When the flu strikes. Think Homeopathy! Its time has come …
by Sally Tamplin B.Ed (Hons.) DSH, MARH CMT
It would seem that we are living in an age of increasing disaster and chaos. In the aftermath of hurricane Katrina and the earthquake in Asia we are now contemplating the possibility of a flu pandemic. Indeed it would appear that the latest avian flu threat is a hot topic; the newspapers, television and radio broadcasts are continuously informing us every day the about the increasing number of people who may succumb to this virus and there has been some discussion about the effectiveness and shortage of anti viral medicines. Health experts warn that the Bird Flu vaccine may come too late, it could take six months to manufacture adequate vaccine stocks and current stocks may be useless because the flu virus has mutated. Clearly some people are beginning to panic. In the light of this current situation I felt it necessary to update and rewrite this article which was originally published a few years ago.
Over many centuries medical practitioners have always noted that in any epidemic there are always a number of people, who despite exposure, never seem to get sick. These people seem to have stronger constitutions and are less susceptible. Unfortunately, many of us have weaker constitutions, and we are asking ourselves what we can do to keep the flu at bay this year. For most of us if we do get sick it is not likely to be a life-threatening problem, there will simply be the inconvenience of a few days off work or school. However, there are growing numbers of people who are immune compromised and for them an encounter with the predicted avian flu may land them in hospital or prove to be life threatening. The current press is speculating that hospitals will be overwhelmed and that many people will die.
During the 1918 influenza pandemic fifty million people died worldwide, much more than those struck down by bullets in the trenches of wartime France. Scientific evidence indicates this was an avian influenza that managed to mutate and infect the human population. It was young people, in the prime of their life, 25 -34 years of age, which were most severely affected; they appeared to have no immunity and succumbed to a pneumonia that would kill within days. It was not uncommon for someone physically strong and in good health to get up feeling well in the morning and by bedtime they would be dead.
As a homeopath and Executive Director of The Minnesota Homeopathic Association, one of my main priorities is to inform the general public about this wonderfully effective system that can help the body to heal quickly and without the toxic side effects of conventional medications. However, few people understand the principles and practice of homeopathy. Most people that I encounter at my public speaking engagements confuse homeopathy with herbalism. Homeopathic remedies come from different sources and although many are derived from plants there are a number of remedies that come from the animal and mineral kingdoms. The FDA regulates the manufacture of all homeopathic remedies sold within the United States.
The interesting point about these remedies is that they are made in a way that renders them so dilute that in most cases there is nothing of the original substance in the pill. As a result of this process there is no danger of toxic substances building up in the body and producing unwanted side effects. Homeopathy is probably the safest type of medicine that you will ever find. Many people say that homeopathy must work because of the placebo effect. The truth is that no one has been able to explain exactly how the remedies work but for the past twenty years or so veterinary medicine has contributed to the development of homeopathy. It has shown that this system of healing works on animals that are unaware of what they are taking. There has been at least three large scale double – blind placebo –controlled trials to treat people with flu or influenza – like syndrome. Each of these large scale studies were conducted by independent researchers, and a treatment is considered proven when at least three independent studies verify positive results.
I have a nine year-old dachshund that took a turn for the worse a few years ago. He developed a right-sided herniated disc and suddenly his back legs became paralyzed. The prognosis was extremely poor for him. I gave him a homeopathic remedy specific to this problem for over a period of three months. I am delighted to say that according to the vet he made a 98% recovery and now he always wants to play tag and go for a long walk when I get home from work.
I know that homeopathy works and I get to witness its miraculous results every day in my professional practice. Only yesterday, the grandmother of a young boy who I have been helping with severe behavioral and ADD problems for the past year, looked me in the eye and announced that I have given her back her life and that of her grandson. It doesn’t get any better than this!
Homeopathic remedies are prescribed according to the Law of Similars.This law states, “That which makes sick shall heal.” This means that the symptoms caused by an overdose of a substance are the symptoms that can also be cured by a small dose of that same substance. As an example, we know that when we cut up an onion most people experience an acrid runny nose, soreness in the throat and stinging runny eyes. A homeopath will prescribe Allium Cepa, this is the homeopathic remedy made from the onion for the individual who has a cold and a sore throat with these symptoms. Therefore, homeopathy uses remedies prepared from natural substances that are similar to the illness in contrast to conventional or allopathic medicine, which treats and often suppresses the patient’s symptoms with large amounts of drugs, which then have the opposite effect.
