Abstract:Homoeopathy is founded upon the principles that are again founded upon the natural law. Accuracy and efficiency in homoeopathic therapeutics is only possible to those who have a clearly defined idea of the field in which the principle of similia is operative. Since the discovery of homoeopathy till now, there have been numerous instances of epidemic diseases where homoeopathy has shown its superiority. The historical evidences of success in epidemic diseases, found throughout the literature, and in other publications, stimulates a homoeopath and other researcher to find out a solution in crisis of any epidemic diseases. This paper shows the effectiveness of homoeopathy in different epidemics irrespective of place, name and nature of the epidemic diseases and also superior result of homoeopathic treatment over conventional treatment even in epidemic diseases.
Abbreviations: Central Council for Research in Homoeopathy(CCRH), influenza like illness (ILI), Japanese encephalitis(JE), acute encephalitis syndrome (AES), Ministry of Ayurveda, Yoga and Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homoeopathy (AYUSH), Uttar Pradesh (UP), coronavirus disease (COVID-19), World Health Organization (WHO), nuclear factor kappa-b (NF-KB), green fluorescent protein (GFP), tumour necrosis factor (TNF).
Homoeopathy is the department of science in general medicine which has, for its principal objects, the observation and study of the action of remedial agents in health and disease, and the treatment and cure of disease by medication, according to the fixed law or general principle1.
Epidemic diseases are those diseases in which many persons are attacked with very similar sufferings from the same cause; and generally become infectious (contagious) when they prevail among thickly congregated masses of human beings.
History of epidemic diseases shows that every now-and-then, some part of the world gets affected with epidemic diseases very frequently. 1918 flu pandemic in India, 1974 small pox epidemic in India, 1994 plague epidemic in India, 2009 swine flu pandemic in India, cholera pandemic2 of 1817-1824; of 1826-1837; of 1863-1875 and of 1899-1923 are some of the epidemics which have shaken the Indian health system very badly. In the last two decades only, the world has seen three major epidemics like severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) in 2003, middle-east respiratory syndrome (MERS) in 2012, and current novel corona virus nCov-2019. Epidemic disease has emerged as a great economic burden to the world. Homoeopathy has proved that it has greatest potential in both preventing the spread of an epidemic disease and its treatment. Few evidences of success of homoeopathy in epidemic diseases are given below.
Homoeopathy and epidemic disease:
- Epidemic of scarlet fever3– In an epidemic of scarlet fever in 1799, in Germany, Master Hahnemann encountered several cases of scarlet fever successfully, both in the preventive as well as in curative aspect. In 1801, he wrote an article named, “Cure and Prevention of Scarlet fever”, where he detailed his plan of prevention and cure for the scarlet fever epidemic.
- For the treatment of persons affected with scarlet fever, Hahnemann used different medicines as per the staging/grading of the cases.
First stage – Opium
Second stage – Ipecacuanha
- After sufferings of scarlet fever – Hahnemann stated about Belladonna possessing a valuable and specific power to remove the after-sufferings from scarlet fever in majority of the cases.
In few cases, the after-sufferings of scarlet fever were removed by Matricaria Chamomilla.
- For the prevention from the epidemic of scarlet fever, he used Belladonna with great success.
He advised to take a preventive remedy as long as epidemic lasts, and four (to five) weeks thereafter.
Hahnemann also stressed on the importance of diet and regimen during the epidemic in the following words,
“As regards moral and physical dietetic means in the treatment of fully developed cases of scarlet fever, I would advise that we should try to dispel all fears by means of kind and cheering words, by nice little presents, by holding out hopes of speedy recovery- and on the other hand we should allow the patient a free choice of all kinds of drinks, a warmer or cooler coverings to suit his feelings. The patient’s own feelings are a much surer guide than all the maxims of the school. We must only take care kindly to keep the patient from taking solid nutriment too soon, or in too great quantity during his convalescence.”
