The Ishtara Centre has sat unobtrusively on the Endeavour Main Road, on the outer edge of Lange Park for the last 22 years, its exterior giving little suggestion of what goes on inside. Ishtara was and continues to be the centre of Dr Harry Ramnarine's practice in homeopathic/alternative medicine, which began long before the term became mainstream.
Ramnarine was trained as a conventional medical doctor at UWI, Mona. He began to practice homeopathic medicine from the early 1980s because of his dissatisfaction with the nature of the solutions conventional medicine provided.
He felt the whole person, rather than specific conditions, ought to be the focus of the medical intervention, and began to investigate alternatives.
He went to Germany (along with many others from across the world) and did short working-training sessions with some of the early pioneers of the field like Dr Reinhold Voll.
Today, says Ramnarine, what he practices can no longer be termed homeopathic or naturopathic medicine, since he has branched out into many areas of treatment including photonic and sonic (light and sound) therapy, crystal therapy, meditative therapy, and more esoteric therapies, like the harnessing of electromagnetic fields to influence behaviour and health.
These practices now fall under the catchall term, "complementary and alternative medicine" (CAM). A brief history was published in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine in December 2006.
There are five CAM hospitals in the UK, including one in London, given the title "Royal" by George VI, and the Royal family of the UK continues to support CAM.
But Ramnarine is not just a practitioner who keeps abreast of his field. He is also an obsessive researcher trying to push the boundaries of his field.
He has been searching for and devising a variety of treatment modes over the last two decades, and continuously experimenting with new treatments. He conducts experiments on his own, relying on observations or consultations with patients, and their evolving needs.
His experiments and conclusions are not subject to peer review but Ramnarine says he has invited local medical colleagues to look at his work, to no effect.
The traditional approach to homeopathic medicine has been to use the essences of plants and diluting mixtures. The theory goes that as the concentration of the compound decreased, its energy potential energy increased–to wit, smaller amounts, more energy. But Ramnarine has gone beyond that. Three of his significant advances and innovations, he says, include a process to detoxify cellular phones, a turmeric-based compound called a "healthron", and a new medium for transmitting curative energy by generating quantum energy fields with which to "charge" medicinal compounds.
This sort of practice has not found favour with the medical establishment here or abroad, and has been widely ridiculed. Ramnarine has not deserted his training, and his practice has evolved not minimising the input of traditional medicine, but augmenting it. Yet his treatments and practice have been scoffed at by the local medical establishment.
Prof Paul Teelucksingh, professor of medicine at UWI, Mt Hope, responded, when asked for a comment on homeopathic medicine that: "Homeopathy is a largely debunked principle not validated to any measure. The benefits allegedly derived from it are no different from that one might expect from giving "dummy" (placebo) pills. The illnesses that derive benefits from homeopathy are similar to the ones that respond to other mind games like yoga. Thus you can't treat tuberculosis with homeopathy but you might successfully achieve success if you try it for migraine or hay fever or irritable bowel syndrome."
This is a good pr�cis of the conventional view, but it has not stopped the growth of the practice globally, or the numbers of eminently sensible and conservative people who avail themselves of it with apparently satisfactory results.
The British government recently released several letters written by Prince Charles of England to government ministers encouraging them (among other things) to include "alternative medicine" into the mainstream health institutions where it "could make a real difference."
Charles faced a great deal of ridicule and invective for his support of the practice, but has remained unwavering in his endorsement. Ramnarine has come to a similar conclusion. He has accepted the fact that most of his colleagues have dismissed what he does. However, patients have not.
The waiting list for a consultation at Ishtara is about three months, and one of Ramnarine's sons, also trained as a medical doctor, has returned from practice in the UK to join the practice, which shows no sign of waning in its third decade.
Of his research on cell-phone radiation, Ramnarine says he has developed a quantum field which neutralises the harmful radiation effects of cell phones. This he is unwilling to discuss too much, since he is in the process of patenting it in the US, though he does offer the service at his Ishtara centre.
His other discoveries, says Ramnarine, are the refinement of years of private research, once his focus turned to what he called "the informational field" of human beings. "Everything that exists has three states," he said, "the material, the energetic, and the informational." The human body is material, but it produces energy (electrical), and it also has an informational field.
A convenient way to think of this is hardware and software. The informational field can be compared to computer software; using electrical energy, it uses the hardware of the computer to run programmes composed of code to produce certain results (documents, images, instructions to car engines or cell phones).
The basis of software programmes is a series of ones and zeroes, arranged in sequences, which constitute computer code. By manipulating numbers in particular combinations, Ramnarine says, he has been able to generate quantum informational fields which affect the properties of base solutions, charging them with particular qualities.
These qualities run from the tangible to the emotional–he has compounds which affect the blood and cardiovascular system, and ones that affect self-confidence.
A second component of his discoveries was his thinking on the root cause of illness. Recent medical attention has been focused on inflammation as the root cause of many conditions. The Wall Street Journal, of July 16, 2012, published an article by Laura Landro summarising the leading US authorities on the issue, like the American Medical Association, and National Institutes of Health, and various US medical schools.
But the realisation had occurred to Ramnarine some years before, and pushed him to focus on a general class of health preserving and restoring compounds.
He found that turmeric (an anti-inflammatory staple of Ayurvedic medicine which has gone mainstream), of all the substances he tested was the most effective broad-based remedy which affected all body's systems–immune, cardiovascular, lymph and so on.
Using turmeric extract as a base, he has created a series of compounds called "healthrons" which assist with a number of ailments, again from conventional ailments like heart and liver disease, to trauma.
It's unfortunate that CAM must remain on the fringes of local medical practice, but Ramnarine is hopeful and determined. His best case scenario is to create a situation where the patient is treated to a point where he needs to see the doctor less and less, and has time to get on with the increasingly complicated business of living.