Scientific Research

Homeopathy: Where’s the Evidence?

Homeopathy: Where's the Evidence? 1

Dr. Zilika Jain shares some of the science and research that supports homeopathy. Studies by R.T. Mathie and Karin Lenger are among those mentioned.

Homeopathy: Where's the Evidence? 2

Since its inception in the late 1700s, homeopathy has been the target of the conventional branch of medicine. The commonest arguments used against homeopathy have been: unscientific basis of the medicines, an unknown mechanism of action, and absence of positive clinical trials.

Let’s explore what science and research actually shows.

  1. Mechanism of action with ultra dilution:

Homeopathy: Where's the Evidence? 3

Dr Hahnemann, the founder of Homeopathy, on administering crude/large doses, quickly discovered that they produced noticeable changes in the organism that resulted in toxic effects. He thus altered dosage through exploring dilutions of the compounds he was testing. Further, he discovered that these dilutions, when done according to his technique of systematic mixing through vigorous shaking, produced remedies that were still effective.

In modern science, hormesis (“to excite”) can be defined as the biphasic dose-response relationship (3, 4) in which a chemical exerts opposite effects depending on the dose, high doses being toxic, the low doses have the opposite effect.

Although the term “hormesis” was coined only in 1943 by Southam and Erlich (5); the phenomenon according to which weak concentrations of chemicals (or biological agents) stimulate, medium concentrations depress, and high concentrations halt or destroy physiological or cellular activity had already been known for at least a century as the “Arndt-Schultz law,” (6) which is a recognized law in the medical dictionaries.

Hans Peter Durr, director at the Max-Planck-Institute of Physics (Werner-Heisenberg-Institute) and professor of physics at the Ludwig Maximilian University explains, “Modern quantum physics reveals that matter is not composed of matter, but in reality is merely it’s potentiality.” (7)

Homeopathy has often been declared “implausible”, since many (not all) homeopathic remedies are diluted beyond Avogadro’s number (6.0225×1023), where the likelihood approaches zero that a single molecule of the original substance is contained in the remedy. However, the following research demonstrates the presence of homeopathic medicines in dilution much beyond the Avogadro number.

  • It is now understood that ultra-dilute medicines are capable of altering breast cancer cells. The findings demonstrate biological activity of these natural products when presented at ultra-diluted doses. (8)
  • Homeopathic remedies containing naturally occurring metals retain their potency even when diluted to a nanometre or one-billionth of a metre, states the IIT-Bombay research published in the 2010 issue of ‘Homeopathy’, a peer reviewed journal from reputed medical publishing firm Elsevier. (9) A similar two year research (2013-2015) was done by a homeopathic practitioner Dr ES Rajendran, director of Vinayaka Mission Homoeopathic Medical College at the nanotechnology lab in IISc, Bengaluru that revealed homeopathic medicines contain nanoparticles of the resource medicine even in its highest diluted form. (10)
  • Dr Karin Lenger’s research shows that presence of homeopathic remedies can be identified by magnetic resonance. (11) Another research deals with delayed luminescence of high homeopathic potencies on sugar globuli. (12) Further she explored “Identification of unknown homeopathic remedies by delay luminesce globuli” (13) and “Photons detected by magnetic resonance are efficacious in homeopathy.” (14)

Each homeopathic potency contains a distinct energy level. The highest energy is found in the potencies that have been shaken and diluted the most. All the values Dr Lenger has detected, are exactly reproducible.

Conclusion: The Law of Least Action, formulated by Maupertius, the French mathematician, states: “The quantity of action necessary to affect any change in nature is the least possible; the decisive amount is always a minimum, an infinitesimal.” Hence, a minimal dose is required to bring the body back to its equilibrium.

Healing by homeopathy is achieved by a regulation of the electromagnetic field according to the principle of resonance. Each remedy carries its own resonance pattern. Now, Dr. Lenger has research data that confirms some homeopathic tenets, and has furnished strong evidence that homeopathic remedies are far from “mere sugar pills”.

