There has been a crescendo of bird 'flu stories and warnings building up over the past six years, ever since the Hong Kong outbreak 1998. In 1999 The Guardian called it "The Plague in Waiting" and there are several expert blogs providing insight and commentary on the H5N1 strain of avian flu, to give it its full title. The WHO has dedicated much of its website to the disease.
There is a lot of fearmongering going on in the media. Allopathic doctors sounding dire warnings about our being "due" a pandemic globally and that they can't make enough vaccine for everyone due to limited output capacity. The Department of Homeland Security in the US had announced that it will take charge with the military should an outbreak occur and has already divided the country into regions to be sealed off. There is plenty of scope for strengthening and profiteering by vested interests amid the flurry of fear being whipped up around this virus. The conspiracy theorists are having a field day.
The last "great" 'flu pandemic was in 1918â€“1919 when between 40 and 50 million people were killed. It was an entirely new virus, for which humanity had built up no immunity. It cut healthy adults down in their prime, not just the old and infirm. In the past few weeks, scientists have recreated a sample of the Spanish 'flu virus in the lab, noting its similarity with the H5N1 strain. It too originated from birds and crossed the species barrier to sweep the globe.
What does this mean for Homeopaths? Perhaps not surprisingly, there has been no mention of Homeopathy as a potential treatment for bird 'flu. Even among homeopathic patients there can be the perception that Homeopathy is a gradual, gentle medicine for everyday ailments and long term conditions, not a powerful medicine capable of curing virulent epidemics.
However, according to Homeopathic historian, Julian Winston there are plenty of accounts that homeopathy enjoyed tremendous success in treating the 1918 pandemic. Published in the New England Journal of Homeopathy, his article Influenza-1918: Homeopathy to the Rescue contains several accounts of 99% survival rates among those treated with homeopathy. Here are some choice quotes:
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.
Dean W. A. Pearson of Philadelphia collected 26,795 cases of influenza treated by homeopathic physicians with a mortality of 1.05%, while the average old school mortality is 30%.
Wilson has a more general article called Efficacy of Homeopathics in Worldwide Epidemics, Some history of the treatment of epidemics by homeopaths from Hahnemann onwards.
Similarly, Todd A Hoover's "Influenza- When the epidemic strikes, will you be ready?" (link to a PDF)This is mainly a good run through of the common 'flu remedies to stock up on and their symptoms.
The US National Center for Homeopathy has already set up their 'Flu Tracker where you can enter in the details of your 'flu cases. They plan to aggregate the data into information helpful to countering 'flu epidemics.
If the bird 'flu eventually decides to visit Ireland, we can be confident of homeopathy's strong track record in epidemics and hope that Nelson's has plenty of Gelsemium in stock.