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Scientific Research

Research on Homeopathy – March 2024 update

Robert Medhurst ND, presents summaries of recent research on homeopathy.  It includes research on humans, plants and in vitro.

There are two primary arguments that are commonly raised against homeopathy:

  • Homeopathy doesn’t make scientific sense and therefore cannot work.
  • There are no properly constructed large scale clinical trials that show evidence for homeopathy.

On the first point, the reality is that science is largely ignorant of much of what goes on around us. To say that something is unscientific is to assume that we know everything there is to know and how all of it works. We’re a very long way from being able to fully understand a fraction of what goes on around us, let alone how something like homeopathy can work.

The argument is also raised that when a homeopathic medicine is analysed, no active ingredients can be found. Homeopathics are energy-based medicines. It’s little wonder that a chemical analysis will fail to find active ingredients in a homeopathic product. The same argument could be used to state that an audio CD contains nothing but plastic and aluminium.

On the second point, this is mostly true. The numbers of people participating in trials on homeopathy is often relatively small and few trials have been replicated. The bulk of scientific research is aimed at military applications and various methods of enhancing the wealth of large multi-national corporations and ultimately investment in research is made on the basis that the investor will be able to profit from the investment by monopolising the research results.

Unlike drugs, homeopathic medicines in most cases cannot be patented, so there is little incentive to invest vast quantities of money on a product that can’t be monopolised. However, homoeopathy has produced successful clinical trials, and they’re relatively easy to find. What follows are some recently published examples of these from peer-reviewed journals.

Human Research

  1. Varanasi R, et al. Effects of individualised homoeopathic intervention in Stage I essential hypertension: A single-blind, randomised, placebo-controlled trial. Ind J Res Homeopathy. 2020:14(1):3-14. 217 people with stage 1 essential hypertension were randomised to receive either individualised homeopathic Q potencies (or LM potencies) plus lifestyle modification (LSM) and had blood pressure evaluated every month for 3 months. LSM included physical activity and diet as part of the treatment regimen. Analysis was by intention to treat. Repeated-measure ANOVA between the groups showed statistically significant difference (Wilk lambda 0.85, F = 12.12, df = 213,P = 0.0001), in both systolic and diastolic blood pressures favouring homeopathy (IH) along with LSM. Post hoc independent t-test showed a significant mean reduction in systolic blood pressure (mean difference 7.12 mm Hg, 95% confidence interval [CI] 4.72–9.53,P = 0.0001) and diastolic blood pressure (mean difference 5.76 mm Hg, 95% CI: 4.18–7.23,P = 0.0001) favouring homeopathy plus LSM group. Sulphur (n = 24), Natrum muriaticum (n = 21), Lycopodium (n = 16), Nux vomica (n = 12) and Phosphorus (n = 10) were the most useful medicines.

 

  1. Gaertner K, et al. Individualized Homeopathic Treatment in Women with Recurrent Cystitis: A Retrospective Case Series. Complement Med Res. 2020;27(3):193-99. Authors reported on 4 females with recurrent urinary tract infections (UTIs) who were treated successfully with homeopathic medicines after several conventional approaches revealed no improvement. The follow-up period was a minimum of 3 years, and the frequency of UTI episodes as well as of antibiotic treatment were documented. In addition, the patients were asked to assess the treatment outcome retrospectively in a validated questionnaire. It was observed that homeopathic treatment resulted in a reduction of UTIs and the need for antibiotics from monthly to less than 3 times a year. 3 of the 4 women had no cystitis or related intake of antibiotics for more than 1.5 years. A relapse of symptoms could be treated efficiently with a repetition of the homeopathic remedy. All subjective outcome assessments were positive.

 

  1. Takacs M, et al. Adjunctive homoeopathic treatment of hospitalised COVID-19 patients (COVIHOM): A retrospective case series. Comp Ther Clin Practice. 2021;44:10145. The aim of this study was to describe the effect of adjunctive individualised homeopathic treatment delivered to 13 COVID-19 infected hospitalised patients. 12 (92.3%) were discharged without significant complications after 14.4 ± 8.9 days. A single patient admitted in an advanced stage of septic disease died in hospital. An improvement of clinical symptoms was observed in 12 surviving patients. 6 (46.2%) were critically ill and treated in the intensive care unit (ICU). The mean stay at the ICU of the 5 surviving patients was 18.8 ± 6.8 days.