  1. Placebo controlled clinical trials in Homeopathy 

A placebo is an inert substance or treatment which is designed to have no therapeutic value. Placebo response accounts for a large part of the effects of painkillers (15), anti-depressants (16, 17) and anti-parkinson’s drugs (18). But, homeopathy is termed placebo and conventional medicines being harmful to the body in many ways than one are claimed to be scientific.

Patient satisfaction, cure of diseases, reduced mortality rate are not regarded as an effective tool of assessment by the conventional medicine. They consider placebo controlled trials the ‘gold standard’ to determine the efficacy of any treatment.

In placebo controlled randomised clinical trials of the medicines, one group of patients are unknowingly given placebo while the others are given homeopathic medicine in the same setting. The results are assessed to compare if homeopathic medicines are more effective than placebo.•

The most robust data on efficacy of homeopathy comes from a 2014 meta-analysis of placebo-controlled double-blind randomised controlled trials which found that homeopathic medicines, when prescribed during individualised treatment, are 1.5 to 2.0 times more likely to have a beneficial effect than placebo. (19)

As Dr. Mathie explains, when taken collectively, this program of work reaches an “unequivocally positive result” for homeopathy. (20)

Homeopathy: Where's the Evidence? 4

  • The British Homeopathic Association has listed 28 medical conditions in which there is currently a positive balance of evidence for homeopathy in randomised placebo-controlled trials. (21)
  • A randomised double-blind, placebo-controlled trial was performed on 175 Dutch children suffering from recurrent upper respiratory tract infections. (22)Children in the treatment group were prescribed a ‘constitutional medicine’ for their overall health as well as acute medicines to treat the acute respiratory infections they developed.

The study found that the children given homeopathic medicines had a 16% better daily symptom score than children given a placebo. This study also found that the number of children given a placebo had 24% higher probability to undergo adenoidectomy than for the children given homeopathic remedies.

  • Another study that involved individualised homeopathic care was in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis. (23) The study involved 46 patients. Two homeopathic physicians prescribed individually chosen medicines to each patient, though only half of them were given the real remedy, while the other half were given placebo. The study found that 82% of those given an individualized homeopathic remedy experienced some relief of symptoms, while only 21% of those given a placebo experienced a similar degree of relief.

Conclusion: Further research is needed to consolidate and expand the current clinical trial evidence base in homeopathy. However, these systematic reviews and meta-analyses have identified areas of most promise, helping researchers know where to focus their efforts in order to inform decision-makers and patients about the potential of homeopathic treatments. There are various such clinical trials available ranging from migraine to cancer and if they were included in the Australian NHMRC report of 2015, no one could have questioned the plausibility, efficacy and clinical effectiveness of homeopathy.

Conventional medicine needs to alter its treatment protocols frequently and numerous drugs are routinely banned by the FDA. Whereas, homeopathy’s clinical trials since the 1800’s have been reproducible, and no principles have been changed or medicines banned.

References:

