Influenza pandemics have for centuries posed the greatest threat of a worldwide calamity caused by infectious disease. Over the past 300 years, ten influenza pandemics have occurred among humans. According to recent analysis, the 1918-19 pandemic killed 50 to 100 million people globally. Today, even a "mild" pandemic could kill many millions of people.

Influenza manifests in the respiratory system and produces generalized aches and pain, especially in the limbs and back. It produces malaise; prostration; fever; coryza, headache; with photophobia and retrobulbar aching; and inflamed respiratory mucous membranes. The incubation period is around 48 hours.

The symptoms begin with sore throat with substernal burning; nonproductive cough; and coryza. Cough usually becomes severe and productive and causes pain in the chest. The soft palate, posterior hard palate, tonsils and throat become reddened and painful. The eyes water easily and the conjunctiva may be mildly inflamed. Sweating and weakness may continue for weeks. Complications include bronchitis; pneumonia; breathlessness; spitting of blood; pulmonary edema; encephalitis; and death.Old people; babies; those confined to bed; or with chronic pulmonary or heart disease are the most at risk.

During the 1918 influenza pandemic it was young people, 25 -34 years of age, which were most severely affected. They appeared to have no immunity and succumbed to a pneumonia that would kill within days. It was not uncommon for someone physically strong and in good health to get up feeling well in the morning and by bedtime they would be dead. During this flu pandemic large numbers of people sought homeopathic care and were restored to good health; in numerous cases their lives were saved

An article published in the Journal of the American Institute of Homeopathy in May 1921 states that Dean W.A.Pearson of Philadelphia collected 26,795 cases of influenza treated by homeopathic physicians with only a mortality rate of 1.05%, while the average conventional medical approach had a mortality rate of 30%.

During this time there were many Medical Doctors practicing homeopathic medicine throughout Europe and in America, much to the chagrin of non-homeopathic doctors and pharmacists. While conventional hospitals in the US had an 80-90% loss of life during the scarlet fever, Cholera and Flu epidemics around 1919, Homeopathic Hospitals had only a 2-5% loss.

There is however a possibility that some of these high numbers of positive effects of homeopathic treatment can be subscribed to the ill effects of the conventional treatment. Many homeopaths reported a decrease in chance of survival in those that had, previously to homeopathic treatment, been taking Aspirin. A.F. Stevens, M.D. in St.Louis said about the patients undergoing conventional treatment:
“They died like flies around a plate of poison although ‘science’ did all that could be done to ‘save’ them”.

There has been at least three large scale double-blind placebo- controlled trials to treat people with flu or influenza – like syndrome. Each of these large scale studies were conducted by independent researchers, and a treatment is considered proven when at least three independent studies verify positive results.

Several studies have suggested that the homeopathic remedy oscillococcinum, which is prepared from a duck liver, is a very effective treatment for influenza. One study found that the remedy significantly increased the rate of cure within two days of diagnosis. This was a high- quality trial, published in an important, non- homeopathic journal and involving large numbers of patients (237 treated and 241 on placebo).

It is generally impossible in homeopathy to pinpoint a few remedies that would help in general against the flu. But, what is fascinating is that during an influenza epidemic, a remedy or two will work marvellously. This remedy is sometimes referred to as genus epidemicus. The homeopathic Materia Medica has well over 3,500 remedies. There is no one remedy that is specific to the flu because individuals will manifest symptoms in different ways that are unique to them. The most important point to remember about homeopathy is that it treats the individual.

ACONITE is useful in a sudden onset of the flu with great anxiety and fear. The individual experiences high fever, dry cough, sore throat and feeling of great worry and fear, with restlessness. Typically symptoms occur after exposure to a dry, cold wind or from an emotional alarm or fright. The patient always feels better in fresh air; and feels worse in a warm room, in the evening or at night and while lying on the left side.

Influenza in children with sudden onset and much prostration. Flus caused by gastric derangements.
The patient is extremely restless, oversensitive, anxious and weak.
The face is pale with an anxious expression.
Burning pains that are better with warm applications.
Thirsty, drinks in small sips often.
Worse between 1 and 2am.
Vomiting and diarrhea are common. The diarrhea has acrid, offensive, watery stools.

The flu comes on suddenly and is associated with high fever and a bruised feeling. The patient looks drowsy and drunk. He has profuse sweating with a high fever and an intense thirst, and the bed feels hard.
The flu is associated with a stupefying headache, with confusion.
The fever is associated with a delirium with strange sensations, as if there is somebody else in bed with him, parts of her body are separated, etc.

