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This form of transfusion therapy, far more common in Europe than in the United states, aims tyo enhance the immune system's ability to fight disease. During the procedure, a small amount of blood is taken from a vein in the patient's arm, is sometimes mixed with a natural remedy and is then reinjected into the skin or the muscle of the buttock. The blood retains its normal components, the usual complement of hormones, antibodies, minerals and salts, present as well are any metabolic by products resulting from acute or long term illness. Practitioners of autohemotherapy believe that reintroduction of the blood strengthens a person's immunity, because the body must mount a fresh immune response to the disease-causing substances. Consequently, the technique is often performed to treat chronic immune deficiency, allergies, gout, liver disease, diabetes and rheumatic ailments. The procedure may also boost a person's vitality.

For arthritis and gout
Autohemotherapy is sometimes performed in conjunction with ozone therapy to treat joint pain due to rheumatoid arthritis or gout. Blood is removed from the patient, enriched with ozone (an unstable form of oxygen that some feel has healing effects) and then reinjected.

The treatment
Once or twice a week, the healer collects a sample of a few drops to about a teaspoon of blood. Depending on the patients illness, the blood may be mixed with herbal or homeopathic remedies or other substances before being reinjected either into the muscle or just under the skin of the buttock. A total of 8-12 injections, each costing upto $75, are typically required to complete a course of therapy.

The effects
Practitioners of the technique contend that reinjection of blood resets the immune system, causing the disease fighting cells to wake up and other harmful substances that can trigger infections, allergies, rheumatic ailments or other disorders.

Side effects
There are reportedly few side effects of autohemotherapy. For best results, the therapist should remove only a very small amount of blood during the first treatment and then gradually increase the quantity that is withdrawn during subsequent visits. A slight fever, mild fatigue or depression may occur, then quickly dissipate. These symptoms are a signal that the body's immune resistance is increasing.

Immune enhancing substances
To reduce susceptibility to disease, the therapist may enrich a person's blood with natural remedies. An herbalist, for example, might add Echinacea to the blood to boost immune function, and a homeopath might add an appropriate homeopathic preparation, usually in a 4x strength.

Extra tip : Because the immune system tends to be less responsive in older people, some healers recommend autohemotherapy for the elderly to restore vitality or hasten recovery after an illness. They claim it is a safe and gentle way to boost immunity and rid the body of disease causing germs.

Used to bolster immunity: to treat bronchitis, allergies, fungal infections, rheumatic ailments, skin inflammations and eczema; to aid in smoking cessation; and to hasten recovery after a long illness

Methods of administration

The usual course of therapy
The first treatment involves the removal and reinjection of only a few drops of blood. With subsequent visits, increasing amounts are used. The maximum effective therapeutic level is believed to be about 1 tsp. of blood.

Homeopathic blood remedy
With this form of autohemotherapy, a small amount of the patient's own blood is diluted in an alcohol or water solution and then shaken vigorously. This step is repeated several times, according to typical homeopathic practice, the resulting individual remedy is taken orally rather than injected back into th body. This technique is most commonly used for children who suffer from persistent colds.

Ultraviolet light therapy
Some natural healers irradiate the blood with ultraviolet light before reinjecting it into the body. Thje procedure is intended to increase the biological activity of blood cells, thereby enhancing immune boosting effects.

Hemolyzed blood transfusions
Blood is withdrawn and then mixed with a small amount of sterile distilled water. The blood cells absorb the water and are "hemolyzed", or broken apart. As a result, cell components, rather than whole cells, are reintroduced into the injection site, therby evoking a more vigorous immune response.