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Osteopathic and naturopathic approaches to Influenza: Part 1

NOTE: Part 2 of this posting can be found by going to this link

reality check this morning (Sunday Times, London) put into perspective the questionable severity of the impending pandemic:

  • In the past week around 17 people have died from this strain of flu, allegedly caused by the H1N1 virus (aka Swine flu, or Mexican flu).
  • In the same week approximately 5000 people have died from conventional, common-or-garden flu (and a further 35,000+ from AIDS!)

Yes I know, it’s early days, and we may indeed see this turn into a devastating world-wide event – although to be sure it’s not so long ago since we braced ourselves for the arrival of so-called Avian (aka bird) flu – linked to the H5N1 virus.
Will swine flu go the way of bird flu?

Possibly, but not until a huge amount of economic damage has been done to whole economies (Mexico) and to numerous industries (travel, entertainment, catering, farming etc) with a balancing vast increase in profits for various drug houses (and face-mask manufacturers).
It’s just a few days since my last post but I feel somewhat exercised by the whole influenza hysteria that’s been bombarding us from all sides for the past 10 days – and am moved to use part of this gloriously sunny Corfu afternoon, to offer a few thoughts and references.
As the title suggests there is a part 2 of this post – because I am using this topic to also involve a second blog, written under the umbrella of Massage Magazine:Chaitow’s Bodywork Blog, where I have expanded on the information provided in this post.
Before setting about the highlighting of possibly useful, hopefully interesting, information about osteopathic and naturopathic perspectives on influenza in general, and pandemics in particular, I want to mention a news report that caught my eye today (London, Sunday Times).
This represents a variant on the old idea that a dog biting a man has limited newsworthiness, whereas when a man bites a dog … that’s news!

The headline was:

Man infects pigs with swine flu on farm in Canada

The story informs us that a farm worker in Canada has infected a herd of pigs with swine flu, the first documented case of the virus being passed from humans to animals.
The herd of pigs tested positive for the H1N1 virus after the worker returned from Mexico with the disease.
The herd has been quarantined…… and both the man and the 200 pigs are recovering

Osteopathy and the great flu pandemic of 1918
As mentioned above…there is more information on this topic in my other blog.
I strongly recommend a diligent read through of an article written in 2007 by two leading American osteopathic physicians (Raymond Hruby and Keasha Hoffman), entitled: “Avian influenza: an osteopathic component to treatment”
This carefully crafted article includes a summary of the data (see below) as well as the methodology employed – various manual modalities that enhance immune function and increase resistance.
They note:
“The known data regarding the success of DOs [Doctors of osteopathy] treating influenza were gathered from the 1918 Spanish influenza pandemic and was first presented by R. Kendric Smith, MD, in a paper in which he described the “osteopathic conquest of disease in which medicine has failed” [Smith 1920]. Doctor Smith reported that the mortality rate for a total of 110,120 patients with influenza treated by 2445 DOs was 0.25%. Mortality due to influenza in patients receiving traditional medical care, however, was estimated to be 5% to 6%. Patients with pneumonia treated with standard medical care had a mortality rate estimated at 33% overall, and as high as between 68% and 78% in some large cities. Of 6258 patients cared for by osteopathic physicians the death rate due to pneumonia was 10%.
In a paper delivered at the American Osteopathic Association meeting in Chicago in 1919, Riley [1920] reported similar low rates of morbidity and mortality from influenza in patients under the care of DOs, in large cities such as New York and Chicago. This information suggests that DOs achieved a high success rate in the treatment of patients during the 1918 Spanish influenza pandemic. This may have been due in part to their use of an additional effective therapeutic method – osteopathic manipulative treatment (OMT).”

Hruby and Hoffman are NOT suggesting that these methods alone should be employed currently – nearly 100 years later – but that they do deserve to be incorporated into management of both influenza and pneumonia.
There is abundent evidence of the usefulness of osteopathic approaches in pneumonia, in where marked reduction in antibiotic use as well as far shorter hospital stays, resulted from introduction of OMT (osteopathic manipulative treatment). [Noll et al 2000]
Hampton et al (2003) – and others – have shown that aspects of immune function are improved, albeit for a short time, after the osteopathic treatment methods are used.
I touched on some of the evidence in my April 9th post, in this blog, which asked whether osteopathy in the UK was ‘losing its’ soul?

And also….
Other aspects of defence against possible infection – particularly related to viruses – should include consideration (and implementation – if you’re convinced) of naturopathic methods, such as :

  • Forms of hydrotherapy that have been shown in clinical trials to improve resistance to infection
  • Supplementation, with vitamin D in particular

I’ll have expanded on these, and other, topics, as well as the idea of osteopathic preventive methods, in my other blog.


Without wishing to raise the possibility of a conspiracy theory, linked to the prospects of mammoth profits for pharmaceutical companies associated with anti-flu medication, and ultimately of course mass vaccination products – a question raised by a reader in The Sunday Times (Sven, from Stuttgart), does strike a chord:
I would really like to know more about ties between WHO officials and certain parts of the pharmacological industry?

…and by the way, go to you-tube to see an instructive clip from a US Congressman on the topic of ‘the pandemic’

Hampton D, Evans R, Banihashem M: Lymphatic pump techniques induce a transient basophilia.J Osteopath Med (Australia) 2003, 6:41
Noll D Shores J Gamber R et al 2000 Benefits of osteopathic manipulative treatment for hospitalized elderly patients with pneumonia Jn Am. Ost Assoc. 100(12):776 -782
Riley GW. Osteopathic success in the treatment of influenza and pneumonia. JJn Am. Ost Assoc. 2000;100:315–319. [August 1919. Reprinted in JAOA] Smith RK. One hundred thousand cases of influenza with a death rate of one-fortieth of that officially reported under conventional medical treatment. JAOA. 1920;20:172–175. [Reprinted in: Jn Am. Ost Assoc, 2000;100:320–323]

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