The pandemic has set humanity in a desperate search for a cure. From the scientific race to find a vaccine to the numerous pseudoscientific and alternative medicines trying to comfort the masses, the hustle is on.
As of now, mainstream medical science is having to manage with symptom-supportive treatments, like certain steroid drugs that have shown to reduce COVID-19 symptoms; plasma therapy; and ventilation support depending on the severity of the case.
That was the scenario for the affected people. But a large group of people, who have thankfully not contacted the infection yet, are increasingly eager to bolster their immunity against the disease.
Alternative medicines like Ayurveda, and homeopathy for coronavirus, in recent times, have gained enormous public attention, especially as a device to boost immunity. Google trends from the past few months show a huge surge in the search for the term ‘immunity.’
The above graph shows the increase in the search volume of the term ‘immunity’ in the US in the space between 24-Nov, 2019, and 12-April, 2020. Coronavirus was declared a pandemic on March 11, 2020. Notice the spur in search volume since the pandemic broke out.
Below (static graph) is the Indian version of the graph and the sudden spike in the search term can be seen between the Nov-2019 and April-2020. It is a clear indication, more and more people are looking to enhance their immunity as far as possible. At least they are inquisitive.
When it comes to India, Homeopathy is one of the most sought-after alternative medicine practices in the country. An estimated 100 million people in the country solely live on homeopathy care, according to a study.
India is one of the countries where this branch of medicine is officially recognized in the medical system including Switzerland, Chile, Brazil, Mexico, and Pakistan. Given the fact the practice is so widely recognized in India and since the COVID-19 pandemic stuck, how far this branch of medicine goes to protect people against the novel coronavirus? Or will it cure a patient per se?
We The World Magazine asked Dr. B. P. Srivastava, who is also a professor at the National Institute of Homeopathy. Here’s his exceptionally clear overview, slightly edited for clarity:
1. Since the time Coronavirus has spread, we the common people have been looking for something to boost our immunity. How far is this trail feasible or possible?
Prof. (Dr.) Srivastava: If people are interested to look for Immunity booster they should know that primary prevention has two (2) modes:
- 1st Mode: Health promotion
- 2nd.Mode: Specific Protection or Vaccine
So, till the 2nd mode is unavailable, people have to depend upon 1st mode i.e. Health promotion by healthy food, physical exercises, Yoga-Ashna, and avoidance of Addictive substances such as Smoking, Alcoholic, Marijuana, and Nicotine.
In addition to that, they should have taken constitutional Homoeopathic medicine under the guidance of Homoeopathic physicians to remove the inherent tendencies to suffer from diseases. This will be produced and boost general immunity against any illness.
We need to understand that there are people who can cope up with Covid-19 infection effortlessly while some show morbid signs and symptoms, and very few succumb to death. The basic behind this is every human being possesses a defense mechanism, which is responsible for maintaining homeostasis- a state of equilibrium. If the stimuli (here COVID -19) are stronger than our defense mechanism, a state of imbalance is created which manifests externally as signs and symptoms.
The “dis-ease” state is showing a struggle of our defense mechanism to counteract the morbific stimuli. If we see the arena of Homoeopathy as a system of medicine, it revolves around a concept called “VITAL FORCE”- the dynamic plane. The Dynamic plane is the plane of the essence of life, the plane on which disease originates, as well as the plane of origin of defense of mechanism.
In the light of recent scientific studies, it is illuminated that, in words of Albert Einstein – “the electromagnetic field (quantum field) is seen as a fundamental physical entity; a continuous medium which is present everywhere in space. Particles are merely local condensation of the field; concentration of energy which comes and go, thereby losing their character and dissolving into the underlying field.”
In words of Master Hahnemann (founder of homeopathy) “this VITAL force which is primarily deranged by dynamic influences upon it of a morbific (disease-causing) agent. Vital force animating all levels of the human organism (physical, mental, and spiritual) one aspect of it is a defense mechanism.
Homeopathic remedies can act directly upon the electrodynamic field as a totality and thereby directly strengthen the defense mechanism. As a result of such direct and guided (based on the fundamental principle of homeopathy) approach it restores and creates a state of equilibrium in defense mechanism with all its intelligence to act. This will result in a high rate of cure for diseases, not only on one level of the entire person.
2. Coronavirus is a respiratory system infection. How’s a homeopathic treatment in terms of treating respiratory illness apart from COVID-19?
