Notes from the Field: March, 2020
Nature Cure Clinical Pearls
Jared L. Zeff, ND, VNMI, LAc
The following is not an article prepared for a medical journal. Not every statement of fact is cited or referenced. This is a commentary on the medicine, a running set of observations about practice in the field. It’s not meant to be a peer-reviewed presentation; rather, these are notes and thoughts from a practicing naturopathic physician, a primary care doc in general practice.
Practice During a Pandemic
A pervasive characteristic of this current pandemic is that fear predominates, and fear obscures observation. It also obscures logic. In India, a country of 1.3 billion people, 700 people have died from the coronavirus, as of this writing. Approximately 450 000 people in India die annually from tuberculosis. The “lockdown” in India will likely cause many more deaths from starvation than from the virus, where many millions live from day to day on the wages they make in the many tiny businesses that exist, as well as the shoe factories, etc. So far, they have gone for over a month without wages. How are they supposed to buy their daily food? In Oregon, closer to home, 109 people have died, as of this writing. The governor of Oregon has declared that the state will remain locked down until July 6th. How many restaurants will fail? How many small businesses? How much poverty will this lockdown generate? How many people will lose their homes?
This is an interesting time. Never in the history of the United States have our civil liberties been so abridged. There are new phone apps wherewith a person can report their neighbor for being outside, and some apps are in the works for tracking every contact a person may have had, so as to track the spread of the virus. I have encountered patients who are wracked with fear over the possibility of contracting the virus. They are masked-up with very high-quality filters. Yet, in our town, there have been very few deaths, and the hospitals are not only not overwhelmed, they are nearly empty.
And, yet, I am hardly affected. I operate an “essential business.” I treat the sick, including those infected by SARS-CoV-2. Although last week was fairly busy in my little practice, next week I have 1 patient scheduled for each day. I have leases and mortgages and salaries and the many bills that are required to keep a practice going.
But I am not afraid; I have become quite skeptical. I posted to a naturopathic site on Facebook a few weeks ago, a post that became a long thread. It began, “I may be wrong, but…” That was before I was shadow-banned by Facebook for posting information that was in disagreement with the World Health Organization regarding the virus. I have been following the numbers from early on. I suspected then, as I suspect now, that we are dealing with a very difficult “flu.” Not an influenza virus, but an illness that appeared somewhat flu-like. I was commenting to colleagues in December that this was one of the most difficult respiratory virus seasons I have seen in quite a while. I treated more cases of pneumonia this season than I have in a long time. People had this persistent dry cough for weeks. I still have it. I think I may have had the virus a while ago. (I have just done a new antibody test to see whether I have any IgG antibodies to this thing, but the results are not back yet.) I had a slight fever for 1 day, and I took my good medicines, and it resolved, but I had this odd sensation that I could not get enough air into me. This sensation, which was somewhat relieved by Carbo veg 30C, was occasional and lasted about 5 days. I’ve had this little cough ever since. All my patients have resolved or are resolving. I have sent one to the hospital, along with her secret stash of homeopathic medicines. She reported that the Carbo veg seemed to help with the breathing. She was released after 4 days. I am continuing to treat her at home with homeopathy and hydrotherapy.
The Role of Naturopathic Medicine in Pandemics
The odd and really infuriating thing to me was that my state and national professional associations warned me to not dare suggest that I could prevent or treat this viral disease, because the CDC has not approved any of our methods of prevention or treatment. Let me remind them that the CDC and FDA have never approved of what I do. And they are in the midst of an effort to severely regulate and limit homeopathy, at which I pray they fail. Several countries, including India, Cuba, and others are using homeopathic preparations for prophylaxis. I saw a letter posted by one of our colleagues from a state in India recommending that doctors give their patients Arsenicum 30C daily for 3 days as a preventive. Can you imagine the CDC sending out such a letter?
Recently, one of our esteemed colleagues, Dr Andre Saine, participated in a webinar in which he detailed the history of homeopathic medicine in epidemics. Several other such presentations have appeared during this time. The homeopathic and naturopathic hospitals in New York and elsewhere in the United States had an amazing history during the Spanish Flu epidemic of 1918: lower than 1% mortality rate, versus a very high mortality rate in the allopathic hospitals. As recently as 2007, we have reports from Cuba regarding the effects of homeopathic prophylaxis during an epidemic of leptospirosis1:
We report the results of a very large-scale homeoprophylaxis (HP) intervention against Leptospirosis in a dangerous epidemic situation in three provinces of Cuba in 2007… A homeoprophylactic formulation was prepared from dilutions of four circulating strains of Leptospirosis. This formulation was administered orally to 2.3 million persons at high risk in an epidemic in a region affected by natural disasters… The homeoprophylactic approach was associated with a large reduction of disease incidence and control of the epidemic. The results suggest the use of HP as a feasible tool for epidemic control, further research is warranted.
But we dare not discuss such things, because this may make us look bad. Promoting homeopathy may interfere with licensing efforts, we are told. And we may even be prosecuted by the medical authorities for medical fraud or something similar if we dare to contribute to the effort against this pandemic. Rather than use our medicine to make a positive impact upon this problem, we are warned off, shooed away. Don’t dare suggest that we can strengthen immunity with botanicals, dietary interventions, homeopathy, or hydrotherapy. Such modalities are, supposedly, unproven.