- Epidemic of asiatic cholera4: Hahnemann wrote an article named, “Cause and Prevention of Asiatic cholera,” in 1831. He stated the plan of his successful treatment and prevention from this epidemic.
- For the treatment of persons affected with asiatic cholera, Hahnemann used different medicines as per the staging/grading of the cases.
First stage – Camphor.
For quickest recovery, Hahnemann also advised to rub the spirit of Camphor into the skin of arms, legs and chest of the patient. He also advised to give Camphor through olfaction, if the medicine can’t be given orally.
Second stage – Cuprum metallicum 30 (preferably) or Veratrum album 30
Typhoid state – Sometimes when aid is delayed for many hours or other and improper remedies have been administered, the patient falls into typhoid state, with delirium. In this state, Hahnemann used Bryonia alba 30 alternately with Rhus toxicodendron 30 with great success.
- For prevention of the asiatic cholera, he advised to take Cuprum metallicum 30 once every week.
He also advised the alteration of Cuprum metallicum 30 and Veratrum album 30 from week to week as a preventive against the disease.
He stressed on the fact that, “preventive medicine should be taken only when disease prevails in the locality itself, or in the neighbourhood.
- Epidemic of typhus5: Hahnemann treated 183 patients of epidemic typhus with Rhus toxicodendron without losing a single case.
- For the treatment of persons affected with typhus fever, Hahnemann used different medicines as per the staging/grading of the cases.
First stage – Bryonia alba and Rhus toxicodendron.
Second stage – Hyoscyamus niger.
Third stage – sweet spirit of nitre.
During the epidemic of typhus fever in Germany, in 1813, Hahnemann treated 200 cases typhus but with two deaths6.
- Small-pox epidemic7– Von Boenninghausen, during the small-pox epidemic in 1800s treated several cases of small-pox with Thuja occidentalis 200, with greatest efficacy. He also gave Thuja occidentalis 200 as a preventive of that small-pox epidemic. He stated that “none of my small-pox patient died in this epidemic.”
- Dr Pierre Schmidt used Lathyrus sativus in the epidemic of poliomyelitis. He got 100% success in prevention and treatment of cases of poliomyelitis in that epidemic8.
- Dr Grimmer has protected about 5000 children from the epidemic of poliomyelitis. He used the remedy Lathyrus sativus in 30th potency, once a week during the period of epidemic and in later years he used Lathyrus sativus 10M potency at an interval of 30 days with complete protection9.
- Dr S. R. Wadia, used Parotidinum as prophylactic in the ‘mumps’ epidemic with great success10.
- According to Dr Dewey, Mercurius cyanatus given in routine way, in the most malignant epidemicus in Europe, cured above 95% of cases11.
- Dr E. Williams reported the favourable action of Arsenicum album in the epidemic of small-pox occurring in England in 187212.
- In the year 2007, during and epidemic of chikungunya, homoeopathic medicine Bryonia alba was given as a preventive to 20,000 people. It decreased the incidence of chikungunya significantly13.
- Acute encephalitis syndrome/ japanese encephalitis14:
- CCRH had carried out research studies for prevention and treatment of JE during its epidemics in eastern parts of U.P. in 1989, 1991 and 1993. Belladonna 200, single dose was distributed as preventive to 3,22,812 persons in 96 villages in three districts of U.P. (Gorakhpur, Deoria, Maharajganj) during the period 29th October to 16th November 1991 in the wake of reoccurrence of JE epidemic in Uttar Pradesh (India) by a team of research workers of CCRH, New Delhi. Follow up of 39,250 persons was done and it was found that none of them reported any signs and symptoms of JE.
- In the year 2012, a research team of CCRH conducted an study to explore the role of homoeopathic medicine in in managing AES. A total of 151 children diagnosed with AES were enrolled. Out of them 121 children were given standard care along with homoeopathic medicine and 30 children were kept under standard care alone. The result showed 12 (9.9%) death homoeopathy added group whereas it was 13 (43%) death in standard care group. There was 33% reduction in death and disability in group where homoeopathy was added compared to standard care alone. The results were statistically significant.
