The Extraordinary Success of Homeopathy in Epidemics: A Brief Overview

Liga Medicorum Homoeopathica Internationalis

Leipzig—June 15, 2017

A) Introduction

Likely the most compelling evidence for the effectiveness homeopathy is found in its extensive records in times of epidemics.

In 2003, I began reviewing the literature on this subject, and I have so far uncovered over 10,000 references of which the first 2,000 have been incorporated into a comprehensive text that is now over two thousand pages.

All the epidemics in which homeopathy has been used since 1799 and could be found in the literature have been included in this extensive review.

B) The main finding:

The main finding of this research is that the results obtained by homeopathy during epidemics consistently reveal an extremely low mortality rate. That observation holds true regardless of the physician, the time, the place or the type of epidemic disease, including diseases that are known to have a very high mortality rate, such as cholera, smallpox, diphtheria, typhoid fever, yellow fever, and pneumonia.

Since society values the saving of life more highly than any other outcome, most of these reports give accounts of rates of recovery versus mortality; therefore they deserve the close attention of academia, governments, and health authorities, and should be followed by strong recommendations.[1]

The hierarchies of evidence in evidence-based medicine (EBM) have not been developed for the purpose of integrating such massive amounts of evidence, perhaps because the allopathic literature from before WWII is relatively poor in valuable therapeutic interventions.

Aside from a few trials, such as Lind’s with citrus fruit to treat scurvy in sailors (1747), and Louis’s with bleeding and expectancy in pneumonia patients (1828), there are not many therapeutic trials that are worth recounting, or whose therapeutic interventions would have any clinical significance today.

That, however, is not at all the case with homeopathy, whose literature overflows with all types of very meaningful case studies, trials, and outcome reports which are as pertinent today as when they were first published.

Results obtained by homeopathy do not often lose any of their value with the passing of time; on the contrary, like all facts, they are as relevant as if they had occurred today, particularly since the homeopathic methodology has not essentially changed since its early development.

Interestingly, this low mortality rate is always superior to the results obtained not only by orthodox medicine practiced at the particular time, but, as a rule, by orthodox medicine of today, despite benefiting from modern nursing and hygienic care.

In a recent review of the literature on the outcome of the treatment of pneumonia with conventional medicine and homeopathy, it was found that homeopathy offers the safest and best outcomes ever demonstrated by any system of medicine for patients with pneumonia and therefore would receive the highest possible recommendation of any intervention for these patients (1A/strong recommendation with high-quality evidence).

From the survey so far conducted of the literature, this conclusion can be extended to other epidemics, making homeopathy a very effective medical system that provided by far the best therapeutic outcome during epidemics.

Even the lesser-skilled/trained homeopaths obtained, as a rule, better results than the highest authorities of the allopathic school.

However, the most consistent, predictable and impressive results were obtained by the ones who practiced genuine homeopathy and are known as Hahnemannians.

Another important finding is there here was no significant iatrogenesis ever reported under homeopathic treatment during epidemics.

Homeopathic remedies have been successfully used to protect large segments of the population from upcoming infectious diseases.

Homeopathic prophylaxis is safe, effective and with very low cost.

The results obtained by homeopathy during epidemics cannot be explained by the placebo effect.

Despite well-documented and official reports, the results obtained by homeopathy in times of epidemics have been almost completely ignored by medical historians.

Further, most researchers writing on 19th, 20th and 21st century epidemics keep mentioning that no effective treatments were then available, thus completely ignoring the extraordinary results obtained by homeopathy, as if they had occurred in a void of time and space.

The growth and popularity of homeopathy greatly waxed and waned with epidemics.

Throughout recorded history, the survival of human societies have been threatened by epidemics, and regardless of the advances in medicine, prevention or biotechnology, there will always be epidemics, and homeopathy will always be ready to rapidly intervene.

A doctor practicing genuine homeopathy is always ready to face any new epidemic disease, because the principle of similars can be applied to every sick person at any time. A good example is when poliomyelitis made its appearance in the 1950s.

Particularly today, with the extremes in climatic changes rapidly evolving microbial organisms are evolving into new ecosystems.[2]

Homeopathy doesn’t need years, months, weeks or even days to develop remedies or prophylactics to face newly emerging epidemics.

C) Statistics

Now let’s look at some examples of the type of statistics that can be found in the homeopathic literature, both in regards to therapeutic and prophylactic outcomes.

Statistics in homeopathy don’t need to be extensively elaborated in the majority of studies, because the differences in the outcomes during epidemics tend to be obvious, serving as a reminder of Sir Ernest Rutherford’s remark, “If your experiment needs statistics, you ought to have done a better experiment.”

Odds ratios and relative risks with two-by-two tables are often sufficient to reveal fully the size of the effect in these outcome studies.

