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Homeopathy and the flu - A proven track record against the flu What homeopathy can do for you

the right homeopathic medicine for the flu is usually straightforward because
the symptoms tend to be dramatic and easily characterized.

Homeopathy—a natural for epidemics
Most flu seasons and epidemics fit a common homeopathic remedy's symptom profile,
so the majority of people with the flu will benefit from the epidemic medicine
[or "genus epidemicus"]. Practicing homeopaths will easily discover this medicine
in their community after seeing a few cases of the flu. For example, the epidemic
medicine for the deadly 1918 Spanish flu was Gelsemium, which has also been the
appropriate medicine for many other flu seasons (Bryonia and Eupatorium were
secondary prescriptions in 1918). I have created a database for epidemic medicines
in various parts of the United States reported by experienced homeopathic practitioners.
These epidemic reports can be found at my website,,
in the flu section. Find your area of the country and you will see the most frequently
prescribed homeopathic medicine for the flu where you live. [Also see the NCH's
Flu Tracker at and
article by Miranda Castro, "The flu is back! Help us track it!", Nov/Dec 2004.—Ed.]
     Homeopaths are singularly confident about treating
viral illness. Homeopathy has a long history of successfully managing serious
acute infections, particularly the flu. Homeopathic medicine proved extremely
effective in the 1918 flu pandemic, and it will prove itself in any future flu
pandemic, just as it does every winter in the treatment of that year's flu cases.
     The 1918 Spanish flu pandemic was a plague that
exceeded the ravages of the Bubonic Plague of 1347, which killed a third of the
European population. Worldwide, the Spanish flu killed an estimated 40 million
people. In some primitive cultures the death rate was 100 percent. Fortunately,
many patients in the United States had access to homeopathic medical care. A
report to the American Institute of Homeopathy in 1921 documented the dramatic
success of homeopathy in the worst flu pandemic in history. Of 24,000 flu cases
treated with conventional medical care, the death rate was 28.2 percent; of 26,000
cases treated with homeopathy, the death rate was a nearly miraculous 1.05 percent.
Similarly, many individual homeopathic physicians reported that they had treated
thousands of patients with very few deaths.

Homeopathic flu prevention: Influenzinum
For at least the past 150 years, homeopathic practitioners have used the medicine
Influenzinum as a flu preventive. Influenzinum is a homeopathic medicine made
from flu viruses. A proprietary preparation is produced by Dolisos pharmacy each
year using the flu virus strains recommended by the World Health Organization
for the year's vaccine production (Dolivaxil?—containing Influenzinum 9c).
The typical dosage is once per week for four weeks beginning in October or later,
followed by another dose three weeks later.
     Between the years 1918 and 1957 the preparation
of Influenzinum was derived from samples of blood or nasal secretions taken from
patients who contracted the flu during the deadly 1918 flu pandemic. Subsequent
to 1957, Influenzinum preparations come from a homeopathic preparation of the
yearly flu viruses chosen for the flu vaccine. [Washington Homeopathic Products
makes Influenzinum from that year's actual flu vaccine and suggests taking one
dose monthly as a preventive during flu season.—Ed.]
     In 1998, the French Society of Homeopathy conducted
a survey of 23 homeopathic doctors concerning their use of Influenzinum as a
flu preventive. The survey included use of Influenzinum over a 10-year period
(1987--1998) in 453 patients. The protocol for the frequency of doses varied
considerably among these doctors. Weekly doses were used by 26 percent of participants
and monthly doses by 23 percent. Another 16 percent used a weekly then monthly
dosage plan, and 35 percent applied some other dosage protocol. Eighty percent
of respondents began treatment in the fall (September through November) and ended
between February and April. Seventy percent of participants used a 9c strength
of Influenzinum.
     Results of the survey were remarkable. In approximately
90 percent of the cases, no instances of the flu occurred when Influenzinum was
used preventively, no matter what the dosage protocol. Physicians deemed its
effectiveness good to very good in 90 percent of the cases, and not effective
in 5 percent of cases. Ninety-eight percent of the patients expressed a desire
to take the same preventive treatment the following year. This confidence in
homeopathic prevention among physicians with many years of experience and their
patients speaks to the effectiveness of Influenzinum as a flu preventive. (It
should be noted that a clinical study that approaches statistical significance
evaluating the preventive effects of any homeopathic preparation would probably
be prohibitively expensive.)

