A Sustainable Alternative for Pest and Disease Control in Agricultural Production
The whole planet is in a complicated situation nowadays with respect to the degradation of the environment and of nonrenewable natural resources caused by the nature of current society. It is necessary for that reason to implement alternative technologies that permit us to grow without destroying our environment.
The goal of conventional agriculture is to maximize profits, without taking into account the social costs or the environmental damage that might imply. Current agricultural practices significantly contribute to the deterioration of the environment. It is therefore necessary to develop and apply practices that are ecological and nonpolluting.
Agrohomeopathy, a technique based on the use of infinitesimal doses of substances (RuÃz, 2005) is a good option for pest and disease control. It does not present any health risks to farmers or to the consumers of their products. In addition, it is a practical, effective and economical technique.
Agrohomeopathy is a new and modern approach which offers a viable option to the use of chemicals. It is nontoxic and does not pollute the environment. It is based on the principles of homeopathy and relies on clear and established rules of preparation and use.
Homeopathy was first proposed by the Greek doctor Hippocrates, in the 5th century B.C. Although homeopathy was forgotten over the centuries, it was rediscovered by the German doctor, Samuel Hahnemann (Gibson and Gibson, 1993). It was applied as scientific knowledge starting with direct experimentation and the conviction that the medicine of those times was inhuman and did not work (RuÃz, 2007).
Homeopathy is a therapeutic system in which remedies are obtained from nature (mineral, vegetable and animal kingdoms), and selected and administered based on a set of basic principles (Gibson and Gibson, 1993).
The following are the principles of homeopathy:
â€¢ Treatment of similars with similars (principle similimum, or similars law). A substance that can cause symptoms and signs, can also cure them. This it is the basic principle of homeopathy (Gibson and Gibson, 1993).
â€¢ The concept of tests (proving). Symptoms and signs that appear in the organism when medicine has been applied are registered. Abundant information has been acquired about two or three thousand substances now used as homeopathic remedies (Gibson and Gibson, 1993) in this way.
â€¢ The concept of the minimum dose. Many substances that Hahnemann used in his studies were well-known poisons, so he could not administer them in great doses to his patients. In addition, Hahnemann discovered that if a patient needed a specific remedy, he tended to show sensitivity to it. For that reason, he experimented with dilutions of his remedies to find the dose that offered curative results without producing undesirable collateral effects. Biological dyes and other soluble substances were diluted in a mixture of water/alcohol, using two scales of dilution: the 1 in 10, today commonly known as the D or X (D=decimal, X=10) series of potencies; and the 1 in 100 series C (C=centesimal). For insoluble substances, Hahnemann crushed the substance with lactose in dilutions of 1 in 10 or 1 in 100. After the third crushing (trituration), the substances became soluble and he then proceeded to make a dilution with the water/alcohol mixture. In each phase of the dilution, Hahnemann used a process called sucussion in which the remedy in solution was vigorously pounded against a solid surface. The original purpose of this was ensuring that solutions were well mixed before proceeding with the next dilution. (Gibson and Gibson, 1993).
The search for alternatives to toxic substances used in agriculture led to the bio- dynamic agriculture of Rudolf Steiner in the last century and the work of Mrs. Lili Kolisko, who implemented the use of homeopathic dilutions or dynamizations for plants, which she called agriculture of the future. Her work became the basis of knowledge in Agrohomeopathy . Following Mrs. Kolisko’s contributions, many experiments have been made which validate the homeopathic principle, since it works in plants and organisms apart from man. (RuÃz, 2007).
In 1990, at the Chapingo Autonomous University, Mexico, a research project was initiated to study whether plants and animals would respond to the application of homeopathic dilutions. The next phase was in the field, where today it serves as a guide to farmers and cattle producers for the production of toxic free foods (RuÃz, 2007). The research at Chapingo Autonomous University was undertaken by Dr. Felipe De Jesus RuÃz Espinoza and Dr. Segilfredo Castro Inzunza.
