownership of San Andrés Island and Providence Island, amplifies its boundaries with Nicaragua, Costa Rica, República Dominicana, Haití, Honduras and Jamaica. The major urban areas are: Bogota (capital city of the country), Barranquilla, Cali, and Medellin. Colombia is the second richest country in the world in biodiversity. From a homeopathic perspective there has been almost no research done in terms of exploring the medicinal potential of the territory and its relation to the rich vernacular knowledge systems found among peasant societies and the more than 85 aboriginal groups that exist in the country. The country is considered to have around 10% of all worlds biodiversity. This biodiversity results from Colombia’s varied ecosystems—from the rich tropical rainforest, the Andean region, to the coastal cloud forests, to the open savannas in the Orinoco and to ecosystems found in the Amazon basin. More than 1,821 species of birds, 623 species of amphibians, 467 species of mammals, 518 species of reptiles, and 3,200 species of fish reside in Colombia. About 18 percent of these are endemic to the country. Colombia has a mind-boggling 51,220 species of plants, of which nearly 30 percent are endemic. While on paper nearly 10 percent of Colombia is under some form of protection, its rich biodiversity is increasingly threatened by deforestation, livestock production and urbanization. Today, most of the population (70%) is living in the major cities and in the Andean region. Around 65 % of the country is located in the Amazon and Orinoco basin with a very low population density in those regions.

Homoeopathy in Colombia

Colombia is located in Northern South America, bordering the Caribbean Sea, between Panama and Venezuela, and bordering the North Pacific Ocean, between Ecuador and Panama, in the timezone GMT -5. The country has boundaries of 6,004 – Brazil 1,643, Ecuador 590, Panama 225, Peru 1,496 (est.), Venezuela 2,050 (km), and a coastline of 3,208 (North Pacific 1,448 km, Caribbean Sea 1,760 km) (km). The presence of Colombia in the Caribbean Sea, through its ownership of San Andrés Island and Providence Island, amplifies its boundaries with Nicaragua, Costa Rica, República Dominicana, Haití, Honduras and Jamaica. The major urban areas are: Bogota (capital city of the country), Barranquilla, Cali, and Medellin. Colombia is the second richest country in the world in biodiversity. From a homeopathic perspective there has been almost no research done in terms of exploring the medicinal potential of the territory and its relation to the rich vernacular knowledge systems found among peasant societies and the more than 85 aboriginal groups that exist in the country. The country is considered to have around 10% of all worlds biodiversity. This biodiversity results from Colombia’s varied ecosystems—from the rich tropical rainforest, the Andean region, to the coastal cloud forests, to the open savannas in the Orinoco and to ecosystems found in the Amazon basin. More than 1,821 species of birds, 623 species of amphibians, 467 species of mammals, 518 species of reptiles, and 3,200 species of fish reside in Colombia. About 18 percent of these are endemic to the country. Colombia has a mind-boggling 51,220 species of plants, of which nearly 30 percent are endemic. While on paper nearly 10 percent of Colombia is under some form of protection, its rich biodiversity is increasingly threatened by deforestation, livestock production and urbanization. Today, most of the population (70%) is living in the major cities and in the Andean region. Around 65 % of the country is located in the Amazon and Orinoco basin with a very low population density in those regions.

