Scientific Research

News on Homeopathic Research – No. 38

Part 38 in Robert Medhurst’s important series on research in homeopathy.

Those of us who either prescribe or use homeopathic preparations on a regular basis have little doubt about their effectiveness. But for many others, the notion that a homeopathically potentised substance can have any biological effect requires objective evidence. Fortunately, the evidence exists and summaries of some of the more notable recent research follow.

Human Research

  1. Nobel S, et al. The Efficacy and Safety of a Homeopathic Arnica Gel (Arnicare) in the Treatment of Sports Injuries. Homeopathy, 2014, 103, 1, 92. A joint US and French research team sought to evaluate the efficacy and safety of a homeopathic Arnica gel (Arnicare) in the treatment of sports related muscular soreness and pain via the use of a randomized, double blind, placebo controlled clinical trial. 120 moderately trained athletes who experienced pain and stiffness after competitive sports games were randomly assigned to receive either a homeopathic gel containing 7% Arnica montana 1X, or a matching placebo, applied to the lower extremities 3 times daily shortly before and after sports games until the resolution of symptoms. Pain and stiffness at different time points were assessed on a 100mm visual analogue scale after three sports games. The overall (baseline adjusted) level of stiffness during the 72 hours following the sports game was significantly less in the Arnicare group as compared to the placebo group (23.7mm versus 29.1mm, P=0.02). With regard to the overall level of pain there was a similar trend that did not reach statistical significance (24.9mm versus 27.9mm, P=0.17). Between-group differences were most pronounced 12-36 hours post-exercise. 2 subjects in the arnica group experienced mild side effects (slight tingling, itching) that did not lead to discontinuation of the treatment.
  1. Jurcau R, Jurcau I, Vithoulkas G.. The Influence of Aconitum Napellus Versus Placebo, on Anxiety and Salivary Cortisol, in Stress Induced by Intense and Short Term Physical Effort. Homeopathy, 2014, 103, 1, 72. Renowned homeopath George Vithoulkas and Romanian researchers collaborated in this study to determine the effects of homeopathically prepared Aconite on anxiety and salivary cortisol, in peri-stress changes induced by intense and short term physical effort, on sedentary subjects. 30 people exhibiting the homeopathic prescribing symptoms for Aconite experienced stress as a result of intense and short term physical effort, via the use of a Monark Ergomedic 839E cycle ergometer. Subjects were assigned to one of three groups. The first, the control group (C), who was not given anything; the second received placebo (P), and the third received Aconite. These interventions were applied before the use of the cycle ergometer. Anxiety and cortisol assessments were carried out on the day following the use of the cycle ergometer. Statistical evaluations were made on the basis of Student test. Although the values for anxiety and salivary cortisol were slightly higher for the C group compared with the P group, the differences between them were not significant. One of the more notable findings from the research was that for the group given Aconite, anxiety and salivary cortisol were significantly reduced immediately pre- and post effort.
  1. Peckham EJ, et al. Interim Results of a Randomised Controlled Trial of Homeopathic Treatment for Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Homeopathy, 2014, 103, 172-177. This English work describes the effects of homeopathic treatment in irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). A three-armed trial was conducted which compared: usual care, homeopathic treatment plus usual care, and supportive listening plus usual care for IBS. The primary outcome was change in irritable bowel symptom severity score between baseline and 26 weeks, calculated using ANCOVA. An interim ANCOVA adjusted for baseline IBS severity, age and employment status, found no statistically significant differences between the three arms. However, a post-hoc test comparing homeopathic treatment plus usual care to usual care alone found a statistically significant difference in favour of homeopathic treatment. In addition, 62.5 percent of patients in the homeopathic treatment arm (compared to 25.0 percent of those in the usual care arm), achieved a clinically relevant change in irritable bowel symptom severity score, which indicates a promising effect for homeopathic treatment, though these results should be interpreted with caution due to the low number of participants in the study (93 people completed the study).
  1. Danno K, et al. China rubra for Side-Effects of Quinine: A Prospective, Randomised Study in Pregnant Women with Malaria in Cotonou, Benin. Homeopathy, 2014, 103, 165-171. A French team evaluated the impact of the homeopathic medicine, China rubra 7C, on the side-effects of quinine used as a treatment for acute malaria in pregnant women in Cotonou, Benin. Using a prospective, comparative, randomised study design, women were included if they were >3 months pregnant and had a clinical diagnosis of malaria confirmed by a positive thick blood smear. The study population was divided into two groups: (i) patients who presented between the 1st and 15th of each month and who received China rubra 7C plus quinine (China group); and (ii) patients who presented from the 16th to the end of each month and who received treatment with quinine only (Standard group). The aim was to compare the frequency of side-effects of quinine in the two groups until day 6 after the start of treatment. Neither the patients nor the care givers were blinded to the study treatment. A statistical comparison of the two groups was carried out with an alpha risk fixed at 5%. 211 women were recruited: 105 received quinine plus China rubra 7C (China group) and 106 received quinine only (Standard group). A decrease in proportion of patients presenting with side-effects was observed in the China group from day 0 to day 6 of follow-up (53.9%-23.3%) whereas the proportion of patients with side-effects in the Standard group did not change significantly (85.9% on day 0 vs. 82.5% on day 6). Ninety-six (72.4%) patients in the China group and 103 (97.2%) in the Standard group reported at least one side-effect during follow-up (p < 0.0001). The most frequently reported side-effects were tinnitus, dizziness and asthenia.
