By Juian Heng, New York HP Supervisor
Imagine a mysterious disease sweeping across continents, killing more than half the people who succumb to it and leaving doctors scrambling and helpless.
Such was the case with the second cholera pandemic of 1829-1851. Originating in India, it spread to Russia, and the Russian army took it with them to Europe, which had never seen the likes of this devastating disease.
This was homeopathy’s moment. Mapping the reported symptoms of the disease to a remedy that produces these same symptoms in healthy people in trials, Samuel Hahnemann predicted that Camphor would be useful in the first stages of cholera, and could be given prophylactically, to prevent the disease. Camphor poisoning has the icy coldness, the sudden collapse and debility of the first stage of cholera. It would also resolve these symptoms. (The second stage, when vomiting and diarrhea have set in, are covered by Veratrum album (white hellebore), while Cuprum (copper) help when convulsions have set in.) These remedies constitute the genus epidemicus, covering the characteristic symptoms of the Second Cholera Pandemic.
This is medical intelligence at work. Homeopaths do not have to wait for the mysterious disease to befall an individual, nor to understand its epidemiology in order to figure out a plan of action. With foreknowledge of the symptoms of the epidemic we are dealing with, homeoprophylaxis primes the body to defend itself so that the disease cannot take hold, or if it does, in much milder form.
The results were astonishing. In Russia cholera cases treated with homeopathy had a mortality rate of 8%, versus 60-80% mortality for those under conventional treatment of the day. In Vienna, two thirds of those treated with homeopathy were cured, while two thirds of those treated allopathically died. In Naples, a certain doctor Rubini treated hundreds of cases without a single mortality. In London, the homeopathic hospital had a 9% mortality rate. Compare that with a mortality rate between 40% and 80% for cholera patients under conventional care throughout Europe and the New World, and you start to appreciate how valuable homeopathy is.
Austria took notice. The Emperor directed the homeopath Marenzeller to conduct the first clinical trial on homeopathy at the Garrison Hospital in Vienna. He gave 150 000 patients Veratrum album and Cuprum, and none caught cholera. He repeated the results in Hungary and Poland with 80 000 people. In 1836, the Emperor repealed the law that made the practice of homeopathy illegal, thanks to the successes of homeopathy in the cholera epidemic of 1831.