Author: Dr. Mike Emmans Dean
Publisher: KVC Verlag
Pages 305, soft cover (with a CD)
Reviewed By: Dr. Manish Bhatia
This work, initially written as a PhD thesis and later published as a book, was the winner of the first Hans Walz Prize of the Robert Bosch Foundation in 2003.
The Trials of Homeopathy provides a clinical-historical account of the origins, structure and development of Hahnemann’s scientific therapeutics, and two systematic reviews of homeopathic clinical trials, 1821-1953 and 1940-1998. The book is divided into four parts:
Part 1: Homeopathy’s Place in the History of Therapeutics
Part 2: Review of Clinical Trials of Homeopathy from 1821 to 1953
Part 3: Review of Clinical Trials of Homeopathy from 1940 to 1998
Part 4: Conclusion
I initially picked this book with the impression I’d be reading technical details of homeopathic clinical research studies. To my positive surprise, the book opened with a historical account of the development of homeopathy, Hahnemann’s progress with the new therapeutics and the growth of conventional medicine. The first part was a rich and fact filled summary of the growth and development of homeopathy. The tracing of principles of homeopathy to ancient medicine and the gradual evolution of each homeopathic principle, provided an exciting journey through the homeopathic time-line. The chapter dealing with the development of homeopathy after Hahnemann, provides a very clear and structured evolutionary map of homeopathy. I have not seen such clarity before, in tracing our history and evolution. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it.
The second part provides an extensive history of early homeopathic research. Dean should be congratulated for digging through all the archives and publishing such a comprehensive review of our historical trials. The facts that stand out in this section are:
â€¢ During that time, homeopaths were way ahead of conventional medicine in conducting meaningful controlled clinical trials. They were the first to pick up the idea of controlled trials and statistical analysis of data. It was the homeopaths who initially demanded a thorough comparison with conventional medicine.
â€¢ The second fact that stares out at you, is the extent to which allopaths of that era went, to suppress the positive research data coming from homeopathy and to sabotage the homeopathic trials in every possible way. If today’s skeptics of homeopathy read these facts, they will feel ashamed of their ancestry!
The third part summarizes the existing meta-analyses done on homeopathic studies, identifies weaknesses in them and suggests solutions. This is again the most comprehensive review of homeopathic clinical research. It covers more studies than any other meta-analysis of homeopathic research, is derived from all languages and each study has been objectively, systematically and statistically analyzed to judge its value. The classification and comparison of trials as Classical, Clinical, Complex and Isopathy, sheds new light on the efficacy of various forms of homeopathy and on research issues involved in each trial type. It is heartening to see such thorough analysis of homeopathic trials. The suggestion about using pragmatic trials, instead of blindly following placebo-controls, warrants serious consideration. This evaluation of homeopathic research again proves that homeopathy is much more than a placebo, and further research trials using insights provided in this work, can prove the clinical efficacy of homeopathy unequivocally.
Having laid down the strengths of this work, I would also like to point out some weaknesses. Since this work was initially written as a PhD thesis, the writing style is at times a bit dry and mechanical. But considering the origin of this work, this was probably unavoidable. I also felt that the studies in the second review (1940-1998) could have been elaborated in more detail. I am not sure whether it is because of the constraints imposed by the size or scope of this work, but there is definitely room for more descriptive analysis/evaluation of the homeopathic trials in the second review. The book may also seem challenging to those who are afraid of statistics. However, considering the magnitude and importance of this work, these are minor issues. This is an excellent book and I would recommend it to every homeopath.