An interview with Asst. Prof. Dr Ibrahim Usman Mhaisker, Dean of Faculty of Traditional and Complementary Medicine at Cyberjaya University College of Medical Sciences (CUCMS). He is also a practicing doctor of homeopathy for 17 years.
The investigative nature of human beings has resulted in many transformational inventions in various fields of sciences over the course of time. The search and research produce and validate knowledge for the benefit of establishing new theories, from which models and frameworks are drawn. The application of these frameworks facilitates the lives of people. The first in the list has been the well-being of humans by providing healthcare solutions. Progressive development of different types of health treatment has been noticeable. Today, we hear of several names of medicines such as conventional, complementary and alternative medicines.
In 1796 a German physician called Samuel Hahnemann introduced homeopathy as a new method of curing diseases without having painful side effects. To do so, Dr Hahnemann experimented various options after reading and translating scientific books. His breakthrough was the foundation a new doctrine of ‘like cures like’ in which he argued that a substance that causes the symptoms of a disease in a healthy person is capable of curing similar symptoms in a sick person. The essence of this method, which spread rapidly and widely to be practiced in almost every corner of the world, has been mysterious for over 200 years until modern technology started to explain its phenomenon.
OIC TODAY had the honour to interview Asst. Prof. Dr Ibrahim Usman Mhaisker who is a practicing scientist exclusively specialised in homeopathy. He received his master’s degree, Doctor of Medicine in Homeopathy [M.D. (Hom.)] from B. A. Marathwada University, Aurangabad (India) in the year 2003. Driven by his enthusiasm to expand the knowledge on homeopathy, Dr Ibrahim published and presented papers in various academic journals and conferences. He moved to Malaysia three years ago as an Assistant Professor and BHMS and programme coordinator in the Faculty of Traditional and Complementary Medicine at Cyberjaya University College of Medical Sciences (CUCMS). Currently, he is the dean of the faculty.
CUCMS offers the first and only bachelors programme in homeopathy which is certified by Malaysian Qualifications Agency (MQA) and the Ministry of Higher Education.
When we asked Dr Ibrahim about the history of homeopathy he acknowledged the efforts of Dr Samuel Hahnemann as the founder of this treatment method in 1796. Soon after it was founded, homeopathy gradually spread to all parts of Europe, the U.S., almost all Asian countries and Africa. “In fact, a survey by the World Health Organisation (WHO) [Lawrence M.Tierney, Jr. et al, “Current Medical Diagnosis & Treatment”, USA: The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. 2004 (1701-03; 43Ed)] states that homeopathy is the second most popularly used medicine after conventional medicine,” mentioned Dr Ibrahim. Initially, homeopathy has been more accepted by people who could see the results more than practicing conventional physicians who suspected its viability and effectiveness since no empirical scientific evidence was available.
Explaining more about homeopathy, Dr Ibrahim said that “homeopathy believes in preparing medicine which triggers the patients’ own immune system so that body heals itself”. Although the statement seems ambiguous, he explained it with a simple example. In normal conventional medical treatment, if a person has some kind of infection, doctors would prescribe antibiotics to kill the bacteria causing the infection, he explained. The conventional medicines work normally on the infected cells, but homeopathy medicines “do not act directly on the cells,” he added. Instead homeopathy medicine acts at the level of DNA and RNA to trigger the patients’ immune system and keeps it strong in face of diseases.
“Imagine a situation where three friends spent some time together doing exactly the same things, visiting the same places and eating the same food, but only one of them got a sore throat. Weakness in this person’s ‘defense system’ can be the main element which explains why he would easily get the infection. Since we are exposed to various kinds of bacteria and viruses every day, homeopathy medicines go deeper than curing a specific disease. Rather, they help protecting the whole body.” Dr Ibrahim.
Responding to our question about the nature of the homeopathic medicines and the substances from which they are made, Dr Ibrahim asserted that there are over 4,000 different types of homeopathic medicines. These medicines are prepared from every possible source, he said. The main source of curing substances from which most of homeopathic medicines are prepared is the vegetable kingdom. Other homeopathic medicines are prepared from mineral, animal and metal sources. “Our medicines are prepared from several substances such as onions, mercury, charlie coal, gold, sand and even arsenic which is a poison that may kill whoever consumes it in any form,” Dr Ibrahim explained. Homeopathic scientists don’t use chemicals to prepare their medicines, he added.
In view of the protective feature and the diversified natural sources of the homeopathic medicines we have asked Dr Ibrahim two questions. The first question was whether a person needs to continuously consume homeopathic medicines to be protected from diseases, and the second was about the difference between homeopathic medicines and other natural medicines which are prepared from almost the same sources. Dr Ibrahim received both questions with a smile as if he expected them. “One beauty about homeopathy is that the patient will never be dependent on our medicine. Unlike the other conventional medicines treating recurrent infections, each time the person is infected, a medicine is given to cure the infection. But in our case, we provide the homeopathic medicine for a certain period of time until we are confident that the immune system is strong enough to face external attack,” he said.
