Scientific evidence of the homeopathic epistemological model


Medical School of University of São Paulo (FMUSP), São Paulo, Brazil

Homeopathy is based on principles and a system of knowledge different from the ones supporting        the    conventional     biomedical     model:    this  epistemological     conflict   is  the  underlying reason        explaining why homeopathy is so difficult to accept by present-day scientific reason. To legitimize  homeopathy   according   to   the   standards   of   the   latter,   research   must   confirm   the   validity   of   its  basic assumptions: principle of therapeutic similitude, trials of medicines on healthy individuals,        individualized   prescriptions   and       use  of   high   dilutions.   Correspondingly,   basic   research    must supply experimental data and models to substantiate the basic assumptions, whilst clinical trials        aim at confirming the efficacy and effectiveness of homeopathy in the treatment of disease.

This article   discusses   the   epistemological   model   of   homeopathy   relating   its   basic  assumptions   with data     resulting   from    different   fields  of  modern     experimental      research    and    supporting    its   therapeutic      use  on  the   outcomes    of  available   clinical  trials.  In  this  regard,   the  principle   of  individualization   of     treatment   is   the sine   qua   non  condition   to   make    therapeutic   similitude operative      and    consequently     for   homeopathic      treatment      to  exhibit    clinical   efficacy   and effectiveness.

Keywords:   Foundations   of   homeopathy;   Medical   education;   Law   of   similar;   Pharmacodynamic       action of homeopathic remedies; Biomedical research.

Founded   in   1796   by   German   physician   Samuel   Hahnemann,   homeopathy   is   a   medical   approach   employed worldwide and that continually awakens the interest of users, medical students and doctors ever since [1].

The reason is  that  it allows for a safe and efficient therapeutic practice, while it seeks to comprehend and treat patients and their diseases within a globalizing and humanistic framework [2,3], which gives especial value to different facets of ill individuals in their uniqueness.

Regarding   its   institutionalization,   the   case   of   Brazil   is   one   among   the   ones   illustrating   a  high   degree   of development.   Homeopathy   was   acknowledged   as   a   medical   specialty   by   the   Federal   Council   of   Medicine (CFM) in 1980 (Resolution CFM 1000/80) and the Brazilian Medical Association (AMB) confers the degree of specialist   since   1990.   Homeopathic   physicians,   thus,   are   a   part   of   the   medical   community.   Homeopathy   is taught    in lato    sensu  post-graduation      programs     (1,200-hours)    hosted   by   institutions   associated    with   the Brazilian   Homeopathic        Medical   Association   (AMHB).   Homeopathic   consultations   are           covered   by   medical insurance companies and since 1985 were also made available at the National Health System.

It   is   estimated   that   there   are   about   15,000   homeopathic   medical   practitioners   in   the   country.   In   a   survey carried out the last decade among Brazilian doctors by Fiocruz Foundation and CFM [4], homeopathy ranked  th 17    among 61 medical specialties regarding the number of doctors who defined it as their primary area of activity.   After   approval     by  the   National    Commission      of  Medical    Residency     in  2002   (Resolution     CFM 1634/2002), homeopathy was included in the medical residency program of Federal University of the State of Rio de Janeiro (UNIRIO, University Hospital Gaffré e Guinle) as an option for on-the-job-training [5] being an adjuvant  to  conventional  treatment  of  disease  in  both  outpatient  clinic  and  wards.  This  unique  example  ofintegrated medicine allows for an ongoing dialog between distinct medical systems to the benefit of patients,since it offers them the best available means of diagnosis, treatment and prophylaxis of disease.

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