Understanding the role of homeopathy in epidemics

A look at the effectiveness of homeopathy for treating epidemics over the last few hundred years, and the methodology for use.

“Since every case of disease in a given epidemic has the same origin, the disease puts all those who have fallen ill into the same kind of disease process.”

– Dr. Samuel Hahnemann, “The Organon of the Medical Art”, Aphorism 737

As I write this in late April 2020, most of the world is under mandatory lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and our conventional medicinal approach to really help with epidemic disease is being challenged. The daily news only brings an updated scoreboard of the spread of disease and death, and dire warnings of things getting worse.

There is another approach. Over 200 years ago, Dr. Samuel Hahnemann provided very clear instructions on dealing with epidemic diseases. Homeopathic approaches have been very successful during the greatest disease outbreaks of the last few centuries. While the focus is on recent human health issues, these are very relevant to our veterinary world as well, and the same principles of homeopathy apply.1,2

Homeopathy does not need weeks, months or years to develop remedies or prophylactics for facing newly-emerging epidemics. The medicine chest is already completely stocked with potential cures waiting to be applied. Homeopathy is a pure method of science, the result of careful observation of phenomena, rigorous experimentation, and repeatable verifications. Anyone practicing genuine homeopathy is always ready to face any new epidemic disease, because the Law of Similars can be applied to any sick patient at any given time.

Homeopathic literature is full of effectiveness studies, controlled cohort studies, observational studies, and outcome studies from official reports of hospitals, boards of health, insurance companies, and state institutions.

Homeopathy is safe and cost effective, with very consistently strong therapeutic and prophylactic effects, and real-world long-term efficacy. It can be applied to treatment plans for many common veterinary epidemic diseases, such as canine parvovirus, kennel cough and influenza, not to mention devastating livestock ailments like shipping fever, mastitis, and bird flu.

Historical references to homeopathy and epidemics

Homeopathic literature abounds with volumes, references, books and pamphlets on the treatment of epidemics with homeopathy. Mortality rates are consistently much lower with homeopathic treatment, regardless of physician, time, place or disease. This includes diseases with known high mortality rates, like cholera, smallpox, diphtheria, typhoid fever, yellow fever, and pneumonia.

Homeopathy is used both to treat and protect large numbers of people or animals during epidemics. The results cannot be explained by placebo effect. Consider pneumonia alone as a good example, and one that’s very relevant to the COVID-19 situation (see below).

From scarlet fever in Germany in 1796, to leptospirosis in Cuba in 2008, and COVID-19 in 2020, homeopathy has succeeded in easing the effects of epidemics when allowed to be used. The most consistent, predictable, and impressive results were, and still are, obtained by those practicing genuine classical homeopathy.5

  • In 1813, homeopathy was effective for typhus fever. After Napoleon’s army moved through Germany to attack Russia, they retreated back through Germany. Along the way, they traveled through the town of Leipzig, spreading lice-born typhus to the area. Dr. Hahnemann happened to be in the area at the time, and treated 180 cases with only two deaths (1.1%). Conventional mortality for typhus around that time was approximately 20% (e.g. 536 deaths in 2,742 cases in Vienna, Austria between 1850 and 1852, about 40 years after Dr. Hahnemann’s success in Leipzig).4,6
  • In 1830, a cholera epidemic was reported coming from the East. Dr. Hahnemann considered the symptoms of the disease after reading newspaper accounts, and published an article on which medicines might be helpful. When cholera eventually struck Europe in 1831, the conventional treatment led to 40% to 80% mortality, while homeopathic treatment saw only 9% mortality. For example, in 21 hospitals in Europe, there were 63 deaths per 100 patients. In Vienna alone, 1,360 of 4,500 patients treated allopathically died (30%). However, three homeopaths in Vienna reported treating 309 cases with only 18 deaths (6%).6
  • Similar successful results were reported for diphtheria, a disease with over 50% mortality under conventional treatment, yet with only about 16% deaths when homeopathic methods were used. Statistics compiled from Broome County, New York from 1862 to 1864 showed 84 deaths per 100 cases for allopathy (84%), and only 20 deaths per 125 cases for homeopathy (16.4%).4
  • In 1900, Thomas Lindsley Bradford, MD, wrote The Logic of Figures, a book describing the success of homeopathy in treating epidemic diseases. Here is a brief quote from the book:

“Homeopathy had become very popular in North America during its early years due to its amazing successes obtained by the ‘old guard’ during the epidemics — epidemics of diphtheria, scarlet fever, cholera, malaria, yellow fever — especially yellow fever; the death rate for that was 55% when allopathic treatment was used, but less than 5% in cases with homeopathic treatment; and it was the same for cholera. It is here with the ‘old guard’ that homeopathy obtained its golden letters.”6

  • The most severe epidemic of all time was the influenza pandemic of 1918 to 1919. Twenty percent of the entire world population was infected, and nearly 50 million people died. In the US, this epidemic was so devastating that the average lifespan decreased by ten years. Homeopathic medicines were used widely both for treatment and prophylaxis. The average mortality under standard treatment ranged from 2.5% to 10%, while1% or fewer patients died under homeopathic treatment.4 T.A. McCann of Dayton, Ohio reported that 24,000 cases of flu treated with allopathy had a mortality rate of 28.2%, while 26,000 cases treated with homeopathy had a mortality rate of just 1.05%. This last figure was supported by Dean W.A. Pearson of Philadelphia (Hahnemann College), who collected 26,795 cases of flu treated with homeopathy with the above results. Dr. Herbert A. Roberts from Derby, Connecticut said that 30 homeopathic physicians in his state responded to a request for data. They reported 6,602 cases with 55 deaths, which is less than 1%.9

There are great advantages to treating epidemics with homeopathy, and these contribute to its amazing success. First, patient individuality is not such an issue as when prescribing for chronic disease. Consequently, the skill of individual prescribers is not a critical issue, because each homeopath can choose from a small group of closely matching medicines for the particular epidemic, using the genus epidemicus approach.