“Patients will not be dependent on our medicines. We help them strengthen their immune system and then their need for treatment will be lower. Unless and until our own defense system is weak, we will not feel sick.” Dr Ibrahim
The answer to the second question was the highlight of the whole interview. Apparently, the method rather than the source of preparing homeopathic medicines is what differentiates them from other natural medicines. The method which is called ‘potentisation’ is based on highly diluting the drug substance. “This high dilution has for long been the reason why other scientists not only criticise but also attack homeopathy. They used to claim that all we do is keep diluting until or medicines have no more molecules of the original substance,” Dr Ibrahim explained. They always forget or ignore the fact that the potentisation process is not merely about diluting the drug substance since there is a very important step which is giving succussions after each dilute for liquid drug substances and trituration for dry drug substances. This method of potentisation converts drug molecules into extremely minute NANO particles. This guarantees that the drug substance exists no matter how many times we dilute and even if this existing substance is not visible through normal microscopes.
Dr Ibrahim briefly explained the potentisation method. “The dilutions of the original substance are called potencies,” he said. There are three commonly used dilution scales, X or decimal, and C or centesimal and LM or 50 millesimal scale. X potencies are diluted 1 to 9 and C potencies are diluted 1 to 99. To make an X potency, 1 part of the original substance is added to 9 parts of solvent. To make a C potency, 1 part of the original substance is added to 99 parts of solvent and for LM or 50 millesimal scale the proportion is 1:50.000. The 6C potency is 10 times as dilute as the 6X. The common potencies prepared by pharmacies are 30C, 200C and 1M etc. Many homeopaths refer to potencies below 200C as low potencies and potencies of 200C or above as high potencies.
Another interesting fact Dr Ibrahim mentioned about the preparation of homeopathic medicines is that they are mostly experimented on human beings rather than animals. This means whatever signs scientist find are all reliable. In fact, before introducing his findings as a new way to treat different diseases, Dr Hahnemann tested his medicines first on himself. His attempts started by replicating an experiment called Cinchona Bark, which basically states if a person consumes cinchona bark – a flowering plant in the family Rubiaceae containing at least 23 species of trees and shrubs – in some dilution to a certain level, this person will have the symptoms of malaria. This confused Dr Hahnemann to the extent that he tried consuming it following the guidelines of the experiment. “To his surprise, Dr Hahnemann started to experience the symptoms of malaria, and this marked the birth of homeopathy,” said Dr Ibrahim.
“It is more important to know what kind of person has a disease than what kind of disease a person has.” William Osler
Public awareness of homeopathy and its medicines is very limited. For a long time, only patients who have been treated by homeopathy are those who talk about it and recommend it to others. Dr Ibrahim, accepting this argument, mentioned that the scientists of homeopathy have been very busy developing their field and did not care much about publishing their work or arguing with those who criticised homeopathy. However, he emphasised the importance of promoting homeopathy as the kind of treatment which has potential to cure many acute and chronic diseases permanently without any side effects. “Nowadays, we notice increasing efforts by individuals and organisations to spread awareness about homeopathy, and we can see that more people are considering our medicines,” said Dr Ibrahim. As part of his own experience, Dr Ibrahim shared stories about his own patients who have impressively recovered after being severely infected. Some of the cases were suffering from skin diseases and just by seeing the photos of the patients before and after the homeopathic treatment we could feel how effective this treatment is. Since we believe that providing details about patients who have recovered using homeopathy would increase the awareness of it and might encourage people to more believe in its medicines, we requested Dr Ibrahim to get permission from his patients for us to use their stories in this interview publication and in future articles.
“It should be understood that every field of medical science has a certain potential to help human beings face different kinds of disease. At the same time, each of these fields has its limitation. None can claim the ability to cure all kinds of diseases at all times.” This was the beginning of Dr Ibrahim’s answer to our question about the apparent quarrel of conventional doctors with the doctors of homeopathy. If certain medicine or method of treatment is not capable of helping patients of a specific disease, this does not mean that no other medicines or methods of treatment are capable of doing so, he added. “Acknowledging the limitations of homeopathy shows our level of professionalism exactly the same way our belief in its effectiveness,” he further explained.
“A few months ago, I was approached to help an old lady whose family believes in homeopathic medicines. After checking the patient I recommended them to admit her to the hospital urgently for a surgery. They were disappointed since this was the same advice by conventional doctors. The next day, however, I received a call from her family thanking me because the operation was successful to save her life, which might have been lost if they waited longer. If I was arrogant to be sincere and insisted to use my medicine, I would be deviating from the main path of our profession through which we save people’s lives.” Dr Ibrahim
Going through testimonies about the benefits of homeopathy by some famous people – as quoted in a book titled Why Famous People Choose Homeopathy, Dr Ibrahim excitedly acknowledged the work of Dr Samuel Hahnemann who he considers was ‘200 years ahead of science’ by introducing a new doctrine in medicine that ‘survived the test of time’. Among those who used homeopathy medicines and were satisfied with the results are renowned people in politics, religion, art and entertainment, sports and even conventional medical doctors. Remarkably, Sir William Osler who is considered the father of modern medicine once said: “No one individual has done more good to the medical profession than Hahnemann.” Dr Ibrahim concluded his explanation by saying that doctors from various fields should work together rather than blame and underestimate each other. And his last statement was a quote by Carl Sagan, “Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence!”