In Colombia there is a long tradition of practitioners and Medical Doctors who have practiced homeopathy, but as it happens in most of the world, homeopathy has always been in a subordinate condition in comparison to the dominant biomedical model. According to Fabian González Arias, Homeopathy arrived at our country around 1825 and 1830 (1998). Some few doctors started to practice in those early years, but most of the medical community was hostile to the new medical doctrine. As in many countries, homeopathy in Colombia has lived through hard times and many struggles. It was introduced by the doctors Juan Pardo and José Arrubla whom began to bring the first books and materials to the country. In those early days few libraries existed. Probably the coastal cities of Barranquilla, Cartagena and Santa Marta, in the Caribbean Sea, were visited by homeopaths of other countries, but there has not been any research to confirm that assertion. Consequently the history of homeopathy in Colombia is basically expressed in the records found at the capital city of Bogotá in the Andean region of the country.
Doctor Arrubla gave some homeopathic books as a gift to Doctor José Felix Merizalde, who in turn gave them to Doctor Vicente Sanmiguel, who had lost his child in an epidemic. Doctor Sanmiguel started reading the Hahnemann’s Organon of Medicine. He was exceptionally impressed by the ideas of Hahnemann and decided to close his allopathic pharmacy and abandon the practice of allopathy. It seems that he was the first Colombian practioner of homeopathy. Doctor’s Sanmiguel son, an apothecary, who was called José Peregrino Sanmiguel, was introduced by his father to the principles of homeopathy. In the beginning he was especially skeptical. His father challenged him to make a proving of a substance known only by him. His son carried out the proving and felt the effects on his mind and body. The substance came to be Colocynthis. Both father and son became ardent homeopaths and together with Hipolito Villamil started to motivate other doctors of the period in the principles and practice of homeopathy.
By around 1837, with the help of 30 practitioners, they decided to organize the first teaching center called Homeopathic Institute Of The United States Of Colombia, April 10, 1837. The first acting president was Doctor Luis Hernando Alvarez. By 1840, the first journal, called La Homeopatía, began to be published. The European doctors Roberto Bunch and David Castillo gave support by bringing to Colombia books and other documents. A Cuban doctor, Salvador Riera helped disseminate homeopathy in small towns near the capital city, Bogotá, and in some northern provinces. A homeopathic hospital was founded at the town of Socorro, Santander around 1860`s. There was also a homeopathic hospital at Chiquinquira, Boyacá. Many priests by the end of the XIX century practiced homeopathy and were members of the Instituto Homeopático de Colombia. This Institute was the first scientific society and was the entity in charge of the publication and the training of homeopaths and medical doctors up to 1980. Unfortunately, unsteady management by its last director in 1980’s ended with the unclear image of a serious institution. All the journals, documentation, certificates that belong to the origins of homeopathy in Colombia were lost or stolen. It is very difficult to find the complete numbers of the journal La Homeopatía. Not even the National Library of Colombia has a complete series of the almost 143 published volumes. For almost all of the XIX and XX century, the Instituto Homeopático de Colombia was the main entity for the training of homeopaths, both medical doctors and practitioners3.
The presence of practitioners has been important in the history of homeopathy up to the present.4 In many isolated regions and even in the most important cities, many practitioners were recognized by the State and gained their training at the Instituto Homeopático de Colombia. For many of them, living on remote places, their education was carried out through correspondence. Because of the difficult sanitary conditions in a tropical country like Colombia, many doctors understood the importance of practitioners. Others were hostile and ridiculed them by calling them teguas, which was a word used to refer to the person acting as a homeopath. When people in the city of Bogotá, went to a homeopath and their friends or relatives knew who was treating them, people would say : “You are being treated by a tegua, “el que aguitas te da”?(the one that gives you water). Tegua, was the diminutive expression and linguistic turn of water (agua). Over the years it came to express a deceiver. Some MD’s refer to homeopaths as Teguas, forgetting that everyone who is a homeopath is a Tegua, because from a classic chemistry knowledge, which we all know is insufficient to explain homeopathic remedies, really we all are working with water (teguas). In any case, the presence of practitioners has been active and significant throughout the history of homeopathy in Colombia.?By the year 1865, the Institute of Homeopathy of Colombia had five persons performing as teachers: José Peregrino Sanmiguel, Salvador María Alvarez, Saturnino del Castillo, Marcelino Lievano and Ignacio Pereira. Other doctors participated as honorary members of the Institute of Homeopathy.?During the nineteenth century, homeopathy was considered a very precious art and science by some of the most recognized members of the Colombian society. General José Hilario López (Popayán, february 18 of 1798 – Campoalegre, Huila, November 27 of 1869), serviceman, Colombian politician and president of the country (1849-1853) was one of the presidents of the Colombian Institute of Homeopathy (1866). This president was the one that promulgated Law 15 of May 1850, which declared, under a liberal radical philosophy, freedom of education and removed the requisite of a professional title. As a result, the freedom of education opened a great space for the practice of homeopathy, gaining social recognition. A couple of decades later, Rafael Pombo, a prestigious poet from the aristocracy wrote a couple of poems honoring homeopathy. Another prominent person in the history of Colombia and president of the country, Rafael Nuñez, was a member of the Institute of Homeopathy and a great promoter of homeopathy. After 1860-1870 the golden age of homeopathy, or at least its opportunity to gain institutionalization was over. From then on, the evolution of the allopathic Faculties of Medicine would work to label homeopathy as a fraud. In that difficult situation, some homeopaths had relevant positions attending leprosy. That was the case of the practitioner and patient of leprosy named Luis Carlos Pradilla, who practiced homeopathy as a patient of leprosy in the lazaretto, located at the town of Agua de Dios (Water of God) in the state of Cundinamarca around 18005. This homeopath, who was a nephew of the medical doctor Ricardo de la Parra, published with other patients, between 1879 and 1880, a newspaper initially called Hope, but later the name was changed to The Voice of the Banned. The newspaper published local news, poetry and articles written by the people from the lazaretto, along with issues that contained religious, moral and philosophical topics6. The authors recommended the catholic virtues of humility and resignation; and suggested reading and cultivating the spirit in order to overcome adversity. There is no information about the remedies used by this practitioner to treat leprosy. (For the testimony of a contemporary homeopathic patient being treated for flu see: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=10DO8BQXdkA)
The Institute of Homeopathy of Colombia was very close in ties and relations with European scientific societies and institutions. The directors of the Institute traveled and participated in world and international congresses. The first homeopathy courses taught in Colombia were copied from the Hahnemanian School of Chicago. The subjects were: General Anatomy, Physiology, Botany, Pharmacology, Practical and pathological anatomy, materia medica, therapeutics, theoretical surgery, legal medicine, clinics, psychology, obstetrics, chemistry and toxicology (1866).
Until 1864 the Institute had few members. Many of the new homeopaths migrated to other countries. That was the case of Doctor José Peregrino Sanmiguel who was the first to take the seeds of homeopathy to the country of Ecuador. On June 8 of 1865, the Institute was reorganized as Homeopathic Institute Of Colombia. The statutes were decided at a work session on the seventh of October, 1865. On that same day the journal “Homeopathy” was born. For almost 132 years this journal was published (143 issues). The last issue was published in January 1998 with a complete compilation of the laws written for homeopathy by the legislative branch of Colombia during the twentieth century.?In 1867, the National University of Colombia was established and a professorship of homeopathy was created. During its history, without a continuous line, homeopathy has occupied some space at that campus. It has been, on some occasions, the institution that has regulated the exercise of practitioners, giving them the opportunity to legalize their informal status. Today, the main goal of the allopathic doctors who oversee homeopathy at that university campus, is to exclude any practitioner from the exercise of homeopathy on a legal basis; they do not care or take into account experience or knowledge, but are aware that homeopaths like Doctor Gonzalo Moncada knows more about homeopathy than all teachers of homeopathy at that university campus. I have personally known practitioners that a couple of decades ago were legalized in their status by assisting training programs at the National University of Colombia. Today the environment at the Faculty of Medicine is hostile to practitioners. Their purpose is to monopolize all alternative medicine in their hands, going against the spirit of the Constitution of Colombia. On the contrary, private universities like Universidad del Rosario have been implementing non-formal training programs called ‘Diplomados’, this type of program does not require permission from the National State. The program from Universidad del Rosario is called Diplomat in Alternative Medicines: Magnetotherapy, Homeopathy, Flower essences, Neural therapy and acupuncture. This program is a step forward if we consider testimonies by practicing homeopaths, that during the 1960’s, some deans of the medical school at the Universidad del Rosario promoted lynching practitioners of homeopathy who lived near Candelaria, just beside the University campus at the capital city of Bogotá. Some homeopaths back then worked as tailors and in the back of their tailor shops they worked as pure homeopaths.
In the year 1869, the sovereign state of Cundinamarca through a law, assigned to the Homeopathic Institute Of Colombia, space for establishing a homeopathic hospital. The idea was to treat the patients who were declared incurable by allopaths. The hospital was never established because of economic problems. The anterior law was derogated by a law of November 3 of 1870. Homeopathy was practised by many priests. The founder of the first Colombian Religious Congregation called Dominicas de Santa Catalina de Siena, was a Dominican priest, Saturnino Gutiérrez (1835-1911) who gained his homeopathic training from the Colombian Institute of Homeopathy.

