Ravindra Kumar, store manager, Life Home Healthcare, picks homeopathic medicine from the shelves. Image Credit: Gulf News archives

Abu Dhabi: The prevalence of allergies in the UAE is causing an increasing number of patients to resort to alternative forms of medicine, especially homeopathy.

Clinics in the capital offering this form of treatment, which is common in south Asia, are reporting an influx of patients, including people from Western and Arab nations, where homeopathy is less widespread.

“When I first arrived in the UAE in the 1980s, I was suffering from frequent sinus allergies, and was prescribed antibiotics every few months,” said Mohammad Salem, an accountant from Kenya. “Traditional medicine didn’t seem effective in keeping my sinuses healthy, so I eventually approached homeopathy.”

Salem says that the treatment helped settle his respiratory system, and that he has never had to take antibiotics again for the problem.

“I faced the same problem with my children, and it was homeopathy that helped,” he said. “I believe that this form of medicine tends to improve the body’s immunity.”

Homeopathy works under the principle that a substance that causes symptoms of a disease in healthy people will cure similar symptoms in sick people. Despite many people doubting the treatment, patients like Salem vouch for its effectiveness in comparison to traditional medicine, and say that there are too few clinics offering it.

One complaint is that health insurance, which is mandatory for residents in Abu Dhabi, does not cover treatment or consultations with homeopathic doctors. Still, this lack of coverage fails to dissuade many residents, who opt for the treatments even though they must pay on their own.

Shakhawat Hussain, a 47-year-old analyst from Bangladesh, said he routinely takes his two children to a homeopathy clinic.

“It is very helpful whenever they develop the flu,” he said. “Moreover, after my wife’s delivery, she was suffering from severe back pain. Traditional medicine could only provide temporary relief, but homeopathic treatment helped relieve these troubles completely.”

Consultations with homeopathy doctors tend to cost between Dh70 to Dh100, and medicines can cost up to Dh70.

“People are now more aware of the benefits of this form of medicine, and we see more non-Asian people visiting us,” said Dr Mariam Abdul Rasheed, a homeopathic physician at Al Kamal Clinic, who has been treating patients in Abu Dhabi for nine years.

The most common ailments that she encounters are respiratory allergies and skin diseases, as well as arthritis-related concerns, haemorrhoids and gastric troubles.

“What many people also don’t understand is that homeopathy can provide quick relief, and that it can also be effective in treating many chronic conditions,” she said.

Dr Vinayan Makkunnath, homeopathic practitioner at Home Health Medical Centre in Mussaffah, said he has seen a 50 per cent increase in the number of patients over the last two years.

“Most of the new patients we see come through following recommendations from their friends,” he said. “And the majority of them make repeat visits after that.”

Some patients also say they have found relief from conditions that traditional medicine deems incurable.

“I suffered from migraines for seven years, and the only conventional medicines available to me were painkillers, which only provided temporary relief,” said V M Majeed, 39, an underwriter from India. “Using homeotherapy, I have been able to reduce the number of migraines I suffer, and it takes only an hour for me to feel better, whereas these headaches used to trouble me for the entire day earlier.”