Anyone paying attention to the media, whether this is the popular press or scientific journals, may have noticed claims being regularly made that there’s no evidence for homeopathy. For anyone who practices homeopathy exclusively or uses it to any degree in their practice, this is an issue that’s becoming increasingly serious. In Europe and the UK in particular, where there appears to be the greatest level of credibility given to this claim, lay practitioners, professional homeopaths, doctors, vets and others using homeopathy in their practices as well as National Health Service hospitals that use homeopathic medicines, are all being affected in a very real way by this misconception. Apart from providing clients with effective homeopathic solutions to their ailments and encouraging them to broadcast homeopathy’s benefits, one of the best ways of combating the myth that homeopathy is without evidence is to raise the level or awareness of the fact that it does in fact have a considerable body of good quality clinical evidence attesting to its effectiveness. Previous issues of this journalhave contained summaries of some of the more notable pieces of research carried out on homeopathy and as a means of keeping you up to date on this subject, more of these follow.
You may note from the summaries below that much of this evidence involves animals as the clinical trial model and some may take the view that reporting on such studies gives them undeserved credibility. This may well be the case, but it’s with the above statements in mind that these studies are mentioned. In addition, all of the studies reported here were performed under the guidance of the relevant animal ethics committees and were done with the primary aim of developing treatment protocols to reduce human morbidity and mortality.
- Derasse M, Klein P, Weiser M. The effects of a complex homeopathic medicine compared with acetaminophen in the symptomatic treatment of acute febrile infections in children: an observational study. Explore (NY). 2005 Jan;1(1):33-9. In this non-randomised observational study carried out in 38 Belgian clinics, 198 children suffering from acute febrile infections were assessed for their response to either acetaminophen or a combination of homeopathic medicines (Heel Viburcol). The children had their infection symptoms, which included fever, cramps, disturbed sleep, crying, and difficulties eating or drinking, assessed and graded for a response to their respective medicines. After taking the results from all variables into account, it was found that the homeopathic combination was as effective as acetaminophen. The tolerance to medicines was also assessed as part of this trial and in this respect it was found that the homeopathic combination was superior to the acetaminophen.
- Witt C, Keil T, Selim D, Roll S, Vance W, Wegscheider K, Willich SN. Outcome and costs of homoeopathic and conventional treatment strategies: a comparative cohort study in patients with chronic disorders. Complement Ther Med. 2005 Jun;13(2):79-86. This cohort study, carried out in Germany, examined the outcomes of homeopathic treatment compared to the orthodox medical treatment of 493 people suffering from a range of chronic illnesses including headache, lower back pain, insomnia, depression, bronchial asthma, atopic dermatitis and allergic rhinitis. The patients’ assessments, taken at 6 months and 12 months from the beginning of the treatment, found that homeopathy provided a greater level of improvement in their illnesses than orthodox medical intervention. This difference appeared to be more pronounced in children than in adults. In regard to the cost of each type of therapy, this study showed these costs to be similar to each other.
- Robinson T. Responses to homeopathic treatment in National Health Service general practice. Homeopathy. 2006 Jan;95(1):9-14. This study was designed to determine the level of effectiveness of homeopathy as used in a general practice clinic where the standard 10 minute consultation time applies. To do this, 5,331 patient files, taken from one 12 month period in one general practice clinic, were examined and those files that described a consultation where a homeopathic medicine was given were separated out for analysis. This produced a total of 489 consultations that resulted in a homeopathic medicine prescription. Of these, 78% of patients had a positive response to their treatment with homeopathy, 19% had no response, and 3% had a negative response.
- Biswas SJ, Pathak S, Bhattacharjee N, Das JK, Khuda-Bukhsh AR. Efficacy of the potentized homeopathic drug, Carcinosin 200, fed alone and in combination with another drug, Chelidonium 200, in amelioration of p-dimethylaminoazobenzene-induced hepatocarcinogenesis in mice. J Altern Complement Medorrhinum 2005 Oct;11(5):839-54. Mice suffering from liver cancers were given either homeopathic Carcinosin 200C, or a combination of Carcinosn 200C and Chelidonium 200C over a period of 120 days, and the ability of these to ameliorate the cancers was compared to the effects of potentised alcohol over the same period of time. After the results were analysed it was found that both of the homeopathic remedies were effective in ameliorating these cancers. In addition, they were both effective in protecting against the development of any further hepatocarcinogenesis and the combination of the 2 homeopathic medicines were slightly more so.
- Pathak S, Kumar Das J, Jyoti Biswas S, Khuda-Bukhsh AR. Protective potentials of a potentized homeopathic drug, Lycopodium-30, in ameliorating azo dye induced hepatocarcinogenesis in mice. Mol Cell Biochem. 2006 Apr;285(1-2):121-31. The researchers in this study, which was carried out at the University of Kalyani in India’s West Bengal, used 210 mice in an experiment to determine the protective effect of Lycopodium 30C against the carcinogenic effects of p-dimethyl amino azo benzene and phenobarbital. When assessed using chromosomal aberrations as well as several morphological and biochemical parameters at 120 days from the beginning of the experiment, it was confirmed that Lycopodium 30C not only exhibited a protective effect, but also a restorative effect against the action of p-dimethyl amino azo benzene and phenobarbital.
