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Use of Homeopathy in Treatment of Diabetes: Prevalence and Correlates



Hpathy Ezine, November, 2009 | Print This Post Print This Post |

The growing incidence of chronic and incurable diseases has led to the increased use of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) in recent years. Homeopathy is one of the most popular CAM systems of treatment. Recent observational study supports the use of Homeopathy for the management of diabetes; therefore, it is important to know the prevalence and pattern of use of homeopathy among diabetic patients. In this study, the author systematically reviewed the published research papers on prevalence and correlates of use of homeopathy in diabetic patients. The prevalence of diabetes ranges from 0.7% to 12.9% on the basis of 4 papers reviewed. The prevalence is higher in developing country like India. Levels of education, the desire for early and maximum benefit and geographic area were found as the co-related factors in use of homeopathy in this study. A large scale population-based study is needed to gather deeper knowledge about prevalence and correlates of use of homeopathy in diabetic patients for the better management of diabetes – one of the most threatening chronic diseases of our time.

Keywords: Homeopathy; Diabetes; Prevalence; CAM

Introduction

Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) is gaining popularity throughout the world, with an increase in the number of practitioners as well as the number of patients consulting them (BMJ, 1996). Population-based studies conducted in industrialized countries such as Australia, Scotland, UK, Taiwan, Singapore and the United States of America (USA), report that one-half to two-thirds of adults use CAM (Emslie et al., 1996, MacLennan et al., 2002, Lew-Ting 2003, Lim et al., 2005, Tindle et al., 2005).  The growing incidence of chronic and incurable diseases has led to the increased use of CAM in recent years (Eisenberg et al., 1998; Dunning, 2003). Diabetes mellitus (DM) is one such chronic and incurable disease which is highly prevalent worldwide. It is one of the major burdens of diseases of the twenty first century (WHO-IDF, 2004).  Worldwide, every ten seconds, at least one person dies from diabetes and its complications (Siegel & Narayan, 2008).

Conventional medicine for diabetes has been geared toward regulating blood glucose with a combination of dietary modification, insulin and/or oral agents, maintaining ideal body weight, exercising regularly and self-monitoring of blood sugar (WHO-IDF, 2004). Good glucose control can, however, be difficult for many people with diabetes, because these conventional treatment plans require change of behaviour and lifestyle (Dunning, 2003). Due to the chronic nature of the disease, the debilitation of complications, the threat of death and the complexities of treatment plans, people with diabetes often work proactively to manage their condition, optimize their health and  try to alleviate complications through use of CAM (Dunning, 2003, Bell et al., 2006).

Homeopathy is one of the most popular CAM systems of treatment (BMJ, 1996). A recent observational study (Pomposelli et al., 2009) reported that “complementary homeopathic therapy of diabetic neuropathy was feasible and had promising effects in symptom scores and cost savings“; the study also concluded that “it is possible to treat patients with homeopathy, monitored by the conventional diabetes specialist, without any major problem of compatibility between the two forms of therapy“. However, while there is evidence in support of the use of homeopathy for the management of diabetes, it is important to know the prevalence and pattern of use of homeopathy among diabetic patients. This study aims to investigate the prevalence and correlates of use of homeopathy in diabetic patients.

Method

This study is a comprehensive literature review of published studies in peer reviewed journals. In this review the research question is: What is known about prevalence and correlates of use of homeopathy in diabetic patients? To answer the research question the author searched the available studies with pre-requisite criteria. Then the author critically examines those studies, and finally summarizes the findings of the selected studies in a descriptive manner.

To achieve this aim, the research question has been broken down into the following objectives –

·         To investigate the prevalence of use of homeopathy in diabetic patients

·         To know the pattern of the use of homeopathy in diabetic patients

·         To find out the correlates of use of homeopathy in diabetic patients

An extensive search was performed at the following electronic databases for published (in English language only) studies: AMED (Allied and Complementary Medicine), Ovid MEDLINE, EMBASE, PubMed; BioMed Central; EBSCOhost (Academic Search Complete & CINAHL Plus). Diabetes, homeopathy (& homoeopathy), prevalence, CAM, complementary medicine, alternative medicine and pattern of uses are the key words which were used to search the electronic database. References of the primarily obtained article were also screened for eligible studies. The inclusion and exclusion criteria applied in this study were as follows:

Inclusion criteria

·        Original (primary) research articles

·        Studies published in peer-reviewed journal

·        Studies with any design, reporting prevalence of use of homeopathy

Exclusion criteria

·        Studies other than survey were excluded

·        Studies not in English Language

·        Studies that reported combined use with other CAM, but where separate quantitative data of prevalence of use of homeopathy wasn’t available.

Data from all selected studies were extracted in a summary table under the following headings:

·        Study type (survey method)

·        Study site

·        Study year

·        Sample Size

·        Sampling procedure

·        Demography of the sample (age, gender, ethnicity, socioeconomic status and educational status)

·        Prevalence of use of Homeopathy

·        Factors associated  with the use of homeopathy

Quality of the eligible studies was assessed according to the review article of Loney & Stratford (1999). Critical examination of the studies was carried out according to the guidelines of Loney et al (1998).