  1. Chauhan VK, et al. Efficacy of Homeopathic Intervention in Subclinical Hypothyroidism With or Without Autoimmune Thyroiditis in Children: An Exploratory Randomized Control Study. Homeopathy, 2014, 103, 224-231. This Indian study was an exploratory, randomised, placebo controlled, single blind trial. Out of 5059 Indian school children (6-18 years) screened for thyroid disorders, 537 children had subclinical hypothyroidism/autoimmune thyroiditis (SCH/AIT) and 194 consented to participate in the study. Based on primary outcome measures (TSH and/or antiTPOab) three major groups were formed: Group A- SCH + AIT (n = 38; high TSH with antiTPOab+), Group B- AIT (n = 47; normal TSH with antiTPOab+) and Group C- SCH (n = 109; only high TSH) and were further randomised to two subgroups- verum and control. Individualised homeopathy or identical placebo was given to the respective subgroups. 162 patients completed 18 months of study. Baseline characteristics were similar in all the subgroups. The post treatment serum TSH (Group A and C) returned to normal limits in 85.94% of verum and 64.29% of controls (p < 0.006), while serum AntiTPOab titers (Group A and B) returned within normal limits in 70.27% of the verum group and 27.02% of the controls (p < 0.05). Eight children (10.5%) progressed to overt hypothyroidism (OH) from the control group. In conclusion, statistically significant declines in serum TSH values and antiTPOab titers indicates that the homeopathic intervention has not only the potential to treat SCH with or without antiTPOab but may also prevent the progression to OH.
  1. Frei H. Homeopathic Treatment of Multimorbid Patients: A Prospective Outcome Study with Polarity Analysis. Homeopathy, 2015, 104, 57-65. This study reports on the work of Swiss researcher, Heiner Frei, who used polarity analysis (PA) in the homeopathic treatment of patients with multimorbidity. PA came to prominence through a Swiss homeopathic ADHD double-blind study, which successfully demonstrated a significant difference between homeopathic medicines and placebo. PA enables homeopaths to calculate a relative healing probability, based on Boenninghausen’s grading of polar symptoms. After its evaluation in the treatment of a variety of acute and chronic disease, which showed improved results compared to a conventional homeopathic approach, PA was tested with multimorbid patients. Since such patients almost invariably have a multiple symptoms, the question was whether PA is appropriate or whether the method is rendered ineffective by the multitude of symptoms. PA was used with 50 multimorbid patients and they were followed over one year. 43 patients (86%) completed the observation period, achieving an average improvement of 91% in their initial symptoms. Six patients dropped out, and one did not achieve an improvement of 80%, and was therefore also counted as a treatment failure. The cost of homeopathic treatment was 41% of the projected equivalent conventional treatment.
  1. Saha S, et al. Obstetrics and Gynecology Outpatient Scenario of an Indian Homeopathic Hospital: A Prospective, Research-Targeted Study. Journal of Traditional and Complementary Medicine, 2015, 3, 1-4. The authors of this study aimed to document prescriptions and clinical outcomes in routine homeopathic practice to short list promising areas of targeted research and efficacy trials of homeopathy in obstetrics and gynaecology (O&G). Three homeopathic physicians participated in methodical data collection over a 3-month period in the O&G outpatient setting of The Calcutta Homeopathic Medical College and Hospital, West Bengal, India. A specifically designed Excel spreadsheet was used to record data on consecutive appointments, including date, patient identity, socioeconomic status, place of abode, religion, medical condition/complaint, whether chronic/acute, new/follow-up case, patient-assessed outcome (7-point Likert scale), prescribed homeopathic medication, and whether other medication/s was being taken for the condition. These spreadsheets were submitted monthly for data synthesis and analysis. Data on 878 appointments (429 patients) were collected, of which 61% were positive, 20.8% negative, and 18.2% showed no change. Chronic conditions (93.2%) were chiefly encountered. A total of 434 medical conditions and 52 varieties were reported overall. The most frequently treated conditions were leucorrhea (20.5%), irregular menses (13.3%), dysmenorrhea (10%), menorrhagia (7.5%), and hypomenorrhea (6.3%). Strongly positive outcomes were mostly recorded in oligomenorrhea (41.7%), leucorrhea (34.1%), polycystic ovary (33.3%), dysmenorrhea (28%), and irregular menses (22.2%). Individualised prescriptions predominated (95.6%). A total of 122 different medicines were prescribed in decimal (2.9%), centesimal (87.9%), and 50 millesimal potencies (4.9%). Mother tinctures and placebo were prescribed in 3.4% and 30.4% of instances, respectively. Several instances of medicine-condition pairings were detected.

