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Research in Homeopathy- An Update

In 2010, the UK Parliament’s Science and Technology Committee, which was comprised of a farmer, a professor of chemistry, an analytical chemist, a chemical plant operator, an IT expert, an immunologist, and 2 people with connections to a group called Sense About Science, declared that homeopathy “does not work beyond the placebo effect”1. Sense About Science is a UK-based organisation that publically states that “homeopathy has repeatedly been found to be no better than the placebo controls in clinical trials”2.  Inspired by this outcome, in 2015, the Australian government’s National Health and Medical Research Council, an organisation with no expertise in homeopathy, stated that, “there are no health conditions for which there is reliable evidence that homeopathy is effective”3. As at March 2018, the advice from the US FDA implied that homeopathic products “may harm consumers who choose to treat serious diseases or conditions with such products, and consumers may be foregoing treatment with a medical product that has been scientifically proven to be safe and effective”4.

While it may be interesting to speculate on why these organisations can’t appear to find any good evidence for the efficacy of homeopathy, nonetheless, it does exist, it’s easy to find, and it’s abundant. Following are extracts from notable studies that have been published recently in peer-reviewed journals.

Human Research

  1. Pannek J, et al. Usefulness of classical homeopathy for the prophylaxis of recurrent urinary tract infections in individuals with chronic neurogenic lower urinary tract dysfunction. J Spinal Cord Med, 2018, Feb 27, 1-11.This prospective study looked at the effects of constitutional homeopathy for the prevention of recurrent urinary tract infections (UTI) in patients with spinal cord injury (SCI) in Switzerland. Participants with ≥3 UTI/year were treated either with a standardised prophylaxis alone or in combination with homeopathy. The number of UTI, general and specific quality of life (QoL), and satisfaction with homeopathic treatment were assessed prospectively for one year. 35 people were enrolled in the study, with 10 allocated to a control group and 25 received adjunctive homeopathic treatment. The median number of self-reported UTI in the homeopathy group decreased significantly, whereas it remained unchanged in the control group. The domain incontinence impact of the QoL improved significantly, whereas the general QoL did not change. The satisfaction with homeopathic care was high.
  2. Banerjee K, et al. Homeopathy for Allergic Rhinitis: A Systematic Review.J Alt and Compl Med, 2017, 23, 6, 426-444. The aim of this study was to evaluate the effectiveness of homeopathic intervention in the treatment of seasonal or perennial allergic rhinitis (AR). Randomised controlled trials evaluating all forms of homeopathic treatment for AR were included in a systematic review (SR) of studies published up to and including December 2015. Two authors independently screened potential studies, extracted data, and assessed risk of bias. Primary outcomes included symptom improvement and total quality-of-life score. Treatment effect size was quantified as mean difference (continuous data), or by risk ratio (RR) and odds ratio (dichotomous data), with 95% confidence intervals (CI). A meta-analysis was performed after assessing heterogeneity and risk of bias. 11 studies were eligible for SR. All trials were placebo-controlled except 1. 6 trials used the treatment approach known as isopathy, but they were unsuitable for meta-analysis due to problems of heterogeneity and data extraction. The overall standard of methods and reporting was poor: 8/11 trials were assessed as ‘‘high risk of bias’’, and only one trial, on isopathy for seasonal AR, possessed reliable evidence.
  3. https://www.parliament.uk/business/committees/committees-archive/science-technology/s-t-homeopathy-inquiry/ (accessed14/12/18).
  4. http://archive.senseaboutscience.org/resources.php/54/sense-about-homeopathy.html
  5. https://nhmrc.gov.au/about-us/publications/evidence-effectiveness-homeopathy-treating-health-conditions#block-views-block-file-attachments-content-block-1″
  6. https://www.fda.gov/Drugs/DrugSafety/InformationbyDrugClass/ucm589282.htm

Three trials of variable quality (all using Galphimia glauca for seasonal AR) were included in the meta-analysis: nasal symptom relief at 2 and 4 weeks favoured homeopathy compared with placebo; ocular symptom relief at 2 and 4 weeks also favoured homeopathy. The single trial with reliable evidence had a small positive treatment effect without statistical significance. A homeopathic and a conventional nasal spray produced equivalent improvements in nasal and ocular symptoms. The authors urged caution in the interpretation of these results but said that the use of either Galphimia glauca or a homeopathic nasal spray may have small beneficial effects on the nasal and ocular symptoms of AR.