Prof. (Dr.) Srivastava: Homeopathic Drugs are proved on healthy human beings, during proving it was observed that numbers of homeopathy drugs have a strong affinity to treat or cure respiratory complaints or Lung diseases, and that is clinically verified on suffering people.
So, if a patient came with respiratory complaints in a case of lung infections or respiratory tract infections by any means Pneumococci, COVID, or any other, in those conditions we can select remedy from that group of medicine, those have the affinity to treat respiratory complaints.
As far as respiratory illness is a concern, the homeopathic approach is holistic and not reductionist in nature. Homeopathy, as a therapeutic system is delivered out of NATURE’S LAW OF CURE- “a weaker dynamic affection is permanently extinguished in the living organism by the stronger one if the latter (whilst differing in kind) is very similar to the former in its manifestation”. Master Hahnemann coined it as “SIMILIA SIMILIBUS CURENTUR” – Let the like be cured by like.
The human being is an integrated whole acting all the time through three distinct levels – the mental level, the emotional level, the physical level. Any disturbance can cause struggle which is manifested on one of the three levels depending upon the individual constitutional predisposition (systemic vulnerability), this is an individualistic response to stress which is substantially volatile and vary from person to person. This is one of the most important foundations of homeopathic- INDIVIDUALISATION.
Approach for Respiratory ailments is no different from treating any other systemic ailment, the same protocol is for all the nosologically decorated ailments of the human being under the sun. In dealing with patient ailing with a respiratory ailment, we homeopaths first stretch our reliance more on well-proven drugs which shows its pronounced efficacy on the same field of concern by giving equal consideration to the totality of symptoms on all the levels of the sick.
3. Is there any homoeopathic treatment as of now to treat Coronavirus? Or how does homoeopathy treats the disease? Elaborate, please
Prof. (Dr.) Srivastava: Yes, we have the homeopathic medicine for the treatment of COVID-19 cases. On the basis of symptoms that are produced by the patient during illness, we select a homeopathic medicine that has got exact similarity with the symptomatology of individual person.
The distinguished matter in the case of Coronavirus infections is that, there are some symptoms which are common to many respiratory illnesses but peculiarities of infection, that it has got severe respiratory distress.
“If we are allowed to prescribe homeopathic medicine along with respiratory support (i.e. Ventilation or Oxygen), I am sure that many deaths can be prevented by Homoeopathic medicine.”
This virus has provoked an unimaginable degree of fear and fright in most people if not all. We have medicines like Aconitum nappellus, Antimonium tart, Arsenic alb, Bryonia alb, Crotalus hor, Gelsemium, and Phosphorous, which have symptoms of severe respiratory distress.
So, if we are allowed to prescribe homeopathic medicine along with respiratory support (i.e. Ventilation or Oxygen). I am sure that many deaths can be prevented by Homoeopathic medicine.
One most important thing is the 3 phases of COVID-19 infections: the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19 is spread through droplets expelled from an infected person’s nose or mouth when they cough, sneeze, or, in some cases, talk, contact or touch, the researchers said.
Phase 1: During the initial infection the virus multiplies inside the body and is likely to generate mild symptoms that may be confused with a common cold or flu.
Phase 2: Pulmonary phase, when the immune system becomes strongly exaggerated by infection and leads to primarily respiratory symptoms such as persistent cough, shortness of breath, and low oxygen levels. Difficulties with blood clotting, especially with the formation of blood clots may be predominant in Phase 2.
Phase 3: The hyper-inflammatory phase, occurs when a hyperactivated immune system may cause injury to the vital organs like heart, kidneys, and other organs. While there may be overlap among the three stages of the disease, the scientists say it is crucial to identify each stage in order to modify personalized treatment to patients.
So, if at the initial stage we apply homeopathic medicine for the removal of Phase 1 symptoms & control to the multiplication of viral infections, then the patient may not linger up to 2nd phase.
An outbreak like Covid-19, which is highly contagious, and now it is taken the form of Pandemic. In this high time where every country in the whole world suffering this viral infiltration, it is very irresponsible to say that only homeopathy medicine has the answer for this.
“Homeopathy deserves a fair chance as a ‘therapeutic’ system before one proves/disprove its impact“
There is a plethora of evidence in the literature about the nearly miraculous efficacy in reducing the morbidity and mortality with homeopathic intervention as compared to conventional (modern/western) systems of medicine. Here we are facing a pandemic, where there is huge variation in terms of geography, level of health of in general, and demographic distribution on a global level.
