Ebola: a short account

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By Dr. Edouard Broussalian

Many of you have been pressing me to write up an account of my 10 day stay in Liberia, I am herein complying, although it turned out the whole story doesn’t add up to much.

Believe it or not, a group of homeopaths took to Liberia to lend a hand in treating Ebola Patients, or more accurately EVB patients (Ebola Virus Disease).

tweete2This “bombshell” stired reactions hardly any less vehement than news of us landing on the moon or inventing a vaccine against human folly would have done. In the English language press, articles of such ill-will proliferated as befits some tweeter1Edward Bernays’ propaganda move (Bernays in French being a homophone for a word meaning fooled and cheated). Beside being accused by name in these articles, I was also treated to the name-calling fest that goes with such accusations on social media, Twitter among others. When I think of all the trouble some others go to in order to get their fifteen minutes of fame!



Considering my experience in the treatment of cholera in Haiti, I was asked by the LMHI to take part in the first Ebola expedition along with three other colleagues: Richard Hiltner, Medha Durge and Ortrud Lindemann. I’d like to remind you of the stunning results of Homeopathy in treating such epidemic diseases. And this is nothing of a news as our predecessors used to get amazing results over a century ago, when allopathists were losing almost all their patients.  A quick look at US homeopathic hospitals’ records, which by the way were closed down largely due to the influence of Rockefeller Jr.’s and his support of the lucrative modern chemical medicine, suffice to note the huge difference in mortality, in the order of 1 to 10 in favor of homeopathy.

The luckless Cholera patients I met were doomed to vomit and defecate through a hole in their stretcher for an entire week, put on a drip as long as it takes for it all to “pass”; homeopathy for them was a real game changer. The improvement was such that within a day they were able to go back home, and new patients recovered within 6 to 8 hours. It took us two trips to get to approach the patients for the simple reason that WHO had established a system so stringent, and although quite effective in checking the spread of the epidemic, it was rather military-like, complete with the sacrosanct protocol which had the feel of a Vel D’Hiv roundup. The roudup, or protocol thereof, are indeed self-sufficient; they are written, so no argument allowed; they are uncriticizable, immutable.


A view from my small GP perspective yielded a Haiti in full military occupation, the streets of the capital thronged with troops and large 4X4. This supposedly benevolent occupation had paralyzed the country’s economy, pushing a portion of the population to work for the occupier, lured by attractive wages, while half of Petionville lied in chaos.


Starting for Liberia, I anticipated similar difficulties, but the trip turned out to be well organized, we had direct contact with the Liberian authorities, the Minister of Health and even a personal summons by the president in person.  I actually believed we stood a good chance of piercing through the militarized health system in place. The idea was, as previously in the case of Cholera, quite straightforward: add a homeopathic treatment to the ongoing treatment and see if any difference emerges. The plus side in the case of Cholera was that the conventional treatment altogether came down to an intravenous sugar solution; the people in charge there quickly felt no need to keep infusing the patients started on homeopathic treatment.

For a host of reasons though, things were not so smooth despite the admirable hospitality of the local people, the director of Ganta hospital among others.

We personally noted that no new patients were admitted, which indicated that the epidemic was already on the wane and that the media were just fanning the flames of fear and panic. The mere mortal that I am, having no access to information about the actual explanation of such suspicious fact, could only surmise. If I were a stockholder in some major vaccine company for example, I would be quite saddened to see such epidemic die down so quickly. The epidemic may also prove to be a manna for those who “pocket” substantial subsidies; I’d rather not think back to the foul mismanagement that I witnessed in Haiti. All in all,  the fear deftly stoked by the media creates a much welcoming atmosphere for the consumption of potential vaccines. As usual, conventional medicine, i.e. industry, is only adept at treating the fear it so knowledgably orchestrates.


Warning signs Everywhere


The initial bout of mortality may be chalked up to several factors. First, the onset of the disease resembles a malarial infection, severe headache, neck stiffness, etc. Usually, at that point no one smells a rat. After a few days they realize that it is not malaria, but by then it is too late, and where would they go anyway? What hospital? What treatment? And to make things worse, local funeral rites, such as washing the body, guarantee maximum contagion. Add to this a complete denial of the epidemic by a population that has hardly any trust in its leaders (ours on the other hand, as is known to the whole world, are nothing like them, they are so magnanimous and self-denying!) and you have a fair idea why the thousands of deaths.



Capture d’écran 2014-11-24 à 16.23.30

EVD training


The specialists of the epidemic took us in hand for an entire week. We were trained to wear the personal protective equipment (PPE), an awesome fear machine. In fact, I think that except for the caregivers constantly and courageously on the bedside of the sick, wearing this stuff is only slightly helpful for physicians. Instead of monitoring our hands, we are lured into believing that we are safe inside it, whereas contamination, it was observed by physicians there, actually occurs while taking it off.


