Influenza Research in 2007-2008
In preparation for a 2009 pilot study, we wanted to test methodologies for data collection and analysis, and developed preliminary forms to use in an exploratory study. It was late in the year, but these documents were developed quickly and efficiently by Liz Kaltman (Portland, OR) and myself, and then laid out and edited by Kim McGuire (Amherst, MA), under a very short deadline. The time crunch was intense and there were discussions outside the group of postponing the study, but it seemed too important to postpone.
Beginning in January 2008, 28 patients with influenza-like illness (ILI) were evaluated homeopathically and treated with homeopathic remedies, on an individual case by case basis. Although the study was not blinded, nor controlled in any fashion, the patients were taken in series, not selectively reported, thus helping to remove some bias. They were interviewed and treated in a standard homeopathic case-taking manner, and information was gathered using a best practice evaluation methodology. At the same time we took the opportunity to ask about their family’s health status, recording other members who were ill with similar ILI. These patients were primarily seen by myself, in Connecticut, with a few individuals from Sheila Frodermann in Rhode Island, as well as Lysanji Edson in Oregon. The information was recorded in both a standard homeopathic qualitative intake protocol, but then also via forms we had developed, using a more quantitative protocol to monitor patient progress.
Of the 28 patients, 32% (9 individuals) fit the study criteria we had previously developed:
- Being ill with an upper respiratory tract infection for 3 days or less,
- With fever greater than 100 F, and
- Having at least 2 inclusion criteria symptoms of sore throat, cough, headache or body aches. The two inclusion criteria symptoms had to have a severity of at least 2 on a 0-3 scale (0=none, 1=mild/noticeable, 2=moderate/bothersome, 3=severe/limiting activities.)
Because this was an exploratory study, there was no specific diagnostic laboratory confirmation (except in one patient, who actually did do a flu laboratory test and tested positive), only the use of inclusion criteria that would help screen out non-influenza patients. From the 9 that fit the above criteria, we had 5 males 4 females, and 5 were at least 18 years of age or older.
The findings from this small study were as follows regarding the 9 people treated:
- The 9 patients treated were ill for a mean total of 3.8 days.
- These 9 patients had 7 family members who were similarly ill, but not treated homeopathically. Those 7 were ill for a total of 9.9 days (as compared to our 3.8 days).
- The 5 adults were sick for a total of 5.0 days (2.2 days before treatment and 2.8 after treatment).
- The 4 patients who were under 18 years of age were sick for a total of 2.3 days (1.3 days before and 1.0 after).
- Patients reported feeling some benefit from the remedy between 5 minutes and 6 hours after treatment.
We then wanted to look at whether the time from initial influenza symptoms until homeopathic treatment had a strong effect on the overall length of illness or effect of treatment.
- 6 of the 9 patients were ill for 2 days or less before treatment (coming for treatment an average of 1.2 days after illness began), had a average illness duration of 2.7 days (versus 3.8 days for the aggregate treated group).
- If we look to the 5 adults alone:
- 3 adults who were sick for 3 days before treatment were ill a total of 6.0 days (3.0 days before and 3.0 days after treatment)
- 2 adults who were treated within 1.0 days of illness were sick for 2.5 days after treatment.
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