Gill Graham discusses how Hahnemann’s predictions concerning the potentially dangerous effects of pharmaceutical drugs and unnecessary medical interventions have been proven right and suggests that the 21st Century person needs to radically change their lifestyle and question current medical practices that have created a nation of health consumers, deprived of their own autonomy and free will.
With death and iatrogenic disease soaring due to the over prescription and misuse of pharmaceutical drugs, a return to prevention of disease and cure by less aggressive means is necessary. ‘Prescription drug abuse is the fastest growing drug problem in the United States.’ (CDC: January 13, 2012).
As a homeopath and practitioner of many other natural therapies, I am increasingly shocked by patients who consult me (often as a last resort) because of their ignorance as to their own personal health management. The scenario is generally one of endless medications being prescribed; invariably one to counteract the side effects of another. By the time of our first homeopathic consultation, they are full of toxicity, exhausted and depleted of any natural vitality. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, prescription drug usage in the United States is continuing to rise. A recent report finds the number of prescriptions filled each year increased by 39% between 1999 and 2009 and the amount of money spent was $234 billion in 2008. ‘The average American fills 12 prescriptions each year.’ (Kaiser Family Foundation: 2010)
The aim of this article is to highlight the current dangers of often unnecessary, harmful prescription drugs and screening processes by citing specific cases and to advocate the homeopathic and holistic approach to health. Current and recent publications on statistics on mortality due to ‘conventional’ medicine have been consulted resulting in a sobering realization of a need to address and adapt so-called ‘modern thinking’ and return to prevention and natural cure, where possible.
With reference to the title ‘Why less really is more‘, it is necessary to clarify Hahnemann’s thinking from a homeopathic perspective. He writes, “The correctness of a medicine for any given case of disease does not depend on its accurate homoeopathic selection alone, but likewise on the proper size, or rather smallness, of the dose. If we give too strong a dose of a medicine which may have been even quite homeopathically chosen for the morbid state before us, it must, notwithstanding the inherent beneficial character of its nature, prove injurious by its mere magnitude, and by the unnecessary, too strong impression which, by virtue of its homoeopathic similarity of action, it makes upon the vital force which it attacks and, through the vital force, upon those parts of the organism which are the most sensitive, and are already most affected by the natural disease.” (Hahnemann, S, 2003:199) Aphorism 275. Thus, the minimal dose of a correctly selected homeopathic remedy (the simillimum) including repetitions is all that is required to stimulate a healing reaction.
Homeopathy aside, ‘less is more’ is also highly relevant to the arguments set forth in this article. As we strive for less harmful prescriptions of potentially dangerous medications, less unnecessary invasive screening, less government intervention in collusion with the pharmaceutical companies. Greater emphasis should be given to increasing our own innate common sense leading to more knowledge with regard to our own health management without being influenced by propaganda or hype.
In addition to homeopathic literature and ‘conventional’ medical analysis and statistics, two leading works discussing the ethics and potential dangers of coercive medicine have been consulted: ‘Death of Humane Medicine: And the Rise of Coercive Medicine’ (Skrabanek: 1994) and ‘The Tyranny of Health’ (Fitzpatrick: 2000 ). Both are briefly discussed within the confines of this article to demonstrate that although both authors are skeptical about homeopathy, their views on the need to separate politics from medicine and other aspects of their thinking are very similar to my own.
The art and science of homeopathy described eloquently and simply by Hahnemann is: ‘To restore health rapidly, permanently; to remove and destroy the whole disease in the shortest, surest least harmful way, according to clearly comprehensible principles’. (Hahnemann, S: 2003:10) Aphorism 2. To clarify this and the juxtaposition with allopathic medicine, (his term for the then prevailing medical practice, a term which cannot be equated with what has become conventional medicine although some of Hahnemann’s criticisms apply to today’s medicine). To be specific, he makes three clear distinctions:
a) There is homeopathic therapy,
b) There is anti-pathic [contraria contrariis]
c) There is allopathic, that which is neither the one nor the other.