Father Saturnino Gutiérrez O.P

Father Saturnino Gutiérrez O.P

The medical philosophy of both friar Buenaventura García O.P and friar Saturnino O.P was based on homeopathy. They were introduced to homeopathy by Doctor José Félix de Merizalde, who was in charge of medicine at the University of Saint Thomas. It seems that Doctor Merizalde, introduced as part of his classes, the Organon of Medicine. Between 1870 and 1880, the comprehension of the realm of homeopathic philosophy by friar Buenaventura, allowed him to receive the title of Doctor by the Instituto Homeopático de Colombia. The homeopathic ‘principles’ served as well in the mission of friar Saturnino. Homeopathy help to explain his key concepts about the importance of the intersubjetive experience. The Dominican Order was probably the most important religious order in Colombia since colonial times. Their clergy were very active in the Departments of Cundinamarca and Boyacá, land of the prehispanic Muiscas, the most advanced indigenous community at the arrival of Spaniards to the Andean region in Colombia.
In 1869 there were 32 homeopaths, three journals (La Homeopatía, La Sociedad Hahnemaniana in Bogotá, El Correo in the Department of Bolivar) and five pharmacies in the capital city, which required a seal from the Instituto Homeopático de Colombia on the bottles of the remedies they sold. In 1870, the number of registered Medical Doctors for Colombia was of 675 for a population of 2.9 million inhabitants; which means two doctors for every 10.000 inhabitants. As a matter of fact, most of the population was being attended by the vernacular medical systems and by many practitioners of medicine and homeopathy.?By 1892, the Homeopathic Institute of Colombia had 497 medical graduates in homeopathy; many of them living in different regions of Colombia. In the twentieth century, another important homeopathic institute was founded by a practitioner who was trained at the Homeopathic Institute Of Homeopathy: This new Institution was called Fundación Instituto Homeopático de Colombia Luis G. Paez. The founder was a philanthropist who donated his entire fortune to the Institute. One of the donated lands was stolen by the executor of the Foundation around 1920, after the death of Doctor Paez. These lands are known today as the neighborhood of Meissen, birthplace of the master Hahnemann in Germany. The neighborhood of Meissen, symbolizes the efforts of homeopathy to gain recognition in Colombia; today none of the neighbors know the origin and relation of the name of their district with homeopathy. The neighborhood is a popular urbanized area located at the southern part of the city of Bogotá. This foundation is a very serious institution and has been doing rigorous provings in the last decade (C.XX). It is controlled only by MD’s and has no recognition from the Colombian State. As a result everyone in Colombia, practitioners and MD´s in a way are practicing homeopathy illegally. This institute goes to a postgraduate level only for MDs and veterinary doctors. There is no undergraduate program in Colombia in the present.

