We are struck by the vehemence of influenza epidemics over the
past few years. The flu bugs seem to hit hard, heavy, and long. Many of our
patients, as well as practitioners, complain of persistent, debilitating flus,
sometimes even recurring more than once in a given season. These flus seem to
have a variety of presentations, some upper respiratory, others gastro-
intestinal, and a third type with predominantly musculoskeletal components. A
fever may or may not be present. Homeopathy can bring dramatic, and often
rapid, relief to flu sufferers as the following cases illustrate. (Remember
that the numbers in parentheses indicate the clarity, intensity, and
spontaneity of the symptoms, ranging from one to three.)
George, 61, called just before Christmas, in terrible distress. He was a
patient of another homeopath for whom we were covering, but sounded so
miserable that we had him come into the office rather than just doing a brief
phone consultation. George looked awful. He was very weak
(3), and it was obviously difficult for him to climb the flight of stairs to
our office He complained of a recurrent fever with chills over the past ten
days (3). His fever, about 102F, would begin at 5 or 6 p.m. and last until
about 4 a.m. He was extremely confused (2), which was quite unusual for him. He
had no appetite (3) and had lost twenty pounds (3). He also had persistent
diarrhea (2). All he wanted to do was lie down (3). He had absolutely no energy
for or interest in anything (3). He felt he was going downhill rapidly and was
very worried. So was his partner, who brought him in.
Gabriel, five, came to our house with his mom who needed to pick something
up. She was
very concerned about Gabriel, who had a fever up to 103F for the past three
days. He complained of a stiff neck (2) and headache. Gabriel was curled up on
the couch in his mother’s lap (3), nearly lifeless (3). His eyes were mostly
open, but he had no enthusiasm or reactivity. All he wanted to do for the
previous three days was sleep (3). He was not overly thirsty. His body felt
tired and achey (2).
Del, age 43, had a tendency to recurrent flus of an upper respiratory
nature. She would develop a very dry cough (2) with soreness in the chest (2)
and a sore throat (2). Her mouth would become extremely dry “like mothballs”,
and she would crave large amounts of cold water (3). Her lips would feel very
chapped. She would experience some chills (2). During these episodes, she
became extremely irritable (3), nearly biting people’s heads off.
Jill, 39, was a jock. She was an avid runner and skiier and nothing kept
her down. Or, at least nothing but a stubborn flu. She came in complaining of
muscle stiffness(2) and achiness (2), especially her legs and back. She got
sick after walking in the rain the day before. It had been a chilly day. All
she wanted to do was soak in a hot bath. This was not the normal Jill!
Merrill, 35, came in to the office because of an intense sleepiness (2),
accompanied by a nagging nausea for the past two weeks. She was sure she was
not pregnant. She had some diz-ziness on raising her head, but no motion
sickness. This was the extent of Merrill’s symptoms.
When we asked if there were any particular sensitivity to tobacco smoke, she
remarked that, yes, she had been much more easily bothered by it over the past
ten days or so.
So, how can we help these poor suffering flu victims with homeopathy?
Study the cases individually and then turn to page ____ to find out what we
We gave George China 30c to take every four hours until better. He
was to call the next day.
It would have also been appropriate to give him one dose of 200c, instead of
the 30c, however he was under the constitutional care of another homeopathic
physician and his constitutional case was extremely complicated, so chose 30c.
China (Cinchona bark) is an excellent remedy for flus with spiking fevers,
especially accompanied by extreme weakness and diarrhea.
The main characteristic of China is its periodicity, which was characteristic
of George’s fever.
