At the Positive Homeopathy Clinic

Written by December 23, 2012 9:48 pm 21 comments

Editors’ Note : This article reports an investigation of a purported treatment facility, undertaken out of regard for public interest and the need to emphasize scientific temper in the choice of clinical services. 

It was a day for the two of us to get treated by Positive Homeopathy at their newly opened branch at Mangalore. Sheela who is hypothyroid and I, a border-line diabetic and a hypertensive under treatment from the past 12 years decided to go in for Positive Homeopathy, encouraged by their blurb that all chronic diseases would be successfully treated by them! This clinic has been recently opened in Mangalore and we were under the impression that it is something different from the usual one- I assumed that the one more commonly known was a negative form and this would be something totally different altogether! However, we were in for a disappointment! There was a large size photograph of their Chief Quack, sorry the founder of Homeopathy(not known whether positive or negative)- Samuel Hahnemann with the usual blurbs about his greatness.

Positive Homeopathy flier

When we were ushered into the presence of the resident Doctor, Dr.Rekha, I was asked to go out and she wanted to continue the interview of Sheela. Though Sheela was very agreeable to me being present and repeatedly said that she had nothing to hide from me, I was still not wanted- the reason I came to know later. When it came to my turn came, she was asked to go out despite my protestations. It was clear that Dr.Rekha, BHMS,Govt. College of Homeopathy, Bangalore registration no.11721, Board for Indigenous Medicine, Karnataka did not want any witnesses for the promises that she would make. However, she was not aware that there was a recording device in my pocket which was running! Before I was ushered into the august presence of this ‘highly experienced Doctor’ ,as their blurb says, I was asked to check my weight and pay Rs.300 as the consultation fee without which I was told that I would not be eligible to consult her!

Positive Homeopathy Clinic entrance, Mangalore

When I told her that I was a border-line diabetic (for they claim that they are diabetic specialists with the world’s safest diabetic treatment) she asked me more questions and then I came to the real problem, Hypertension, for which I informed her that I was on three drugs- a calcium channel blocker, an alpha blocker and a beta blocker. She told me that with the two year treatment my blood pressure would be back to normal and there would be no more need for any drugs. Then she asked me about my drinking habits and whether I drink coffee or tea. When I said I have coffee- she said no. For, I was told consumption of coffee was taboo in Homeopathy. However, I would be allowed to have tea- thank God, sorry thank Hahnemann for the small mercies! Then came the question of my evening, spirituality- regarding which of course Hahnemann and his gang were liberal about that.  She said that a peg would be permitted! All this time despite my complaint being that of hypertension, the ‘highly experienced’ Doctor did not even once touch the BP apparatus that was on her table- probably it was just a prop!

Inside the Positive Homeopathy Clinic, Mangalore

When the clinical examination by the highly experienced Doctor was over, I was asked to meet the ‘Manager’ whose name was not mentioned. When I went into his chambers I was introduced to another young lady who was the ‘patient relationship manager’. I was told that the treatment would take a couple of years and they had no short term solutions. I was asked to pay Rs.11,000 for a year’s treatment which would be Rs.20,000, if I paid for two years at one go! When I replied that I did not have so much money they were willing to settle for whatever I had. When I asked them for the prescription and I would buy the medicines outside they said it was not possible! It was obvious that they are running what is called as a closed house system in which all things have to be bought from one place- which as defined in the MRTP act, is a restrictive trade practice. It is also deemed unethical for any one registered under the state medical councils to carry out such because it restricts the patient’s choice.

It was very clear that Positive Homeopathy is a racket to fleece the gullible public by making them committed to their treatment for a couple of years! They could always claim that their medicines will take time to work. In fact, the “manager” was claiming that their medicines at the genetic level and prevent even the next generation from getting the disease! Again, the fees were the same for Sheela and I!Sheela wanted to be treated for hypothyroidism and I for hypertension- but the fee was the same for both of us! As soon as we got out of the chamber of the manager we were surrounded by the three women who were waiting outside and were falling over each other to ask us to take the medicines. When we said we were not interested  they appeared very much perplexed!

Since I have now become a consumer of the services of M/s Positive Homeopathy by the virtue of having paid Rs.300 as the fee, I have a case under the Consumer Protection Act and intend to take Dr.Rekha and the shop keepers of M/s Positive Homeopathy to the Consumer court and am going to initiate the proceedings soon. One can just imagine the fate of the poor people with chronic diseases who are forced to take these sugar pills for a couple of years with no chance of escape as they are told that it will take so much time for the cure!

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21 Comments

  • Great work, sir.

    Unlike most other quacks, homeopaths are perceived to be actual doctors by much of our society. They manage to woo patients away from proper treatment by offering quick fixes: I even know of cases when they cheat cancer patients.