It is important to note that a recent law written under the government of President Álvaro Uribe Vélez, (law 1164 of 2007) recognizes the legal basis of the following alternative medicines: a)Traditional Chinese Medicine; b) Ayurvedic Medicine; c) Naturopathic Medicine, and d) Homeopathic Medicine. Theoretically all of these schools of medicine can be developed at a undergraduate level. Until now there has been no proposal by any university to open academic programs to an undergraduate level. As I have already mentioned, the tendency is to mix the different approaches of alternative medicine in short courses, with no depth and real understanding of similarities and differences among the so-called alternative medicines. As it happens in the world, alternatives medicines are viewed, used and marketed to patients and medical staff as quick healing practices.
Up to 1960, many eminent botanists and homeopaths travelled to our country to visit the Institute of Homeopathy and meet its members. Some Colombian homeopaths were active researchers and writers. For example, Doctor Ignacio Pereira, since 1855 understood the presence of leprosy, tuberculosis and syphilis as diseases related to parasites or microbes. He published his results fifteen years before Louis Pasteur. Living in third world country meant that his work never had the recognition that medicine bestowed on Pasteur, who lived in a first world country.7
Over the years, some pure experimentation or provings had been carried out by different persons without a rigorous scientific design, or even correct botanical taxonomy. Unlike Mexico, we have never published a Colombian Materia Medica. Below is the list of some of the provings done by homeopaths. The common and scientific name is given. In most of the cases, I have registered the scientific name according to the new standards in taxonomy: Croton lechleri M classified erroneously by Leal Eulogio as Rhizophora mangle (1905); Sophia Regia, popular name, amargoso, probably the same serval Silvestre sorbus aucuparia (1905); Canchalagua, without a botanical classification when experimented by Luís G Paez, 1897, today known as Erythrae chilensis Pers m, Gentiana canchalagua,R, Gentianella magellanica, Scoparia montevidensis (Scrophulariaceae), Schkuhria pinnata (Asteraceae); Curare, Strychnos toxifera R.H. Schomb. ex Lindl; Mangle Colorado, Rhizophora mangle L, information given by doctor Mauro Hernández Mesa, on July of 1976 being President of the Institute of Homeopathy of Colombia; Guaco, Mikania laevigata Sch.Bip.ex Bake; Coca, Erythoroxylum coca; Pacurú Niara according to Doctor Mauro Hernández Mesa the specie is Ternstroemiflora de Mildbr.
The Pacurú Niara was shown at Paris in the Exposition Universelle (1889) by the Colombian botanist José Jerónimo Triana who gave sufficient quantity to Doctor Roulin for its chemical analysis; unfortunately this scientist mistook the sample for curare; Guambi, Anthelmia of Linneo; Algarrobo, Courbaril of Linneo (HYMENAEA COURBARIL);Yoco, PAULLINIA CLAVIGERA VAR BULLATA, Caparrapi, Magnolia hernandezii (Lozano) Govaerts; a small poison frog (Phyllobates) called by natives of Choco Chequeneaara, Basuniara, Fiu fiu and Kokot. More plants: a poison plant called Mata negro (Glabra), a plant used by Indians in Colombia and Guatemala. The Chicha, a traditional fermented beverage, containing a mixture of flour and maize. Some pathosgenias have been carried out with borracheros (datura arborea, solanaceas). Many practitioners have carried their own pathogenesis, unfortunately there is no standardized book or publication with any of the experiments conducted by homeopaths in Colombia.
Currently the Foundation Institute of Homeopathy of Colombia Luís G. Paez has being doing some research and pure experimentation. In Bogotá, nowadays, there are some 90 Medical Doctors with specialization on homeopathy listed in the yellow pages. Although regulations say that only MDs can treat patients with homeopathy, many non-MDs are practicing homeopathy and they are tolerated. There is an organization for homeopaths in Santa Fe de Bogotá, the Asociacion Medica Homeopática de Colombia (ASMHOC) and also one consisting mainly of practitioners, Asociación Colombiana de Homeópatas (Asocoldo). Universidad del Bosque, a private University, has designed a non-formal diplomat with 240 hours of teaching, only for MDs. The National University of Colombia, the major university of the country, recently opened a post-graduate program of Alternative Medicines with emphasis in Homeopathy, Chinese medicine and acupuncture, homotoxicology, Chiropractic, and Osteopathy. This program pretends to teach the basics of the above arts of healing in only two years.
My personal training started with the long distances courses of Homeopathy (1998-2001) offered by the British Institute of Homeopathy; my tutor was Joan O’ Connor, who was living in Canada. Later I took probably the last Course of Homeopathy imparted by the Instituto Homeopático de Colombia before its actual President, Doctor Fabían González, went to live in  Canada; he is working in Montreal, Canada as a homeopath8.
Recently, there are two “official” schools, which only accept MDs: Escuela de Medicina Juan N. Corpas and Instituto Homeopático Luis G. Paez. There are other schools that teach homeopathy as a career (with no government recognition) or as a postgraduate medical course: Fundación Homeopática de Colombia, Fundación Colegio Nacional de Medicina Homeopática y Naturismo. Fundación Hahnemann is directed by Doctor Carlos Santos. The last time I heard him speak, he told us that his school was closed until the total regulation of law 1164 by a governmental decree. Some training of MDs is being carried out by pure homeopaths in Cali, one of the major cities of the country. There are some 30 homeopathic pharmacies in Bogotá, 10 in Medellin. The training schools for homeopaths were active for an important life span during the twentieth century. I recall the Fundación Homeopática de Colombia directed by Doctor Vicente Alvarez, with a six years curriculum; another school was Escuela de Medicina Homeopática Leon Vannier. It seems they had only one program (1978) and their courses in homeopathy lasted two years. Nowadays, some homeopaths, like Doctor Jaime Pinilla are doing provings, in his case with the insect known as PITO (Triatoma infestans), which is the transmitter of tripanosoma cruzi (Chagas-Mazza disease). Personally, I have been promoting research with solanaceas.9 Many of the provings carried out over a period a 173 years have been lost. They were never published or some homeopaths died without transmitting the findings of their provings. In the last three years, under the guidance of the National Service of Learning (SENA), a state institution, practitioners in homeopathy have been the main protagonists in the definition of professional competence that theoretically will regulate the practice of homeopathy in Colombia.
Paradoxically, it is the experience and knowledge of pure homeopaths, which will define the practice of homeopathy in Colombia both for Medical Doctors and pure homeopaths. This process has occurred with the participation of some Medical Doctors. But when it comes to talking about homeopathy, during the different sessions, the Medical Doctors must be silent and hear what the pure homeopaths have to say.
In the year 2008, a homeopathic dispensary was established in the city of Bogotá under the support of the Red Cross and the guidance of Felipe Cárdenas, who acted as scientific director of the project. The project consisted in treating street inhabitants. Every weekend, over a period of two months, from 8:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m, the indigent population of Bogotá had access to homeopathic treatment. Using only some of the 80 major homeopathic remedies, the dispensary became a clinic with excellent results. The treatment was completely free of any cost. The doctors that participated in that project were the pure homeopath Jaime Pinilla and the medical doctor Sandra Fandiño, under the scientific guidance of Felipe Cárdenas D.I.Hom. With this dispensary, it was proven that team work is possible between pure homeopaths and medical doctors. Sandra Fandiño was studying homeopathy at Fundación Instituto Homeopático de Colombia Luis G. Paez; she is a witness to the deep knowledge that pure homeopaths may gain.

