Homeopathic prophylaxis, often called homeoprophylaxis, means to prevent disease with homeopathic remedies. Could homeoprophylaxis protect us against possible pandemics such as the current bird flu may become or a biochemical terrorist attack?
Homeopathy is a complete system of medicine that has been in use continuously since its inception in Germany by Samuel Hahnemann, M.D. in 1796. The basic principle is similia similibus curentur, or let likes be cured by likes. Hahnemann enlightened to this principle when he was working as a medical translator. He was reading a medical text, which gave information on the effects of cinchona bark (quinine), which was used to treat malaria. He disagreed with the author's description and took quinine himself, and unexpectedly experienced the symptoms of malaria. In a moment of divine inspiration, he wondered if the malarial symptoms that a sick patient experiences are similar to the effects of quinine on a healthy person. Can a healthy person take a substance and experience the same symptoms of a naturally occurring illness, which can then be cured by that substance? He later proved this to be true—but at doses much smaller than the physiological doses used by the medical profession.
The theory closest to the law of similars we have today in medicine is utilized in vaccinations, which are supposed to boost the immune system. This is very specific to one pathogen while homeoprophylaxis is much more general and based on different principles. The homeopath looks at the entire individual to see all levels—physical, emotional and mental—to find the correct remedy. If we wish to make use of homeoprophylaxis, we need to find what Hahnemann termed the Genus epidemicus, (a homeopathic remedy that cures the disease in question as well as prevents other cases).
In his article, "Homeopathic Prophylaxis: Fact Or Fiction," 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." Dr. Hahnemann first published this principle in 1801 when he described how he prevented the spread of scarlet fever across Germany with the remedy Belladonna (Genus epidemicus). Later he used homeopathic remedies to successfully treat the typhoid epidemic of Leipzig in 1813. He cured 180 patients and only lost two, a far cry from the 30 percent mortality rate of the conventional physicians (allopaths) of his time. Would homeopathy be a viable solution to a modern epidemic or biological attack? This is an excerpt from a paper read to the International Hahnemannian Association, June 1940, by W.L. Bonnell, M.D., "Not one case receiving homeopathic care died, while the 'old school' doctors lost 20 percent of their (smallpox) cases... I gave about 300 internal vaccinations (homeopathic remedies), 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."
Another account of a serious epidemic that was treated successfully by homeopathy was documented by Thomas L. Bradford, M.D., in his book "The Logic of Figures," in which he stated, "In the records of three years of diphtheria in Broome County, New York from 1862 to 1864, there was a report of an 83.6 percent mortality rate among the allopaths and a 16.4 percent mortality rate among the homeopaths."
During the 1918 flu pandemic, homeopathic physicians documented more than 62,000 treated homeopathically with a mortality rate of 0.7 percent. Of those who were hospitalized, conventional medicine had a mortality rate of 30 percent, whereas 27,000 documented hospitalized cases treated with homeopathy had a mortality rate of 1.05 percent ("Journal of the American Institute of Homeopathy" 1921; 13:1028-43).
If a bird flu pandemic or a bioterrorist attack occurs, homeoprophylaxis should be seriously considered.
Reference: Winston, Julian, Faces of Homeopathy - An Illustrated History of the First 200 Years, Tawa, Great Auk Publishing, Wellington, New Zealand, 1998