Scientific Research

Homeopathy- Recent Research Findings

Robert Medhurst
Written by Robert Medhurst

Homeopath Robert Medhurst presents summaries from recent research into homeopathy.

Here in Australia, the public acceptance of complementary healthcare modalities such as nutritional and herbal medicine is generally fairly easy. Pharmaceutical therapy is well-accepted and because herbs and nutritional supplements can be shown to work in a similar manner to pharmaceuticals, the possibility that they’d be clinically effective isn’t difficult for most people to accept. For homeopathy, the situation is a little different because according to what’s generally accepted about chemistry and pharmacology, it shouldn’t work. The media here has been quite efficient at broadcasting the supposed lack of effectiveness of homeopathy, based largely around idea that homeopathy is scientifically implausible.  For those who have no experience of it, the notion that homeopathy works is usually only acceptable where a potential user receives strong confirmation of it from a trusted source. Peer-reviewed scientific journals can act as that trusted source and following are summaries from some recent research highlights that have appeared in these journals.

Human Studies

  1. Teixeira MZ, Podgaec S, Baracat EC. Potentized estrogen in homeopathic treatment of endometriosis-associated pelvic pain: A 24-week, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study. Eur J Obstet Gynecol Reprod Biol, 2017, 211, 48-55. This work looked at the possible efficacy and safety of potentised oestrogen compared to placebo in the homeopathic treatment of endometriosis-associated pelvic pain (EAPP). Researchers enrolled 50 women aged 18-45 years old with diagnoses of deeply infiltrating endometriosis based on magnetic resonance imaging or transvaginal ultrasound after bowel preparation, and who scored ≥5 on a visual analogue scale (VAS: range 0 to 10) for endometriosis-associated pelvic pain. Potentised oestrogen (12C,18C and 24C) or placebo was administered twice daily per oral route. The primary outcome measure was change in the severity of EAPP global and partial scores (VAS) from baseline to week 24, determined as the difference in the mean score of five modalities of chronic pelvic pain (dysmenorrhoea, deep dyspareunia, non-cyclic pelvic pain, cyclic bowel pain and/or cyclic urinary pain). The secondary outcome measures were mean score difference for quality of life assessed with SF-36 Health Survey Questionnaire, depression symptoms on Beck Depression Inventory (BDI), and anxiety symptoms on Beck Anxiety Inventory (BAI). An analysis of the results showed that potentised oestrogen (12C, 18C and 24C) at a dose of 3 drops twice daily for 24 weeks was significantly more effective than placebo for reducing endometriosis-associated pelvic pain.
  2. Oberai P, et al. Homoeopathic management of Schizophrenia: A prospective, non‑comparative, open‑label observational study. Indian J Res Homoeopathy, 2016, 10, 108-118. This 5 year study was run by India’s Central Council for Research in Homoeopathy and sought to evaluate the usefulness of homeopathic intervention in schizophrenia. Patients between 20 and 60 years of age presenting with symptoms of schizophrenia were screened for inclusion and exclusion criteria. The patients who were on antipsychotic drugs were allowed to continue the same along with homeopathic medicine, and the dose of antipsychotics was monitored by a psychiatrist. The homeopathic medicines were prescribed according to the presenting symptoms. Patients were followed up for 12 months. The response to treatment was assessed using Brief Psychiatric Rating Scales (BPRS) and data analysis was done using Statistical Package for the Social Sciences SPSS Version 20.0. The 171 enrolled patients were assessed as per the modified Intention to Treat Principle. An analysis of the results showed a statistically significant (P = 0.0001, P < 0.05) response to homeopathic treatment. Sulphur, Lycopodium, Natrum muriaticum, Pulsatilla and Phosphorus were found to be the most useful medicines in treating schizophrenic patients.
  3. Thompson E, Viksveen P, Barron S. A patient reported outcome measure in homeopathic clinical practice for long-term conditions. Homeopathy, 105, 4, 309-317. This study was carried out at the Bristol Homeopathic Hospital using the Measure Yourself Medical Outcome Profile (MYMOP2) to assess the outcomes of homeopathic treatment for chronic conditions in routine clinical practice. A total of 198 patients with a wide range of complaints attended one to five consultations with 20 homeopathic doctors. Diagnostic categories were most commonly neoplasms (16.7%), psychological (13.9%) and genitourinary complaints (12.3%), with 66.7% suffering from these problems for at least 1 year. The three symptoms that bothered patients the most were pain, mental symptoms and tiredness/fatigue. A paired-samples t-test using an intention-to-treat analysis showed that the MYMOP2 profile score improved from 4.25 (IQR 3.50-5.00), with a mean change of 1.24 (95% CI 1.04, 1.44) from the first to the last consultation (p<0.001). Results were statistically significant both for completers (n=91) (p<0.001) and non-completers (n=107) (p<0.001) using last-observation-carried-forward, although completers did better than non-completers (p<0.001). The overall clinical significance of improvements was at least moderate. A repeated measures ANOVA test also showed statistically significant improvements (p<0.001).
