Whooping Cough on the Rise Again

Creates opportunity for homeopathy

by Larry Malerba, DO, DHt

All indications are that whooping cough (pertussis) is on the rise in the U.S. this year. More than 32,000 cases had been reported by late October 2012 along with 16 deaths, almost double last year’s 18,719 total cases with 13 deaths. Some say this year is on track to be the worst for whooping cough since the 1950s.

Boy on snow

It is incumbent upon the medical profession to become educated about the use of homeopathy in cases of acute whooping cough—precisely because there is no truly viable alternative.

Early blame for the increasing incidence of this highly contagious illness had been directed toward the small population of unvaccinated children, but recent data shows that the large majority of cases are those who have already been vaccinated according to CDC guidelines. Correspondingly, medical authorities have recently begun suggesting that additional pertussis booster shots beyond what are already required may be necessary because the vaccine may lose its effectiveness over time. Public health authorities are now urging pregnant women, adults, and teens to get vaccinated.

A questionable strategy

In my medical opinion, this overemphasis on a preventative vaccination strategy is largely due to conventional medicine’s inability to treat whooping cough once it’s diagnosed. Physicians understand that although the Bordatella pertussis bacteria causes whooping cough, antibiotics are likely to have minimal if any effect on the course of the illness once the cough has set in, and the same applies to cough suppressants. If prescribed at the onset of the illness, antibiotics are believed to reduce the duration of symptoms—but the odds of diagnosing whooping cough at this very early stage before symptoms become distinctive are highly unlikely.

Since treatment is so demonstrably inadequate, prevention is promoted as the only game in town. True, administering antibiotics after the cough appears, while doing little for the patient, may reduce the ability to transmit the illness to others. But requiring additional pertussis vaccine boosters fails to take into account the ­documented dangers associated with the vaccine.* Given the vaccine’s potential side effects and failure to confer sustained immunity in spite of multiple booster shots, it strikes me as counterintuitive to double down on a strategy that is clearly falling short of the goal.

Homeopathy works but …

Homeopathy has a long-standing clinical track record for reducing the duration and severity of symptoms of whooping cough. Although it is a viable option for pertussis, mainstream medicine’s general unwillingness to consider any therapy that is not manufactured by the conventional pharmaceutical industry tends to blind it to potentially new and/or unexplored treatments. And in the case of homeopathy, a long-standing, undeniable bias assumes that it cannot possibly work because it defies conventional medical beliefs about the nature of illness and how illness can be treated.

Over the years, I have successfully treated people with whooping cough and a variety of other intractable coughs that were not responding to repeated courses of antibiotics. Thousands of homeopathic practitioners across the globe can testify to similar results. Unfortunately, the firsthand clinical experiences of unconventional medical practitioners tend to be dismissed by a medical system that has come to rely heavily on research studies that are often funded and influenced by the pharmaceutical industry. To dismiss a treatment for an illness that has no other effective therapy—primarily because of a lack of research studies published in conventional medical journals that “prove” its effectiveness—demonstrates an anti-scientific attitude that, in actuality, amounts to inflexible and uninformed prejudice.

Caught in a Catch-22, while patients suffer

A convenient Catch-22 has been created by a medical system that refuses to consider the homeopathic option while simultaneously and erroneously claiming that there are no research studies to back up homeopathy’s use. Although no specific studies examine homeopathy and pertussis, numerous research studies point to the fact that homeopathy involves significantly more than the placebo effect that naysayers claim it to be. The real bottom line is that this closed-minded attitude, which refuses to entertain promising alternative medical options, does a tremendous disservice to suffering patients in need of care.

Symptoms & solutions

Whooping cough is a particularly violent, prolonged, and debilitating affliction that is especially hard on infants and small children because of their narrow air passages that can get quickly blocked with mucus. After an initial phase that looks a lot like the common cold or a mild flu, a characteristically relentless cough usually develops. The classic whooping sound results from the person’s gasping for breath at the end of a rapid succession of coughs. Making sure the whooping cough sufferer avoids contact with others is important because the illness is highly contagious. If there is any silver lining to the recent rise in whooping cough, it is that it seems to be affecting adolescents more than any other group, and they are generally capable of weathering the illness a little more successfully.

There are usually subtle differences among the symptom patterns of people suffering from whooping cough. Homeopathic treatment is predicated on choosing the one medicine that most closely matches the symptom profile of the afflicted individual. A close match can bring significant relief and shorten the duration of the cough, which, if untreated, can persist for weeks and, sometimes, months.

