Plague, the black Death and Homoeopathy

The term Plague was applied indiscriminately in the past to all fatal epidemic diseases, but now it has been restricted to an acute, infectious, contagious disease of rodents and humans. This is caused by a short, thick, gram-negative bacillus, Yersinia pestis, formerly known as Pasteurella pestis.

In humans, plague occurs in three forms:

I. Bubonic plague-
Bubonic plague is the best-known form and is so called because it is characterized by the appearance of buboes, or enlarged, inflamed lymph nodes, in the groin or armpit or on the neck. Bubonic plague is transmitted by the bite of any of numerous insects that are normally parasitic on rodents, and that seek new hosts when the original host dies. The most important of these insects is the rat flea Xenopsylla cheopis, which is parasitic on the brown rat.

II. Pneumonic plague-
Droplets sprayed from the lungs and mouth of infected persons most often transmit pneumonic plague, so called because the lung is the site of infection. The infection may spread from the lungs to other parts of the body, resulting in septicemic plague, which is infection of the blood.

III. Septicemic plague-
Septicemic plague may also be initiated by direct contact of contaminated hands, food, or objects with the mucous membranes of the nose or throat.
Untreated bubonic plague is fatal in 30 to 75 percent of all cases, pneumonic plague 95 percent of the time, and septicemic plague almost invariably. Mortality in treated cases is 5 to 10 percent.

II. Symptoms

In bubonic plague, the first symptoms are headache, nausea, vomiting, aching joints, and a general feeling of ill health.
The lymph nodes of the groin or, less commonly, of the armpit or neck, suddenly become painful and swollen. The temperature, accompanied by shivering, rises to between 101? and 105? F. The pulse rate and respiration rate are increased, and the victim becomes exhausted and apathetic. The buboes swell until they reach approximately a chicken egg in size. In nonfatal cases, the temperature begins to fall in about five days, and approaches normal in about two weeks.
In fatal cases, death results in about four days. In primary pneumonic plague, the sputum is at first slimy and tinted with blood; it later becomes free-flowing and bright red. Death occurs in most cases two or three days after the first appearance of symptoms. In primary septicemic plague, the victim has a sudden onset of high fever and turns deep purple in several hours, often dying within the same day that symptoms first develop.
The purple color, which appears in all plague victims during their last hours, is due to respiratory failure; the popular name Black Death that is applied to the disease is derived from this symptom.

III. History

Plague has been known for at least 3,000 years. Epidemics have been recorded in China since 224 BC. The disease occurred in huge pandemics that destroyed the entire populations of cities throughout the Middle Ages; they have occurred sporadically since that time.
The last great pandemic began in China in 1894 and spread to Africa, the Pacific islands, Australia, and the Americas, reaching San Francisco in 1900. Plague still occurs in Asia, Africa, South America, and Australia, but rarely appears in the U.S.
In 1997, 14 countries reported more than 5,400 human plague cases, of which 274 were fatal. In 1950 the World Health Organization initiated sanitation programs for plague control throughout the world.

IV. Prevention and Treatment

Many preventive measures, such as sanitation, killing of rats, and prevention of the transport of rats in ships arriving from ports in which the disease is endemic, are effective in reducing the incidence of plague.
Famine, which reduces resistance to the disease, results in spread of plague. Individuals who have contracted the disease are isolated, put to bed, and fed fluids and easily digestible foods.
Similimum Homoeopathic drug is the remedy to the problem. However, the most common Plague remedies are- Anthracinum, Hippozeanium, Pestinum or Plaguinum, Crotalus horridus, Ignatia amara, Operculina terpenthum, Tarentula cubensis, Caladium seguinum, Baptisia tinctoria, Bufo rana, Lachesis mutus, Naja tripudians, Phosphorus, Sulphuric acid, Chininum sulph etc.