  4. Oberai P, et al. A multicentric randomized clinical trial of homoeopathic medicines in fifty millesimal potencies vis‑a‑vis centesimal potencies on symptomatic uterine fibroids. Indian J Res Homoeopathy, 2016, 10, 24-35. This multi-centric randomised clinical trial was conducted at 6 centres by India’s Central Council for Research in Homoeopathy with the primary to evaluate the effects of homeopathic medicines in fifty millesimal (LM) potencies compared to centesimal (CH) potencies on symptomatic uterine fibroids. All assessments were carried out by a specialist obstetrician/ gynaecologist and specialist homeopathic physicians engaged were responsible for the homeopathic prescriptions and follow up, which occurred over 12 months. The primary outcome measures were changes in the symptoms of uterine fibroids on a visual analogue scale (VAS) of 0–10 and findings through ultrasonography (USG) between LM and CH potencies. The secondary outcome was changes in uterine fibroid symptom quality of life questionnaire (UFSQOL). Data analysis was done as per intention to treat (ITT) analysis. 209 subjects were enrolled in the study, (LM: 106 and CH: 103), 209 and their data analysed under a modified ITT. Both LM and CH potencies were equally effective in reducing the symptoms (percentage change) due to uterine fibroid on VAS scale after 1 year of treatment (P > 0.05). The health-related quality of life (HRQOL) and sub-domains of UFSQOL also showed equal effectiveness in both the groups (P = 0.05). However, no difference was observed in all the USG findings except for uterine volume (P = 0.03). There was a statistically significant difference before and after homeopathic treatment irrespective of assigned groups, i.e., LM or CH (P < 0.05) in all of the above parameters. The medicines most frequently prescribed were: Pulsatilla, Sulphur, Lycopodium, Sepia, Phosphorus, Calcarea carbonica, and Natrum muriaticum.
  5. Das KD, et al. Treatment of hemorrhoids with individualized homeopathy: An open observational pilot study. J Intercult Ethnopharmacol, 2016, 5, 4, 335-342. In this prospective, open, observational trial, haemorrhoids patients were treated using 5 standardised scales that measured complaint severity and anoscopic score. It was conducted at two homeopathic hospitals in India, during from mid-July 2014 to mid-July 2015. Patients were treated with individualised homeopathy and followed up every month up to 6 months. A total of 73 patients were screened, 52 enrolled, 38 completed, and 14 dropped out. Intention to treat population (n: = 52) was analysed in the end. Statistically significant reductions of mean bleeding (month 3: -21.8, 95% confidence interval [CI]: -30.3, -13.3, P: < 0.00001, d = 0.787; month 6: -25.5, 95% CI -35.4, -15.6, P: < 0.00001, d = 0.775), pain (month 3: -21.3, 95% CI -28.6, -14.0, P: < 0.00001, d = 0.851; month 6: -27.6, 95% CI -35.6, -19.6, P: < 0.00001, d = 1.003), heaviness visual analogue scales (VASs) (month 3: -8.1, 95% CI -13.9, -2.3, P: = 0.008, d = 0.609; month 6: -12.1, 95% CI -19.1, -5.1, P: = 0.001, d = 0.693), and anoscopic score (month 3: -0.4, 95% CI -0.6, -0.2, P: < 0.0001, d = 0.760; month 6: -0.5, 95% CI -0.7, -0.3, P: < 0.0001, d = 0.703) were achieved. Itching VASs reduced significantly only after 6 months (-8.1, 95% CI -14.6, -1.6, P: = 0.017, d = 0.586). The outcomes confirmed that individualised homeopathic treatment was effective in the management of haemorrhoids. The most frequently used medicines here were Sulphur, Nux vomica, Calc phos and Nat mur.
  6. Janardanan KR, et al. Homoeopathic Genus Epidemicus ‘Bryonia alba’ as a prophylactic during an outbreak of Chikungunya in India: A cluster -randomised, double -blind, placebo controlled trial. Indian J Res in Homoeopathy, 2014, 8, 3, 160-165. The objective here was to assess the usefulness of Bryonia alba 30C in the prevention of chikungunya during its normal epidemic outbreak in the state of Kerala, India. A cluster-randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial was conducted in 2 districts. Bryonia alba 30C or placebo were randomly administered to 167 clusters (Bryonia alba 30C = 84 clusters; placebo = 83 clusters) out of which data on 158 clusters was analysed (Bryonia alba 30C = 82 clusters; placebo = 76 clusters). Healthy participants (absence of fever and arthralgia) were eligible for the study (Bryonia alba 30C n = 19750; placebo n = 18479). Weekly follow-up was done for 35 days. The infection rate in the study groups was analysed and compared by use of cluster analysis. The findings showed that 2525 out of 19750 people from the Bryonia alba 30 C group suffered from chikungunya, compared to 2919 out of 18479 in the placebo group. Cluster analysis showed a significant difference between the two groups [rate ratio = 0.76 (95% CI 0.14 – 5.57), P value = 0.03]. The result reflects a 19.76% relative risk reduction by Bryonia alba 30C as compared to placebo.
  7. Barvalia PM, et al. Effectiveness of homoeopathic therapeutics in the management of childhood autism disorder. Indian J Res Homoeopathy, 2014, 8, 3, 147-159. A team from Mumbai conducted this research with the objective of demonstrating the usefulness of the homeopathic management of autism. 60 children of both sexes diagnosed with autism aged, ≤12 years were selected. A non-randomised, self‑controlled, pre and post‑intervention study design was used. An initial 6 months observation period was employed as the control period and the same patients were treated for 1 year. Outcome changes were measured using the Autism Treatment Evaluation Checklist and the Autistic Hyperactivity Scale. The study demonstrated a significant reduction of hyperactivity, behavioural dysfunction, sensory impairment as well as communication difficulty. The medicines most commonly used were Stramonium, Tarentula hispanica, Calcarea carbonica, Natrum muriaticum, and Carcinosinum.