- Dengue fever epidemic15:In 1996, CCRH reported that a homoeo-prophylactic was administered to at least to 39200 people in the Delhi area during an epidemic of dengue haemorrhagic fever. The follow-up of 23520 people, 10 days later, revealed that only 5 people (0.125%) had developed mild symptom, with rest showing no signs and symptoms of the disease.
- Leptospirosis epidemic15:In late 2007, the Cuban government rapidly distributed a homoeopathic nosode of four leptospirosis strain to 2.3 million people at high risk of infection from an annual leptospirosis epidemic. The remaining population of 8.8 million was untreated. Within weeks, the treated provinces had an 84% decrease in incidence while the number of those infected in untreated provinces continues at expected historical levels. The intervention was strongly associated with a drastic reduction of disease incidence resulting in complete control of epidemic. The protective effect continued into 2008 with 84% reduction in leptospirosis cases for the treated area though no further prophylactic had been given. Leptospirosis infection in untreated area increased by 22%.
How to find the genus epidemicus of an epidemic?
“Genus epidemicus” is the word coined by Dr Hahnemann, which denotes the homoeopathic remedy which is similar to the totality of symptoms found in the majority of the patients suffering in an epidemic disease, which if given to the patient before the onset of the disease, prevents the epidemic disease, or when given during the disease, cures the patient16.
Master Hahnemann described about the methods to follow for selecting the genus epidemicus of an epidemic disease in the aphorism 100, 101 and 102 of the Organon of Medicine. Later, Dr J. T. Kent elaborated the method in his philosophy(17)(18).
The method is as follows:
Every epidemic should be considered as a new one, regardless of something similar happened in the past under the same name or a different name.
The physician should carefully examine the case of the prevailing epidemic in all its phases.
It is by the close observation of several cases of such collective disease, the physician becomes conversant with the totality of signs and symptoms of the epidemic. The carefully observing physician can, however, from the examination of even the first and the second patient, often arrives so nearly at knowledge of the true state as to have in his mind a characteristic portrait of it, and even to succeed in finding a suitable, homoeopathically adapted remedy for it.
The physician will write all the symptoms that have been present in each case in schematic form, arranging the mind symptoms of different patients under the “mind” and head symptoms under the “head” and so on, following Hahnemann’s method, they, considered collectively, will present one image, as if one man has expressed all the symptoms, and in this way, he will have that particular disease in schematic form.
After evaluating the collected symptoms in schematic form, the general and particular symptoms of the disease are found.
Every patient has a few new symptoms as he puts his own stamp on that disease. Those symptoms that run through all patients are the pathognomonic symptoms; those which are rare are the peculiarities of the different people. This totality represents to the human mind, as nearly as possible, the nature of this sickness, and it is this nature that therapeutist must have in mind.
After repertorising the characteristic symptoms of entire schema, six or seven remedies (i.e. a group of remedies) run though the picture, and therefore, are related to the epidemic, corresponding to its whole nature. This may be called the group of epidemic remedies for that particular epidemic, and with these remedies, he will manage to cure nearly all his cases.
From this group of remedies, the physician will prescribe in each individual case he will handle. One of the remedy in epidemic group will most likely be indicated in many cases, yet if none of these should fit the patient, the physician must return to original anamnesis to see which one of the other remedies is suitable. Very rarely will a patient demand a remedy not in the list.
No remedy must be given because it is in the list, for the list has only been made as a means of facilitating the study of that epidemic.