We studied the clinic for several days; and I here take advantage of the opportunity to congratulate the professionalism of our trainers. We were taught the proper procedures, how to decide whether the case presenting is one of EVD, how to act when in doubt…etc.


At the end of our training, which the confinement inside the hellish suit made insufferable, we finally arrived in Ganta, where the welcome was absolutely charming and enthusiastic. Straight upon arrival I was able to suit up and visit the ETU (Ebola Treatment Unit) … only to be greeted by the view of not a single EVD patient to examine!
That same day, the situation suddenly took a wrong turn when a homeopathy teacher from South Africa, whose name I forgot, wrote to a correspondent in Liberia, an epidemiologist, informing him that a group of homeopaths were coming to Liberia for some “research”. This mere twist was all it took to trigger a reaction from the Ministry of Health, which halted the entire operation and requested explanations. Obviously, with no authorization to conduct research, it’s only logical that in this time of intense crisis the government asks for explanations and suspends the whole thing. And knowing from experience the monumental red tape prevalent in such countries, I wasn’t long to pack my things and head back to take care of my 10-day backlog of patients.




But before that, having had the opportunity to speak with patients who survived the disease, we were able to glean symptoms and get an idea of possibly indicated medicines. Hahnemann brilliantly showed us the way, and demonstrated the superiority of homeopathy when he was able to specify Camphor, Cuprum and Veratrum as the main likely drugs for the Asiatic cholera outbreak in Europe, without even seeing a single case.


In our case, the symptoms shared by all patients were intense thirst for cold water, and a really choleriform picture with projectile vomiting after eating or drinking. A patient described that her condition started with severe daily headaches located on the vertex that began at 17 H. The least one can say is that this is a clearly modalized symptom, a real gem, …if only it could be found in the repertory.
It took an hour of sifting through the symptoms of medicines indicated for the overall picture of the disease only to find it in the Encyclopedia:

Empty feeling in abdomen after stool as if she needed food ; headache on vertex about 5 P. M.

The symptom is that of VERATRUM ALBUM.

I then simply had to compile the symptoms discribed by survivors against what is found in Hering’s encyclopedia to see that Veratrum covers the signs of the disease convincingly. But this remains a hypothesis obviously, since only results at the bedside could decide!

Following I highlighted the concurring symptoms :

Pressing, throbbing, nervous headache affecting one side, with stiffness of neck and sensation as if head would burst ; vomiting. 

Headache : with nausea, vomiting, diarrhœa, pale face ; with vomiting of green mucus ; like a pressure on vertex ; stiff neck ; frequent and profuse micturition ; as if brain were torn to pieces ; chronic, coming on in afternoon, lasting through night ; drawing in both arms ; > toward morning ; violent pains drive to despair ; great prostration ; fainting, with cold sweat and great thirst ;

Meningitis ; violent headache with delirium or unconsciousness ; copious vomiting, pale, cold and cadaverous face ; stiffness of neck, choking in throat, feeling as if head would burst ; rolling head violently from side to side, with short screams, bores head into pillow ; convulsive shocks and vomiting as soon as head is raised ; clonic and tonic spasms, with loss of sense and motion ; cramps in limbs ; tingling and coldness in limbs ; choleraic collapse, simultaneously with intense congestion.

Sensation of constriction of throat ; spasmodic, with suffocation.
Spasmodic affections of œsophagus, resulting in paralysis of tube ; nearly all food and drink taken is thrown up, with suffocating sensation, redness and heat of face.

Thirst : drinks frequently but only a little at a time ; wants everything cold ; during perspiration ; for large quantities of very cold water and acid drinks.


Even the famous hiccup is covered by Veratrum:

Hicough : after hot drinks ; by spasms of œsophagus with nausea.

Nausea : with weakness, is obliged to lie down ; with sensation of fainting ; with violent thirst, followed by violent and frequent vomiting ; with profuse salivation ; with great appetite and thirst ; < from least motion ; qualmishness with frothing from mouth.

Vomiting : forcible, excessive ; violent with continued nausea, retching and great prostration ; of thin blackish or yellowish substances ; of bile and blood, black ; of food and drink, or drink only ; of food, or of acid, bitter, foamy, white or yellowish-green mucus ; whenever he moves or drinks ; with vertigo, pale face, clean tongue, good appetite ; with hiccough and fainting ; with painful retraction of abdomen ; with painful distortion of face ; with cold sweats ; with diarrhœa and pressure in pit of stomach.

Food causes pain when passing along œsophagus ; choking sensation when swallowing food or drink ; regurgitation of a portion of food eaten ;


Always in the stomach:

Pain coming gradually, first in epigastrium, thence radiating upward and to both sides, reaching to back between lowest point of scapulæ ; becomes agonizing, then gradually subsides ; shakes with cold. θ Gastrodynia.

