Hooked on homeopathy
Healing: Hooked on homeopathy
By : Rajen M.
In April 1986, I graduated from
Universiti Sains Malaysia with a degree in pharmacy. I was somewhat arrogant
about my abilities as a pharmacist — the so-called "drug expert" and was
fascinated by drugs — how and why they worked.
My four years of training did
alert me to their side effects but I was convinced of the therapeutic potential
of these complex chemicals.
I chose to go into clinical
pharmacy — the most exciting application of pharmaceutical knowledge — helping
patients in hospital maximise the effects of the drugs they are prescribed while
minimising the potential side effects. I did my internship in Kuala Lumpur
Then, something happened to me
that would forever change my perception of modern medicine. I started having a
strange rash on my back which reappeared every three weeks or so. The rashes
were not itchy. However, they would sometimes bleed, causing embarrassing
bloodstains on my shirt. The rashes would be there for a week or so and then
Being the "drug expert" that I
was, I started to self-medicate. I tried creams, ointments, shampoos, and
scrubs. When that did not work, I resorted to anti-histamines, antibiotics,
anti-fungals, and even steroids. I did this alone initially but then in
consultation with some of the brilliant doctors with whom I had the good fortune
of working with. This went on for about two years. Nothing worked.
Finally, I was put on a
powerful new anti-fungal. It worked minimally. However, the fine print in the
package insert warned about liver failure and the need to go for biannual liver
tests. Clearly, this was not a long term solution.
Desperate and at the urging of
my mother, I decided to call on a homeopath. At that time, it was for me an act
of blasphemy, given my faith in my medical training and in pharmaceuticals.
Alternative medicine was, in my mind, spooky stuff. It was unscientific. I
considered the practitioners to be charlatans and con artists.
The homeopath I consulted did
nothing to reverse my negative perceptions. In fact, he reinforced them. He sat
in a dark and dingy room. He was poorly dressed and appeared to be
half-listening as I poured out the story of my two years of agony. He prescribed
two "medicines". I was aghast. The "pills" that he gave me looked like lizard
eggs. "Put them under your tongue," he said. "Let them stay there for a while.
And no coffee or tea."
I did not believe him, or his
lizard eggs. Nevertheless, I took them and his advice because I was desperate
and had already paid him. Little did I know then that my life was going to
change forever. After taking the pills I had very bad diarrhoea that night. I
continued taking them, and nothing else seemed to happen. Three weeks later, the
rashes did come back, but just 10 per cent of what they had been in the past. I
Almost nothing had happened in
my two years of trying the best of what modern medicine and the pharmaceutical
industry had to offer. Suddenly, one attempt by a homeopath and I was half
I went back to the homeopath
with renewed faith, amazement, and even admiration. I thanked him for my rapid
improvement. He seemed disappointed that I was not completely cured. He
prescribed another dose of the pills. "It will never come back," he promised me.
True enough, it never did.
The following month, I went
back to him to try and understand what had happened. How was it that I had been
cured in two sessions with such an unorthodox method?
He explained, using terms such
as "energy", "vibration" and "electromagnetic field". I was astounded. My four
years of pharmacy education and two years of pre-university biology and
chemistry had not prepared me for this.
My curiosity was aroused. I
plunged into the world of alternative medicine. I read whatever I could grab my
hands on and spoke about it with whoever I came in contact with.
I devoured whatever I could
read on homeopathy. Being a pharmacist, I wanted to know if my "cure" was merely
a "one off" thing. Could it have had a placebo effect? That means that some
medication works simply because the patients believes that something is being
done and want it to work.
However, there were many trials
in medical literature that were very scientifically done. Furthermore,
homeopathy worked on babies and even on pets. Clearly, there were no effects of
the drug recipient’s belief system at work here.
The more I discovered, the more
interested I became in the quiet power of herbs, Ayurveda, traditional Chinese
medicine, chiropractics, osteopathy and a host of other therapies normally
associated with "the lunatic fringe". I began to understand that some of these
healing arts had been around long before the modern medicine that I had been
trained to worship. Ayurveda, for example, has been practised for 4,000 years.
Interestingly, these arts have survived the powerful dictates and lobbies of
I realised that these therapies
are not only gentle but also powerful. Unlike synthetic drugs, these ancient
therapies work with the body systems, yielding almost no side-effects. Indeed,
they are more preventive than curative and are more in line with the two tenets
of Hippocrates: First do no harm, and let food be thy medicine and let thy
medicine be food.
I left the pharmaceutical
industry and world of modern medicine to pursue my new- found fascination with
not medicine but healing itself. The more I dug, the more I was awed. I signed
up to do my doctorate in holistic medicine, a healing system that aims to merge
the best of modern and ancient medicine with the patient’s interest in mind.
While we are still a little
behind North America and Europe, interest in alternative and complementary
medicine is growing exponentially.
To my pleasant surprise, the
local alternative medicine industry welcomed me with open arms. My
pharmaceutical credentials were welcomed. I was invited to sit on committees
that worked with both the minister of health and the prime minister. I was asked
to head the team that drew up the National Herbal Blueprint that was tabled to
Journal and Conference
I also noticed that little
research on tropical herbs was being done and recorded. So working with a
prominent professor of botany and plant physiology, we set up the Journal of
Tropical Medicinal Plants, the first journal of its kind in the world focusing
on the tropical medicinal plant industry. The journal is now in its eighth year.
How amazing that a journey that
started with a desperate visit to a homeopath has changed my life in a way I
could have never have imagined.
* Datuk Dr Rajen M. is a
pharmacist with a doctorate in Holistic Medicine.