Ayurveda and Homeopathy are both alternative forms of medicine. They differ in their philosophy and modes of treatment.
Differences in Philosophy
Ayurveda generally believes in the philosophy that the health of a human body depends on the balance on the three key components, wind, bile and phlegm. Any imbalance in these three consituents causes diseases. There are eight disciplines of treatment involved in Ayurveda. These are internal medicine, pediatrics, surgery, psychiatry, toxicology, prevention of diseases and treatment involving improving the immunity and resistance of the body and aphrodisiacs.
Homeopathy believes in the "vitalist" philosophy. According to this belief, various external and internal causes disturb the "vital force" which negatively affects the health of a person. Homeopaths also take into account the psychological state along with the physical state of the person. The treatment method in Homeopathy follows the "laws of similars" which means that to rid a person of a disease one has to treat the person with drugs that produce the same symptoms as the disease.
History of Ayurveda and Homeopathy
Ayurveda has its roots in Hinduism and has been mentioned in the Vedic text, Atharvaveda. The earliest known manuscript of Ayurveda dates back to the 4th century and called the Bower Manuscript.
Homeopathy was created by German physician Samuel Hahnemann in the late eighteenth century. His research and work on remedies was published in two books in 1805 and 1810 (Materia Medica Pura). During this time and later, homeopathy reached its height of popularity and people preferred this treatment over other dangerous treatments available. This popularity did not last long, and due to criticism by other medical practioners and physicians, schools teaching and advocating homeopathy closed down around the 1920s. It was revived again during the 1970s throughout the world.
Preparation of Medicine
Ayurvedic treatment uses vegetable drugs for internal consumption and external use. Minerals like sulphur, arsenic, copper, lead, gold and animal products like milk, bones, and gallstones are also added to the herbal products and used for treatment. Along with this treatment, Ayurveda stresses on meditation, exercise, yoga and massage for healthy living.
Homeopathic remedies use various plant, animal, synthetic materials, and mineral substances. The medicines are prepared by diluting the substance in alcohol or distilled water and vigorously shaking it (a process known as succession) to pass the properties of the substance to the dilution.
In India, Ayurveda is taught and practised by professionals. The Central Council for Research in Ayurveda and Siddha (CCRAS) is a state-sponsored institution involved in research and promotion of clinical, literary and other aspects of Ayurveda. There are various research institutes outside of India too that are involved in the promotion of this stream of medicine. Institutes in Japan, Australia, the Netherlands, Italy, Argentina and Germany are also involved in collaborating and teaching Ayurveda.
The Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act of 1938 recognized homeopathic remedies as drugs. In the late 1970s, homeopathy made a significant comeback and sales of some homeopathic companies increased tenfold. Homeopathic remedies are now known worldwide, and are being accepted and integrated into regular medicine. Many pharmacies have also starting selling homeopathic remedies.
Criticisms of Homeopathy and Ayurveda
Ayurvedic treatment has been criticised by scientists due to the lack of sufficient evidence or clinical trials proving the efficacy of the drugs. Also, there are safety concerns regarding using some herbs and minerals and other substances which might be toxic to human beings.
Some physicians have described Homeopathy as a deceptive mode of treatment. Due to the high dilution of the drugs used for treatment it is argued that there is no trace of the original substance left in the dilution and thus the difference seen in the patient is attributed to a placebo effect. Though it is a safe treatment with no side effects seen in humans, it is advisable that people opting for this treatment are advised of the true nature of the substance.