DIY homoeopathy travel kit
When travelling to developing countries we usually vaccinate against a long list of diseases: cholera, typhoid, hepatitis, malaria and yellow fever, to name but a few. ‘Bali belly’, ‘Montezuma’s revenge’ and other forms of acute diarrhoea or dysentery can spoil the exotic holiday. However, conventional vaccinations themselves can cause many undesirable side-effects. Herbal antimicrobials and immune stimulants as well as homoeopathic immunisations are a safe and effective way to avoid the perils of tropical diseases and the side-effects of conventional vaccination.
My wife and I had been to India 10 years earlier and had both got quite sick, my wife with dysentery and I with typhoid fever. So we knew about the dangers of travelling in India, but we also knew about the drawbacks of conventional vaccination. We had both experienced the dreadful side-effects of the malaria prophylactic chloroquine: for weeks we suffered from nausea, poor immunity, hair loss and a general lack of wellbeing.
When we planned our second trip to India last year, for us the choice was clear, as we neither wanted to suffer from serious diseases, nor put up with the side-effects of disease prevention. We chose homoeopathic immunisation and immune and anti-microbial stimulating herbs for ourselves and our three children.
Homoeopathy is a system of medicine that uses natural substances to strengthen a person’s vitality and thereby stimulate the body’s self-healing abilities, such as the immune system, to treat or prevent (infectious) diseases. It’s based on the law of similar, which states that a substance capable of producing symptoms in a healthy person is capable of removing similar symptoms in an unwell person. This law was formulated about 200 years ago by the German doctor Samuel Hahnemann, who found out that chinchona bark, used for the treatment of malaria, produces malaria-like symptoms if taken by healthy people. He and many other homoeopaths did so-called provings, homoeopathic drug trials, and found that this holds true for all substances trialed. Coffee is used for insomnia, bee’s poison for swellings and stinging pains, and Ipecac, which is used in conventional medicine to induce vomiting after accidental poisoning, is taken to relieve vomiting.
Hahnemann also used homoeopathic remedies to prevent disease, however, stating:
- A substance capable of producing symptoms in a healthy person similar to the typical symptoms of an infectious disease is capable of preventing these typical symptoms in a previously unprotected person.
Example: The Hepatitis B virus in very diluted form has been shown to prevent Hepatitis B. Remedies that are made from the microorganism that causes the disease are referred to as nosodes. The difference between conventional vaccination and homoeopathic nosodes is the nosodes are so diluted they are incapable of producing any side-effects. However, the more diluted and ‘potentised’ they are, the more effective they are in stimulating a person’s energy and self-healing mechanisms such as the immune system.
- A substance capable of removing the typical symptoms of an infectious disease in an infected person is capable of preventing the typical symptoms in a previously unprotected person.
Example: Chelidonium, which is made from the plant greater chelandine, is used in both the treatment and prevention of hepatitis and other liver diseases.
Hahnemann employed this method with a 100 per cent success rate in a cholera epidemic, when conventional medicine at the time did not have any way of treating the disease. Two hundred years of practice by thousands of homoeopaths around the world combined with modern science have shown that homoeopathy can effectively treat and prevent infectious diseases. Two studies published in The Lancet, one of the most prestigious medical journals in the world, showed clearly that homoeopathically prepared dustmites work effectively in the treatment of asthma and homoeopathically prepared pollen in the treatment of hayfever. A study published compared 18,000 children who got the homoeopathically prepared meningitis bacteria in an epidemic of meningitis in Brazil and 6000 children who got a placebo (sugar pill). Out of the homoeopathic immunisation group, six children got meningitis, and out of the sugar pill group, 36 children got meningitis, a result that showed significant effectiveness without any side-effects among the homoeopathically immunised children.
Homoeopathic immunisation is not 100 per cent effective, but nor is conventional vaccination, which has effectiveness rates of 45-95 per cent with most travel vaccines averaging about 75 per cent effectiveness. Isaac Golden, a Melbourne homoeopath and author of various authoritative books on homoeopathic immunisation, has shown that homoeopathic vaccination is about 90 per cent effective, a figure that compares well with the effectiveness of conventional vaccination.
The greatest advantage of homoeopathic immunisation is it is absolutely side-effect-free, even though sensitive people may experience the so-called healing crisis, a mild and transient aggravation of symptoms. Homoeopathic remedies can confer specific immunity against all diseases encountered when going overseas. Which homoeopathic remedy to take before going overseas depends on the diseases present in each country.
