Keizer, C.C.H., Director
P.O. Box 538
Aromas, CA 95004
Anthrax Symptoms and Homeopathic Treatment
C. Hyde, Ph.D.
Evaluating the Threat of Anthrax
Forms of Anthrax
Homeopathic Treatment for Cutaneous Anthrax
For non-cutaneous forms of Anthrax
Homeopathic Remedies that Address Symptoms of an Advanced
"anthrax" has become synonymous with "terror." Yet,
while serious, Anthrax can be contained and treated. And, since it does
not spread from one person to another, its risk is much more limited
than some people may believe. While some concern is appropriate, the
dramatic panic Americans seem to be feeling is not warranted. Certainly
antibiotics, vaccinations, and even homeopathic treatment should be
restricted to those who are in danger of having actually contacted
disease has a long record of homeopathic treatment. Historically, it's a
disease of hoofed animals, transmissible to humans mainly on physical
contact with its pathological products: growths, discharges, blood. The
founder of homeopathy, Samuel Hahnemann, in Chronic Diseases (second
edition published 1845, pp. 33-34) , writes of it:
The infection with
miasmas [specific diseases] takes place, without doubt, in one single
moment, and that moment, the one most favorable for infection.... After
this moment of infection, no ablution, cauterizing or burning, not even
the cutting off of the part which has caught and received the infection,
can again destroy or undo the development of the disease within. The
same is the case...when the skin of man is contaminated with the blood
of cattle affected with anthrax. If, as is frequently the case, the
anthrax has infected and caught on, all ablutions of the skin are in
vain; the black or gangrenous blister, nearly always fatal,
nevertheless, always comes out after four or five days (usually in the
affected spot) i. e., as soon as the whole living organism has
transformed itself to this terrible disease.
describes the process of infection common to any disease -- not only the
part is affected, but also the whole person-- body, mind, spirit --
simultaneously. He is also describing the important fact that with
Anthrax as with other acute destructive diseases, the skin symptoms
which may be the first external manifestation of the disease, actually
represent a systemic development of the sickness. The sickness develops
first, without obvious symptoms, within the nervous, circulatory, and
organic systems. Therefore, when it erupts on the skin, it must be
treated as a systemic disease rather than a local one.
homeopath, James Tyler Kent, in an unpublished lecture delivered in 1894
(furnished by Dr. Ahmed N. Currim who is currently editing Kent's
Unpublished Materia Medica as a forthcoming book), wrote of Anthrax :
Anthrax, a zymotic
disease, a blood poison having in its nature qualities resembling
diphtheria, erysipelas, gangrene, scarlet fever tending to gangrene.
Malignant carbuncles, malignant pustules in man are similar to the
anthrax disease in man. Smarting, burning, stinging accompany the
pathology, burning like a core of fire... Eruption in parts, carbuncle,
fistulous oozing, burning like fire; bloody pus; oozing of bloody watery
flow. This gives us some idea of the dreadful effects of this dreadful
Anthrax is not
essentially an epidemic disease. Instead, it would be classified as a
"sporadic" disease. It is contracted opportunistically by
people directly exposed to its causative factors but it does not then
spread contagiously from person to person. The different
"forms" of the disease that are mentioned -- cutaneous,
inhalational, or gastrointestinal -- are not at all different diseases,
but different primary manifestations of the same disease, different only
because of the site of initial contact with the toxin. But with this
description, we can see why Anthrax may have excited the imagination of
some as a terrorist weapon -- it certainly has spectacularly horrible
We know from allopathic
sources that, when treated early, before or soon after external symptoms
actually develop, anthrax responds to modern antibiotics. It has also
been treated successfully with homeopathic remedies, obviously after the
appearance of symptoms, since we're looking at cases that happened
before the appearance of modern lab tests.
Homeopathy bases its
prescriptions on the nature of symptoms. It's important here to remember
the homeopathic principle that symptoms point to the correct remedy.
