Scientific Research

An Update on Research in Homeopathy

Robert Medhurst
Written by Robert Medhurst

Homeopath Robert Medhurst presents this latest research summary in his continuing series.

Recently in Australia, the National Health and Medical Research Council, the Australian Federal Government’s peak advisory body on healthcare, released its findings into the effectiveness of 17 natural medicine modalities, one of which was homeopathy. It found that there was insufficient evidence of effectiveness or that the evidence for a clinical effect was inconclusive for these therapies. It was an interesting outcome given the amount of good quality evidence that confirms the effectiveness of homeopathy. Some examples of this follow.

Human Studies

  1. Fibert P, et al. A Comparative Consecutive Case Series of 20 Children With a Diagnosis of ADHD Receiving Homeopathic Treatment, Compared With 10 Children Receiving Usual Care. Homeopathy, 2016, 105, 194-201. This UK research compared the clinical effects of individualised homeopathic treatment for 1 year in 20 children diagnosed with ADHD, with standard treatment for 10 children diagnosed with the same condition for 4 months. Parents completed Conners’ Parent Rating Scale, Revised Long Version (CPRS-R:L) and Measure Your Own Medical Outcome Profile (MYMOP) every consultation at baseline and every 4 months, from which DSMIV total scores were extracted;. The use of homeopathy was associated with statistically significant improvements in criminality and anger and improvements in children with a concomitant diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder in treated children over the year:
  1. Jong M, et al. A Randomized Open Comparative Clinical Trial on the Effectiveness, Safety and Tolerability of a Homeopathic Medicinal Product for Frequent Acute Upper Respiratory Tract Infections in Children. Homeopathy, 2016, 105, 16. This European study looked at the clinical effect of a complex of homeopathically potentised material (Immunokind) in children with upper respiratory tract infection (URTI). The trial design used two parallel treatment groups at four outpatient paediatric clinics in Russia. 201 children with a susceptibility to URTI (three or more occasions during the last six months) were randomly assigned to receive the complex or an identical placebo for 3 weeks and were then followed up at 6 months post-treatment, The primary effectiveness endpoint was a change in the frequency of the URTI after 3 and 6 months of follow-up compared to baseline frequency of URTI (last 12 months prior to study). Secondary endpoints were changes in total complaints, symptom scores, antibiotic use, treatment satisfaction, tolerability and safety. An analysis of the results showed that Immunokind tablets appeared to be effective in preventing recurrent URTI’s.
  1. Phing TC. A Retrospective Cohort Study on the Efficacy of Homeopathy Compared to Homeopathy Plus Conventional Medicine in the Treatment of Hypertension. Homeopathy, 2016, 105, 11. This Malaysian research aimed to evaluate the effects of homeopathic treatment compared to integrated treatment using homeopathy plus conventional pharmacotherapy for hypertension. Data was collected at the National Academy of Homoeopathy in, Maharashtra India from the Shaad Homoeopathic Hospital Complex & Research Centre. Data from 41 people diagnosed with hypertension was used in the study. 22 had been treated with homeopathy and 19 with integrated therapy. Statistical results calculated using repeated ANOVA suggested that homeopathy on its own is as efficacious as homeopathy plus conventional pharmacotherapy in the treatment of hypertension.
  1. Brule D, et al. Feasibility and Clinical Results of a Pilot Trial of Individualized Homeopathic Treatment of Fatigue in Children Receiving Chemotherapy. Homeopathy, 2016, 105, 9. A Canadian team from the Hospital for Sick Children set about examining the effects of individualised homeopathic treatment for fatigue in people aged 2-18 years receiving chemotherapy. 8 people diagnosed with various forms of cancer and who were receiving chemotherapy were treated with homeopathy and completed 14 days of assessment. symptom scores, and proxy-report fatigue scores in general fatigue and sleep/rest fatigue. The results showed a significant improvement of fatigue over the study period. Even though prescriptions were individualised, Cadmium Sulfuricum was the chosen remedy at the start of each case.
  1. Pandey V. Hay Fever and Homeopathy: A Case Series Evaluation. Homeopathy, 2016, 105, 202-208. This uncontrolled UK research assessed the clinical effectiveness of individualised homeopathic treatment in the alleviation of hay fever symptoms in a typical clinical setting. 8 people diagnosed with hay fever completed a Measure Yourself Medical Outcome Profile (MYMOP) self-evaluation questionnaires at baseline and again after two weeks and four weeks of homeopathic treatment. The average MYMOP scores for the eyes, nose, and general wellbeing had improved significantly after two and four weeks of homeopathic treatment. The overall average MYMOP profile score at baseline was 3.83. After 14 and 28 days of treatment the average score had fallen to 1.14 and 1.06 respectively.
  1. Taylor JA, Jacobs J. Homeopathic Treatment of Respiratory Illnesses in Children: Results From Two Randomized Trials. Homeopathy, 2016, 105, 15. University of Washington researchers carried out investigations to determine what effects, if any, homeopathic preparations provided in the treatment of Acute Otitis Media (AOM) or Upper Respiratory Tract Infection (URTI) in children. In the first study, children aged 6 months to 11 years, diagnosed with AOM and managed with a delayed antibiotic approach, were randomised to standard therapy alone or standard therapy plus a homeopathic ear drop preparation. The primary outcome was whether or not an antibiotic prescription given at the index visit was filled; and any subsequent antibiotic use was a secondary outcome. During the 12-15 day follow-up period, significantly fewer parents of children randomised to the homeopathic ear drops group filled the antibiotic prescription compared to those of children receiving standard therapy alone (26.9% and 41.2%, respectively). In the second study, children ages 2-5 years old diagnosed with an URTI were randomised to receive a homeopathic combination product for cold and cough, or a placebo. Parents were instructed to give a dose of study medication as needed for the relief of URTI symptoms up to 6 times per day for three days. Parents recorded changes in symptoms 1 hour after each dose, as well as changes in overall severity of URTI symptoms in twice daily diaries. The homeopathic group reported a statistically significant improvement in 3 of the 4 URTI symptoms at 12 and 24 hours after enrolment as well in a composite cold score.

