Flu Watch - Winter 2005/6

presented by Domenick J. Masiello, D.O., D.Ht.

I am fairly confident that this information will be applicable nationwide and maybe even worldwide due to the large amount of international travel (influenza originates in Asia and travels west). I will update this as often as it becomes necessary during the winter.

Latest update - December



It may seem premature to post this year's FLU WATCH but recent developments have made some early discussion necessary. Last week, eight years of painstaking, cutting edge research involving tissue samples from military medical archives dating back to 1918 and the exhumation of the body of an Alaskan woman who died that same year and was buried in the permafrost, has resulted in the explication of the genomic structure of the influenza virus which caused the 1918 flu pandemic, the so-called Spanish Flu. It seems that the avian or bird flu discovered a few years ago genetically resembles the Spanish Influenza virus of 1918. They are not identical - the Spanish flu was much more virulent and the bird flu would have to undergo continued mutation to match the devastating effects of the 1918 virus. However, their similarity is of concern. Just today, October 13th, it was announced the presence of the bird flu virus has been isolated in the country of Turkey - clearing indicating that the virus has drifted out of Asia and is heading toward Europe. There are some issues I believe need to be clarified. First of all, the flu vaccine that will be offered by allopathic physicians next month will NOT be the bird flu vaccine but a vaccine against several strains of "regular flu". Secondly, the drug Tamiflu, which has been mentioned in the press because many countries have been stockpiling it as a precaution against the bird flu is not a cure for the bird flu or any other strain of influenza. The drug lessens the severity and the duration of the illness. It does not eradicate the disease. Third, the vaccine against the bird flu, like all vaccines will not be 100% effective. Flu vaccine efficacy is usually no better than 75%. This is because the outer surface of influenza viruses change over time and our immune system, primed by a vaccine made several months ago may not recognize the virus when we encounter it. The vaccine may have serious side-effects that may not be revealed until millions of doses have been given. Suffice it to say that no drug or vaccine is perfect and that there is uncertainty about successfully treating the bird flu. What does homeopathy have to offer? Read the introduction to the Flu Watch that I wrote in 2001 and you will understand the concept of the epidemicus remedy. Homeopathic physicians must treat a number of patients with the bird flu successfully before being able to recognize which remedy will work during the epidemic. I never mention a remedy in Flu Watch unless it has successfully treated at least 12 patients. I make follow-up calls to be sure that the patient is cured. The same would have to take place around the world. Homeopathic physicians must communicate with each other and provide this information. There is one other thing we can do. Often, I will give an influenza nosode as an adjunct to the main epidemicus remedy. (This was the practice of Dr. John H. Clarke, author of The Dictionary of Practical Materia Medica)  If I can identify a specific flu nosode as being especially useful during and epidemic, I mention that nosode in Flu Watch. The question now arises - would a nosode from the 1918 influenza pandemic be a useful remedy to try should bird flu make its way here? Could it be used as a preventive? Perhaps. The problem is finding some of that nosode. There was an article published in Volume 2 of The Homeopathic Recorder in 1935. The article was about post-influenza meningitis written by Dr. H.A. Neiswander. Tarentula Hispanica was the remedy that cured. In the post-presentation discussion section, Drs. Grimmer and Farrington offered their opinions on several issues. Dr. Grimmer mentions that Dr. Guy Beckley Stearns, a famous New York City homeopath and researcher, had made remedies from several strains of influenza including the Spanish Flu. Following in Dr. Stearns footsteps in New York were Dr. Elizabeth Wright Hubbard, Dr. James Stevenson, Dr. William Guttman and Dr. Christopher Whitmont. These physicians of yesteryear all shared remedies amongst themselves and it is quite possible that some of these heirloom remedies have made their way into the collections of modern day homeopaths. Homeopaths in the US should check their collections for a vial labeled, "Spanish Flu".  If it surfaces this nosode should be shared among all homeopathic physicians as a hedge against a possible bird flu epidemic bearing in mind that the best treatment will still be the individual remedy based on clinical experience. This nosode would only be a potential adjunct but if it still exists, we should use it. So stay tuned as winter approaches. As soon as any reliable pattern emerges, I will post in the next instalment of FLU WATCH. As a traditional osteopath as well as a classical homeopath I should mention that there was only one other group of patients that faired almost as well as homeopathic patients in 1918 and that was the patients of osteopathic physicians. By manipulating the cervical and thoracic spine and ribs and by pumping the chest to stimulate the flow of lymphatic fluid through the thoracic duct, many lives were saved. A painting depicting this treatment during the pandemic hangs in the Smithsonian. Osteopaths are still around so don't forget osteopathy during flu season! 


This month has been exceptionally quiet. Very few cases of influenza without any real pattern of most frequently used remedy. However, there have been several cases of viral upper respiratory infections which manifest as sinusitis, tracheitis/laryngitis or bronchitis. The cough is associated with yellow/gray/brown thick mucus descending from the sinuses or stuck in the trachea. There is thirst and sometimes a low grade fever. The expectoration can be blood-streaked and sometimes there is bleeding of bright red blood from one nostril. This is preceded by a sore throat lasting only 1-2 days. The common feature is that it seems to be self-limited. Patients don't seem that sick, they spontaneously recover only to relapse again several days later. This sometimes stretches out for 4-6 weeks with 2-3 relapses during which time there is a generalized tiredness with the frustrating feeling of not being able to get back to normal. The remedy which has been most useful for this phenomenon has been Phosphorous.


The Phosphorous upper respiratory infections continued in a steady stream during the month of December. However, towards the end of the month there emerged a pattern of influenza cases which continues unabated. Fever up to 102 degrees and chills accompanied by nausea and vomiting and sometimes diarrhea. The vomiting is persistent and continues for 1-2 days after the vomiting and diarrhea has stopped. There are also body aches including headaches. The remedy which has clearly worked is Nux Vomica. I have used the 200C potencies 1-2 times per day. Somewhere along the course of this flu I have given a dose of Influenzinum 200C or 1M with much benefit. Right now the Phosphorous upper respiratory cases seem to equal the number of Nux Vomica flu cases, however, this may change as the winter progresses. A dose of either Nux Vomica and/or Influenzinum will benefit those not yet infected.


Please Note: I would add this caution - the epidemicus remedy will work when the condition is caught early. Neglected cases may require different remedies. Also, strep throat almost always rides along the influenza wave so a high fever with a sore throat should not be neglected.

Domenick J. Masiello, D.O., D.Ht.
420 East 51st Street
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