The Malta Independent 13 July 2024, Saturday
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Alternative medicine, placebo or cure?

Malta Independent Saturday, 5 July 2014, 08:30 Last update: about 11 years ago

As one of the world’s most popular and controversial forms of alternative medicine, homeopathy has found quite a home here in Malta, with an ever expanding amount of Maltese choosing to use such medicine in conjunction with traditional medication.

Homeopathy is based on a doctrine of ‘like cures like’, meaning that a remedy that produces symptoms in a healthy person will cure those same symptoms when manifested by a person in a diseased state. Homeopathic remedies use extreme dilutions of biological substances, such as plants and roots, in order to cure illness.

Alda Anastasi was one of six Maltese graduates from the Southeast College of Homeopathy in Brighton back in 2003, who pioneered this form of medicine on the island. 

“The body is always maintaining life processes, with your immune system fighting microbes, sickness and cancer cells. Genetics, the environment, trauma, shock and every human beings journey in life have a deep impact on our bodily and physiological functions,” Mrs Anastasi explained. “Essentially there is nothing chemical in our remedies, which forms part of the controversy around this alternative form of medicine”.


Homeopathy and cancer


Remedies make use of herbs, plants, roots as well as minerals she said. In addition they use all the elements in the periodic table. “Homeopathy studies the behaviour and nature of the disease, whereas a doctor studies the pathology of the disease. Cancer is a dictatorial disease, where one cell dominates all others. “We also study the nature of elements and then match the nature of the disease with the nature of elements and bring about a curative response”.


Cancer specialists in the Homeopathic field and treatments to help with cancer exist, she said. Although not a specialist, she explained that through the use of remedies, Homeopaths can shrink tumours, and surgery can be performed. Remedies can also be used to stop the recurrence of cancer and can be used alongside chemotherapy. “Homeopathic remedies work hand in hand with traditional medicine”, she explained.


The World Health organisation issued a warning telling people not to rely on homeopathic remedies in cases involving HIV, tuberculosis, malaria, influenza and infant diarrhoea. It was responding to calls from young researchers who feared that promotion of homeopathy in developing countries could place peoples’ lives at risk. Reacting to this, Alda welcomed the warning by the WHO in respect to Aids, saying there is no such thing as a miracle cure.


Not a solution for everything


Speaking on incurable disease and illness Alda believes it important for people in critical conditions not to believe in miracle cures. “Homeopathy is a very realistic form of medicine and works wonders, however is not a cure for everything. Every form of treatment has its limits and in the case of incurable diseases where there is a whole collapse of the immune system, it is important for people not to believe that any form of medicine is a universal panacea.”


Homeopathy does not pretend it can eradicate every disease, however it does alleviate the miseries that arise including psychological symptoms, mood swings etc, she explained


Homeopathy can never treat schizophrenia or any situation where there is an organic dysfunction of the brain, the Alda added. “In situations of burnout, stress and the inability to cope, then homeopathy plays an important role, especially when used together with psychotherapy and cognitive therapy. Whilst consulting with their GP or Psychotherapist, it’s very safe for patients to take our remedies as they would act as a form of support whilst reducing their medication. These remedies help enable the person not only to function in day to day life, but also to revitalise them and help them become more pro-active.


Success stories


Alda has helped people suffering from back pain or fibromyalgia (intense pain felt all over the body which results in patients being unable to sleep and causes the nervous system to become highly sensitised), ear infections, allergies and tonsil inflammation. “Patients, after many courses of antibiotics, come to a homeopath, working hand in hand with their doctor, and begin to feel better.  With children, response times tend to be very quick”.


Giving an example, Alda told a story of one of her patient’s success. “My patient was an elderly woman, who had chronic peripheral circulation in her fingertips. Each winter they would go gangrenous.  A doctor told her that in time they would need to amputate. Since then she has been using homeopathy and with each passing year her condition improved. She’s completely fine now”.


The Placebo effect?


Certain people believe homeopathy is a form of placebo, however Alda both welcomes and dismisses these thoughts. “First of all that statement in itself plays a tribute to the efficacy of homeopathy as it doesn’t negate its action, but attributes to it a placebo effect. So one welcomes this statement from the scientific community”.


“Now on reflection, when one puts into context the 200 years of empirical views and practice, one would very rationally and logically come to the conclusion that this surely must not be so. No placebo effect has withstood the test of time. We are speaking of 200 years now, homeopathy is not a fad that died down and If there wasn’t something intrinsically true in the practice and biological activity of homeopathy it simply would not have lasted this long,” Alda explained. Also homeopathy works on new born babies and physical conditions which may affect new mothers in connection with breast feeding. She claims the effects in certain instances are fast. “How can it be a placebo?,”she asks.


No side effects says patient


A patient, Jane (name changed) was also interviewed. She has used homeopathic remedies for over two years and has used such remedies on her child. “There are no side effects, which is a major bonus. No matter what you take there are no side-effects. In my experience, through the use of these remedies on both myself and my daughter I have found them to work better and faster than traditional medicine,” Jane said.


The homeopath listens to what the patient says and what the person is going through, rather than just the patients symptoms, Jane added. “When I was breastfeeding, we had an issue with trying to get my child to stop. With the homeopathic remedies helped me avoid any form of breast engorgement. It was an easy transition, especially when some women spend time in pain when they stop breast feeding”.


Remedies target a patient’s specific situation, including what they are going through in life, she explained. Her daughter used to suffer from communications problems and Jane said that certain remedies have really helped. “After two weeks using certain remedies, teachers at school saw improvement”.


Another bonus of these remedies is that there is no possibility of addiction. “I realised that whilst under treatment, I would eventually stop taking them without realising as my body feels better,” Jane said.









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