In this presentation, we are going to look at several issues about this question of disease
protection with homeopathic remedies. First, the question: Have remedies been used in a protective
way (rather than just the treatment of disease)? Second, what is the mechanism for such a protective
effect? Third, what specific guidelines can we use for the use of remedies for the protection of
our animal patients?
History of the Idea of Homeopathic Prophylaxis
The idea of using a medicine, prescribed homeopathically, for the prevention of disease was
present from the very beginning of homeopathy. To my knowledge, the first presentation of this
concept was by Samuel Hahnemann in an article, entitled Cause and Prevention of the Asiatic
Cholera, which was published in 1831.(1) In this article, Hahnemann suggested a list of remedies
(camphora, veratrum, bryonia, rhus toxicodendron, cuprum) that would be of most use in the
cholera outbreak that was raging at that time. He was able, from an understanding of the principles
of homeopathy and a knowledge of the medicines, to give this guidance even though he,
himself, had little experience with the current outbreak of the disease. His followers quickly put
these suggestions to the test with remarkable results. In no little way, this predictive ability of
Hahnemann's, in a time of great uncertainty in the use of medicines, was tremendously effective in
convincing doctors of the efficacy of homeopathic medicine. To be able to have effective treatment
in the face of an epidemic puts aside, at one stroke, the idea of indefinite, imaginary, or placebo
effects from use of the medicine.
Later, Boenninghausen, one of Hahnemann's most able and early students, describes his
discovery of the similarity between smallpox (in people) and malanders (in horses).(2) He noticed that
when smallpox would appear in an area, the horses would also show the disease of malanders -- that these two diseases appeared together. So, because Thuya was considered to be the specific
remedy for this problem in horses, Boenninghausen tried it in smallpox in people and found it to be
very effective in treatment. He carried this one step further, giving the remedy to members of the
same household of the patient ill with smallpox and found it prevented the disease with every
person it was used.(3)
This concept of using remedies to prevent disease was used by many of the earlier homeopaths
but in sort of an immediate way. That is, it was used during an epidemic to protect exposed people
or with family members, but it was not, to my knowledge, used on a long term basis without the
threat of disease actually being present. It was much later, in this century, that homeopathic prophylaxis
was extended to the idea of long term protection.
Also, as nosodes(4) of the specific diseases began to be used, more experience in disease
Evidence of this can be found in the literature. Here are some examples from the fascinating
little book, Homeopathy in Epidemic Diseases, by Dr. Dorothy Shepherd:
"Epidemic diseases treated and nursed at home raise the problem of prophylaxis or prevention.
Here again homeopathy offers the best solution. Believe me, it has been shown again and again
that our medicines given intelligently and according to our law that 'like cures like' do not only cure
infectious diseases speedily and easily without the development of any complications, but they also
prevent these same diseases. This is of great importance, particularly in the case of infants who
have not enough stamina to stand up to an onslaught of whooping cough or measles or diphtheria,
or infantile paralysis....
"If one can prevent these diseases until the children are over five years of age, the disease is
usually not so fatal, and the children stand a better chance.
"Of course, the modern methods of prevention of disease occupy much space in our medical
literature, and apparently they are successful to a degree. The agents used in prophylaxis resemble
crudely the medicines used in homeopathy, and some homeopathic physicians have been somewhat
led astray by this similarity to the homeopathic principle, and recommend the present orthodox
"Are the inoculations against the various infectious diseases 100 per cent foolproof? Do they
not in some cases lead to serum or vaccine disease? Is it not a fact that they often produce severe
reactions? Indeed, they have been known to lead to fatal consequences. Have I been more
unfortunate than the average homeopathic physician in seeing the negative or disease-producing
effects of orthodox prophylaxis? Indeed I was not biased either in the beginning. I was extremely
interested in prevention of such diseases as diphtheria and measles and the rest. It was a great
disappointment to me to observe the frequent severe reactions in the wake of immunization against
diphtheria, and later on the uncertain effects of inoculations against measles, whooping cough, and
"Now some of my fears of the dangers inherent in the modern methods of inoculations have
been proved to be well rounded and correct. Some impartial medical observers in Australia have
found that the incidence of poliomyelitis, the modern infantile paralysis, has
vastly increased since whooping cough and diphtheria inoculations have
become more popular, and that the incubation period of infantile paralysis
corresponds closely to, and follows exactly on the correct day after the inoculation
has been made (my emphasis) It might have been coincidence, if it had only happened
in one or two cases, but unfortunately it has happened in more than 5 per cent of the cases. (Note:
I have seen the same relationship between Feline Leukemia vaccine and the occurrence of Feline
Infectious Peritonitis which seems to follow the vaccine at a much higher incidence than one would
"At the moment doctors are advised not to immunize at the danger periods of the year, when
infantile paralysis is most prevalent. Whether this is the first step in giving up the dangerous method
of immunization, one does not know.
