Indian government’s Ministry of AYUSH, promotes alternative medicine systems in the country, government released the health advisory, that advocates the use of homeopathy and traditional remedies, such as Indian systems of medicine, to ward off infections of the newly circulating 2019-nCoV coronavirus. This includes the use of a homeopathic preparation called Arsenicum album 30C and two drops of sesame oil in each nostril each morning for prevention, and Unani medicines (treatments based on the teachings of Hippocrates and Galen) to mitigate symptoms of coronavirus infection. While AYUSH cites centuries of practitioners’ experiences with these products as evidence behind its advice, the media and the scientific community criticized the guidance as being counterproductive in dealing with a serious health emergency.
more than 31,000 people in more than two dozen countries have been infected with 2019-nCoV, including three confirmed cases in India. According to the World Health Organization, there is no intervention yet identified that can treat the virus, although a number of studies are underway to find therapeutics and develop a vaccine.
Anil Khurana, who heads the CCRH, tells that Arsenicum album 30C, a homeopathic solution prepared by diluting aqueous arsenic trioxide until little or no arsenic remains that is used in respiratory disorders and has been in widespread use for more than 220 years with a good safety record, was found to be an effective prophylactic during the swine flu epidemic in India in 2009. A study conducted by Robert Mathie of the British Homeopathic Association and his group, in collaboration with the CCRH, reported in Homeopathy that of the various homeopathic medicines given to patients with swine flu symptoms, Arsenicum album was most successful in reducing fever, cough, runny nose, sore throat, and headache. There was no control arm. In another, placebo-controlled trial conducted by the CCRH, homeopathic medicines were also found to reduce flu-like symptoms.
These results led the CCRH to look to possible homeopathic interventions against the new coronavirus. Before any 2019-nCoV infections had turned up in India, scientists at CCRH collated the clinical features of a recent cluster of cases in China that was published in The Lancet on January 24, which they fed into a tool called the homeopathic repertory. The repertory is a database of historic texts on homeopathy, and when practitioners enter symptoms, the tool fetches the texts’ recommendations on which medicine needs to be given. “Every time we repertorize a patient, we are pretty much consulting all these generations of homeopaths that have contributed to this database,” says Bernado Merizalde, a homeopathy practitioner at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia and the prime general secretary of Liga Medicorum Homeopathica Internationalis, a homeopathic doctors’ association. By matching the clinical features, the repertory found Arsenicum album 30C to be a suitable fit for the current outbreak.