August 04, 2021
Over several years, I repeatedly came across the same snippet of advice buried in different homeopathic articles and books: use Staphysagria to prevent mosquito bites. It was never accompanied by any explanation or directions, no cited sources, nor accounts of first-hand experience. I had questions.
Which potency? How often should I take it? Why Staphysagria? Has anyone actually tried this?
I reached out to the experts (Dr. Lev Linkner and Dr. Dennis Chernin!) and learned that a doctor named Henry Trexler conducted a field study on the matter and published his results in The Journal of the American Institute of Homeopathy in 1965. Very, very interesting, although the study was not readily available to read. After an email to the president of the American Institute of Homeopathy, we were rewarded with a copy of the full study, which you can read below.
The study is a 5 - 10 minute read. It's interesting to consider the individual factors that can make the remedy more or less effective at repelling insects. While it's not perfect protection, what really is? I know I will be one of the first in line to try it out.
As a bit of background, I first became interested in the varying degree of susceptibility to insect bites of men as a boy on the farm. I observed that certain individuals, as well as animals, seemed not to attract insects. This was especially noticeable in the case of bedbugs, honey bees, flies, and mosquitoes.
I remember my father telling about his cattle buying trips. In that particular section of the country, the hotel accommodations at that time were not the best He would say, “If there was one bedbug in the entire hotel, it would find me, while others were not bitten.”
About age 14, while helping to place a colony of honey bees into a hive, I was exposed to many of them crawling over my body without a single sting. When I was two or three years old, I was very badly stung by many bees with considerable edema of my entire body. I remember some of the boys in our crowd were very seldom bitten by flies or mosquitoes while several others received many bites.
I thought there was a close association between the intake of foods, liquids, drugs, etc. by mouth and its reaction through the skin of the body. I also recognized the possibility of this altering the chemistry of the body to deter insects from biting or animals from being friendly with humans.
This is very important both in military and civilian life. The insect menace, particularly mosquitoes, and their effect on the human race has presented quite a problem through the ages. Present military tactics make it extremely difficult to give mass protection. Individual protection for the military as well as civilians is more important than ever before.
It is a known fact that mosquitoes are carriers of certain diseases. But aside from this, simply preventing the inflammation and itching caused by mosquito bites is to eradicate a great and widespread human discomfort.
Dr. J. A. McKiel of the Department of National Health and Welfare, Ottawa, published an article in Modem Medicine, 9/1/59, stating that the mosquito bite produces an allergic reaction rather than skin irritation from a poisonous substance. According to reports, laboratory animals can be sensitized by injections of mosquito extract or by subjecting them to repeated bites.
Literature reveals the use of antihistamines to relieve the itching and discomfort of bites of mosquitoes.
When I began the practice of medicine, I became interested in drugs that might be used as a mosquito deterrent since the mosquito is a notorious carrier of disease. The use of a particular drug in my practice led me to believe that this might have the desired potentialities.
About 1942, my wife and I first used it internally for the purpose of deterring mosquitoes and noticed rather peculiar properties in its continued use, and I began to write down my observations.
The name is Delphinium staphysagria (Stavesacre). Literature reveals that it was known in the time of Hippocrates 400 B. C. It was introduced into homeopathic practice by Samuel Hahnemann in 1890 and has been used by the homeopaths ever since. Its early use, 1 to 3 gr., was an extremely toxic dose and because of the ensuing violent reactions, prescribing of it was temporarily discontinued.
To my knowledge and in the course of my research, I have been unable to find any literature where this drug has been used as a mosquito deterrent. The use to which this product is intended is to build temporary bodily immunity against the attacks and bites of mosquitoes and other insects. It not only is effective in preventing bites, but reduces the inflammation, itching, and swelling of bites received.
When the drug is taken internally it apparently is excreted through the skin and is offensive to mosquitoes. The short period of time it takes to produce the desired result after introduction into the body leads me to believe that it is excreted through the skin instead of changing the chemistry of the body.
One of the most difficult problems of this experimental work has been to ascertain the dosage.
The dosage of Staphysagria, as stated in the Homeopathic Pharmacopoeia is lx and higher. The term “higher” to the homeopath means to be a higher x power which is actually a smaller dose. One x would be comparable to a tenth of a grain; 2x a hundredth of a grain, and 3x one thousandth of a grain.
I have been using the homeopathic preparation equivalent to 1/1,000 gr. and have never found any toxic symptoms even when the number of tablets used per day was varied considerably. I might also add that in twenty-three years, I have never encountered any toxicity, nor cumulative effect when used in this dosage. I have tried different ways of using the tablets; the most effective being to dissolve them under the tongue at least 1 or 2 hours prior to exposure. The length of time of effectiveness seemed to vary with the individual.
The original work on this project was done with 3x dilution of Staphysagria on #6 discs. #6 disc is a convenient way of dispensing homeopathic dilutions as discs absorb approximately 1 drop or less of the dilution when it is poured over them. A sufficient amount should be poured into a vial to thoroughly medicate each disc. Later the 3x TT° was used; still later the 2x TT. The 2x gave better results than the 3x.
A pharmaceutical house checked the absorbing power of Staphysagria 3x dilution on #6 discs over a 36 hour period with the following results: “The #6 discs absorb % minim which would, decimally expressed, equal .00067 gr. of the drug, or expressed in common fractions approximately 1/1500 gr. per disc.
I checked the absorbing power of the #6 disc and 3x dilution of Staphysagria referring to the Homeopathic Pharmacopoeia and found the following:
“In every instance, the dry crude substance is to be taken as the starting point from whence to calculate its strength, and with very few exceptions, the mother tinctures contain all the soluble matter of one gram of the dry plant in ten cubic centimeters of the tincture.”
