Off the Beaten Track: Journey around the World with Covid-19
Updated: Sep 29
The following article is by a guest author Suzy Roston, with whom I have collaborated after seeing a report on Channel Four News on June 8th which made a profound impression on me. This is Suzy's response:
This is an exploration of a few countries in the world that are using Traditional and Complementary Therapies in the context of the WHO 2019 report on Traditional and Complementary Therapies.
It is not a complete analysis of what is happening in this field but serves as a snapshot so the reader can think about the Corona Virus in a different way to the way it is generally presented to us.
I have looked at a range of ideas backed up by linked references to show an alternative story that has unfolded about the Corona Virus pandemic but not often reported by our mainstream media.
I am very grateful to Elizabeth Adalian, author of the book Touching Face With Trauma- Reaching Across The Generations- A Three Dimensional Homeopathic Perspective, who also felt inspired by the Channel 4 item on the Amazon Tribe and their use of indigenous herbs. She has supported me throughout by meticulously inputting, editing and overseeing the article.
We were transported to a tribe in the heart of the Amazon Rainforest in Brazil near Manaus, where Covid-19 has infected their people. This tribe created a new version of one of their traditional herbal fever mixtures and gave it to their people. Time tested rituals were also used, such as quarantining families together in their homes. Some antibiotics were given but these are not generally considered to be an effective treatment for a virus. (1,a,b,)
The results were clearly staggering. They reported no deaths in the tribe (at June 8th) whilst the numbers of fatalities in Brazil and among some other indigenous Amazon tribes had soared to an all-time high, now reaching 107,879 (17th August’20) whilst using the orthodox approach. Consequently, this news seemed particularly poignant.
Then, a couple of days later, the BBC reported on Radio 4 news about the plight of the many Brazilians and indigenous people of the Amazon who were dying of Covid 19. Surprisingly, there was no mention of this particular tribe who proved so successful at avoiding death from Covid 19, achieved by using their traditional indigenous methods which they have applied for so many generations. As a result, I was compelled to explore which other countries were using Traditional and Complementary Therapies with Covid 19 patients and what their death rate outcomes were.
The significance of 'going back to basics' resonated particularly with me, in the light of a new disease, which to-date has brought about so much fear and suffering throughout the world. The natural approach highlighted by Channel 4, seemed more effective than what presents as the disempowering and prevailing scientific view reported daily in the news and by governments implying that a vaccine is the only way to solve the problem.
Disputing this view, I came across an article in the Guardian (29/8/20) by Peter Daszak of the US Eco Health Alliance,who wrote:-
“Our current approach is to wait for outbreaks to start and then design drugs and vaccines to control them. But as we’ve seen with Covid 19, this approach is not good enough, while we wait for a vaccine hundreds of thousands of people have died and millions have been infected.”
He suggests Covid 19 is the consequence of too much human activity plundering the Earth’s resources and interfering with the way many animals live. Wildlife can carry viruses. He describes how “a growing human population, ever encroaching development and globalised travel and trade have propelled us into a ‘Pandemic Era’.” He goes on to say,“ to prevent future Pandemics we need to reassess our relationship with nature beginning with reducing the rampant consumption that drives deforestation and wildlife exploitation.”
Traditional and Complementary Therapies work with the body and mind to restore the healthy and natural balance. They are Zero Carbon and rarely leave toxic residues in or outside the body or person.
There are 195 countries in the world and each has had its own individual response to the Covid 19 Pandemic.
The Media tends to focus most on the countries that are doing the worst in terms of Covid 19 deaths. According to Worldometers(2), *the deaths per million of population indicator shows the UK (17th Aug ’20) has the second worst figures in the world 609 next to Belgium 857. The US, Spain and Brazil, although reported as having adverse outcomes, have marginally better rates of deaths per million than the UK. China was still only 3 * and despite the recent spike in India they had only 37 *. Asian countries appear to have fared much better so far than European countries.
I thought about what types of medicine were used in China and India, something that hasn’t been mentioned much so far in most UK news reports on Covid 19. I wondered if these countries use of Traditional Medicine reduced their Covid 19 death rates. Then I remembered a speech in 2018 by David Tredinnick, a Conservative MP at the time. He spoke in parliament in favour of Zero Carbon Holistic medicines. (3 )
“China has a population of 1.4 billion and India of 1.3 billion. I say to my Right Honourable friend the Minister that the challenge for us in this country is to develop—or to take forward from their small base—zero-carbon medicines and healthcare. We cannot ignore this subject. China has 65,000 hospitals that use zero-carbon treatments in the shape of Acupuncture. They also use traditional Chinese herbal medicine, which has a carbon footprint close to zero. I have to say to my Right Honourable friend that India is light years ahead. Not only does it have a family health Ministry; it has the Ministry of AYUSH—the Ministry that is very much supported by Prime Minister Modi, who has just been elected for another five years. The Ministry has seen its budget increase four times in the last six years.”
