New England School of Homeopathy

Treating Influenza and other Epidemics

Guest Speaker Amy Rothenberg, ND, DHANP

The transcript of this Live On-Line Chat from December 2009 is courtesy of the National Center for Homeopathy. For more information on joining the NCH, click here

Moderator: Welcome, Dr. Amy Rothenberg, ND, DHANP. Dr. Rothenberg is in practice in Connecticut with her husband, Dr. Paul Herscu, ND, DHANP. She writes frequently for Homeopathy Today (& other journals), and teaches and lectures in the USA and abroad, including the Joint American Homeopathic Conferences. For more information, see

Alan: The latest news reports are that the epidemic is almost over. Do you find that to be the case?

Dr. Amy Rothenberg: I think we are over the hump this year, and I do hope that we will learn from this year’s experience treating homeopathically those with the flu. This is from the CDC website on the flu, in terms of incidence as of two weeks ago: During the week of November 22-28, 2009, flu activity declined in the United States as reported in FluView. The number of states reporting widespread flu activity decreased from 32 to 25 and visits to doctors for influenza-like illness declined nationally from the previous week. In addition, flu-related hospitalizations and deaths continue to decline, but remain high compared to what is expected for this time of year. What we HAVE seen is that remedies seem to decrease the severity and the duration of the flu. So, don’t be shy about giving remedies and if you give a remedy and it doesn’t seem to be correct, don’t feel bad about trying another!

Moderator: Are there any other strains of flu showing up? Will you be tracking them with your Clinical Prediction Tool?

Dr. Amy Rothenberg: It seems that this year the H1N1 was stronger than the regular seasonal flu and that what was being seen in most doctor’s offices and Emergency Rooms, was in fact, H1N1. Most places except for those Sentinel Clinics charged with the role in each state, have really stopped offering the tests and treat people symptomatically assuming it’s H1N1. If a new flu pattern emerged, then yes, we would create a relevant clinical prediction tool that could be accessed for free on the website We do try to keep it updated and what is there now is current as of late November and we have not seen a change in these past two weeks with how the flu is manifesting for most who succumb.

Robert: Have you seen any cases of Swine Flu vaccine damage like that which occurred in 1976?

Dr. Amy Rothenberg: I have seen a number of cases where a patient seemed to get sick after taking the swine flu vaccine with influenza-like illness. I have not personally seen anyone have a catastrophic reaction to the swine flu vaccine to date.  I also have patients and colleagues, as well as family & friends who have gotten the vaccine and have not seeming had– at least in the short run– an issue. As you know, many people have denied getting the vaccine from personal choice, most because they have seen people with the flu and though it ‘s not wonderful to have the flu, it doesn’t seem markedly worse than typical seasonal flu.

LS: In 1977 I came down with what was then called the Russian flu. I slept for 4 days without eating/moving. My then doctor said there was nothing to offer me. I basically slept my way to health. I lost 15 pounds that week but gave in to a total rest and never had a relapse. One big problem I see today is the lack of rest… it takes time to heal.

Dr. Amy Rothenberg: Absolutely!
There is one word of caution: in many of the cases where any otherwise healthy person has died, it is often after they have gotten well and a few days later they develop a high fever, a relapse of sorts– often a bad bacterial pneumonia which acts very suddenly and aggressively– so any rebound fevers need to be taken seriously!

Judy: How high a fever? Some docs say anything over 103, others say 104+ or more… depending on the age of the patient.

Alan: Other than rest, good diet and vitamins, any suggestions for speeding up recovery time?

Dr. Amy Rothenberg: It depends a lot on the particular child or adult patient, and what is typical for them. If they are usually not a fever-y person, then a 101 might make me nervous. I would err on the conservative side here. Give a well-indicated remedy AND send to the ER. We use a variety of botanical medicines and supplements, hydrotherapy and massage, depending on what the patient can tolerate due to age, degree of illness and temperament!

nyz34: How would you treat a bacterial pneumonia in this situation? Could you suggest any remedies for that?

Dr. Amy Rothenberg: As with any illness, I have to take the full case, understand the way the patient experiences the pneumonia, which side/lobe it’s in, what concomitant symptoms they have with the illness and how their temperament is impacted. There are many remedies for pneumonia really, and often during the treatment of pneumonia, you have to change remedies as the illness goes through its various phases.

desiree: I have seen several cases of Argentum nitricum for flu-like symptoms around here. Do you think fear of swine flu may have played a part in that?

Dr. Amy Rothenberg: Mmm, good question, you have seen it and given it and it has worked well for those people?

desiree: Yes. Nux vomica has worked in some cases, but in cases where I found Nux vomica was not indicated or didn’t work, Argentum nitricum did.

