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The scientific basis of homeopathy has been called into question constantly since its beginning. Pharmaceutical drugs are judged not by the knowledge of chemical action (many drugs have non-FDA approved uses that are only later explained) but by how well they treat illness. If the same standard is held to homeopathics, they meet the criteria. The scientific gold standard of drug use is the randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind study. Hundreds of such studies have been done with homeopathics, some with positive results, some with negative. Analysis of all those studies has been done by several meta-analyses. The most recent large scale meta-analysis abstract is included as well as multiple smaller positive study results. Since the medical community has found sufficient merit in homeopathy to test it, and since those tests have overall shown an effect greater than that produced by placebo, homeopathy should be considered both scientific and validated.

In fact, recent medical research into the "placebo effect" have shown it to be nothing more than a good doctor-patient relationship. Giving sugar pills no longer provide today's more sophisticated patient with any improved result. Since homeopathics may provide at least palliative benefit to patients otherwise unable to receive relief, and since homeopathics for those patients are very cost effective, it is disturbing to see it denied patients on the basis of an unknown mechanism of action. Homeopathy has been shown in multiple tests (at high dilution) to be virtually free of side effects, and is extremely cost-effective to produce, so it provides dramatic competition to current drug options. In situations where drugs are unavailable due to cost, homeopathics can provide possibly life saving relief to children with acute diarrhea.

Cochrane Database Syst Rev 2003;(1):CD003974

Related Articles, Links

Placebo treatment versus no treatment.
Hrobjartsson A, Gotzsche PC.
The Nordic Cochrane Centre, Rigshospitalet, Department 7112, Blegdamsvej 9, Copenhagen O, Denmark, DK-2100. a.hrobjartsson@cochrane.dk
BACKGROUND: Placebo interventions are often believed to improve patient reported and observer reported outcomes, but this belief is not based on evidence from randomised trials that compare placebo with no treatment. OBJECTIVES: To assess the effect of placebo interventions. SEARCH STRATEGY: We searched the Cochrane Controlled Trials Register (The Cochrane Library, issue 3, 1998), MEDLINE (Jan 1966 to Dec 1998), EMBASE (Jan 1980 to Dec 1998), Biological Abstracts (Jan 1986 to Dec 1998), PsycLIT (Jan 1887 to Dec 1998). Experts on placebo research were contacted and references in the included trials were read. SELECTION CRITERIA: Randomised placebo trials with a no-treatment control group investigating any health problem were included. DATA COLLECTION AND ANALYSIS: Two reviewers independently assessed trial quality and extracted data. Study authors were contacted for additional information. MAIN RESULTS: Outcome data were available in 114 out of 130 included trials, investigating 40 clinical conditions. Outcomes were binary in 32 trials (3795 patients) and continuous in 82 (4730 patients). We found no statistically significant pooled effect of placebo in studies with binary outcomes, relative risk 0.95 (95 per cent confidence interval 0.88 to 1.02). The pooled relative risk for subjective (patient reported) outcomes was 0.95 (0.86 to 1.05) and for objective (observer reported) outcomes 0.91 (0.80 to 1.04). There was statistically significant heterogeneity (P < 0.03), but no evidence of sample size bias (P = 0.56). We found an overall positive effect of placebo treatments in trials with continuous outcomes, standardised mean difference -0.28 (95 per cent confidence interval -0.38 to -0.19). The standardised mean difference for subjective outcomes was -0.36 (-0.47 to -0.25), whereas no statistically significant effect was found for objective outcomes, standardised mean difference -0.12 (-0.27 to 0.03). There was statistically significant heterogeneity (P < 0.001), and evidence of sample size bias (P = 0.05). There was no statistically significant effect of placebo interventions in eight out of nine clinical conditions investigated in three trials or more (nausea, relapse in prevention of smoking and depression, overweight, asthma, hypertension, insomnia and anxiety), but confidence intervals were wide. There was a modest apparent analgesic effect of placebo interventions, standardised mean difference -0.27 (-0.40 to -0.15), but also a substantial risk of bias. REVIEWER'S CONCLUSIONS: There was no evidence that placebo interventions in general have clinically important effects. A possible moderate effect on subjective continuous outcomes, especially pain, could not be clearly distinguished from bias.

PMID: 12535498 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

Ann Intern Med. 2003 Mar 4;138(5):393-9.