    I have seen – and indeed been attended by – homeopaths a few times, and they seem so earnest about their work. Do they sincerely believe in the effectiveness of this “system” themselves?

    On a related note, why is homeopathy still a legitimate course in medicine in our colleges?

    Here’s wishing you luck for the case!

    • “On a related note, why is homeopathy still a legitimate course in medicine in our colleges?”

      Because there is a department AYUSH endorsing Homeopathy under the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, GoI.

      http://indianmedicine.nic.in/

      As bad as the other Indian systems of medicine are, it is still an insult to them to lump them along with homeopathy, which can never work, any way you look at it.

    • Well, I don’t know that banning homeopathy would be the best option– it would go underground. The problem is, so many people BELIEVE in homeopathy, and as long as the demand is there, the supply will be too.

      If only India could institute a powerful health-care system in which you would have to see real doctors first before visiting homeopaths. It’s extraneous care, but you will at least get proper attention at some point.

  • ” I came to the real problem, Hypertension, for which I informed her that I was on three drugs- a calcium channel blocker, an alpha blocker and a beta blocker.”

    I’m no cardiologist or a medical practitioner, but I’ve heard that combining a calcium blocker and beta blocker can sometimes lead to a dangerously low heart rate. Since you also mention alpha blocker, I presume you are taking carvedilol.

    Also, I remember reading somewhere that the beta blockers are not as beneficial as they are widely believed to be. Have you asked your doctor/cardiologist about a diuretic and/or ACE inhibitor instead? ACE inhibitors are increasingly becoming the first drug of choice in a variety of conditions, including hypertension and many other heart conditions. Just my two cents.

  • If that’s the case, you shouldn’t have gone on record here saying you were bluffing to her. She can use this in her defense in your case against her!

    • The case is about making a claim not based on evidence and not providing me with a prescription which is a defective service. The main complaint was diabetes and not hypertension.

  • great work sir,here in andhrapradesh also so many patiets are troubled from positive homeopathy treatment,they published diabetis is cured 100%,after the treatment u take more sweets,this is utterly wrong,government has been taken against the positivehomeopathy directors,immediately arrested them while public cheating to the patients otherwise they do all of that cheating business

    • Will you please explain what this means? “government has been taken against the positivehomeopathy directors,immediately arrested them while public cheating to the patients otherwise they do all of that cheating business”

  • Not sure whether you can make a consumer case out of this. A consultation fee is just for that, consultation. It is not necessary that the consultation results in a prescription or even the suggestion of a remedy. A few years ago, I had applied for a loan with a bank and paid the processing fee as well, however they denied the loan (on specious grounds, as it turned out). I contacted a customer advocacy group and their opinion was that it is difficult to win my case, because the fee was for ‘processing’, which has no guarantee of an approval. I think this is somewhat similar.

  • Some thing should be done in India like 10:23 campaign.

    kindly see the links

    http://www.1023.org.uk/

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/10:23_campaign

    regards

  • Dear Narendra,

    I have always thought that homeopathy practitioners were just as gullible as the patients– that is, that they believed they were doing good when they really were not. Do you think that this is the case, or do you think that they are intentionally deceiving patients?

    • I think they are not properly informed when they join the course. Once they get in they are trapped for life. I know one such person who joined for M.Sc.(Anatomy) and then joined as lecturer in a Medical College in Sikkim! He was thoroughly disgusted with Homeopathy!
      I was once invited by the Homeopathic association at Mangalore when I was a very junior lecturer. They asked for a session on liver function tests- it was over. The next meeting they asked me to speak about kidney function tests- that was over. The next talk they wanted was about acid base balance- one of the toughest topics. I was getting irritated by that time and asked them as to why they who treat the whole body wanted to know about isolated systems and their function tests- the reply was yes we know, but we could like to learn your language! That means they just wanted to learn some jargon to throw at their patients to impress them that they too know these things.

    • It is not unheard of for students in homeopathy courses to become aware of the dubious nature of the material only when they are at the point of no return, and then search frantically for an exit policy. An instance is mentioned in this forum post. While an instinctive freethinker response is similar to Prof. Dawkins’ here, what are some realistic and credible career options which can be suggested to ‘recovering homeopaths’ who intend to return to the mainstream?

      • Captain Mandrake

        ** It is not unheard of for students in homeopathy courses to become aware of the dubious nature of the material only when they are at the point of no return, and then search frantically for an exit policy.**

        This reminds of a video in which Dan Dennet talks about something similar happening to seminary students. Some of them become pastors as they have no other option left. But they become closet atheists. I believe ffrf’s clergy project was set up to help these people come out of their clergy jobs.

