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Alternative Remedies for Anthrax

By Kate Garsombke, Utne. Posted October 29, 2001.


With the anthrax scare growing every day, people are popping Cipro pills without a second thought. But believers in alternative medicine have a different idea for preventing widespread infection. Story Tools
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More stories by Kate Garsombke

With the number of reported anthrax cases increasing every day, fears of infection are prompting some Americans to take prevention into their own hands by stocking up on gas masks and the antibiotic Cipro. But Dana Ullman has a different idea for preventing widespread infection of the life-threatening disease.

Founder and president of the Foundation for Homeopathic Education and Research in Berkeley and the author of several books on homeopathic medicine, Ullman says people should consider homeopathy as an alternative to antibiotics for preventing anthrax infection.

Though antibiotics have long proven to be an effective treatment for infectious diseases, and Cipro has helped dozens of people recover after contracting anthrax in recent weeks, Ullman cautions that over-prescribing these antibiotics can change the nature of the disease, rendering the treatment less effective and making diseases more difficult to treat in the future.

Still, Ullman recommends that only those working in a high-risk environment -- like a post office or a newsroom -- take a homeopathic dose of anthrax, and then only once a month as a preventive.

Mainstream doctors and researchers have long dismissed the benefits of homeopathic treatments, but Ullman says those benefits will be tangible if people give the remedy a chance. Homeopathy helped contain epidemics of infectious diseases like typhoid, yellow fever, and influenza in the 19th century, and Ullman believes it is still a viable option today for preventing anthrax infections.

Homeopathic medicine works like a vaccine, using a disease product to sensitize the immune system to a virus. In the case of an anthrax treatment, an alcoholic extract of the disease, called Anthracinum, is gathered from infected animals. Although these homeopathic remedies -- or nosodes -- come from disease products, they are not an infection. That is because they are distilled to the point where no molecules of the disease product remain.

The result, says Ullman, is a basically safe, preventive treatment that will not harm the body or produce unwanted side effects. "The worst case scenario is that you'll be out a little money," he says.

Most homeopathic anthrax treatments range from $5 to $20. One site, www.bestearth.com, sells an anthrax survival kit priced at $60 for six remedies. Ullman’s site, www.homeopathic.com, also sells the remedy, though he says he’s concerned about taking advantage of people wrapped up in the fear of the situation. "I have mixed feelings about selling it."

But the current anthrax scare demands that treatment options be made available, he says. "The average consumer is trying to be prepared for the future. It would be irresponsible for us not to provide something that might be helpful."

Reprinted with permission from Utne Reader. To subscribe, visit www.utne.com.

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