As an example, let’s look at the outcomes in patients with pneumonia before and since the introduction of antibiotics.

Pay attention, as here we will compare five different groups: 1) pre-antibiotic allopathy (PAA) (the statistics are here limited to community-acquired pneumonia, as the mortality is disproportionally high with health-care-acquired pneumonia), 2) expectancy, 3) current conventional care (CCC), 4) homeopathy in general and 5) Hahnemannian homeopathy.

Expectancy, or the expectant method, means that patients are not given any medication or submitted to any “active” treatment, such as bleeding, cauterization, or cupping, but are cared for with diet and hygienic measures.

Statistics from these outcomes show that:

The treatment effect of genuine Hahnemannian homeopathy is enormous, as the odds of surviving CAP were 3 to 1 with PAA, are today 6 to 1 with CCC,

28 to 1 when we average the outcomes from all the ways of practicing homeopathy, but with genuine Hahnemannian homeopathy they are 239 to 1.

This means that out of every 100 cases with pneumonia, genuine Hahnemannian homeopathy saved 24 more lives than PAA, would today save 13 more lives than CCC, and saves three more lives than the overall average from all the ways of practicing homeopathy.

However, this last number should be closer to 7 lives being saved out of 100 if we subtracted the outcomes of Hahnemannian homeopathy from the original therapeutic intervention group “homeopathy,” in which it was included.

Let’s now take a moment to imagine the difference that genuine homeopathy would make if it were offered to every patient with pneumonia. Almost immediately there would be a huge decline in the number of people dying from pneumonia.

For example, if genuine homeopathy had been universally used in the U.S. in 1920, when the population was 106 million and the mortality from the combined effects of influenza and pneumonia (CIP) was estimated to be 207 per 100,000, it would have saved 206,590 lives in that one year.[3]

Pneumonia is still a major cause of morbidity and mortality even in developed countries. In the United States for example, it is the leading cause of death due to infectious diseases, and the age-adjusted annual mortality for CIP has been steadily rising over the last few decades.

Interpretation of the Results Obtained with Homeopathy

The startling difference in the results reported in pneumonia cases by the two schools of medicine might be explained in three ways if we limit our discussion for the time being to PAA:

1) Homeopathy did neither harm nor good, and PAA killed people; therefore the outcome was better with homeopathy;

2) Homeopathy saved lives, and PAA did neither harm nor good; therefore the outcome was even better for homeopathy;

3) Homeopathy saved lives, and PAA killed people; therefore the outcome for homeopathy was even better again.

Again it must be asked whether the low mortality rate obtained with homeopathy could be due solely to the fact that homeopaths do not use crude drugs or other heroic treatments? That is an explanation that has been offered for two centuries by almost all allopathic observers and commentators.

However, commentators who have attributed the difference in results between allopathy and homeopathy to a combination of iatrogenesis with allopathic treatment and the placebo effect of homeopathy, is only words without substantiation or suggestion that trials should be instigated to verify their far fletched hypothesis.

Actually if we look at the outcomes from expectancy we can deduct that on average, expectancy saved or PAA killed about 3.2% of the patients with pneumonia. Homeopathy, on the other hand, saved at the very least an extra 17.7% of its cases beyond expectancy; that could explain the 20.9 percentage point difference between the mortality with homeopathy and with PAA, which were on average 3.4% and 24.3% respectively.

Prophylactic Aspect of Homeopathy

Another advantage that homeopathy offers to pneumonia patients is that every homeopathic intervention is at the same time prophylactic.

Prophylaxis, which in infectious diseases consists first in preventing diseases before they develop, and second in mitigating the severity and complications of diseases once they come under treatment, is an important consideration for weighing the overall benefit of any therapeutic approach.

The Prophylactic Role of Homeopathic Intervention

The prophylactic power of homeopathy during epidemics relates to the fact that homeopathic remedies can be given to large segments of populations as protective agents prior or in the midst of an epidemic.

For instance, in 1974-75, there was a major epidemic of meningococcal meningitis that devastated Brazil.

Around 250,000 became ill, more than 11,000 died and over 75,000 people were left with permanent brain damage.

Many victims fell desperately ill in minutes with a stiff neck and fever leading to hemorrhages, coma and death within a day.

Such a paroxysmal epidemic of Neisseria meningitidis is uncommon, but because this microorganism spread easily in overcrowded living conditions, it claimed a lot of victims once it had begun.

Without antibiotics the mortality rate sometimes exceeds 80 percent in children.

During this epidemic in Guaratingueta, a city with a population of 78,000 in the state of Sao Paulo, 18,000 children received one drop of Meningococcinum A and C 10 Centesimal, but only once during the entire length of the epidemic.