The Homeopathic Dispensary in Bogotá, and homeopathic practice by pure homeopaths (2007).

The Homeopathic Dispensary in Bogotá, and homeopathic practice by pure homeopaths (2007).

Since around ten years ago, some private companies providing health care Colombia, are offering the possibility for their clients to choose Medical Doctors with alternative medicines; as one of the main choices, many patients are looking into homeopathy as the principal alternative medicine. The problem is that these medical doctors have to operate under the same temporal scales of the allopathic model that constrains the consultation period to a maximum of 30 minutes per patient. One of these health care providers once started to offer in its drugstore homeopathic remedies. The dilemma was that after a couple of months nobody was demanding biochemical drugs; as a result of the poor sales, the distributing companies intervened, forcing the health provider to stop selling homeopathic remedies.
For practitioners subsistence is not easy. Most laws in the last 40 years are not very favorable for what I call pure homeopaths. In the last years, the practice of homeopathy has become very eclectic among doctors. One out of ten MDs, is a pure homeopath. Many Medical Doctors are migrating to informational medicine, synergetic medicine… Many MDs combine everything with homeopathy. There is a small community of medical doctors who practice homeopathy according to orthodox rules. I think that in recent years, most doctors are going to the terrains of biomedicine, which has attractive technological paraphernalia that gives them the idea of control and wisdom. Practitioners work illegally and are not recognized by the State. Some estimates say that we have about 5,000 to 10,000 practitioners10. Nobody really knows the exact number. It’s dangerous for practitioners to say that they practice homeopathy. Recently (2005), one of them was expelled from a Jesuit University (Universidad Javeriana), because his environmentalists “friends” considered him a dangerous person, for arguing from a vitalistic perspective against the deterministic and materialistic models that dominate some of the discussions and debates in the field of environmental studies. Father Gerardo Remolina S.J, the Rector, preferred to condemn the homeopath rather than accept the truths of homeopathy, which never were argued on an academic basis. In his dismissal letter they wrote: “You were told not to publish or write about homeopathy”. The letter was signed by a Jesuit priest with a doctorate in theology and philosophy on June of 200511.
I know a couple of practitioners who earn their living and subsistence mainly working with homeopathy. It is not easy for them. The State is looking, under a recent law, to identify and regulate the practice of all alternative medicines. But the spirit of the LAW is to give the monopoly of alternative medicines to the allopathic community. Four years ago I was the Vice presidential candidate of the Greens of Colombia (2006). We where censured by the press, but I used the few spaces given by the media, to promote and defend homeopathy. I think, hoping I am wrong, that the future of homeopathy will be stormy. This is especially due to two main issues: i) eclecticism in the medical practices of homeopathy and ii) a worldwide tendency by the allopathic community to monopolize all alternative medicines, which in turn is directing their attention to informational medicine. Therefore, for many of these alternative MDs, homeopathy is a just a precious prehistoric legend in the field of alternative medicine; they called themselves homeopaths, only because they use homeopathic remedies, without applying their efforts in the search of the simillimum of the patient. It is easier today, to connect patients to one of those “wonderful” machines in the fields of radionics, biofeedback, or informational medicine, which proclaim that in seconds they reach heaven and are able to apply the remedies of all the known stars, hell and constellations in the search of healing. The search for the simillimum in homeopathy has no short cuts; work is hard, especially on chronic cases, but homeopaths know, and their patients too, that real cures and healings are part of an endless story of divine landscapes, where the earthly binds with dynamic energy, transforming maladies into symphonies.


