Some history of the treatment of epidemics with Homeopathy – Julian Winston

From its earliest days, homeopathy has been able to treat epidemic 
diseases with a substantial rate of success, when compared to 
conventional treatments.  It was these successes that placed the 
practice of homeopathy so firmly in the consciousness of people
world-wide.

There is a story told about Joseph Pulte, one of the earliest homeopaths 
in Cincinnati.  When he began his practice, many people were so angered 
by a homeopath being in town that they pelted the house with eggs.  He 
was becoming discouraged enough to think of leaving.  His wife said, 
“Joseph, do you believe in the truth of homeopathy?” He replied in the 
affirmative.  “Then,” she said, “you will stay in Cincinnati.”

Shortly after, when the Cholera epidemic swept through, Pulte was able 
to boast of not having lost a single patient– and he was accepted into 
the community.  In the Epidemic of 1849, people crowded to his door and 
stood in the street because the waiting room was full.

In 1900, Thomas Lindsley Bradford, MD, wrote a book called “The Logic of 
Figures” in which he collected the statistics he could find that would 
compare the conventional therapeutics with homeopathic ones.
Many of the figures cited below are derived from Bradford’s work.

One of the earliest tests of the homeopathic system was in the treatment 
of Typhus Fever (spread by lice) in an 1813 epidemic which followed the 
devastation of Napoleon’s army marching through Germany to attack 
Russia, followed by their retreat.  When the epidemic came through 
Leipzig as the army pulled back from the east, Samuel Hahnemann, the 
founder of homeopathy, was able to treat 180 cases of Typhus– losing 
but two.  This, at a time when the conventional treatments were having a 
mortality rate of over 30%.

In 1830 as the cholera epidemic was reported coming from the east, 
Hahnemann was able to identify the stages of the illness, and predict 
what remedies would be needed for which stages.

When Cholera finally struck Europe in 1831 the mortality rate (under 
conventional treatment) was between 40% (Imperial Council of Russia)
to 80% (Osler’s Practice of Medicine).  Out of five people who 
contracted Cholera, two to four of them died under regular treatment.
Dr.  Quin, in London, reported the mortality in the ten homeopathic 
hospitals in 1831-32 as 9%; Dr.  Roth, physician to the king of Bavaria, 
reported that under homeopathic care the mortality was 7%; Admiral 
Mordoinow of the Imperial Russian Council reported 10% mortality under 
homeopathy; and Dr.  Wild, Allopathic editor of Dublin Quarterly 
Journal, reported in Austria, the Allopathic mortality was 66% and the 
homeopathic mortality was 33% “and on account of this extraordinary 
result, the law interdicting the practice of Homeopathy in Austria was 
repealed.”

Homeopathy continued to be effective in the treatment of Epidemic 
Cholera.  In 1854 a Cholera Epidemic struck London.  This was a 
historically important epidemic in that it was the first time the 
medical community was able to trace the outbreak to a source (a public 
water pump), and when the pump was closed, the epidemic soon ceased.
The House of Commons asked for a report about the various methods of 
treating the epidemic.  When the report was issued, the homeopathic 
figures were not included.  The House of Lords asked for an explanation, 
and it was admitted that if the homeopathic figures were to be included 
in the report, it would “skew the results.” The suppressed report 
revealed that under allopathic care the mortality was 59.2% while under 
homeopathic care the mortality was only 9%.

It is hard today to comprehend what kind of scourge such an epidemic 
was.  As was seen in the later Flu Epidemic of 1918, one could be 
healthy in the morning and be dead by evening– it moved that rapidly.
Many books were written about the Homeopathic treatment of Cholera 
during these times, among them: Cholera and its Homeopathic treatment, 
F.  Humphreys (1849); Homeopathic Treatment of Cholera, B.F.  Joslin 
(1854); Homeopathic Domestic Treatment of Cholera, Biegler (1858); 
Epidemic Cholera, B.  F.  Joslin (1885); Asiatic Cholera, Jabez Dake 
(1886).