I was also encouraged by a speech that Edward Kelley, Director Department of Service Delivery and Safety at the World Health Organization made on page 10 of their executive summary in their WHO Global Report on Traditional and Complementary Medicines 2019 ( 4 ):-
“It is clear that the role of Traditional Medicine in meeting the health needs of populations has come to the fore, and this report is another call to harness its potential to contribute to Universal Health Coverage and the Sustainable Defendable Goals through primary health care”.
Happily, on reading the WHO report, I found that Traditional and Complementary Medicine is alive and thriving in many parts of the world. The outlook in this context is very hopeful. The report showed that Traditional and Complementary Medicine in a whole array of countries has become far more established in recent years, as this article describes. Many countries have established T&CM Institutes, introduced relevant Government Policies and appointed Health Ministers for their particular Traditional or Complementary Medicine. Interestingly, the WHO, despite their desperation to find a vaccine for Covid 19, they appear to have generally encouraged the Traditional and Complementary Medicine infrastructure since their last report in 2005.
The WHO divides the world into six regions. (4a,4b) These are: African Region, Region of the Americas, South-East Asia Region, European Region, Eastern Mediterranean Region, and Western Pacific Region. (See countries in each region (2). In general, the European Region so far has the worst outcomes for Covid 19 deaths. It is notable that many countries in the South East Asian Region (4c) and the African Region have fared much better with their Covid 19 outcomes till now than the European Region (4e)
Another strategic objective of the WHO Traditional Medicine Strategy 2014–2023 (4) is “To promote universal health coverage by integrating Traditional and Complementary Medicine services into health care service delivery and self-health care”. Capitalizing on the potential contribution of T&CM to improve health services and health outcomes was identified as a strategic direction for this objective.
The following countries all have plans to, or are now integrating their Traditional and Complementary Therapies into their National Health Service delivery:-
Benin, Bolivia, Brazil, Cuba, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Ghana, Guatemala, Haiti, India, Mali, Mexico, Nicaragua and Thailand. Other countries may also have these systems in operation but so far have not filled out the WHO survey. Some countries such as India primarily use T&CM for their health service. They have Government ministers for each specific Traditional and Complementary Therapy and the Government funds their policies to increase and improve the service. Europe roughly uses about a third of the amount of T&CM compared to that used in South East Asia and Africa.
% relates to no. of countries in the WHO Region
Please see report the WHO Traditional Medicine Strategy 2014–2023 (4) for details of other regions.
The UK death rate is currently two hundred and three times more than that of China: The Chinese lockdown was intense. Very strict rules were applied using mobile phones and temperature tests to deny people access to buildings and transport where necessary. The Government authorised that people with Covid19 should be taken away from their families and put them in complete quarantine. (5) Some doctors used very large doses of Vitamin C intravenously. In addition, Chinese Herbal Medicine was used to treat people with the disease. The report (5a) suggests a cure rate of 90% using a herbal mixture called QPD to treat the vast majority of Covid 19 cases. They may well have used Acupuncture too. The use of Chinese Herbal Medicine was questionably absent in the main stream broadcast media reports although I found this article from the BBC online. (5b)
My curiosity led me to check other countries for their use of Traditional and Complementary Medicines. All figures were valid on 17/8/20. I am now concerned that in Bolivia the deaths per million have gone up significantly and in India, Indonesia and Madagascar there is some increase. The deaths per million have also gone up significantly in Brazil, UK and the USA. For current figures please check the Worldometers website (2).
Table 2: Various countries use of Traditional or Complementary Medicine and their Covid 19 Data compared with Brazil, UK, USA use of Modern Medicine and their Covid 19 Data.I originally recorded data from 27/6/20.This was updated on 17/8/20.So all data is from 17/8/20 except where I show there has been no change from 27/6/20.
