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Tuesday 6 November 2012

The Prevention and Treatment of Malaria with Homeopathy

The treatment and prevention of Malaria by Homeopathy has become a highly controversial subject, largely due to the nefarious activities of 'Sense about Science', a so-called 'charity' funded largely by large pharmaceutical companies. BBC News, who always meekly and cravenly support conventional, drug-based medicine, have broadcast several programmes attacking homeopathy for 'daring' to treat the disease! As a Homeopath (who incidentally has never been asked to treat malaria) I decided to look into the subject in order to compare what homeopathy and ConMed can offer the patient.

The first thing to say is that Homeopathy has been treating Malaria for a very long time. Sue Young has done research into this in her blog "A Homeopathic History of Malaria". Indeed, as she explains, it was Samuel Hahnemann, the founder of Homeopathy, who first looked into it. So it was Hahnemann

          "During the translation of a book by William Cullen, the leading physiologist of that time, Samuel Hahnemann noted that William Cullen asserted that Peruvian bark was an effective drug for malaria because of its bitter and astringent properties."

          "Samuel Hahnemann thought this a peculiar statement because he knew other bitter and astringent medicines that provided no benefit in the treatment of malaria. He then conducted an experiment upon himself, taking this herb twice a day until he developed symptoms of its toxicology, and here he discovered that it created a fever with chills as well as other symptoms that mimicked malaria".
So it was Hahnemann, in the very early days of homeopathy, who proposed that Peruvian Bark (which contains quinine) might be effective for treating people with Malaria. He did so, of course, on the bias of the principle tenet of Homeopathy - that "Like cures Like".
Sue Young's blog goes on to list a series of recorded events in which homeopathy was used to treat Malaria, including many individual cures, and its use in outbreaks in various parts of the world. It also traces the work of Homeopaths who developed the homeopathic treatment of Malaria from 1826 to the present day.

Theresa Partington, in her article in Homeopathy in Practice, Spring 2006, outlined some of the current projects that are using homeopathy to both prevent and treat malaria. One conclusion she reached, after speaking with several Homeopaths, involved in the practical, face to face treatment of malaria in coutries were the disease is rife, was as follows:

          "All our practitioners found that malaria responds well in the acute phase, the chronic state proving more difficult, often being complicated by other diseases, poor living conditions, reinfection etc. All will use support remedies for the liver and the spleen (generally recommending Chelidonium and Cean). Of the non-homeopathic treatments for prophylaxis and treatment of acute and chronic states, Neem tea was strongly recommended by the two Kenya practitioners.
Homeopathy is a practical rather than a theoretical medical therapy. It seeks to treat people suffering from disease on the basis of identifying a 'similar' remedy to the symptoms of an individual suffering from the disease, and then observing whether it is effective. Theresa's article demonstrates this well. Homeopaths are active in many parts of the world where Malaria is common, and its benefits are clear to those who can see what is happening on the ground. 

I am aware of several projects, doing practical work with people who live in parts of the world that has a high incidence of Malaria. One such project as asked that their work is not highlighted, fearing attack from Homeopathy Denialists, BBC News, the Guardian, and other supporters of conventional medical treatment, and Big Pharma drugs. The conclusion this project has reached, after working many years with Malaria, is simple:

          "Homeopathy does indeed work for malaria. Homeopaths should not be afraid of this disease, nor prevented from treating it".

This kind of practical, no nonsense treatment of disease is anathema to the opponents of Homeopathy, and the supporters of Big Pharma. In their craven support of ConMed treatment the Conventional Medial Establishment, and its Media allies, appear willing to summarily dismiss, without the least thought or consideration, any evidence that Homeopathy may work with sick people! This is particularly indefensible as there has also been research done into the homeopathic treatment of malaria too - which is usually studiously ignored!