Pure Homeopaths from the Colombian Association of Homeopaths

Pure Homeopaths from the Colombian Association of Homeopaths

Final remarks

I have been emphasizing the importance of practitioners in homeopathy. The problem and virtue of homeopathy is that its epistemology is an open code system, which means that anyone who is willing to work hard and study a lot can become a great homeopath. And this existential process can occur within a medical faculty, outside of any school, through the teachings of a friend, or from your own autodidact study. Anyway, the fact is that the presence of pure homeopaths is denied by the majority of the medical community; most of their historical documents tend to ignore that crucial fact in the history of modern medicine. On most documents, they forget that many MD´s gained their knowledge of homeopathy and were introduced into its principles by practitioners. Medical doctors distort the history of homeopathy in Colombia, ignoring the presence of practitioners from the very beginning of homeopathy in Colombia.
Homeopathy has been part of the history of the world, together with medical doctors. Thousands of homeopathic practitioners, with a degree or not, have practiced the homeopathic profession, performing an invaluable service to society. Finally, I want to share a political and symbolic act that we have been carrying out as pure homeopaths in Colombia. It refers to a universal declaration which states and declares that homeopathy is a legacy of humanity. The declaration states:
“The homeopaths of the world desire to have the support of society and the general public, seeking partnerships that will enable us to make visible homeopathy as a heritage and legacy of all mankind. The history of homeopathy has known numerous cases of individuals who were homeopaths, having embraced first training in other fields of knowledge: agriculture, the military, anthropology, law, priesthood, biology, bishops, and nuns. Homeopathic remedies are effective and inexpensive in the treatment of acute and chronic illnesses. The state of the art of the health-illness studies have clearly demonstrated that the opposition of the pharmaceutical industry and certain sectors of the medical profession can be understand more from their interest in money than a real interest in the health of mankind. This has led many times, with the complicity of states and governments, to the persecution or death of many homeopaths. It reveals a time of deception and potential excesses of the pharmaceutical biochemical model which is dominant and is aimed almost exclusively at personal gain.”
“The imposition of a single medical model and the intention to appropriate approaches such as Homeopathy, Ayurvedic medicine, Chinese medicine and Herbology, can be understood only as part of a fundamentalist culture that is said to be predominantly scientific, allegedly neutral and “universal”. Supported by the pharmaceutical multinationals, the pronouncements of certain sectors of society (Council of State, Secretary of Health, Government) do not reflect an interest in promoting or protecting the health of peoples or nations, but rather the interests of a mono-cultural scheme of thought.
“Therefore, we request that homeopathy should be recognized as a heritage and legacy of humankind, and the best exercise of this science is represented by homeopaths, who fortunately are abundant in the world. We invite you to join this petition, which requests that homeopathy should be declared a heritage and legacy of humanity and of all peoples and nations of the world. It appeals to the judges of the nations following the rule of law: Cuilibet in arte sua perito est credendum [Credence should be given to one skilled in his particular art]. It is sought to be heard as a homeopath and hoping to be understood, based on a logical reasoning, that justifies the exercise of homeopathy in the world by anyone who is willing to study its doctrine, materia medica, techniques, methods and principles of this particular science”.
We invite everyone to support and sign this petition.
You can access the petition at:

Footnotes:?1 He is a practitioner from the British Institute of Homeopathy and Instituto Homeopático de Colombia. Advisor of the Social Medicine and Homeopathy Department of Centir foundation, a major homeopathic center in Colombia. He is the actual director of the Political Science and Human Rights Department at Universidad de la Sabana. [email protected]
3 Based on: Instituto Homeopático de Colombia, “Reglamentación de la Medicina Homeopática en Colombia”, La Homeopatía, no. 143, Year 132, January of 1998.
4 María del Pilar Guzmán Urrea. “La alopatía y la homeopatía en el siglo XIX: conflicto entre dos prácticas médicas”. Anuario Colombiano de Historia Social y de la Cultura. 1995. (22): 59-73.
5 Gutiérrez, Apuntamientos para la historia de Agua de Dioscorea pp.14-24, 126. citado por Diana Obregón Torres, Batallas contra la lepra : estado, medicina y ciencia en Colombia, Medellín: Banco de la República, Fondo Editorial Universitario EAFIT, 2002.
7 Ignacio Pereira, Elefantiasis de los griegos: Carta dirigida al señor Ricardo de la Parra (Bogotá: Imprenta de Foción Mantilla, 1866), ver especialmente pp.1-5.
8 Felipe Cárdenas. The Homeopathic materia medica: the family of the solanaceas.?http://www.homeoint.org/articles/cardenas/solanaceas.htm
10 Videos about Pure homeopaths in Colombia:?Doctor Gonzalo Moncada: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nDfw9d8ZqyI?Doctor Vicente Alvares: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HWVO65EAHCs?Doctor Felipe Cárdenas: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=10DO8BQXdkA
11 For the complete process against this homeopath the archives are found at: http://centir.itgo.com/box_widget.html?Folder: homeopatía?Subfolder: historia de un linchamiento ( history of a lynching)

About the author

Felipe Cardenas Tamara

Dr. Professor Felipe Cárdenas Ph.D has been working for the last 20 years in environmental anthropology, dealing with development projects in the Andean region of Colombia. He is the present director of the Political Science and Human Rights Department at Universidad de La Sabana-Colombia. He has diplomas from the British Institute of homeopathy and the Instituto Homeopático de Colombia and is an honorary member of the Sociedad Homeopática de Colombia.


  • Creo que la persona que escribe el articulo describe la verdad a medias. La homeopatia es reconocida por el estado Colombiano como una especialidad de la medicina. Es por esto que la Universdad Nacional elevó a maestria su capacitacion en el posgrado. En Colombia solo los medicos estan autorizados por la ley a ejercer la homeopatia, por tanto no se debe enseñar en el pregrado, debe ser en el posgrado. Son 2 años de maestria con trabajo de investigacion final. Es ceirto que solo hasta 2007 comenzaron estos posgrados pero siento que son grandes avances para el ejercicio de la profesion

    • Translation of above comment:
      I think the person writing the article describes the half-truth. Homeopathy is recognized by the Colombian state as a specialty of medicine. That is why the National Universdad Masters rose to his training at postgraduate level. In Colombia only physicians are authorized by law to practice homeopathy therefore should not be teaching at the undergraduate level, must be at postgraduate level. They are two years of Masters final with research work. It is only until 2007 ceirto began graduate but I feel these are great strides for the exercise of the profession

      • Es que el argumento central es que la homeopatía puede ser enseñada desde el pregrado pues es una ciencia particular y autónoma que no necesita de la medicina alopática, lo que no quiere decir que el estudiante no deba tener bases de otras ciencias o disciplinas auxiliares como la fisiología, la anatomia, ect. El punto central tiene que ver con la asimetria epistemológica, política y jurídica a la que se somete a la homeopatia. Ver un pensum en medicina homeopática desde el pregrado en:


