Homeopathy

Published by Thieme
Online ISSN: 1476-4245
Print ISSN: 1475-4916
Publications
The belief that ‘homeopathy works’, is effective and can demonstrate clinical efficacy, while encouraging, has little to do with the philosophy, practice or relevance of phenomenology to homeopathy. Jeremy Swayne’s editorial draws a spurious link between positive outcome studies and the capacity for homeopathy to ‘open up a rich vein of scientific enquiry and clinical opportunity’.7 So too, Tom Whitmarsh’s understanding of phenomenology suggests that homeopathy and phenomenology are ‘pretty similar’ in terms of how they look at the world.9 As long as the homeopath remains ‘untainted by what he knows’ and is ‘doing (his) best to avoid received opinion’ phenomenology is made to appear logical and easily applied in practice. Together, Swayne’s and Whitmarsh’s understanding diminish the complexity of phenomenology as a research methodology and as a method of clinical engagement. Their understanding misconstrues phenomenology as being ‘purely descriptive,’ ignoring the prospect that description and observation are actually based upon interpretation of patient phenomena, not objective and unprejudiced observations.
 
Our previous studies of Toxicodendron pubescens (Rhus tox) in homeopathic dilutions have shown anti-inflammatory activity in line with the principle of similia. The present study aimed to evaluate its anti-inflammatory activity in 1M, 10M and CM dilutions in rats. Arthritis was induced by subplantar injection of 0.1 ml of Complete Freund's Adjuvant (CFA) in the right hind paws of rats. The severity of inflammatory lesions was measured plethysmometrically on 21st day post CFA injection. The intensity of pain was measured using digital Von Frey apparatus. Other estimations included serum C-reactive protein (CRP), hematological parameters, body weight changes, arthritic pain score and radiological analysis of the arthritic paws. The 1M, 10M and CM homeopathic dilutions of Rhus tox reduced primary and secondary arthritic lesions, improved body weight gain and protected rats against CFA-induced hematological and radiological perturbations. A significant reduction in the serum levels of CRP and an improvement in pain threshold of injected paws was observed in the groups treated with the Rhus tox dilutions. The anti-arthritic potential of Rhus tox is retained at 1M, 10M and CM dilutions.
 
Allergies, especially respiratory allergies, are one of the indications for which homeopathic treatment is most frequently sought. The progress of 147 cases of respiratory allergy since in private homeopathic practice is reported here. Only two cases of ear, nose and throat (ENT) allergies out of a total of 105 showed no improvement, no patients deteriorated. Two cases with worsening and three without improvement were noted out of 42 cases of pulmonary allergies. The constitutional homeopathic remedies varied, Lycopodium, Pulsatilla and Sulphur were most frequently prescribed for ENT allergies, there was no predominantly prescribed remedy in the pulmonary allergy group. Thirty one cases of respiratory allergies consulted only once. The reasons for such a state have been reviewed. If all these cases were therapeutic failures, the success rate of the homeopathic treatment is 87.6%.
 
Following the publication of a randomised controlled trial of Arnica in hand surgery, a number of reports of apparently beneficial effects of Arnica came to the author's attention. Many of these apparent responses could have been due to other factors including the use of herbal (non-diluted) Arnica, placebo response and natural course of disease.
 
Canova is a homeopathic complex medicine, used as an immune modulator. We studied its effects in normal and sarcoma 180-bearing mice. Three control groups were also evaluated. The mice were examined at daily intervals and the tumours observed histologically. Peripheral blood was analysed by flow cytometry. A delay in the development, and a reduction in size of the tumours, and increased infiltration by lymphoid cells, granulation tissue, and fibrosis surrounding the tumour were observed with active treatment compared to control. All animals from the treated group survived, 30% of control groups died. In 30% of treated animals, a total regression of the tumour was confirmed using light microscopy, no regression was found in the control groups. Treatment with Canova increased total numbers of leukocytes and lymphocytes. Among lymphocytes, TCD4, increased in normal-treated group and B and NK cells in S180-treated groups. The results reflect enhanced immune response of the host after treatment with Canova.
 
In 2010 the 200th anniversary of the Organon is celebrated by the homeopathic community. Samuel Hahnemann's Organon of Rational Therapeutics, published in 1810, however, marks neither the beginning of homeopathy nor the endpoint of its development. On the one hand, its contents are based on terms and concepts developed and published by Hahnemann during the preceding two decades. On the other hand, the five revised editions of the Organon that followed in the next three decades contain major changes of theory and conceptions. Hahnemann's basic idea, running through all the stages of the foundation, elaboration, and defence of his doctrine, may be detected by a comparative review of his works from a historical and philosophical perspective.
 
