Choosing a homeopath: Doctor versus non-doctor

There are many excellent homeopaths who do not have any formal doctoral education. The law requires that anybody practicing medicine must have a license obtained after extensive formal education and training; however, many people practice medicine without a license not only in homeopathy but also in allopathic, ayurvedic, as well as other disciplines of medicine. In some parts of the world, the homeopathy is practiced by non-doctor people more than the doctor homeopaths.

There is a general belief that because there are no side effects of homeopathic medicines, one can safely practice homeopathy since, even if the treatment does not help, there would be no apparent harm to the patient from homeopathic remedies. While it is true that there are no so called side effects of homeopathic medicines, aggravation of existing illness/symptoms, or development of other remedy related symptoms in a hypersensitive patient, can occur even when properly prescribed but more so if the prescription is not based upon the principles of homeopathy. The real risk of practicing homeopathy, or for that matter any other discipline of medicine, without proper education lies in not able to correctly recognize the illness, the nature of its severity, the possibility of coexisting conditions, and the knowledge that a better, or more effective, treatment may be available by other means.

No matter how much a person tries to self-educate, it does not seem possible to attain the knowledge one gets after years of rigorous study and examinations attending an organized medical or homeopathic school. Simply stated, a non-doctor homeopath cannot have the deep understanding of the body’s organ systems, how they work in health and what goes wrong during an illness, nor would they have the knowledge to analyze the – often complex – clinical presentation and other details of an illness and the ability to understand and utilize the available diagnostic procedures so helpful in overall management of a sick person.

Having proper education and training helps one understand their boundaries and learn to distinguish between a serious illness versus a minor problem presenting with similar symptoms.  A doctor homeopath should easily be able to identify a chest pain signaling a life-threatening heart attack and not treat the pain homeopathically keeping the patient home. All headaches are not simple “sick headaches”; proper education helps one to learn when it is the time to refer to another professional for the possibility of brain tumor. Recurrent dizzy spells are not always benign and may indicate an impending stroke that may well be prevented by more appropriate diagnostic and therapeutic intervention by an allopathic specialist.

Similarly, although many excellent homeopathic remedies are available for the treatment of bronchial asthma, a properly trained homeopathic practitioner would be able to determine when it is the time to seek help from an allopathic physician before a patient develops serious respiratory compromise. The pain from an injury can respond very well to homeopathic remedies but the possibility of a fractured bone or a dislocated joint must be recognized and treated not only in a timely manner but by a physician trained in allopathic discipline. The ability to recognize when it is appropriate to treat homeopathically and when it is time to look for alternative approaches comes with extensive medical knowledge and experience gained only after formal education in medicine.

Treating certain symptoms of an illness without the proper background knowledge about the body, as well as the illness, just does not seem right. The same is true of people treating themselves using homeopathic remedies. Homeopathy has done wonders, the literature is full of patients helped by homeopathy; however, it must be practiced by licensed doctors who not only learn about homeopathy but also about the whole human body in health and sickness after formal education at an organized homeopathic or allopathic medical school.