Treating the flu: Oscillococcinum®
One specific homeopathic medicine used to treat the flu has been subjected to
clinical trials. It is a homeopathic preparation of the liver and heart of a
Barbary duck—Anas barbariae hepatis et cordis extractum 200c which is known
by its trade name Oscillococcinum®, and is made by Boiron. This
medicine was first formulated in 1925. Its name arose from a spurious notion
that the blood of flu victims in the 1918 pandemic contained bacteria composed
of balls (cocci) that vibrated, or oscillated. Joseph Roy, a French physician,
identified this supposed pathogen and found it in many animal species. He chose
as the source of his homeopathic preparation a duck, possibly an extremely fortuitous
accident because of the association between human flu epidemics and bird viruses.
     Oscillococcinum® was studied in
France during the 1987 flu epidemic caused by an H1N1 virus. This multi-center
study examined the effect of Oscillococcinum® on the early symptoms
of flu. Results were published in the peer-reviewed British Journal of Clinical
. A group of 149 non-homeopathic physicians enlisted 487 patients
in the study, each of whom had developed flu-like symptoms during the previous
24 hours. Symptoms met strict criteria for the level of fever and the presence
of associated flu symptoms. This took place in the midst of a documented flu
epidemic. A treatment group and control group were established and the medicine
was prescribed in five doses, once at the physician's office and then twice a
day for two days following. More patients in the treatment group recovered completely
in the first 48 hours than the control group (17 percent of patients with active
treatment compared to 10 percent of controls). This was deemed a statistically
significant difference. More patients in the treatment group also judged the
treatment as favorable compared to the placebo—61 percent vs. 49 percent.
     In 1990, German physicians replicated the French
study of Oscillococcinum®. They used the same criteria as the
previous study and enrolled 372 patients. After 48 hours of treatment with Oscillococcinum®,
the treatment group had significantly milder symptoms than the control group,
and the number of patients with no symptoms from day two onward was significantly
greater in the treatment group (17.4 percent) compared to the control group (6.6
     Both of these studies show a significant curative
effect of a homeopathic medicine in the treatment of flu in carefully conducted,
double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trials. The two studies were done in
different countries, each with many participating physicians, and during two
different flu epidemics, presumably caused by different viruses. Conventional
antiviral drugs reduce the duration of flu by about one day if taken within the
first 48 hours of illness. Comparing the results of these studies with the meager
effect of conventional treatment shows that homeopathy carries the potential
to make a dramatic difference in any flu epidemic without the risk of drug side

Homeopathic Flu Medicines
Gelsemium and Bryonia. The two most frequently indicated homeopathic
flu medicines over the past 100 years have been Gelsemium and Bryonia. There
are significant differences in the symptom profiles of these two medicines that
make it easy to decide which is the better fit. They are not the only medicines
used to treat the flu, but between them they will probably fit the majority of
     Bryonia and Gelsemium-type flus both come on slowly
over a 6--12 hour period. You begin to feel gradually worse over that time. By
the second day you have aching muscles, feel pretty bad, and usually have a headache.
In a Bryonia flu, you have more pain in the front of the head, which is definitely
made worse by moving the head or moving the eyes, and feels better from pressing
the hand on the head. In a Gelsemium flu, you have pain in the back of the head
with stiffness and aching in the neck and across the shoulders. You do not want
to move much either, and you may feel worse from moving around, but you avoid
movement primarily because you are so tired.
     The characteristic state of Gelsemium is lethargy
and fatigue. By contrast, Bryonia's state is one of tiredness but also restlessness.
Bryonia discomfort is worse from motion, but at the same time you feel the urge
to move about restlessly in the bed. No position seems comfortable. Bryonia is
thirsty, Gelsemium is not.
     Bryonia is generally warmer and drier. Bryonia
wants air and cool temperatures to calm the heat. Gelsemium is chilly and sensitive
to cold; cold shivers go down the spine. At the same time, Gelsemium is clammy
with the fever, and feelings of heat and cold may alternate. Bryonia has more
coughing and chest symptoms, a painful cough that aggravates the sore throat.
The Bryonia cough will also cause chest pains, and the inevitable reaction to
this situation is to press the palm to the chest to minimize the movement caused
by coughing.
     Gelsemium does not have the energy to be emotional.
Bryonia is irritable, worried, and fretful. Bryonia wants to be left alone, Gelsemium
is too exhausted to respond.
     Rhus toxicodendron. The Rhus toxicodendron
flu immediately distinguishes itself by its extreme restlessness. With all of
the aching pains, Rhus tox is better from moving. Constant motion, changing positions,
and stretching provide the only relief. If you lie still with a Rhus tox flu
you begin to ache, which forces you to move. Nighttime is the worst for those
with a Rhus tox flu because of the difficulty remaining in one position. You
will toss and turn looking for relief. Mentally and emotionally, those who need
Rhus tox are anxious with a restless mind, and a sudden depression with crying
is common. Like Gelsemium, Rhus tox is chilly and sweaty. Rhus tox is also sensitive
to cold and better from warmth. The headache of both Rhus tox and Gelsemium has
its focus in the back of the neck and head with aching across the shoulders.
Rhus tox has a very dry mouth, but despite the dryness is not very thirsty.
     Baptisia. A Baptisia flu is a bad one that
comes on quickly with a high fever. With a Baptisia flu, you are suddenly very
sick and going downhill fast. Mentally, Baptisia is confused, stupidly dull,
and even delirious, sleepy all the time, and unable to even answer questions.
The main characteristic is an offensive odor from the sweat, the mouth, and the
stool. Baptisia flus are typically accompanied by both diarrhea and vomiting.
The tongue is coated yellow or brown, the throat intensely red, ulcers appear
in the mouth, and the gums may ooze blood.