1 gm. to lOcc.
10 gm. to lOOcc.
100 gm. to lOOOcc. *
*TT=tablet triturate 148 JOURNAL OF THE AMERICAN INSTITUTE OF HOMEOPATHY, MAY-JUNE 1965
The tincture, therefore, representing as it does, one-tenth part.
I am convinced that laboratory experiments are not of much value because there are too many individual factors; e.g. weather conditions, species of mosquitoes, type of person, etc.
Tests in Orlando, Florida, in the laboratory of the United States Department of Agriculture, on animals were very unsatisfactory. They used two pills twice a day which is equivalent of 0.4 mg. of the drug per tablet. In each test, one pill was administered to a domestic rabbit every four hours for 3-4 days. On each day of treatment, after the first day, a comparison was made of the biting rate of mosquitoes on the treated rabbit. Screen wire cages containing 60 to 80 Aedes Aegypti mosquitoes, five days old, were exposed to the clipping of the rabbit and the number of mosquitoes that fed were recorded. Two cages were exposed for five minutes on the untreated rabbit and vice versa. The results were not satisfactory.
The usual arm experiment where the arm is thrust into a cage is usually unsuccessful. It may be unsuccessful because a small portion of the body only is exposed while the whole body excreting the drug may be needed to build a sufficient protection to ward off the mosquitoes.
An official of a Canadian Chemical Company, in conjunction with the Department of Entomology of a University, has used this (2x TT; 3x dilution #6 discs) with very unsatisfactory results. Tuesday 5:00 P. M. arm in cage—15 bites. Two tablets 6:00 P. M., 11:00 P. M.; Wednesday, two tablets 8:00, 11:00, 1:00, 3:30. Arm inserted—12 bites—4 minutes.
A staff member of the National Institute of Health, used 1 guinea pig, one rabbit, and two men as test hosts. Dosage 8—14 tablets before the start of the tests. Each receiving the same quantity per day of the drug. The test insects were the mosquitoes Aedes Aegypti and Anopheles Quadrimaculatus, and four species of blood-sucking hemiptera. In the case of one man, no reduction in biting occurred. In the case of the three other hosts and all six species of insects, significantly fewer bites were received after the treatment. 3x TT, also 3x dilution on #6 discs were used.
In a Research, Development and Control Laboratory, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the following results were obtained: Within the scope of the tests, it appeared that when the tablets were taken in accordance with the directions, they will not prevent insect visitation on humans, but will materially decrease insect bites by mosquitoes and stable flies in about 70% of humans exposed. Greater protection seems to be derived by males than by females.
With field testing, it was impossible to check on the different factors involved, such as wind velocity, the humidity of the air, etc. However, in my experimentations and field tests, the percentage of effectiveness has been considerably higher. There is definitely an individual factor involved which is very important.
Resume of my record of experimental field testing in my practice and acquaintances is as follows:
I find that I have used it in 32 states, Puerto Rico, and 11 foreign countries with an approximate total of 461 people. It was approximately 90% effective. In many instances it deterred flies and other insects from annoying the patient. This was true of the Mexican fleas, the midges in Finland, the little red bugs in Florida, and the gnats and green flies in the Poconos.
In one instance a man claimed the wasps did not annoy him while working near them, having previously been stung by them.
In a few instances, the 3x TT tablets were taken for one month without any reactions. One adult male took 3x TT, two t.i.d. for three weeks with no reaction. A female took 2x dilution and was free from mosquito bites. She later took Sulfa and grippe pills with no result with Staphysagria. Another patient had good results, but after being given Terramycin had no results with the tablets. A patient in the Strategic Air Command took 3x TT with good results. He was given antibiotics and subsequently had poor results after taking the deterrent. A 12 year old, without my knowledge, took two tablets, 3x TT, two or three times a day, for two weeks with no reaction. One patient took two tablets, 3x TT, every hour during his working day. I advised against this. However, he stated it was necessary because he perspired freely and is a big man weighing about 200 pounds. The reason for this frequent repetition of the dose is because, as soon as the mosquitoes sat on him, he took two more tablets. They would alight on him, but did not bite. One patient had good results except during menses when it was only 50% effective. A 25 year old school teacher, black hair, weighing 130 pounds, had excellent results with the 3x dilution #6 in New Jersey. She developed a throat infection and was given Aureomycin. About a month later she used the 3x TT with no results. The following summer while out West, she took 3x TT but was taking iron pills at the same time. Her results were only fair.
Two adults for five years previously had good results with the tablets. On their last trip across country, from Pennsylvania to the State of Washington, they had good results while taking the tablets. The following year they had poor results. They seemed to attribute this to polio injections they received prior to traveling.
A boy scout troop of eight, traveling from Pennsylvania to New Mexico and return, used the tablets with good results.
In nine cases the bites definitely improved within 24 hours after taking the tablets.
At present, many of my patients faithfully come to my office for a supply of medicine before going on vacation year after year.
Needless to say, the financial and physical resources of one man are too limited to carry out a large scale testing.
The time, effort, and financial expenditures over the last 23 years, in this research for a mosquito deterrent, has been a gratifying and worthwhile experience.
Table of Results
JOURNAL OF THE AMERICAN INSTITUTE OF HOMEOPATHY
MAY-JUNE 1965 STAPHYSAGRIA AND MOSQUITOES
‘Presented to the Bureau of Drug Pathogenesis and Therapeutics, 116th Anniversary Meeting, A. I. H., 6/26/60 to 7/1/60, Skytop Lodge, Pocono Manor, Pennsylvania.
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