Homeopathic Prophylaxis: Science or Fiction, and its Relevance for a New Flu Epidemic – Richard Pitt


Keywords: Variolation, Susceptibility, Morphogenetic field, Collective consciousness, Influenza

The question of the effectiveness of homeopathy as a prophylactic treatment has been debated since the beginning of homeopathy. Hahnemann himself advocated it and even tried to market Belladonna as a specific prophylaxis and treatment for scarlet fever, with mixed results. The most documented effectiveness of homeopathic prophylaxis perhaps is in the use of Variolinum against smallpox. Historically, way before Edward Jenner created the smallpox vaccination with attenuated cowpox, various cultures had performed a form of inoculation called variolation in which a small amount of infectious material was put under the skin and which prevented serious consequences of the disease. This was performed mainly in the Middle East but did spread to Europe, even amongst the Royalty of England. The use of the homeopathic remedy Variolinum (and also Malandrinum and Vaccinium) showed that it helped prevent people getting the disease and also prevented fatalities in those that did acquire smallpox.

A distinction needs to be made between the words prophylaxis and prevention as it pertains to homeopathic treatment. Any serious constitutional homeopathic work by definition is preventative as well as curative as a more regulated immune system is going to work more effectively. In regards to prophylaxis, what is being discussed is the possibility of giving a homeopathically potentized remedy before any signs of a specific disease has become manifest. If it is possible to have a remedy work prophylactically, how does this work and how does one choose the correct remedy.

To answer the first part of the question, we can assume that all homeopaths agree that before any symptoms develop for any condition a change in the vital force has taken place for a period of time before symptoms manifest. This is the case in chronic disease and in acute disease, even in virulent acute infections. The causative agent in an infectious condition – bacteria or virus – only exists in the “terrain” suitable for it to survive and have an impact. This we know. However, even before the bacteria takes effect, the vibrational terrain has to be conducive. All bacteria and viruses behave according to their own DNA nature and for a multitude of reasons, some of us, some of the time, vibrate in this same terrain. It may be the ‘flu, children’s diseases, the common cold, meningitis, tuberculosis, hepatitis etc. In some conditions the external terrain is very important in establishing the susceptibility, for example, in getting tuberculosis or hepatitis and has a more specific susceptibility, while in others, many people can potentially be affected irrespective of their situation, for example, the flu in the fall or other widespread epidemics like the plague. However, it can be said that every disease only exists in situations suitable to it and even epidemics like the flu and the plague exist due to both accepted biological factors of infection as well as deeper cultural and social imbalances that create the conducive environment for the disease. For example, in looking at the flu, it is not too much to state that the emotion of fear is a key component of the disease. Perhaps the 1918 flu pandemic was due as much to the energetic “vitalistic” trauma of the 1st world war as to the specifics of widespread contagion due to troop movements throughout the world and a new, virulent strain of the virus. How can we explain otherwise how outbreaks of the flu occurred fairly simultaneously in many different parts of the world? It seems to corroborate ideas of susceptibility within homeopathy more than simple physical contagion. In other words there had to be an energetic consciousness involved in the prelude to the 1918 flu pandemic when between thirty to fifty million people died. The fact that so much of the world was affected and traumatized by the war created a world-wide susceptibility, a “morpho-genetic field”, to use the terminology of Rupert Sheldrake. Therefore, everyone was potentially susceptible. However, we also know that even in the most violent epidemics, not everyone gets sick. The interesting thing in the 1918 pandemic is that it was often healthy people who were more afflicted, at least in western countries, and it was because a stronger immune system was able to produce a stronger and more violent reaction to the virus that led to the higher mortality rate. Yes, a new virulent strain of virus was part of it but the virus and the susceptibility of the environment have to go hand in hand and in this case it was the trauma of the war that created this susceptibility.

The apparent dichotomy of individual and collective consciousness is something that homeopaths have been debating since homeopathy was created by Hahnemann. While the majority of our focus is given to that of the uniqueness of each individual, with each treatment adapted to this individuality, we also have always considered treating epidemics as something different, and in which the external dynamics – geographical terrain, bacteria, virus, collective shock etc. takes precedence over individuality. It can be explained as a mathematical formula – The stronger the external dynamic influence (shock, fright, environmental toxins, natural disasters, war etc.) the less significant the internal individual terrain (susceptability, miasm, constitution). In some situations, we will all be susceptible in similar ways as we share the same basic genetic pattern as human beings. We are the same. This is why it is possible to find 1-3 genus epidemicus remedies for particular conditions. The nature of the disease relates to only a few remedies and due to its unique “acute” influence it affects most humans in similar ways. It is mainly in chronic conditions where individual susceptibility, miasmatic influence and constitutional uniqueness takes precedent.

Finding remedies for known acute conditions does not need to be too hard. We know that Camphor, Veratrum album and Cuprum fitted the vast majority of Cholera cases. We know that Arnica works so well at the beginning stages of most injuries, that Aconite and Gelsemium work in most acute cases of shock (and were the most common remedies used in the 1918 flu epidemic). Hahnemann clearly laid out the ways in which to study for the main remedies in particular epidemics by studying a number of cases until the pattern of the few indicated remedies were seen.