There is no one totally cut and dried way to treat anthrax or any other
disease or condition. Because the disease may progress so rapidly and
fatally, it's important for homeopaths who may be called upon to treat
patients suffering from it to be ready with remedies and knowledge. On
the other hand, along with a number of other acute diseases, anthrax
actually qualifies as an "acute miasm," whose symptoms
generally are quite predictable, and therefore whose treatment can at
least be started with targeted specific remedies.
the Threat of Anthrax
Although most Americans
perceive anthrax to be a rare, exotic disease, it is endemic and even
epidemic in several Asian and African countries. Apparently an epidemic
of anthrax between 1978 and 1980 was identified in Zimbabwe by the World
Health Organization, with approximately 10,000 reported cases (and only
100 deaths). Considering the rate of death vs. the rate of infection in
this natural epidemic balances our picture of the disease -- it can
indeed be horrible, but it's also treatable and survivable by most. We
need to become more aware of this aspect of the disease to counteract
the national hysteria that has developed around it.
In addition to
realizing that Anthrax has been around for a long, long time, and is
still common in many parts of the world, it should also help us become
more calm about it to consider its means of transmission. Unlike colds
and influenza, Anthrax is not transmitted by aerosol, through the air
from person to person. Physical contact of some kind with diseased
matter or tissue is essential. Consequently, terrorists can't start an
ongoing epidemic with this pathogen -- only people who come directly
into contact with the spores will risk becoming ill.
The disease may present
in one of three ways, depending on how the patient came in contact with
the disease substance. Worldwide, in natural epidemics, by far the most
common method of contact is cutaneous (www.cdc.org): the substance
enters the person's skin through an abrasion or cut. It cannot enter the
skin except through such a breach. In humans, apparently, this cutaneous
form of the disease accounts for approximately 95% of all cases. In this
form of transmission, the entry site forms a carbuncle that is very
peculiar, and hence easily recognized. The CDC describes it:
Skin infection begins
as a raised itchy bump that resembles an insect bite but within 1-2 days
develops into a vesicle and then a painless ulcer (a carbuncle), usually
1-3 cm in diameter, with a characteristic black, necrotic (dying,
gangrenous) area in the center. Lymph nodes in the adjacent area may
In such cases, the
disease appears first externally; thus, treatment has a very high rate
of success, since it generally begins relatively soon after the patient
contracts the disease, and it affects primarily the skin rather than a
vital organ. In addition, the survival rate of the cutaneous form of
anthrax is high (around 80%), even if untreated.
The second most common
natural form of the disease is inhalational (accounting for most of the
other 5% of cases). In this scenario, the patient experiences a 1-6 day
incubation period with no symptoms, then a brief non specific
influenza-like syndrome manifested by extremely high fever and fatigue.
The intensity of the symptoms at this point should be taken as an
important signal that this is not a garden-variety cold or flu. After
this comes a phase of clinical improvement, although the gangrenous
ulcers are developing internally and covertly. Eventually, the patient
suddenly becomes much more ill, manifesting severe breathing problems
(pneumonia or pneumonitis) and shock, followed by death with 1-2 days.
In cases of inhaled anthrax, a simple sputum test can identify the
organism so that treatment can begin. The key is recognizing the disease
before the final stage is reached. Probably, patients who experience a
very high fever and great fatigue in a flu-like syndrome should be
tested routinely for anthrax. In addition, homeopathic treatment should
probably be initiated, in addition to antibiotics, for such patients,
since this form of the disease is often fatal.
Treatment for Cutaneous Anthrax
The epidemic simillimum,
derived as Hahnemann taught in the Organon, is the preferred homeopathic
treatment in epidemic diseases. To find this, we need to study the total
picture of symptoms in a few people who have contracted the disease in
question. With cutaneous anthrax, the remedy routinely called for, based
on previous studies, is Arsenicum Album. There is some indication that
the nosode may be no more effective than the "genus epidemicus."
G.H.G. Jahr, in Forty Years Practice (Encyclopedia Homeopathica),
describes treating two farmers for anthrax, citing his reservations
about using a nosode as opposed to the "Genus Epidemicus":
For these contagious
gangrenous pustules, to which alone reference is made here, Ars. is the
chief remedy... I prefer it in most cases to the very unreliable action
of Anthracin. I once had occasion to treat two farmers who, while
flaying a cow that had died of gangrene of the spleen, had become
infected with the poison by cutting themselves. One had Anthracin given
him and the other Ars., the latter changing the wound to a clean ulcer
in 24 hours and the former in 36 hours. This difference may of course
have been founded in constitutional peculiarities as well as in inherent
differences of degree in the curative powers of the two drugs. In
gangrene of any form, especially if the affected part begins to look
black, Ars. is always the main remedy...