The success of homeopathic treatment continued with the later cholera 
epidemics.  In the Hamburg epidemic of 1892, allopathic mortality was 
42%, homeopathic mortality was 15.5% During the 1850s, there were 
several epidemics of Yellow Fever in the southern states.  This disease 
was eventually found to be transmitted by mosquito.  Osler, says that 
the allopathic mortality from Yellow Fever is between 15-85%.  Holcome, 
a homeopath, reported in 1853 a mortality of 6.43% in Natchez, and Dr. 
Davis, another homeopath in Natchez, reported 5.73%.  In 1878 the 
mortality in New Orleans was 50% under allopathic care, and 5.6% (in 
1,945 cases in the same epidemic) with homeopathic care.

The two best books on this topic were: Yellow Fever and its Homeopathic 
Treatment, Holcome, (1856) and The Efficacy of Crotalus Horridus in 
Yellow Fever, C.  Neidhard, (1860).

Another epidemic disease which was treatable with homeopathy was 
Diphtheria.  Since the advent of widespread vaccination, it is a disease 
not often seen in our modern world.  Diphtheria appeared periodically, 
and rarely had the same presentation.  It was, therefore, very important 
for the practitioner to individualize the treatment in each specific 
case or generalized epidemic.  A remedy which had been effective in 
treating it one year might not be the same remedy needed the next year.

In the records of three years of Diphtheria in Broome County, NY from 
1862 to 1864, there was a report of an 83.6% mortality rate among the 
allopaths and a 16.4% mortality rate among the Homeopaths.  (Bradford)

Perhaps the most recent use of homeopathy in a major epidemic was during 
the Influenza Pandemic of 1918.  The Journal of the American Institute 
for Homeopathy, May, 1921, had a long article about the use of 
homeopathy in the flu epidemic.  Dr.  T A McCann, from Dayton, Ohio 
reported that 24,000 cases of flu treated allopathically had a mortality 
rate of 28.2% while 26,000 cases of flu treated homeopathically had a 
mortality rate of 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 result.

The most common remedy used was Gelsemium, with occasional cases needing 
Bryonia and Eupatorium reported. Dr.  Herbert A.  Roberts from Derby, 
CT, said that 30 physicians in Connecticut responded to his request for 
data.  They reported 6,602 cases with 55 deaths, which is less than 1%. 
 Dr.  Roberts was working as a physician on a troop ship during WWI. He 
had 81 cases of flu on the way over to Europe.  He reported, “All 
recovered and were landed. Every man received homeopathic treatment. One 
ship lost 31 on the way.”

Closer to our present time, there were the Polio epidemics in the 
mid-1950s.  Dr.  Alonzo Shadman, a homeopath in the Boston area, 
emphasized that until *actual paralysis* was observed, it was hard to 
distinguish the prodromal symptoms of Polio from those of the common 
cold– and he treated many “summer colds” during the time.  Were they 
incipient polio?  No one can tell.

Dr.  Francisco Eizayaga or Argentina, tells of a polio epidemic in 
Buenos Aires in 1957, where the symptoms of the epidemic resembled those 
of the remedy Lathyrus sativa.  The homeopathic doctors and pharmacies 
prescribed Lathyrus 30c as a prophylactic, and “thousands of doses” were 
distributed.  “Nobody registered a case of contagion.”
Eizayaga points out that in other epidemics of polio, Gelsemium was the 
indicated remedy– emphasizing, again, the need for individualization.

Homeopathy has been very effective in treating many of the epidemics 
during the 19th and early 20th centuries.  Why the successes are not 
better known is a subject for conjecture.  It could be that, like the 
physician quoted below, most would rather not see the ineffectiveness of 
the conventional therapeutics nor accept the efficacy of homeopathy.
 From “Homeopathy In Influenza-A Chorus Of Fifty In Harmony” by W.  A.
Dewey, MD (Journal of the American Institute of Homeopathy, May 1921):

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.

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