"My own personal opinion is, that inoculation with any type of serum in any of these infectious
diseases is harmful and can easily and safely be replaced by a remedy or remedies, proved
according to our Law of Similars that 'like cures like' on healthy individuals. Nosodes or disease
products of the actual disease are often most active preventives. This will sound revolutionary to
many doctors, but for years I have been in the position to watch the results and aftereffects, early
as well as late, of immunization against diphtheria, and I have not been impressed.
"For years I worked in closest contact with an immunization clinic and had to convince the
mothers of the great advantage that would ensue. It was somewhat difficult to deal with irate
parents later on, when they had been told that the operation was painless, and they saw the
swollen, congested arms which occasionally cropped up. And it was even more difficult when a
child developed diphtheria after it had finished its course of inoculation! And as for that mother
who lost her child of a fulminating attack of diphtheria within eight hours after the disease started
when a certificate of safety had been issued from the clinic; I do not know how the immunizing
doctor got over that (obstacle)!
"I was very unpopular, I remember, when the Medical Officer of Health was told about this fatality from diphtheria, and he remarked 'This would not have happened, if the mother had the
child immunized,' and I retorted that she had been well and truly (vaccinated) six months previously.
I used to receive all the official publications on diphtheria immunization from the said doctor
after this little contretemps, as if he was trying to shelter himself behind the official acts.
"I therefore have no hesitation in stating that from my own experience and observation, the
homeopathic preventives are much safer in use, and absolutely certain in their effects. Even should
the infectious, disease develop, it will be in a much milder form."(5)
On Whooping Cough
"(For a time) in my professional life I had no opportunity to treat whooping cough. Parents
accepted as a fact that whooping cough lasted at least six weeks, or until well on in May, and as it
could not be cured it just had to be endured. A doctor was rarely called in. One day I procured a
copy of Dr. Clarke's monograph on Pertussin, the nosode of whooping cough (the potentized serum
of this disease). My eyes were opened to the possibilities of cutting short an epidemic of this dread
"At that time there was a small outbreak in the neighborhood of the clinic, so with the help of
the visitors and nurses, we coaxed the mothers to bring the little sufferers to the clinic for treatment
before the commencement of the session to avoid infecting others. The results with Pertussin in
potency were so striking that I soon used it in all the clinics and nurseries I attended, both as a
prophylactic and as the curative remedy after the disease had started.
"During the four years before the second world war, 950 cases were treated with the following
results. One baby five months old died. Two mothers, having four children between them, did not
carry on with the treatment after twenty-four hours, preferring their children to be sent to an (allopathic)
hospital. These four youngsters were away from their homes for well over four months and
came back a mere shadow of their former selves, requiring several months' convalescence at the
seaside. While the children in the same street who had been dosed with the small pilules of
Pertussin were fully recovered after only a fortnight.
"It created quite a stir in that neighborhood at the time, I believe. The severity of the attacks
was mitigated at once. They diminished in frequency as well. Vomiting became less violent, and
the duration was considerably shortened. It depended largely on the stage of the disease at which
the treatment commenced. It was aborted under a week if seen within the first day or two. If seen at
its height, it would take another ten to fourteen days at the most, with greatly diminished severity.
All the children escaped the usual complications. No bronchopneumonia followed, and we saw no
wasting and no marasmus. It was indeed surprising how well they looked at the end of the attack
-- they were often better after the whooping cough than they had been before.
"On another occasion 364 cases were given daily doses of Pertussin for two weeks after
contact. Many of these cases were seen in the day nurseries under my care -- not one of these
children developed the disease. As two of the nurseries took in children from two weeks old, it was
most essential that they should not be exposed to the infection, and it was gratifying to find that
Pertussin was a means of preventing the spread of the disease. To quote an early experience -- when I was not sure yet of the power of Pertussin in preventing the disease, a girl of five years old
attended a private school. Of the twenty-one children in her class, eighteen were infected with a
severe type of whooping cough. Only three escaped -- two had whooping cough a year before,
and the third was my little friend. How anxious I was whether my little doses would work, and great
was the triumph when we were successful.
"The school doctor, whose own two children were attacked with a particularly severe variety of
whooping cough after doses of prophylactic serum administered by himself, was wrath with the
little girl's mother, because he would have it that the little one must have had whooping cough the
year before without the mother knowing! He accused her of not being exactly truthful as it was
impossible to prevent whooping cough.
"In another private school, a child came back after the holidays with a fully developed whooping
cough, in spite of carrying a doctor's certificate as being free from any infectious disease. All
the twelve children in her class were infected. The headmistress, on my advice, gave Pertussin 30
four-hourly, and the children had the mildest attack of whooping cough she had ever seen. They
enjoyed being ill, playing all the time in the orchard and in the big old barn instead of having
lessons. Ten years previously, she told me, whooping cough was inadvertently taken to her school.