South Korea followed China in its strict testing and tracing regime (6) and use of technology to track people’s movement. But despite the fact they did not introduce a lockdown, only 6 people died per million of population. (17/8/20). Herbal medicine is reported being used there (6a,6b,6c) by about 14.6% of the confirmed Covid 19 cases. They peaked at around nine hundred cases in late March and were down to just a few cases by the end of April, with a small outbreak in May traced back to a night club.
In Indonesia, the news was full of Jamu - a concoction of local herbs made from: Brewed Ginger, Lemongrass, Turmeric and Curcumin (the naturally-occurring chemical compound found in Turmeric) and jokingly called by locals ‘The New Expresso’. (7) The drink was formulated based on regional suggestions for herbal recipes that help strengthen the body's immune system against viruses. Indonesian policy makers, supported by President Joko Widodo, claimed publically that COVID-19 infections could heal without intervention, as long as a person's body has a strong resistance to disease and reminding the public to maintain body immunity.
The Jakarta Post reported: “The Makers of Jamu Conona (Indigenous herbal medicine) in the Wonolopo Jamu village in Semarang, Central Java, have started producing a drink they claim can provide protection against COVID-19. The village’s fame drew the attention of Central Java Governor Ganjar Pranowo. “This is delicious!” He exclaimed “and it’s good for your health, too. It’s not a cure for Novel Coronavirus, but it can help protect you against it.” At the hospital in North Jakarta where the first COVID-19 case was identified, patients were given conventional treatment as well as the Jamu drink.
In Madagascar, news was spreading about their own new Herbal Formula for Covid 19. Covid Organics. (8) These were two different herbal formulations - one for prevention and one that claims to treat the disease. Evidently, this drink was not tested in clinical trials but with the current death figures proving the positive comparable outcome. In this part of the world, there was a hectic rush of good will donation deliveries of Covid Organics to other African countries in the West African block ECOWAS.
Comoros received their donation from Madagascar and an official jet plane (8a) from Chad was quickly sent to collect their gift too.
Comorian president, Azali Assoumani, also thanked the people of Madagascar and President Rajoelina for their donation of COVID-Organics after flying to Madagascar, to collect their gift. He announced:- “the gesture was a perfect testimony to the solidarity which unites the peoples of the Indian Ocean faced with the Coronavirus Pandemic.”
Table 3: Countries that have used Covid Organics to prevent and treat Covid 19.
I originally recorded data from 29/6/20.This was updated on 17/8/20.So all data is from 17/8/20 except where I show there has been no change from 27/6/20.
Information from Worldometers (2). First recorded 29/6/20 and updated 17/8/20.
In Bolivia, I discovered a 10 minute visit to a Steam cabin (9) can quell or prevent one’s Covid rage. In another article (9a), Bolivia’s acting deputy minister of traditional medicine, Felipe Quilla, explains:- “Medicinal plants such as Eucalyptus, Chamomile and Huira Huira are widely used by ancestral doctors in Bolivia in the steam chambers. This helps the person breathe better and the properties of the plants can help strengthen the immune system.” By the next Monday, Quilla had quickly clarified that the steam chambers are a preventive measure to avoid respiratory illnesses, but not a cure for the Novel Coronavirus. As has come to be expected, it was accompanied by yet another ubiquitous disclaimer for the natural approach.
Next, Homeopathy appears on the international scene with headlines from the Miami Herald :- (10) “Cuba promotes Homeopathy as an effective ‘weapon’ against the Coronavirus” (10a)
“As scientists around the world speed up clinical trials to find a cure or vaccine for the Coronavirus, the Cuban government will begin distributing a Homeopathic remedy to the elderly and other vulnerable people to ‘prevent’ the spread of the disease,” a top health official announced. Dr. Francisco Durán, national director of Epidemiology at the Ministry of Public Health, said in a press conference on Sunday that “sublingual drops” of the compound PrevengHo-Vir (the Homeopathic prophylactic mixture) would prevent different diseases such as influenza, the Common Cold, Dengue and emerging viral infections such as this one.”
