The Homeopathic Treatment of Malaria
What is Malaria, How is it Spread, Why Is It a Problem?
The word malaria comes from 18th century Italian: mala (bad) and aire (air). At that time it was believed that the illness was caused by bad air in marshy areas. It was first discovered in 1880 that malaria was a parasitic disease transmitted by the female Anopheles mosquito, which needs blood for her eggs, and has previously sucked the blood of a person infected with malaria. It is well and good to say that there is a place and purpose for every creature on the planet, but it is challenging to find the redeeming virtues of the mosquito, particularly one who spreads malaria. When the mosquito bites an infected person, a minute amount of the Plasmodium parasite is the blood is passed on. About one week later that same infected mosquito finds another human victim, at which time the parasites mix with the saliva of the mosquito and are infected into the human host. In the human body, the parasites multiply in the liver, then infecting red blood cells. Malaria can be transmitted person to person through organ transplants, shared needles or syringes, blood transfusion, and from mother to baby during labor. Not only does poverty lead to conditions fostering the spread of malaria, but, the detrimental effect of malaria on health also predisposes to poverty.
Up to 40% of the world population in 100 countries at risk for malarial infection, resulting in infection of 300-500 million people and over one million deaths each year. The Anopheles mosquito lives in most tropical and many subtropical areas of Central and South American, the Caribbean, Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe, and the South Pacific The greatest number of fatalities occurs in sub-Saharan Africa, where up to 60% of hospital admissions are attributed to malaria. Every thirty seconds a child somewhere in the world dies of malaria, as well as being responsible for low-birth-weight babies, growth retardation, still births, and infant mortality. Each year a staggering ten percent of the global population is infected with the disease. No effective malaria vaccine has been developed, despite tireless effort on the part of many researchers around the world, including the Malaria Foundation International and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s Eradication Goal. Drug-resistant strains are spreading and global warming is making the problem worse.
The likelihood of your contracting the disease, as a traveler, depends on where you are going, how long you will be there, what time of year, altitude, whether you stay in rural or urban areas, style and conditions of travel, and what preventive measures, including the use of mosquito netting, repellents, staying indoors after dark, avoiding rainy season travel, and the use of prophylactic medications. It takes seven to twelve days after infected for the symptoms to appear, longer if you are taking prophylactic medications or have some immunity from previous infections. Multiple re-infections are common, and may be asymptomatic Early-stage symptoms are flu-like:
fever, chills with shaking, sweats, fatigue, nausea and vomiting, headache, and general malaise. Symptoms are often cyclic, due to the life cycle of the parasites as they develop, reproduce, and are released from red blood and liver cells. This cyclic nature is one of the main indicators that it is indeed malaria. Also common are dry cough, muscle and back pain, and an enlarged spleen. Malaria may cause anemia and jaundice. Infection with the Plasmodium falciparum malarial parasite is more serious and can lead to kidney failure, seizures, mental confusion, coma, and death.
Conventional Prophylaxis and Treatment
Recommended prevention against mosquito bites includes wearing long sleeves and pants and light-colored clothes. and using DEET on exposed skin (controversial because of its toxicity) twenty minutes after applying sunscreen. Anti-malarial medication, usually quinine-based, can cause undesirable side effects, and is not necessarily the prophylaxis of choice for those who live, work, or spend a lot of time in high-risk areas, who would have to spend much of their lives taking them. Artemisinin, made from the sweet wormwood plant, now rivals quinine drugs in terms of its rapid effectiveness with malaria. The plants has been used by Chinese herbalists for over 1500 years to treat malaria. A watchful eye is advised because there is a black-market version that contains only chalk.
The most common anti-malarial drugs include Choroquine, Quinine sulfate, Hydroxychloroquine, Mefloquine, and Malarone. Drug-resistant malaria is a major ongoing obstacle to treatment and to the search for new, effective drugs. In many areas of the world, Chloroquine is considered ineffective because of it.
Homeopathic Medicines Used Historically for Malaria
The following are single –dose homeopathic medicines used to treat malaria:
Arsenicum album (Arsenic): Intense fever with burning heat. Exhausted, pale. Unquenchable thirst for sips. Clean tongue. Anxious, restless. Cold.
China officinalis (Peruvian bark, the source of quinine): Periodic fevers. Chill, sweating, headache, nausea, weakness. Little thirst. Anxiety. Peruvian bark was the very first substances proved by homeopathy’s founder, Samuel Hahnemann, and made into a homeopathic medicine.
Eupatorium peroliatum (Boneset): Bone pain as if they will break. Muscle soreness, vomiting, chill. Thirst and bitter vomiting. Pressure forehead.
Natrum muriaticum (Sodium chloride): Violent headache. Chill begins at 10AM. Weak, short of breath, bone pain. Fever blisters lips. Great thirst.
