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“Earth provides enough to satisfy every man’s needs, but not every man’s greed.” According to this famous quote by Mahatma Gandhi, Mother Nature provides us with all our necessary needs and even more than that. However, undue exploitation of natural resources by humans permanently damages the Earth’s environmental ecology. This, in turn, imposes innumerable environmental diseases on humans. In the search for remedies, humans once again start disturbing nature for new drug research, using harmful chemicals through pharmaceutical companies. The Homoeopathic System of Medicine may offer a solution to this with its eco-friendly medicinal sources and manufacturing procedures.
Environmental pollution occurs when pollutants contaminate the surroundings, bringing about changes that adversely affect our normal lifestyles. Pollutants, the key components of pollution, are generally waste materials in various forms. Pollution disrupts our ecosystem and the balance in the environment. With modernization and development in our lives, pollution has reached its apex, giving rise to global warming and human illness. The principle of the three pillars of sustainability states that all three pillars must be sustainable for the complete resolution of the sustainability problem. The three pillars are social sustainability, environmental sustainability, and economic sustainability. Of the three pillars, the most crucial is environmental sustainability. If this is not resolved, the other pillars cannot be strengthened, no matter how hard we try, because they depend on the greater system they reside within, the environment.
How it works
The declining condition of the natural environment is beginning to affect the health of populations in many parts of the world. As a result, health care professionals and organizations need to consider the long-term environmental costs of providing health care and to reduce the material and energy consumption of the health care industry. This may seem a surprising conclusion, given that average human health has, for the most part, improved in recent decades despite environmental decline. As indicated in the World Health Organization’s 50th anniversary report, the average life expectancy at birth worldwide has increased rapidly (from 46 years in 1958 to an unprecedented 66 years in 1998), the rate of death among children under 5 has decreased, more people than ever before have access to at least minimal health care services, safe water and sanitation, and new vaccinations and medications await wide distribution. In the long term, human health requires a healthy global ecosystem. About 25% of health problems are already environmental in origin. There is no realistic way or current technology available to replace declining natural ecosystem services (e.g., climate stabilization, water purification, waste decomposition, pest control, seed dispersal, soil renewal, pollination, biodiversity and protection against solar radiation) that are essential to health. Although public health experts increasingly recognize the significant role the environment plays in public health, it is less well recognized that personal health care services also depend significantly on and have consequences for the environment.
Health care figures both as a solution to environmental decline and as a problem. Increasing health problems generated by environmental decline will require medical treatment. At the same time, health care services also damage the environment. Unique problems include the use of pharmaceutical and biological products with complex manufacturing processes, environmentally significant precursors, and potentially toxic bodily by-products of medications. Complex and hazardous solid, air, and water emissions also pose problems, including toxic, infectious, and radioactive wastes. The development of a hospital waste management policy comprises minimal waste generation, orderly collection, precautious handling, systematic storage, proper transport, segregative treatment, and permanent disposal to improve health facilities in a country.
Preventing illness and protecting our environment can, and should, be mutually inclusive. To that end, Ecologically Sustainable Medicine (ESM) offers a clear agenda by codifying the tools and resources that lead to economically sustainable healthcare and environmental healing. Homeopaths can be persuasive spokespeople for this agenda, because homeopathy is an excellent form of ESM and meets the requirements of a sustainable medical system. In homeopathy, the production of medicines creates little, if any, toxic waste and, in a spectacular, counter-intuitive leap, each drop of medicine generates one hundred drops of the next higher potency. Therefore, only a small amount of the original substance is required to create all of the homeopathic medicine we need. This has enormous potential for environmental sustainability. For example, to make the remedy Ferrum metallicum 200c, you begin with 1 gram of very thin pure copper. This solid is then triturated (i.e., ground in a mortar and pestle) together with 99 grams of milk sugar into a 1c remedy. One gram of this 1c is then further triturated with 99 grams of milk sugar to make 2c. One gram of the 2c remedy is triturated with 99 grams of milk sugar yet again to make a 3c. The 1c, 2c, and 3c strengths can then be stored in a pharmacy, serving as the master mixtures for a very large supply of medicine. Once one of these remedies has been created, it will not need to be made again, barring issues of accessibility and distribution. In ecological terms, homeopathic remedies never exhaust natural resources; there is negligible environmental impact and no question of over-consumption. Remedies meet the criteria for both renewable and sustainable sources of medicine. Compared to the waste stream produced by pharmacological manufacturing and hospitals, the waste produced by a homeopathic pharmacy is infinitely small. No waste is produced from the original material; it is all used. And, no harmful chemicals or complex reagents are used in the manufacturing process.
Contemporary eco-psychologists extend the concept of the collective unconscious to a global level, positing the existence of a world that is largely unconscious. “Simply put, all phenomena in the world possess intrinsic unconscious characteristics,” that can be thought of as an inner, subjective nature6. One of the ways that we access the unconscious world is through dreams. The homeopathic proving is another access, because the prover reveals the hidden nature of the medicine, just as a dream reveals the unconscious. The homeopathic method of drug development (the proving) facilitates the expression of the inner state of any substance through the human vehicle, the prover. This is consistent with the experience of traditional shamanic healers7; homeopathy offers a powerful tool for accessing the inner nature of the world’s material phenomena.
Once we embrace the synergistic relationship between homeopathic remedies and global healing, it is easy to understand that participating in homeopathy enables both the homeopath and patient to deepen their relationship with nature, encouraging ecological healing. This participation reinforces the notion that species extinction and habitat destruction make absolutely no sense. We cannot afford to lose any species or habitat since extinction limits the potential development of medicines. For example, the development of a new homeopathic medicine from the redwood tree, Sequoia sempervirens, brings a fascinating medicine without endangering this plant species.
Homeopathy reaches beyond the boundaries of medical technology. It is a methodology embedded in a planetary whole. Any discussion of ecological healing and environmental health cannot afford to ignore the role of homeopathy. By avoiding the ecological repercussions of current mainstream medical practices, homeopathy supports a sustainable, clean ecosystem. Through their professional practices, homeopathic practitioners have an opportunity to contribute to environmental stewardship by helping to establish homeopathy as a catalyst for environmental healing. The need for such healing has never been more urgent. As the degradation of the natural environment continues to accelerate, homeopathy and its values offer profound insight into personal and global healing.
Bearing in mind the nature of the remedy in the healing equation, homeopathy provides a profound model for understanding the dynamics between human sicknesses and healing substances. In homeopathy, nature itself is the source of healing. Evidence shows that homeopathy works on animals and plants, not just humans, thus the potential for large-scale ecological healing is significant. A healthy community depends on striving to support the environment and patient safety, contributing to the preservation of water and energy, and preventing air, water, and land pollution with a reduce-reuse-recycle strategy.
1. Last, J. Human-induced ecological determinants of infectious disease. Ecosystem Health 1998; 4:83-91.
2. McMichael, A.J. Planetary overload: Global environmental change and the health of the human species. Cambridge (MA): Cambridge University Press; 1993.
3. Leaf, A. Potential health effects of global climatic and environmental changes. N Engl J Med 1989; 321:1577-83.
4. Chen, L.C. “World Population and Health.” In: Institute of Medicine. 2020 Vision: Health in the 21st Century. Washington: National Academy Press; 1996. p. 15-23.
5. McCally, M. Environment and health: An overview. CMAJ 2000;163.
6. Aizenstat, 1995. “Ecopsychology: Restoring the Earth, Healing the Mind.”
7. Cowen, 1995. “Plant Spirit Medicine.”
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