 

  1. Das AD, et al. Efficacy of individualized homeopathic medicines in irritable bowel syndrome: A double-blind randomized, placebo-controlled trial. Explore (NY). 2022;S1550-8307(22)00169-0. 60 people suffering from IBS were randomised to receive either individualised homeopathic medicines (IHMs) or identical-looking placebo in the mutual context of concomitant care in terms of dietary advice, yoga, meditation and exercises. The main outcome measures were: primary – IBS quality of life (IBS-QOL) questionnaire; secondary – IBS severity scoring system (IBS-SSS) and EQ-5D-5L scores; all measured at baseline and every month, up to 3 months. Group differences and effect sizes (Cohen’s d) were calculated on intention-to-treat sample. Recruitment, retention and attrition rates were 64.5%, 91.7% and 8.3% respectively. Group differences in IBS-QOL total scores, IBS-SSS, EQ-5D-5L scores favoured IHMs against placebo overall and at all the time points (all P < 0.001). Pulsatilla nigricans (n = 4, 6.7%) and Thuja occidentalis (n = 4, 6.7%) were the most frequently prescribed medicines.

 

  1. Maisel-Lotan A, et al. Arnica Montana and Bellis Perennis for Seroma Reduction Following Mastectomy and Immediate Breast Reconstruction: Prospective, Randomized, Double-blinded, Placebo-controlled Trial. Plast Reconstr Surg Glob Open. 2019 Aug; 7(8 Suppl ): 24-25. Seroma is a common surgical complication created by the inflammatory process that follows mastectomy and reconstruction. It is, therefore, common practice to insert surgical drains, which often remain in place for long periods and delay recovery. 55 patients (78 breasts) who underwent mastectomy and immediate breast reconstruction were randomly assigned and treated with A. montana and B. perennis or placebo from surgery and up to the time of drain removal. A. montana and B. perennis significantly reduced drain removal time (discharge <30 ml) by 18% (2.4 days; P< 0.05), 11.1 days (6.1 days) in the study groups compared with 13.5 days (6.4 days) in the placebo group. Age, body mass index, mastectomy type, and lymph node dissection were similar among groups. Patient opioid intake was lower (P < 0.057) in the study group. Quality of life, post-operative pain, haemoglobin and cortisol levels, and complications were not associated with any treatment.

In Vitro Research

  1. Joubert KS, et al. The In vitro Effect of Homeopathically Prepared Rubus idaeus and 680 nm Laser Irradiation on Cervical Cancer Cells. Homeopathy. 2022;10.1055/s-0042-1747683. HeLa cervical cancer cells (CC) were treated with Rubus idaeus (RI) 3X, 6X, and 30C homeopathic preparations. Cells were then treated with RI IC50 and 680 nm laser diode at 5, 10, and 15 J/cm2 fluencies, and the results compared with untreated control cells. Trypan blue viability, lactate dehydrogenase (LDH) cytotoxicity, and adenosine triphosphate (ATP) proliferation assays were used to analyse the cellular dose-responses along with inverted microscopy, Hoechst staining and Annexin-V/PI staining. RI 3X alone demonstrated an ability to reduce cellular viability to 59% and also to reduce ATP levels. The subsequent combined treatment protocol of RI 3X with all fluencies of laser demonstrated an increase in cellular ATP and increased LDH levels compared with the control. The increased ATP and LDH levels observed in the combined treatment protocol of 680 nm laser and RI 3X at fluencies of 5, 10 and 15 J/cm2, show that the Warburg effect might have been induced in the CC cells – an increase in glucose uptake and the preferential production of lactate, even in the presence of oxygen.

