Most people are unaware of the silent warfare that has been waged between two distinctly different philosophies in the field of medicine. It has been raging for well over one hundred years in America alone and with the passage of the so-called Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, better known as “Obamacare,” it may just be the death-knell for homeopathic medicine. The anarchist community would be served well to learn the differences between these two medical approaches to health care. If decades long trends continue into the future patients and homeopathic doctors may be forced to operate outside of the purview of the state.
Allopathy – n. A method of treating diseases with remedies that produce effects different from those caused by the disease itself.
Homeopathy – n. A method of treating diseases with remedies that produce effects similar to those caused by the disease itself.
The large majority of physicians in America practice allopathic medicine. And while very few people outside of the health-care industry could define the term, its practice is ubiquitous and almost fully internalized by the general public. An example of allopathic treatment would include elevating a sprained ankle and wrapping the afflicted area in ice in order to reduce swelling. Bandages may also be used to prevent use of the joints. Swelling, the symptom, is attacked instead of the injury itself.
But homeopaths take the exact opposite approach. They believe that the swelling is the body’s natural healing method. When tendons, ligaments and muscles are stressed extra blood rushes to the area to repair the damage. As ugly and frightening as a swollen ankle may look, it is what is necessary to heal the body properly. Efforts taken to reduce swelling can increase healing time and may cause long-term damage. Over the next few days a homeopath may recommend adding heat and light exercise to the sprained ankle to help increase blood flow, quite the opposite advice from the allopath.
In general, allopathy seeks to fight the body’s natural response system by attacking the symptoms of healing. Homeopathy, however, embraces the body’s natural response system by either encouraging the symptoms of healing or attacking the root cause of the illness. Mainstream medicine, or allopathy, would have us take muscle relaxants for headaches and nasal decongestants for runny noses caused by the common cold. But these are merely treatments for the symptoms. The homeopath understands that a headache is a sign that something is wrong. Perhaps the sufferer has a low blood sugar and needs to eat something. Or maybe he or she would benefit from some exercise or a change of environment. The list of examples goes on.
The debate between allopathy and homeopathy seems worthy in a marketplace of ideas. But the question one should be asking is why there is no debate at all. Why has allopathy so thoroughly dominated the medical landscape? Has allopathy taken the lion’s share of the market because it is superior to that of homeopathy? If not, why not?
Historical evidence suggests that power players, as early as the founding of the American Medical Association, have used the heavy hand of government to squelch homeopathic physicians. Regulations and licensure were used to stifle the growth of homeopathy by narrowly restricting which schools can produce new doctors and what their curriculum must teach. Today, students must endure roughly ten years of allopathic medicine education and testing before being allowed to practice homeopathy. After being taught for so long that homeopathy is akin to quackery is it any wonder so few aspiring doctors choose to practice homeopathic medicine?
To make matters worse insurance companies – another tightly regulated industry – do not cover homeopathic medicine. It is a problem, indeed, for patients who choose alternative medicine to mainstream medicine. However, so long as individuals may opt out of the corporate circle there exists a healthy market for homeopathy. In come new regulations mandating all individuals purchase corporate insurance and few people will have money left for alternative medicine, such as homeopathy.
With new governmental regulations becoming more asinine by the day one need not try too hard to imagine a future where homeopathy is strictly criminalized. Our hope then lies in patients and doctors willing to break the rules to receive and provide truly free health care. Anarchists of all professions, including doctors, should take the time to better understand the fascism that pervades American medicine. It will surely serve as an excellent recruiting tool for potential fed-up citizens of all backgrounds alike. I highly recommend a short, yet scary, book on one doctor’s lifelong struggle to practice medicine and the history of American health care. The book is called Medical Conspiracy In America and is available for free online. Its reading time is roughly two hours. But if you give it five pages I am confident you’ll be hooked until the end.