In-Vitro Studies

  1. Chikramane PS, et al. Metal nanoparticle induced hormetic activation: a novel mechanism of homeopathic medicines. Homeopathy, 2017, 106, 3, 135-144. The team conducting this work sought to assess the effects of homeopathically potentised metals on cultured cells to answer the question of whether such negligible metal concentrations elicit a biological response. The effects of metal-based homeopathic medicines (30C and 200C) were analysed at doses between 0.003%v/v and 10%v/v in in-vitro HepG2 cell-line. Upon treatment, cell response was estimated by MTT assay, FACS and total intracellular protein. Experiments were performed to discern whether the hormesis was a cell-activation or a proliferation effect. Remedies at doses containing a few femtograms/ml levels of the starting metals induced a proliferation-independent hormetic activation by increasing the intracellular protein synthesis. The metal concentrations (at fg/ml) were a billion-fold lower than the studies with synthetic NPs (at μg/ml).

2.Khuda-Buksh AR, Mondal J, Shah R. Therapeutic potential of HIV nosode 30c as evaluated in A549 lung cancer cells. Homeopathy, 2017, 106, 4, 203-213. This research set out to determine if HIV nosode in 30C potency (HIV 30C) has therapeutic potential against lung cancer cells (A549) as compared to WRL-68 normal cells. The effects of HIV 30C were thoroughly tested for its possible anticancer potential on A549 cells (lung cancer); WRL-68 normal liver cells served as control. Three doses, one at LD50 and two below LD-50, were used. Proliferation, migration and senescence assays were made and the generation of reactive oxygen species (ROS) was studied by routine techniques. The ability of HIV 30C to induce apoptosis in A549 cells and its possible signalling pathway were determined using immunoblots of relevant signal proteins and confocal microscopy, including studies on telomerase reverse transcriptase (TERT) and topoisomerase II (Top II) activities, intimately associated with cell division and DNA replication. The results showed that HIV 30C prevented cancer cell proliferation and migration, induced pre-mature senescence, enhanced pro-apoptotic signal proteins like p53, bax, cytochrome c, caspase-3 and inhibited anti-apoptotic signal proteins Bcl2, TERT and Top II, changed mitochondrial membrane potential and caused externalization of phosphatidyl serine. It also induced apoptosis as evidenced from an increase in the numbers of cells with distorted membrane morphology, nuclear condensation, DNA fragmentation, and ROS, which is typical of apoptosis in progress.

  1. Gupta G, et al. Anti‑candidal activity of homoeopathic drugs: An in‑vitro evaluation. Indian J Res Homeopathy, 2015, 9, 79-85. In this study, samples collected from the oral cavities and tongues of patients suspected of suffering from oral candidiasis, were incubated for growth of Candida. Fermentation and assimilation tests confirmed the species as Candida albicans. The disc method was used to assess the in-vitro anti-candidal effect of several homeopathic drugs in 30C and 200C potencies against the fungi in in-vitro conditions and compared with standard antifungal drug ketoconazole (control), rectified spirit (control/vehicle) and distilled water (vehicle) by “inhibition zone technique”. The homeopathic drugs Benzoicum acidum, Apis mellifica, Kali iodatum, Mezereum, Petroleum, Sulphur, Tellurium, Sulphur iodatum, Graphites, Sepia, Silicea and Thuja occidentalis in 30C and 200C potencies were tested against Candida albicans. Mezereum in 30C and 200C potencies showed maximum inhibition of growth of Candida albicans followed by Kali iodatum 200C while Kali iodatum 30C and Petroleum 30C produced minimum inhibition.

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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