Related Articles, Links


Comment in:

Ann Intern Med. 2003 Oct 21;139(8):W73; author reply W76.

Ann Intern Med. 2003 Oct 21;139(8):W74; author reply W76.

Ann Intern Med. 2003 Oct 21;139(8):W75; author reply W76.

A critical overview of homeopathy.

Jonas WB, Kaptchuk TJ, Linde K.

Samueli Institute for Information Biology, 121 South Saint Asaph Street, Suite 200, Alexandria, VA 22314, USA. wjonas@siib.org

Homeopathy is a 200-year-old therapeutic system that uses small doses of various substances to stimulate autoregulatory and self-healing processes. Homeopathy selects substances by matching a patient's symptoms with symptoms produced by these substances in healthy individuals. Medicines are prepared by serial dilution and shaking, which proponents claim imprints information into water. Although many conventional physicians find such notions implausible, homeopathy had a prominent place in 19th-century health care and has recently undergone a worldwide revival. In the United States, patients who seek homeopathic care are more affluent and younger and more often seek treatment for subjective symptoms than those who seek conventional care. Homeopathic remedies were allowed by the 1939 Pure Food and Drug Act and are available over the counter. Some data--both from randomized, controlled trials and laboratory research--show effects from homeopathic remedies that contradict the contemporary rational basis of medicine. Three independent systematic reviews of placebo-controlled trials on homeopathy reported that its effects seem to be more than placebo, and one review found its effects consistent with placebo. There is also evidence from randomized, controlled trials that homeopathy may be effective for the treatment of influenza, allergies, postoperative ileus, and childhood diarrhea. Evidence suggests that homeopathy is ineffective for migraine, delayed-onset muscle soreness, and influenza prevention. There is a lack of conclusive evidence on the effectiveness of homeopathy for most conditions. Homeopathy deserves an open-minded opportunity to demonstrate its value by using evidence-based principles, but it should not be substituted for proven therapies.

Publication Types:

Historical Article

Review

Review, Academic


PMID: 12614092 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

BMJ 1991 Feb 9;302(6772):316-23


Erratum in:

BMJ 1991 Apr 6;302(6780):818
Comment in:

BMJ. 1991 Mar 23;302(6778):727.

BMJ. 1991 Mar 2;302(6775):529.


Clinical trials of homoeopathy.

Kleijnen J, Knipschild P, ter Riet G.

Department of Epidemiology and Health Care Research, University of Limburg, Maastricht, The Netherlands.

OBJECTIVE--To establish whether there is evidence of the efficacy of homoeopathy from controlled trials in humans. DESIGN--Criteria based meta-analysis. Assessment of the methodological quality of 107 controlled trials in 96 published reports found after an extensive search. Trials were scored using a list of predefined criteria of good methodology, and the outcome of the trials was interpreted in relation to their quality. SETTING--Controlled trials published world wide. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES--Results of the trials with the best methodological quality. Trials of classical homoeopathy and several modern varieties were considered separately. RESULTS--In 14 trials some form of classical homoeopathy was tested and in 58 trials the same single homoeopathic treatment was given to patients with comparable conventional diagnosis. Combinations of several homoeopathic treatments were tested in 26 trials; isopathy was tested in nine trials. Most trials seemed to be of very low quality, but there were many exceptions. The results showed a positive trend regardless of the quality of the trial or the variety of homeopathy used. Overall, of the 105 trials with interpretable results, 81 trials indicated positive results whereas in 24 trials no positive effects of homoeopathy were found. The results of the review may be complicated by publication bias, especially in such a controversial subject as homoeopathy. CONCLUSIONS--At the moment the evidence of clinical trials is positive but not sufficient to draw definitive conclusions because most trials are of low methodological quality and because of the unknown role of publication bias. This indicates that there is a legitimate case for further evaluation of homoeopathy, but only by means of well performed trials.

Publication Types:

Meta-Analysis


PMID: 1825800 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

Pediatr Infect Dis J. 2003 Mar;22(3):229-34.

Homeopathy for childhood diarrhea: combined results and metaanalysis from three randomized, controlled clinical trials.

Jacobs J, Jonas WB, Jimenez-Perez M, Crothers D.

