The 2009 flu pandemic, caused by a new strain of the influenza A virus subtype H1N1 and commonly called swine flu, created panic all over the world, with more than 1,600 deaths reported from swine flu. The first death reported in Pune, India, added to fears, considering the fact that India is a heavily populated country with severe overcrowding in most of its cities. The chances of the disease spreading increase manifold, since it is a well established fact that the virus is transmitted through droplets and aerosols when an infected person coughs or sneezes. The disease can also be contracted by touching contaminated surfaces and then touching the nose or mouth.
The symptoms are very similar to seasonal flu, including fever, sneezing, sore throat, cough, headache, malaise, and generalised body ache. Hence, there is no way of clinically diagnosing the condition. Also, there are very few screening centres for swine flu in the country. Most cases of swine flu were found to be moderate in severity. According to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, a majority of the cases which required hospitalisation or succumbed to the disease were those of people who concurrently had underlying pathologies like diabetes, cardiovascular disease, asthma, obesity, or extremely poor immunity.
The need of the hour is to look out for various methods to prevent as well as treat the disease; more so in a country like India where healthcare services are inadequate and a large portion of the population lies below the poverty line, and therefore cannot afford even basic amenities, let alone medical treatment. Pharmaceutical and biotechnological giants are already working towards a vaccine, but have made it clear that a single shot will probably not suffice to offer protection and, therefore, two or three shots may be required.
Homeopathic medicines act upon the immune system and restorative energies of the body so that it heals itself. As these remedies boost the natural defence mechanisms of the body, they automatically play a vital role in preventive medicine. In homeopathy, especially whenever there are outbreaks of epidemics or pandemics, a single remedy may be found to match the entire manifestation of a particular illness. Such a remedy is not only curative, but also preventive and is termed the ‘genus epidemicus'. While in the past, remedies like Morbillinum and Variolinum have been used to prevent measles and chicken pox respectively, Influenzinum, a remedy prepared from the flu virus, may be useful in the prophylaxis or therapeutics of swine flu. Similarly, preparing an isode or nosode of the swine flu virus is another option that homeopathic pharmaceutical companies must try, knowing how efficacious, and yet safe, homeopathic preparations have always proven to be.
Homeopathic remedies are not just safe, they are absolutely cost-effective too, as thousands of serial dilutions can be created out of a single drop of the source material. Speaking about vaccination and the possibility of homeopathic remedies being used for preventing the disease, Dr Mukesh Batra, Founder & CMD, Dr. Batra’s™, revealed, “The theory of vaccination borrows from the isopathic concept of homeopathy where medicines prepared from causative organisms (isodes) or affected tissues themselves (nosodes) are used to treat the same or similar diseases in the same or other patients. In fact, when Dr Hahnemann, the German physician who established the homeopathic medical system, was treating cases on the basis of the vaccination principle, Louis Pasteur, who is credited with the discovery of vaccination, was just seven years old.”
In the past, various flu epidemics such as the Spanish flu and bird flu have been successfully treated and prevented by homeopathic remedies like Gelsemium, Bryonia, and Oscillococcinum. Therefore, in the interest of swine flu patients, the offerings of this medical system must not be overlooked or underplayed.
Article by Dr Mukesh Batra
L.C.E.H., F.H.M.A. (U.K.), F.R.S.H. (Med) P.(Lon), M.D.H. (U.S.A.), F.B.I.H.(U.K.)
Published in Times of India on 19 May 2009