Weeks of great anxiety and hard work followed. Several night and day nurses had to be called in -- it was a nightmare time for her. She was grateful to homeopathy, and to the nosode Pertussin for
turning so serious a disease into a mild one.(6)
"In (another) epidemic there were 120 children of varying ages, ranging from twelve months to
fourteen years, on prophylactic doses; only one out of this number, an infant of eight months, died,
the parents counteracting the action of the Pertussin by applying camphorated oil to the chest."(7,8)
"I must say a few words on Diphtherinum -- the diphtheria nosode -- and its use as a prophylactic
instead of the popular immunization of the orthodox school. Our homeopathic prophylactics
are far safer and are not complicated by any early or late aftereffects. Diphtherinum , the diphtheria
nosode, is an excellent preventive and has been used by other homeopathic physicians as well as
by myself in hundreds of cases, with success.
"I have given Diphtherinum CM in unit doses and occasionally Diphtherinum 30 in weekly
doses for four to six weeks, and I have not heard of any failures. Of course, it may be argued that
these children might not have developed it in any case -- which may be true.
"Which is the best potency to give for protection? I could not lay down any hard and fast rules
myself; I have only been feeling my way so far. A French homoeopathic doctor is reported to have
conducted an experiment along these lines for years, and when he published his results later, he
claimed that the higher potencies give longer immunity: the 1000th(9) gave approximately two and
a half years' protection, and the lower ones less, by analogy it follows that the thirtieth would
protect for only a few months.
"Doubt has often been expressed, whether Diptherinum or any homeopathic medication can
truly prevent diphtheria. Records have been published by Dr. Paterson of Glasgow of the results
obtained at the Mount Vernon Hospital for Children (Homeopathic). Diphtherinum in the 200th
potency produced definite immunity, as shown by the Schick test.(10) All the cases done in this way
gave a Schick negative result within nine weeks, and some as early as three weeks afterwards.(11)
"Dr. Mitchell reports three children who were found to be Schick positive; two doses of
Diphtherinum in potency were given; two weeks later two of the children were Schick negative, the
third became Schick negative a few weeks later, before orthodox immunization was carried out.
Dr. Mitchell adds 'three cases do not prove anything except that immunity can be induced by
"Dr. Paterson was most emphatic in urging that serum should not be
given after a homeopathic remedy. Very bad results had followed this
method (my emphasis); other doctors stated that when the serum was given first, and the homeopathic
remedy second, no evil results had followed.
"Dr. Bodman said that at the Bristol Homoeopathic Hospital some thirty to forty nurses were
immunized by the orthodox method. It was noticed hereafter that an enormous
amount of sickness followed immediately after the immunization. It temporarily
reduced resistance to any infection, and they went down with influenza,
German measles, whooping cough, and the sickness rate among the nurses was
higher during the six months following diphtheria immunization than in any
period in the history of the hospital.
"Personally, as I have stated already on different occasions, I have observed
during the last twenty years that immunization is followed in an
appreciable percentage of cases by a general lowering of resistance, (my
emphasis) and I have seen serious and fatal cases of toxemia coming on within a week or two after
diphtheria inoculation. Dermatitis starting from the point of inoculation and spreading all over the
arm and to the chest and cheek developed in three children of one family after the inoculation, and
the Loeffler bacillus was found in the discharges from the skin. Diphtherinum M in daily doses
cleared up the dermatitis in a fortnight, when previously it had gone on spreading for several
months, and resisted all sorts of local treatment.
"I am chary of advising diphtheria inoculations as a method of prevention of the disease. I was
medical officer at a children's clinic which served a crowded area in South London within the reach
of eight big schools, with a population of several hundred scholars in each. We had a daily
attendance of over a hundred children for treatment. We always knew when there had been an
immunization session at any of the schools nearby, for they flocked in their dozens to us, having
their swollen arms, the septic sores, and the dermatitis dressed within a few days. We used to give
them -- as a matter of routine -- Diphtherinum 30 in daily doses, and got rapid healing and
disappearance of the lesions. Later results in many of the children who bore the brunt of the
inoculations well in the early days, were crops of multiple warts(12) on hands, arms, and in their
hundreds on the cheeks and face, peculiar dark brown, almost black, minute warts, which went on
for months, but cleared up, almost overnight, at any rate in a week or two, with repeated doses of
Infantile paralysis is one of the modern varieties of a disease which has come to the forefront
during the last fifty to sixty years; gradually it has become more frequent and more virulent.
(The full article is posted on Dr. Pitcairn's website.)
Reprinted with permission from
a presentation on...
Homeopathic Alternatives to Vaccines
by Richard H. Pitcairn.
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