1.2. How does Agrohomepathy work?
Agronosodes (homeopathic preparations made from the secretion of a diseased plant, insect or anima) represent the simplest manner of reversing health problems in living organisms.
Homeopathic dilutions are prepared from substances of animal, vegetable or mineral origin, as is the case of insects, fungi, viruses and bacteria or even gases (RuÃz, 2007). With those substances, the mother tincture is prepared. It consists of a hydro-alcoholic preparation that contains substances soluble in water. It is made according to the rules of homeopathy and corresponds to a proportion in weight of the juice of the substance to be made and a proportion in alcohol (RuÃz, 2007). Diverse scales for preparing dilutions exist, like the decimal (X), the centesimal “Hahnemanianna” (C), the “korsakoviana” (K), the fifty milesimal (LM) of Hahnemann, and the Chapingo scale or Unitarian scale (RuÃz, 2007).
The liquid dynamization is prepared from a millimeter drop or a liter of the mother tincture and 99 drops, 99 mm or 99 liters of alcohol. The preparation is dynamized by a process of succussion for 2 minutes or by 200 sucussions, and is left to repose for 2 minutes. The first centesimal “Hahnemanniana” (1CH) is formed in this way. Successive dilutions and succusions produce all potencies above that. The potencies formed in this manner can be classified as low (6, 12CH), average (30, 60CH) and high (200, 1000, 10000CH, or more) (RuÃz, 2007).
Homeopathic dynamizations are delicate substances. They must not be exposed to high or low temperatures. For example, they cannot be exposed to heat above 85 º C, as the dynamization is destroyed. Excessive cold causes the same result; temperatures below 6º C destroy the dynamization. It is necessary to conserve them in a cool, dark place, out of direct sunlight, preferably in the shade (RuÃz, 2007).
Homeopathy has acquired the status of scientific knowledge through analyzed statistical and experimental results according to scientific tradition. The repetitions and adjustments to the experiments refer to the effects of the dynamizations on crops and seeds and the frequency and dosage of the applications under similar environmental conditions (RuÃz, 2003).
Table 1 shows how a dynamized substance can affect bacteria control in potencies that exceed Avogadro´s number. It illustrates the reaction to homeopathically prepared substances on three particular orientations: to promote, to disable or, to be indifferent.
Table 1. Disease control: Bacteria
CuSO4 3C, 4C, 5C, 6C, 15C, 27C
Listeria monocytogenes, Streptococcus bovis,
6C, 15C, 27C Stimulated growth.
3C Disabled growth
4C, 5C There was variability.
Source: RuÃz (2003)
Agrohomeopathy works indirectly to corroborate that the homeopathic effect is not a product of good wishes, will, faith or suggestion. This can be clearly demonstrated with the work that has been developed in fungi control. The number of plants and fruits on which fungi control is possible includes a great variety like guava, mango, flax, wheat, corn and tomatoes (RuÃz, 2003).
Table 2 shows some dynamizations applied with good results, not limited to the chemical field, but opening their spectrum to the physical, electrical, biological and genetic fields.
Table 2.Disease control: Fungi
Khanna and Chandra 1976
Arsenicum album, Blatta orientales, Kali iodide, Thuja occidentalis
Alternaria Alternata in Citrus micocarpa, Linun asitatissimum, Psidium riedrichsthelianum and Triticum aestivum.
Khanna and Chandra. 1976
Arsenicum album 1c, Kali iodide 194c, Phosphorus 35c and Thuja occidentalis 87c.
Fusarium roseum in tomato
Khanna and Chandra 1978
Arsenicum album, Kali iodatum, Lycopodium clavatum, Phosphorus, Thuja occidentalis, Asvagandh, Blatta orientalis, Zincum sulphuricum, Filix and Kali muriaticum.
