Updated: Apr 2, 2020
Most people probably have never heard of alternatives to vaccines, have believed vaccines are the only option to immunize their companion, or just think you are down-right crazy for trying natural methods.
There are two primary methods of alternatives to vaccinations. Nosodes and Natural Exposure or Natural Immunity.
As mentioned in our Immune System Blog, the immune system is quite complex. It involves many systems, organisms and organs designed to fight invaders and defend the body (1).
There are two types of immunity Innate and Acquired/Adaptive. Innate is the natural immune system your body possesses inside (2). It utilizes the skin, organs, gastrointestinal tract and much more. It is non-specific to illness and disease (1, 3).
Acquired/Adaptive immunity is the immune system developed after encountering various illness and diseases. It develops a blue print of the invader that is can quickly identify and more strongly attack in the future. (1, 3, 4, 5).
Natural Immunity can be acquired via natural exposure (4).
This can come from
Brief trips to pet stores and veterinary clinics
Leashed, supervised walks around the neighborhood
Safe enclosures like catios
Brought in on your clothing or shoes
What are Nosodes?
Nosodes are basically oral vaccines. They contain a very minuscule amount of a “diseased” biological specimen (6, 7, 8). It follows the concept of “like cures like” (9, 10) allowing the body to recognize, fight, destroy and remember a pathogen in the future to gain immunity (11). They can be used to prevent illness and disease as well as become part of the treatment plan (12). This is the EXACT SAME CONCEPT AS VACCINATIONS. While a controversial subject, nosodes have been around for over 200 years with actual research and scientific proof to back it up (12, 13, 14)
We can go far enough back in history to the 4th century BC with Hippocrates and Paracelsus. In the 16th century we can also find details in various writings about nosodes(15).
History of Nosodes
Samuel Hahnemann was “the Father of Homeopathy”. He existed in a time where microscopes and other modern-day laboratory equipment were not readily available. No one knew what a disease was, let alone could see tiny microorganisms (16, 17, 18). He developed the theory that “like cures like”, stating that tiny doses of biological materials could cure illness and disease by dosing a diluted form of a biological specimen that caused the very same symptoms (19, 20).
While this idea was completely unheard of and crazy for those in that time, Hahnemann pushed forward with his own experiments. In one case he treated a young girl with the homeopathic remedy Belladonna. While her family all came down with Scarlet Fever, she never became ill with the disease (21, 22, 23).
Scarlet fever is a bacterial infection that causes a red rash and is spread via coughing, sore throat and sneezing as well as red swollen tongue often referred to as strawberry tongue (24). To understand how homeopathy works, Belladonna is the homeopathic remedy for Scarlet Fever. It is a highly toxic herb (25). Among other symptoms Belladonna causes red, hot skin, red swollen tongue and dry throat as well as swollen tonsils (26, 27, 28). In essence it is a remedy that causes the same symptoms as the disease (29).
Hahnemann later continued to prove this theory and particular treatment of Scarlet Fever. He also proved that Camphor could be used to treat Cholera (30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35). Cholera is a bacterium (36) that causes diarrhea and dehydration usually originating with contaminated water (37).
Camphor comes from the oils extracted from the tree sharing its name. When orally ingested it can cause vomiting, nausea and diarrhea (38, 39, 40). Because this treatment was used to prevent Cholera during a period where this ran rampage homeopathy became much more popular in Europe (13, 41,42, 43).
While Hahnemann developed his theory, he also performed experiments logically. He first tested his theories on himself and then on family and friends similar to modern day ‘double blind’ studies (44).
A group of healthy family and friends where given a dose of a mystery substance containing either the homeopathic remedy or a placebo and were instructed to document their experiences. All symptoms that were consistent among participants were written down (into what is now known as the Materia Medica). From here symptoms of the sick were matched with the homeopathic remedy and treated (45, 46).
At first side effects did occur so Hahnemann continually diluted the remedy until the side effects were reduced and only the effective remedy was left that produced a cure/healing effect (6, 7, 8, 20).
Other similar findings include: Lathyrus has been shown to prevent polio. Taylor Smith in 1850 inoculated 82 people 12 of which were in direct contact with polio. Of the 82 no illness reports were received (South Africa)(47). Arthur Gimmer inoculated 5000 children with no polio cases resulting (Chicago)
(48, 49). While Heisfelder in 1956-1958 inoculated 6000 children resulting in zero side effects and zero polio cases (50). In 1975 40,000 people were inoculated during a polio endemic in Buenos Aires. Zero polio cases developed after (51).