Homeopathy reduces morbidity and mortality from pneumonia

Most deaths from flu or flu-like illnesses are from pneumonia (98%). Pneumonia is the leading cause of death in children worldwide, killing more than AIDS, malaria, and TB combined, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). In the US, pneumonia is the leading cause of death from infectious causes, hospitalizes over 1.2 million Americans per year, and costs $40.2 billion. The age-adjusted mortality rate of pneumonia has been increasing over the last few decades, from 11.2 per 100,000 in 1979, to 15.7 per 100,000 in 2011. One in 25 of all Americans will die of pneumonia.

Dr. Andre Saine, ND, a prominent homeopath from Canada, reported amazing figures on the results of various treatments for pneumonia over the past 100 years, using large numbers of cases. On the conventional side, pre-antibiotic allopathy had the highest mortality of 24.3%, while contemporary allopathy had a lower rate of 13.7%. However, the mortality rate of general homeopathic treatment was just 3.4%, while the mortality rate under the care of Hahnemannian homeopaths (those strictly following Hahnemann’s principles) was even lower at just 0.4%.3

Morbidity and mortality from pneumonia could be greatly reduced by the simple application of homeopathy in the current COVID-19 pandemic (and any future pandemic)

Methodology of genus epidemicus

The term genus epidemicus refers to the combined symptoms of a large group of individuals afflicted with the same disease or epidemic. This symptom list is used to choose the medicine best suited to treating those affected without having to consider each individually. This could also be thought of as an “epidemic simillimum” or ideal medicine for the epidemic.7 Dr. Hahnemann addressed the concept of genus epidemicus in Aphorisms 101–102 of the Organon, 6th edition, and first mentioned the term in Aphorism 241:

“Each epidemic has its own self-same character which is common to all of the individuals who are taken ill. If the character of the epidemic disease is discovered according to the symptom complex common to all the patients (i.e. the genus epidemicus), this will point to the homeopathically fitting (specific) remedy for the totality of the cases.”8

Recently, the genus epidemicus approach was used for the canine influenza outbreak. Using characteristic signs exhibited by many dogs with that diagnostic label, veterinary homeopath Dr. Will Falconer proposed the use of two homeopathic medicines as the most useful for treatment and prevention in exposed dogs showing similar signs — Phosphorus and Nux vomica. Using one of these two remedies to prevent the disease is different from the homeopathic practice of using a nosode (a specialized medicine made from the product of disease) to prevent an illness. The genus epidemicus method is considered by most homeopaths to be more effective at prevention than the use of nosodes.10

However, health officials in Cuba recently used a leptospirosis nosode with great success to reduce the incidence of this horrible seasonal epidemic by more than 85% in over 2.4 million people, whereas vaccination programs in place for years failed to help.11 Nosodes have also been effective at preventing canine parvo in my own practice, proven over the last decade.1

Conclusion

Homeopathy has proven successful in treating epidemic diseases. This is obvious from the historical record, as well as from more recent outbreaks. Yet results obtained by homeopaths during epidemics are almost completely ignored by medical historians. And despite homeopathy’s great efficacy, low cost, and safety in protecting against disease, only a few governments have promoted its use. Epidemic diseases will continue to plague humans and animals, as they have throughout recorded history. The genus epidemicus approach offers a safe, gentle way of restoring health.

*This article has been peer reviewed.

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1Cooney T. “Homeopathic Treatment for Epidemic Diseases: Parvo and Distemper”. Integr Vet Care J. 2015;5(4):54-58.

2Cooney T. “Epidemics and Genius of Homeopathy”. JAHVMA. 2018;51:22-25.

3Saine A. “Case Management of the Influenza and Pneumonia Patient with Homeopathy During the COVID-19 Pandemic”. AIH Webinar, http://www.homeopathyusa.org; Accessed April 4, 2020.

4Winston J. “Treatment of Epidemics with Homeopathy — A History”. http://www.homeopathycenter.org/treatment-epidemics-homeopathy-history. Accessed Feb. 17, 2020.

5Saine A. http://www.homeopathy.ca/research-development. Accessed March 21, 2018.

6Bradford TL. The Logic of Figures; Boericke and Tafel, Philadelphia, first pub. 1900. Reprinted by Trieste Pub. Pty Ltd; Collingwood, Victoria, Australia; 2017.

7Yasgur’s Homeopathic Dictionary and Holistic Health Reference, 4th ed. Van Hoy Pub. PO Box 636, Greenville PA 16125; 2007.

8Hahnemann SH. “Organon of the Medical Art”. O’Reilly, ed. Adapted from the 6th edition of Organon Der Heilkunst, 1842. Birdcage Books, Palo Alto CA, 2013.

9Hoover T. “Epidemic Diseases and Homeoprophylaxis: Fact or Fiction?” http://toddhoovermd.com/articles/epidemic-diseases-and-homeopathic-prophylaxis.html. Accessed Feb. 7, 2018.

10Falconer W. http://www.vitalanimal.com. April 26, 2015. Accessed Feb. 3, 2020.

11Bracho G., et al. “Large-scale Application of Highly Diluted Bacteria for Leptospirosis Epidemic Control”. Homeopathy, July 2010; 99 (3): 156-66.

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