Dr. Amy Rothenberg: I don’t know if that would be related to their fear. Some constitutional Argentum nitricum people would more easily go into that state and yes, it certainly covers flu. This does bring up the point that my husband Paul Herscu and I are very interested in hearing about the flu cases you see. This helps us to better create a reliable clinical prediction tool that will be able to be used even by those who know very little about homeopathy. Feel free to send us cases using the CPT off the website or at very least to send the cases our way via email We need full cases with all the minutiae and especially the modalities and any mental emotional symptoms that seem to go along with the illness. And of course, it is very helpful to have the remedies given & reaction to them as well!

Alan: With the success of homeopathy in treating flu in general, why do you think that the use of homeopathic remedies for flu has not increased significantly?

Dr. Amy Rothenberg: Well, that question could be asked for all of medicine– we have some wonderful successes for other acute-like illnesses and perhaps more interestingly, for the treatment of chronic disease. I think one issue is that our studies need to have better design and be carried out in small and large trials both in the laboratory and with animals and with people. On the flu site, you can see a number of studies we have designed and carried out, we’re doing our small share, but obviously these studies need to occur on a very large scale, need to be impeccable, be repeatable by non-homeopaths, and then be broadcast far and wide!!

krishnaonkar: Are there any special symptoms to look for swine flu?

Dr. Amy Rothenberg: The sweats and chills have been interesting and the intensity of the headache, too. Last year there were a significant number of people who also seemed rather depressed and as it turned out, a number needed the remedy, Phosphoric acid. We have not seen that element this year.

Desiree: Also labored breathing?

AZ26141: We have had several kids recently who likely had swine flu who had more GI issues, especially vomiting.

nyz34: I saw a few cases this year with sudden onset of symptoms including profound sweating for a long time and a bad headache. Based on these symptoms, Belladonna seemed indicated and worked well for the patients. Have you seen similar cases in your practice?

Dr. Amy Rothenberg: Yes, a few. For some that was the end of it, for others they did some better but continued to slide & needed other medicines to get to the other side of it, which brings up the point, that often it is not “one remedy and done”, you have to continue to follow these folks and some individuals may need more than one remedy over the course of 3-4-5-days.

Lynn: Do you know of any studies that investigated whether pig farmers and their families (who are often ‘carriers’ of Swine Flu) were less likely to get H1N1?

Dr. Amy Rothenberg: I have not seen any study to state that. I could see pig farmers being more susceptible at this moment in time due to the stress of less business!! That said, in general, people who live and work on farms tend to get sick less, that has been proven. Probably the constant interaction with dirt and germs helps to build generalized immunity. i.e. less asthma, less allergies etc.

Amy_L: My husband maintains the vaccine injury database for the NVIC and always has his pulse on the stats. For H1N1 there are already about 3000 incidents of injury and 18 deaths.

Dr. Amy Rothenberg: Thanks for sharing that Amy L, sad to see those numbers.

Moderator: Is there any pattern to the injuries, Amy L? Any symptoms that can be repertorized?

Amy_L: That’s an interesting question. We have access to that data but haven’t looked through it. One idea is to go to The people there are going through the actual injury records (which are not made truly available on the CDC Wonder site, but are available on the NVIC version of the database) and writing summaries…

Amy_L: I noticed the top 2 remedies you and Paul have recommended are Nux vomica and Ferrum phosphoricum. Our family did well with Nux vomica. What percentage of cases would you say are covered by these 2 remedies alone?

Dr. Amy Rothenberg: If you take out those who need their constitutional remedy (—which is a very important thing to remember, there will always be those who do best with their constitutional remedy!!) perhaps 70 percent or so– in other words, if you don’t know or can’t figure it out, try one of them!!

Amy_L: Another question. At Stanford, there seemed to be a pattern of 2 things going around in the fall — a relapsing cold-like thing that lasts about 6 weeks, and something more like H1N1. Do you feel they are related? The reason I ask is that I began with what seemed to be the cold, but then it went more truly into a flu-y thing with the diarrhea and fever. Nux vomica did the trick for me.

Dr. Amy Rothenberg: I have not been seeing that here in the northeast, so can’t speak from personal experience. But I can say that it is hard for the body to fight two wars. Maybe the folks with the ongoing colds have just gotten good at sidestepping the flu!

Amy_L: That’s interesting! Perhaps their body "used" the cold as an H1N1 preventative! My view was that it was a kind of chronic response to H1N1. It also shared the relapsing quality.

Dr. Amy Rothenberg: Thank you for all your questions and keep healthy. I did want to mention my new book: The A Cappella Singer Who Lost Her Voice and Other Clinical Stories from Natural Medicine will be published in 2010 by BJain/Archibel. I am excited to be sharing this case-based book with readers and should be available at all the usual places!


AZ26141: Congrats on the book! Looking forward to seeing it


Moderator: Thank you, Dr. Rothenberg, for taking the time this evening to answer all our questions. We look forward to reading your new book!

Dr. Amy Rothenberg: Good night and blessings for a healthy, happy holiday time.