How should a Christian view homeopathic medicine?Question: "How should a Christian view homeopathic medicine?"
Answer: Homeopathy is a symptom-based method of treating illness and disease by administering substances that would, in a healthy person, produce symptoms similar to those of the disease being treated. The word homeopathy itself means “same suffering”; the idea is that, if something is causing a problem, a little more of the “same” thing will help cure it. At least, the body will cure itself. Homeopathy should not be confused with home remedies or natural remedies such as herbal treatments and essential oil therapies.
Homeotherapy was developed in the late 18th century and is based on the idea that the body can heal itself. Homeotherapy introduces small doses of an agent that is similar, but not identical, to the causative agent of the illness. For example, a homeopathic treatment of hay fever would involve administering a diluted compound into the body to stimulate an allergic reaction—the thought being that forcing the body to fight off a mild irritation will strengthen it enough to also fight off the allergy. Given this definition, live-culture immunization could be considered a form of homeopathy in which a small amount of a disease is given to a healthy person in the hope that the body will develop antibodies to combat that particular disease. Therefore, modern medicine uses some “homeopathic” practices. The differences between immunization and true homeopathy are that immunizations are preventative, not curative, and that the active ingredients in immunizations are measurable, while the “active ingredients” in homeopathic solutions are so diluted as to be unmeasurable. In fact, homeopathy teaches that “the smaller the dose, the more powerful the effect.”
There is more to the use of homeotherapeutic “medicines” than simply taking a weak solution of water and graphite or sulphur (for example). According to one homeopathy website, preparing a remedy “is not a simple matter of mixing the ingredients with water.” The mixture must be shaken or pounded in a certain way, or the “medicine” will not be effective. According to the website, “the diluted ingredients become part of the water, leaving the curing effects in the water while removing the physical ingredients.” The theory is that, when the ingredients are removed from the solution, the water somehow “remembers” the properties of the illness and can cure it. Critics of homeopathy are quick to point out that, when the ingredients are removed from the solution, all that is left is the solvent. Any perceived “cure” is due to a placebo effect.
Other areas of concern are that homeopathy often involves examining “energy fields” along acupuncture meridians to diagnose a condition, and homeopathic therapists often prescribe Eastern meditation to strengthen one’s “spiritual core.”
A Christian, that is, a born-again believer, should view medicine as a gift from God. However, there seems to be little medicine in homeopathy. Rather, homeopathy relies on ritualistic preparation techniques and a superstitious faith in what amounts to “magic water.” As believers, our responsibility is not to follow medical fads but to investigate the validity of all claims. Our conclusions must be based on research bolstered by God’s viewpoint and not on humanistic or New Age values.
A wise believer should be wary of anything that sounds “too good to be true,” but that caution applies to every aspect of our lives. We are to be good stewards of what God has given us (1 Corinthians 4:2), and that stewardship extends to our bodies and our health. We should be wise in how we treat ourselves and in the ways (and from whom) we seek medical treatment.
Recommended Resource: Alternative Medicine: The Christian Handbook, Updated and Expanded by Donal O'Mathna, Ph.D. & Walt Larimore, M.D.
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How should a Christian view homeopathic medicine?