By the Monday, Durán was hurriedly correcting his statements saying that the product “does not prevent contagion” but rather “increases resistance, the body’s defences against a certain virus.” ( 15 )
“Homeopathic treatments are an integral part of health care and were incorporated into the National Health System in 1992. Cuba has been, as usual, proactive in its attempts to protect its vulnerable people with Homeopathy to boost the immune system and minimise contagion. The remedy, a mixture named PrevengHo®Vir, consists of: Anas Barb 200, Baptisia Tinctora 200, Bacillinum 30, Pyrogenum 200, Eupatorium Perf 200, Influezinum 200, Arsenicum Album 200 and was originally rolled out for the Influenza A (H1N1) epidemic. Other Homeopathic remedies have been regularly used in Cuba’s outbreaks of Cholera and Dengue Fever. (As told in Magic Pills - the documentary).” (16 and 17)
Then in 2007, there was a severe outbreak of Leptospirosis due to prevailing hurricanes. (Symptoms included: high fever, severe headache, chills, muscle aches, and vomiting.) The Finlay Institute (a part of the Ministry of Public Health, Cuba) had been using its own conventional vaccine but they ran out of supplies and they could not afford to buy any more, so they took the Homeopathic route instead. They administered the Homeoprophylactic in three provinces on the island, with some Bach Flower remedies to address mental distress.
Although cases of the disease increased on the island by 27%, they reduced by 84% in the three provinces which received the Homeoprophylactic. The epidemic stopped within two weeks. The report concluded:- “The Homeoprophylactic approach was associated with a large reduction of disease incidence and control of the epidemic.” (16) It appears the Homeopathic approach has also been effective so far with only 8 deaths per million of population from Covid 19 in Cuba.
In India, there are four national institutes that undertake research for T&CM. These are the Central Council for Research in Ayurveda and Siddha, the Central Council for Research in Unani Medicine, the Central Council for Research in Yoga and Naturopathy, and the Central Council for Research in Homeopathy. (18) So India is well set up to use Complementary Therapies.
Around May 14th, “The government of Maharashtra, a very large state in the Western Peninsular region of India announced: “ We have approved the use of a Homeopathic Medicine - Arsenicum Album 30c (11) for the general population as a prophylactic against Covid 19 and as an immunity booster. (11a) Sankaran, a famous Indian Homeopath has since suggested that Camphora 1M should also have been given. Here are the Ayush government’s guidelines which includes both remedies and more. (11c) A task force set up by state government has also come up with a list of Unani and Ayurvedic medicines(11b),” herbs such as Agastya Haritaki for Respiratory Strength, Ayush 64 for a polyherbal formulation for fevers, inflammation and joint pains, and sesame oil, as measures against Covid-19.” Over 55 year olds in rural areas were identified and given the Homeopathic prophylactic remedy.
Then, a few days later, the Ayush Ministry announced its intention to set up a clinical trial to measure the efficacy of Arsenic Album 30c against the Covid-19 infection in six of India’s cities.
There has been a recent spike in deaths in India which are now 52 per million. (7/9/’20) However, the population is 1.38 billion which makes it roughly fourteen times more people than the UK. India has lost 52 people per million of population and the UK has lost 611 (7/9/’20) people per million of population. That makes the UK’s relative death toll staggeringly high at nearly 12 times greater than India’s at the time of writing.
It would be fair enough to say that India has a much hotter climate and this may account for the virus not spreading so fast. However, when one takes into account the poverty, the overcrowding and the varying quality of the sanitation system in some parts of the country, the figure to me is extraordinarily low in comparison with the UK figures and those of other developed countries in Europe and the US.
Kerala’s death rate is incredibly low. On 24/8//20, there were only 23 deaths from Covid 19 in a population of 34.8 million. They have a very effective Tracking and Tracing system (12) reported in the Guardian that was applied early on.
Kerala was also reported to be using the Homeopathic Prophylaxis, (12a) - Arsenicum Album 30c - following the example of its Motherland despite having a different form of government, being a Democratic Communist State ( 21). Again, no mention is made of Homeopathy by the media questioning the possible impact of its effect on the Covid 19 death rate.
On googling the key words, Kerala and Covid 19, one finds articles giving Kerala a lot of praise in dealing with CV19 generally and its testing and tracing system. Ambiguously though, no mention of its use of Traditional and Complementary Medicines or in particular Homeopathy is to be found.
I looked at the figures and was guided by the death rate (per million of population). These countries have no deaths at all from Covid 19. Some are very small, or islands, mostly located in the Southern Hemisphere. Vitamin D levels (13) and UV rays (14) may have had an effect on the virus. They also may have a smaller role in the Global Economy and less visitors as a result.
Table 4:Locations that had NO DEATHS on 27/6/20 and again on 17/8/20 from Covid 19.
The Therapy Column indicates that Traditional Herbal Medicine is regularly used in that specific country. Where there is relevant evidence of its use for Covid 19 or an interesting article about the countries’ Traditional Herbal Medicine, I have attached the relevant links.