Although homeopathic medicines are available over the counter, self-treatment for whooping cough is not advisable. Resolving a case of whooping cough may require several homeopathic medicines over time, and it takes knowledge and experience to guide this process effectively. Given the seriousness of the condition, it is best to consult a homeopathic professional, along with other healthcare professionals, as needed. (Some may opt for concurrent antibiotic treatment in an effort to make the patient less contagious.)

Below are brief synopses of the symptom patterns of some commonly indicated homeopathic medicines for whooping cough. These medicines represent just a few of the options available to a homeopathic prescriber. While most cases of whooping cough are characterized by spasmodic, relentless, exhausting coughing attacks, the following descriptions are meant to illustrate how the illness can differ in subtle ways in different people.

Drosera rotundifolia. This homeopathic medicine is indicated when the cough is worse immediately upon lying down to bed at night and/or when the cough flares up after midnight. There is tickling and dryness in the throat, which causes spasmodic coughing. Attempts to bring up phlegm end in retching and vomiting. The violence of the cough may produce nosebleeds. Frequent coughing attacks prevent the person from catching his or her breath.

Belladonna. This medicine is usually indicated in the early stages of the illness or when fever is present, especially if the fever begins around 3 p.m. The person may feel pressure in the head, and the face is hot and red while the hands and feet are cool. The head feels as if it will burst from coughing. A dry, tickling, spasmodic cough emanates from the larynx.

Coccus cacti. The defining characteristic that indicates the need for this medicine is the production of large amounts of clear, thick, ropey mucus. Paroxysms of choking cough result in vomiting of long strings of mucus that may hang from the mouth and nose. Drinking cold water may bring temporary relief from tickling in the larynx and the coughing spells. The spells may become worse early in the morning and/or around 11–11:30 p.m..

Ipecacuanha. The person who needs this remedy often experiences persistent nausea that is not relieved by vomiting that follows a coughing spell. Due to the nausea, the person is often lacking in thirst and will not want to drink fluids. Their chest may feel constricted and they may have a nosebleed with the cough. Children may stiffen and become rigid with the cough.

Bryonia alba. This is a very commonly indicated cough remedy in general. Its main indication is the presence of symptoms that are worse from motion. The person is compelled to breathe quietly and remain as motionless as possible so as not to aggravate the cough. In addition, the cough is painful due to the motion of the ribcage. Similarly, a headache may become more painful when the person rises to move and walk around.

Antimonium tartaricum. The clue that leads to the prescription of this medicine is the sound of the loud, rattling, mucus-filled chest while coughing. In spite of this, the person struggles unsuccessfully to bring the mucus up from the chest, thus producing little expectoration. One gets the impression that the person will drown in his or her own fluids. The person is usually cross, irritable, and weak from efforts to raise the phlegm.

Cuprum metallicum. This medicine is indicated when we see cramps, muscular spasms, clenched fists, and/or convulsions associated with the whooping cough. Violent paroxysms of severe cough lead to near suffocation, with the lips and face turning blue. As is true with people who need Coccus cacti, cold drinks of water may bring temporary relief from the coughing attacks. Coughing spasms may wake the person around 3 a.m.

Kali carbonicum. For people who benefit from this remedy, the worst phase of the cough comes between 2 a.m. and 4 a.m. The person must sit up and lean forward during the attack and prefers to sleep propped-up with pillows. Think of this medicine when the cough leads to left-sided pneumonia.

*A broad range of adverse effects from the pertussis vaccine has been documented, including high fever, collapse, seizures, encephalitis (brain inflammation), pneumonia, mental regression, and death. Adverse reactions to the current acellular pertussis vaccines (DTaP) are said to be milder than reactions to earlier forms of the whole-cell vaccine (DPT), but they still occur.



Larry Malerba, DO, DHt Larry Malerba, DO, DHt, is the author of Green Medicine: Challenging the Assumptions of Conventional Health Care. Dr. Malerba is a featured author at Natural News and a regular contributor to ­Huffington Post. He is board certified in Homeotherapeutics and Clinical Assistant Professor at New York Medical College. He is past president of the Homeopathic Medical Society of the State of New York. Dr. Malerba has a private practice in Upstate New York. Visit www.docmalerba.com