Fact or Hoax: Will Homeopathic Remedy ‘Gelsemium 200’ Really Protect Us Against Nipah Virus? The Answer Will Shock You
Fear has gripped the country ever since 14 people lost their lives to the dreaded Nipah virus. The disease was earlier thought to be spread by bats found in the well of the first victim. But with the recent reports ruling out the role of bats in spreading the contagion, the mystery around the origins of the illness has deepened. People in the country are pushing the panic button, wondering what could be spreading the virus in the first place. In the midst of the mass hysteria, rumours and false information have been flying fast and furious, making it difficult for people to separate fact from fiction.
In the wake of these issues, a message has been doing rounds on Whatsapp about a homoeopathic remedy called Gelsemium 200, which claims to keep you safe from the Nipah virus. The message reads:
“Gelsemium 200 Homeopathy medicine for Nipah Virus, Weekly 3 doses for 3 weeks. It can protect you from the virus. Please do share it with your friends and family…May you all be safe🙏”
Anyone who knows homoeopathy will instantly recognise the remedy Gelsemium 200 or Gelsemium Sempervirens 200 meant for treating colds and flu. The message claims that the remedy works as a prophylactic, giving you immunity from the dangerous virus. Many have wondered whether there’s any truth to the claims, especially since western medicine is still groping in the dark for an antidote for NiV. In comes Gelsemium with its sky-high promises, making preventing the virus seem like a cake walk.
Dr. Kirti Sabnis Infectious Disease and Consultant Physician at Fortis Hospital Mulund expressed her mistrust in such “miracle” remedies. She says, “No randomized trials are available to support definitive medicines for Nipah Virus. Therefore, we cannot propagate these medicines as effective treatments. Till now, only Ribavirin has been tried on patients, with variable success rates.”
We also asked renowned homoeopath Dr. Shreepad Khedekar from Imperial Clinic for his two cents about the gelsemium 200 and its purported effects against the Nipah virus. He explains: “Homeopathy treats the man instead of the disease, which means that the remedies are individualised and given according to the symptoms exhibited by the person.
But there exists a unique homoeopathic approach called Genus Epidemicus, which is not in keeping with its individualistic technique. The physician observes several cases of the diseases and records the common signs and symptoms. He can then find an appropriate remedy for the illness which can be given to anyone who exhibits those symptoms and Gelsemium 200 happens to be one of them.”
The problem, however, is the way the Whatsapp message positions Gelsemium 200. “The message says that it is a prophylactic measure which will prevent the virus from infecting you in the first place. And that is rubbish. Gelsemium 200 will work on NiV patients, only if they exhibit certain symptoms and of that I am certain. But it won’t work as a preventive measure,” he states.
For Gelsemium 200 to work against the Nipah virus, the patient should exhibit a particular set of symptoms: severe malaise, reduced intake of water due to lack of thirst, inability to fall asleep despite the tiredness due to the viral load, heaviness above the eyelids, occasional heaviness of the limbs, uncharacteristic mental timidity and anxiety in the person. Only if these symptoms are seen in the patient will the remedy work.
But despite their contrasting opinions, both Dr. Sabnis and Dr. Khedekar are critical of people who forward such messages recklessly during times like these. Dr. Sabnis urges everyone to not believe in non-scientific evidence. “These messages should be circulated only when their authenticity has been validated,” she adds.
Dr. Khedekar doesn’t appreciate the rumormongering either, especially since it involves spreading false information about homoeopathy. “It’s the ignorance and frivolousness that bothers me. What if someone actually took the Gelsemium and died?” he states.