However, how do we find which remedy addresses a particular disease epidemic? As already mentioned, Variolinum, a nosode, was proven effective against smallpox so the question of using the specific nosode of a particular disease needs examining. Can a homeopathic nosode induce an antibody response, similar to a vaccination? The answer is not clear and hasn’t been proven yet, but perhaps it can. Perhaps though it only works on the vitalistic area ,creating a vital immunity but with the same effect, as Dorothy Shephard speculated.

It would perhaps make sense to use the nosode of a particular disease as part but not the only form of prophylaxis against a disease. For example, the evidence that a nosode of malaria can prevent malaria is mixed. An article in LINKS magazine in 1994 spoke of case in which a person got malaria in spite of taking malaria nosode. However, there are practitioners in Africa that recommend this as part of broader approach to preventing malaria and this form of prophylaxis needs more study.

More recently the evidence in Cuba of using a nosode of the leptospirosis bacteria to prevent this disease showed great efficacy. Over two million people were given the nosode during the season when the disease becomes epidemic with very positive results [1]. This shows how potentially useful it can be to use a nosode of a disease as a specific prophylactic.

In regards to the prevention of influenza it is difficult to know what the risks of a new flu pandemic are. As homeopaths, our reaction is often to dismiss these fears as projections of a fear based medicine and being manipulated by media, government and the medical profession for their own agendas. However, if we take the case of the planet right now, there are many symptoms that indicate that such a thing could take place. The fear itself is not only a delusion perhaps on a cultural level, but already a symptom of the energetic change in planetary consciousness. Since the turn of the century, with the fear of Y2K, we’ve had 9/11, other terrorist attacks, the war in Afghanistan and Iraq, many hurricanes, and other natural disasters as well as outbreaks of infectious diseases which have caused much concern. Constant fears of terrorism and of other global disasters create a miasm of fear, and with the omnipresent media in our lives, this fear spreads easily. All of these factors seem to indicate that something is happening on the dynamic plane, and that we should take heed of this.

If we were to look for a prophylactic treatment for a possible avian flu epidemic, what would we use? It would make sense to first attempt to get a nosode made of the avian flu. Given that it would be a different virus than the normal flu, one which humans would have no genetic immunity to, then a regular flu nosode would not be effective. For example, it seems that Oscillococcinum is effective in both preventing and treating regular flu outbreaks. Made from the liver and intestines of a duck, it has properties that connect it to most flu variations we get. We know how difficult it is to find the exact viral match for each year’s flu outbreak. Most years, the flu vaccination is not that effective for that reason. Oscillococcinum seems to infer some general immunity prophylactically and helps mitigate more serious symptoms of the flu.

Why is a nosode more useful than a conventional remedy or genus epidemicus? If we are to think prophylactically, then the advantage of the nosode is that it matches the exact energy of the disease. Similar to a nosode being used on a never been well since basis, it fits the precise dynamics of the disease. Clinical experience with nosodes such as Variolinum, Malandrinum, Medorrhinum, Tuberculinum, Staphyloccinum, Streptococcinum, etc, has shown its affinity to both the specifics of the infectious disease, it’s chronic consequences and broader miasmatic pattern and inheritance.

However, one can also look for a complementary specific remedy and genus epidemicus to treat the flu, even the avian flu. We know from clinical experience that in ordinary influenza, two of the most significant remedies initially are Gelsemium and Eupatorium perfoliatum. If we see an outbreak of the flu and a patient feels they are coming down with it, but symptoms are not clear, one can still be justified in giving Gelsemium and also Oscillococcinum, even alternating them if necessary. It may be that one or the other may be sufficient, but it is difficult to know. If we have knowledge of a different remedy that fits a more genus epidemicus theme of the outbreak, then that remedy can be used instead. Gelsemium, however, fits most of the physical symptoms of common flu as well as the concomitant dynamic of fear, which seems to be such a corollary in the flu picture. Here also Aconite is a remedy that has to be seriously considered, as the etiology of fear is so strong.

However, each disease also has stages of evolution and so we need to identify remedies for each stage. Looking at the 1918 flu pandemic, we saw a distinct picture of a disease with a very sudden onset, with violent symptoms developing quickly, from high fever to extreme debility and weakness and then to serious lung symptoms, involving increasing hemorrhage with pneumonia. Given that avian flu is a different type of virus than common flu and that the vast majority of people would have little genetic immunity (hence its seriousness), then a remedy like Oscillococcinum may well be ineffective. A nosode can only work when it fits quite precisely the viral cause of the disease. Exceptions to this may be in the use of nosodes Psorinum and Tuberculinum, which tend to work on the underlying chronic miasmatic dynamics. Therefore, a nosode from the avian flu would be most effective. However, getting this remedy is another matter and also brings up issues of safety for such a potentially virulent virus. There is evidence that the 1918 Spanish Flu virus is quite similar to the H5N1 avian virus and therefore a nosode from that virus may be somewhat effective.