A well chosen remedy acts as a signal, which energizes or stimulates the body’s self healing powers, mobilizing the defense systems and working on all aspects of the body - mental, emotional and physical. Homeopathic literature, both past and present, documents cases, sometimes of severe pathology, that have been cured or significantly helped by homeopathy.
The Flu Pandemic of 1918 – 1919: Homeopathy – the beacon of light
Since its discovery two hundred years ago, homeopathy has provoked much controversy, criticism, acclaim and impassioned support. It is interesting to note that during the 1918 flu pandemic large numbers of people sought homeopathic care and were restored to good health; in numerous cases their lives were saved. This was a time when homeopathy truly won its laurels and was a beacon of light to so many. If an influenza victim was seen as soon as symptoms began to develop and a good homeopathic remedy was given their life was spared and they went on to make an excellent recovery. The only patients whom homeopathic doctors tended to lose were people who presented late into their illness, usually with pneumonia, and often drugged by large toxic doses of aspirin.
The flu pandemic of 1918 – 1919 was devastating and it was about as deadly as the Black Death. People who lived through it reported that someone who was up and well in the morning could be dead by the evening. 50 million people died world wide and 548,000 in the USA alone. From information recorded and published by these doctors we know that homeopathy was highly successful and in most cases only one or two homeopathic remedies were needed. They were referred to as the “genus epidemicus” and became known through careful observation of the flu cases that were brought to the attention of the homeopathic community.
In an article published in the Journal of the American Institute of Homeopathy in 1921 Dean W.A.Pearson of Philadelphia collected 26,795 cases of influenza treated by homeopathic physicians with only a mortality rate of 1.05%, while the average conventional medical approach had a mortality rate of 30%. Dr Frank Wieland of Chicago says that in a plant of 8,000 workers there was only one death, the patients were not drugged with the conventional medicines of the time and no vaccines were used. Most workers were given just one homeopathic remedy, Gelsemium. Dr.T.A Mc Cann from Dayton. Ohio wrote: “I have treated 1,000 cases of influenza. I have the records to show my work. I have no losses. Please give all credit to homeopathy.”Dr.W.F Edmundson of Pittsburg related how one physician in a Pittsburg hospital asked a nurse if she knew anything better than what he was doing, because he was losing so many cases. The nurse replied, “Yes, Doctor, stop aspirin and go down to the homeopathic pharmacy and get homeopathic remedies, as the homeopathic doctors for whom I have nursed have not lost a single case.”1500 cases were reported to the Homeopathic Medical Society of the District of Colombia with only 15 deaths. Recoveries in the National Homoeopathic Hospital were 100%.*
A homeopathic remedy is prescribed upon the totality of an individual’s symptoms taken from the mental, emotional and the physical levels. The homeopathic Materia Medica has well over 3,500 remedies. There is no one remedy that is specific to the flu because individuals will manifest symptoms in different ways that are unique to them. The most important point to remember about homeopathy is that it treats the individual.
I have selected a number of the more common homeopathic remedies that have proved to be useful in influenza outbreaks. Sadly, homeopathy is not well known and all of the homeopathic hospitals of this past era in The United States have closed their doors. However, we do have a thriving, passionate homeopathic community right here in The Twin Cities and in many other locations in The United States. The old wisdom and knowledge of this past age still lies in the hands of a few practitioners who are always able and willing to share with our community. In the event of an influenza pandemic this knowledge may mean the difference between your life and your death.
Please read the remedy picture carefully and select the one, which seems to fit the picture of the individual whom you are caring for. The remedies can be purchased from local health food stores, Twin City Co - ops, Byerly’s and Lund’s stores, Mastels in St Paul, Present Moment Books and Herbs in Minneapolis and from mail order homeopathic pharmacies. Generally they are available to the public in low potencies.
· I would recommend that you purchase either 12c or 30c potencies but whatever potency is available will suffice.
· The remedy comes in the form of small sugar pills that are easily dissolved on the tongue. Do not eat or drink approximately 15 –30 minutes before and after the dose.
