Prevention and Homeopathic Treatment
The World Health Organization reports that the recent outbreak of E. coli first identified in northern Germany has now spread to eleven other nations, including the U.S. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) in the U.S. has identified this particular strain as Shiga Toxin producing E. Coli 0104:H4 (STEC 0104:H4). As of this writing, there were 1,700 cases with 9 deaths, and 502 of the cases included hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), a type of kidney failure.
Government agencies were trying to identify the source and cause of this supertoxic hybrid E. coli. The source was eventually identified as contaminated sprouts. Some had speculated that the superbug resulted from the use of antibiotics in livestock. However, in January ’06, the European Union banned the practice of feeding antibiotics to livestock for growth promotion. The overuse of antibiotics in general may still be a factor.
Other strains of E. coli have become resistant to Tetracycline, but this new breed is resistant to eight or more types of antibiotics. Conventional treatment includes the use of rehydration therapy and electrolyte replacement. When needed, peritoneal dialysis and hemodialysis as well as blood transfusions, have also been used. Anti-motility drugs for diarrhea are not recommended and may worsen the situation. Antimicrobials may increase the risk of developing HUS.
So where does that leave us? The first step would be to avoid consuming contaminated foods. Choosing food grown locally and washing it thoroughly, or cooking it, is one way to do that. You have to cook food to 160 degrees Farenheit (71 C) to kill E.coli. When preparing food, wash your hands thoroughly after handling uncooked food, especially meat.
Since this superbug resists conventional treatment, let us consider the homeopathic approach. The approach in homeopathy is twofold:
1. Ancillary treatment –
IV fluids to maintain hydration and correct electrolyte imbalance
Blood transfusion for excessive haemorrhage
Watch for oliguria and early renal failure
2. Prescribing the similimum or series of similimum’s based on homeopathic
characteristics and the evolving symptom pictures.
The common symptoms of STEC include severe stomach cramps, diarrhea (often bloody), and vomiting. There may also be a low fever. The more serious cases develop HUS, which symptoms include : bloody diarrhea, vomiting, abdominal pain/ cramps, pale skin, fatigue, irritability, low fever, bruising, bleeding from nose or mouth, decreased urine output, swelling of face, hands, feet or entire body, confusion and sometimes neurological symptoms (one recent patient experienced numbness in the limbs), seizures and kidney failure.
Repertorization for an accurate homeopathic remedy requires a keen observation of characteristic homeopathic symptoms of each individual case, apart from the common symptoms. The choice of remedy should have a tubercular miasmatic background as most of these cases present with bleeding in some form or other and this is an infective illness. The remedy should have a definite sphere of action on the pathological picture of this disease. In some cases the characteristics are not easily obtained, especially in severe cases. In those situations, Boger’s method of choosing a pathological similimum is best for remedy selection.
Observing the characteristics indicating the simillimum, depends on accurate observation of modalities of aggravation and amelioration that modify the common symptoms of the dysentery, or the concomitant symptoms associated with it. In some situations, the concomitant symptom may be a physical one – bleeding from the nose or mouth, or else a characteristic mental state – fear, anguish or peculiar delusion with fever or a dream, etc.
If complications have set it in, such as renal failure or seizures, an acute phase remedy may be required to overcome this stage before the indicated acute similimum is prescribed. An experienced homeopathic physician would be able to demarcate the different phases and observe a change of picture that would require a change of remedy. Needless to say, management is demanding, watching both for remedy response and evolving symptom picture, as well as observing vital signs of the patient and need for ancillary supportive measures. Cases previously treated with antibiotics may need intercurrent prescriptions while on the acute similimum.
The reduced frequency of stools, reduced bleeding, decreasing colic, improved sense of wellbeing and increased appetite are some of the indications of a good prescription. Some of the remedies that are commonly indicated include:
Ars Alb, Argentum Nitricum, Phos, Lachesis, Crotallus horr.,Cantharis, Merc Sol, Merc Cor, Terebinth, etc.