Within the first three months 5 of these 18,000 children fell sick with meningitis.

Given that one child fell sick two days after receiving homeoprophylaxis (suggesting that he was already infected) only four cases actually proved a failure, or 0.021 percent compared to 10 cases in a control group of 6,364, a morbidity rate of 0.15 percent or seven times greater incidence (odds ratio) in the ones who didn’t receive homeoprophylaxis with a P= 0.0009.

This highly significant fact means that in a population of 100,000 people, the morbidity rate would have fallen from 150 to 21 cases, despite the fact that the posology employed was totally inadequate in such an epidemic.[4]

(Homeoprophylaxis is free of side effects compared to conventional vaccination with its introduction directly into the blood stream of microbial toxins and other known and unknown biological and non-biological contaminants such as mercury, aluminum or other very toxic preservatives and agents. The short and long-term consequences of such assaults particularly in immunocompromised persons or in infants with immature immune systems have been poorly studied. While few scientists seem to be interested in investigating such the side-effects of vaccination, they are significant with up to 3 percent of 2 to 6 month old infants developing moderate to severe local reactions, and up to 37 percent developing a fever following the conventional method of vaccination with the meningococcal group C vaccine.[5])

A second example of homeoprophylaxis on large segments of population has been reported in India where epidemics of Japanese encephalitis have been recurrent since 1970. From 1987 to 1989 there were 5,172 deaths among 16,871 cases of Japanese encephalitis, a mortality rate of 30 percent.

In 1991, a single dose of Belladonna 200 C (the genius epidemicus) was given as a prophylaxis to 322,812 persons in 96 villages in four districts of India.

Follow-ups with 39,250 persons were conducted and it was found that none reported any signs or symptoms of Japanese encephalitis.

The research team also treated homeopathically 223 patients with encephalitis in remote areas who had not received any treatment, as well as 14 other patients who had been discharged from hospitals and were suffering from sequellae of encephalitis, such as convulsions (7 cases), unconsciousness (6 cases) and opisthotonos (3 cases).

All the 223 patients received symptomatic relief and improvement was seen in varying degrees in almost all the symptoms in the second group of 14 patients.

Four out these 14 experienced complete recoveries.[6]

A third example of homeoprophylaxis on large segments of the population was conducted in Cuba in 2007 during an epidemic of Leptospirosis, which is a zoonotic disease of major importance in the tropics where the incidence peaks in rainy seasons.

Natural disasters represent a big challenge to Leptospirosis prevention strategies especially in endemic regions.

The symptoms caused by Leptospirosis infection are extremely variable and potentially dangerous, they include meningitis, pneumonitis, hepatitis, nephritis, mastitis, myocarditis, hemorrhagic crisis and multi-organ failure, with a reported mortality varying between 4 and 50%.

In the midst of an epidemic occurring in 2007, homeoprophylaxis was administered orally to 88% of 2.4 million persons living in three high-risk provinces of Cuba.

Homeoprophylaxis was initiated in week 45 of 2007 with two oral doses of Nosolep 200 C with an interval between doses of 7-9 days was administered to 2.1 million persons (88% of the population).

Ten to twelve months later, the schedule was completed by the administration of another two oral doses (7-9 days apart) of Nosolep 10 M to 2.3 million persons (96% of the population).

There was a significant decrease (84%) of the disease incidence in the intervention provinces, while incidence rose in the non-intervention regions by 22%—despite significantly higher risk of disease in the intervention regions.

The cost of homeoprophylaxis was about 2% of the one for the conventional vaccine, even though that the world’s only commercially available vaccine against Leptospirosis is manufactured in Cuba.[7]

Interpretation of Results Obtained by the Two Schools of Medicine

The startling difference in the results reported in patients with pneumonia by the two schools of medicine can be explained in three ways if we limit our discussion for the time being to PAA:

  1. Homeopathy may have done neither harm nor good, and PAA killed people; therefore the outcome was better with homeopathy.
  2. Homeopathy saved lives, and PAA may have done neither harm nor good; therefore the outcome was even better for homeopathy.
  3. Homeopathy saved lives, and PAA killed people; therefore the outcome for homeopathy was still better.

When we look at the record of expectancy, we find that 32 more patients out of every 1,000 died under PAA than under expectancy, but 177 more patients out of every 1,000 survived pneumonia under homeopathy as compared to expectancy.

It has therefore been known since at least the mid-1800s that homeopathy saved lives in pneumonia cases and that PAA killed patients, which raises many troubling questions that will have to be discussed at another times.

H) Conclusion

Homeopathy can be described as pure method of science, as Hahnemann’s works are the result of careful observation of phenomena, rigorous experimentation, and repeatable verifications.

In other words, homeopathy is a purely descriptive method of science both in its development and clinical application.