(Hahnemann, S: 2003:24). Aphorism 22
He goes on to define allopathy and the essence of the term which is equally applicable today: ‘the allopathic method which prescribes medicines having symptoms with no direct pathic relationship to the disease condition, symptoms neither similar nor opposite but completely heterogeneous….this method plays with the life of the patient irresponsibly and murderously, with its massive doses of dangerously violent drugs of unknown action chosen upon mere conjecture..’’ (Hahnemann, S: 2003:24) Aphorism 22.
Homeopathic therapy is based on the doctrine of similar, similia similibus curantur, meaning that a substance producing symptoms in a healthy individual can alleviate similar symptoms originating from illness, such as was demonstrated in the first proving of cinchona bark. The principle of similia similibus curantur is outlined in Aphorism 27 in The Organon ‘The curative virtue of medicine thus depends on their symptoms being similar to the disease or stronger. It follows that a particular case of disease can be destroyed and removed most surely, thoroughly, swiftly and permanently only by a medicine that can make a human feel the totality of symptoms most completely similar to it but stronger.’ (Hahnemann, S: 2003: 28), Aphorism 27. Parallels here have been drawn between the work of Hippocrates (c. 460 BC – c. 370 BC) and Paracelsus (1493-1541). Hahnemann acknowledges that Hippocrates wrote on the law of similars, although Richard Haehl, in his biography of Hahnemann, ‘Samuel Hahnemann, His Life and Work’, 1922 states that he refutes any suggestion of having been influenced by Paracelsus. (cited by Danciger, E: 1987:12)
He reinforces his belief concerning ‘allopathy’ in aphorism 37 that: ‘If the disease is treated with violent allopathic drugs, other graver, more life threatening ailments are created in its place.’ (Hahnemann S, 2003:34). The statistics discussed within this article, demonstrate that Hahnemann, in his wisdom, was right.
To put this into context, it is essential to remember that Hahnemann was a highly trained medical doctor, a chemist of great ability and reputation, and was a pioneer in the history and development of medicine. His extensive linguistic abilities allowed him to translate many medical texts that subsequently led him to question the original conventional medical system which was a large part of his education. Homeopathy was a result of his great disillusionment with what he termed ‘allopathic’ medicine (allos, from the Greek, meaning ‘other’) and much research on his part; starting with the proving of cinchona bark. In short, he experimented upon himself with the substance and experienced the characteristic symptoms of intermittent fever. Cinchona in turn, was seen to cure this condition. This was the first homeopathic proving and is reminiscent of Hippocrates’ observation, ‘that which may poison, may also heal.’
The intelligent, thinking, health aware, person of the 21st century has had enough. A pervading sense of disillusionment with prescription drugs and their potentially devastating side effects is rippling through a society that is beginning to realise that maybe it has been duped (slowly but surely) by pharmaceutical companies whose primary concern is to make a profit at any cost. The drug companies in America have for several years now been permitted to advertise directly to the public through the media-on television and radio. These commercials are invariably subliminal, with beautiful images of a perfect life (particularly with reference to antidepressants.) Some people however, may miss the sad irony of one minute’s advertising of the product to at least three minutes on the side effects of any given drug. These side effects, in this case of SSRI antidepressants, are insomnia, skin rashes, headaches, joint and muscle pain, stomach upset, nausea or diarrhea; discounting the possible sexual effects such as impotence and the raised risk of suicide. (Am.Journal of Psychiatry, 2006). They are invariably treated with yet another prescription drug, and so the cycle continues, and the profits soar.
It is time to wake up. One of the leading causes of death in the western world is manmade; it comes from the proliferation of pharmaceutical drugs being prescribed by doctors legally. ‘It accounts for 783,936 deaths every year, in the USA alone. It is evident that the American medical system is the leading cause of death and injury in the United States.” (Null,G, Dean,C et al, 2003).
To illustrate this further, the following statistics were published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA:2000). JAMA is the most widely circulated medical periodical in the world. It shows a total of 225,000 deaths from iatrogenic disease a year (deaths induced inadvertently by a physician or medical treatment or diagnostic procedures.) The figures shown, even in 2000, are conservatively low as they only demonstrate data from hospitalized patients and do not take into account the effect of disability due to allopathic treatment. However, even taking the lowest figure of 225,000, iatrogenic disease constitutes the third leading cause of death in the United States, after heart disease and cancer.