o Anthracinum-
ALLEN- Anthracinum
Characteristics: – In carbuncle, malignant ulcer and complaints with ulceration, sloughing and intolerable burning. – Painful glandular swellings; cellular tissue indurated; anthrax-quinsy. – Hemorrhages: blood oozes from mouth, nose, anus or sexual organs; black, thick, tar-like, rapidly decomposing (Crotalus). – Septic fever, rapid loss of strength, sinking pulse, delirium and fainting (Pyr.). – Gangrenous ulcers; felon, carbuncle; gangrenous erysipelas of a malignant type. – Malignant pustule: black or blue blisters; often fatal in twenty-four or forty-eight hours (Ech., Lach., Pyr.). – Carbuncle: with horrible burning pains; discharge of ichorous offensive pus. – Furuncles and all forms of boils, large and small. – Some forms of acne; successive crops of boils or carbuncles on any part of the body; to remove the tendency. – Dissecting wounds, especially if tendency is to become gangrenous; septic fever, marked prostration (Ars., Ech., Pyr.). – Suspicious insect stings. – If the swelling changes color and red streaks from the wound map out the course of lymphatics (Ech., Lach., Pyr.). – Septic inflammation from absorption of pus or other deleterious substances, with burning pain and great prostration (Ars., Ech., Euphorb., Pyr.). – Pulmonary hyperaemia, ecchymoses.
Lungs: – ||Slight serous effusions into pleural cavities. – ||Sub-pleural ecchymoses with vascular engorgement, and a dark coloring of the parenchyma. – ||Oedema of the mediastinal lymphatic glands.

o Baptisia tinctoria-
CLARKE – Baptisia tinctoria-
Characteristics: – Plague. – Great languor; wants to lie down.
Generalities – Tired, bruised, sick feeling

o Bufo rana-
CLARKE – Bufo rana –
Characteristics: – Plague. – Bufo causes low grades of inflammatory action, fetid exhalations and discharges. – (I have removed the fetor in hopeless cases of cancer with this remedy.) – Guernsey commends it in panaritium where the pain runs in streaks, all the way up the arm. – Burning like fire in lungs. – Dirty greenish oily.
Skin – Large yellow bullae, which open, leaving a raw surface exuding an ichorous fluid. – Burning blisters – Sweat profuse; oily.

o Caladium seguinum-
ALLEN – Caladium seguinum –
– The mucous membrane of the mouth and fauces greatly inflamed, the saliva flowing profusely, with a choking sensation and a desire to swallow, which could be accomplished with difficulty. – The saliva as it poured from the mouth was copiously streaked with blood.

o Chininum sulph-
HERING – Chininum sulphuricum –
Skin – Gangrenous and fetid suppurations. – Cancerous ulcers, thick, livid, humid crust, which becomes dry and black, with red, humid and finally yellowish dilated margins. – Recommended in plague, by Lorbacher.

o Crotalus horridus-
BOERICKE – Crotalus horridus-
– Blood decomposition, haemorrhages (dark fluid that forms no clots), tendency to carbuncles, malignant scarlatina, yellow fever, the plague, and cholera, give opportunity to use this remedy. – Acts as a sedative. – Malignant fevers of a hemorrhagic or putrescent character. – Purpura haemorrhagica.
Skin – Hemorrhage from every part of body. – Bloody sweat. – Lymphangitis and septicemia. – Boils, carbuncles, and eruptions are surrounded by purplish, mottled skin and oedema.

o Hippozeanium-
ALLEN – Hippozaeninum –
Characteristics: – The nosode has been used by homoeopaths, at the suggestion of Garth Wilkinson, on the phenomena of the disease as guides, and in a large number of cases involving low forms of suppuration and catarrh, malignant ulcerations and swellings, abscesses and enlarged glands; and also in conditions similar in kind, but less in severity. – Glanders in the horse affects the lungs no less than the upper respiratory tract, causing coughs and disseminated ulcerations and deposits throughout the lungs. – It has cured papules and ulcerations in frontal sinuses, pharynx, larynx, and trachea; hoarseness; old cases of bronchitis, especially in old persons where suffocation from excessive secretion seemed imminent. – Bronchitis : in the worst forms; esp. in elderly persons; where suffocation from excessive secretion is imminent.
Respiratory Organs: – Noisy breathing; loud snoring respiration before fatal termination; breath fetid. – Cough and obstructed respiration, resulting from cicatricial contraction of mucous membrane of nose and larynx; had lasted eleven years; patient presented picture of decided cachexia- Respiration at first partially impeded.

