Before going through the analysis of homoeopathy for the treatment of Covid-19 treatment, let’s first recapitulate the symptoms of the virus infection.
Common Symptoms to all Patients
- Sore throat Fever from mild up to 39.9 (103.9)
- Pronounced and sudden weakness Oppression of the chest
- Diffused inflammation of the lungs with ground-glass appearance
- Great shortness of breath
- Difficulty to take a deep breath
- Desire to lie down
- Loss of smell and taste
- No appetite
- White tongue
Other Symptoms (Progressing into pneumonia)
- Cough increased from when inspiring, taking a deep breath or talking
- Chest pain
- Muscular aches
- Altered tastes
- Red eyes
- Great sleepiness
- Extreme fatigue
- Dry mouth and throat
Symptoms of Critical Stage of Covid-19
- Severe dyspnea
- Rapid breathing (above 30 r/m)
- Abdominal breathing
- Labored breathing (Loud, Forceful, Vehement)
- Quick pulse and
- later slow Mild fever to hypothermia
Water Memory – A Pseudoscience behind Homeopathy
Homeopathy treatment is principally based on the belief that the body can cure itself. Unlike conventional medicine, it changes with individualistic physical health and even mental and emotional responses. A homoeopathy doctor prescribes remedy or medicine based on analysis of a number of questions that best matches all of patient’s symptoms.
The uniqueness of homoeopathy medicinal principle is it takes recourse in the notion that water has memories. So, when water comes in contact with an active ingredient, it develops “molecular memory”. In the final preparation of homoeopathic medicine, the active ingredient is diluted in such a manner that it has lost all its natural property, but homoeopathy believers have a theory that the water is laden with the memory of active ingredients that triggers an “immune” response in the human body.
The problem with homoeopathy arrives when there is no evidence of water having any kind of memory. Even if we consider the theory for the sake of argument, then also it does not clarify the fact that how water that has the memory of active ingredients, can untouched by other memories that water touches during preparations.
More importantly, if the traces of active ingredient are present in the water “memory” then how do this will trigger a physiological response against an external agent like virus. There is no clinical trial on that, so we yet to know the answer.
Indian Government Proposes Homeopathy to Prevent Coronavirus
The Indian government’s Ministry of AYUSH, an alternative medicine ministerial department advocates the use of homoeopathy medicine Arsenicum album 30C to prevent 2019-nCoV coronavirus.
“It is profoundly irresponsible of the Ministry of AYUSH to endorse homoeopathy as this entirely undermines public understanding of science and medicine, and elevates pseudoscience with potentially dangerous consequences,” says David Robert Grimes, an Irish science researcher in an email to The Scientist.
Mr. Grimes has argued that the mechanism of homeopathy is improbable when it is evaluated from a physical and chemical perspective. It is also a fact that biological effect of homeopathic medicines cannot be measured in large scale clinical trials.
Indian homoeopathic proponents have a counter-argument that the system of medicine cannot be subjected to clinical trials because it is based on individual symptoms and the treatment is highly individualistic. Nevertheless, the government authorities have started distributed the medicine free of cost to masses, which itself contradicts this “individualistic” theory.
Homeopathy Medicines – No Scientific Evidence
Many homoeopathic practitioners say that Arsenicum album 30C boosts the immune system and can potentially minimize the virulence of the coronavirus. However, Central Council for Research In Homeopathy (CCRH) of the Ministry of AYUSH says that they do not claim that Arsenicum album gives a 100 per cent protection against the virus. They advise general measures for airborne infections and take appropriate medical care if people get infected.
Such cautions do not soften the concerns of homoeopathy’s detractors who vehemently asking for scientific evidence and unfortunately, homeopathy authorized body in India does not provide it any. Therefore, the claim of some homoeopaths that the medicine is effective in treating coronavirus infection is based on no evidence.
Indian Local Authorities Distribute Arsenicum album
Any medical suggestions to people from the government body should be based on scientific data and clinical proofs, but many government authorities in India distribute homoeopathy medicine without any data and clinical trials. For example, in the satellite township New Town in Kolkata, NKDA, the local government body is distributing homoeopathy medicine Arsenicum album without any proper data. They are announcing the date and timing of the distribution at various public places and people in large group flouting all social distancing rules, many without masks are queuing up sometimes for hours to take the homoeopathic panacea.
A right-minded person ought to ask the rationality of such public endeavor. New Town is both very close to Kolkata and fall within the North 24 Parganas district. The two districts have the first and second number of active cases respectively in West Bengal. Now the question is, could this money be rather not spent on something which is more scientifically rational like promoting awareness to the people to wear a mask and maintain social distancing. Could this money be rather not spent on monitoring and nucleic acid testing of those who are vulnerable like street vendors, shop-keepers, security guards, etc? Could not this opportunity be used to promote the scientific temperament, which is a fundamental duty of every Indian Citizen as per the constitution?
Is Homeopathy Explained by the Placebo Effect?
In ancient Europe when people suffered from pain and fever, physicians used to give them a bitter powder from the bark of willow trees – a substance that subsequently in modern times used for the development of aspirin. Homoeopathic medicines also contain natural chemicals that would be effective against diseases. However, the theory of water memory and extreme dilution makes it difficult to comprehend the effectiveness of this branch of alternative medicine.
It is not that homoeopathy doesn’t work. However, the leading scientists have surmised that these remedies have a placebo effect. It is not just homoeopathy but drugs derived from natural products have particularly high placebo effect. It means that when patients think that they take a medicine derived from natural products such as plants, they want to work it so badly that in many cases it does.
It also depends on psychological make-up, emotional responses of patients. This is why perhaps homoeopathy stresses on individualistic approach. Around 35-70 percent of patients benefit from taking medicine without any homoeopathic ingredients in it. The placebo effect is huge; in fact many scientists are working on so that it should probably be put to conscious use in clinical practice. However, still medical fraternity does not entirely understand how it works.
Homoeopathy is not evidence-based. There is no peer-review process, there is no blind controlled study, and it is all subjective, hearsay, and without any clinical trials, it is technically quackery. Homoeopathic medicines don’t go through the same rigorous scientific validation, both for safety and efficacy, that modern medicines go through. In this global pandemic, the governments should not indulge in some misguided PR, which is a total waste of public resources and a step in the backward direction in our collective effort against this pandemic.