Every country should give a sincere concern to homeopathy, before one proves/disprove its impact, as a therapeutic system it must be given a fair chance at least when the claim is not empty, its efficacy has a backup of good pieces of evidence floating on the papers of scientific literature.
In India, the Ministry of AYUSH issued advisory claiming ARSENIC ALBUM to be GENUS EPIDEMICUS. This claim is grounded on symptomatology that physicians and researchers have jotted down while studying the behavior of in Virus among different humans belonging to different countries.
There is substantial variation in terms of exciting causes, symptoms intensity and frequency, manifestation on different levels (physical, emotional, and mental), and causes of death. In this burning time, we cannot claim to depend only on one remedy, there are other remedies which can be taken into consideration as the per-exciting cause, presentation of symptoms and organ is in a most compromised state.
The working module of the homeopathic remedy has already been mentioned in a concise way. If we elaborate, then we have to exercise our logic to understand it with an open mindset, as we are programmed to grasp the only material aspect of life and not in terms of energy, frequency, and vibrations. The direct or indirect effects of all these on our health is no more a science fiction now, it’s a well-established fact.
4. People are always paranoid when it comes to homeopathic treatment for complex diseases. But there’s evidence, word of mouth that many patients have recovered. Do have anything to say here?
Prof. (Dr.) Srivastava: Paranoid is a big word; we are not supposed to use it so casually. It means to say that people are in a state of delusion that homeopathy is going to harm them, this question says this, if I am getting it properly. And then there are some people who claim their wholesome recovery.
The first part of the question is simply rare information that I am getting, as homeopathy is always been known for its harmless approach as the remedy routinely administered has no unknown chemicals in it. Even if anyone took some wrong medicine, no life-threatening consequences will happen. In a layman language, it is energy medicine.
It is true that once in a while after taking homeopathic remedy severe aggravation happens, but that is transient and not fatal if you are under a good homeopath who knew how to handle different potencies (power) of drugs. A mild increase in the intensity of symptoms with a sense of well-being within in general (like- improvement in appetite, thirst, sleep, strength on a physical and mental level) have a good prognosis for cure. As there is a fixed direction of cure- from within to periphery, the disease also has a fixed path to produce disease- as there is a journey of a disease so is the journey of cure.
There is no need of being paranoid about homeopathy for coronavirus, which I believe people are not. The second part of the question is the word to mouth stories about the efficacy of homeopathy. I firmly believe that in science we must not overlook the people’s experiences, as statistical studies are subjected to bias and one cannot completely deny the limitation of statistical data and its manipulation.
To assess the real impact of any system of medicine we have to hunt pieces of evidence from both, research studies as well as the experiences of people. Today homeopathy is growing its roots in the research arena with sound success. It is also certain that people today more than anything else want to gain back their lost health.
They are not concerned about empty theories. In the contemporary world, people are demanding a way to regain their lost psychosomatic equilibrium to face the challenges that this technological era has imposed on them. Homeopathy, as a system of medicine for more than 200 years, with all its experiences can claim effective help to ailing humanity in this endeavor and be a priceless asset for the spiritual evolution of mankind.
5. What do you suggest people as prevention from the novel Coronavirus at this time? And any specific diet, lifestyle changes that you suggest?
Prof. (Dr.) Srivastava: I believe we all know very well all the preventive actions, we as responsible citizens need to procure. Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has given their guidelines about all requisite changes we need to imbibe in our lifestyle-
- 1. The physical distancing of at least one meter to be followed at all times.
- 2. Use of face covers/masks to be mandatory.
- 3. Practice frequent hand washing (for at least 40-60 seconds) even when hands are not visibly dirty and use of alcohol-based hand sanitizers (for at least 20 seconds).
- 4. Respiratory etiquettes to be strictly followed. This involves the strict practice of covering one’s mouth and nose while coughing/sneezing with a tissue/handkerchief/flexed elbow and disposing of used tissues properly.
- 5. Self-monitoring of health by all and reporting any illness at the earliest
Apart from homeopathic intervention, one can easily go for Ayurvedic recommendations by the Ministry of AYUSH. Ministry of AYUSH recommends the following self-care guidelines for preventive health measures and boosting immunity with special reference to respiratory health. These are supported by Ayurvedic literature and scientific publications.
Recommended General Measures –
- 1. Drink warm water throughout the day
- 2. Daily practice of Yogasana, Pranayama, and meditation for at least 30 minutes.