        • The central argument is that homeopathy can be taught, since it is an autonomous particular science, from on undergraduate level and that their is no need to wait six or seven years in allopathic medicine training to start the process of formation of homeopaths. This does not mean that the student should not have bases in other sciences or auxiliary disciplines such as Physiology, anatomy, ect. The focus of the article explains the epistemological, political and legal asymmetry which is subjected to homeopathy. View a curriculum in homeopathic medicine for undergraduate: It is possible, i we break the monopoly of the allopathic faculties


          • I am impressed with your article as it represents thoughts I have been preoccupied with for a long time as a life long student of homeopathy. I have been treated and met many practitioners who hide behind their diploma’s and insurance company but mostly use their patients to further their personal studies and lack integrity and essential understanding of their activity. This is also a contributor to patients who are dissapointed by their unsuccesful treatment and feel it is the fault of the science of homeopathy instead, which does not contribute to furthering the true spirit in which it must be understood and practiced. Many homeopaths are looking for power through status and regulation just like allopathic doctors instead of being aware they are part of the journey of life and should be proud the be eternal dillitantes only guiding their fellow man.

  • Dr Cardenas:

    La homeopatía en Colombia es actualmente reconocida por el sistema educativo nacional como una especialidad médica; igualmente ocurre en otros países, dado que presenta los rasgos esenciales de una profesión, tener un cuerpo de conocimiento específico adquirido por un largo periodo de formación, disponer de organizaciones profesionales reconocidas legalmente que adoptan un código ético.

    Aunque mundialmente existen Escuelas de homeopatía desde el siglo XIX, la integración de su enseñanza en las universidades se estructura en el siglo XX solo en algunos países que fortalecen sus aspectos culturales y de responsabilidad social en la educación médica; a nivel mundial Brasil, México, Inglaterra, India y Francia entre otros, asumen estos modelos educativos mediante la aplicación eficiente del conocimiento especializado enmarcado en una rigurosa autorregulación. En Colombia, aunque también se reconoce su existencia desde comienzos del siglo XX, solo en los últimos años se viene discutiendo la posibilidad de asumir la práctica homeopática en el sistema general de salud del Estado.

    La discusión sobre la profesionalización de la homeopatía se genera porque no obstante este sistema médico terapéutico se estructura hace casi 200 años, fundamentando en el paradigma medico vitalista, y aunque su uso se ha extendido mundialmente, el reconocimiento por parte del estado y sus instituciones académicas es todavía precario en algunos países, como es el caso de Colombia. Para aportar a esta discusión es necesario, preguntarse en qué sentido es posible hablar de la homeopatía como una profesión.

    El sistema médico alopático es el dominante en el mundo occidental. Sin embargo, gracias a distintas formas de abordaje del conocimiento, se hacen visibles otros sistemas médicos denominados “alternativos y/o complementarios”, como es el caso de la homeopatia.La Organización Mundial de la Salud reconoce a la homeopatía dentro de estos sistemas médicos aunque dentro de sus preceptos no explicita una cosmogonía homeopática, sino una cosmovisión, es decir una mirada heurística o parcial dentro del paradigma vitalista

    Por todo esto pienso que es importantisimo para un médico homeopata se medico, entre otras cosas para poder comprender desde la individualidad, pero de una manera integral al paciente, tambien debemos comprender la farmacologia y el efecto que en el organismo producen el sinnumero de medicamentos que actuan por la ley de los contrarios, no es una ciencia autonoma de la medicina, el sistema medico

    De todas maneras, estos aportes no son con el animo de entablar una discusion sino de enaltecer el ejercicio de la profesión en Colombia.

    • Translation of the above comment:
      Dr Clark:

      Homeopathy in Colombia is currently recognized by the national education system as a medical specialty, also occurs in other countries, because it presents the essential features of a profession, have a specific body of knowledge acquired over a long period of training, organizations have legally recognized professionals who adopt a code of ethics.

      Although there are schools of homeopathy world since the nineteenth century, the integration of teaching at universities in the twentieth century structure only in some countries that strengthen their cultural and social accountability in medical education worldwide Brazil, Mexico, England, India and France among others, these models assume education through the efficient application of expertise embodied in a rigorous self-regulation. In Colombia, but also recognizes its existence from the early twentieth century, only in recent years been discussing the possibility of taking homeopathic practice in the general health system of the State.

      The discussion of the professionalization of homeopathy is generated because despite this therapeutic medical system is structured almost 200 years ago, basing on the vital medical paradigm, and although its use has spread worldwide and the recognition by the state and academic institutions is still precarious in some countries, as is the case of Colombia. To contribute to this discussion is necessary, ask in what sense one can speak of homeopathy as a profession.

      The allopathic medical system is dominant in the Western world. However, through different forms of knowledge approach, become visible other medical systems called “alternative and / or complementary”, as is the case of homeopatia.La World Health Organization recognizes homeopathy doctors in these systems but within its provisions do not explicitly a homeopathic cosmogony, but a world view, ie heuristic or partial look inside the vitalist paradigm

      For all this I think is important for a homeopathic medical doctor is, among other things to understand from the individuality, but in a patient holistically, we must also understand the pharmacology and effect in the body that produce the myriad of drugs act by the law of opposites, is not an autonomous science of medicine, the medical system

      In any case, these contributions are not in the mood to engage in a discussion but only enhance the practice of the profession in Colombia.