Mercurius Cyanatus has been successfully used for diphtheria (52, 53) and Baptisia for preventing typhoid fever (54).
The Cuban Government conducted an experiment on their people (approximately 11.1 million citizens with 2.3 million citizens being treated and the remaining 8.8 untreated) to test the effectiveness of the leptospirosis nosode in 2007. After only a week there was an 84% decrease of those infected whereas there was a 22% increase in the untreated regions. Not only did they find the cost of the nosode was significantly less than a vaccine it was so effective they switched the whole country over to nosodes and are currently looking into other nosodes for other illnesses and disease (55, 56).
Finally, in Brazil Dr. Eizayaga discovered that treating for hepatitis with a homeopathic remedy would cure the disease and using it prophylactically with the remaining members of the family and school mates prevented anyone else from contracting the viral disease. (57)
Hahnemann clearly wasn’t the only one that we can credit for homeopathy, Edward Jenner played a part too (58). Around the 19th century milkmaids who developed cowpox ended up with an immunity to small pox. He took the pus from blisters and scratched it into the skin. While blisters did appear, the milkmaids never actually contracted smallpox (59, 60, 61). This helped actually develop todays vaccinations.
Ok so enough about humans what about animals? The most famous case involved Dr. Christopher Day in England. 35 of 40 dogs at a kennel had kennel cough half of which were vaccinated for the disease. He administered the kennel cough nosode to these 40 dogs as well as 214 other dogs that visited the kennel that summer. Before administration kennel cough afflicted 90% of the dogs, after administration prevalence was reduced to only 2% (62).
Christopher also performed studies on cattle as well. In one study Day found that treating bovine mastitis with nosodes reduced incidence from 20 cases per month to only 3-4.
In another double-blind study that was performed on random cows, he found that when used prophylactically that mastitis was reduced from 50% to 5% (63).
Dr. John Saxton located in England performed studies on dogs and successfully controlled distemper homeopathically. A distemper outbreak at various kennels was reduced in just five days from 11.67% to 4.36% (64, 65, 66, 67).
Dr. Singh located in India performed studies that showed antiviral activity of nosodes against various animal viruses (68).
He was also involved in another study showing that the homeopathic remedy Silicea stimulated macrophages in the body. This important component of the immune system increased by 55.5-67.5% (69).
In another study 117 of 400 cats, 372 with chronic conditions were treated homeopathically. Owners noted that after treatment:
Dermatitis improved greatly in 69.6% patients with 0% of patients regressing
Renal failure (57.1% improvement 14.3% regression)
Overgrooming (57.1% improvement 7.2% regression)
Arthritis (80.0% improvement, 0% regression)
Hyperthyroidism (66.7% improvement, 0% regression).
1504 dogs including 1408 with chronic conditions were included in the study as well. 301 were treated homeopathically. Owners reported that after treatment:
Dermatitis improved greatly in 66.2% of patients with only 5.4% of patients regressing
Arthritis (80.2% improvement, 0.8% regression)
Pyoderma (75.8% improvement, 0% regression)
Colitis (85.2% improvement, 0% regression)
Fear (31.6% improvement, 0% regression)
Epilepsy (63.6% improvement, 4.5% regression)
Otitis externa (72.7% improvement, 0% regression)
Diarrhea (68.2% improvement, 0% regression)
Urinary incontinence (73.7% improvement, 0% regression)
Aggression (57.1% improvement, 0% regression)
Spondylosis (81.0% improvement, 0% regression)
Lymphoma (40.0% improvement, 6.7% regression)
The study concluded that homeopathy in treating felines and canines is clearly demonstrated. (70)
Nosodes versus Vaccines There are a few differences between vaccines and nosodes. Vaccines are directly injected into the body via the muscle or subcutaneous tissues. They can also be administered orally or intranasally (71, 72) . Nosodes on the other hand are administered orally only (73).
Vaccines are not safe on very young kittens (74, 75) but Nosodes can be administered much earlier and stopped at 6 months. Most vaccines are recommended to be give yearly or every 3 years by veterinarians but some vaccines may be “required” to be boosted after a few weeks or every 6 months for the animal’s life (76, 77).
The main differences of nosodes versus vaccines are animals are not repeatedly “injected” over their lifespan, exposed to toxic ingredients, adjuvants or assaulted with multiple doses of various pathogens at one time. With them being safer they also can be administered to pregnant or nursing mothers as well as very young animals with no problems interfering with maternal antibodies which is common with vaccinations (78).