Both treatments were,
in essence, effective -- amazingly so; and Jahr's comment about the
underlying constitution as an alternative explanation for the different
healing times probably is accurate. However, the quote also underlines
that the performance of the simillimum compares favorably with the
The other useful fact
contained in this account is the identification of Arsenicum Album as
the correct simillimum for anthrax poisoning. This has been a matter of
consensus since the first homeopathic treatments of this disease in the
early 1800s. Anthrax appears to be one of the acute miasms that
repeatedly presents itself with the same symptoms, similar to diseases
such as measles and mumps, and unlike epidemics such as colds or
influenza. Thus, its simillimum also does not change dramatically,
except as demanded by unusual constitutional susceptibilities in a small
minority of patients.
However, it's axiomatic
that things are never as simple as they seem. A homeopath wanting to be
prepared to treat patients who may have been exposed to anthrax should
probably stock both Anthracinum and Arsenicum Album, in 30c and 200c
potencies (Boenninghausen generally used 200c for prophylactic doses and
for treatment as well with patients he knew had been exposed to a
disease, except where the Vital Force was seriously compromised (cf.
Lesser Writings of Boenninghausen, Typhoid Fever and High Potencies).
non-cutaneous forms of Anthrax
One major difficulty
with the homeopathic literature is that any discussion of treating
anthrax assumes that it is a cutaneous disease of carbuncles that become
gangrenous. The inhaled and ingested forms of the disease are never
mentioned specifically, apparently not rating high in awareness. On the
other hand, given the fact that we are talking about exactly the same
systemic disease, the same Genus Epidemicus applies.
However, it would
probably be enlightening to do some original work matching remedies to
the totality of symptoms supposed to occur with the other two forms of
The real problem here
is finding symptoms that are relatively rare and peculiar to these
manifestations of anthrax, rather than common to ordinary respiratory or
One difficult peculiarity of inhalational anthrax is that the disease
may take up to 60 days from the time of contamination to manifest
itself. However, this is not something we can find in the Repertory. The
other huge difficulty in treating this form of anthrax poisoning is the
rapidity -- 1-3 days -- with which it becomes fatal after the obvious
symptoms develop. At this point, it would indeed prove useful to have
the nosode at hand, to begin treatment, since repertorization would not
be required, and time is so short.
to the JAM website http://jama-assn.org/issues/v281n18/ffull/jst80027.html
the pathology that develops in the final overt stage of inhalation
SUDDEN high fever
Accompanied by dyspnea, shock, lymphadenopathy, stridor, delirium,
cyanosis, hemorrhagic meningitis, necrotizing pneumonic lesions (leading
to coughing up blood).
In an article published
in the New York Times (October 23, 2001), Nicholas Wade gives a good
description of the actual process through which an anthrax infection
works. When a spore attaches itself to a scavenger cell in an animal or
person, it wakes from its dormant state and starts to multiply within
that cell. The bacteria release poisons that weaken the immune cell's
walls, so they can get outside and start circulating in the blood
stream. In the first few hours, they multpily furiously. Wade quotes Dr.
Philip C. Hanna, a biologist at the University of Michigan as saying
that their numbers double every half hour. As they mature, they produce
three separate toxins, designed to kill the infected host and turn it
into a meal for themselves. One toxin breaks down cell walls. The second
toxin in edema factor, that deranges the cells' ability to communicate,
so immune cells can't function to kill the bacteria. The third anthrax
toxin, lethal factor, provokes the host's cells into creating massive
inflammation. The bacteria continue to multiply unchecked, and the
excessive inflammation quickly kills the host (the infected animal or
person). Understanding this process gives us some insight into the
symptoms that mark the end stage of anthrax poisoning described above.
