Space Medicine: Homeopathy and Interplanetary Travel

Interplanetary travel may become a sudden reality sometime in the near future. Just as the early explorers who dared to journey across oceans and continents to discover new places we can foresee a lot of people traveling to explore the unknown frontier in search of another habitable planet. Few enterprising organization and individuals have already started accepting bookings for interplanetary travel.

Studies conducted so far indicate that interplanetary travel lowers the immunity of humans to the point that we could fall prey to infections that will kill us. Research has shown that a special fly – Drosophila born and raised in space, which share many fundamentals of the immune system with mammals such as mice and human—had their immune system seriously weakened by microgravity in space, just as seen in astronauts traveling into space.

Among astronauts space and extraterrestrial environment is known to have caused many symptoms/disorders. Disruption of gastrointestinal (GI) function and physiology, changes in liver function, fluid and electrolyte imbalances, alterations in circulatory dynamics and organ blood flow, and hormonal and metabolic perturbations are some of the prominent disorders. Any of these changes can influence the pharmacokinetic behavior and pharmacodynamic consequences of medications administered to crew members during space flight. There are other danger which could be categorized as occupational hazard like acute radiation syndrome, lunar dust induced problems (silicosis and lung cancer).

If we manage to protect and preserve our ecosystem and nature is kind then interplanetary vacation could be the next happening thing. If nature decides to express its wrath and a catastrophe strikes then the need to escape to another planet may become an inevitable necessity in which case our hopes will then rest on the evolutionary forces that helped us adapt, survive and evolve through the centuries, but not before we lose scores of lives and generations of mutational engineering to achieve adaptability to a new environment. Survival may mean humans donning protective survival suits 24x7 to protect themselves both on earth as well during travel and as a refugee on a distant planet.  
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Whether by choice or force, the challenge faced during interplanetary travel and visit is not just to ensure ways to negate the ill-effects of micro-gravity on the physiological changes and compromising immunity but also find an approach to combat real-time with unknown strains of virus and bacteria which are beyond the purview of the drugs and therapies available to us. 

Homeopathy and Ayurveda are two medical systems that work on ensuring health by stimulating bodily forces to maintain stable immunity. While both these systems believe that illnesses expressions in the form of dyscrasia created by imbalance in immunity or vital force, the scope of homeopathy seems wider as it is based on the principle of ‘Similia Similibus Curentur’ or ‘like cures like’.  This principle allows this system of medicine to work anywhere in our universe. and certainly qualifies to be considered as a universal medicinal system.  To explain this lets get a little background on homeopathy. Homeopathic remedies are made from extracts obtained from plant kingdom, animal kingdom and minerals.  When a remedy is repeatedly ingested by a healthy person in potentized (ultra-high dilution) it produces disturbances recognized in the form of symptoms (this process is called ‘Proving’ and the symptoms abates after a period of time on discontinuation of the remedy).  When *set of symptoms exhibited by a sick person, uncommon to the diagnosis or disease name matches with those produced and recorded during a homeopathic proving of a remedy in healthy person that remedy is said to be a similia.  This Similimum when administered in ultra high dilution to the sick, the symptoms are annihilated resulting in restoration in the health (cure) of the sick. [*A set of symptoms manifested or occurring together are often recognized and labeled by the conventional medical system with a Disease Name or a Diagnosis  Malaria, AIDS, Dengue, Osteo-Arthritis…etc.] 

During interplanetary space travel when the immunity is low and one is likely to encounter virus and bacteria different from the ones on earth one can easily zero-in to a homeopathic remedy that matches the symptoms produced after getting infected by them. As homeopathic remedies are effectively administered in its minutest dose in the form of pills- the size of a pin head or through method of olfaction and does not carry an expiry it is an ideal medicine to be carried aboard a space flight. 

And what happens if you land on a planet conducive for human habitation and your medical kit is destroyed?  You still have hope. The plant and animal kingdom and the minerals from the alien planet will provide you with the remedies.  The genus could be different from those found on earth yet you will find an analogous remedy that corresponds to the remedy found on earth. For example we have a plant remedy called Pulsatilla or Bryonia; there could be another plant available on the new planet that is similar to Pulsatilla or Bryonia; similarly we can find a corresponding remedy with proving symptoms that of Natrum Mur, Calcarea Carb  or those from the animal kingdom.

This should be the right time for organizations like NASA and other space research agencies to form a panel of homeopaths, and under its supervision start using homeopathic remedies on astronauts during their pre-flight simulated training, during the space journey and on their return to earth. This will help them study its efficacy on the most suitable remedies for known conditions and by the time we are ready for commercial interplanetary travel an established treatment protocol would be in place.