· The doses can be repeated frequently in an acute illness but as soon as symptoms improve it is very important to stop the remedy.
· If you select a remedy and take several doses but there is no improvement, review the symptoms and select another remedy that seems to fit the current picture.
· Usually the most important symptoms are how the individual feels mentally and emotionally. Consider what things make the individual feel better or worse. Pay attention to the strong and unique symptoms of the patient and match these up with the characteristic symptoms known for the homeopathic remedy.
· It is important to only take one remedy at a time.
· Children, adults and senior citizens can safely use homeopathic remedies, they are not intrinsically harmful but they are powerful and must be treated with care and respect. Store the remedies in a cool, dark place away from strong smells.
· The remedies can be safely used in conjunction with conventional medication; there is no known interaction.
· It is extremely important to work in conjunction with your licensed health care provider if symptoms are causing concern. When the patient’s condition requires serious conventional treatment, homeopathy often helps to speed up the healing process and it can enable a reduction in the dosages of conventional drugs and decrease the unwanted side effects.
Prevention is the best remedy.
No one wants to be sick over the coming winter months; the obvious precautions are to look after ourselves which means good nutrition, regular exercise and an appropriate amount of sleep. Washing the hands regularly helps to reduce the spread of infection, and if sickness strikes it is better to stay at home and to use a handkerchief or tissues. The homeopathic remedy Influenzinum can be used as a preventative for the regular flu that comes around annually. It can be taken once a month during the flu season and more often if contact is made with someone suffering from the flu. Many homeopathic pharmacies make it fresh from that year’s flu vaccine. Some homeopaths say that it is more effective than the conventional flu shot and without any side effects. Studies in England and India between 1968 and 1970 using homeopathic Influenzinum as a preventative showed that this remedy was highly effective at preventing the flu.However; please note that Influenzinum will not be effective at preventing an avian flu epidemic. Chicken Bird flu is an ever mobile and changing virus; there are over 20 different mutations.Boiron’s Oscillococcinum or Dolisos’Dolivaxil can be taken at the very beginning of feeling ill before any symptoms have developed, before you even know that its flu. Take 2 or three doses, 4 to 8 hours apart.
If the flu does strike your household here are some useful remedies to have on hand:
This remedy is useful if the flu symptoms came on very suddenly, especially after exposure to a dry, cold wind, infection or from an emotional shock or fright. There is a high fever, sore throat and feeling of great worry and fear. The individual is very restless and they feel better in the fresh air. They are worse in a warm room, in the evening or at night, when exposed to tobacco smoke or hearing music.
Arnica is our main remedy that we think of in times of acute trauma, accident and injury. People in an Arnica state usually send onlookers and helpers away saying, “I’m fine, there’s nothing wrong with me,” when usually its quite evident to the observer that they are very sick or injured. They will probably complain that the bed feels too hard and fear someone approaching and touching their body because it is so sore. They may desire sour drinks and alcohol.
This remedy is useful when an acute illness affects the nervous system. The patient will be extremely restless and anxious, they may express a fear of death and do not want to be left alone. They will be very chilly, their face is pale and will have an anxious expression and their pains are burning in nature, feeling like hot needles and are better with hot applications. They will be thirsty but only able to drink in small sips and are generally worse between 1 and 2am .Vomiting and/or diarrhea are extremely common Arsenicum symptoms
This remedy is useful for flu that comes on suddenly and the individual feels bruised and sore all over, the body and limbs feel as if they are scattered and all in bits. There is profuse sweating with a high fever and an intense thirst. The face is dull red in color and people who need this remedy look dazed and sluggish as if they may fall asleep at any time. This remedy is also for gastric flus with vomiting and diarrhea.
This remedy is useful when a very high fever comes on suddenly usually as a result of exposure to infection or from the head getting cold, wet, or overheated. The face is flushed and bright red, the throat is sore, the eyes are wide and staring and the pupils dilated, there is possible confusion and delirium. The individual feels better when they stand or sit upright and in a warm room. They are worse from any noise or bright light or movement. They are worse from lying down and at night and symptoms tend to affect the right side of their body.