 

  1. 2. Basu N, et al. Arsenicum album Induces Cell Cycle Arrest and Apoptosis, and Inhibits Epithelial-Mesenchymal Transition in Hormone-Dependent MCF7 Breast Cancer Cells. Homeopathy. 2022:10.1055/s0042-1755364. Breast cancer cells (MCF7) were treated with Arsenicum album 6C (Ars) to evaluate its anti-proliferative and apoptotic potential. Authors examined the effect of Ars on the cell cycle, wound healing, reactive oxygen species (ROS) generation, and modulation of expression of key genes which are aberrant in cancer. Treating breast cancer cells with Ars halted the cell cycle at the sub-G0 and G2/M phases, which could be attributed to DNA damage induced by the generation of ROS. Apoptotic induction was associated with upregulation of Bax expression, with concurrent down regulation of the Bcl-2 gene. Ars was also seen to reverse epithelial to mesenchymal transition and reduce the migration of breast cancer cells.

 

  1. Telang RA. An in vitro study of Hydrangea arborescens, homoeopathic preparation as an inhibitor of Calcium oxalate crystallisation. Ind J Res Hom. 2021;15(1):24-30. This study was designed to investigate in vitro effect of homeopathic preparations of Hydrangea arborescens (Hydrang) on urolithiasis (Calcium oxalate [CaOx] crystallisation). Spectrophotometric crystallisation assay was carried on and the slopes of nucleation and aggregation phases were calculated using linear regression analysis, and the percentage inhibition exerted by Hydrang Q, 6C, 30C and 200C was calculated. Microscopic observations of crystals of CaOx were carried out in the presence and in the absence of Hydrang Q, 6C, 30C and 200C to support the spectrophotometric crystallisation assay. The crystallisation studies performed indicate Hydrang to be a potent medicine against CaOx crystallisation both at the level of nucleation and aggregation. Hydrang Q favoured aggregation to a great extent by showing the inhibition of about -15%; while for 6C, 30C and 200C, the percentage inhibition was 13.70%, 42.30% and 14.90%, respectively.

 

  1. Mathur M, et al. A review on immunomodulatory response of homoeopathic medicines through cytokine induction as evidenced in in vivo and in vitro studies. Ind J Res Hom. 2020:14(2):122-8. The PubMed database was searched for studies which analysed effects of homeopathic medicines on cytokine synthesis. Full texts of short-listed studies after scrutiny of abstracts, were analysed for study design, homeopathic medicines used, cytokines analysed and results. This yielded 21 studies. After analysis of abstracts of 21 studies, 10 were short-listed, which included 7 in vivo and 2 in vitro studies. One study had both in vivo and in vitro interventions. Majority of in vivo studies used rat and exposure to immunological challenge before administration of homeopathic medicine. The cytokines studied were interleukin (IL)-1α, IL-1β, interferon-gamma, tumour necrosis factor alpha, IL-2, IL-4, IL-5, IL-6, IL-10 and IL-12. The two in vitro studies evaluated effects of Saussurea lappa and Mercurius solubilis on lymphocytes and macrophage culture, respectively. Out of 10 studies analysed, 8 showed homeopathic medicines can modulate cytokine synthesis either by increasing or decreasing the cytokine synthesis, in a statistically significant manner.

 

  1. Oh YS, et al. Homoeopathic Rhus toxicodendron induces cell adhesions in the mouse pre‑osteoblast cell line MC3T3-e1. Homeopathy. 2021;110(2):108‑114. This study was designed to elucidate a possible mechanism behind the anti-inflammatory nature of homeopathic Rhus tox 30C. For the cell-substrate adhesion assay, the cultured MC3T3-e1 cells were trypsinised, starved for 1 h in serum free media and plated onto culture plates coated with fibronectin, Rhus tox or gelatin. The intracellular signals after stimulation of Rhus tox were examined by analysing the tyrosine phosphorylation of focal adhesion kinase (FAK), Src kinase and paxillin using immunoblot assay. Formation of focal adhesion was analysed by immuno-cytochemistry. Cell adhesion increased after stimulation with Rhus tox. Furthermore, Rhus tox stimulated cells formed many focal adhesions (number of FAs per cell, 35.82 ± 7.68) compared with gelatin-stimulated cells (number of FAs per cell, 19.80 ± 7.18) and exhibited extensive formation of actin stress fibres anchored by FAs formed at the cell periphery. This showed that Rhus tox promotes the formation of cell adhesion and may thereby promote the resolution of inflammation.

