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THE WORLD FROM THE CATHOLIC ANGLE

HahnemannAccording to Irish Society of Homeopaths website “Homeopathy is a gentle, yet highly effective system of medicine. It uses naturally occurring substances in the form of remedies to stimulate the body's own healing power. The results, although gentle, can be powerful and long lasting. It is suitable for everyone, even sensitive patients, from pregnancy, childhood and adolescence to adulthood and older age.

It's pretty generic a definition of a medicine system matching many kinds of treatments, medicine branches and so on. Yet, homeopathy is entirely different from all of them.

Firstly it utilizes the idea of treating symptoms with something which causes similar symptoms (similia similibus curentur – “like cures like”), and secondly it uses such minute amounts of healing substances that one can barely find any atoms of them in homeopathic medicaments. As some people might not exactly fancy the idea of curing, say, diarrhoea with something which causes diarrhoea in healthy people, or buying pure water as a medicine websites about homeopathy seldom mention those two main features of homeopathy. Neither do they mention that no one ever managed to prove that homeopathy works any better than placebo.

Although there seems to be nothing wrong with attempts of curing some minor illnesses with something that actually causes symptoms we try to fight, or with water, or glucose, or whatever is used in those kinds of medicaments, for the prices way bigger than exactly the same products in shops, provided buyers are aware what they're doing, the whole thing is kind of fishy from Catholic faith point of view.

A bit of history

Homeopathy was created by certain Samuel Hahnemann in 1796. The turn of 18th and 19th century was the age of birth of modern medicine. The veterinary and human medicine had finally separated only few decades earlier, the smallpox vaccine was invented about the same time, the discovery of bacteria as a cause of disease would yet wait another 80 years. Generally, those who couldn't afford a doctor at that time had significantly higher life expectancy than those who could as mainstream doctors mainly used bloodletting, purging, and what not, and administered some fancy mixtures containing practically everything, from herbs, through opium, viper's body parts, to poisons such as arsenic compounds.

Disillusioned by the state of medicine of that period, Samuel Hahnemann left his medical practice and started to investigate new ways of medicine. At some stage after learning that extract from the bark of Peruvian tree called cinchona was effective in treating malaria, he started to experiment with cinchona on himself. Cinchona contains quinine, the first Western effective treatment for malaria, which, as probably most (if not all) medicaments, can have some adverse effects, especially when one takes too much of it. And that was most probably exactly what happened to Hahnemann. After recovering from quinine poisoning he came to conclusion that his symptoms were actually nearly the same as in malaria which subsequently led him to develop (or rather adopt, as the idea was known since antiquity) the first principle of homeopathy: similia similibus curentur or like cures like. The next thing he developed was the idea of dissolving the active substances to practically nothing by a long process of diluting the substance with alcohol or distilled water, which is called “dynamisation” or “potentisation”, and then shaking the mixture – it's called “succussion”, and then repeating the process of dynamisation and succusion again and again and again until there is hardly any molecule of the healing substance in the medicament. Hahnemann himself joked that to deal with an epidemic would require to empty a bottle of poison to Lake Geneva and shake it 60 times. Currently sold homeopathic medicaments have even less healing substance, for instance Oscillococcinum, the popular flu relief is so diluted that it would require about 10320 (for those not that familiar with maths: 102=100, 106=1000 000, 10320=1 followed by 320 zeros) of molecules in observable universe of the medicament to have only one molecule of the active substance.

Anyway, Hahnemann's methods were put to the test during 1818 typhus epidemic in Leipzig. According to his biographers homeopathy proved to show way better results that conventional medicine during the epidemic which is perfectly understandable as the alternative involved bloodletting, leeches, and taking medicines containing mercury and arsenic between the others less lethal procedures, such were the medical standards at that time.

The help from another world

It's pretty clear where the idea of like cures like came from though where the idea of diluting and shaking came from is not so clear.

Generally Hahnemann considered all the illnesses to be of spiritual nature. After observing a syphilis sufferer during his work at the mental hospital in Georgenthal, Hahnemann he came up with the miasma theory. According to the theory human health depends on the condition of life energy or vital force of the individual, called vis vitalis. Miasmas were defects of that force and caused illnesses. In another words illnesses have nothing to do with material causes, they belong to the spiritual world. That alone should be a warning signal for a Catholic.

In his book Organon of the healing art Hahnemann described in detail the particulars of his method, including theory and practice. He even thanked the wise good Creator for revealing him the secrets of healing. That sounds fair enough to thank the Creator, but the question emerges, who exactly “the Creator” is, especially that Hahneman in one of his letters referred to our lord Jesus Christ as “that Daydreamer”. We can say thus with certainty, that the knowledge and method of homeopathy was revealed to Hahnemann by some entity that had nothing to do with our Christian One God in Three Persons. That rises a serious suspicion that homeopathy may be an occult method of healing, and the Church is stern about such things. Any form of magic, occult or the likes is a grieve breach of the First Commandment. The Cathehism of the Catholic Church says:

2117 All practices of magic or sorcery, by which one attempts to tame occult powers, so as to place them at one's service and have a supernatural power over others - even if this were for the sake of restoring their health - are gravely contrary to the virtue of religion. These practices are even more to be condemned when accompanied by the intention of harming someone, or when they have recourse to the intervention of demons. Wearing charms is also reprehensible. Spiritism often implies divination or magical practices; the Church for her part warns the faithful against it. Recourse to so-called traditional cures does not justify either the invocation of evil powers or the exploitation of another's credulity.

The Catholic way

From our point of view the summary of the homeopathy may be as follows: in the turn of 18th and 19th century a German physician Christian Friedrich Samuel Hahnemann devised with a help of some supernatural entity a system of medicine called homeopathy, which is supposed to cure illnesses with substances causing similar symptoms, diluted to such a degree that there are hardly any particles of the healing substance left in the medicament, thus qualifying homeopathy as an occult practice of some sort. Using homeopatic medicaments in best case scenario does nothing more than placebo due to its utter lack of effectiveness as attested by numerous medical authorities. From Christian point of view this treatment method brings another danger – to human soul.

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