This remedy is useful for a flu that comes on slowly, they ache all over and the remedy tends to be characterized by a violent headache that is made worse by coughing or by even slightly moving the eyes. The headache feels better if firm pressure is applied and they can sleep. There is dehydration and a need to drink lots of fluids at infrequent intervals. They feel very irritable, and want to be left alone and at home. They may be worrying about financial problems. They feel worse from any excitement, noise, touch, movement or bright light, from eating and coughing and at around 3am and 9pm.
This remedy is for the most terrible of all flus. The pains are so severe that it actually feels as if the bones are broken. The muscles ache and feel sore and bruised. The individual moans and groans and everything hurts. They feel worse for any kind of movement. They have a bursting headache and sore eyes. There is a lot of sneezing, the nose is runny, the chest is sore and coughing makes the head hurt. These people want ice-cold water although it brings on violent chills in the small of the back. They don’t sweat much but when they do they feel better except for the head.
This tends to be the number 1 flu remedy. In contrast to Aconite, Baptisia and Belladonna the symptoms of Gelsemium come on slowly after exposure to infection or as a result of worrying about a forthcoming task or event such as a public speaking engagement. There is a sore throat and chills, which run up and down the spine. They may have a splitting headache, which is better after urinating. There is a general feeling of fatigue, the legs feel weak and shaky and they just want to lie in bed. The eyelids are droopy, the head feels heavy and they may have double vision. There is pain felt in the bones. Although they may have a fever they do not sweat and they are not thirsty. They feel better in the fresh air, when moving around and bending forward. They feel worse in the early morning and last thing at night, in the sun, and when exposed to tobacco smoke.
People in this state will also have very bad breath, they have more salivation than normal and they are extremely thirsty.
People in a Nux Vomica state are highly sensitive; they easily become irritable, impatient, angry and easily offended. They are very chilly and want to be warmly wrapped up, they are very sensitive to light, noise and odors and often they will be constipated with frequent ineffectual urging or a sense of incompletion.
People in a Rhus Tox state are extremely restless, they want to be on the move all of the time, there is a lot of aching and stiffness in the joints which is worse on first starting to move and after sitting or lying down for a while. The pains ease up a bit after movement and then return again and require them to go and rest. They may be anxious, weepy, worse at night and have a red triangular tip to their tongue.
It is interesting to note that in the 1918 – 1919 flu pandemic homeopathic Gelsemium and Bryonia were the most commonly indicated remedies.
Never well since the flu?
Sometimes people get over a bout of the regular flu but never feel that they have completely recovered. If this is the case consider using the remedy Influenzinum. A single dose of the 30c potency is usually all that is required to rectify the situation. You may also consider consulting a professional homeopath.
There are many remedies that can be self-prescribed for minor ailments and in a first aid situation; in acute cases a well-chosen homeopathic remedy acts quickly and well. Homeopathy also has an excellent track record of being able to help more chronic conditions from ADD, ADHD and chronic fatigue syndrome to asthma, excema, allergies and ear infections to name just a few. If you are impressed with the results of homeopathy consider seeing a professional homeopath. If you or a loved one is suffering from a chronic health problem it generally takes the considerable expertise of a professional homeopath to find a suitable remedy and to manage the case. There is a strong professional and well qualified homeopathic community right here in the Twin Cities as well as an excellent school of homeopathy, The North Western Academy.
Please be aware that our best line of defense in any epidemic situation is to have a healthy body that is well balanced and able to live in harmony with our surroundings. People in a balanced state of health don’t get sick or if they do they are able to make a quick recovery and are easily able to throw off the invading bacteria or viral infection. In the twilight of his life Louis Pasteur declared that the germ is nothing, but the constitution of the person is everything. History has shown us that pandemics occur approximately every 30 – 40 years.
Will you be ready?
Sally Tamplin comes from the UK; she is a graduate of The School of Homeopathy in England and is a member of The Alliance of Registered Homeopaths (UK). She is Executive Director of the Minnesota Homeopathic Association.
Sally’s homeopathic consulting business, Alternative Horizons LLC, is based in Richfield and she shares an office with Jacob Mirman MD, a homeopathic physician. If you would like to find out more about Alternative Horizons or The Homeopathic Medical Clinic please call: 612 - 836 – 1424.
(Copyright SL Tamplin 2005)
*Extracts taken from, “The Faces of Homeopathy, an illustrated history of the first 200 years” by Julian Winston. Great Auk publishing, Tawa, New Zealand.