Stuart Hale Shakman

Enabling technological advance: The Hypodermic Needle


The ability of the living body to combat infection is itself truly magical. Autohemotherapy may uniquely help the body perform this magic, by facilitating the identification of infective organisms in the bloodstream, and enabling the launching of a counterattack.

Autohemotherapy, referring here to the immediate intramuscular or subcutaneous reinjection of one's own blood, appears to comprise a compelling therapy option in the absence of others, one that may also merit replacing other (experimental and often risky) attempts at therapy currently in vogue. Since the introduction of this method by Ravaut in 1913 [*1], autohemotherapy has been employed in a wide range of disease conditions. Several hundred articles on the subject have been published in mainstream medical journals mostly from the early 1920s through the early 1940s, as listed in the various Index Medicus volumes (generally under the subject category "serum therapy"). Additionally, the subcutaneous or intramuscular reinjection of autologous blood or components is often discussed in the literature without specific reference to the term "autohemotherapy", as may be noted in a number of contemporary examples [*2].

Autohemotherapy is not "alternative therapy". Numerous items on the subject which have been published in the authoritative Journal of the American Medical Association, including a 1938 editor's endorsement of autohemotherapy against psoriasis [*3] and referral to its use against other diseases [*4], Autohemotherapy has also been proposed as a preventive measure. For example, a 1935 report of favorable results against cerebral hemorrhage asserted that autohemotherapy is absolutely indicated as preventive treatment in cases of established hereditary disposition to high blood pressure. [*5]

The reported beneficial action of autohemotherapy has been attributed to the presence of antigens in the blood [*6] which stimulate the production of antibodies when injected into the tissues. This explanation finds support in the work of Dr. E. C. Rosenow (Mayo Foundation, 1915-44), which established the presence of a causative organism or antigen in the blood [*7] during active stages of many diseases. Thus might the action of autohemotherapy be likened to that of an autogenous vaccine.

Intramuscular doses commonly discussed in the literature tend to fall within the 3 to 10 cc range. The safety and utility of a twice-weekly schedule has been demonstrated in the historical literature [*8], which schedule is in concert with Dr. Rosenow's twice-weekly administration of antigen and antibody for chronic diseases such as MS. As advocated by Dr. Rosenow in the case of MS, a responsible family member might be instructed in administering the therapy, insofar as it may have to be continued indefinitely. As Dr. Rosenow has emphasized, the continued presence of primary oral foci, undetected symptomless oral foci or inaccessible secondary foci would serve to ensure the continued presence of causative pathogens in the circulation. Under such circumstances, neither the vaccines of Dr. Rosenow nor autohemotherapy would be expected to effect elimination of the causative organism (which elimination might be equated to a "cure"), hence the indicated need for the continuation of therapy over an indefinite period of time.

Autohemotherapy's attributes of safety, low cost, and immediate availability suggest continuing potential utility against a broad spectrum of diseases in which a causative organism disseminates through the bloodstream, regardless of the source or identity of the causative organism - including the likes of malaria, ebola and AIDS. (An intramuscular form of autohemotherapy, as reportedly successfully used against malaria, has been already been proposed for AIDS [*9], as has an experimental alternate form [*10]) In cases where an inaccessible, persistent focus of infection does not exist, autohemotherapy may indeed be sufficient to effect a cure, and might therein comprise a "magic shot".

While autohemotherapy as a distinct entity enjoyed a well documented period of popularity during the first half of the 20th century, it also represents the culmination of a fundamental thread weaving through the healing arts for at least a few millenia. Such diverse traditional practices as bloodletting, acupuncture, coining and maxubustion, and modern-day plasmapheresis, innovations in bone marrow transplantation (use of autologous marrow; and use of stem cells from blood in place of marrow), and to some extent even autotransfusions - all involve the manipulation of one's own blood or blood-components and the possibility that benefits may at least in part be due to a forced defensive response within the body's tissues against harmful substances in the circulating blood. In this light, autohemotherapy may be viewed as simply the direct application of such a process, made possible by that grand technological advance the hypodermic needle.

[from Chapter 2, Autohemotherapy Reference Manual]
The Autohemotherapy Reference Manual is now available through



Copyright 1996 S H Shakman. All rights reserved. First posted 1996; reposted 23 Nov. 1998.