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C Gold 2013, Homeopathy and Hepatitis C Similia Jun 13

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Homœopathy and Hepatitis C
- The basis for a successful practice
Camilla Gold, Australia
ABSTRACT: Figures released by the WHO in 2010, revealed that the Hepatitis C virus affects an estimated
170 – 180 million people worldwide. If these figures are compared to the estimated 34 million people
living with HIV/AIDS (ibid, 2011), the question needs to be asked, how is it that HIV/AIDs has been
given the dubious moniker of epidemic, whilst HCV has appeared to fall by the wayside becoming ‘the
silent epidemic’? This article aims to place both diseases in their historical and cultural contexts, and
in so doing, pose the question, what can we as homœopaths do to raise the profile of this devastating
epidemic, and once again assert the viability of homœopathy as a legitimate and affordable treatment
option in the 21st century?
KEYWORDS: liver, Hepatitis C, HIV/AIDS, epidemic, Genus Epidemicus,
Camilla Gold BHSc (Hom) recently
graduated with a Bachelor of Health Science
(Homœopathy) from Endeavour College
of Natural Health. Having just set up
practice in Cooroy, Queensland, she is now
following her passion and is heading off to
volunteer at the Maun Clinic in Botswana,
where she will work with HIV/AIDs patients
later this year.
M: 0413 057 468
E: [email protected]
“The physician who knows how to harmonize the
liver knows how to treat the hundred diseases.”
A whirlwind trip through the last 100 years will
set the scene for this specific disease picture,
back to a time before there were such things
as HCV and its partner in crime, HIV/AIDs.
Nothing happens in isolation; there can be no
performance without stage and scenery, and of
course the actors.
From the Boer and the Boxer wars to the
Russian Revolution and the lost generation
of men in WWI, to the Great Depression,
the wiping out of whole peoples in WWII,
the bombings of Dresden, Hiroshima and
Nagasaki, the first half of the last century
reflects an image of a world with only one thing
on its mind – self-destruction (syphilitic miasm
perhaps?). The US Navy accepted its first
submarines in time for WWI, Germans used
chemical warfare for the first time, the Boer
War introduced the first concentration camps;
Hitler, Stalin, Mussolini and Franco led a war of
attrition against humanity. This was the era of
the Wall Street Crash and the Great Depression.
The rules as the world knew them were
changing as one by one existing boundaries
were crossed. From a glass half-full perspective,
the breaking down of these barriers facilitated
the extraordinary proliferation of human
invention: from a glass half-empty perspective,
the pushing of boundaries left us like
quicksilver, uncontained and uncontainable.
The road that led from the early 1900s was
one of great innovation, a time that was
encapsulated by events such as the birth of
psychoanalysis, the publishing of the theory of
relativity, the discovery of the structure of the
atom, penicillin, the aeroplane, the submarine,
the opening of the Paris Metro, telegrams, the
home electric refrigerator, breaking of the sound
barrier, the first man on the moon, robot on
mars, computers, women’s achieving the vote,
and so on, and on and on. All extraordinary
“breakthroughs”…however, there is a flip side
to this story. The last century also was a time of
complete devastation and destruction.
By the 1950s however, there was a collective
response to suppress the memories of
the past and compensate by heralding in
an era of excess, success defined through
accumulation (Mind; avarice; full of desires) – a
world driven by the concept that if you just
keep busy (Mind; industrious; activity, amel.)
and keep accumulating you can pretend that
the past just didn’t happen (Mind; memory;
weakness; happened, for what has). This is the
golden era of television, the heyday of the
pharmaceutical industry that unleashed
tricyclic antidepressants along with the oral
contraceptive pill on an unsuspecting world
Zhou Xuehai ca.1895
This paper is an exploration of the whole being
more than the sum of its parts; an attempt
to contextualise disease homœopathically,
historically, philosophically, culturally and,
believe it or not, economically. Hepatitis C
(HCV) has been selected as the central player in
this story, as this is a relatively new disease that
the author sees as representative of the human
condition as it emerges out of the ashes of the
twentieth century.