 

  1. Pinto SAG, et al. Silicea terra and Zincum metallicum modulate the activity of macrophages challenged with BCG in vitro. Homeopathy. 2021;110(1):52-61. RAW 264.7 macrophages were infected with macrophage bacillus Calmette–Guérin (BCG), treated with 6C, 30C and 200C homeopathic potencies of Silicea terra (Sil) and Zincum metallicum (Zinc) or vehicle and assessed 24 and 48 h later for bacilli internalisation, hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) and cytokine production and lysosomal activity. Treatment with vehicle (the diluent use to make the potencies) was associated with non-specific inhibition of H2O2 production to the levels exhibited by uninfected macrophages. Sil 200C induced significant reduction of H2O2 production (P < 0.001) compared with the vehicle and all other treatments, as well as higher lysosomal activity (P ≤ 0.001) and increased IL-10 production (P ≤ 0.05). Such effects were considered specific for this remedy and potency. The number of internalised bacilli was inversely proportional to Zinc potencies, with statistically significant interaction between dilution and treatment (P = 0.003). Such linear-like behaviour was not observed for Sil dilutions: peak internalisation occurred with the 30C dilution, accompanied by cellular degeneration, and IL-6 and IL-10 increased (P ≤ 0.05) only in the cells treated with Sil 6C.

 

  1. Munshi R, et al. In vitro Evaluation of Antimicrobial Activities of Escherichia coli, Klebsiella pneumoniae, Salmonella typhi, Neisseria gonorrhoeae, and Candida albicans Nosodes. Homeopathy. 2022;111(01):042-048. The in vitro efficacy of polyvalent homeopathic nosodes was tested using the minimum inhibitory concentration (MIC) assay technique. The nosodes, namely Candida albicans polyvalent nosode (35, 100C), Neisseria gonorrhoeae (35C), Klebsiella pneumoniae (35C, 100C), Escherichia. coli polyvalent nosode (35C, 100C) and Salmonella typhi polyvalent nosode (30C, 100C), were tested along with positive and negative controls. Nosodes were studied in different potencies and at 1:1 dilution. C. albicans polyvalent nosode 35C, 100C, N. gonorrhoeae 35C, and positive control amphotericin B showed inhibition of the growth of C. albicans species. K. pneumoniae 35C, E. coli polyvalent nosode 100C, and meropenem (positive control) showed inhibition of the growth of K. pneumoniae; this effect was not seen with ceftriaxone, ofloxacin and amoxicillin antibiotics. E. coli polyvalent nosode 30C in 10% alcohol (direct and dilution 1:1) and the positive controls ciprofloxacin, ofloxacin, and amoxicillin showed inhibition of the growth of E. coli. The S. typhi polyvalent nosode 30C in 10% alcohol showed inhibition of growth of S. typhi.

Plant Research

  1. Ferreira TM, et al. Effect of Nosodes on Lettuce, Parasitized or Not by Meloidogyne enterolobii. Homeopathy. 2021;110(04):256-62. The goal here was to investigate whether homeopathic nosodes prepared from second-stage juveniles (J2) of Meloidogyne enterolobii can affect the moderate resistance already existing in the lettuce cultivar ‘Elisa’. Nosodes at 6C, 18C, 30C and 42C potencies were applied to lettuce plants through irrigation, with a constant daily dosage. The nosode treatment started at the seedling stage, before nematode inoculation with 3,000 eggs + J2 per plant. A series of absolute and relative controls, and 10 replicates per treatment, were employed. At harvest, variables related to plant growth and nematode reproduction were assessed. The nosode at 6C, 18C, and 30C reduced (p <0.05) the nematode reproduction factor and root density. The nosode effect was potency dependent since nematode reproduction was favoured by treatment with 42C. The nosode also affected (p <0.05) lettuce roots, which presented higher or lower fresh weight and volume depending on the potency applied and the condition- parasitised or not.

 

About the author

Robert Medhurst

Robert Medhurst BNat DHom DBM DRM DNutr is an Australian Naturopath & Homeopath with 40 years of clinical experience. He has written many articles and lectured on homeopathy throughout Australia and the U.S. Robert previously set up and operated 5 natural therapies practices in Sydney and Adelaide and was involved in teaching and medical 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, as well as The Concordant Clinical Homeopathic Repertory. For more information see adelaidehillsnaturopath.com.au.

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