There are also no side effects. Note every animal is different so it’s possible to produce a reaction but often these subside quite fast with no long-lasting issues. Finally, the last major difference is what the product is made from. Vaccines are made of a combination of lab designed pathogens, adjuvants, preservatives and chemicals (79, 80, 81, 82, 83) whereas nosodes are made from biological matter like pus, secretions, blood, tissue fragments, saliva etc. (84).
The hardest thing for me to accept when I first looked into homeopathic remedies was indeed the principle of how diluted homeopathic remedies were. I come from a science background; I have a degree in Psychobiology Pre-Veterinary with a minor in evolutionary studies. Logically it didn’t make sense but I’m a believer after a) using them on myself with success b) using them on my cats with success (who have no chance of bias) and c) realizing the concept is essentially no different than commercial vaccines just safer.
At the end of the day:
The ultimate "test" of any medicine is, or at least should be, ‘does it work without causing harm’.
Tizard, Ian. “The Immune System of Cats - Cat Owners.” Merck Veterinary Manual, Merck Veterinary Manual, www.merckvetmanual.com/cat-owners/immune-disorders-of-cats/the-immune-system-of-cats.
Innate and acquired humoral immunities to influenza virus are mediated by distinct arms of the immune system.Baumgarth N, Herman OC, Jager GC, Brown L, Herzenberg LA, Herzenberg LA Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1999 Mar 2; 96(5):2250-5.
Tizard, Ian. “Overview of the Biology of the Immune System - Immune System.” Merck Veterinary Manual, Merck Veterinary Manual, www.merckvetmanual.com/immune-system/the-biology-of-the-immune-system/overview-of-the-biology-of-the-immune-system.
Robbins JB, Schneerson R, Szu SC. Specific Acquired Immunity. In: Baron S, editor. Medical Microbiology. 4th edition. Galveston (TX): University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston; 1996. Chapter 8. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK8143/
Alberts B, Johnson A, Lewis J, et al. Molecular Biology of the Cell. 4th edition. New York: Garland Science; 2002. Chapter 24, The Adaptive Immune System. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK21070/
HAHNEMANN S. (1814) Materia Medica Pura. Arnold
KAYNE L. (2008) Roles of the UK homeopathic pharmacist. In Homeopathic Practice. Ed S. Kayne Pharmaceutical Press
KAYNE S. B. (2006) Homeopathic Pharmacy Theory and Practice. 2nd edn Elsevier
Gumpert, Martin (1945) Hahnemann: The Adventurous Career of a Medical Rebel, New York: Fischer, p. 130. Dudgeon, p.49 & p.176; Haehl, vol. 1, p.40
Loudon, Irvine. “A brief history of homeopathy.” Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine vol. 99,12 (2006): 607-10. doi:10.1258/jrsm.99.12.607
Ferley, J P, et al. “A Controlled Evaluation of a Homoeopathic Preparation in the Treatment of Influenza-like Syndromes.” British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, U.S. National Library of Medicine, Mar. 1989, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1379831/pdf/brjclinpharm00089-0054.pdf.
Lees, P et al. “Comparison of veterinary drugs and veterinary homeopathy: part 1.” The Veterinary record vol. 181,7 (2017): 170-176. doi:10.1136/vr.104278
Black D. Complementary Medicine. In: Walter J, Walton L, Jeremiah A, Barondess JA, Lock S (eds). The Oxford Medical Companion. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1994
Jonas, Wayne B, et al. “A Critical Overview of Homeopathy.” Annals of Internal Medicine, U.S. National Library of Medicine, 4 Mar. 2003, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12614092/.
Lees, P et al. “Comparison of veterinary drugs and veterinary homeopathy: part 1.” The Veterinary record vol. 181,7 (2017): 170-176. doi:10.1136/vr.104278
WOOTTON D. (2006) Bad Medicine: Doctors Doing Harm Since Hippocrates. Oxford University Press
PORTER R. (1997) Greatest Benefit to Mankind; A Medical History of Humanity from Antiquity to the Present. Harper Collins
Guerrant RL, Carneiro-Filho BA, Dillingham RA (2003). Cholera, diarrhea, and oral rehydration therapy: triumph and Indictment. Clinical Infectious Diseases 37:398-405.
Gevitz N. Unorthodox medical theories. In: Bynum WF, Porter R (eds). Companion Encyclopaedia of the History of MedicineLondon: Routledge, 1993: 603-33 [Ref list]
HAHNEMANN S. (2002) Organon of Medicine 6th edn. W. Boericke translation. B. Jain Publishers
Chalmers I, Toth B (2009). 19th century controlled trials to test whether belladonna prevents scarlet fever. JLL Bulletin: Commentaries on the history of treatment evaluation
Chalmers I, Toth B (2009). 19th century controlled trials to test whether belladonna prevents scarlet fever. JLL Bulletin: Commentaries on the history of treatment evaluation (https://www.jameslindlibrary.org/articles/19th-century-controlled-trials-to-test-whether-belladonna-prevents-scarlet-fever/
Begbie JW (1855). On the use of belladonna in scarlatina. British and Foreign Medico-Chirurgical Review or Quarterly Journal of Practical Medicine and Surgery XV:77-101.
