Homeopathy is a complete set of medicine that has been used continuously since its inception in Germany by Samuel Hahnemann M.D. in 1796. What is it, how does it work, and can it be employed for the protection against pandemics such as the current Bird flu or a biochemical terrorist attack. Homeoprophylaxis is the term used to prevent disease with homeopathic medicines. For now lets concentrate on what homeopathy is. In Hahnemann’s homeopathy “bible” called the Organon, he tells us about the Law of Similars or similia similibus; he states, “For curing, homeopathy avails itself only of those medicines whose capacity to (dynamically) alter and differently tune the condition it exactly knows and then it searches out the one medicine whose condition-altering powers (medicinal disease) are in a position to lift the natural disease at hand through similarity (similia similibus).” What does this mean you ask? This means that like cures like.
Hahnemann enlightened to this principle when he was working his way through medical school in Austria as a medical transcriber. He came across a transcription, which gave information on the effects of Cinchona bark (Quinine) on Malaria. He noted the symptoms of Malaria and then in a moment of divine inspiration he thought to himself are the Malarial symptoms that a sick patient exhibits the same as the physical effects of the Cinchona on a healthy person? He later proved this to be true but at doses much smaller than the physiological doses of Quinine being employed by the medical orthodoxy of his day.
The theory closest to similia similibus we have today in medicine is utilized in vaccination and allergy shots, which boost the defenses of the immune system to help the body eliminate the pathogen or help block the allergic reaction. This is very specific while Homeoprophylaxis (prevention of disease through employing homeopathic remedies, medicines) is much more general and based on a different principle. The main difference being in homeopathy we look at individuals in their entirety not just a small part of the whole that has the disease as in allopathy. We need to see the big picture to find the correct remedy that will heal the patient not just eliminate visible symptoms. The nature of homeopathy is to heal at a deep level, it works at all levels: physical, psychological, mental/emotional, and spiritual. If we wish to make use of Homeoprophylaxis we need to find what Hahnemann termed the Genus Epidemicus, (a homeopathic medicine that would cure the disease in question and also help prevent any subsequent individual cases or outbreaks). This is ascertained by combining the like symptoms of each of the first few patients, termed the totality of symptoms that would arrive at the Genus Epidemicus. This is done using a different medical principle each year with the flu shot. Will Taylor M.D. states, “ Homeoprophylaxis involves the use of individual remedies, selected in an individualized and non-routine manner, to reduce or eliminate the morbidity of epidemic and sporadic contagious acute diseases” .
This has been proven to be efficacious by Hahnemann and many doctors after him. Dr. Hahnemann cured patients and helped prevent the spread of a number of different epidemics across Europe. Between 1800-1808 Hahnemann used a homeopathic medicine called Belladonna (Genus Epidemicus) to cure many cases and help prevent the spread of Scarletina (Scarlet Fever) . Hahnemann also used homeopathic medicines to successfully treat the Typhoid epidemic of Leipzig in 1813; he cured 180 patients and only lost two, a far cry from the 30% mortality rate of allopathic physicians of his time.
In this day and age there has been some research on the efficacy of homeopathy, (although every seasoned physician who uses homeopathy can ascertain the incredible healing power of homeopathy through their own clinical research). One study observed the occurrence of meningitis in a group of children who received a homeopathic preventive (Meningococcinum 10c in a single dose) during a 1974 epidemic in Brazil. Of the 18,640 children given the homeopathic nosode, 4 developed meningitis (0.02 percent), compared to 32 cases in the 6,340 unvaccinated children (0.5 percent). This represents a significant difference in a controlled study, although the control group was not randomized (Castro & Nogueira, 1975). Eisfelder reported an uncontrolled study of 50,000 children who received Lathyrus, a homeopathic preparation used to treat paralysis, in varying potencies during the polio epidemic of the 1950s. Only one of these children developed (non-paralytic) polio. The general population had a significantly higher rate of polio than 1 in 50,000 (Eisfelder, 1961) .
So what about looking to homeopathy to treat natural pandemics (Bird flu) or biochemical terrorist strikes? Here is an excerpt from W.L. Bonnell MD, “Not one case receiving homeopathic care died, while the “old school” doctors lost twenty percent of their (smallpox) cases….. I gave about three hundred internal vaccinations (homeopathic medicines), five to adults acting as practical nurses; to the man who installed the telephone and lights in the pest-house; to mothers who slept with their children while they had smallpox in its severest form. All of these people, exposed daily, were immune.” Here is another account of a similarly virulent pathology that was treated successfully by homeopathy, “In the records of three years of Diphtheria in Broome County, NY from 1862 to 1864, there was a report of an 83.6% mortality rate among the allopaths and a 16.4% mortality rate among the Homeopaths. (Bradford).” And yet another, “When Cholera finally struck Europe in 1831 the mortality rate (under conventional treatment) was between 40% (Imperial Council of Russia) to 80% (Osler’s Practice of Medicine). Out of five people who contracted Cholera, two to four of them died under regular treatment. Dr. Quin, in London, reported the mortality in the ten homeopathic hospitals in 1831-32 as 9%…. In 1854 a Cholera Epidemic struck London. This was a historically important epidemic in that it was the first time the medical community was able to trace the outbreak to a source (a public water pump), and when the pump was closed, the epidemic soon ceased. The House of Commons asked for a report about the various methods of treating the epidemic. When the report was issued, the homeopathic figures were not included. The House of Lords asked for an explanation, and it was admitted that if the homeopathic figures were to be included in the report, it would “skew the results.” The suppressed report revealed that under allopathic care the mortality was 59.2% while under homeopathic care the mortality was only 9%.”
It seems that homeopathy has a long history of research, which states its efficacy. As a recent graduate of an accredited naturopathic medical school (where I specialized in homeopathy) I would say that in the event of a biochemical terrorist attack or if an epidemic such as the looming bird flu were to cross our borders we as Americans should seriously consider homeopathy as a potential saving grace.