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Tuberculosis (TB) is an infection caused by the bacteria Mycobacterium tuberculosis. The condition usually affects the lungs and spreads through the air when a patient coughs, sneezes or spits. Individuals with a weak immune system, infants and children under four years of age, diabetics, people with chronic renal failure, tobacco users, those living in poorly ventilated and closed spaces and HIV-positive patients are at a greater risk of developing an active TB infection.
There are three stages of tuberculosis:

  • Primary infection: The bacteria enters the body as we breathe. In the early weeks, the bacilli travel to the regional lymph nodes and enter the bloodstream. The infection may then spread to other parts of the body like lungs, bones, kidneys and meninges of the brain. However, this is less likely in patients who have been vaccinated or have had a prior infection.
  • Latent infection: This occurs after primary infection. In 95% of cases, a person's immune system suppresses TB bacteria (preventing it from multiplying). This leads to the disappearance of symptoms even though a small amount of M.tb is still present in the person's body. 
  • Active disease: This stage occurs when the latent disease reactivates or if the patient gets re-infected

A person infected with tuberculosis may not have any specific symptoms (latent TB) or may present with symptoms (active TB) such as persistent cough with sputum for more than two weeks, low-grade fever, chills, breathlessness, enlarged lymph nodes, fatigue, weight loss, loss of appetite, coughing up blood and night sweats.

Tuberculosis is diagnosed through sputum smear and sputum culture, chest X-ray, blood test, a tuberculin skin test or interferon-gamma release assay. Treatment comprises the intake of multiple antibiotics for at least six months.
Homeopathic treatment, on the other hand, boosts the immune system (so it can clear out the infection on its own) and helps in quicker recovery. Homeopathic remedies are prescribed on the basis of patient’s personality and physiology. Common remedies for TB include lycopodium clavatum, kalium carbonicum, phosphorus, pulsatilla, silicea, spongia tosta, stannum metallicum and tuberculinum bovinum. The dosage is prescribed on a case by case basis.

  1. Homeopathic medicines for tuberculosis
  2. Dietary and lifestyle changes for tuberculosis patients as per homeopathy
  3. How effective are homeopathic medicines and treatments for tuberculosis
  4. Side effects and risks
  5. Takeaway

Some of the most important homoeopathic remedies for tuberculosis are listed below. The symptoms mentioned under each remedy prompt the homeopathic physician to choose the said remedy.