"Scarlet Fever: A Group A Streptococcal Infection". Center for Disease Control and Prevention. 19 January 2016. Archived from the original on 12 March 2016. Retrieved 12 March 2016.
Ulbricht, C; Basch, E; Hammerness, P; Vora, M; Wylie Jr, J; Woods, J (2004). "An evidence-based systematic review of belladonna by the natural standard research collaboration" (PDF). Journal of Herbal Pharmacotherapy. 4 (4): 61–90. PMID 15927926
Southgate HJ, Egerton M, Dauncey EA. Lessons to be learned: a case study approach. Unseasonal severe poisoning of two adults by deadly nightside (Atropa belladonna) J R Soc Promot Health. 2000;120:127–30. http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/146642400012000212.
Caksen H, Odabaş D, Akbayram S, Cesur Y, Arslan S, Uner A, et al. Deadly nightshade (Atropa belladonna) intoxication: an analysis of 49 children. Hum Exp Toxic ol. 2003;22:665–.http://dx.doi.org/10.1191/0960327103ht404oa.
Lamminpaa A, Kinos M. Plant poisonings in children. Hum Exp Toxicol. 1996;15:245–9.http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/096032719601500310.
"Hahnemann Biography". Retrieved 13 January 2009.
Dean ME (2015). Selective suppression by the medical establishment of unwelcome research findings: The cholera treatment evaluation by the General Board of Health, London 1854.
Shepherd D. Homeopathy in Epidemic Diseases. Rustington, Sussex: Health Science Press; 1967.
Ullman D. Discovering Homeopathy: Medicine for the 21th Century. Berkeley: North Atlantic Books; 1991
www.legatum.sk Archived 2013-05-14 at the Wayback Machine, The American Homoeopathic Review Vol. 06 No. 11-12, 1866, pages 401–403
Samuel Hahnemann, “Cure and prevention of Asiatic cholera”, Archiv für die homöopathische Heilkunst (Archives for the Homoeopathic Healing Art), Vol. 11, part 1, 1831. Cuprum 30c once every week as preventive medicine
Samuel Hahnemann, “On the contagiousness of cholera”. British Homoeopathic Journal, Vol. 7, 1849
Cholera – Vibrio cholerae infection Information for Public Health & Medical Professionals". Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. January 6, 2015. Archived from the original on 20 March 2015. Retrieved 17 March 2015.
"Cholera vaccines: WHO position paper" (PDF). Wkly. Epidemiol. Rec. 85 (13): 117–128. March 26, 2010. PMID 20349546. Archived (PDF) from the original on April 13, 2015.
"Camphor overdose". Medline. NIH. Retrieved January 19, 2012.
Martin D, Valdez J, Boren J, Mayersohn M (Oct 2004). "Dermal absorption of camphor, menthol, and methyl salicylate in humans". Journal of Clinical Pharmacology. 44 (10): 1151 7. Bibcode:1991JClP...31..928S. doi 10.1177/0091270004268409. PMID 15342616.
Uc A, Bishop WP, Sanders KD (Jun 2000). "Camphor hepatotoxicity". Southern Medical Journal. 93 (6): 596–8. doi:10.1097/00007611-200006000-00011. PMID 10881777
Harrison E. The Ineffective State of the Practice of Physic. London: 1806 [Ref list].
A critical overview of homeopathy. Jonas WB, Kaptchuk TJ, Linde K Ann Intern Med. 2003 Mar 4; 138(5):393-9.
Hahnemann S (1831a). Aufruf an denkende Menschenfreunde über die Ansteckungsart der asiatischen Cholera. Leipzig: Berger.
Rogers, Jim. (2010). Hahnemann and the methodology of pathogenetic trials in healthy volunteers: a reappraisal. International Journal of High Dilution Research. 9
LILLEY D. (2008) The homeopathic material medica. In: Homeopathic Practice. Ed S. Kayne, Pharmaceutical Press
INTERNATIONAL ACADEMY OF CLASSICAL HOMEOPATHY. (2016. Online Materia Medica. www.vithoulkas.com/learning-tools/online-materia-medica. Accessed March 12, 2017