ALL THESE ARE DEATHS PER YEAR:
- 12,000 — unnecessary surgery
- 7,000 — medication errors in hospitals
- 20,000 — other errors in hospitals
- 80,000 — infections in hospitals
- 106,000 — non-error, negative effects of drugs
These figures are likely to have risen considerably in 2012, One could list ad infinitum, the damage caused by medical ‘advances’ and invasive procedures or screenings; the mammogram for example is now being seriously questioned by many eminent allopathic doctors:
‘Researchers at Southampton University set out to ´assess the claim in the Cochrane report that mammographic breast cancer screening could be doing more harm than good´. The findings, published in the British Medical Journal, December 2011, agreed with Cochrane and stated that mammograms indeed have ´caused net harm´. James Raftery, lead researcher added, ” The default is to assume that screening must be good; catching something early must be good, but if a woman has an unnecessary mastectomy, or chemotherapy or radiation, that´s a tragedy. It´s difficult to balance the gain of one life against 200 false positives and 10 unnecessary surgeries”. (Raftery et al:2011)
Vaccinations continue to be a source of controversy with cases of permanent disability or even death being reported, almost on a daily basis. The following statistics are in relation to the HPV vaccines, of which there are two, Cervarix and Gardasil. The statistics are produced by VAERS (Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System). VAERS is a joint program run by the CDC’S Immunization Safety Office and the FDA. Its purpose is to record data from recipients, parents, doctors or healthcare workers who identify adverse side effects of any given vaccine.
The following table displays the most recent statistics in relation to HPV Vaccines by VAERS:
It has to be noted that some experts question the accuracy of the data from VAERS reports, which are not verified or controlled, however, VAERS is run in conjunction with the FDA and the CDC. One should also consider why anyone would wish to fabricate tragic data of this sort. There is no ‘profit’ to be made in a financial sense, simply a desire to alert and encourage further investigation and research and to avoid the potentially tragic consequence to young lives. The following is a statement from a mother:
‘My 13 year old daughter was injured by Gardasil and completely disabled for the past year. Merck got it right when they used the slogan “One Less” for Gardasil. Because of Gardasil, my daughter was “One Less”. She was “One Less Student”, “One Less Active Child”, and “One Less, in every aspect of her life”. Take it from a mother who has spent the past year sitting by my child’s bedside wondering if she would die in her sleep. INVESTIGATE BEFORE YOU VACCINATE. DO NOT trust your doctor to make this decision. If you want to understand Merck’s role in the medical community, investigate some of their former wonder drugs such as VIOXX and then marvel at how many people died from it before it was pulled off the market. The CDC AND FDA need to do their job and get this off the market before more children are harmed. (CBS news: 2009)
To put this in to the original homeopathic context, Hahnemann clearly states in Aphorism 74 that ‘Among chronic disease we must unfortunately include all those widespread illnesses artificially created by allopathic treatments.’ (Hahnemann, S: 2003:73)
The Homeopathic Perspective
It would be very easy to continue to reference thousands of articles on iatrogenic disease such as those above. The disillusionment with ‘modern medicine’ is not new. In a letter, cited in Hahnemann’s ‘Lesser writings’ from Hahnemann to Hufeland (who despite being adversaries, communicated well and with mutual respect), Hahnemann describes his desire to ‘deviate from the beaten path of allopathy’ even though he was a highly trained medical doctor; he encourages his colleagues to abandon the practice of ‘contaria contrariis, the effect of which was palliative, at best. ‘I had conscientious scruples about treating unknown morbid states in my suffering fellow creatures, with these unknown medicines, which, being powerful substances, may, if they were not exactly suitable or not, (and how could the physician know they were suitable or not, seeing their peculiar special actions were not yet elucidated) easily change life into death or produce new affections and chronic ailments which are often more difficult to remove than the original disease (Hahnemann, S: 1851). Clearly, the ‘quick fix’ method of treatment accepted and expected now by many is having a hugely detrimental effect on the ‘civilised’ world’s health, as was predicted over 200 years ago by Hahnemann.