Some of the comparative data of the results of homoeopathic treatment over conventional treatment in few epidemics19:
- In the epidemic of 1853-55 at New Orleans, the patient treated by allopathy had death rate of 5.1%; while in the same city, during the epidemic of 1878, of 1945 cases treated homoeopathically had death rate of 5.66%, while outside of New Orleans in the same epidemic death rate was 7.67%. On the same ground and during the same epidemic, the most favourable allopathic mortality was 17%, while in many places, it was much higher.
- Asiatic cholera epidemics:
In 1846, at Homoeopathic Cholera Hospital at Munich, 242 person were treated with mortality rate of 2.48%
In 1848, at Edinburgh Homoeopathic dispensary, 236 patients were treated with mortality rate of 24.15%; while in the same city during the same epidemic, 640 cases were treated by allopathic physician with mortality rate of 67.97%.
In Liverpool, in 1849, of 179 persons treated homoeopathically, 45 died with mortality rate of 25.14 % while the general mortality was 46%
In 1884, by the attachés of the homoeopathic dispensary at Naples, Italy, 83 cases were treated with Camphor alone, with 3 deaths, or 3.61, while the average mortality in that country, as well as in France and Spain, was over 70 percent.
- The mortality during the last epidemic, 1873, was, according to the government statistics, 52%, which is more than double the least successful homoeopathic treatment on record.
- During the epidemic of typhoid fever at Stamford city in 1895, allopathy treated 284 cases with mortality rate of 7.74%; while homoeopathic physicians treated 122 cases with mortality of 4.09%. In New Heaven city of same state during 1891-1895, allopath’s treated 458 cases with mortality of 25.98%; while homoeopaths treated 60 cases with mortality of 20%.
- In 1846-47, an epidemic of typhus fever and dysentery occurred in Ireland; of the patients treated with homoeopathy, the mortality rate was 1.8% for typhus and continued fever had the mortality rate was 14% for dysentery patient. While the patients treated allopathically had mortality rate of 12.32 for typhus and continued fever and mortality rate was 24.39% for dysentery patient.
A discussion on protection from an epidemic from homoeopathic view point20:
- If an epidemic comes upon the land, only a few come down with it. Why are some protected and why do others take it? These things must be settled by the doctrine of homoeopathy.
- There are several kinds of protection from sickness. When a violent epidemic is raging, it is known that, although the number of victim is large, they are few compared to those who go through the epidemic unscathed and the question always arises, why is it?
There are mainly two reasons for this as follows –
- The persons may not have been infected from the epidemic disease because they have vigorous and strong immunity or in a state of very good order; in other words, they have strong vitality in order.
- Among the second group of people who have not got infection of the epidemic, if one looks closely they were suffering from a number of chronic diseases like diabetes mellitus, bright’s disease, consumption, etc.
The persons suffering from the chronic disease have deranged vitality, but still they are protected from the epidemic, why?
The reason is that they have sickness that is impossible for the epidemic to suppress. The epidemic is allopathic, or dissimilar to their diseases, and cannot suppress their disease because of its virulency.
If the chronic disease is stronger than the epidemic disease, i.e. if it has an organic hold upon the body, it cannot be suppressed. This is essentially the relation of acute dissimilar disease to the chronic disease of severity.
This relation between chronic disease and epidemic disease is explained by Master Hahnemann in the aphorism 36 of Organon of Medicine as,
“if two dissimilar diseases, meeting together in the human being be of equal strength, or still more if the older one be the stronger, the new disease will be repelled by the old one from the body and not allowed to affect it. A patient suffering from a severe chronic disease will not be infected by moderate autumnal dysentery or other epidemic disease….. ”
- Man is protected from sickness in two ways, by homoeopathy and by use. The physician and the nurse who go into the district of an epidemic to treat the infected people, who keep busy, who have gone into the work as mediums of mercy, will be largely protected just simply from their love of work, from their delight in it.They have no fear. Fear is the overwhelming cause of sickness; those who fall prey into the fear are likely to become sick, but those who face disease with no fear are likely to remain well; they do sometimes fall sick, it is true, but I believe it is because they begin to have fear in the work.