Despite some countries using their Traditional Herbal Medicine for thousands or hundreds of years and Homeopathy for three hundred years with their own tried and tested record through positive patient experience, the benefits of the therapy are often dismissed as not conforming to modern day methods of Double Blind Testing.
This seems absurd when much of the empirical evidence indicates that people respond well to these treatments and there does not seem to be so many deaths when one compares it to those who have received conventional treatment. The WHO seems to quickly back up any positive references to Herbal or Homeopathic Medicines’ use for Covid 19. Whilst noting the impressive outcomes of this approach, they include a belated caveat that the remedies should at the same time be tested. However, the WHO seem to accept that some Traditional Herbal Systems go back thousands of years and they are engrained in different cultures. The herbs have been used since time immemorial, especially when people grow their own and they are not available in capsule form. It is encouraging that the WHO appears to be asking most of the right questions and making some helpful statements about Traditional and Complementary systems of medicine. Instead, they have done what they have done for hundreds or thousands of years, i.e. use their Traditional Medicine to heal themselves of an invasive, tenacious virus. The results seem very positive!
It should not be forgotten that many countries in the Global South are not in a financial position to buy Vaccines and many already have Government ministers in place suggesting Holistic alternatives. They are finding their own power against all odds. Ironically, the shadow of this horrific Pandemic and the amount that fear has increased has left the UK and other richer countries with their dependence on Modern Medicine almost paralysed.
Central to reducing the impact of and resistant to Covid 19 or any other virus must be the health of the Immune System. Improving the diet (24), taking regular exercise and breathing fresh clean air are vital. Air conditioning systems (25) may be another factor to consider in relation to our modern lifestyle as they can concentrate the virus by circulating the air mostly in one direction. The recent focus on tackling Obesity is a good start but could go further. I would suggest that testing vulnerable groups for their nutritional status via blood tests for Vitamins and Mineral deficiencies (24a) should be the starting point. This could be followed up by healthy eating advice and supplementation where necessary by Nutritionists. (24b)
Isolation policies may have a negative outcome by increasing loneliness and mental illness whilst physical health declines with a decrease in exercise and subsequent loss of muscle strength. It has been borne out that Isolation policies have had a negative outcome. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, PTSD (26) disturbingly, could become the new norm for people who are shielding, as well as those who have suffered the virus and the hospital treatment regime. According to Robin Dunbar of Oxford University, a meritorious Professor of Evolutionary Psychology (27) he suggests:- “Friendships can deteriorate very quickly if you don't invest in them - it probably only takes about three months.” He adds “So the social strain of lockdown, while hopefully short-term, could have some long-term effects on some friendships,”. He goes on to say “many of us treasure our closest friends as though our lives depend on them because in our evolutionary history, they did!”
The use by the Indian and Cuban Governments of Homeopathy to publicly deal with Covid 19 for me is heart-warming, although may be just commonplace to them. The camaraderie and bravery of the Madagascar and the ECOWAS countries in supporting each other and not trying to make money out of their precious creation ‘Covid Organics’ has lifted my spirits and suggests the possibility of a better outcome for Humanity in relation to the Pandemic.
The encouraging use of Traditional and Complementary Medicine around the world in the spirit of self help and self healing, point the way forward to optimise Global health as well as reduce the vital carbon footprint. Changing our relationship with nature and our planet must be the way to solve the Pandemic problem for now and for the future.
Suzy Roston 17/8/20
Edited by Elizabeth Adalian
All statistics throughout the article were valid on 17/8/20 but the fluid situation may mean some will have changed on publication and day by day after that. This doesn’t include India which has varied so much I changed and dated the statistics closer to publication.
* Deaths per million of population
3) Speech and statistics on Acupuncture and CHM in China and Homeopathy in India from David Trendivick (was an MP till Dec 2019)
4e ) https://www.statista.com/statistics/1111779/coronavirus-death-rate-europe-by-country/ (please note these figures are for deaths 100,000 of the population so you need to add a 0 to the figures to compare deaths per million of population).
Extra Information - China
6d) https://www.mdpi.com/2077-0383/9/5/1583 Control Trial to see efficacy
Video and article
Bolivian Steam Cabins
Homeopathy and epidemics
No Death Countries
St. Kitts and Nevis
22) Use of traditional remedies in Malaria
Nutrition for a strong immune system
Further reading: Herbal Medicine around the World