- MacLaughlin BW, Gutsmuths B, Pretner E, et al. Effects of homeopathic preparations on human prostate cancer growth in cellular and animal models. Integr Cancer Theridion 2006 Dec;5(4):362-72.To confirm the effectiveness of the homeopathic treatment of prostate cancer, the researchers in this trial assessed the effects of the homeopathic medicines Sabal serrulata, Conium maculatum and Thuja occidentalis against PC-3 and DU-145 human prostate cancer cell cultures and against the growth of prostate tumors in mice. Sabal reduced the proliferation of the PC-3 cell line by 33% in 72 hours and the DU-145 cell line by 23% in 24 hours. Compared to controls, Sabal also had a statistically significant effect on the tumors suffered by mice. The homeopathic medicines Conium maculatum and Thuja occidentalis showed no beneficial effect on the proliferation of the cell lines or tumors observed in this study.
- Datta S, Mallick P, Bukhsh AR. Efficacy of a potentized homoeopathic drug (Arsenicum album-30) in reducing genotoxic effects produced by arsenic trioxide in mice: II. Comparative efficacy of an antibiotic, actinomycin D alone and in combination with either of two microdoses. Complement Ther Medorrhinum 1999 Sep;7(3):156-63. This study, also carried out at the University of Kalyani in India’s West Bengal, was part of an ongoing series of trials looking at the use of homeopathically potentised arsenic to protect against the effects of exposure to material doses of arsenic, this latter being a serious health issue in several parts of India and elsewhere. Arsenicum album 30C and 200C have already been demonstrated to be effective against toxicity from arsenic in previous experiments and in this particular study, the influence of the antibiotic actinomycin D on the protective effects of the homeopathic medicines was assessed. Compared to controls it was found that the use of the antibiotic did inhibit the protective effects of Arsenicum album 30C and 200C against arsenic toxicity.
- Datta SS, Mallick PP, Rahman Khuda-Bukhsh AA. Comparative efficacy of two microdoses of a potentized homoeopathic drug, Cadmium sulphoricum, in reducing genotoxic effects produced by cadmium chloride in mice: a time course study. BMC Complement Altern Medorrhinum 2001;1:9. In a similar study to that described above, researchers again tested the hypothesis that the homeopathically potentised version of a potentially toxic substance could protect against the effects of the substance from which it’s derived. In this case, the protective effects of Cadmium sulph 30C and 200C were used in an attempt to control the genotoxic effects of cadmium in mice exposed to this element. When the results of this study were analysed it was found that the homeopathic medicine did provide a statistically significant protective effect cadmium.
- Jonas WB, Gaddipati JP, Rajeshkumar NV, et al. Can homeopathic treatment slow prostate cancer growth? Integr Cancer Ther. 2006 Dec;5(4):343-9. This US study examined the effects of the homeopathic remedies Thuja, Sabal, Conium and Carcinosin (made from the specific prostate cancer cell line used in this trial) in vitro on prostate cancer cell cultures and in vivo on 100 rats all of which were suffering from prostate cancer. A double blind randomised design was used for this latter part of the study. The rats were given all 4 homeopathic medicines on a sequential basis over a period of 5 weeks. The in vitro part of the study, carried out over a period of 96 hours and assessed according to tumor cell viability and gene expression, showed that the cancer cell lines were unaffected by the homeopathic medicines. When the researchers assessed the results from the in vivo aspect of the study, it was found that, compared to the controls, the rats given the homeopathic medicines showed a 23% reduction in tumor incidence and a 38% reduction in the size of prostate tumors.
- Eizayaga FX, Aguejouf O, Belon P, et al. Platelet aggregation in portal hypertension and its modification by ultra-low doses of aspirin. Pathophysiol Haemost Thromb. 2005;34(1):29-34. Researchers in this controlled study attempted to determine the effects of potentised aspirin on rats suffering from reduced platelet aggregation associated with portal hypertension. Given that material doses of aspirin are known to be associated with a reduction in platelet aggregation, one of the aims of the study was to confirm that the reverse of this would be the case with if potentised aspirin were used. The researchers did, in fact, confirm this in their results which showed that, compared to controls, Aspirin 14C normalised deficiencies in platelet aggregation in the rats involved in this study.
- Daurat V, Dorfman P, Bastide M. Immunomodulatory activity of low doses of interferon alpha,beta in mice. Biomed Pharmacother. 1988;42(3):197-206. This was a placebo controlled study designed to ascertain what effects, if any, divided doses of interferon alpha,beta, potentised to 10X, had on specific immune responses of mice, in particular the cytotoxic activity of allospecific T-cells and natural killer (NK) cells. The authors of the study found that, compared to the controls, mice given Interferon alpha,beta 10X produced a statistically significant increase in all of the specific immune response variables measured.