In-Vitro Studies

  1. Olioso D, et al. Arnica Montana Effects on Gene Expression in a Human Macrophage Cell Line. Evaluation by Quantitative Real-Time PCR. Homeopathy, 2016, 105, 131-147. This work from Italy examined the mechanism of action of various potencies of homeopathically prepared Arnica (2C to 15C) on wound healing. Quantitative Reverse Transcription Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) analysis was used to study the changes in the expression of a customised panel of key genes, mainly cytokines, receptors and transcription factors. The results showed that for macrophages differentiated towards the wound healing phenotype, Arnica affected the expression of several genes, in particular, CXC chemokine ligand 1 (CXCL1), coding for a chief chemokine, and that this exhibited the most consistent increase of expression, while CXC chemokine ligand 2 (CXCL2), Interleukin8 (IL8) and bone morphogenetic protein (BMP2) were slightly up-regulated, suggesting a positive influence of Arnica on neutrophil recruitment and on angiogenesis. MMP1, coding for a metalloproteinase capable of cleaving extracellular matrix substrates, was down-regulated.
  1. Pastelin LD, Pichardo CO, Vel-azquez GA. Evaluation of Cytotoxic and Apoptotic Effects of Several Homeopathic Dilutions of Echinacea Angustifolia on Human Breast, Cervical and Prostate Cancer Cells and Genotoxic Study of E. angustifolia MT. Homeopathy, 2016, 105, 8. This Mexican study looked at the in-vitro anti-cancer effects of various homeopathically prepared potencies of Echinacea (mother tincture, 6C, 30C, 200C, and 1M) on different human cancer cell lines- MDA-MB-231 (Breast cancer), HeLa (Cervical cancer) and PC-3 (Prostate cancer). Cytotoxicity was measured using the 3-(4,5-dimethylthiazolyl-2)-2,5-iphenyltetrazolium bromide (MTT) method. Apoptosis was determined by Annexin-V with flow cytometry. Cytotoxicity was measured on peripheral blood mononucleated cells (PBMC). Genotoxicity was evaluated by Ames test (in vitro) and Micronucleus assay (in vivo).The use of the Echinacea was associated with a viability reduction of between approximately 70 and 89% in the MDA-MB-231 cells, and a viability reduction of between approximately 40 and 96% for HeLa cells, when compared to controls. No viability reduction was seen in the PC-3 cells.
  1. do Nascimento HF, et al. In Vitro Assessment of Anticytotoxic and Antigenotoxic Effects of Canova. Homeopathy, 2016, 105, 3, 265-269. This research sought to determine the in-vitro antigenotoxic and anticytotoxic effects of a combination of homeopathically prepared ingredients (Canova) on human lymphocytes exposed to N-methyl-N-nitrosourea (NMU). NMU is an N-nitroso compound, with genotoxic/mutagenic properties. Samples of human lymphocytes that were subjected to different concentrations of a mixture containing Canova and NMU were used. The genotoxicity/antigenotoxicity of Canova was evaluated by the comet assay, anticytotoxicity was assessed by quantification of apoptosis and necrosis using acridine orange/ethidium bromide. An analysis of the results showed that Canova significantly reduced DNA damage induced by NMU and significantly reduced the frequency of NMU-induced apoptosis after 24 hour of treatment.
  1. do Nascimento HF, et al. In Vitro Assessment of Anticytotoxic and Antigenotoxic Effects of Canova. Homeopathy, 2016, 105, 3, 265-269. This research sought to determine the in-vitro antigenotoxic and anticytotoxic effects of a combination of homeopathically prepared ingredients (Canova) on human lymphocytes exposed to N-methyl-N-nitrosourea (NMU). NMU is an N-nitroso compound, with genotoxic/mutagenic properties. Samples of human lymphocytes that were subjected to different concentrations of a mixture containing Canova and NMU were used. The genotoxicity/antigenotoxicity of Canova was evaluated by the comet assay, anticytotoxicity was assessed by quantification of apoptosis and necrosis using acridine orange/ethidium bromide. An analysis of the results showed that Canova significantly reduced DNA damage induced by NMU and significantly reduced the frequency of NMU-induced apoptosis after 24 hour of treatment.