Without listing the entire text of The Hippocratic Oath, one can’t help but ponder the essence behind it which continues to be ‘Do no harm’ (from the Latin ‘primum non nocere). In fact, Hippocrates (c.460 B.C-c, 377 B.C.) did not write this, rather, it was written by his early followers, but on reading and interpreting his original text, continues to be fundamental in the oath, which is still a tradition for many doctors to take on graduating from medical schools. André Saine, (2008) listed 7 principles that he felt were fundamental to good medical practice, which deeply resonate with me and in an ideal world, would be practiced universally: ‘If we try to integrate what can be learned since ancient times, we find seven fundamental principles solidly embedded throughout the history of medicine. I would argue that the principles elaborated below are indisputable, universal, and impeccably sound and are in fact the fundamental principles of classical medicine. “Classical” is referring here to ‘the highest standards and traditionally authoritative.’
‘The Seven Fundamental Principles of Classical Medicine
The first principle applies to the physician, the actor, while the six others apply to the actual practice of medicine, the acting.
1. Aude sapere: Physician, dare to know, and become a true philosopher and scientist but above all, a true artist. Constant inquiry is the way to knowledge.
2. Praeventum: Prevention is better than a cure. Therefore, the highest mission of the physician is to guide people to choose ways of living and adopt environments that are conducive to good health.
3. Primum non nocere: First, physician, do no harm. In spite of the best prevention, people will be affected by numerous influences and will fall sick. Any prophylactic, diagnostic or therapeutic intervention by the physician should not further harm the patient.
4. Tolle causam, cessat effectus: Remove the cause and the effect will cease. There are causes of sickness and above all, physician: address them.
5. Vis medicatrix naturae: The healing power of nature. It is neither the physician nor the treatment that heals but only the living organism. Therefore, the physician must seek to encourage this innate process by first making sure that the conditions of life are met and, if necessary, by using the help of the various outer influences and forces of nature to enhance the recovery of health.
6. Nunquam pars pro toto: Never the part but always the whole. The physician considers the patient as a unique indivisible whole and, therefore, takes into consideration all the conditions of life and pertinent aspects of each individual, including the physical, emotional, mental, spiritual, energetic, genetic, sociological and environmental aspects.
7. Cito, lenis, jucunde, toto, durabile, certo, simplex et tuto curare: The highest ideal of therapy is the rapid, gentle, pleasant, complete and permanent restoration of health in the surest, simplest and least harmful way. (Saine, A: 2008).
It is extremely rare that any doctor would knowingly wish to cause harm. It is more an absence of training and education in holistic medicine, nutrition and basic lifestyle advice which is generating the new ‘drug culture’, clearly becoming endemic in the new millennium. However, if everyone involved in the medical industry followed the principles above, we would not be in the position we find ourselves in today. It is my observation that pharmaceutical drugs have become the crutch for the regular GP. They are quick and easy to dispense. In the UK, the average consultation with a GP is 7 minutes. (Henderson, R: 2011) Clearly this doesn’t give the regular, often pressured GP much time to discuss ‘the case’ so he is prescribing simply on any physical/mental symptoms that can be deduced in this very short period of time. Often there are dangerous consequences to the short consultation, as demonstrated here: ‘A unique study into prescribing errors by GPs found mistakes such as wrong dosages, lack of instructions and insufficient monitoring of patients on dangerous drugs were ‘common’…time pressures during GP consultations are thought to be the blame along with complex computer software that makes it easy to select the wrong drug or incorrect dose from drop-down menus and frequent distractions and interruptions.’ (Smith, R: 2012).
