Is homeopathy a clinically valuable approach?

Complementary Medicine, Peninsula Medical School, Universities of Exeter & Plymouth, 25 Victoria Park Road, Exeter EX2 4NT, UK.
Trends in Pharmacological Sciences (Impact Factor: 9.99). 12/2005; 26(11):547-8. DOI: 10.1016/
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Homeopathy is a popular but implausible form of medicine. Contrary to many claims by homeopaths, there is no conclusive evidence that highly dilute homeopathic remedies are different from placebos. The benefits that many patients experience after homeopathic treatment are therefore most probably due to nonspecific treatment effects. Contrary to widespread belief, homeopathy is not entirely devoid of risk. Thus, the proven benefits of highly dilute homeopathic remedies, beyond the beneficial effects of placebos, do not outweigh the potential for harm that this approach can cause.

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    ABSTRACT: INTRODUCTION Homeopathy is a form of alternative medicine originated by Samuel Hahnemann, based on the idea that a substance that causes the symptoms of a disease in healthy people will cure that disease in sick people. This axiom is known as the law of similars or like cures like. Scientific research has found homeopathic remedies ineffective and their postulated mechanisms of action implausible. Within the medical community homeopathy is generally considered quackery. In addition to symptoms, homeopaths consider a patient's physical and psychological state and life history, before consulting homeopathic reference books known as repertories to select a remedy based on the totality of symptoms as well as personal traits. Homeopathic remedies are prepared by serial dilution of a chosen substance in alcohol or distilled water, followed by forceful striking on an elastic body, called succussion. Each dilution followed by succussion is supposed to increase the remedy's potency. Homeopaths call this process potentization. Dilution usually continues well past the point where none of the original substance remains. The low concentrations of homeopathic remedies, often lacking even a single molecule of the diluted substance, lead to an objection that has dogged homeopathy since the 19th century: Modern advocates of homeopathy have suggested that water has a memory— that during mixing and succussion, the substance leaves an enduring effect on the water, perhaps a vibration, and this produces an effect on the patient. However, nothing like water memory has ever been found in chemistry or physics. Furthermore, the claims of homeopathy contradict pharmacological science, which shows that higher doses of an active ingredient exert stronger effects. Homeopathic remedies have been the subject of numerous clinical trials, which test the possibility that they may be effective through some mechanism unknown to science. While some individual studies have positive results, systematic reviews of published trials have failed to demonstrate efficacy. Because of the extremely high dilutions, most homeopathic remedies are, at least, harmless. However, patients who choose to use homeopathy rather than normal medicine risk missing timely diagnosis and effective treatment of serious conditions. The regulation and prevalence of homeopathy vary greatly from country to country [1-5].
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    ABSTRACT: Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) is characterized by a spectrum of physical and mood symptoms, which appear during the week before menstruation and usually resolve within a week after the onset of menses. Most women in their reproductive years experience some premenstrual symptoms. In some women, the symptoms can badly affect quality of life before periods. The treatment of PMS is a changing area as research continues to clarify which treatments actually work and to try to find better treatments. The main objective of the present article is to review the potential treatment for premenstrual disorders. Various treatments have been advocated for PMS. Treatment strategies include either eliminating the hormonal cycle associated with ovulation or treating the symptom(s) causing the most distress to the patient. Herbal drugs are effective and well tolerated treatment for the relief of symptoms of the premenstrual syndrome.

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