The quality of information gathered from homeopathic pathogenetic trials (HPTs), also known as 'provings', is fundamental to homeopathy. We systematically reviewed HPTs published in six languages (English, German, Spanish, French, Portuguese and Dutch) from 1945 to 1995, to assess their quality in terms of the validity of the information they provide. The literature was comprehensively searched, only published reports of HPTs were included. Information was extracted by two reviewers per trial using a form with 87 items. Information on: medicines, volunteers, ethical aspects, blinding, randomization, use of placebo, adverse effects, assessments, presentation of data and number of claimed findings were recorded. Methodological quality was assessed by an index including indicators of internal and external validity, personal judgement and comments of reviewers for each study. 156 HPTs on 143 medicines, involving 2815 volunteers, produced 20,538 pathogenetic effects (median 6.5 per volunteer). There was wide variation in methods and results. Sample size (median 15, range 1-103) and trial duration (mean 34 days) were very variable. Most studies had design flaws, particularly absence of proper randomization, blinding, placebo control and criteria for analysis of outcomes. Mean methodological score was 5.6 (range 4-16). More symptoms were reported from HPTs of poor quality than from better ones. In 56% of trials volunteers took placebo. Pathogenetic effects were claimed in 98% of publications. On average about 84% of volunteers receiving active treatment developed symptoms. The quality of reports was in general poor, and much important information was not available. The HPTs were generally of low methodological quality. There is a high incidence of pathogenetic effects in publications and volunteers but this could be attributable to design flaws. Homeopathic medicines, tested in HPTs, appear safe. The central question of whether homeopathic medicines in high dilutions can provoke effects in healthy volunteers has not yet been definitively answered, because of methodological weaknesses of the reports. Improvement of the method and reporting of results of HPTs are required. REFERENCES: References to all included RCTs are available on-line at.
 
There are a few examining changes in patient groups seeking homeopathic care. This study describes changes in complaints and characteristics of patients visiting a homeopathic clinic in Norway from 1994/1995 to 2003/2004. Two surveys were conducted, each including data for 700 patients who had visited the same homeopathic clinic, with five (1995) and seven (2004) homeopaths, respectively. Data on patients' gender, age, occupation, reason for encounter and where they had heard about homeopathy and the homeopathic clinic were registered by the homeopaths. In 2004, the patients also answered questions on the previous use of conventional treatment and how long it took them to decide to consult a homeopath. There are no changes in the reason for encounter and gender proportions between 1995 and 2004. Over 36% of patients were under the age of 16 in 2004, compared to 26% in 1995. Most patients still consult homeopaths through a lay referral network. In 2004, more than 60% made an appointment with a homeopath within the first month of first considering it. There are few changes in the characteristics of this homeopathic patient population. There is a need for studies that explore the 'why question'; Why an increasing percentage of patients are children? Why people with higher education and why certain age groups visit homeopaths more frequently than others?
 
Homeopathy is the form of complementary medicine most frequently used in Norway. This study describes complaints and characteristics of patients who visited Norwegian homeopaths in 1998, comparing them with those who visited homeopaths in 1985 and general practice patients. We conducted a survey of 1097 patients visiting 80 Norwegian homeopaths in 1998 and compared them with a similar survey in 1985 (1072 consultations) and a 1989 survey of general practice patients (90,458 consultations). One in four of patients visiting homeopaths in 1998 were children between 0 and 9 years of age, compared to one in ten in 1985 and in general practice. Almost half of the patients in 1998 had used prescription drugs provided by a medical doctor the previous month for the same complaints they presented to the homeopath. In 1998 patients sought homeopathy most often because of respiratory and skin complaints. In 1985 the most common reasons were musculo-skeletal and digestive problems. Four of the five commonest reasons for encounter in homeopathic practice in 1998 were also found among the five commonest reasons for general practice consultations. Patients currently visiting homeopaths differ in age and to some extent in complaints compared to previous users of homeopathy and general practice patients.
 
The 2,4-D (2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid) is using as a growth regulator in tissue culture media. Maize seeds have poor ability to maintain germination rate in the long term. To examine the possible restorative effect of homeopathic 2,4-D potencies on maize seedlings originating from seeds damaged by accelerated aging. Seeds of four maize lines were subjected to accelerated aging stress treatment. Seed samples were treated with distilled water (control) and a range of potencies of 2,4-D: 3C, 3.75C, 4.5C, 5.25C and 6C. The germination capacity, fresh substance (FS) and length of root and shoot were determined. Hydrolysis and biosynthesis, GSH/GSSG ratio and redox capacity were calculated. Induced seed aging decreased germination rate and growth of seedlings. 2,4-D potencies did not have a statistically significant effect on germination. However, there were statistically significant effects on FS production, root and shoot length and redox capacity. The 3C potency had the largest effect on the FS accumulation, 4.5C increased root and shoot length, compared to control (statistically significant). The GSH/GSSG ratio and the redox capacity were decreased by aging. The 3C and 4.5C potencies tended to reverse the GSH/GSSG ratio (statistically significant) in the root and shoot, (i.e., shifted the redox balance to the reduced state). Homeopathic potencies of 2,4-D appear to have a beneficial effect on artificially aged maize seeds: they stimulate growth through better substance conversion from seed rest, and shift the redox capacity towards a reduced environment. Further work is required to determine if this is an useful means of improving maize seed germination and growth.
 
An outcome series was conducted over a five-year period of patients attending a community NHS homeopathy clinic in Dorchester, Dorset. 273 new patients were seen. 183 (67%) questionnaires were completed at six months after initial consultation. 44% of patients had been unwell for more than five years; 19% of all patients for more than 15 years. A wide variety of conditions were seen, the largest group with depression, anxiety or grief. For follow-up patients 75-81% indicated an improvement in their symptoms and activity while 58% recorded an improvement in their overall wellbeing. Six months after the initiation of treatment 155 (84.7%) felt an improvement in their condition with 148 (81%) attributing this to homeopathy. Nobody reported deterioration due to homeopathic treatment; conventional drug use was reduced in 46 patients (25%).
 
Top-cited authors
Marcus Zulian Teixeira
  • University of São Paulo, School of Medicine
Paolo Bellavite
  • Homeopathic Medicine School of Verona
Leoni Bonamin
  • Universidade Paulista
Stephan Baumgartner
  • Universität Bern
Marta Marzotto
  • University of Verona