A Promising Homeopathic Protocol for Prevention and Treatment
We recently attended an inspirational National Center for Homeopathy webinar presented by Didi Ananda Ruchira, a homeopath in Kenya who treats many patients with malaria, mostly destitute (http://www.abhalight.org/). Having lived and provided homeopathic and natural health care in Africa for ten years, Didi was deeply concerned about the ineffectiveness of conventional treatment of malaria. Her observations were the following:
The local population rarely uses mosquito nets, are at high-risk for infection, and contract malaria frequently.
Drug-resistance is common, which may result in milder symptoms over time.
P. falciparum is particularly virulent, and poor immune status, such as HIV infections, malnourishment, or childhood, increases risk.
Children, especially vulnerable, may die or, if they survive, may suffer from lifelong brain damage, seizures, paralysis, or mental retardation.
Local residents typically went to their corner kiosk and purchased outdated Chloroquine medications, self-treated or to a nearby government hospital or community clinic where they were likely to be misdiagnosed and, often, to receive inadequate treatment. Lingering side effects were common. Success with traditional herbalists was also limited.
Didi dedicated herself to finding a more effective alternative to help these
people. She first looked into the Ayurvedic herb, neem (Azadirachta indica), which had been described as having anti-malarial activity as far back as 2000B.C. Neem leaf extract was found to significantly increase red blood cell oxidation, interfering with normal development of malaria. The plant also lowers fever and increases appetite, allowing a more speedy recovery. Neem, however, has not shown effectiveness in preventing malaria infection once in the body. She prepared a very low-potency 2X Neem product to take daily for two to three weeks in order to destroy any remaining parasite and break the cycle of recurrent malaria. This medicine has been given successfully to thousands of Masai tribal people in Tanzania.
Didi researched the homeopathic materia medica and selected China sulphuricum (Sulphate of quinine) to detoxify individuals from the ongoing side effects of quinine and drug poisoning. The final prong of the three-step programs is a malaria nosode (medicine prepared homeopathically from the four malaria Anopheles mosquitoes) combined with the four homeopathic medicines mentioned earlier in this article.
The protocol is as follows:
Start Neem 2X once a day. Continue for three weeks. For the first five days,
while taking Neem, add China sulphuricum 30C. On day 6, start MalariX, which contains Malaria nosode, China, Natrum muriaticum, Arsenicum album, and Eupatorium perfoliatum. Take 1 dose a day for 3 days, then 1 dose every 2 weeks. Continue taking one dose of MalariX every two weeks as long as the possibility of acquiring malaria exists.
Didi makes it clear that there is no funding available for laboratory research of her program. It is strictly anecdotal. However, the protocol has been used at eighteen clinics in Kenya. There is an unpublished study on her work: http://www.abhalight.org/neem.html. In September, 2007, she partnered with a local NGO to distribute the MalariX 3-step program to 100 families living on the shores of Lake Victoria. Didi conducted a survey, as best she could given limited funding, compliance, and myriad other challenges. Of the thirty-four respondents who participated, only four (12%) suffered an attack of malaria or malaria-like symptoms. She has found her program to help prevent, as well as to treat, malaria.
More Research Needed
Didi is the first to admit that what has been done so far is only preliminary, that well-funded, proper research would be excellent, and that her population is extremely limited. However, given the difficulty of finding adequate funding and dissemination of homeopathic research, the dire poverty and lack of effective health care for the population with which she is working, these results impressed us as did the sincerity of her mission. Whatever efforts to find successful treatment options, conventional and natural, for this global, often fatal, disease, will be worthwhile.
Judyth Reichenberg-Ullman and Robert Ullman are licensed naturopathic physicians, board certified in homeopathy. Their books include the upcoming Travel Well Naturally: What You Need to Know to Stay Healthy Wherever You Go (2013); Homeopathic Treatment of Depression, Anxiety, Bipolar Disorder and other Mental and Emotional Problems (a revision of the previous title, Prozac Free, a substantially revised Ritalin-Free Kids, A Drug-Free Approach to Asperger Syndrome and Autism, Rage-Free Kids, Prozac Free, Homeopathic Self-Care: The Quick and Easy Guide for the Whole Family, Whole Woman Homeopathy, The Patient’s Guide to Homeopathic Medicine, and Mystics, Masters, Saints and Sages—Stories of Enlightenment. The doctors have taught internationally, and they practice at The Northwest Center for Homeopathic Medicine in Edmonds, WA and Langley, WA. The doctors live on Whidbey Island, Washington and in Pucon, Chile. They treat patients by phone and videoconference, as well as in person, and can be reached by telephone at (425) 774-5599. Their newly redesigned website is http://www.healthyhomeopathy.com.
You can purchase MalariX at http://www.abhalight.org/ and read about her research at http://hpathy.com/homeopathy-papers/the-use-of-homeopathic-prophylaxis-and-treatment-for-malaria-in-endemic-areas-of-kenya/2/