The signs, symptoms and circumstances of the sick person are matched with the known symptoms of the remedies. The most similar remedy is chosen. This is a classic example of a phenomenological science of nature or also known as Goethean science.[8]

Anyone taking the time to seriously search the homeopathic literature will most likely at first be stunned by the mass of effectiveness studies such as controlled cohort studies, observational studies and outcomes studies from official reports from hospitals, boards of health, insurance companies, and state orphanages, prisons and mental asylums.

Secondly, as stunning will also be the robustness and magnitude of the effect and the significance of the outcome contained in them.

Ironically, health and government authorities disregarded homeopathy, the medical system which provided by far the best therapeutic outcome, and instead favored orthodox medicine, a medical system that, at best, was mostly ineffective, and has since exhibited an ever increasing iatrogenicity and is immeasurably more costly to society but enormously profitable to vested interests.

Any investigator can verify the data presented here by opening the numerous record books of the two schools of medicine, such as The Comparative Merits of Alloeopathy, the Old Medical Practice, and Homoeopathy, the Reformed Medical Practice, Practically Illustrated by J. G. Rosenstein, which contains statistics for the first half of the nineteen century,[9] and The Logic of Figures or Comparative Results of Homoeopathic and Other Treatments, edited by the medical historian Dr. Thomas Lindsley Bradford, which is a compilation of the most important available statistics of the two schools of medicine for the second half of the nineteen century.[10]

However, it is important to understand that the clinical evidence for homeopathy has never been fully evaluated, as the great majority of it is lying unexamined in a vast literature consisting of case reports, cohort studies, expert opinions, and official records of boards of health, public health services, hospitals, armed forces, insurance companies, state prisons, orphanages, and mental asylums. As an example of the wealth of information that is waiting to be analyzed by professional researchers and historians, I will mention two observational reports on the comparative mortality in the two schools of medicine

In summary, the partially reviewed epidemiological evidence has, as a whole, so far shown that homeopathy is safe and cost-effective, and above discloses a very consistent and strong therapeutic and prophylactic effects and real-world, long-term effectiveness of homeopathy.

[1] Gordon H. Guyatt, et al. Rating quality of evidence and strength of recommendations: GRADE: an emerging consensus on rating quality of evidence and strength of recommendations. British Medical Journal 2008; 336 (7650): 924-926.

[2] Morens DM, Folkers GK, Fauci AS. Emerging infections: a perpetual challenge. The Lancet infectious diseases. 2008;8(11):710-719. doi:10.1016/S1473-3099(08)70256-1.

[3] Forrest E. Linder, Robert D. Grove. Vital Statistics Rates in the United States 1900-1940. Washington, DC: United States Government Printing Office, 1947.

[4] David Castro, Jorge W. Galvao Nogueira. Profilaxis de la meningitis con meningococcinum. Homeopathia 1974; 41 (5): 6-11.

[5] M. B. Rennels et al. Safety and immunogenicity of four doses of Neisseria meningitidis group C vaccine conjugated to CRM197 in United States infants. Pediatric Infectious Disease Journal 2001; 20 (2): 153-9.

[6] D. P. Rastogi and V. D. Sharma. Study of homoeopathic drugs in encephalitis epidemic (1991) in Uttar Pradesh (India). Central Council for Research Quarterly Bulletin 1992; 14: 1-11.

[7] Gustavo Bracho, et al. Large-scale application of highly-diluted bacteria for Leptospirosis epidemic control. Homeopathy 2010; 99: 156-166.

[8] Joel Shepperd. Hahnemann’s pure method of science. Simillimum 2002; 15: 66-72. This article is available here: Two excellent references to Goethe’s way of science are: 1) H. Bortoft. The Wholeness of Nature. New York: Lindisfarne Press, 1996. 2) David Seamon, Arthur Zajonc. Goethe’s Way of Science. New York: SUNY Press, 1998.

[9] J. G. Rosenstein. The Comparative Merits of Alloeopathy, the Old Medical Practice and Homoeopathy, the Reformed Medical Practice, Practically Illustrated. Montreal: Campbell, 1846.

[10] Thomas Lindsley Bradford. The Logic of Figures or Comparative Results of Homoeopathic and Other Treatments. Philadelphia: Boericke and Tafel, 1900. (;view=1up;seq=9)

Picture of André Saine, N.D., F.C.A.H.

André Saine, N.D., F.C.A.H.

André Saine is a 1982 graduate of the National College of Naturopathic Medicine in Portland, Oregon. He is board-certified in homeopathy (1988) by the Homeopathic Academy of Naturopathic Physicians and has been teaching and lecturing on homeopathy since 1985. He is considered one of the world’s foremost experts on the subject of homeopathy.