A LITTLE BACKWARD GLANCE
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Similia - The Australian Journal of Homœopathic Medicine
June 2013—Volume 25 Number 1
(Mind; ailments; suppression). It was also
the time that saw the ‘creation’ of Israel,
the rise of Mao Tse Tung, the subsequent
invasion of Tibet, McCarthyism, ‘reds
under the beds’ and persecution of the
other (Mind; fear; persecution, of; Mind;
suspicion; Mind; sadness; persecutions
of others, by; Mind; fear; people, of,
anthropophobia; suspiciousness, with) and the
first known case of HIV/AIDs.
On to the 60s, where the children borne
to the good folk of the 50s, just knew that
something wasn’t right – think any David
Lynch movie – what really goes on behind
those picket fences? (Mind; suspiciousness,
mistrustfulness) These children grew up
to question the structures that bound
them (Mind; confusion, identity) – they
questioned authority including religion,
government and family (Mind; nihilistic
attitude); they protested against inequality,
wars and violence (Mind; ailments from;
anger, suppressed; Mind; indignation). These
were ‘the children of the revolution’ of
whom Marc Bolan was singing, an anthem
that sums up a generation of middle-class
kids that felt that the only way to prevent
‘Mind, dwells on past disagreeable occurrences’
was to acknowledge such events and try
to enact change to ensure that they didn’t
happen again. However, these children of
the revolution were not entirely successful
in their mission, for whilst they did voice
their disagreement, making great inroads
into issues like gender, racial equality and
conscription, many of the boundaries that
were broken down were done so with no
forethought as to what should replace
them. Like the hallucinogenic drugs that
became commonly available during this
era, the world had moved from a period
of frantic and desperate destruction into
one of existentialist dilemma – I am all,
I am nothing – as the lullaby says ‘when
the bough breaks, the baby will fall’ (but
at least that baby had a cradle!) (Mind;
confusion; identity; Mind; fear; mind; delusion;
existence; without form in vast space).
Moving forward through the 1970s,
80s and 90s, the picture becomes clear.
By 1981, the first patient was admitted
with identifiable HIV/AIDS; by 1989,
the Hepatitis C virus had also been
classified and the dawn of disease without
boundaries had well and truly broken.
THE LIVER:
In physical terms, the liver is the largest
organ in the body (excluding the skin)
and aids digestion by producing enzymes
Similia - The Australian Journal of Homœopathic Medicine
June 2013—Volume 25 Number 1
that convert nutrients from food to be
absorbed by the body: it stores fats, sugars,
iron and vitamins, manufactures bloodclotting proteins, assists in regulating sugar
metabolism, and eliminates and chemically
alters substances that are toxic to the body
(Tortora & Derrickson, 2009). Put simply,
the liver plays an essential part in almost
all of our body’s functions.
To put the role of the liver, both as a
functional process and as an organ, into a
homœopathic context, the multi-faceted
liver can thus be viewed as one of the
body’s principal organs that works in
tandem with the Vital Force. In other
words, when Samuel Hahnemann describes
the action of the Vital Force “in the healthy
human state, (as) the spirit-like life force
(autocracy) that enlivens the living organism
as dynamis, governs without restriction and
keeps all parts of the organism in admirable,
harmonious, vital operation, as regards both
feelings and functions, so that our in dwelling,
rational spirit can freely avail itself of this
living, healthy instrument for the higher
purposes of our existence.” (§9, 1996, p.65),
the liver and its functions play a primary
role in facilitating the important work of
the Vital Force. Just as we are conduits for
healing in the consulting room, the liver,
along with the heart and the brain, form
the conduit through which the Vital Force
must pass, in order to animate the living
form.
WHAT IS HEPATITIS C (HCV)?
The term ‘hepatitis’ simply means
inflammation of the liver, but is more
commonly used in reference to one of
seven different viruses whose primary
target is the liver. In the case of HCV
however, it can also progress to other
organs (di Lorenzo et al, 2011; Farquar &
McKeating, 2008).
References to hepatitis, in the form of
jaundice, have been recorded as far back
as Hippocrates, resurfacing in the eighth
century and again in the seventeenth,
eighteenth and nineteenth centuries,
generally appearing hand in hand with
bloody wars (hepatitis central, 2012).
