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Case Study

 Homoeopathy A Treatment Of Sea Turtles.

Dr Hegde V N.
` Arn / Calen / Rhus-t / Ruta.

During my career as Asst Fisheries Development Officer in Taraporewala Aquarium, Bombay, I had the opportunity to treat turtles with homoeopathic medicine. Earlier records in veterinary homoeopathy are limited to domesticated animals (mammals ad birds). I was also sceptical about the fact that turtles being coldblooded, medicines may not give the same result as those in warm blooded animals.

The first incident occurred when a 36 year old female Olive Ridley Sea turtle Lepidochelys olivace, 80 kg in weight and a metre long, was taken to the conditioning tank : The turtle took a vicious nip at the hand of one of the keepers who was carrying him. Startled, he released his hold on the flipper, with the result that the head of the turtle, which was being carried in vento-dorsal position, hit the wall of the tank. The accident caused a crack in the frontoparietal region which was quite deep. However there was not much bleeding. Not willing to take any more risk with such a large animal it was ultimately left for mother nature to take care of the injury. It was then that I remembered that I had Calendula ointment with petroleum jelly as a base. This is useful because water soluble ointments are washed away when I have to work in sea water.

So, in the evening when the turtle had settled down, I slowly entered the tank with Calendula ointment. After restricting the turtles movements to a cirber, I started applying Calendula in liberal amounts. Surprisingly, during the entire procedure the turtle did not move and allowed me full liberty to treat it. I must mentioned in passing that this was one of the most vicious turtles that we had.

Sea water is an environment for a variety of bacteria and other anaerobic microorganisms. So, to prevent tetanus I gave Arnica globules 1M mixed with fish every hour. The turtle was very reluctant in eating this. After 5 days Arnica was stopped. Calendula was applied twice daily for 15 days and extended for another 5 days as a precautionary measure. During this period, the part affected healed completely leaving behind no trace and the turtled christened Olivia was released into the sea on 4th Oct 1986 off the Bombay coast, 15 Kms away from the Versova shore with much fanfare.

Another incident occurred on 19th February 1989, when local fishermen found a giant female Olive Ridleys sea turtle entangled in their nets. The fishermen released the turtle from their nets and the turtle was floating in the water slowly awaiting death. It was then caught back by some locals who wanted to make a meal of the turtle. A timely phone call from a restaurant owner from Worli gave us an alert. On reaching the spot I with the keepers admonished the locals. We brought the turtle to the aquarium. A detailed examination of the animal revealed fracture of both frontal flippers in the metatarsal region, deep cuts near the nuchal plates (nape of the neck). Similar deep cuts were also seen in the region of the pubis and procoracoid muscles. Added to this there was a severe damage to the plastron and numerous minor cuts and bruises incurred while the animal was trapped and was trying to free itself from the fishing nets. The animal was in deep agony as was evident by its deep breathing and the peculiar sounds it made. Was the turtle to be released in this state, it would have definitely fallen a prey to predators. Such a huge animal would have required a lot of medicines and our small budget was inadequate for the same. No one was willing to take any risk in the event of its death. My conscience weighed heavily on me and I asked for permission from the curator to treat the animal. It was agreed on the condition that I was to bear the entire cost of treatment. Having had a good experience in the past I depended on the efficacy of Calendula and I took up the case.

I thoroughly washed the turtle with fresh water (to kill ectoparasites and bacteria), I then laid it on its back. Calendula ointment in petroleum jelly was applied to all the cuts and wounds. The hind flippers were tied to each other and this restricted its movements. For the fractured frontal flippers, I applied a mixture of ointments of Ruta, Symphytum and Calendula. The left flippers was tied between two thermocol sheets. The same procedure was repeated with the right flipper, the idea being that the wounds should remain free from water (above water) for a faster healing: It also acted as a splint for the bones for setting. The same mixture was applied all over the body, the plastron and the top of the head. Arnica 1M internally was given every hour for 2-3 days. Later Rhus-tox alternately with Symphytum every hour was started from the 4th day. Initially, the animal showed a reluctance to food. It began eating on the 12th day and that was just a few morsels. On the 15th day, the animal was shifted to an open tank filled with sea water. The dressing was changed every week. This continued for a period of two months during which time the turtle recovered very well and the fracture healed. The turtle also started eating a large amount of shell fish and was able to fend for itself. The animal was later released in the sea on 9th May 1989 in the afternoon high tide. A local fisherman was asked to guide the turtle in the sea towards its freedom.


  1. The Pocket Manual Of Homoeopathy by Edward H Ruddock - B Jain Publishers.
  2. Homoeopathy in Veterinary Practice by Dr. J.S. Harndall - Indian Books and periodicals Syndicate.
  3. The Rational Art of Healing - Srikrishna Homoeo Pharmacy.