Posts tagged ‘Bombay’

“Swine Flu” has become a much dreaded illness in Mumbai, Pune and neighbouring areas ever since the first swine flu death occurred in India a couple of weeks ago. Widespread fear and a state of panic are setting in, esp. due to an initial fanning of the flames by the media and lack of awareness about this illness among the general public.

In this article, we shall try and understand the basics about what exactly swine flu is, how it gets transmitted, risks and dangers involved, how one can protect oneself from contracting this illness and medical prevention and treatment options available.

So far, the media has only highlighted treatment options available in Allopathy/conventional medicine. After days of their drug Tamiflu being raved about and made to appear as a saviour drug and the only available perceived treatment option, recent reports are abuzz with the side-effects of Tamiflu. The pharmaceutical companies are in a race to make a vaccine against swine flu available at the earliest and reports suggest that such a vaccine is going to be introduced this autumn in western countries, to combat the expected second wave of swine flu. It remains to be seen whether this new vaccine will, in any way, be more effective than the earlier Influenza vaccines given every year. Newer variants of influenza vaccines are made available with clockwork regularity as the influenza virus mutates rapidly and makes the previous year’s vaccine ineffective.

To combat the panic all around us, let us also get some perspective on this Swine Flu epidemic. Every year, about 36000 – 40000 people die in the US from regular seasonal flu. As compared to seasonal flu, this Swine Flu virus has not proved to be more virulent or contagious. After the initial panic in the US and Mexico, where this Swine Flu apparently originated, researchers have agreed that the Swine Flu virus was not as dangerous as they initially thought.

Yes, over a thousand people have been infected now in India, but that is still about 0.001% of the Indian population; far from being anywhere near pandemic proportions. Of all those that have been infected, a vast majority recovered without any complications. There will also be a lot more numbers of people infected with the virus than what the media reports – this is because not all of them will fall sick and not all of those who do fall sick will get tested. Many will not fall sick because their body’s immunity will tackle the virus without a problem. Out of those who do fall ill, a majority will not undergo ‘testing’ but will recover by themselves or with the help of local treatment by family doctors.

So now, keeping this in mind, let us now talk about the Swine Flu virus and the ailment it can cause.

The virus causing Swine Flu is the H1N1 virus and spreads from person to person in the same way that a regular flu virus spreads – through coughing or sneezing by people with influenza. Occasionally people may also get infected by touching something that has been contaminated with flu viruses by patients suffering from the flu, eg., door knobs, working surfaces, etc., and then touching their mouth or nose.

People infected with the virus can then spread it and infect others anywhere between 1 day before falling sick themselves to 5-7 days after falling sick.

The illness this virus causes ranges from mild (in majority of cases) to severe (in a few). The symptoms produced are a running nose, cough, sore throat, fever, body-ache, headache, chilliness and exhaustion. Several people affected by it have also suffered from loose motions and vomiting. While most people suffering from it have recovered without requiring medical treatment, there have been a few cases where respiratory complications have occurred resulting in death of the individual. Children younger than 5 years, people older than 65, pregnant women and anyone with pre-existing chronic medical conditions (like heart disease, kidney disease, asthma, diabetes) are at greater risk of developing complications- just as in seasonal flu. From the Homoeopathic point of view, anyone who has recently had a course of antibiotics are also more at risk due to the lowering of the immune response that antibiotic use creates.

Some basic preventive measures can be very useful:

  • The most important thing is to not let STRESS and ANXIETY take over. These negative fearful emotions can lower the body’s immunity making you more vulnerable to viruses and bacteria.
  • Cover your mouth and nose while coughing and sneezing. Dispose used tissues and wash handkerchiefs frequently.
  • Spread awareness about maintaining hygiene.
  • Do not share napkins, towels and handkerchiefs.
  • Wash hands and face frequently with soap and water, esp. after returning home from outdoors. Gargle daily with warm salt water.
  • Avoid touching your mouth and nose unnecessarily.
  • Avoid very close contact with sick people.
  • Drinking tea with ginger and mint is beneficial to boost one’s immunity against viruses.
  • Have a good intake of citrus fruits.
  • Intake of garlic is also a good anti-viral and anti-bacterial measure.


At this point in time people are aware that ‘Tamiflu’ is a drug used to treat Swine Flu and people are trying to procure it by any means and are dosing themselves with it in the hope of it preventing the occurrence of Swine Flu. This is incorrect use of the drug and will result in the virus mutating more rapidly and making Tamiflu ineffective faster. Also, as Tamiflu is available only by prescription, there is further panic among the general population as fears abound about the drug going out of stock.

People should also be aware that Tamiflu has its limitations and side effects, some of which are nausea and vomiting. Other adverse reactions include sleeplessness, vertigo, abdominal pain, cough, bronchitis and fatigue. Recent reports also talk of Tamiflu being unsuitable for use in children since dehydration, nightmares and psychiatric disturbances may occur. Some children under 17 displayed bizarre psychiatric behaviour shortly after taking the drug. These side effects included panic attacks, delusions, delirium, convulsions, depression, loss of consciousness, and in some cases, suicide.

Homoeopathy has proven its worth in previous influenza epidemics, perhaps one of the most recent and serious ones has been the Influenza epidemic of 1918. It was documented during that epidemic that while allopathically treated patients had a mortality rate of 28.2%, those treated homoeopathically had a mortality rate of 1.05%.

In the last couple of days, we Homoeopaths have received plenty of queries about the contents of a text message doing the rounds, giving the name of a Homoeopathic remedy for Swine Flu prevention. Whilst the remedy Influenzinum 200 is appropriate, the dosage recommended in certain text messages is not.

Influenzinum is a deep acting remedy and a few doses should be more than enough to be preventive. Taking many more doses could be counter-productive. One dose of Influenzinum 200 (3-4 pills) a day for 3 days should be sufficient. Any further doses should only be taken under the advice and supervision of a qualified Homoeopathic physician.

Apart from Influenzinum, there are some other remedies that will be useful in the prevention and treatment of Swine Flu. Some of these are Oscillococcinum, Eupatorium Perfoliatum, Arsenicum Album, Ipecacuanha, Baptisia, Gelsemium, Bryonia, etc. Homoeopathy requires strict individualisation, however, in situations like an epidemic where an illness is prevalent at a certain period in time, the individual’s personal symptoms often fade to the background and a common group of symptoms presents in most people suffering from that illness. Based on these symptoms, homoeopaths can then determine the ‘genus epidemicus’ or the remedy most likely to be of use at that time for that illness.

In general, anyone taking homoeopathic preventive remedies will be protected from contracting the illness, but in rare cases, someone could develop the flu. In such cases, it is advised to contact your homoeopath at the earliest, so that treatment can be initiated as soon as possible. Treatment can cut short the course and severity of the illness and the homoeopath does not need to wait for a full blown infection to occur.

It is better to reiterate once again that Homoeopathy as a medical science requires strict individualisation, hence the patient’s symptoms will determine which remedy will really be suitable for cure. It is strongly recommended that patients not self-medicate but consult a qualified homoeopath for a prescription.