Bird flu: Challenge for homeopaths

With the pandemic on the verge of getting big, its time for them to show that their remedies work, Dr KK Aggarwal.

india Updated: Mar 21, 2006 18:11 IST

It's the time for the homeopaths all over the world to unite and show that the recent controversy on homeopathy created in an article published in BMJ was a wrong move. Homeopathy over decades has been known to be effective in preventing epidemics. With bird flu pandemic on the verge of being happening its time for the homeopaths consortium to show that their remedies work.

Allopaths use vaccines for prevention and they have none for the current bird flu. A "vaccine" is any substance used in active immunization. "Active immunization" is the inoculation, usually by injection of a special antigen to promote antibody production. These may be dead bacteria (e.g. Typhoid), dead viruses (e.g. Salk polio), live viruses (e.g. Sabin's polio), or toxoids (e.g. Tetanus or Diphtheria).

Homoeopathy had its own theory regarding vaccination. It never introduces pathogenic microorganisms into the body, so its medicine cannot strictly be called vaccines. The equivalent are nosodes, which have a prophylactic or preventative effect. They are always taken orally. These nosodes are prepared by a process of diluting and succussing, called potentisation, so that there is no trace of the original pathogen remaining.

A nosode (from nosos, the Greek word meaning disease) is a homeopathic preparation made from matter from a sick animal or person. Substances such as respiratory discharges or diseased tissues are used. The preparation, using alcohol, as well as the repeated dilution and successions, essentially renders the substances harmless, while producing a powerful remedy.

Homeopathy is a science where the matter is converted into non-matter before it is used in the clinical practice.

During the 200-year history of Homoeopathy, this form of medicine has proved to be extraordinarily effective in preventing and curing epidemic disease. Dr Samuel Hahnemann, had great success in treating epidemics of scarlet fever. Villages treated with his prophylactics entirely escaped dreaded epidemics, including the Plague.

"The Journal of the American Institute for Homeopathy, May, 1921, had a long article about the use of homeopathy in the flu epidemic. Dr. TA McCann, from Dayton, Ohio reported that 24,000 cases of flu treated allopathically had a mortality rate of 28.2 per cent while 26,000 cases of flu treated homeopathically had a mortality rate of 1.05 per cent.

This last figure was supported by Dean WA Pearson of Philadelphia (Hahnemann College) who collected 26,795 cases of flu treated with homeopathy with the above result. Dr. Herbert A Roberts from Derby, CT, said that 30 physicians in Connecticut responded to his request for data. They reported 6,602 cases with 55 deaths, which is less than 1 per cent. Dr. Roberts was working as a physician on a troop ship during WWI. He had 81 cases of flu on the way over to Europe. He reported, "All recovered and were landed. Every man received homeopathic treatment. One ship lost 31 on the way."---Julian Winston

Nosodes have been used in prophylaxis. Examples would be the use of Influenzinum in flu prophylaxis or Morbillinum in a measles epidemic. Closely related to this would be the use of the sarcode Anas barbare hepatis et cardus extractum (liver and heart of the Barbary duck) for 'flu'. Derived from tissues of the native host of influenza, this remedy is prepared from tissue containing and reacting to the influenza virus.

For preparing nosodes specific perpetrations are used in the prevention of corresponding diseases. e.g. - Morbillinum - Measles, Variolinum - Small pox, Influenzinum - Influenza, Diphtherinum - Diphtheria Dr. HC Allen notes about the use of Diphtherinum, "The author has used it for twenty-five years as a prophylactic and has never known a second case of diphtheria to occur in a family after it had been administered".

Homeopathic preparations have not been shown to raise antibody levels. Smits tested the titre of antibodies to diphtheria, polio and tetanus in ten children before and one month after giving homeopathic preparations of these three vaccines (DTPol 30K and 200K). He found no rise in antibody levels (Smits, 1995). He speculates that protection afforded by a homeopathic remedy acts on a "deeper" level than that of antibodies.

Homoeopathic remedies reduce the patient's sensitivity to the dynamic stimulus of the virus or bacteria, thus lessening the patient's predisposition to being overcome by this stimulus" (Golden, 1994).

If homeopathic remedies do not produce an increase in antibody levels, then the only way to measure the effectiveness of homeopathic prophylaxis is through clinical results.

Dr. Aggarwal is Sr. Consultant, Moolchand Medcity; President, Delhi Medical Association; President, Heart Care Foundation of India; and Member, Delhi Medical Council.

First Published: Mar 21, 2006 18:11 IST