Pestalotia mangiferae Henn, in mango
Phosphorus 50C, Lycopodium clavatum 190C, Asvagandh 100C, Arsenicum album 1C, 89C and 90C; Zincum sulphuricum 1C and 2C Complete spore inhibition
Ameeta et. al. 1995
Pulsatilla, Bryonia, Nux vÃ³mica, and Aconito.
Microsporum and Trychophyton spp
Was the most effective for Phytophtora colocasiae esculenta, Nux vÃ³mica and Bryonia. In the case of Microsporum fulvum, the one that gave better results was Pulsatilla; for Trychophyton simii Bryonia did.
Aggarwal, et. al. 1993
Kali iodide, (potassium iodine), Arsenicum album (arsenic oxide), Blatta orientalis and extract of Thuja occidentalis, in dynamizations 3C, 30C and 200C.
Phytophtora colocasiae esculenta
Four medicines disabled mycelial growth. Nevertheless, there was variation in the degree of inhibition, depending on the different strength used of each medicine.
Ragini, et. al. 1978
Bryonia, Euphorbium, Lycopodium, Nux vomica, Belladona, Phosphorus, Sulphur, Sepia, Arsenicum, Blatta, Thuja, Apis mellificus and Kali iodide. All to the 30 200 C.
Helminthosporium oryzae, Fusarium solani, Penicillium decumbens
Apis mellificus, Kali iodide, Thuja and Sulphur inhibited fungi; Bryonia and Euphorbium promoted them.
Source: RuÃz (2003)
Another area for the use of Agrohomeopathy is in virus control, since traditional knowledge has not achieved sufficient advances, allowing production losses and encouraging the application of large quantities of agrochemicals. (RuÃz, 2003).
The potential that agronosodes have in agriculture is possibly the most important aspect of agrohomeopathy.
Table 3. Disease control: Virus
Verma, et. al.1969
Chenopodium, Chimaphilla, Coal plant, Arsenicum album, Ipeca, Jalapa, Artemisa, Alstonia, Alestris Cinchona, Pulsatilla, Thuja, Hydrastis, Cedar, Variolium, Lachesis, Viborum, Aconitum Napellus, Belladona atropa, Lobetia, Digitalis, Echinacea Ang., Pgrogenium.
Tobacco mosaic virus
Lachesis 7D diminished the damage in the virus content by 98%, Chimaphilla 7D by 99%, Chenopodium 7D by 94%, and Cedar 7D by 94%, all of them applied at zero hours. 24 hours after the application, Arsenicum diminished the virus content by 99%, Chimaphilla 7D by 98%, Lachesis 7D by 76% and Variolinum 7D by 67%; finally after 2 weeks of application, only Lachesis 31D diminished the virus content by 49% and Chimaphilla 31D did it by 52% and Chimaphilla 1001D did it by 53%.
RuÃz, Castro and Pinto. 1993
Night-blooming jasmine (Cestrum nocturnum L.)Carnation (Dianthus chinensis L)
Tobacco (Nicotiana tabacum Var. bejanti)
Spinach (Spinacea oleracea L.)
Tobacco Mosaic virus (VMT)
Epazote (Chenopodium ambriosoides L.) Chimaphila (Chimaphilla umbelata)
Arsenic (Arsenicum album).
Used dynamizations: 2C, 7C and 31C.
Tobacco mosaic virus
It must be contemplated that Chimaphila diminished the damage of VMT by 32% with relation to the inoculated control; tobacco by 27%, Chenopodium 25%, spinach by 24%, Night-blooming jasmine 6% and VMT by 5%. Arsenicum album increased the damage by 8 % with relation to the inoculated control and the carnation increased the damage by 7 %.
Cheema, et. al. 1993
White cedar (Thuja occidentals) to 30D
Tobacco mosaic virus in tomatoes (TMV) and cucumber mosaic virus (CMV)
Regular control with Thuja occidentalis.
Cheema, et. al. 1991
Thuja occidentalis and Chenopodium 30D
Cucumber mosaic virus
Good results in virus control.