Hematemesis, with slow pulse, coldness, fainting fits, cold sweat.




And again:

Empty feeling in abdomen after stool as if she needed food ; headache on vertex about 5 P. M.

 Burning in abdomen as from hot coals.

 Abdomen swelled and became painful to touch ; inclination to vomit, chest constricted, breathing shorter, more and more difficult, cold sweat, stupefaction and total exhaustion ; could not swallow a drop of liquid, much less any solid food ; lay many hours stupefied, unconscious, with a swollen face and protruding eyes, without sleep 

 Feeling as if a hernia would protrude (Boericke) One survivor said : « I had the feeling my intestines were going to be expelled »

 Simultaneous purging and vomiting. θ Cholera.

 Distorted hippocratic face, constant hiccough, anxious, restless tossing about ; cramping of hands and feet ; pains in abdomen ; speechless ; severe retching with vomiting of yellowish fluids, < after drinking ; stools watery, pass unconsciously ; surface of body cold ; face bathed in cold sweat. θ Sporadic cholera.

 Cholera Asiatica : great torpor of vegetative system, without any great mental or sensory disturbance ; little depression of spirits ; fear of death or indifference ; vertigo ; violent evacuation upward and downward ; icy coldness of body ; great debility ; cramps in calves ; vomiting, with constant desire for cold drinks ; copious, watery, inodorous stools, mixed, with white flocks ; face pale, without any color, or bluish ; blue margins around eyes ; deathly anguish in features ; cold tongue and breath ; hoarse, feeble voice ; great oppression anguish in chest, giving patient a desire to escape from bed ; violent colic, especially around umbilicus, as if abdomen would be torn open ; abdomen sensitive to contact, with drawing and cramps in fingers ; wrinkled skin in palms of hands ; retention of urine.

Vomiting and purging ; stools watery, flocculent ; severe burning in epigastrium ; great desire for cold water ; severe cramps in calves of legs ; great precordial anxiety ; face pale, anxious ; pulse small, frequent ; white-coated tongue. θ Cholera.

Involuntary urination « vomiting, purging and urination at the same time »


And finally:

Shortness of breath on slight movement, even in house ; > if he sits still.
Extremely difficult and distressing respiration ; seems in danger of suffocation.

Spasmodic cough, with great burning and dryness in mouth and fauces ; long-continued sleeplessness ; anxiety in precordial region ; irritability of senses. θ Measles.
Babe, skin very hot ; cold sweat on forehead when coughing ; eyes half open during sleep.

Capillary bronchitis ; livid face, blue nails, cold extremities and tumultuous irregular contractions of heart ; cold sweat on forehead when coughing ; eyes half open during sleep.

Rattling in lungs, fear of suffocation ; frothy, serous sputa ; blue face ; œdema of lungs.

Croupous pneumonia ; pneumonia supervenes during whooping cough.
Diaphragmitis and peritonitis with vomiting.

LIMBS : Complete muscular prostration ; rapid sinking of forces ; sinks down completely exhausted ; great paleness of face.

Cramps in calves. θ Cholera.

Feet icy-cold.
Very cold feet, with colic.

Rapid sinking of forces ; complete prostration ; cold sweat and cold breath ; collapse.
General debility, with blue hands and cold feet.

Excessive weakness ; is obliged to move very slowly ; so weak she can hardly raise her hand, and every motion seems to increase debility ; even a movement of bowels causes great debility ; very weak, almost imperceptible pulse ; cold sweat, particularly on forehead ; thirst for icy-cold water.

Yellow fever ; gastro-hepatic type, with thin blackish or yellowish diarrhœa ; thin, blackish or yellowish vomiting of bile or blood ; burning in stomach ; lips and tongue dry, brown and cracked ; cold perspiration on forehead ; great exhaustion and small intermitting pulse ; face yellowish, bluish, cold, covered with sweat ; eyes dull, yellow, watery ; deafness ; difficult swallowing ; hiccough ; thirst ; cold hands and feet ; trembling, cramps ; coma ; unconsciousness, delirium ; vertigo ; fear, depressed, restless.




On the whole, even though I was unable to see actual patients, mainly because the epidemic was on the wane, it was a valuable experience and Ebola can now brace itself!

For all those who keep telling me how much courage it must have taken to walk into the lion’s den, and to all physicians out there, I quote Shakespeare:

Visible dangers cause us less fear than the imaginary dangers…

And to those who have never had to deal with a single patient and who, slouching behind their sleek desks, have the front to spew their venom at us who are neck-deep in the trenches, I say:

Sutor, nec supra crepidam!

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