Slow onset of the flu with a severe, throbbing headache, body pains.
There is a dryness of mucus membranes and stitching, tearing pain that worsens from motion. Fluent coryza, watery or greenish discharge. Dry, hacking cough, worse from smoking and talking.
Thirst for large amounts infrequently, preferably cold.
Pains (headache, body pains) better by pressure.
Lies on the painful part.
Sleepy, heavy, lethargic, irritable, wants to be left alone .

Eupatorium is said to have been a principal remedy for intermittent fever with the Indians. It is known as "Bone-set", from the prompt manner in which it relieves pain in limbs and muscles that accompanies influenza.
Sudden onset of the flu with violent aching pains in the bones, as if bones are broken. High fever preceded by chills, especially from 7 till 9 am. Cills running up and down the spine, but still thirsty for ice cold water.

GELSEMIUM tends to be the number 1 flu remedy. The flu has a slow onset and is associated with chills, tiredness and paralytic weakness. The chills begin in the hands and feet, and run up and down the spine.
These patients feel as if run over by a truck. Aching pain is felt in the muscles and they experience trembing of the limbs with lack of mucular co-ordination. Want to lie down and be left alone.
The patient is generally worse in the early morning and last thing at night. They feel better after urination and in fresh air.

The flu quickly affects the lungs, especially the base of the right lung. Dry, tickling cough, with tightness aross the chest, worse evening and before midnight. Bleeding. Bloody sputum, which is bright red.
The patient craves cold drinks, which may be vomited when they become warm in the stomach.
Burning, pressure and constriction in the chest; worse lying on the left side; worse lying on the painful side (patient and the cough).
This remedy is also useful in nasal bleeds, which are bright red.
Cough, worse talking and laughing.

RHUS TOXICODENDRON is useful in flu where the cause is exposure to wet, damp weather or getting wet. There is stiffness and restlessness in the joints that is wors on first movement but become better with continued movement.
Intense fever. Thirsty. Great prostration. Severe aching in the bones.
Extreme restlessness with constant changing of position, great apprehension at night, can not remain in bed.

INFLUENZINUM, a nosode made from the flu virus, can be used as a prophylactic during epidemics. Baptisia has also been used for this purpose. The "remedy epidemicus" can be found by using the totality of symptoms in several cases of the the present epidemic.

The arrival of a pandemic influenza would trigger a reaction that would change the world overnight. Many experts agrees that the widespread and indiscriminate use of antibiotics has created a time bomb and that antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria, in all likelihood will bring about a reemergence of those diseases and possibly epidemics. The World Health Organization and several countries have finalized or drafted useful but overly general plans to prepare for the next pandemic.A vaccine would not be available for a number of months after the pandemic started (it could take six months to manufacture adequate vaccine stocks and current stocks may be useless because the flu virus has mutated), and there are very limited stockpiles of antiviral drugs. We should also not forget that only a few privileged areas of the world will have access to vaccine-production facilities.

The World Health Organization states that ”
an influenza pandemic occurs when a new influenza virus appears against which the human population has no immunity, resulting in several, simultaneous epidemics worldwide with enormous numbers of deaths and illness. With the increase in global transport and communications, as well as urbanization and overcrowded conditions, epidemics due the new influenza virus are likely to quickly take hold around the world.“

Homeopathy has been very effective in treating many of the epidemics during the 19th. And early 20th. Centuries. Why the successes are not better known is a subject for conjecture. It could be that most would rather not see the ineffectiveness of the conventional therapeutics nor accept the efficacy of homeopathy.

Even some of the hardest critics of homeopathy has admitted, that yes, in times of such epidemics – when conventional medicine has nothing to offer – we might have to trust homeopathy to work and heal.

1. Materia Medica (Boericke)
2. World Health Organization.
3. Homeopathy in 'Influenza – a chorus of fifty in harmony' by W.A. Dewey, M.D. Journal of the American Institute of Homeopathy, May 1921.
4. The Faces of Homeopathy, an illustrated history of the first 200 years. by Julian Winston. Great Auk publishing, Tawa, New Zealand.
5. Pandemic preparedness by The World Health Organization
6. Some history of the treatment of epidemics with Homeopathy by Julian Winston
7. British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology 1989; 27:329
8. Preparing for the Next Pandemic By Michael T. Osterholm
From Foreign Affairs , July/August 2005