By Dana Ullman MPH, CCH
Pollution is turning the earth and earthlings prematurely gray.
What can you do about it with homeopathic medicines?
At first blush, it seems odd to talk about homeopathic medicines and any medicines to treat exposures to environmental poisons. It is of far greater importance to do all that is feasibly possible to prevent such exposures. Without dealing with the underlying problem, any treatment method is akin to bailing out water from an overflowing tub…without first turning off the faucet.
Although prevention is the best medicine to deal with environmental health issues, it is important to also ask what can be done to treat people who have already been exposed. While conventional medicine tends to offer little for such conditions other than palliative or suppressive treatment of the various symptoms that manifest, homeopathic medicine offers some potentially valuable and even potentially vital therapeutic benefits.
Before discussing any specifics about the treatment that a homeopath would provide, it is useful to be reminded of some basic principles of homeopathy in order to understand why homeopathic treatment makes sense.
The Logic of Homeopathy
The underlying premise of homeopathic medicine is that symptoms are not simply something “wrong” with the person, but that symptoms represent adaptive and defensive efforts of the body to deal with infectious disease, environmental poisons, and/or stress (Ullman, 2007). Symptoms are not just the body surrendering to attack but are the body’s effort to try to defend and heal itself (Selye, 1978; Williams and Nesse, 1996).
Because homeopathic medicines are individually chosen based on their ability to cause in experimental situations the similar symptoms that the sick person is experiencing, these medicines are thought to work with, not against, the body’s inherent defenses. Using “like to cure like,” called the principle of similars, is the basis of homeopathic medicine, and it is the pharmacological principle behind the old folklore of using the hair of the dog that bit you to heal you of rabies. This principle of similars has also been a part of certain conventional medical treatments, including vaccination and allergy treatments.
Emil Adolph von Behring (1854-1917), who won the first Nobel Prize in medicine in 1901 for discoveries that led to vaccines against tetanus and diphtheria, asserted that vaccination is, in part, derived from the homeopathic principle of similars. Behring once asserted,
“In spite of all scientific speculations and experiments regarding smallpox vaccination, Jenner’s discovery remained an erratic blocking medicine, till the biochemically thinking Pasteur, devoid of all medical classroom knowledge, traced the origin of this therapeutic block to a principle which cannot better be characterized than by Hahnemann’s word: homeopathic.” (von Behring, 1905)
Using the principle of similars in treating people exposed to environmental poisons may have certain logic to it because such treatment mimics and augments the body’s inherent defenses. In addition to 200 years of clinical experience, there is also now an initial body of scientific evidence to lend support to the use of homeopathic medicines to treat these environmental exposures.
In 1994, German physician and researcher Klaus Linde in collaboration with Wayne B. Jonas, MD, head of the Office of Alternative Medicine within the National Institutes of Health, performed a meta-analysis of research on the use of homeopathic medicines to treat exposure to environmental toxins (a meta-analysis is a comprehensive and systematic review of a body of research on a specific topic). They published their results in the internationally respected journal, Human and Experimental Toxicology [13 (1994):481-92].
Linde, Jonas, and colleagues discovered over 100 studies evaluating the prophylactic and therapeutic effects of homeopathic doses of normally toxic substances. Besides evaluating the results of the various studies, the researchers evaluated how well each study was designed and conducted. As is common in such reviews, there are inevitably some high quality studies and some low quality studies.
The researchers found that there were 40 high quality studies, of which 27 showed positive results from homeopathic doses (there were 50% more positive results than negative results).
What was particularly intriguing about their evaluation of the research was that those researchers who tested doses in the submolecular range were found to have the best designed studies and were found more frequently to have statisticially significant results from these microdoses (doses in the submolecular range include potencies greater than 24x or 12c because this represents the point beyond Avogadro’s number, the point in which in all probability there should be no remaining molecules of the original substance, only some type of template, resonance, hologram, or fractal).
Specifically, several researchers administered (usually to rats) crude doses of arsenic, bismuth, cadmium, mercury chloride, or lead. The research showed that animals who were pretreated with homeopathic doses of these substances and then given repeated homeopathic doses after exposure to the crude substance, excreted more of these toxic substances through urine, feces, and sweat than did those animals given a placebo. Further, nine studies on mice which tested homeopathic doses beyond 15c demonstrated a 40% decrease in mortality compared to mice in the control group.
Several studies noted that pretreatment and treatment with potentized doses of substances different from those to which the animal was being exposed did not provide any benefit. The research suggests that homeopathic medicine may play a significant role in the treatment of toxicological exposure. Homeopathic research has also explored the benefits of homeopathic medicines to protect against radiation (Khuda-Bukhsh, and Banik, 1991a, 1991b). Albino mice were exposed to 100 to 200 rad of X-rays (sublethal doses) and then evaluated after 24, 48, and 72 hours. Ginseng 6x, 30x, and 200x and Ruta graveolens 30x and 200xwere administered before and after exposure. When compared with mice given a placebo as treatment, mice given any of the above homeopathic medicines experienced significantly less chromosomal or cellular damage.
In another study, albino guinea pigs were exposed to small doses of X-ray that cause reddening of the skin. Studies showed that Apis mellifica 7c or 9c had a protective effect and a roughly 50% curative effect on X-ray-induced redness of the skin (Bildet, Guyot, Bonini, et al., 1990). Apis mellifica (honeybee) is a homeopathic medicine for redness, swelling, and itching, common symptoms of bee venom.
they have been exposed to potentially toxic substances. At first, most classical homeopaths will prescribe a “constitutional medicine” to strengthen a person’s overall health status. This medicine has the capacity to not only help the body eliminate the individual toxic substance about which the person is most concerned but also to other toxic substances that the person has previously been exposed.
In some cases a constitutional medicine will not work deeply or effectively enough until the patient receives a homeopathically potentized dose of the specific toxic substance to which the person was exposed or of a substance which causes similar symptoms (homeopathy, as we know, is based on “similars,” not necessarily on “sames”).
The actual potency that the homeopath will use depends on many factors which are too long to discuss in this short article, though the 30th potency is one of the most common. Some homeopaths will recommend a single dose given just once, some will recommend a single dose repeated once a month for several months, and some will recommend several doses a day for a week or two, perhaps repeated a couple months later if some but not full benefit had been received.
If you do not have access to professional homeopathic care, one can consider obtaining a homeopathic dose (30x or 30c) of the substance to which the person was exposed. Full-service homeopathic manufactuers often make and sell thousands of substances which are derived from environmental toxins. If you know that you may get exposed to a specific toxin in the near future, it may be wise to consider taking a couple of doses of the 30th potency of that substance prior to exposure. Some of the above research suggests that it helps organisms excrete the toxin more effectively.
When self-prescribing, it is generally best to be cautious in taking homeopathic medicines. Take a single dose and observe any changes over a couple of weeks. If there are no changes, you might try taking a couple doses a day for a couple of days. If there are still no changes after an additional couple of weeks, seek high and low for professional homeopathic care. Your health may depend upon it.
It must be candidly noted that the research discussed in this section was damaging and sometimes lethal to the animals involved. Making reference to this work is not meant to condone such experimentation.