First classified in 1989, Hepatitis C is an
opportunistic, contagious disease caused
by a virus that infects the liver.
Although it wasn’t identified until 1989,
retrospectively reported and diagnosed
cases go back at least to 1971 in Australia
(refer Appendix A – HCV timeline).
To date there are six genotypes and 50+
sub-types – genotype 1 has been the most
resistant to available treatment (Chen &
Morgan, 2006).
Currently an estimated 170-180 million
people are affected worldwide (WHO,
2010).
Contrast the above with approximately
34 million people living with HIV/AIDS
(WHO, 2011).
Put into local terms, in Australia, the
number of people infected with HIVAIDs
in 2010 was 1,043, while the number of
people testing positive for HCV was 7,286
(ABS, 2012).
MODE OF TRANSMISSION:
HCV is transferred via blood-to-blood
contact.
Most common forms of transmission:
blood transfusions prior to 1992, sharing
needles, needle prick incidents, tattooing
and high risk sexual activity e.g. sex
industry (Peters, 2004).
Other forms of transmission include: social
use of cocaine, solid organ transplant with
an infected organ, haemodialysis patients,
people with HIV, being born to an infected
mother, household infection by living
with someone infected with HCV (Chen &
Morgan, 2006).
PATHOPHYSIOLOGY
It is an RNA virus that uses the liver
cell’s own genetic mechanisms to make
innumerable copies of itself, so that it can
go on to infect a maximum number of cells.
Dependent on prolific self-replication and
inhibited T-cell immune response.
Known as the ‘silent killer’, incubation
period ranges from two weeks to six
months (Merck, 2003).
Two main types: Acute and Chronic.
Failure of the symptoms to clear after six
months sees diagnosis move from Acute to
Chronic Hepatitis C.
Factors influencing the course of chronic
HCV – age (35+ typically more rapid
progression); gender (women have greater
propensity to spontaneously clear the
virus, particularly if younger than 50);
co-infection with HBV or HIV/AIDs;
fatty liver– viral load and genotype
do not alter the course of the disease,
although genotype 1 is more resistant to
conventional treatment (Baker et al, 2002).
17
Prognosis: +85% of patients with chronic
hepatitis C will go on to develop cirrhosis
of the liver, liver cancer or complete liver
failure.
SYMPTOMS: ACUTE
• non-specific ‘flu-like symptoms
• weakness
• aching joints
• overwhelming tiredness
• headaches
• nausea
• loss of appetite
• itching of the skin
• jaundice (very rarely)
• dark urine
• abdominal pain and
• grey coloured stool (hepatitis central
2012)
Sufferers of acute HCV often have such
non-specific or mild symptoms they may
go undiagnosed. Consequently they
are unwitting carriers of the disease,
increasing the reach of its already
ravenous desire to replicate and infect.
SYMPTOMS: CHRONIC
• portal hypertension resulting from
compromised liver circulation and
therefore function
• ascites
• oesophageal varices and other bleeding
diatheses
• bone pain
• diabetes mellitus
steatorrhœa (fatty stools)
• aortic aneurysm
• cardiovascular disease
• liver cancer and complete liver failure
(Merck Manual, 2006)
Clinical tip: A patient that fits this criteria
but is not showing any symptoms is
likely to both have had the infection for
a considerable length of time and be an
active carrier (hepatitis-central, 2012).
DIAGNOSIS
• Blood screening test using enzyme
immune-assays (EIAs) to test for
positive reaction for HCV antibody.
18
• Confirmation using recombinant
immunoblot assay (RIBA), to remove
possibility of false positive.
• Hepatitis C RNA assays to measure the
viral load - i.e. at a molecular level –
also used to assess treatment response
– as it is testing for the presence of the
virus and not the antibodies, can obtain
results from recent (two to three weeks’)
exposure.
• A single negative test is not accurate, as
the virus can both appear intermittently
in the blood or at very low levels.
• Genetic testing to assess genotype.
• Albumin level assessment.
• Liver function tests.
• Prothrombin time (i.e. blood clotting
factor).