But, being “essential,” I am continuing to treat patients. My doors are open. We have adopted new procedures, such as cleaning each surface after each patient, staggering patients, scheduling the respiratory patients at the end of the day, etc. From my limited perspective (I am not in New York), I see a rather difficult respiratory virus that is affecting a few people in my community and that generally responds rather well to the botanical, homeopathic, and hydrotherapy interventions I use; it also seems to be reduced or prevented by extra vitamins C and D and zinc.
Perhaps I am foolish, but I have been doing this medicine for 40 years. Each day I read the new information regarding the virus. I seek information on which to base good judgments. The more information that has been developed, the more my suspicions have been confirmed, at least for now.
If you are curious how to treat viral respiratory illness, read Paul Herscu’s excellent pandemic updates. And read Andre Saine’s work on epidemics. Last summer, at the AANP conference, there was an excellent talk by Sharum Sharif, ND, on the homeopathic prevention and treatment of epidemics and pandemics. Was that prescient? That was truly the best presentation I have ever encountered on the subject.
Yesterday I recorded a small piece for a colleague in Seattle, who is putting together a video program regarding how naturopathic doctors view and are responding to this pandemic. I made 5 brief points regarding prevention and treatment:
- Take extra vitamins C, D, A, and zinc.
- Rest, sleep, exercise, sunshine, fresh air, good water, good food.
- Use homeopathic medicines for prevention and treatment, based upon the standard symptom picture, the “genus epidemicus”; there may be more than 1. And administer the patient’s constitutional remedy if known. I have found these remedies to be most useful this time: Arsenicum, Bryonia, Gelsemium, Phosphorus, Lycopodium, and a few others less often.
- infectious agent.
- Use botanical immune tonics, especially Astragalus, Echinacea, Glycyrrhiza, Usnea, Hydrastis, Lomatium, and Ligusticum, among many others.
How I Treated Myself
In January, my wife and I had a little respiratory issue. It began with sore throats. When I get a sore throat, I usually take 1-2 drops of Lomatium dissectum extract onto my tongue. This usually aborts the sore throat within 5 minutes. I keep a bottle on my desk to administer to patients. I took my Lomatium drops, but found I needed them 2-3 times daily for nearly a week. That is extremely odd, as 1 application is usually all I need. I felt mildly feverish for 1 day, but the Lomatium seemed to help. I noticed a sensation like I could not quite catch my breath. It was mild and transitory. That continued for a few days, aided by Carbo veg. My wife, the Lovely Lauren, experienced a similar pattern. This was before we had heard of the Covid-19/SARS-CoV-2 virus pandemic. I made Lauren a homeopathic medicine. It helped her, and we recovered from this mild disturbance. The occasional dry cough has persisted to this day, though it slowly reduces in frequency. I am 72, but I am not a smoker and have no chronic illnesses. I also practice good naturopathic hygiene. So, though I am of an age to be more concerned about this, and am increasingly aware of my own mortality, it seems my wife and I may have overcome this virus. The antibody studies should reveal this for us. It is also quite possible I did not have the “Rona Virus,” and my grandson calls it, but just a run-of-the-mill flu or a less lethal Corona cousin.
Some Useful Prescriptions
Annually, I make a “Cold and Flu” formula for my patients. I generally begin with homeopathic Gelsemium and Influenzinum, and then add remedies to the mix as the symptom picture of the annual malady develops. My patients report that this works well, that they have milder or no respiratory illness compared to the years they did not use it. I also make, as a companion, a botanical mixture, “Dr. Zeff’s Immune Tonic.” It is usually composed of Echinacea (4 parts), Glycyrrhiza (3), Asclepias (2), Lobaria (1-2), Usnea (1-2), Inula (2), Hydrastis (1), Phytolacca (1), Lomatium (1), and Baptisia (1). I have one patient, a man who works as a fishing guide on the river, who buys it by the quart, though he has a large family.
I have made these things for years, with some variation, and have been told for years by my patients how well they work. This is not a “study,” but they continue to want these things because they are convinced, as am I, that they are effective.
It is an interesting time. Conspiracy theories abound, though I generally avoid them. My concern is to treat the sick and help my patients remain healthy. With our simple, safe, and effective modalities, we can do great good. I remain optimistic that more and more people will come to realize this, and that our contributions to epidemic and pandemic care and prevention will be increasingly invited.
Jared L. Zeff, ND, LAc, VNMI
- Bracho G, Varela E, Fernández R, et al. Large-scale application of highly-diluted bacteria for Leptospirosis epidemic control. Homeopathy. 2010;99(3):156-166.
Jared L. Zeff, ND, VNMI, LAc, is a licensed doctor of naturopathic medicine and a licensed acupuncturist. In addition to functioning as Medical Director at the Salmon Creek Naturopathic Clinic in Vancouver, WA, Dr Zeff teaches on the faculty at National University of Natural Medicine in Portland, OR, where he was also Dean from 1988 to 1993, and holds a professorship in Naturopathic Medicine. Dr Zeff is a graduate of the University of California, NCNM, and the Emperor’s College of Traditional Oriental Medicine. He, along with Pamela Snider, is the author of the AANP’s Definition of Naturopathic Medicine, and the Therapeutic Order concept.