The first homeopathic ‘intake’ is generally up to 2 hours: every aspect of a patient’s physical, mental and lifestyle choices are covered. Homeopathy comes from an entirely different perspective, beautifully explained by Kent: ‘‘for an eruption of the skin we would use local means to stimulate the functions of the skin and make it heal, and believing the eruption had no cause behind it, we would conscientiously think we had cured the patient. But this is the reduction ad absurdum, for nothing exists without a cause. The man is prior to his organs’. (Kent, 2005:5). This is the fundamental tenet of homeopathic medicine, ‘Nunquam pars pro toto’: Never the part but always the whole.’ (See 6 above). According to Kent, the mind is always the top of the hierarchy of symptoms, and only by viewing the symptoms of a disease in its totality (mind, physicals, modalities etc) can the appropriate remedy be found: ‘The physician has only to eliminate the totality of symptoms in order to remove simultaneously the inner alteration, the pathological untunement of the vital principle, thereby entirely removing and annihilating the disease itself’ (Hahnemann, 2003:21), Aphorism 21.
Petr Skrabanek’s brilliant, thought provoking book ‘Death of Humane Medicine: And the Rise of Coercive Medicine’ (Skrabanek: 1994) covers much of the neurosis we have come to expect as the norm, with regard to health. Its content is very applicable to the discussions in this article, particularly with reference to his desire to deviate from the ‘nanny’ state, excessive government control over health issues, screening etc, and what he terms ‘coercive medicine’.
A Czechoslovakian refugee who moved to Ireland at the end of the war, he was a professor in community health at Trinity College, Dublin as well as a doctor and epidemiologist. He was viewed by many as a cynical, detached libertarian. The book’s essence is to return to less invasive way of life; without constant surveillance. He alludes to ‘The rise in ‘Big Brotherism’ and the tyranny of normalization.’ By this he is referring to the ‘nanny state’ where we are no longer allowed to think for ourselves. The government; the media, the drug companies all direct us to a particular mode of living. We must be screened; we must adhere to conventional norms by adapting to a life of benign dictatorship. The book is provocative, with constant irony and a large dose of black humour; he simply advocates ‘humane medicine’ without propaganda from those seeking to impose healthy lifestyles.
He states: ‘The pursuit of health is a symptom of unhealth. When this pursuit is no longer a personal yearning but part of state ideology, healthism for short, it becomes a symptom of political sickness.’ (Skrabanek: 1994, 15). He goes on to compare ‘healthism’ to religion, borne of insecurity in a world that has somehow lost many of its traditional values: ‘Healthism is a powerful ideology, since, in secular societies, it fills the vacuum left by religion. As an ersatz religion it has a wide appeal, especially among the middle classes who have lost their links with traditional culture and feel increasingly insecure in a rapidly changing world.’ (Skrabanek: 16).
It is necessary here to briefly discuss a similarly powerful, thought provoking book, in the same vein, ‘The Tyranny of Health’ (Fitzpatrick, M, 2000). Fitzpatrick is a GP who works in Hackney, London. He is well placed to have written what I would describe as a damning critique of the basis of health provision in the UK. He suggests people have been driven to fear due to inappropriate health promotions by an increasingly authoritarian government, often in collusion with the drug companies. Although similar in many ways to ‘Death of Humane Medicine’ (1994), it is less contemptuous and is considered by many to be a major contribution to ideas on health and disease in the early twentieth century.