• Liver biopsy – though this is more
relevant in terms of on-going
monitoring (Medline, 2012).
Although these preceding facts about
HCV are important, in that they describe
the physical parameters of the disease,
they tell us very little about the experience
of the disease. In other words, this is not
the symptom totality of the disease; it
serves more as a summary of its mode of
action and likely progression.
HOMEOPATHY AND HCV
Current Status
There are three principle areas for your
consideration regarding the current role
of homœopathy in the treatment of HCV.
Firstly, although HCV was identified in
1989 and there are, currently identified,
approximately 350 homœopathic
medicines with known curable actions
on diseases of the liver (Gardener, 2011),
the world’s first large-scale homœopathic
trial was only announced in July 2012
(Shah, 2012). Prior to this announcement,
research into the efficacy of homœopathic
CONVENTIONAL TREATMENT:
treatment of this ‘silent epidemic’ has
• Interferon, Pegylated Interferon,
been sadly thin on the ground. However,
Ribavirin, Amantadine – virus
of the research that has been conducted
suppressors.
in this area, findings have indicated that
the positive effect of both Carcinosin 200C
• Protease Inhibitors – never used on
and Chelidonium 200C in hepatotoxic rats
their own but in conjunction with
(not terribly homœopathic), may serve
other drugs.
as a basis for validating the inclusion
• Success rate: approximately 50%
of homœopathic medicines as a part
(medicinenet, 2012).
of an overall treatment plan (Banerjee
et al, 2010). Interestingly, the results of
Adverse reactions: extreme nausea,
this study also revealed that these two
anxiety, depression, neutropenia,
medicines given in combination had
anaemia, insomnia, muscle pain and
a greater prophylactic and curative
weakness, restless legs syndrome,
effect than when administered as
diabetes mellitus, psychosis, suicide,
single doses (ibid). Similar results were
pancreatitis, along with cardiac and
found in a study of the plant extract
pulmonary symptoms (Gardner, 2012).
when administered in tincture form to
New treatments are designed to target the hepatocarcinogenic mice (Biswas et al,
host cells, instead of the virus, eradicating 2008).
the need to incorporate interferon in
Epidemics
the treatment protocol (O’Brien, 2012).
Lauded as radical breakthroughs with
Secondly, HCV needs to be placed
indications of higher success rates, the
within the context of the homœopathic
literature on these refers to the new
definition of an epidemic, whereby
treatment being used in conjunction
one disease is seen to affect an entire
with other HCV medications “as part of
group of people. Since Hahnemann’s
an oral, anti-Hep C cocktail” (ibid). This
successful treatment of a scarlet fever
literature reads more like a marketing
epidemic in Cologne in 1799 the efficacy
proposal, referring to their findings
of homœopathic treatment of epidemic
as being sure “to attract the attention
disease has been well documented (van
of several players in the field” (ibid).
der Zee, 2011). Indeed, comparative
A similar release, refers to “…several
figures in relation to the success rate of
companies racing to develop hepatitis C
homœopathic treatment versus allopathic
pills…with the market for new therapies
treatment of patients during the great
forecast to reach $20 billion by 2020”
epidemics of the nineteenth and twentieth
(Flinn & Armstrong, 2012).
centuries, not only support the efficacy of
Similia - The Australian Journal of Homœopathic Medicine
June 2013—Volume 25 Number 1
homœopathic over allopathic treatment
during epidemics, but also reveal that
the mortality rates of those treated
allopathically was significantly greater
(Malik, 2013). Based on these figures,
the evidence is clear - homœopathic
treatment of epidemic disease forms
the basis of a viable (and affordable),
treatment protocol.
disease in the spotlight, whilst leaving
the other to languidly proliferate, slow
and secretive?
6.
HCV is a highly individualised
illness, therefore fits perfectly into the
homeopathic paradigm;
7.
The medical profession whilst
racing to find a “cure” and despite
claims that the drug cocktails are the
answer, also acknowledges that their
existing treatment options have only
a 50% success rate and too often, the
adverse effects of these treatments
cause further irreparable damage;
8.