"Effects of homeopathic medications Eupatorium perfoliatum and Arsenicum album on parasitemia of Plasmodium berghei-infected mice" was a study undertaken in 2006. It reached the following conclusion:

          "We found significant inhibitory effect on parasite multiplication with both medications with a level of 60% for Eupatorium perfoliatum at a 30 CH potency. Arsenicum album 0/6 gave 70% inhibition but this was less stable than Eupatorium perfoliatum. The number of schizonts was higher in animals treated with homeopathic medications.

Another 'open study' and 'double blind randomised clinical trial' was undertaken in Ghana in 1993, using just three homeopathic remedies, Arsenicum Album, Natrum Mur and Pulsatilla. I am not sure why the study was restricted to these three remedies. The conclusion was that the results obtained  were at least as good as the main conventional drug used, and probably better.

          "The only conclusion that can be drawn is that homeopathy has an effect, comparable with and slightly (non-significantly) better than chloroquine. The effect of chloroquine might be difficult to calibrate as the level of resistance against chloroquine is not known in the population studied". 

Another study was undertaken in Tanzania (after 2004, date unclear) using a single remedy made from the Neen tree, which was apparently known by local tradition in the area to be an effective treatment for Malaria. The conclusion of this study was as follows: 

          "The homeopathic neem preparation has shown to be effective for the reduction of malaria attacks in a highly endemic area for plasmodium falciparum. The treatment is safe in the short term and the low cost of manufacturing renders this treatment especially attractive for developing countries as the purchase cost is well within the range of an average household budget.

The success of homeopathy is treating Malaria is recognised in many parts of the world, less under the perverse influence of the Big Pharma companies. Earlier this year (2012), the Madhya Pradesh announced that it was initiating a major campaign to prevent Malaria. The Times of India announced the practical evidence for the effectiveness of homeopathy in the prevention of Malaria.

Under the campaign launched by the state government, homoeopathic medicines will be administered door-to-door. The decision to distribute homeopathic was taken as it has provided effective in prevention of malaria. (My emphasis).

So whilst I am aware that this evidence will be summarily dismissed by Homeopathy Denialists, and their colleagues at BBC News (and, indeed, the mainstream media generally), Homeopaths must insist that this evidence is taken into consideration before routinely condemning homeopathy. 

BBC News's unbalanced and biased coverage of anything to do with homeopathy is well known. This particular subject was dealt with in the now infamous Newsnight programme, broadcast on 4th January 2011. It began with someone approaching a Homeopath to ask what she recommended for travelling to a part of the world where Malaria was rife. It went on to attack the homeopathic treatment of Malaria because (they claimed) there was 'no evidence' of its effectiveness, and to drive home the point, BBC News asked a series of ConMed trained 'experts' to support the attack on homeopathy.

What the programme failed to ask was why people should want to ask a Homeopath about Malaria treatment - especially when they could access conventional advice, and get conventional drugs, free of charge from their NHS doctor.

People come to Homeopaths for treatment, including treatment related to Malaria, because they want an alternative to conventional, drug-based medicine. Indeed, when we examine what ConMed, and Big Pharma drugs, have to offer to people looking for Malaria protection (and what they will 'miss out' on if they choose Homeopathy) is quite awful, and does not make easy reading.

First, there is growing resistance to the Big Pharma drugs. In other words, they are no longer working as effectively as once they did (and how well they have ever worked is certainly highly debatable).

Second, the drugs give rise to quite horrendous adverse reactions. Conventional medication includes quinine based drugs, such as Chloroquine, and Artemisia-based drugs, such as Lariam. These produce severe adverse reactions, ranging from skin symptoms to organ failure. As I have said many time before elsewhere, the impact of these drugs are not 'side-effects' - the are fully blown, life-threatening diseases!