As previously mentioned in the introduction, both Skabarek and Fitzgerald are skeptical about homeopathy. This is irrelevant. What is highly relevant is their concurrence with the idea that medicine has become ‘coercive.’ Clearly, as a homeopath, I am going to advocate the homeopathic approach to health where possible. Having personally treated many difficult cases which have eluded conventional medicine; I do not need anyone else’s validation for my method of cure, the results speak for themselves. It is however also essential, that I make it clear that I do see a time and a place for allopathy, and at times have great respect for the medical community particularly in the sphere of emergency medicine. The argument set forth is simply that we have become a society that is ‘controlled’ and fearful of not adhering to the health propaganda that assaults us at every turn, and have failed to realize the alarming detrimental physical and emotional impact. We need to lose the constant hypochondriasis of the ‘worried well.’ The mind state would be clearer and it is a simple fact that it is the mind that undeniably influences the entire human organism; the two cannot be separated. Modern medicine appears to have a diagnostic test and proposed ‘treatment’ for every orifice, every organ, and treats them all as separate entities. In Kent’s introduction to his Lectures on Homeopathic Philosophy, he recognizes that ‘Prime importance was given to the organs of man and not to the man himself which constituted body, mind and emotions’ and the ‘Will and understanding of man not studied or considered.’ (Kent, 200: xx). Clearly this is all reflective of Plato’s philosophy: ‘The cure of the part should not be attempted without treatment of the whole. No attempt should be made to cure of the body without the soul.’ (Plato: Republic)
Conclusion and Recommendations
To conclude, clearly Hahnemann was right, conventional medicine and alleged ‘progress’ are taking a huge toll on our nation’s health, as has been demonstrated. It is difficult to include all statistics or all examples of the damage done by iatrogenic disease as there are so many millions. Vithoulkas also comments on a direct correlation between chaotic drug prescribing and iatrogenic disease, and the evidence is now easily accessible: ‘Vithoulkas groups Cancer, Asthma, MS etc as ‘new diseases, their cause unknown, puzzling and elusive. ‘How responsible for this phenomenon were the chemical drugs we were using? Is it possible that there is a connection between the practice of drug overuse and the inability of our immune system to prevent the appearance of these alarming new diseases?’ (Vithoulkas:1991:4). Similarly at a speech made after his nomination as Doctor Honoris Causa at Dr. Viktor Babes University of Medicine and Pharmacy in Timisoara (Romania) – Professor Vithoulkas states: ‘I feel that today the whole world is in turmoil and in the brink of a global catastrophe. The mentality of the western people, mostly of scientists and politicians, seem to be in a state of confusion.’ He continues: ‘Ι estimate that the greatest contribution in the creation of the mental state of contemporary people, lies with an unwise overuse of conventional chemical drugs, hormones and vaccinations, that have affected deeply the human organism and also the function of the brain.’ (Vithoulkas: 2012)
As a homeopath, I agree wholeheartedly with Vithoulkas and Hahnemann, and recognize, that without doubt, that Hahnemann was ahead of his time and prophetic, to say the least:
‘If physicians had been capable of reflecting on the sad results of applying contrary remedies, they would long since have discovered the great truth that the real and lasting art of healing must reside in the exact opposite of this antipathic way of treating disease symptoms. (Hahnemann, S: 2003:61) Aphorism 61.
However, even if I were not a homeopath, I would like to think that the way forward does not rely on more prescription pads being filled, more unnecessary tests being offered. The current approach appears to lie in aggressive methods of fighting disease and illness, often with dangerous if not lethal consequences. Skrabanek advocates complete self-responsibility towards health, without any state intervention. Although this in theory is an attractive proposition, in practice, it would, in my opinion, be irresponsible. Surely, it is right to see medicine evolving through educating the public in prevention and healthy lifestyle habits rather than waiting until chronic disease occurs, often due to the very procedures and treatments that they are supposed to cure. It would be truly progressive to witness the advent of more integrative health clinics, advocating and promoting CAM therapies such as homeopathy, naturopathy, and nutritional support. This would involve educating conventional doctors extensively in not just the management of disease through prescription drugs and surgery, but in the empowerment of their patients. From a personal point of view, I would like to eat food that is not toxic and breathe air that has not been contaminated by chemical sprays. I would like to visit my doctor and be given the attention I deserve. Current so-called ‘innovations’ in conventional medicine are an illusion; the statistics and the evidence here are a testament to this. My conclusions based on the facts presented, suggest that extreme caution should be exercised when taking allopathic medication or undergoing screening of any description so the patient is aware of all possible side effects and associated iatrogenic disease. Medicines of all disciplines should be taken minimally and only when strongly indicated after thorough consultation. The ultimate aim of any physician is to heal, without harm: ‘Cito, lenis, jucunde, toto, durabile, certo, simplex et tuto curare’ (see 7 above) and to encourage personal responsibility in patients for their own health whilst firmly instilling the significance behind the ancient proverb, ‘Prevention is better than cure’ – Praeventum.