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Varying Genus Epidemicus Remedies in Different Waves of the COVID-19 Pandemic in West Bengal, India
The concept of using homeopathic medicines as genus epidemicus in epidemic diseases was originally formulated by Dr. Samuel Hahnemann in Aphorism §241: “…each single epidemic is of a peculiar, uniform character common to all the individuals attacked, and when this character is found in the totality of the symptoms common to all, it guides us to the discovery of the (specific) homeopathic remedy suitable for all the cases…”.
Kent affirms that the totality of symptoms of a given epidemic corresponding to the nature of the epidemic disease can be obtained after observing about 20 patients and recording the symptoms of each one. Thus, the pathognomonic symptoms of an epidemic are identified. Repertory analysis would guide to a group of six or seven options known as ‘epidemic remedies’ for that particular epidemic, from which the physician would choose the most suitable after going through the Materia Medica. However, for prophylaxis, a lesser degree of similitude is necessary than for curing: a remedy will not have to be so similar to prevent disease as to cure it.
From April to June 2021, during the second wave of the pandemic in India, our team of homeopathic doctors managed over 100 patients with COVID-like illness at the outpatients department of D. N. De Homeopathic Medical College and Hospital, Kolkata, West Bengal. Our approach reflected the views of Hahnemann: a remedy that is capable of quickly checking a disease at its onset should be its best preventive.
To arrive at the homeopathic genus epidemicus, a common consensus amongst a group of homeopathy experts was sought for the ongoing epidemic. A number of source books of Materia Medica were consulted to cross-check the salient features of the probable homeopathic remedies.    We also took into account the remedies prescribed for outpatients of the hospital who had favorable outcomes, the published papers suggesting a probable genus epidemicus for COVID-19 in different parts of India and elsewhere in the world,      as well as the most frequently indicated remedies with favorable outcomes in prognostic factor research. 
Some medicines emerged as the most likely prophylactic remedies: Bryonia alba, Mercurius solubilis, Arsenicum album, Phosphorus and Pulsatilla nigricans. Following literature searches and conference calls in three consecutive rounds, nine of the 11 experts agreed on Bryonia alba 200cH as the prophylactic remedy, while the other two experts strongly advocated Mercurius solubilis 30cH.
Assuming that the second wave of COVID-19 in West Bengal mirrored that of the national picture in India, that second wave is now well past its peak. Though Phosphorus revealed some weakly promising (yet inconclusive) prophylactic effects during the first wave of COVID-19 in West Bengal, the choice of medicine differed during the second wave (as outlined above), predominantly because of certain changes in symptomatology. Our near-unanimous conclusion about using Bryonia alba 200cH as the genus epidemicus in the second wave is also supported by some published and unpublished Indian studies.
Epidemics are recognised as specific diseases and treated accordingly. If symptoms change, prophylactic medicines will keep changing.   Thus, different medicines may be required every year for different episodes of the same epidemic disease, as was also advocated by Dr. Hahnemann. Different remedies may even be indicated in different geographical locations during a single time-point of an ongoing epidemic: Arsenicum album, Cinchona officinalis  or Antimonium tartaricum  in different areas of Brazil; Bryonia alba in Spain. Moreover, differing prescribing practices in different parts of the world, the varying methods adopted to identify the genus epidemicus, as well as progressively emerging variants of the virus, are further potential contributors in deciding on a genus epidemicus. Thus different remedies are required for different forms of the same disease, as was also recommended by Dr. Hughes.
The above experience shows that homeopathic prophylaxis can not be chosen by the name of the epidemic disease itself: rather it should be based exclusively on the nature of the symptoms of the epidemic disease. Though the symptoms may vary according to different stages of the disease, similar medicines to the initial phase of an epidemic disease are the best specifics. Our consensus work forecasts that the genus epidemicus derived from any epidemic should not be used empirically for subsequent waves of the same epidemic. For each and every wave, genus epidemicus should be derived separately and in an integrated manner after treating a number of cases successfully, recording symptoms from the patients in various ways, referring to all available literature and research, arriving at a consensus among experts and, finally, researching the remedies prospectively using the best suitable research design – either randomized controlled trials or comparative cohort studies – to arrive at a valid and reliable conclusion.
Received: 04 November 2021
Accepted: 19 November 2021
Article published online:
19 May 2022
© 2022. Faculty of Homeopathy. This article is published by Thieme.
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