As a result, HCV is one of the rare
conditions, in which patients are
actively encouraged to pursue
alternative therapies, so long as they
speak to their primary health carer
(Hepatitis Central, 2013);
9.
Therefore as a profession, we as
homœopaths are perfectly placed to
raise the profile of HCV, the silent
epidemic, and once again take our
place as the treatment of choice on the
world stage of primary healthcare.
CONCLUSION
Returning to the beginning of the paper,
you were taken on a guided tour through
the world that spawned HIV/AIDs, and
hopefully the point is clear, that this is
also the stage upon which HCV plies its
Genus Epidemicus
trade. By nature this disease is insidious
Within the homœopathic paradigm,
and deceptive. It progresses slowly,
epidemic disease is viewed as a collective taking up to twenty years to manifest
response to perceived stress, be that
in all its true hideous glory. It hides
stress a reaction to war, natural disaster, in the dark, in the shadows; it evades
or collective shock or grief etc. (ibid).
detection in clinical tests. Until Lifeforce
In other words, the effects of epidemic
(Shah, 2012) announced their intention to
disease transcend the level of the
conduct an in-depth study of the efficacy
personal, minimising the importance of
of homœopathic treatment of HCV
individual traits and history. In this way, in 2012, it seems that our community
the epidemic becomes the person with
has been complicit in the proliferation
the disease, and “…the character of the
of its deception. If, according to the
epidemic disease is discovered according homeopathic paradigm, two dis-similar
to the symptom complex common to all
diseases cannot co-exist in the human
the patients (i.e. the genus epidemicus),
body, is it possible that this rate of cothat will point to the homœopathically
infection is an indication that HIV/AIDs
fitting (specific) medicine for the totality and HCV together form one diseased
of the cases…” (O’Reilly, 1996, §241
response to the events of the last century
pg.214).
i.e. they represent both the acute and the
Within the genus epidemicus framework, chronic disease state of the 20th century?
both disease-specific symptoms, in
However, returning to the subtitle of
conjunction with changed symptoms
this paper – HCV, the basis for a successful
within the patient form the basis of
practice – your attention is drawn to the
treatment protocol. By gathering all
following:
symptoms of the disease in this manner,
1. The liver is one of the primary organs
the medicine or medicines that are the
that forms the conduit through
best match for this symptom totality,
which the vital force is able to
can be safely administered to all people
transit through the body; as such,
suffering with the disease. Along with
homeostasis is contingent on a fully
the use of nosodes, this is the theory
functioning liver;
that forms the basis of the homœopathic
treatment response to epidemics such
2. Subsequently, understanding the
as HIV/Aids, Tuberculosis, Swine Flu,
functions of the liver, forms the basis
Dengue Fever, to name a few (Golden,
to understanding much of disease;
2012; van der Zee, 2011; Hahnemann,
3. Homœopathy has a proven track
1996).
record in the successful treatment of
The final area for your consideration,
infectious diseases, well documented
and forming part of the impetus for
during the great epidemics of the
this article is the perception that if the
nineteenth and twentieth centuries;
number of people currently infected
4. Although the world is currently
with HCV almost triples that of those
experiencing an HCV epidemic, there
suffering with HIV/AIDs, then why
is currently no successful unified
has the latter so quickly been given the
treatment protocol, homœopathic or
mantle of not just epidemic, but in the
otherwise;
homœopathic world, of miasm as well?
This is indeed a serious question and
5. The current rate of co-infection with
not raised to make comparisons between
HIV is increasing (four million),
degrees of suffering. What is it about
with HCV being attributed to the
these two diseases, both manifestations
final cause of death in most cases
of the twentieth century, that puts one
Similia - The Australian Journal of Homœopathic Medicine
June 2013—Volume 25 Number 1
(Operskalski & Kovacs, 2011; Peters,
2004);
10. Homœopathy and Hepatitis C – the
basis for a successful practice.
Finally, this quote is taken from the
website of the Hepatitis and Aids
Research Trust:
“The only thing necessary for these diseases to
triumph is for good people and governments to
do nothing.”
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Similia - The Australian Journal of Homœopathic Medicine
June 2013—Volume 25 Number 1
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