Homeopathy can both prevent and cure swine flu, sans any side effects, say doctors who practise this alternative medicine system in India where over 700 people have been diagnosed with the disease.
Amid panic over the spread of influenza A (H1N1) virus, homeopaths are now drafting a proposal for the health ministry to offer their services in tackling the crisis.
"Based on the symptoms, homeopathy can offer an effective cure to swine flu. Moreover, it does not have any side effects," Harcharanjeet Kaur, a homeopath at Baksons homeopathy clinic, told IANS.
Well-known Delhi-based homeopath Mukesh Batra cited the instance of the Spanish flu epidemic of 1918 in which more than 50 million people were killed worldwide. He said the mortality rate of people given allopathic treatment was 28.2 percent, while those given homeopathic treatment was 1.05 percent at that time.
"Gelsemium and Bryonia were the two homeopathic remedies that proved to be effective against the H1N1 strain back then. These could be of great use even today," Batra said.
Explaining the way homeopathy works, Jaipur-based homeopath Manish Bhatia said this form of medicine works on the basis of symptoms and not the disease.
"In homeopathy, there is a concept called Genus epidemicus. This means if there is an epidemic and you take the symptoms of say 15 ailing people of an area, you will notice a common trend. Based on that you give medication - for the symptoms. This same medication then, if given to people of that area, can act as a preventive medicine," Bhatia said phone.
Besides symptoms like running nose, fever, sneezing and dullness that are the same for common flu and swine flu patients, those suffering from the latter may also have gastric problems like nausea and vomiting, Bhatia said.
"Based on the symptoms, there may be different curative medications for different cases of swine flu. One or two of these medications will be used more frequently than the others and this can then be given to others as preventive
medication," Bhatia said.
So why WHO (the World Health Organisation) or the health ministry has not taken homeopathy's help in tackling the H1N1 outbreak?
"WHO relies on statistical data before advising governments on tackling a disease. And there is no study on the effectiveness of homeopathy to prevent or cure swine flu. Therefore it cannot recommend homeopathy," Bhatia said.
"Having said that, a group of homeopathy doctors are drafting a proposal to the government to offer their services to help in dealing with swine flu cases," Bhatia said.
"In Brazil, the homeopathic doctors' community has collected data on the symptoms of swine flu and homeopathic treatments for symptoms and are spreading the word on its effectiveness through internet," he added.
Anwar Amir, secretary general of the homeopathy post graduate association in Maharashtra, said he has written to the union health ministry and the state government's health department offering their services to deal with the swine flu crisis.
More than 616 people have been detected with H1N1 virus so far in India, of which 487 have been discharged. The disease has claimed one life in India.
People however should not panic. The chances of dying of swine flu are just as low as dying of common flu, homeopathic doctors said unanimously.
Giving an example of the effectiveness of homeopathy in an epidemic in India, Batra said when Japanese encephalitis hit Andhra Pradesh 10 years ago, the government distributed one million doses of Belladonna, a homeopathic drug, to children.
"No child was affected by Japanese encephalitis after that. Therefore, homeopathy can provide an effective and inexpensive preventive measure and cure for swine flu too," Batra said.