- For prophylaxis, there is required a less degree of similitude than is necessary for curing. A remedy will not have to be so similar to prevent disease as to cure it, and these remedies in daily use will enable to prevent a large number of people from becoming sick. One must look to homoeopathy for protection as well as for cure.
- Dr Wheeler21 recommends that in epidemic, the corresponding nosode in 30th potency will protect for at least a fortnight. Others like Dr Grimmer, etc. recommend one dose in high potency, once a year. For prevention of small pox – Variolinum; whooping cough – Pertussinum; measles – Morbillinum; diphtheria – Diphtherinum, etc.
Corona virus disease (COVID-19) pandemic22:
The new corona virus disease (COVID-19) was first reported from Wuhan, China, on 31 December 2019. 72 countries reported COVlD-19 incidence with 90,870 confirmed cases and 3112 deaths as per WHO factsheet as on 03.03.2020. As on 03.03.2020, 05 confirmed cases are reported in India from various parts. Ministry of AYUSH has advised to take the following measures to fight the pandemic:
As immunity booster: Arsenicum album 30, daily once in empty stomach for three days. The dose should be repeated after one month by following the same schedule till corona virus infections prevalent in the community. In one of the studies, Arsenicum album as one of the constituents in a formulation affected HT29 cells and human macrophages. Also, it showed .j.NF-KB hyperactivity (reduced expression of reporter gene GFP in transfected HT29 cells), .J.TNF-a release in macrophages. More over Arsenicum album is a common prescription in the cases of respiratory infections in day to day practice.
Dr J.H. Clarke23 has mentioned that in an epidemic of influenza, the best preventive is Arsenicum album. Six pilules of Arsenicum album to be taken thrice daily when the epidemic is about to occur.
For treatment: Various medicines found to be effective in treating flu like illness are Arsenicum album, Bryonia alba, Rhus toxicodendron, Belladonna, Gelsemium sempervirens, Eupatorium perfoliatum. All these medicines should be taken in consultation with qualified physicians of respective AYUSH systems.
General preventive measures : i. Observe good personal hygiene. ii. Practise frequent hand washing with soap. iii. Follow respiratory etiquettes – cover the mouth when coughing or sneezing. iv. Avoid close contact with people who are unwell or showing symptoms of illness, such as cough, runny nose, etc. v. Avoid contact with live animals and consumption of raw/undercooked meats. vi. Avoid travel to farms, live animal markets or where animals are slaughtered. vii. Wear a mask if you have respiratory symptoms such as cough or runny nose.
Following the advisory of AYUSH, many organisations, institutes and practitioners are distributing the Arsenicum album 30 for prevention of COVID-19. Also, there are institutes, who are treating the COVID positive cases under the directives of AYUSH and CCRH. The results of such interventions are yet to be published; but the historical evidences of success of homoeopathy in epidemic diseases confirm the positive outcome.
Homoeopathy has proved its effectiveness again and again in different epidemics. Homoeopathy can reduce the mortality and morbidity of an epidemic very significantly which will also lessen the economic burden of the country. It is the duty of the homoeopaths to establish these facts in the current and future epidemic through different clinical trials and research works, which will convince the world for acceptance of homoeopathy as a priority even in different epidemic or pandemic. Dr A. H. Grimmer has mentioned in this regard, “As true healers and educators of progressive medicine, it is our duty to give to the world this knowledge for its protection and well-being. It is also our duty to invite physicians of all schools of healing to test fully the homeopathic art of protection against epidemic diseases if nothing else. If such tests were honestly made by sincere men of all schools of healing, Homoeopathy would reach its place in the sun.”
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About The authors:
- Dr Awadhesh Kumar Thakur – Medical Officer (Homoeopathy), Central Government Health Scheme, Government of India.
- Dr KM Priyanka – Medical Officer (Homoeopathy), Government of Uttar Pradesh.