Department of Epidemiology, University of Washington School of Public Health and Community Medicine, Seattle, WA, USA. jjacobs@igc.org

BACKGROUND: Previous studies have shown a positive treatment effect of individualized homeopathic treatment for acute childhood diarrhea, but sample sizes were small and results were just at or near the level of statistical significance. Because all three studies followed the same basic study design, the combined data from these three studies were analyzed to obtain greater statistical power. METHODS: Three double blind clinical trials of diarrhea in 242 children ages 6 months to 5 years were analyzed as 1 group. Children were randomized to receive either an individualized homeopathic medicine or placebo to be taken as a single dose after each unformed stool for 5 days. Parents recorded daily stools on diary cards, and health workers made home visits daily to monitor children. The duration of diarrhea was defined as the time until there were less than 3 unformed stools per day for 2 consecutive days. A metaanalysis of the effect-size difference of the three studies was also conducted. RESULTS: Combined analysis shows a duration of diarrhea of 3.3 days in the homeopathy group compared with 4.1 in the placebo group (P = 0.008). The metaanalysis shows a consistent effect-size difference of approximately 0.66 day (P = 0.008). CONCLUSIONS: The results from these studies confirm that individualized homeopathic treatment decreases the duration of acute childhood diarrhea and suggest that larger sample sizes be used in future homeopathic research to ensure adequate statistical power. Homeopathy should be considered for use as an adjunct to oral rehydration for this illness.
Publication Types:

Meta-Analysis


PMID: 12634583 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

J Altern Complement Med 2000 Apr;6(2):131-9

Homeopathic treatment of acute childhood diarrhea: results from a clinical trial in Nepal.
Jacobs J, Jimenez LM, Malthouse S, Chapman E, Crothers D, Masuk M, Jonas WB.

Department of Epidemiology, School of Public Health and Community Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle, USA. jjacobs@igc.org

OBJECTIVE: To investigate whether the finding in a previous study that homeopathic medicines decrease the duration of acute diarrhea in children could be replicated in a different study population. DESIGN: Randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. SETTING: Private, charitable health clinic in Kathmandu, Nepal. SUBJECTS: A consecutive sample of 126 children, 6 months to 5 years of age, who presented during April through June, 1994, with more than three unformed stools in the previous 24 hours. INTERVENTION: Children received either an individualized homeopathic medicine or placebo, to be taken one dose after each unformed stool for 5 days. Parents recorded daily stools on diary cards, and health workers made home visits daily to monitor children. OUTCOME MEASURES: Predefined measures were based on the previous study: (1) duration of diarrhea, defined as the time until there were fewer than three unformed stools per day, for two consecutive days, and (2) Average number of stools per day for each group. RESULTS: Of the 126 children initially enrolled, 116 completed treatment. The mean number of stools per day over the entire 5-day treatment period was 3.2 for the treatment group and 4.5 for the placebo group (P = 0.023). A Kaplan-Meier survival analysis of the duration of diarrhea, which included data from all patient visits, showed an 18.4% greater probability that a child would be free of diarrhea by day 5 under homeopathic treatment (P = 0.036). CONCLUSIONS:
These results are consistent with the finding from the previous study that individualized homeopathic treatment decreases the duration of diarrhea and number of stools in children with acute childhood diarrhea.
Publication Types:

Clinical Trial
Randomized Controlled Trial

PMID: 10784270 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

Pediatrics 1994 May;93(5):719-25

Comment in:

Pediatrics. 1994 Dec;94(6 Pt 1):963-4; discussion 965.

Pediatrics. 1994 Dec;94(6 Pt 1):963; discussion 965.

Pediatrics. 1994 Dec;94(6 Pt 1):963; discussion 965.

Pediatrics. 1994 Dec;94(6 Pt 1):964-5; discussion 965.

Pediatrics. 1994 Dec;94(6 Pt 1):964; discussion 965.

Pediatrics. 1995 Jan;95(1):159; discussion 160.

Pediatrics. 1995 Jan;95(1):160; discussion 160-1.

Pediatrics. 1996 May;97(5):776; discussion 777-8.

Pediatrics. 1996 May;97(5):777; discussion 777-8.

Pediatrics. 1996 May;97(5):779.