Results

Literature search yielded fourteen studies. Five studies were excluded as they reported prevalence of overall CAM but homeopathy was not included (Egede, 2004; Schoenberg et al, 2004; Lind et al, 2006; Hasan et al, 2009 and Dunning, 2003). The study conducted by Garrow & Egede (2006a) was excluded as that did not report prevalence of homeopathy separately; this study reported acupuncture, Ayurveda, biofeedback, chelation, energy healing or Reiki therapy, hypnosis, massage, naturopathy, and homeopathy combined into an “other” group because very few respondents with diabetes used these treatments (as they proclaimed in their study). Another study (Garrow & Egede, 2006b) was excluded as it did not report prevalence of homeopathy, but reported association between complementary and alternative medicine use, preventive care practices and use of conventional medical services among adults with diabetes. The study conducted by Pagán & Tanguma, (2007) explored affordability and use of complementary and alternative medicine by adults with diabetes and that was excluded from the review as prevalence of use of homeopathy in diabetic patients was missing. Another study was excluded as it was a review (Chang et al, 2007) and not a primary study.

Lastly, five studies met the inclusion criteria; and were selected for final review. A close examination revealed that two papers (Mehrotra et al, 2004; Kumara et al, 2004) out of five selected reported the same data from a single study. Among these two papers the former one (Mehrotra et al, 2004) was included in this study because of its relevancy, while the latter (Kumara et al, 2004) was excluded to avoid duplication.  Finally, four studies were included for this study. Identification details of the studies included in this review are given in table 1.

Table 1 Studies included for analysis in this review
Running head First author Journal Publication year
Prevalence of complementary medicine usage within Leese G.P. Practical Diabetes International 1997
Use of Complementary and Alternative Medicine Yeh G.Y. American Journal of Public Health 2002
Use of complementary and alternative Mehrotra R. The National Medical Journal of India 2004
Use of complementary and alternative medicine Dannemann K. Pediatric Diabetes 2008

Three studies reported both prevalence of use of homeopathy and determinants of use in diabetic patients (Mehrotra et al, 2004; Dannemann et al, 2008). The last study (Yeh et al, 2002) reported only the prevalence of use of homeopathy among diabetic patients. Only one study was a nationally representative survey (Yeh et al, 2002), others were sporadic surveys. One survey was conducted in India, one in USA, one in UK and the other one in Germany.

Two studies included diabetic patients of all ages (reference), one study included only patients over eighteen (reference) and another study (reference) was conduct among diabetic children age range 1 to 18. Samples from every  socio-economic status were included in all studies.

Prevalence of use of homeopathy among diabetic patients varied from 0.7% to 12.9%.  Lowest prevalence (0.7%) was reported in USA and was a national representative telephone survey. On the other hand, highest (12.9%) usage was found at India. Another two studies from developed countries, United Kingdom and Germany, found the prevalence of use of homeopathy in diabetic patients 4.5% and 7.9% respectively. In Germany, homeopathy is the CAM system of treatment most used by diabetic patients.

None of the studies reported determinants of use of homeopathy specifically, but just of overall CAM. However, determinants of use of CAM such as high levels of education and the desire for early and maximum benefit, have been reported (Mehrotra et al, 2004). Geographical areas were also found significant in use of CAM, for example higher usage of CAM was found in West Germany compared with the East Germany (Dannemann et al, 2008). It has also been reported that patients who suffer from diabetes for a long time are more likely to perceive benefit from CAM,  therefore those diabetic patient use and recommend CAM more than the patients who are suffering for a short time. Details of finding showed in table 2

Table 2 Result
Study Study Setting Study site/year Sample Size/procedure Age of the Participants use of Homeopathy Co-related factors
Yeh et al, 2002 at USA Telephone survey Nationally representative / Nov ’97 and Feb ’98 2055 respondents

/Random

18+ 0.7 % Not reported
Leese et al, 1997 at UK Questionnaire interviewed by a research nurse Diabetic Clinic

Study period not reported

328 approached, 246 agreed to be interviewed./ Convenience sample 16 to 86

Mean 52±1

4.5% Previous use of CAM

Patient who had diabetes for long were more likely to perceive benefit from CAM

Mehrotra et al, 2004 at India Semi-structure interview Outpatient endocrine clinic /1999-2001 493/systematic random sampling All age

Mean age 48.8 years

[SD=12.6]

12.9% The desire for early and maximum

Benefit, high levels of education (p=0.02)

Dannemann et al, 2008 at Germany self-completed survey In four pediatric diabetes

centers in Germany /

Nov ’04 to Dec ’05.

346/

Cluster sampling

1-18 yrs. mean

11.9  3.8 yr

7.9 % Significant higher usage of CAM was found in West Germany compared with the East (25.0 vs. 14.0%, p , 0.05).

One study (Dannemann et al, 2008) that explored use of CAM in children with type 1 diabetes, found the majority of CAM users were motivated by the wish to try everything and a conviction that CAM has less side effects, while their expectations were an improved well-being of the child and the prevention of microvascular and neurological complications. This study did not report whether these findings were statistically significant or not.

Dhiman Roy

Comments

  1. chidi & chris

    May 31, 2010

    sir u’ve really contributed so much in the care of diabetic patients through ur numerous publications.kudos

  2. Dr.Saif(Allopath & Homeopath)

    December 9, 2010

    Dear Doctor,

    Your article is marvelous; a real research work, giving the most important statistical facts about the prevalence of diabetes mellitus in various regions.
    I have administered homeopathic medicines to diabetics in combination with allopathic treatment and the results were very encouraging.
    Examples:
    1. Generalized weakness and lethargy were cured.
    2. Diabetic complications of eyes,brain,nerves,skin, kidneys and cardiovascular system were prevented/delayed in most of the cases and treated in a reasonable number of patients.
    3. Diabetics who developed resistance to oral anti diabetics were given homeopathic medicines and they again became sensitive to the same allopathic medicine and responded well to the same treatment.

    Wish you best of luck!

  3. Dr. Syed Md. Ishaque

    September 28, 2012

    sulphur is one of the good medicines in homoeopathy

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