Ravinder, et. al. 1992
Nine dynamizations but some of them are Chimaphilla umbellata and Thuja occidentalis
Tobacco mosaic virus in cucumbers and sunflowers.
Control of the tobacco mosaic virus with: Chimaphilla umbellata and Thuja occidentalis to the 1001C power
Thuja occidentalis, Sulphur, Apis mellificus, Bryonia. All to the 30 C.
Virus in papaya, tobacco and squash
Thuja and Sulphur reduce the virus up than 80 %; Apis mellificus and Bryonia reduce it by 50 %. Without phytotoxic effects.
Source: RuÃz (2003)
Agrohomeopathy does not kill the pest. It modifies the conditions in which the pest lives, forcing it to avoid the plants where the agronosode was sprinkled (RuÃz, 2003).
Pests like aphids and white fly cause the greatest damage by the pathogens that they incorporate into the plant when they suck the sap. Another benefit of using agronosodes for pest and disease control is the independence from the agrochemical market.
Table 4. Disease control: Pests
Aphids nosode 4C, 5C, 7C, 9C
Aphids in peach
Aphids control with 9C
RuÃz, Castro and Curtis 1999
Dioscorea villosa, Azadirachta indica, Chimaphilla, Nosode of polluted water, Homeopathic fertilizer-all dynamizations were made to 8C, 32C and 202C.
White fly (Bemisia tabaci G.) in tomatoes
Without final evaluation
RuÃz, Castro and Curtis 2000
PS1 (Valeriana oficinalis. Urtica ureas, Azadirachta indica, Castela texana, Chimaphila umbellata, Taraxacum dens leonis, Petiveria alliacea).
PS2 (Chamomilla vulgaris, Dioscorea villosa, Cina, Chenopodium, Equisetum hiemale, nematodes nosode, Tagetes erecta.)
PFH (Boricum acidum, Cuprum sulfuratum, Ferrum phosphoricum, Kalium nitricum, Magnesia phosphorica, Manganum sulfuratum, Phosphorus, Sulphur, Urea, Zincum sulfuricum, Silicea, Natrum muriaticum, Glonoinum, Uranium nitricum, Selenium metallicun, Argentum nitricum, Aurum metallicum, Bismuthum metallicum.)
Nematodes in tomato roots (Meloidogyne ssp)
A partial evaluation indicates that the combination of poly pharmaceuticals that yielded the best growth and development of the crop was S1FHA.
Source: RuÃz (2003)
Agrohomeopathy represents a viable, nontoxic and nonpolluting alternative to pest and disease control, giving important advantages to farmers. It does not present any health risks to them, or to consumers. It is a practical, effective, simple and economical technique which farmers can apply in their production system, whatever it may be.
Now that the technique has been created and developed, it needs to be applied. Much of this knowledge remains in research studies and books. It therefore falls to students of homeopathy and agriculture to help disseminate this vital information. This knowledge must be diffused into the farming communities. Otherwise, farmers will continue the non- sustainable, costly and toxic methods they have used before.
Gibson S; Gibson R. HomeopatÃa para todos. Editorial Biblioteca de la Salud Gr. 1993.
RuÃz, E. F. AgrohomeopatÃa una alternativa ecolÃ³gica, tecnolÃ³gica y social. Universidad AutÃ³noma Chapingo. 2003.
RuÃz, E. F. Aportaciones de la agrohomeopatÃa a la agricultura. Centro Regional Universitario del AnÃ¡huac. Programa de Agricultura OrgÃ¡nica. Universidad AutÃ³noma Chapingo. 2005.
RuÃz, E. F. Sustentabilidad en la agricultura. ExtensiÃ³n al campo. AÃ±o II. NÃºm. 06.Universidad AutÃ³noma Chapingo. 2007.
Mariana Yazzur HERNANDEZ
Chapingo Autonomous University, MEXICO