Lariam, for example, perhaps the most well-known Malaria drug, is known to cause adverse heart, kidney, liver, skin, and central nervous system problems, as well as causing serious psychiatric issues. Lariam was investigated by the FDA as long ago as 2003 when some returning US troops, who had received the drug, committed suicide or murder. In other words, Lariam shows the same kind of disease-inducing effects that are associated with most, if not all ConMed medication. In the same year, 2003, the magazine WDDTY said that Lariam "poses a serious and public health concern", and this, perhaps, is a good summary of most conventional Malarial drugs

Nor are any new Big Pharma treatments appearing on the horizon. WDDTY reported in August 2012 that two new Malaria vaccines, "medicine's great hope in combating the disease" have been found to make the disease worse. It reported that tests, undertaken at Pennsylvania State University, discovered that the Malaria parasite "changes rapidly to resist the vaccine - making the vaccine itself ineffective within days and encouraging the spread of an even deadlier forms of the disease"(Source given: PLoS Biology, 2012; doi: 10.1371/journal.pbio.1001368).

The personal experience of people using these Big Pharma drugs can also be catastrophic. In an article published in The Times, on 22nd January 1996, it was reported that a group of travellers were seeking compensation over an anti-malaria drug "that produces serious psychological problems in some people,  and other side-effects , in almost a quarter of users". The article reported that a solicitor in Bristol was planning a 'group action' against the manufacturer, pointing out that not only were the DIEs serious, they were also long-lasting. He stated:

          "We have people who have serious psychiatric disorders because of Lariam. For some people the problems persist long after they have stopped taking the drug."

In another Times article, written by the well-known journalist Matthew Parris on 4th April 1998, entitled "I think I'd rather have Malaria", he described the mental and physical reactions he had to Lariam:

          "As soon as I began the course two weeks before leaving Britain my night-time dreams turned weird. Strange, grotesque dreams, often with a horrific edge. Monstrous hideous faces would loom at me waking me in the night."

Matthew Parris went on to describe the mental reactions he had to the drug, which included hallucinations, and the physical reactions that for him included itching skin and an odd taste in his mouth.

           "I think the chemical composition of my saliva must have altered. My mouth just tasted different. Some food seemed to taste strange too. Tea, in particular (and to a lesser extent coffee), took on a faint but discernibly bitter edge.

And for Matthew Parris too, the symptoms of these conventional Malaria drugs continued for a long time:

          "That was three months ago and only now is it beginning to fade. It was as though some small but discernible chemical change had occurred to the internal balances within my body. Amputation I can face, but this sort of thing really scares me".

So there is good reason for people looking for alternative medical treatment. And, contrary to the opinions BBC News and the Media generally wishes to impose on us, I believe that it is important that people know that about the possible disease-inducing effects ((DIEs) of conventional Malaria treatment, and are informed that there are alternative treatments, like Homeopathy, certainly safer, and probably more effective, available to them.

So what should be done for people wishing to protect themselves from Malaria? As Karin Mont, Chair, Alliance of Registered Homeopaths, stated when advising Homeopaths, following the BBC Newsnight programme, patients should seek the fullest possible advice.

          "..... ARH would encourage our members to ensure their patients are given all information available, so that they can make an informed choice. This would also be appropriate behaviour for all healthcare practitioners, including medical doctors. Perhaps we can encourage patients to start insisting that their doctors explain all potential adverse reactions of the drugs they prescribe (in easily comprehensible terms!), rather than relying on a slip of paper in minute font to do the job for them!

Postscript, August 2013
In an FDA Drug Safety Communication, it has been announced that the antimalarial drug, mefloquine hydrochloride is now known to cause "serious psychiatric and nerve side-effects". These can last for 'months to years' after taking the drug. The drug is not being withdrawn (of course) but the warning labels are to be strengthened! It is now going to have a 'Black Box' warning. Wow!

Patients and carers are asked to 'watch for these side effects' but 'should not stop taking' it before discussing symptoms with health care professional.

I wonder if the BBC will bother to tell us about this? Perhaps it will just have another go at Homeopathy instead. It is important that they try to stop all those foolish people who are looking for prevention and treatment that is safer!