Modern homeopathic doctors make a conventional diagnosis like all other doctors. Case-taking, examination and diagnosis are all important in patient management. Conventional diagnosis is essential in order to identify the patient for whom homeopathic treatment is appropriate, and to determine the location and the pathological changes involved. Besides this, it renders inestimable help in planning the homeopathic treatment. It gives an idea of the location (tissues and organs affected), the pathological changes (type, degree and extent), the pathogenic agent, the physiological disturbances induced, the psychological accompaniments, and the pathogenesis. It is obvious that no rational treatment can be planned in the absence of knowledge of the factors mentioned above. Similarly, it will be impossible to give the prognosis with any semblance of accuracy unless the doctor possesses this knowledge. It also enables the doctors to ‘choose their case’ and to eliminate cases that require primarily surgical or other measures. It also makes assessment of the results possible.
Indications for treatment
Both the pathology presented and the long-term treatments require the homeopathic doctor to make continual assessments of the indication for treatment. Homeopathic treatment often needs to be prescribed within a broader care plan, which includes an awareness of the need for conventional medical diagnosis, prognosis and treatments. Since, in a number of cases, homeopathy can be applied as a successful alternative to conventional medicine and in other cases can be used to supplement conventional medicine, the regulation and co-ordination of training criteria imposed on the practitioners providing homeopathy should constitute an essential guarantee for citizens. Therefore, it is essential, in the interests of both patients and practitioners, that qualifications be harmonised at the same high level as in conventional medicine. A full medical training ensures the necessary clinical competence required.
By virtue of their medical qualification, all medical doctors are entitled to practise medicine, which in principle may include homeopathy. Owing to a different definition of health, however, the therapeutic objective as well as the practical approach to illness differs widely in homeopathy as compared to conventional medicine. Homeopathy requires specific knowledge and skills. Therefore, not all doctors can be considered as competent homeopathic doctors. Competence depends on the quality of this specific knowledge and skill. In addition, homeopathic treatment is dependent entirely upon the physician’s understanding and perception of what is to be cured, much more so than in mainstream medicine. As a consequence, homeopathy is not uniformly effective. In the hands of a very experienced and perceptive homeopathic physician, one can expect much more consistent results than in the hands of a novice.
Skills and competence
Homeopathic doctors should be able to combine the knowledge and skills in homeopathic practice with the knowledge and skills in the practice of conventional medicine. A homeopathic doctor will, therefore, be a fully qualified medical practitioner additionally trained in homeopathy, and qualified to integrate homeopathy into patient care within the context of general medical practice, conventional specialist practice or full-time homeopathic practice. S/he will bring to the consultation all the ethical and professional values, competence and responsibility that are expected of a medical practitioner; forming an all round assessment of the patient’s needs, and collaborating with other health care practitioners whose care the patient is already receiving or may need.
The ECH has formulated the training requirements for qualified homeopathic doctors in the ECH Medical Homeopathic Education Standard. A growing number of homeopathic teaching centres in Europe fulfil all the requirements of this standard and have duly been accredited.
To ensure the continuous quality of their knowledge and skills, homeopathic doctors follow continuing education, both in conventional medicine and in homeopathy. The national homeopathic doctors’ associations have an instrumental role in safeguarding the quality aspects.
Code of conduct
The ECH has adopted a code of conduct outlining the responsibilities and proper practices of homeopathic doctors. It can be found here.