A number of other remedies may be indicated for influenza, such as: Eupatorium
(when the bones feel broken), Pyrogen (when the bed feels too hard), Arsenicum
(when there is great prostration, chilliness, restlessness), Mercurius (when
there is offensive perspiration, excessive salivation). To learn more about these
and other remedies, view the articles on the NCH Flu Tracker web pages at—Ed.

Flu Remedies

Gelsemium vs. Bryonia
Chilly with chills
down spine
  Warm with desire for cool air
Thirstless   Thirsty
Dull, sleepy, heavy   Dull, but irritable, worried
Worse from movement   All symptoms worse from movement, but restless
Headache at back of head, stiff neck   Headache in forehead, better from pressure, worse motion
Gelsemium vs. Rhus toxicodendron
Dull, sleepy, heavy   Extremely restless,
cannot get comfortable, anxious
Worse from movement   Better from movement
Chilly with chills
down spine
  Chilly and better from heat
Thirstless   Thirstless

This article is an excerpt from FLU: Alternative Treatments and Prevention by
Randall Neustaedter, OMD, North Atlantic Books, publication date, December 15,
2004. It is used with the author's permission.

In their own words
Homeopaths & the 1918 flu epidemic

The following appeared in "Homeopathy in Influenza—A Chorus of Fifty in
Harmony" by W.A. Dewey, MD, in the Journal of the American Institute of Homeopathy,
1921. These quotes refer to the flu epidemic of 1918 when the mortality rate
for conventional treatment was about 30%.

"In a plant of 8000 workers we had only one death ... Gelsemium was practically
the only remedy used. We used no aspirin and no vaccines."
     —Frank Wieland, MD, Chicago

"I have treated 1000 cases of influenza. I have the records to show my work.
I have no losses. Please give all credit to homeopathy and none to the Scotch-Irish-American!"     
     —T.A. McCann, MD, Dayton, Ohio

"I did not lose a single case of influenza; my death rate in the pneumonias was
2.1%. The salicylates, including aspirin and quinine, were almost the sole standbys
of the old school and it was a common thing to hear them speaking of losing 60%
of their pneumonias."
     —Dudley A. Williams, MD, Providence, Rhode

"One physician in a Pittsburgh hospital asked a nurse if she knew anything better
than what he was doing, because he was losing many cases. 'Yes, Doctor, stop
aspirin and go down to a homeopathic pharmacy, and get homeopathic remedies.'
The Doctor replied: 'But that is homeopathy.' 'I know it, but the homeopathic
doctors for whom I have nursed have not lost a single case.'"
     —W.F. Edmundson, MD, Pittsburgh

Source: The Faces of Homeopathy: An Illustrated History of the First 200 Years,
by Julian Winston

About the author:
Randall Neustaedter, OMD, LAc, has practiced homeopathy and Oriental medicine
for over 25 years, specializing in child health care. He is a licensed acupuncturist
and received his Doctorate in Oriental medicine in Hong Kong. He is author of The
Vaccine Guide: Risks and Benefits for Children and Adults
as well as a new
book, FLU: Alternative Treatments and Prevention. He publishes a free
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