A modern understanding of homeopathy

Who i am and what i propose

My name is Philippe Marchat, I am a french physician. I completed my medical studies at the Faculty of Medicine of Toulouse in France and I practice as a homeopathic doctor, in the south-west of France, for a little over thirty years. At the end of my medical studies, I started studying philosophy and epistemology or philosophy of science, a four year course.

I am the author of two books, published only in French, The first is entitled "Torn medecine, between desire to know and the will to heal" and was published by Privat Publishing in 2001. The second, published in 2006 at Editions EPM, is entitled "The subject of homeopathy : the lived body ". I have also participated in the writing of two other books, written by several autors, available only in French.

Why scientific homeopathy ?

On this site I invite those who are unfamiliar with homeopathy, be they health professionals or those who are simply curious and interested, to discover homeopathy in a modern and scientific light.

This will be free from controversy, debate and partisanship. The intent is to demonstrate the great complementarity that exists between homeopathy and biomedicine, showing that homeopathy has qualities common to all science.

The title "Scientific Homeopathy" therefore indicates that it is possible to present homeopathy in a rigorous manner, free from controversy and esoterics.

Such a presentation will show that:

→ The object of homeopathy, the vision of the patient as a living individual, deserves to be elevated to the rank of a biological and scientific object.

→ The method of homeopathy – individualization, taking into account all signs, symptoms and experience – deserves to be recognized as a scientific method in its own right.

→ Finally, the texts posted online will testify to the importance of the contribution of homeopathy to a better knowledge and a finer understanding of biology, health, disease and the paths that healing can take.

English version written by Philippe Marchat - Reread and corrected by Deborah Collins Text posted January 2020

The finding which makes me to introduce this work

Homeopathy is struggling to get its rightful place in the health systems of countries around the world. It occupies almost no place in the debates of modern medicine or biology, that is to say, in constructive debates devoted to research, human knowledge, biology, and so on. It is equally absent from the debates and reflections of academics of all disciplines.

In fact, the only occasions when we talk about homeopathy is to criticize it or defend it. This situation continues even though many patients around the world use it regularly and increasingly doctors are practicing it. However, it would be in vain to simply protest this state of affairs and to be content to be indignant. On the contrary, it is a question of understanding the reason for such a situation and of giving oneself the means to change things.

Reformulate homeopathy, an essential need

These two objectives are accomplished firstly by the establishment of a new conceptualization of homeopathy. This will give the homeopathic community the means to finally be heard on the medical, biological and scientific scene. This will allow it, too, to be better understood and also to improve the communication between homeopaths. Finally, this new formulation will improve the attractiveness of homeopathy for younger generations of doctors, for whom the present homeopathic jargon is unclear and discouraging. To reconceptualize homeopathy is the best way to facilitate a dialogue with the scientific and biomedical communities.

One cannot hope to address the other and be understood by him if one does not use an accessible and understandable language, words with the same meanings for the two participants. One needs to use concepts, with the necessary nuances, which converge sufficiently in order to not lend themselves to immediate misunderstanding.

I strongly feel that the respect due to the spirit of homeopathy does not imply a respect for its letter when it is approximate, vague and confusing. What is most damaging is that some of the most common concepts of homeopathy do not even have an unambiguous meaning. I will only take the example of the concept of miasma, which seems to encompass all the defects.

For the classical medical world, the word miasm has an obsolete, anachronistic meaning and refers to "an unhealthy emanation considered in ancient times as the source of contagious diseases". (Larousse dictionary, French reference dictionary). Wikipedia states, "The miasma theory (from the ancient Greek μίασμα:"pollution") is an epidemiological theory today invalidated attributing to miasma, a harmful form of ‘bad air’.” Fallen into oblivion in medicine, the term "miasma" immediately throws discredit on homeopathy and confers on it an archaic and obsolete aspect.

The problem is aggravated by the fact that even within the homeopathic world, the term "miasm" does not have an unambiguous meaning. Indeed, the meaning attributed to it by Dr. Rajan Sankaran of Bombay is very different from the original one given by Hahnemann and retained by "classical" homeopaths. The miasmatic concept of Dr. Masi of Argentina is again different. But the worst is that this term as such is not made clear by Sankaran, Hahnemann or Masi, which is why everyone gives it their own meaning. This situation must not continue. We must understand that when a word has, one the one hand, a "negative" meaning for the majority of people, and that on the other hand those applying it give it different meanings, this indicates that in order to use it, it needs to be entirely redefined since it is not adequate.