  • Kalium Carbonicum 
    Common Name: Carbonate of potassium
    Symptoms: Kalium carbonicum is advised for patients experiencing the following symptoms:
  • Tendency to get tuberculosis 
  • Weakness with coldness, weak pulse and stitching chest pain
  • Elderly people who have a tendency to get paralysis, swelling and obesity
  • Chest pain, which gets worse while lying on the right side 
  • Dry, hoarse cough with stitching pain and dryness of the throat
  • Cough that worsens at 3 am
  • Scanty, sticky phlegm production that increases in the morning and after eating
  • Wheezing and coldness in the chest
  • Complaints are worse in the early morning, in cold weather, due to change of weather and while lying on the painful side. Symptoms improve in warm weather and by leaning forward
  • Lycopodium Clavatum
    Common Name: Club moss
    Symptoms:
    Lycopodium clavatum works well in children, the elderly and individuals who have an emaciated upper body and swollen lower body. It is indicated in cases of tuberculosis with the following characteristics: 
  • A tendency towards gastric and respiratory complaints
  • A loud, rattling, deep cough
  • Tickling sensation in the respiratory passage, as from sulphur fumes
  • Breathlessness with constriction and burning pain in the chest
  • Expectoration that is thick, pus-like, bloody, greyish, salty and provides little relief
  • Cough that worsens at night and from going downhill, and improves after taking warm food and drinks
  • Most symptoms are worse between 4 pm and 8 pm and typically affect the right side first 
  • Phosphorus
    Common Name: Phosphorus
    Symptoms: Phosphorus is a remedy indicated for individuals who are lean and tall with stooped shoulders, delicate, anaemic and sensitive. It is indicated in tuberculosis in infrequent and cautious doses. Phosphorus is prescribed for tuberculosis with the following features:
  • Congested lungs with a hard, dry and hacking cough
  • Coughing up blood
  • Rusty, red, pus-like expectoration that worsens in the morning and evening
  • Trembling of the body while coughing
  • A sensation of tightness across the chest and a feeling of weight on the chest 
  • Tickling sensation in the chest
  • Throat pain while coughing
  • A sensation of fatigue in the chest 
  • Breathlessness along with a feeling of heaviness and fullness in the chest
  • Cough that gets worse while laughing, with a change of weather, strong odour, lying on the left side or on the back and from going into a cold room from a warm room
  • Pulsatilla Pratensis
    Common Name: Windflower
    Symptoms: Pulsatilla works on the nervous system and blood vessels. It is most suited to women and children who are slow, obese and weep easily. The complaints often come up at the time of puberty. Patients with the following symptoms respond well to pulsatilla:
  • Dry cough in the evening and at night that makes the person sit up in bed, and loose cough in the morning with profuse expectoration
  • Thick, greenish and bitter expectoration
  • Passing of urine while coughing 
  • Pressure and soreness in the chest region 
  • Pain as if there is an ulcer in the middle of the chest
  • Suffocating sensation on lying down
  • Breathlessness, palpitations and anxiety while lying on the left side
  • Lack of thirst
  • Symptoms are worse in a closed and warm room and better in open and cold air
  • Silicea Terra
    Common Name: Silica, pure flint
    Symptoms: Silicea is prescribed to tuberculosis patients who are pale, weak, feel extremely cold and have improper nutrition due to imperfect assimilation. This remedy helps to resorb the fibrous and scar tissue and is indicated for the following conditions:
  • A tendency to get swollen glands
  • Cough with profuse, yellow, lumpy, bloody sputum that contains pus and mucus
  • Expectoration in granular form with an offensive odour
  • Cough with stitching pain in the chest
  • Cough that gets worse while lying down
  • Tuberculosis of the spine (Pott’s spine)
  • Spongia Tosta
    Common Name:
    Roasted sponge
    Symptoms: Spongia Tosta is given to tuberculosis patients with the following symptoms:
  • A tendency to swollen glands and cardiac complaints
  • Anxiety and exhaustion after the slightest exertion, and a rush of blood to the face and chest
  • Dry, hacking, barking cough
  • Plug-like sensation in the throat
  • A sensation of a sore spot in the chest which brings on the cough
  • Extreme dryness of the air passages
  • Wheezing and suffocated feeling with sudden weakness
  • Cough that gets worse at midnight, with deep inspiration, mental exertion, eating sweets, smoking, reading, talking, swallowing, laying the head low and during dry cold winds, and better after food or drink, especially warm drinks
  • Stannum Metallicum
    Common Name: Tin
    Symptoms: Stannum metallicum is well suited to individuals with the following characteristics and symptoms of tuberculosis:
  • Extreme weakness and debility
  • A sensation of weakness in the throat and chest while talking
  • Violent and dry cough in the evening until midnight along with weakness, soreness and an empty sensation in the chest
  • Deep, hollow, strangling cough in paroxysms of three coughs
  • Need to cough forcefully to expel mucus 
  • Profuse, thick, green and sweetish expectoration that is produced usually during the day
  • Short, suffocating respiration with stitching pain in the chest on the left side
  • Tuberculosis with fever
  • Cough that gets worse while talking, laughing, singing, in bed and while lying on the right side, and improves after expectoration
  • Tuberculinum Bovinum
    Common Name: Pus (with bacilli) from the tubercular abscess
    Symptoms: Tuberculinum bovinum is a remedy indicated in cases of tuberculosis. It is suited to individuals who are lean, emaciated, get tired easily, take longer to recover from illness and are sensitive to change of weather. It is prescribed to people who have the following symptoms:
  • Presence of tubercular deposits on the apex of the lung, especially on the left side
  • Dry, hard cough with profuse sweating and rales, or clicking or rattling lung sounds
  • Profuse and thick expectoration
  • Breathlessness and suffocation
  • Cough that is worse at night and during sleep
  • A desire for fresh and cold air

Do’s

  • Since homeopathic medicines are given in very small doses, they tend to lose their potency if not stored properly. Take the utmost care to preserve the medicines
  • Do regular exercise or any kind of active movement in fresh air in almost all kinds of weather
  • Go for daily walks and do light manual labour to strengthen your muscles. Some exercises also help to relax the mind
  • Consume healthy and nutritious food products (Read more: Balanced diet chart)

Don’ts
Anything in the diet and regimen that can react with the medicines should be avoided. Examples include:

  • Strong-smelling foods and drinks like coffee, herbal teas, fine liquors prepared with medicinal spices and spiced chocolate
  • Medicinally compounded tooth powders and mouthwashes 
  • Perfume sachets 
  • Strong-scented flowers in the room
  • Highly seasoned foods and sauces 
  • Frozen foods like ice creams 
  • Raw herbs on soups, medicinal herbs in foods
  • Celery, parsley, stale cheese and meats 
  • Do not take long afternoon naps
  • Avoid mental strain

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), tuberculosis is among the top ten causes of death worldwide. In 2017, 10 million people fell ill and 1.6 million people died due to tuberculosis; 1 million children suffered from the infection and 230,000 children died due to it. According to the WHO, 558,000 new patients showed resistance to the most effective first-line drug rifampicin in 2017. Out of this, 82% had multi-drug resistant TB (MDR-TB).

Till date, there is no effective vaccine to prevent TB in adults. The infection poses a significant financial burden, especially in cases of MDR-TB and extremely drug-resistant TB (XDR-TB) where the treatment is long and expensive - often, these patients abandon the treatment and spread the infection further. Apart from this, second-line anti-TB drugs can have serious side-effects.

Homeopathic treatment can be of help in such cases. Homeopathic medicines accelerate healing in patients suffering from tuberculosis, especially when used as an adjunct to conventional treatment. They improve the patient’s appetite, weight, blood counts like haemoglobin and ESR, improve chest X-ray results and lead to an overall improvement in the patient's condition. Homeopathy not only treats the disease but also the miasm - the person's susceptibility to certain diseases.

A study conducted between 2003 and 2008 on homeopathic treatment as an additional therapy to standard care in MDR pulmonary TB found that the chances of positive results went up by 11.4% in patients who got both standard and homeopathic treatment, compared with those who received standard treatment alone. This is study a good start, but to get confirmatory results, it is necessary to conduct further studies on a larger scale using standardised homeopathic treatment regimen.

In a retrospective study, 25 patients suffering from tuberculous lymphadenitis were given homeopathic drugs along with anti-tubercular treatment in the form of a patient-specific constitutional medicine, a disease-specific drug (tuberculin bovine) and Silicea 6x. The homeopathic drugs were found to modulate the immune system and influence the endogenous factors of the disease with beneficial results. Though further validation in controlled trials with immunological markers is still pending, the initial results cannot be denied.

Homoeopathic medicines are highly diluted and potentised. They are not known to cause side effects. However, it is important that one seeks help from a qualified homeopathic physician for correct and genuine homeopathic remedy and dosage.

Despite effective antibiotic treatment, tuberculosis continues to be a worldwide problem. Studies show that homeopathy as an adjunct to modern medicine helps in achieving a better outcome - though there is a need for further studies and trials.

Homeopathy does not have any noted side effects and attempts to boost the immune system to restore health and prevent recurrences. A detailed history of the patient guides the physician to the appropriate remedy for the individual.

References

  1. World Health Organization [Internet]. Geneva (SUI): World Health Organization; What is TB? How is it treated?
  2. World Health Organization [Internet]. Geneva (SUI): World Health Organization; Tuberculosis
  3. Viksveen P, Dymitr Z, Simoens S. Economic evaulations of homeopathy: a review. European Journal of Health Economics15(2), March 2014, 157-74 PMID: 23397477
  4. Kusum S Chand et al.Homeopathic Treatment in Addition to Standard Care in Multi Drug Resistant Pulmonary Tuberculosis: A Randomized, Double Blind, Placebo Controlled Clinical Trial. Homeopathy, Apr 2014, 103 (2), 97-107 PMID: 24685414
  5. S Kusum Chand, R K Manchanda, Sudhir Batra, Renu Mittal. Homeopathy in the Treatment of Tubercular Lymphadenitis (TBLN)--an Indian Experience Homeopathy, Jul 2011, 100 (3), 157-67 PMID: 21784333
  6. Homoeopathic Materia Medica AND William Boericke. Homsopathic Materia Medica. Kessinger Publishing: Médi-T 1999, Volume 1
  7. John Henry Clarke. A Dictionary of practical materia medica . A Dictionary of Practical; Médi-T National Center for Homeopathy. A Dictionary of practical materia medica . Mount Laurel; [Internet]
  8. Control and Prevention [internet], Atlanta (GA): US Department of Health and Human Services; Essential Drugs List - Ayurveda Center for Disease

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