Treatment of acute childhood diarrhea with homeopathic medicine: a randomized clinical trial in Nicaragua.
Jacobs J, Jimenez LM, Gloyd SS, Gale JL, Crothers D.
Department of Epidemiology, School of Public Health and Community Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle.
OBJECTIVE. Acute diarrhea is the leading cause of pediatric morbidity and mortality worldwide. Oral rehydration treatment can prevent death from dehydration, but does not reduce the duration of individual episodes. Homeopathic treatment for acute diarrhea is used in many parts of the world. This study was performed to determine whether homeopathy is useful in the treatment of acute childhood diarrhea. METHODOLOGY. A randomized double-blind clinical trial comparing homeopathic medicine with placebo in the treatment of acute childhood diarrhea was conducted in Leon, Nicaragua, in July 1991. Eighty-one children aged 6 months to 5 years of age were included in the study. An individualized homeopathic medicine was prescribed for each child and daily follow-up was performed for 5 days. Standard treatment with oral rehydration treatment was also given. RESULTS. The treatment group had a statistically significant (P < .05) decrease in duration of diarrhea, defined as the number of days until there were less than three unformed stools daily for 2 consecutive days. There was also a significant difference (P < .05) in the number of stools per day between the two groups after 72 hours of treatment. CONCLUSIONS.
The statistically significant decrease in the duration of diarrhea in the treatment group suggests that homeopathic treatment might be useful in acute childhood diarrhea. Further study of this treatment deserves consideration.

Publication Types:

Clinical Trial
Randomized Controlled Trial

PMID: 8165068 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

Homeopathy 2002 Jul;91(3):162-5

A new database on basic research in homeopathy.

Albrecht H, van Wijk R, Dittloff S.

Karl und Veronica Carstens-Stiftung, Essen, Germany. h.albrecht@carstens-stiftung.de

A new database on 'Basic Research on Homeopathy' has been established. It contains research on biological systems and physico-chemical effects of the succussion process. It is aimed at the elucidation of the working mechanism of the homeopathic similia principle following application of low doses and potencies of substances. By the end of 2000, this database included 829 experiments in 782 primary publications. The publications are classified according to organism and field of interest. Several reasons for the relatively high number of experiments and publications are presented. It is concluded that the research community would benefit from a European research agenda with a priority on the translation of relevant publications from the different European languages into English.

PMID: 12322870 [PubMed - in process]

Palliat Med 2002 May;16(3):227-33


The homeopathic approach to symptom control in the cancer patient: a prospective observational study.

Thompson EA, Reillly D.

Directorate of Homeopathic Medicine, United Bristol Healthcare Trust, Bristol Homeopathic Hospital, UK.

The aims of this study were to describe a population of patients with cancer referred for complementary therapies to an NHS homeopathic hospital, and to explore the homeopathic approach to symptom control and its impact on mood disturbance and quality of life. One hundred consecutive patients attending a designated research cancer clinic were seen for a consultation, lasting up to 60 min, and prescription of a homeopathic remedy. A maximum of three symptoms were identified and rated by the patient as a problem, using a numerical self-rating scale. The effect these symptoms have on daily life and overall sense of well being were recorded using similar scales. Patients completed the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS) and the European Organization for Research and Treatment in Cancer--Quality of Life Questionnaire--Core 30 (EORTC QLQ-30) at the initial consultation and at four to six consultations later. After this time, the patients completed a final assessment questionnaire asking about satisfaction with the homeopathic approach, how helpful they had found the approach for the targeted symptoms and what factors they felt may have contributed to the changes perceived. One hundred patients were entered into the study. Thirty-nine patients had metastatic disease. Nine patients were refusing conventional cancer treatments. The most common symptoms were pain, fatigue and hot flushes. Symptom scores for fatigue and hot flushes improved significantly over the study period but not for pain scores. Side effects included a transient worsening of symptoms in a few cases, which settled on stopping the remedy. Fifty-two patients completed the study, and in those patients satisfaction was high, and 75% (n=38) rated the approach as helpful or very helpful for their symptoms. Results suggest that further research is warranted to explore the management of hot flushes in women with breast cancer and fatigue in the cancer diagnosis.

PMID: 12046999 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

OTHER RESEARCHERS (Not Medical. I do not know and cannot vouch for the quality of this research.)

http://www.ainsworths.com/onlinemagazine/ASPmag.asp?Article=17
http://www.marius.net/research.html

 (207) 623-1681 Maloney Medical, 4 Drew St., Augusta ME 04330 docleroymaloney@hotmail.com 
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