Flu—not to be sneezed at
Flu is scary. We are talking about an illness that could be our modern-day equivalent of the Black Plague. The SARS epidemic and the recent Avian flu scare gave us just a foretaste of the havoc a cleverly adapted virus can wreak in these days of the itty-bitty global village.
The last big epidemic
The influenza outbreak commonly called “Spanish flu” (but known in Spain as the “Naples soldier”) killed more people than all those who died in combat during World War I. Estimates put the worldwide death toll at 21,642,274. One billion people were affected by the disease—half of the total human population. It came at a time when 19 nations were at war, and the disruption, stress, and privation of war certainly aided the flu’s spread. It killed people on every continent except Antarctica, with the most lives lost in Asia and the highest percentage of the population killed in India. From August 1918, when the incidence of flu began to seem abnormally high, until the following July when it returned to about normal, 20 million Americans had become sick and more than 500,000 had died. In October 1918, the flu reached its peak, killing about 195,000 Americans. About 57,000 American soldiers died from influenza during World War I; about 53,500 died in battle. (1)
It should be noted that homeopaths were very successful in treating the 1918 flu. While the death rate for those who sought treatment from conventional physicians was about 30%, the death rate for those who sought homeopathic treatment was 1.5%.
Are vaccines the answer?
Vaccines designed to combat specific viruses are always subject to a time delay factor in their production and in an epidemic there is likely to be a scarcity of appropriate vaccine.
The efficacy of flu vaccines is also questioned, for instance:
• In a “systematic review of 20 randomized trials of the effects of the vaccine in healthy adults,” Dr. Demichelli found that among healthy individuals, “only 1 of 4 vaccinated adults” will acquire protection against the clinical illness. (2)
• Dr. J. Anthony Morris, formerly Chief Vaccine Control Officer at the FDA, is quoted as saying: “There is no evidence that any influenza vaccine, thus far developed, is effective in preventing or mitigating any attack of influenza.” (3)
• Randall Neustaedter, OMD, pulls no punches: “The flu vaccine gets the most-useless-vaccine-of-all-time award. Now the CDC is recommending the vaccine for children under 2 years old and all adults over 50. Don’t fall for it.” Neustaedter goes on to neatly summarize the case against: “Flu vaccine manufacturers are notoriously inaccurate at predicting the appropriate viruses to use in an individual year’s vaccine, rendering the vaccine largely ineffective.” (4)
If not the shot, then what?
If flu shots are subject to response time delay, scarcity and ineffectiveness, how else can we protect ourselves and our families? One advantage of a true flu, or indeed any truly acute episode, is that it often presents a clear set of symptoms that can be more easily matched to a homeopathic medicine than the symptom pictures in chronic conditions. If you do fall ill with flu, contact your homeopath for advice as soon as you can clearly describe your symptoms. In any event, teach yourself the basic homeopathic rules and keep a homeopathic medicine kit and a good prescribing guide available at home.
The last flu epidemic I worked on was Influenza A in Ireland. Most of the people who called for help were absolutely freezing, although running high fevers. They were in bed with all their clothes on, extra sweaters, piles of blankets and quilts heaped on top of them. They had very painful sore throats with pain shooting up into the ear. This is a perfect match to a homeopathic medicine, Hepar sulph, and they all made quick recoveries after taking the remedy. (Others who presented different symptom pictures received different remedies according to their symptoms.)
Dealing with the next big epidemic
Homeopaths greatly help one another by sharing information on symptom patterns and remedies they have found effective in their patients and social networking sites make this easier than ever to do.. The homeopathic literature of old describes this being done very effectively during a major cholera epidemic and a scarlet fever epidemic. The concept, known as finding the “genus epidemicus,” has the potential to greatly reduce suffering and save lives. The idea is to build up a picture of an epidemic as it is being expressed in a large number of different cases. By drawing all of these cases together “as if one person,” one or two homeopathic medicines can be identified that can be used to treat almost everyone. These same medicines could even be prescribed to protect people from contracting the illness at the height of an epidemic. Once again, the Internet could be our savior, permitting the speedy exchange of this information.
Some homeopathic medicines that can help include for:
Arsenicum 30c for a burning fever with chills, restlessness
Bryonia 30c for feverishness and irritability, sufferer lies very still
Gelsemium 30c for total physical prostration with shivering
Nux Vomica 30c for pains in bones, joints, with chilliness and irritability
Rhus Tox 30c for aching, with restlessness, red tipped tongue,
Ipecac 30c for pains in bones, back, legs, often with persistent nausea
Eupatorium perfoliatum 30c severe bone pains with great thirst
Arsenicum 30c for restlessnes, fever / chills with diarrhoea,
Bryonia 30c mouth tastes bitter, sufferer lies very still
Nux vomica 30c with chilliness and irritability,
Ipecac 30c constant nausea, not better for vomiting
Eupatorium perfoliatum 30c has thirst before vomiting,
There are a lot of great flu articles available covering more useful medicines for free here:
(1) PBS Online, www.pbs.org. Influenza 1918 is a PBS film; the transcript is available online at the PBS website: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/influenza
Teachers may be interested in the Teacher’s Guide which includes these suggestions for classroom study: “According to the film, many people used home remedies to combat the flu. Have students choose different types of non-traditional medicine to research, including folk remedies, acupuncture, homeopathic remedies, biofeedback, or herbal remedies. They should look at the history of the practice, its strengths and weaknesses, and evidence of effectiveness. They might want to visit or interview staff at alternative medical establishments, homeopathic drugstores, acupuncture clinics, etc.”
(2 ) Demicheli V, Rivetti D, Deeks JJ, Jefferson TO, “Vaccines for preventing influenza in healthy adults,” Cochrane Review. In: The Cochrane Library; Issue 4, 2000.
(3) Makela MJ, Puhakka T, Ruuskanen O, Leinonen M, Saikku P, Kimpimaki M, et al., “Viruses and bacteria in the etiology of the common cold,” J Clin Microbiol 1998; 36:539-42.
(4) Neustaedter, R, www.cure-guide.com