  1. Klein-Laansma CT, et al. Semi-Individualized Homeopathy Add-On Versus Usual Care Only for Premenstrual Disorders: A Randomized, Controlled Feasibility Study.J Alt Compl Med, 2018, 24, 7, 684-693. This European study compared the add-on effect of homeopathic treatment and usual care, with usual care alone for women suffering from premenstrual syndrome and premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMS/PMDD) using a multicenter, randomised, controlled pragmatic trial with parallel group design.The study was carried out in general and private homeopathic practices in the Netherlands and Sweden, and in an outpatient university clinic in Germany. 60 women diagnosed as having PMS/PMDD, based on prospective daily rating by the daily record of severity of problems (DRSP) during a period of 2 months, were included and randomised to receive usual care plus homeopathy (UC+HT) or usual care (UC) for 4 months. The homeopathic medicine was selected according to a previously tested prognostic questionnaire and electronic algorithm. Usual care was as provided by the women’s general practitioner according to their preferences. Before and after treatment, the women completed diaries (DRSP), the measure yourself concerns and well-being, and other questionnaires. After 4 months, relative mean change of DRSP scores in the UC + HT group was significantly better than in the UC group.

Animal Research

  1. Sikdar S, et al.Post-cancer Treatment with Condurango 30C Shows Amelioration of Benzo[a]pyrene-induced Lung Cancer in Rats Through the Molecular Pathway of Caspa- se-3-mediated Apoptosis Induction.Pharmacopuncture, 2013, 16, 3,11-22. DNA hypermethylation induces cancer progression involving the CpG island of DNA and causes an inactivation of tumour suppressor genes. In this study, the DNA hypermethylation status of lung cancer and the ability of homeopathically prepared Condurango 30C, compared to placebo, to modulate DNA methylation, were ascertained by an analysis of lung cancer-specific tumour suppressor genes. DNA methylation status was determined by PCR-SSCP analyses in lung cancer-specific tumour suppressor genes (p15, p16 and p53) using H460-NSCLC cell and BaP-induced lung cancer of rats. Compared to placebo, Condurango 30C-treated DNA showed a significant decrease in band intensity of p15 and p53 genes especially in methylated condition in-vitro, at IC50 dose (2.43µl/100µl). SSCP analysis of p15 and p53 genes in Condurango 30C-treated DNA also suggests that Condurango 30C can decrease methylation, in-vitro. In addition, an inhibition of p15 hypermethylation was observed in post-cancer treatment of rats with Condurango 30C. In summary, it was shown that Condurango 30C can trigger epigenetic modification in lung cancer via the modulation of DNA hypermethylation.
  2. Ferrari de Andrade L, et al. Inhalation therapy with M1 inhibits experimental melanoma development and metastases in mice. Homeopathy, 2016 105, 1, 109-18. Researchers looked at the efficacy of M1, a complex of potentised material referred to by the researchers as a “homeopathic medicine”, in the treatment of metastatic melanoma in mice. An analysis of the results showed a statistically significant association between the use of M1 and a reduction in the tumour growth, tumour proliferation and angiogenesis via the inhibition of myeloid derived suppressor cells (MDSC) positive for angiotensin II type 1 receptor (AT1R).
  3. Remya V, Kuttan G. Homeopathic remedies with antineoplastic properties have immunomodulatory effects in experimental animals.Homeopathy, 2015, 104, 3, 211-9. This work focused on the immune modulating effects in mice of homeopathically prepared Thuja occidentalis, Carcinosinum and Ruta graveolens, in potencies of 30C, 200C and 1M. The homeopathic preparations were administered orally for 10 consecutive days. Haematological parameters (total white blood cell count, differential count and haemoglobin content), haematopoietic parameters (bone marrow cellularity and α-esterase positive cells) and immune parameters for antibody response and lymphoid cell proliferation, were assessed using standard methods. Results were analysed by statistical comparison with the control. The team observed significant enhancement of haematological parameters including total WBC count, haematopoietic parameters such as bone marrow cellularity and the number of α-esterase positive cells, and other parameters of immune response such as circulating antibody titre and the number of plaque forming cells, particularly with higher dilutions of Thuja and Ruta. Enhanced proliferation of B and T lymphoid cells was also observed. No toxic effects were observed.