Remedies that Address Symptoms of an Advanced Infection
Without an actual
patient, it's extremely hard to do a good repertorization of symptoms,
because there are no modalities, sensations, locations, sides, times --
none of the symptoms that particularize a case. Therefore, it's possible
to come up with some suggested remedies, but only in general terms. They
may not represent a simillimum for a particular patient who -- obviously
-- in this case would be extremely ill and undoubtedly in an ICU, if
hospitalized. In any case, this set of symptoms amounts to a serious
state of shock, suggesting strongly that Op, Carb-V, or Acon might be
useful to have around -- especially Acon. because it covers many of the
important anthrax symptoms in addition to shock. In addition, Ars and Ip
are strongly recommended in hemorrhagic lung conditions and Ip is a
remedy for meningitis. In fact, Ipecac covers the symptoms of this form
of anthrax quite well, and should be considered seriously if the
symptoms fit. Likewise the venomous remedies may well have a place here.
Crot-h (rattlesnake), for instance, serves in deep gangrenous
hemorrhagic states. Elaps Corallis likewise fits the picture of this
disease very well.
Other remedies seem
close, but lack one or more of the important symptoms. For instance,
Belladonna has the requisite pathology and intensity, but not the
cyanotic color; Cantharis relates in a similar way to these symptoms.
Hyoscyamus has meningitis and desperate respiratory diseases, but not
the hemorrhagic tendency. Verat has the severity and cyanosis, but not
the hemorrhaging. Carbolic acid would seem possible, except that it,
like hyoscyamus and Veratrum lacks the hemorrhagic tendency. The same
can be said for hydr-ac.
Now let's turn our
attention from the inhaled form of anthrax to the still rarer
gastrointestinal form. This is contracted only from ingesting food
poisoned with anthrax toxin, as with meat from diseased animals
(remember that this is basically a disease of hooved animals). In
general, wherever anthrax has entered the human system, it produces the
same basic pathological results: ulcers that hemorrhage and become
gangrenous, produce severe edema or swelling, and turn septic and black
(hence the name "anthrax", from the word for
"coal."). As this process advances, the patient's whole system
develops a septic state of shock, leading to coma, intense delusions and
chorea, and ultimately death. So the main homeopathically relevant
difference we're considering in talking about these different
"forms" of the disease, is locality. When the entry point is
in the upper GI tract, infection results in an oral or esophageal ulcer,
leading to regional edema and sepsis. In the lower GI tract, the most
likely site for lesions is in the terminal ileum or cecum. The initial
results are nausea and vomiting, progressing rapidly to bloody diarrhea,
acute abdomen, sepsis, and massive ascites (abdominal bloating).
This would seem the
place to study the recommendations of a couple of other homeopathic
authors who were obviously considering some of the more advanced states
of this disease in recommending remedies in addition to Anthracinum and
HC Allen, in his
Keynotes to Materia Medica with Nosodes, gives the following
suggested remedies, besides Anthracinum and Arsenicum, for various
potential symptoms of Anthrax:
Crot-h: Haemorrhages :
blood oozes from mouth, nose, anus or sexual organs; black, thick,
tar-like, rapidly decomposing.
Pyrogen: Septic fever,
rapid loss of strength, sinking pulse, delirium and fainting; Bad
effects from inhaling foul odors of putrid fever or dissecting-room;
poisoning by foul breath
ulcers; felon, erysipelas of a malignant type.
- Felon; the worst cases, with sloughing and terrible burning pain (Ars.,
pustules; black or blue blisters; often fatal in twenty-four or
forty-eight hours ( Pyr.).
Lyc: Icterus with
pneumonia, especially of right lung. but spasmodic motion of alae is
replaced by dilated nostrils;
colic, vomiting, coldness and craving for acids;
Ipecac: drowsiness from
defective respiration; nausea, but >> after vomiting.
And J. H. Clarke,
in The Prescriber, gives these suggestions for "malignant
Pustule" or "Woolsorter's Disease," which is essentially
anthrax, since woolsorters were often subject to this disease as a
result of handling the remains of diseased sheep:
Anthracin. 30, 1 - 2h.
Excessive sensitiveness, purple coloration, of the parts, fear to be
touched or approached, irritability of temper, Lach. 6, gtt. ii. 1h.;
locally, a compress of the same (zi. - xii.); burning pain, great
thirst, restlessness, anguish, Ars. 3, 1h.