  1. A.R.D. Stebbing, “Hormesis: The Stimulation of Growth by Low Levels of Inhibitors,” Science of the Total Environment, 1982, 22: 213-34. Also, Health Physics, May 1987. This entire issue was devoted to the increased effects of low doses
  2. Fukushima S, Kinoshita A, Puatanachokchai R et al: Hormesis and dose-response mediated mechanisms in carcinogenesis: evidence for a threshold in carcinogenicity of non-genotoxic carcinogens. Carcinogenesis, 2005; 26(11): 1835–45. Epub 2005 Jun 23
  3. Southam CM, Erlich J: Effects of extracts of western red-cedar heart-wood on certain wood decaying fungi in culture. Phytopathology, 1943; 33:517–24
  4. Arndt-Schultz Law: Link , Medical Dictionary: her
  5. Durr HP: Are biology and medicine only physics? Building bridges between conventional and complementary medicine. Bulletin of Science, Technology and Society, 2002; 2(5): 338-51
  6. Cytotoxic effects of ultra-diluted remedies on breast cancer cells. Int J Oncol. 2010 Feb;36(2):395-403.
  7. Chikramane PS, Suresh AK, Bellare JR, Kane SG (2010). Extreme homeopathic dilutions retain starting materials: a nanoparticulate perspective. Homeopathy 2010; 99: 231-242.
  8. Nano Pharmacological Aspect of Homeopathic Drugs – A Comparative Study: www.prohom.net
  9. Lenger Karin, Homeopathic potencies identified by a new magnetic resonance method. Homeopathy – an energetic medicine. Subtle Energies and Energy Medicine 2006, Vol 15, Nr. 3:225-243.
  10. Lenger K, R. P. Bajpai, M. Drexel. Delayed luminescence of high homeopathic potencies on sugar globuli. Homeopathy 2008; 97, 134-140.
  11. Lenger K, R. P. Bajpai, M. Spielmann. Identification of unknown homeopathic remedies by delayed luminescence. CBB 2013, DOI: 10.1007/s12013-013-9712-7.
  12. Lenger K. and G. Lang. Photons detected by magnetic resonance are efficacious in homeopathy. A critical review. OA Alternative Medicine 2014 Febr 22;2 (1):4
  13. Zubieta J-K, Bueller JA, Jackson LR et al: Placebo Effects Mediated by Endogenous Opioid Activity on Opioid Receptors. J Neurosci, 2005; 25(34): 7754–62
  14. Enserink M: Can the placebo be the cure? Science, 1999; 284: 238–40 42.
  15. Parker G, Anderson IM, Haddad P: Clinical trials of antidepressant medications are producing meaningless results. Br J Psychiatry, 2003; 183: 102–4
  16. de la FuenteFernandezz R, Rith TJ, Sossi V et al: Expectation and dopamine release: mechanisms of the placebo effect in Parkinson’s Disease. Science, 2001; 293: 1164–66
  1. Mathie RT et al. Randomised placebo-controlled trials of individualised homeopathic treatment: systematic review and meta-analysis. Systematic Reviews, 2014; 3: 142 | Full text
  2. Mathie RT et al. Randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled trials of non-individualised homeopathic treatment: systematic review and meta-analysis. Systematic Reviews,2017; 6(1):63 | Full text
  3.  Conditions with overall positive evidence for homeopathy in clinical trials: https://www.britishhomeopathic.org/evidence/conditions-with-overall-positive-evidence-for-homeopathy/
  4. E. de Lange de Klerk, J. Blommers, D.J. Kuik, et al., “Effect of Homoeopathic Medicines on Daily Burden of Symptoms in Children with Recurrent Upper Respiratory Tract Infections,” British Medical Journal, November 19, 1994, 309:1329-32.
  5. R.G. Gibson, S. Gibson, A.D. MacNeill, et al., “Homoeopathic Therapy in Rheumatoid Arthritis: Evaluation by Double-blind Clinical Therapeutic Trial,” British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, 1980, 9:453-59.

Some further sources to explore:

  • Lenger Karin, A new biochemical model of homeopathic efficacy in patients with chronic diseases. Subtle Energies and Energy Medicine 2010, 19(3), 9-41.
  • Classical homeopathy in the treatment of cancer patients–a prospective observational study of two independent cohorts. BMC Cancer. 2011 Jan 17;11:19. doi:10.1186/1471-2407-11-19. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21241504
  • Randomized controlled pilot study to compare Homeopathy and Conventional therapy in Acute Otitis Media. Homeopathy. 2012 Jan;101(1):5-12. doi: 10.1016/j.homp.2011.08.003. live
  • Core-Hom: A powerful and exhaustive database of clinical trials in Homeopathy: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1475491614000770

About the author

Zilika Jain

Dr. Zilika Jain is an intern at Mumbadevi Homoeopathic Medical College
and an Assistant to Dr. Farokh Master M.D. (Hom)

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