China is not a remedy we had used before for a flu, but the exagerrated
debility in his case combined with the periodic fever and chills made it the
best choice. George called the next day to say he was feeling better. He had
more energy, the diarrhea stopped, his mind was clearer, and the fever did not
last as long the night he started the China. He called the next day to say all
of his flu symptoms were markedly better. He was much relieved and his appetite
There was really only one remedy to give Gabriel: Gelsemium (Yellow
jasmine). Gelsemium is the premiere flu remedy, and is characterized by the
four D’s: dizzy, drowsy, droopy, and dull. The person feels exhausted and just
wants to rest. They may have a fever, sore throat, and often experience
muscular weakness, achiness, and chills. There is often dizziness and an
occipe-tal headache with a stiff neck. We obviously wanted to watch Gabriel
closely to make sure he didn’t have meningitis, but his fever had already come
down some and his headache was not severe. People needing Gelsemium are
generally not very thirsty. We gave Gabriel one dose of Gelsemium 200c and told
his mom he would probably be much better by the next morning. He was.
Del needed homeopathic Bryonia alba(Hops). Bryonia is a very common flu
remedy, especially in the case of joint aching which is worse from moving
around. The mucous membranes is someone needing Bryonia are very dry, thus the
dry cough. The lips are commonly chapped, as in Del’s case, and there is
usually a parched feeling with extreme thirst. The Bryonia picture is usually
accompanied by irritability and sometimes by a desire to go home. Del was given
several doses of Bryonia 30c and felt better by the next day.
Jill’s symptoms were typical of Rhus toxicodendron (Poison ivy). Rhus tox
symptoms are often referred to as “the rusty gate syndrome”. There is achiness
and stiffness of the muscles and/or joints. The onset may be from exposure to
cold, damp weather. The person generally feels better from local hot
applications and hot baths. The stiffness is likely to be better from moving
around and stretching. There is often an overall restlessness associated with
Rhus tox. Jill was given Rhus tox 30c and felt better within a few hours.
Merrill’s is the most unusual of these cases. Because of the rather vague
nausea and dizziness plus the increased sensitivity to tobacco smoke, we gave
Merrill Tabacum (Tobacco) 30c. It is not widely known as a flu remedy, but is a
major homeopathic medicine for nausea, such as in car, air, or seasickness, or
nausea of pregnancy. Merrill took two doses of the Tabacum. She was somewhat
better after two hours and the nausea, which had been with her for two weeks,
was totally gone within two days. This is a good example of the need in
homeopathy to give whatever remedy is called for by the vital force, whether or
not that remedy is commonly known to be used for that particular illness.
There are many remedies to think of for flus, depending on the specific
symptoms. If there is fever, for example, Aconite and Belladonna should be
considered first.If the flu is predominant- ly gastrointestinal, strongly
consider such remedies as Podophyllum and Arsenicum album. For a general flu,
here are a couple more remedies to store in your homeopathic memory banks:
Eupatorium perfoliatum (Thoroughwort or Bone-set). This is an excellent
remedy for “bone breaking” fevers in which the flu is accompanied by extreme
and deep bruised feeling in the bones “as if they would break”. Like China,
there may be a periodic fever, often starting at 7 to 9 a.m. There is great
thirst with Eupatorium, as with Bryonia. The patient may even be quite cold
with chills, but they still crave ice water and ice cream.
Oscillococcinum. This is a newly produced remedy introduced by a French
homeopathic pharmacy which is sold over the counter as the answer to the
common flu. It is made from duck heart and liver. We have found it to be most
useful when given in a 200c (the only potency in which it is sold) at the very
onset of a flu. Unfortunately, most patients do not come in at this point.
Otherwise, we have found it most useful to give the specific homeopathic remedy
indicated in each individual set of flu symptoms.
One final remedy to mention, at least in passing, is the homeopathic
nosode, Influenzinum. We have heard, anecdotally, of it being used
prophylactically at the beginning of each flu season in a potency of 200c but
have no data on it ourselves. If the flus continue to strike with a vengeance,
we may be tempted to experiment with this as yet unproven prophylactic
Dr. Judyth Reichenberg-Ullman and Dr. Robert Ullman are licensed
naturopathic physicians and are board certified in homeopathy. They are
President and Vice President of the International Foundation for Homeopathy
where they teach homeopathy to licensed health care professionals. They
practice in Edmonds, WA at 131 3rd Ave., N., Edmonds, WA 98020 and can be
reached at (206) 774-5599.