English version written by Philippe Marchat-Reread and corrected by Deborah Collins;

Posted January 2020

Providing a scientific basis for homeopathy

It is also essential to include homeopathy in modern science, especially modern biology. To say that diseases are due to the vital force being out of tune can no longer suffice, no more than to speak of vital energy without defining precisely what one indicates with this term. The guiding principles and the main ideas of homeopathy are possible to be explained in rigorous scientific terms without betraying the originality of homeopathy. I will devote, therefore, a large part of my contributions to this.

English version by Philippe Marchat-Reread and corrected by Deborah Collins

The two real obstacles to the recognition of homeopathy.

In this time of Evidence based Medicine, homeopathy is certainly being criticized and its recognition as a legitimate medical science is being impeded. To believe, though, that the obstacles to the recognition of homeopathy are solely due to this would be naïve – two important other factors serve to fuel this opposition.

1°) Homeopathy, a medical and therapeutic approach non-soluble in biomedicine.

To understand this, we must view the situation from the epistemological level, that of the philosophy of science, and grasp that the real problem that homeopathy poses for biomedicine is that it is not resolvable within the paradigm of biomedicine. This means that even partially recognizing its validity, even with restrictions, would at some point require a recognition of the limits of the validity of the biomedical model. It is obvious that the biomedical world is by no means ready to "bring the wolf into the sheepfold”, into "its" sheepfold, and allow its ultra-dominant place to be questioned.

2°) The defense of a mechanist, localist and ontogenetic medical model.

Indeed, if homeopathy were even minimally recognized, it would quickly be observed that it is possible to treat many pathologies without acting on one or other identifiable and localisable target, in other words, without reasoning the same way as allopaths.

It would, for example, be recognised that one can treat bacterial infections without directly destroying the bacteria in question, cure asthma without bronchodilators or local corticosteroids, relieve migraines without analgesics, anti-inflammatories or triptans, and bring deep and permanent relief to an anxious and / or depressive state without intervening directly on cerebral receptors or neuromediators.

Suffice it to say that giving the slightest place to homeopathy could not be done without seriously damaging the physiopathological bases presented by biomedicine as being the only real and essential ones. Thus, recognising the least effectiveness of homeopathy would inevitably lead to recognising that the current biomedical model has only partial validity and that it therefore needs to be complemented by another model.

3°) The defense of a molecular and chemical therapeutic model.

To recognise that homeopathy has any effectiveness would also amount to recognizing that all therapeutic action does not necessarily function only by chemical and molecular means. This would therefore necessarily call into question the absolute dominance of the current pharmacological model over modern medicine. It would, of course, threaten its 1.1 trillion euro in annual turnover. These two obstacles, these two challenges posed by homeopathy to biomedicine, thus represent the two real reasons for the current systematic denigration of homeopathy.

4°) The strategy of allopathy : declaring the uneffectiveness of homeopathy by all means.

So we should not be surprised at the hostility of the most radical allopaths towards homeopathy, and the violence of the attacks on it. It is therefore advisable to be well aware of (and to denounce) the bad faith of a large part of the allopathic world against homeopathy, and of the a priori refusal, by "principle", to open-mindedly consider clinical studies devoted to homeopathy. This is quite simply because denying homeopathy all efficacy is the sine qua non condition for maintaining the current status of biomedicine, the sine qua non of its claim to be the alpha and omega of medicine.

The place of homeopathy in the medical world of tomorrow

I think, finally, that a scientific homeopathy must also be able to communicate with biomedicine. It must be able to show their points of convergence, their divergences, their complementarity and their antagonisms because it is on this condition that it will be able to be heard in the medical and scientific debate and find its inevitable place there.

I am aware that the task is immense and cannot be accomplished by a single person. I will therefore in future need contributions from my many colleagues around the world. But, for the moment, I will try to pave the way and will attempt, via the texts posted online, to give homeopathy a new intelligibility, which is universal, accessible to all and shared by all.

It is free to each of you to retain that which interests you, and to write to me to share your comments and thoughts.

2019 October