In-Vitro Research

  1. Samadder A. et al. The potentized homeopathic drug, Lycopodium clavatum (5C and 15C) has anti-cancer effect on hela cells in-vitro. J Acupunct Meridian Stud, 2013, Aug, 6, 4, 180-7. The purpose of this study was to evaluate whether homeopathically prepared Lycopodium 5C (LC5C) and 15C (LC15C) had any effect upon HeLa cells (a commonly used cell cancer line). Cells were exposed to LC-5C, LC-15C or to 30% succussed ethanol (control). The drug-induced modulation in the percent cell viability, the onset of apoptosis, and changes in the expressions of Bax, Bcl2, caspase 3, and Apaf proteins in inter-nucleosomal DNA, in mitochondrial membrane potentials and in the release of cytochrome-c were analysed by utilising different experimental protocols. Results revealed that the administration of LC-5C and LC-15C had little or no cytotoxic effect in normal peripheral blood mononuclear cells, but caused considerable cell death through apoptosis in HeLa cells, which was evident from the induction of DNA fragmentation, the increases in the expressions of protein and mRNA of caspase 3 and Bax, and the decreases in the expressions of Bcl2 and Apaf and in the release of cytochrome-c. Thus, the homeopathic remedies LC-5C and LC-15C demonstrated their capabilities to induce apoptosis in cancer cells, signifying their possible use as supportive medicines in cancer therapy.
  2. Ahn KH, et al. Anti-proliferative effect of Klimaktoplan® on human breast cancer cells.Arch Gynecol Obstet, 2013, 288, 4, 833-8. This study investigated the effects of a combination of potentised substances (Klimaktoplan) referred to by the authors as a “homeopathic product” on the proliferation of breast cancer (MCF-7) and non-malignant mammary epithelial cells (MCF-10A). MCF-7 and MCF-10A cells were cultured in 312.5, 625, and 1,250 μg/ml Klimaktoplan. 17-Beta estradiol (E2) and medroxyprogesterone 17-acetate (MPA) were used for comparison with Klimaktoplan. E2 only (0.001, 0.01, and 0.1 μM), and the combination of E2 (0.001, 0.01, and 0.1 μM) and MPA (0.01, 0.1, and 1 μM) were tested. Control cells for Klimaktoplan and E2 groups were treated with dimethylsulfoxide (DMSO), and DMSO + ethanol was used for the combination group. Cellular proliferation was evaluated by the formation of insoluble formazan after incubation of 4 days. The results showed that Klimaktoplan had a concentration-dependent anti-proliferative effect on breast cancer cells at 625 and 1,250 μg/ml, while not affecting the proliferation of non-malignant mammary cells at any tested concentration.
  3. Toliopoulos IK, et al. Stimulation of natural killer cells by homoeopathic complexes: an in-vitro and in-vivo pilot study in advanced cancer patients. Cell Biochem Funct, 2013, 31,8, 713-8. This research team evaluated the effects of 5 combinations of potentised substances, referred to here as “homeopathic complexes”, on the functional activity of natural killer cells (NKCs) in advanced cancer patients. These complexes were Coenzyme Compositum, Ubichinon Compositum, Glyoxal Compositum, Katalysatoren and Traumeel. Experimental procedures included in-vitro and in-vivo trials. The in-vitro trials were performed in NKCs isolated from 12 healthy volunteers and incubated with the 5 complexes. The in-vivo trials were performed in 15 advanced cancer patients supplemented for 3 months. All 5 complexes significantly increased the cytotoxic activity of the NKCs at the lowest NKCs/target cell ratio 12:1 (p < 0·05). The order of activity was: Ubichinon Compositum, Glyoxal Compositum, Katalysatoren, Traumeel, and Coenzyme Compositum. In the advanced cancer patients, the complexes significantly increased NKCs cytotoxic activity.