People who haven’t had any booster shots of tetanus or polio in the past 10 years, either in homoeopathic or conventional form, should update these with the homoeopathic prophylaxis, as tetanus can be contracted anywhere and, while there haven’t been any cases of polio infection in Australia since 1978, polio still occurs in developing countries.
- Tetanus — Tetanus Nosode or Ledum pallustre in cases of exposure to tetanus such as a deep puncture wound by a nail, thorn, etc, that closes up
- Polio — Polio Nosode or Lathyrus sativus
Homoeopathic prophylaxis to use if the following diseases are present in the country you intend to travel to are:
- Hepatitis — Hepatitis B Nosode, Hepatitis complex (Hepatitis A,B and C) or Chelidonium
- Giardia — Giardia Nosode
- Typhoid — Typhoid Nosode or Baptisia
- Malaria — Malaria Nosode or Natrum Muriaticum
- Dengue fever — Eupatorium perfoliatum
- Cholera — Cholera Nosode or Cuprum metallicum
- Yellow fever — Yellow fever nosode
Take these remedies in 200°C or 1M potency, 1ml or 20 drops in water half an hour before or after meals on two consecutive days.
Stimulation of general immunity
Naturopathy considers the building of general immunity of paramount importance in the prevention of infectious diseases. While echinacea is the best known herb in Australia to stimulate general immunity, there are better herbs when it comes to travelling. The most effective herb to stimulate general immunity when travelling seems to be Andrographis paniculata, an Indian herb that boosts the immune system in general to prevent serious infectious diseases as well as colds, flu, etc.
Andrographis paniculata also works as an anti-microbial, preventing intestinal infections, diarrhoea and general stomach upsets, which are much more common when travelling than serious life-threatening diseases. Its bitter tonic action works well against worms and provides an intestinal environment that is hostile to bacteria, viruses and other pathogens. Its liver-stimulating action ensures good general detoxification and its liver-protective action greatly reduces the chances of contracting hepatitis. Finally, it has been traditionally used in India as a malaria prophylactic.
For travels into areas where malaria is rampant, though, I recommend taking additionally Chinese wormwood (Artemisia annua), also known as qing hao. Chinese wormwood has been shown in many studies to be superior to chloroquine and other conventional anti-malarials in the treatment of malaria , as no resistance to it has developed yet. It’s not only a good preventative against malaria but also against a host of other pathogens such as giardia, klebsiella, Streptococcus faecalis, Staphylococcus aureus, Shigella dysenteriae and many other parasites and bacteria. It can also be used as a treatment of travellers’ diarrhoea, usually caused by some bacteria or protozoal parasites. The main active constituent of Chinese wormwood is artemisin, which reacts with an iron part of the parasite by peroxidation, which inactivates the parasite’s protein and destroys it.
In general, herbs are most effective as liquid extracts, but these two herbs are extremely bitter, so are unsuitable for children and people who can’t stand their bitterness. Both herbs are available from herbalists and most healthfood stores and during travel are best taken three times a day about 15 minutes before meals in ‘clean’ water or juice.
About 1000-2000mg of vitamin C per day and a multivitamin/ multimineral supplement will prevent any nutritional deficiencies that may compromise the immune system, especially when clean, peeled, or raw fruit and vegetables are hard to get. Lactobacillus acidophilus and bifidus will help to keep the intestinal environment in good working order and help to cope with unknown foods and spices that seem to be the cause of diarrhoea more often than bugs.
Travelling with children
Last year I spent two months in India with my wife and my three children aged eight, five and two. We gave each of them the homoeopathic prophylaxis as explained above. The abovementioned herbs are too bitter for small children, and tablets were not available at the time, but 1-2ml of echinacea extract and a garlic capsule before meals will do for children. We adopted a cautious approach to eating and were very choosy about where we would eat. If a restaurant did not look extremely clean we would not go in. We avoided street food altogether. At first we kept a close eye on our two-year-old so he wouldn’t pick up anything from the ground and put it into his mouth. After a while we relaxed, relying more on his reason and the strength of his immune system.
So did our children get sick? All we had was loose bowels for about a day at the beginning, which I attribute more to the inability of our stomachs to cope with the sudden onslaught of chilli and pepper than to vicious bacteria and other microbes. Should you or your children get sick in spite of prophylaxis and dietary caution, at least in India there are homoeopathic pharmacies in every town and suburb and university-trained homoeopathic doctors on almost every street. Our children loved the experiences they gained in a country and culture so different from ours. The fear of disease shouldn’t prevent parents travelling to developing countries with their children.