o Ignatia amara-
BOERICKE – Ignatia amara –
Characteristics: – The Plague. – Dry, spasmodic cough in quick successive shocks.
Respiratory – Spasm of glottis [Calc.] Reflex coughs. – Coughing increases the desire to cough. – Much sighing. – Hollow spasmodic cough, worse in the evening, little expectoration, leaving pain in trachea.
CLARKE – Ignatia amara –
Characteristics: – The recent outbreak of plague in the East has recalled the fact that Ign. has earned a reputation as curative even in that disease. – Honigberger relates that it was a common plan when plague was raging in Constantinople for people to wear a bean attached to a string as a prophylactic; he administered “minute doses” of it to patients affected with plague with the best success. – Later on he himself caught the disease in India, and cured himself with the same remedy .

o Lachesis mutus-
– Bubos.
CLARKE – Lachesis mutus –
Characteristics: – Lach. and Naja have had the greatest success of all homoeopathic remedies in the recent epidemics of Plague in India. – Extravasation of blood in lungs.
Chest: – Pneumonia (hepatization of the inflamed lungs). – Gangrene of lungs. – Extravasation of blood in lungs. – Pneumonia (hepatization of the inflamed lungs). – Gangrene of lungs.

o Naja tripudians-
CLARKE- Naja tripudians – Deane in his experience in the plague epidemic of 1899-1900 found Naja prepared from the fresh virus more efficacious than Lachesis, and he found its action more prompt if injected under the skin than if given by the mouth.

o Operculina terpenthum-
BOERICKE – Operculina terpenthum-
* A remedy for plague, fevers, diarrhoea. – Lymphatic glands enlarged and indurated. – Boils and slowly suppurating abscesses.

o Pestinum or Plaguinum-
ALLEN – Pestinum –
Characteristics: – The prophylaxis and treatment of plague with injections of more or less modified virus of plague by old school practitioners affords evidence that the nosode of plague is available, like other nosodes, for the treatment of cases of the disease from which it is derived.

o Phosphorus-
HERING – Phosphorus –
Inner Chest and lungs: – || Expectoration of bright-red fluid blood, which feels warm in mouth and is accompanied by no pain and but very slight cough; respiration free; agg at night; after repeated colds and exposure to rain. – ? Haemoptysis : pain in chest, tickling and spitting of blood; with gurgling and bubbling sounds in air passages; blood coming from choanae; suffering expression of face; limbs cold; pulse small, rapid; with occasional attacks of profuse hemorrhage; in women with delayed and scanty menses, congestion of blood to chest; in those of sanguine temperament; in young phthisical subjects. – || Percussion over lower portion of thorax, dull on right side, with indistinct bronchial respiration and numerous rales, partly dry, partly moist; on left side vesicular murmurs and some moist bronchial rales.

o Sulphuric acid-
CLARKE – Sulphuricum acidum –
Characteristics: – Dippel, Haller, and others each had an “Elixir,” differing only in the proportions of the chief ingredients. – The elixirs were used in : Intermittent, putrid, malignant, contagious fevers; comatose and petechial fevers, scarlatina, confluent and malignant variola; dysentery; plague, lepra, itch, and other cutaneous diseases; nocturnal emissions; suppression of menses and piles, calculous nephritis, and gout; pituitous phthisis; chorea.

o Tarentula cubensis-
BOERICKE – Tarentula cubensis-
Bubonic plague. – Abscesses, where pain and inflammation predominate. – Adapted to the most severe types of inflammation and pain, early and persistent prostration. – Various forms of malignant suppuration. – Purplish hue and burning, stinging pains. – Bubo. – It is the remedy for pain of death; soothes the last struggles. Pruritus, especially about genitals. – Restless feet. – Intermittent septic chills. – Bubonic plague. – As a curative and preventive remedy especially during the period of invasion.

(c) Dr. Rajneesh Kumar Sharma
Homoeo Cure & Research Centre P. Ltd.
N.H. 74, Moradabad Road, Kashipur- Uttaranchal
Ph. 05947- 260327, 274338, 277418, 275535
Fax – 91 5947 274338, Cell – 98 370 48594
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