If there is much fever, dry, hot skin, thirst, restlessness, anxiety,
and fear of death, Acon. 3, 1/2h. If there is delirium and flushed face,
Bell. 3, 1/2h.
Lilienthal, in Homeopathic Therapeutics (published 1890),
provides these remedy suggestions for anthrax infections:
Induration of cellular tissue;red lines,streaks and stripes mark out the
course of lymphatics;oedema of affected parts; discharge of icorous,
foul-smelling pus;gangrene; absorption of ichor with ichoraemia,
collapse; violent burning pains, not relieved by ars.
Stitching,burning pain in anthrax, with sensitiveness to the list touch,
and erysipelatous redness around it; furuncles, with manifold sloughs of
dead connective tissue; chronic tendency to furuncles.
burning like fire; reddish bluish spot becoming gangrenous; sensation in
swelling as if boiling water were running beneath the skin; cold , blue,
skin dry as parchment, peeling off in large scales; cold sweat, puls
small, irregular, frequent.
inflammation, affecting adjacent glands; tendency to cerebral
manifestation; erysiplatous redness around anthrax.
hot and dry, like parchment; nervous anxiety and stupefaction, great
exhaustion; threatening gangrene; bed sores; fear of being left alone.
vital power, with excessive sensitiveness and irritability of the
nerves, deficiency of animal heat; decomposition of animal matter with
symptoms of putrid fever; malaria.
of boils or pustules around the anthrax; relieves the severe pain favors
the suppurative process and hastens the discharge of the slough.
Hyos._ Anthrax in
nervous and hysterical people; great restlessness caused by the
excessive nervous excitement, shaking of head in all directions, optical
illusions, constriction of pharynx; itching around the part.
Kali iod._ Anthrax on a
syphilitic basis or combined with scrofula; tissue distended by
interstitial infiltration, enlarged glands.
Kreosotum._ Tendency to
decomposition; great irritability, <by rest.
Lachesis._ Dark redness
around the sore, which discharges dark, bloody pus; tension of the skin
around the carbuncle, as if too short; nightly burning of the ulcer,
obliging one to rise and wash it with cold water. GANGRENE , carbuncles
from blood poisoning.
poultices aggravate all the pains; boils returning periodically;
carbuncles, with burning stitches all around, with alternate chilliness
and heat of the body.
itching around the carbuncles with vertigo as if one were about to fall;
stupor; pale face; disfigured and convulsed; pointed nose; bloody or
serous frothy diarrhea
Stramonium._ The pains
are so severe as to set the patient nearly distracted.
cubana._Anthrax, specially on back of neck, with burning, excruciating
pain, banishing all sleep; great prostration.
Anthrax is actually a
fairly common disease in many parts of the world. It has fearsome
consequences in its internal forms, but is not an epidemic disease,
since one must personally be in contact with diseased tissue or spores.
Therefore, it makes no sense to panic and to administer prophylactics to
everyone regardless of actual risk of exposure. Once exposure is
confirmed, early treatment is crucial for those susceptible to the
disease. The staples of homeopathic treatment are the nosode Anthracinum
and the polychrest Arsenicum Album. In addition, depending on the stage
of disease development and the predominant symptoms, other remedies that
could be useful to have on hand in addition to Anthracinum and Arsenicum,
include: Aconite, Apis, Ipecac, China, Crotalus-Horridus, Elaps-Corralis,
Hyoscyamus, Kali-iodatum, Kreosote, Lachesis, Carbolic-Acid, Lycopodium,
Rhus-tox, Stramonium, Tarentula cubensis, Veratrum-Album, Belladonna,
and Pyrogen. The nosode or the epidemic simillimum can be administered
prophylactically to patients who are likely to have suffered exposure to
the anthrax toxin. However, it makes no sense to administer remedies to
people who have not been exposed, especially because the disease does
not spread from person to person. In cases of exposure, however, timely
treatment is essential, the earlier the better, and it would make sense
to treat with the appropriate homeopathic remedies in addition to
recommended antibiotics where these are also available, especially since
the antibiotics kill the spores but don't eliminate the toxin, which is
the essential factor that renders the disease fatal.
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