      • Doctor Martilletti:

        Homeopathy is a particular science, which means that its comprehension requires a particular epistemological approach, which does not mean that homeopaths shouldn’t be regularized. The point is that legal norms are subject to cultural perspectives. The dominant cultural perspective is yours, but I should remind you that, being or having a dominant view doesn’t mean that a society is functioning with the truth. History and the sociological data prove that your perspective is wrong: First, States as a form of organized groups arise rather late in human history and in many occasions, States represent the views of the dominant groups and societies. Second, in many societies and historical periods, like in the feudal Europe, many norms, like canonical laws, laws for the burguiese, peasant laws, etc, never were sanctioned, and did not require for its vigorous functioning the recognition of the State. Even today, many organized groups out of the State, have legal norms that have never been sanctioned by the State. Similarly, what we know us customs, international law and canonical law, and even common law, were never create it by the State; even in some occasions they originated against the authorities of the State. So it is clear, that from a sociological and historical perspective, it is totally false that law is inexistent without the state. As a result, an erroneous perspective, in relation to the possibility of understanding, homeopathy as a discipline, produces an epistemological asymmetry, and generates physical and symbolical violence. Just a question: ¿Why is it possible to study homeopathy from an undergraduate level in Mexico and in India? And why is not possible to do it in a country like Colombia? The answer my friend, is not a discussion about science, it is a political and legal debate. You can be sure, as history has proven it, that we can have Homeopaths MD´s. I have students of medicine on undergraduate levels. Most of them ignore, in the last semesters of the profession, the medicinal properties of pure water. I am just talking of PI structure water. Very sad, and that occurs in all of the Faculties of Medicine around the world. Why is that they have to wait so many years in order to have access to the deep knowledge of homeopathy and other natural healing therapies? As I have told you before, a pure homeopath requires deep and rigorous training, which means the study of the ordinary topics taught at a Faculty of Medicine, but enriched with the philosophical, theoretical, and practical perspective of the homeopathy and its auxiliary disciplines and sciences.

  • bueno Dr Cadena
    Me queda claro que ambos estamos convencidos del bien de la Homeopatia para los pacientes, yo como medica y jefe del departamento medic del Instituto luis G Paez y usted como antropologo y director de la fundcion CENTIR. El punto es que el problema juridico limita a las personas de buena voluntadque quieren estudiar Homeoopatia.
    Pienso de todas maneras que el acercamiento a las Facultades de Medicina permitirán quelos medicos conozcan las bondades de las Medicinas Alternativas antes de acabar la carrera. Muchas facultades ya estan incorporando en el pensum del pregrado las medicinas alternativas y complementarias.

    Alba Martilletti
    Jefe departamento medico FICH Luis G Páez

    • Translation of above comment
      It is clear that both are convinced of the benefit of homeopathy for patients, medical and I as head of the Institute medic Luis G Paez and you as an anthropologist and director of the fundcion CENTER. The point is that the legal problem limited to people of good voluntadque Homeoopatia want to study.
      Anyway I think that the approach to medical schools allow physicians chelae know the benefits of Alternative Medicine by the end of the race. Many schools are already incorporated into the undergraduate curriculum of complementary and alternative medicines.

      Alba Martilletti

  • Dr. Cardenas demontrates that homeopathy is actually part of medical history and really can not be seperated from mainstream medical history as being “alternative”. Modernization and social scientific concepts which emereged from modernization and unilateral perspectives of development seem to largely account for notion of “alternative” medicine. Congratulations on this article.

  • Hi:

    I enjoy very much Ezine and all the wonderful articles. I have a friend in Colombia that is ill and believes very much in homeopathy since I have successfully treated her in the past when I was visiting Colombia. Since I don’t live in Colombia, I e-mailed her and recommended that she call the phone numbers in Bogota that are listed at the bottom of the youtube presentations to find out if they could recommend an experienced homeopathic doctor for her to visit in Medellin. She wrote back and said they don’t answer. Can you help me solve this problem? Thank You

  • Dr Cardenas’ article has addressed the global condition concerning the bio-medical bullying of alternative models of medicine. The Columbian homeopathic climate of past and present is peppered with pockets of opposition and is similarly reflected elsewhere throughout the globe. The phrase “mono-cultural scheme of thought” is applicable in almost all areas of government these days. Bravo to the pure homeopaths and others who support this petition. It is the responsibility and obligation of all committed homeopaths to engage in the political conversation that will protect our wonderful science and allow the medical and biological diversity that a healthy world population has the right to expect. I would like to offer personal thanks to Dr Cardenas for such a pertinent and well written article.

  • Dear Dr. Cardenas,
    I enjoyed your article thoroughly and was wondering if you have any advice for an aspiring homeopath like myself. I am applying for a Fulbright next month and was looking to travel to Colombia to study under someone at the center, would this be possible in any way? Do you have any advice as to whom I can contact?
    Best, Mariana

  • Dear readers,
    please note that the article was updated on January, 23rd, 2011.

    Katja Schütt
    Editor Hpathy

  • I am practising Homeopathy since 1979. We went through the circumstances I described about homeopathy in Colombia, where Allopaths always tried to reject Homeopathy, Aryuved, Unani medicine thinking that Allopaths only know the medicines and no one else does. Moreover spread of these alternative medicines is a big blow to Allopathic pharmaceutical companies hence their interest is served wrongfully by allopaths and simultaneously monopolizing so that their income doesn’t decrease. Now in Pakistan Homeopahy, Aryuved and Unani all are legal to practice and are flourishing and spreading at very fast rate to the extent that now some allopathic pharmaceutical companies started production of Homeopathic , Aryuvedic and Unani medicines to snatch piece of pie .

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