Animal Research

  1. Mohammadi R, Amini K, Charehsaz S. Homeopathic Treatment for Peripheral Nerve Regeneration: an Experimental Study in a Rat Sciatic Nerve Transection Model. Homeopathy, 2012, 101, 141-146. A research team composed of workers from Canada and Iran looked at the effects of homeopathic treatment with Hypericum perforatum 30C on peripheral nerve regeneration. Rats undergoing surgery were given either Hypericum 30C twice daily for 1 week or no homeopathic treatment, and assessed at 4, 8 and 12 weeks after the surgery. An analysis of the results showed that, when compared to what was seen in the untreated rats, the use of Hypericum 30C was associated with faster and better recovery of affected nerves. In addition, it was shown that the number and diameter of the myelinated fibres in the test rats were significantly higher than in the control group.
  1. Keim AP, et al. The Multicomponent Medication Lymphomyosot Improves the Outcome of Experimental Lymphedema. Lymphatic Research and Biology, 2013, 11, 2, 81-92. In a joint German and US project, researchers evaluated the effect of the homeopathic combination product to treat tissue swelling and promote lymphangiogenesis in experimental models of murine lymphoedema.: Experimental models of mouse lymphoedema were injected with varied amounts of the combination or saline as a control. Measurements of tail swelling and wound closure were taken and compared amongst the groups. Three separate groups of mice were analysed for lymphatic capillary migration, lymphatic vessel regeneration, and macrophage recruitment. The use of the combination was associated with a significantly reduced swelling and increased the rate of surgical wound closure.
  1. de Souza MFA, et al. The Effect of Individualised Homeopathic Treatment on the Semen Quality of Bulls with Reproductive Disorders: a Case Series. Homeopathy, 2012, 101, 243-245. Work was done at the Universidade Federal de Mato Grosso in Brazil to evaluate the effect of homeopathy on the semen of bulls with reproductive disorders. The behavioural, clinical and spermatic characteristics of four purebred bulls (bulls A, B, C and D) were evaluated. The bulls received individualised homeopathic treatment mixed into their feed. It was administered once per day and semen was collected. Successful collection, freezing, effective doses, and the number of doses of semen per collection, were compared before and after homeopathic treatment. The rates of successful collection were 97.14%, 100%, 96.67% and 30.77% pretreatment and 95.45%, 100%, 94.67% and 96.77% at post-treatment for bulls A, B, C and D, respectively. The average number of doses per ejaculate pre and post-treatment were 102.67 (SD 74.41) vs. 300.08 (SD 180.58), 0 vs. 234.78 (SD 96.12), 0 vs. 105.12 (SD 54.98), 0 ± vs. 107.37 (SD 52.12) respectively. What this displayed was that the use of homeopathy improved the production of viable doses of semen from bulls with previous freezing problems and poor semen quality.

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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