However, given the severity of this flu virus, it does not seem enough to only give a nosode as a prophylactic but one should look at one or more remedies as well. The first remedy to consider would be Aconite, given the suddenness of the symptom outbreak and violence of the symptoms. Also, Aconite’s affinity for states of fear and shock are well known. Other remedies to consider can be based on which symptoms or stages are predominating. The following suggestions of remedies and stages are a first attempt to look at the practicalities of treating an avian flu. For a detailed review of the 1918 flu pandemic and the remedies used, it is recommended that readers review the book, The Homeopathic Treatment of Influenza by Sandra Perko. This is an excellent book on the history of the flu pandemic and homeopathic remedies that were used at that time. However, analyzing which remedies would be most effective is not easy, even using this book. Also, if homeopathy is to be used by the general public, especially in the face of inadequate public health measures, including the dubious effectiveness of antivirals and lack of effective vaccine, then a simple and clear homeopathic option should be available.

Avian flu nosode/Spanish flu nosode 30C/200C
Aconite 200c/1M – Gelsemium 200C/1M
Other known genus epidemicus remedies.
1st stage of symptoms when high fever predominates: (order according to heat intensity)
Aconite 1M – Intense heat, thirst, fear, anguish, restlessness.
Belladonna 1M – Intense heat, thirst or no thirst, burning, dryness, wildness, red face, delirium.
Bryonia 1M – Heat, with dryness, delirium, stupor, intense thirst, averse people, wants to be still.
Hyoscyamus 1M – Intense heat, restlessness, delirium, picking at bedclothes, paranoia.
Arsenicum album 1M – heat, chill, restlessness extreme, fear, anxiety.
Rhus toxicodenron – 1M – heat, chill, < uncovering, blue face, shaking, busy restlessness, less fear.
1st stage with fever but body aching predominates:
Gelsemium 200C – Aching of body < back, chills up and down back, heaviness, drowsiness, no thirst, trembling, fear. (compare with Eup-per, Baptisia)
Eupatorium perfoliatum – Intense aching all over, as if in bones, often in back, chill violent, shaking, vomiting, bitter, of bile, more thirst
Baptisia 200C – Aching, heaviness, prostration, bed feels too hard, a low weak state, drowsy, languid (compare with Arnica, Gels, Mur ac, Op, Rhus tox)
Bryonia 200C– Aching, sore < motion. Want to keep still. Fever, delirium, says wants to go home (compare with Rhus tox, Arnica, Baptisia)
Rhus toxicodendron 200C – Aching with restlessness, fever with chill. (compare Arsenicum, Arnica).
Arnica 200C – Aching, sore, bruised feeling, averse to touch, being approached,, bed feels too hard, tosses and turns, drowsiness, thirst in chill, (compare with Baptisia, Pyrogen)

2nd stage – When weakness, exhaustion and depletion predominate: (Check rubric for typhoid)
Baptisia 200C
Eupatorium perfoliatum
Arsenicum album
Sarcolacticum acidum (other acids)
Muriatic acidum

3rd stage when lung symptoms predominate, including hemorrhage and pneumonia:
(beginning in rough order of severity, based on images of pneumonia in the 1918 flu epidemic)
Crotalus horridus – desperate state, with hemorrhage of lungs and other parts of body.
Lachesis – similar to Crotalus
Phosphorus – Intense, hacking, tickling cough, hemorrhage, of lungs, from nose. Either lobe affected,
Antimonium tart – Rattling cough and respiration, much mucous in lung, only little hemorrhage, as if drowning.
Laurocerasus – Very weak, depleted, hemorrhage from lungs, cyanosis (blueness of face and body)
Carbo Vegetabalis – exhaustion, coldness, cold perspiration, low states, cyanosis, rattling of mucus, burning in lungs.
Veratrum viride – cyanosis, some hemorrhage, congestion in lungs, early stage of pneumonia.
Arsenicum album – Weakness, restlessness, coldness, anxiety, anguish
Belladonna – Sudden onset, high fever, hemorrhage of lungs and nose, burning of skin, dryness etc.
Aconite – Sudden onset, high fever, extreme thirst, restlessness, fear, congestion.
Tuberculinum – to complement other remedies.
Opium – Cyanosis, unconsciousness, low death like states

4th stage when recovery is slow or when chronic problems develop:
(In the 1918 flu, there was widespread encephalitis lethargica (sleeping sickness) and also conditions such as Guillain-Barre Syndrome)
Sarcolacticum acidum (also consider all other acid remedies)
Kali phosphoricum
This is not meant to be a complete list but to give an idea of some of the main remedies indicated for the flu and for post influenza conditions. Of course many of these remedies will be indicated in many other acute infectious conditions, from malaria, dengue fever, typhoid and chronic consequences of acute infectious diseases, such as chronic fatigue syndrome, Epstein Barr and similar conditions.

The potential for homeopathy to be used to both prevent and treat many of the most serious infectious diseases today has only begun to be seen and in the future, homeopathy may play a much more significant role in public health throughout the world.

[1] Bracho, G., Varela, E., Fernandez, R., et al. “Large-scale application of highly-diluted bacteria for Leptospirosis epidemic control.” Homeopathy. 99 (2010): 156-166.