      • Hi Arvind,

        The post you linked to me to has unfortunately confused me! One of the posts has written that homepathic students cover MBBS material i.e. anatomy, physiology, etc. and only diverge at the prescription of medicine.

        I could certainly envision a scenario in which homeopathic graduates are decent scientists, like their MBBS counterparts, but have a slavish regard for their medicines and are probably not taught their so-called “mechanisms.” But, of course, this is my own imagination.

  • There is no point in Homeopaths studying the normal subjects of evidence based medicine because they believe in treating ‘whole body’! None of their concoctions have been studied on animals or any lower organisms. The concept of surgery is not there in homeopathy or pathology.
    Their pharmacology is based on nonsensical things like simila similibus curantor,that dilution increases potency and that water molecules retain memory and things like that. When that is the case what is the need for them to study evidence based topics. As for biochemistry they have what they call as ‘biochemic’ medicines!

    • The question above was not about those students who have dogmatically embraced the tenets of homeopathy, but about those who recognize the hollowness of its claims midway and are now looking for ways to return to the mainstream. What is the way out for them?

      Prodigal born-agains are not uncommon in the rationalist world. Basava Premanand took up rationalist advocacy after a youth spent in the quest of the right magic-teacher ! If a former miracle-seeker could become a well-known rationalism advocate, can’t ‘former homeopaths’ become useful allies? Current rationalist critiques may help occasion the ‘deconversion’ of homeopathy students or even practicing homeopaths, but what maybe done to assist their search for credible career options thereafter and becoming fuller allies of the rationalist cause?

      • Homeopaths cannot qualify as Medical practitioners in any other system of medicine. They will not be registered nor are they competent to practice under the evidence based system of medicine. Like the one I have mentioned above they could shift to some non clinical subject after doing an M.Sc. in that. Or they could opt for some career outside the field of medicine which would be a more sensible thing.
        Ms. Chandana Chakaravathi had once sent me a mail about how Dr.P.M.Bhargava was subject to protests by homeopaths when he said homeopathy was junk. But, she also mentioned about the next day when a good number of homeopathy students had visited and told them that how they had been take for a ride and that they were repenting for having joined the course.

  • To all the enlightened commenters,

    In my (very limited) experience as a medical aspirant, there were a great number of students in PMT coachings, etc., and ALL of them wanted to become MBBS doctors, that is, practitioners of evidence-based medicine. Unfortunately, due to lesser number of seats in MBBS courses, the remaining selected students are forced to opt for BAMS, BUMS, and BHMS courses (including some of my friends). I repeat that none of these boys and girls had any faith in alternative medicine to begin with, but were forced into it because of having crossed the point of no return (several years wasted in preparation/coaching, no money for private MBBS, etc). If there were no Ayurvedic/Unani/Homeopathic colleges, and instead a corresponding greater number of seats in MBBS colleges, or even total conversion of the Govt AYUSH colleges into Medical Colleges, all of those students and many of my friends would be MBBS practitioners now.

    In my limited experience, all boys and girls who got into alternative medicine courses due to hard luck are now irretrievably trapped, through no fault of their own. Govt should shut down these alternative courses and open new Medical Colleges with equivalently more seats.

    The alternative practitioners I know are keen to learn about and prescribe modern drugs because they *know* their system of medicine is baseless. They have studied the basic medical sciences like Anatomy, Physiology, Biochemistry, etc., and are fully aware that the ‘drugs’ they are taught are bunk. The question is, what can be done for them? They have their families too to think about.

    I propose a twofold approach:
    1. For new aspirants — Shut down all AYUSH colleges, esp Govt-run ones and replace them by equivalent seats in MBBS colleges, or convert them to MBBS colleges. This way, no medical aspirant would fall into the trap of BAMS/BUMS/BHMS.
    2. For existing trapped practitioners — Review the course of BAMS/BHMS/BUMS. If they have studied Anatomy, Physiology, etc. at similar level to MBBS students, that means they’ve completed 1-1/2 to 2 years training of MBBS. Introduce a 3-year lateral-entry MBBS course in colleges only for existing AYUSH graduates. This will no doubt motivate existing practitioners who want an honest life. Continue this course till all AYUSH practitioners are assimilated, and only the charlatans remain. This must be done ONLY after Step 1.
    3. After the above two steps have borne fruit, Govt should completely delegitimise AYUSH.

    To anyone in a position to do something about the AYUSH issue, this outline is my proposal for action.

    PS: Some Ayurvedic/Unani treatments may indeed be effective, as these fields of study were genuinely scientific millenia ago, before succumbing to religious dogmatism. As such, they will be better served by incorporation into mainstream medical thought and practice rather than the ‘alternative’ ghetto. Free criticism and evolution is severely lacking in these fields.

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