Plant Studies

  1. Dinelli G, et al. Different Approaches in Homeopathic Basic Research: Plant-Based Bioassays and Evaporation-Induced Crystallization. Homeopathy, 2016, 105, 12. Italian researches from the University of Bologna carried this work out to confirm the effects of homeopathically prepared Arsenic in the form of As2O3 45X on the growth of wheat seedlings. The results demonstrated a significant increase of germination rate and stalk growth with respect to control. Further work was done using this model to determine the effects of temperature, the time taken for the germination effects to become apparent, succussion number and potency level, as well as gene expression, on the wheat-germination effects of As2O3. From these experiments it was shown that As2O3 45X heated to 20 degrees C, 40 degrees C and 70 degrees C, induced a significant increase of germination rate vs. control, losing its effectiveness at 100 degrees C. A2O3 45x induced a stimulating effect on germination, that reached significance only after three months from beginning treatment. In regard to the number of succussions used to prepare the As2O3, a significant increase of germination was obtained starting from 32 succussions between each dilution step for As 45x. Homeopathic potencies from 5X to 60X were prepared and the data showed an oscillatory trend, with some potencies inducing a significant decrease (35X), while others a significant increase of germination rate (5X, 30X, 40X, 45X, 55X, 60X). In regard to gene expression, a massive reduction of gene expression levels to values comparable to those of the control group, induced by As2O3 45x, was observed for several functional classes of genes. In an extension to this, the research team sought to verify whether the droplet evaporation method (DEM) for crystal formation can be applied to assess the effectiveness of homeopathic medicines. They studied the shape characteristics of the polycrystalline structures formed during droplet evaporation of wheat seed leakages. The results showed that As2O3 45x increased the local connected fractal dimension levels and bilateral symmetry exactness values in the polycrystalline structures, as compared to the water treatment.

Animal  Studies

  1. Lakshmanan G, Prakash S. Effect of Ultra-High Dilutions of Lycopodium Clavatum on Reproductive and Sexual Functions in Aged Male Wistar Albino Rats. Homeopathy, 2016, 105, 17. An Indian team from the University of Madras examined the effects of various homeopathic potencies of Lycopodium (6C, 30C and 1M) on the reproductive functions of rats. 36 aged rats were divided into 6 groups and given controls or the various potencies of Lycopodium daily for 60 days. Assessments were made at days 0, 30 and 60 of testosterone, testis (enzymic, non-Enzymic antioxidants and lipid peroxidation), epididimi and sperm (viability, concentration, motility, morphology, morphometry, acrosomal intactness, membrane permeability and Nuclear condensation assay). Tests were also done on potency and mating behaviour. An analysis of the results saw an increase in testosterone levels and an improvement in sperm parameters in the rats given Lycopodium with a better spermatogenic status in the treatment groups than the control groups. Mating behaviour assessment and tests for potency showed better sexual performance in the test groups than control groups. The results for Lycopodium 30C and 1M were superior to the other potencies used.
  1. Lopes CR, et al. Highly Diluted Medication Reduces Tissue Parasitism and Inflammation in Mice Infected by Trypanosoma cruzi. Homeopathy, 2016, 105, 186-193. Using a blind, controlled, randomised study design, a Brazilian research team set out to evaluate the effects of homeopathically prepared Kalium causticum, Conium maculatum, and Lycopodium clavatum 13C on mice infected with Trypanosoma cruzi. 102 mice infected with Trypanosoma cruzi were treated with the homeopathic medicines or a control at 48, 96 and 144 hours after baseline. The use of the homeopathic medicines was associated with a statistically significant reduction in parasitaemia when compared to the control, and the greatest effect was seen in the mice given Lycopodium.

(Robert Medhurst is the author of The Concordant Clinical Homeopathic Repertory, which was formed entirely from clinically confirmed remedies.)

About the author

Robert Medhurst

Robert Medhurst

Robert Medhurst BNat DHom DBM DRM DNutr is a qualified Naturopath & Homoeopath with 28 years of clinical experience and currently practices in the Adelaide Hills in South Australia. He has written many articles and lectured on homeopathy throughout Australia and the U.S. Robert previously operated several natural therapies practices in Sydney and was involved in teaching and research. He was formerly the Expert Advisor on Homeopathy to the Federal Government of Australia, Dept. of Health & Ageing. He specialises in homeopathy and is the author of The Business of Healing, the definitive guide for clinical practice establishment and management. For more information see adelaidehillsnaturopath.com.au. Robert Medhurst is author of the recently released : The Concordant Clinical Homeopathic Repertory

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