INTRODUCTION: We conducted a prospective, multi-centre, data collection survey of homeopathicpractice in treatment of influenza-like illness in India during the 2009 pandemic of A/H1N1 influenza(‘swine flu’, SF).
To survey the practice of homeopathic practitioners in India in the management of SF, with respect to: (a) patients’ symptoms at presentation and at follow-up (FU) consultation; (b)homeopathic medicines prescribed.
Data collection took place from October 2009 to February 2010, at the peak of the pandemic. All patients satisfying the minimum diagnostic symptoms of SF were eligible for inclusion. Data per appointment (in person or by telephone) were recorded by practitioners in spreadsheet format. All records were anonymised and included: whether patient was immunised against A/H1N1; influenza symptoms at consultation; the homeopathic medicine/s prescribed; whether antiviral medicine prescribed.
Twenty-three homeopathic physicians contributed to data collection. At the first appointment, 1126 patients had valid SF symptoms. A total of 89 different combinations of SF symptoms was observed, the most common being temperature >38°C + cough + runny nose (n = 170; 15.1%). A total of 44 different remedies (or combinations of remedies) were used at these first appointments, the most frequently prescribed being Arsenicum album (n = 265; 23.5%). For a total of 99 FU appointments with valid SF symptoms, Arsenicum album was prescribed most frequently overall (n = 28; 28.0%).
In our sample, the 2009 A/H1N1 influenza pandemic in India was characterised by several prominent symptoms and symptom/medicine associations, particularly temperature >38°C + cough + runny nose, associated with Arsenicum album. Future studies should collect additional keynote prescribing symptoms that influence the choice of homeopathic medicine.