- 3. Spices like Haldi (Turmeric), Jeera (Cumin), Dhaniya (Coriander), and Lahsun (Garlic) are recommended in cooking.
Ayurvedic Immunity Promoting Measures
- Take Chyavanprash 10gm (1tsf) in the morning. Diabetics should take sugar-free Chyavanprash.
- Drink herbal tea/decoction (Kadha) made from Tulsi (Basil), Dalchini (Cinnamon), Kalimirch (Black pepper), Shunthi (Dry Ginger) and Munakka (Raisin) – once or twice a day. Add jaggery (natural sugar) and/or fresh lemon juice to your taste, if needed.
- Golden Milk- Half teaspoon Haldi (turmeric) powder in 150 ml hot milk – once or twice a day.
6. Does Homoeopathy hospital have any treatment for COVID-19? Can people go ahead confidently with homeopathy?
Prof. (Dr.) Srivastava: Ministry of Health and Family Welfare and Ministry of Home Affairs (Govt. of India), yet to upgrade homeopathic hospital into COVID hospital.
There are 200 above homeopathic Medical colleges and hospitals in the country with resource persons, paramedical staff, and beds, among them some are under government management and others are under private Management. To date, 5-6 homeopathic hospital has earmarked as dedicated Covid Hospital.
So in this rising number of COVID cases, more homeopathic hospitals need to be upgraded with emergency equipment, instruments, and ventilators, etc.
Clinical Trials: Unfortunately till day not a single western or modern drug identified for the treatment of this pandemic disease, and nor any vaccine for prevention, But homeopathy has the history of treating Pandemic and epidemic diseases from time to time in past.
As far as a clinical trial on Covid-19 patients through the Homoeopathy system of medicines is concerned, it has been allowed by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) in some Homoeopathic Medical Colleges & Hospitals in the States like Delhi, UP, Kerala, Tamilnadu, and Madhya Pradesh.
7. What do you think is the difference in the mind set of people between western and homoeopathy treatment?
Prof. (Dr.) Srivastava: Homeopathic treatment has its own domain and efficiency of treating many illnesses. Nowadays people with a fixed mindset think that western medicine is the only method of treatment and can cure each and every illness. But if it was true, lakhs people would not have died in this pandemic. Now it is time to change the mindset.
More than a mindset, it is a difference in approach, No one wants to harm their patients being a healthy physician (for whom the economy is not a prime concern) be it a homeopathic physician or physician of any other system of medicine.
The homeopathic approach is holistic so we are bound to evolve as a good listener, as the only reliable tool we have in our hand is TOTALITY OF SYMPTOMS ON ALL LEVEL, so we need to be very patient in practice and have to be very attentive even to the minutest gesture, we need to probe deep inside the life experiences and the response to seek the immediate or remote causative factors.
While western medicine as a reductionist approach has a set of medicine in every part of the body and for every symptom, the sick is experiencing without giving any heed to the causative factor, so they are prescriber and homeopath are the healer.
Homeopathic remedy equips the body with the needed energy to establish the lost equilibrium with their ingrained natural intelligence. On the other hand, western medicine injecting chemicals to recruit them to work and render the défense mechanism in a helpless and impoverished state.
If we use common sense, I (body) am weak due to undernourishment and unable to perform my work (fight germs) for which I have been trained since millennia, what is the best solution: to recruit someone having no experience of my work or to nourish myself (body) to regain my powers? This is the choice we need to make.
8. Who can confidently take homeopathic medicine at this time?
Prof. (Dr.) Srivastava: Patient can take Homeopathy treatment confidently if:
- Patient with Influenzial symptoms, but not confirmed case.
- Patient with confirmed Covid positive, but without any severe respiratory distress.
- Patient with home isolation and on immunity booster medicine or others management.
The advisory from the AYUSH department of the government of India is only for the consumption of Ayurveda decoction and homeopathic remedy (Arsenic Album30) is only to boost the immunity of patients.
[Cover image courtesy of Thai Civil Rights and Investigat (TCIJ) via Flickr under (CC BY 2.0)]
Prof. (Dr.) B. P. Srivastava, MD (Hom), MBA (HM), FF (Hom) teaches in the Department of Case Taking & Repertory at the National Institute of Homoeopathy under the Ministry of AYUSH, (Govt. Of India). He is also a Post Graduate Guide & Examiner at the West Bengal University of Medical Sciences, Kolkata. Dr. Srivastava is the author of the book: An Approach to Human Anatomy and First Book of Repertory