Slipping standards

Recently Prof. Dame Sally Davies, Chief Medical Officer, ‘first physician’ in this country, called homeopathy ‘rubbish’ and its practitoners ‘peddlars’. 170 years ago, Christoph Wilhelm Hufeland, considered to be the greatest German physician of the late 18th century, had this to say about homeopathy:

The first reason inducing me to write is the fact that I considered it incorrect and unworthy of science to ridicule or persecute the new doctrine of homeopathy… I find suppression and despotism in science repugnant; here, the only rule should be freedom of spirit, basic research, the confutation of hypotheses, the comparison of observations, adherence to facts and not to personalities. (…)

Homeopathy must necessarily be contested if it intends to present itself as a general principle of every therapy. In fact, if this affirmation were to be taken literally, it could seem to be the grave of all sciences and human progress. (…)

But homeopathy is valid as a field of observation and, instead of being repudiated, should be used as a special method of cure, subordinate to the higher concepts of rational medicine.

On the basis of my personal observations, I am convinced that it can render a service not rarely, but sometimes in a highly striking manner, particularly after the failure of other treatments. (…)

I am not in favor of homeopathy, but of the inclusion of a homeopathic method in rational medicine. I would not speak of homeopathic physicians, but of physicians that use the homeopathic method at the right time and in the right place. [Hufeland, System der Prakt. Heilkunde, 1830)’.

Compared to this measured and considered statement, Prof Davies’ pronouncement comes across as not only ill-informed but as semi-illiterate.

The similia principle extends to other areas of life, for example that like is recognised by like. This is what Mahatma Ghandi had to say about Hahnemann and homeopathy:

“Dr. Hahnemann was a man of superior intellectual power and means of saving human life, having a unique medical nerve. I bow before his skill and the Herculean and humanitarian labour he did. The opponents hate the existence of the principles and practice of homeopathy, which in reality cures a larger percentage of cases than any other method of treatment, and it is beyond all doubt safer and more economical and the most complete medical science.”

Greatness recognises greatness. Smallness reduces greatness to its own size, and may even only see rubbish where there is gold.

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