Project

Clinical and laboratory studies of homeopathic drugs

Goal: We are currently working on the effects of homeopathic drugs on in vitro models (macrophagesa and astrocytes) and on human patients (in collaboration with qualified homeopathic doctors) through pilot observational study and evaluation of likelihood ratio for homeopathic symptoms.

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Project log

Paolo Bellavite
added a research item
Homeopathy, as all Medicine, is both “art” and “science”. While clinical research answers to the question of “if” and “when” homeopathic remedies are able to re-establish and do actually re-establish health, basic sciences like biology, immunology, pathology, chemistry, physics and pharmacology generate several plausible hypotheses about “how” highly diluted/dynamized drugs may work in rigorous laboratory models. In fact, last decades have developed an unprecedented knowledge of the “vital force” at the various levels of life, from single molecules to whole organisms. The involvement of cell receptors is suggested by the action of specific antagonists. We call the vital force as “homeo-dynamics” and its defects, including any deficiency or excess of healing power, the “homeo-pathology”. The pharmaco-dynamic action of remedies (“homeo-therapeutics”) acts by providing subtle informational inputs to specific targets involved in the “vital force”, designed to re-establish a behavior more proximal to the optimal health and “vital harmony”. Besides the study of whole human being at clinical level (e.g. proving and prognostic factor research), some basic mecanisms of actions of homeoremedies can be identified in laboratory studies. The principle of similarity is observed in Arndt-Schulz-like hormetic models, where the inversion of drug effects is obtained by changing the dose, and in Wilder-like models, where stressed organisms have been used in comparison with normal ones. However, hormesis uses only measurable quantities of compounds, as opposed to homeopathy, which frequently administers medicines at dilutions far beyond the material range; moreover, preparation of hormetic solutions follows standard laboratory procedure, while homeopathy requires a sequential series of dilutions, each followed by vigorous shaking. The principle of dilution/dynamization is theoretically supported by physics of condensed matter and is experimentally observed in various physico-chemical models. A particular mention is creditable this year to the 30th anniversary of the far-sighted basophil’s paper on the “memory of water”, whose essential findings and hypotheses were confirmed by dozen of laboratories in the recent decades. Some studies from our research group, investigating the biological targets of selected remedies, are also summarized.
Beatrice Andreoli
added 4 research items
Si tratta di una sintesi in italiano, pubblicata dalla rivista "Medicina Naturale" (Tecniche Nuove, Milano) di recenti lavori del nostro gruppo e di altri sul tema della natura fisico-chimica del medicinale omeopatico
A protocol has been structured with the aim of conducting an observational study, collecting data deriving from the practice of a group of Italian homeopathic practitioners. It follows LMHI (Liga Medicorum Homoeopathica Internationalis) guidelines for “Clinical Verification of Homeopathic Symptoms” published in 2013. The protocol was named “Omeoverona” since it was initially assessed in collaboration between “Osservatorio Medicine Complementari” and “Scuola di Medicina Omeopatica di Verona” in Verona. It is an observational pilot study, to evaluate the feasibility of data collecting and the statistical power of the analysis conducted on these data to determine the “Likelihood ratio” of homeopathic symptoms in relation with the prescribed remedy. A English translation is also available from authors.
Beatrice Andreoli
added a research item
RIASSUNTO Questo lavoro costituisce una rassegna delle attuali teorie riguardanti la farmaco-dinamica del medicinale omeopatico. E' necessario partire dall'idea che la patolo-gia rappresenti una conseguenza della perturbazione di sistemi molecolari e bio-elettrodinamici nell'organismo: le HD potrebbero trasportare un'informazione in grado di spostare lo squilibrio globale del paziente verso un nuovo "attrattore dinamico" più prossimo allo stato di salute. E' auspicabile un progressivo appro-fondimento in futuro di questi temi. PAROLE CHIAVE Omeopatia, omeodinamica, meccanismo d'azione del rimedio omeopatico, ricerca in omeopatia SUMMARY This work constitutes a review of the present theories regarding the homeody-namics of homeopathic remedies. It is necessary to start from the idea that the pathology represents a consequence of the perturbation of molecular systems in the organism: HD might carry an information able to move the global imbalance of the patient toward a new "dynamic attractor" nearer to the state of health. A progressive widening of these themes is desiderable in future. KEY WORDS Homeopathy, homeodynamic, mechanism of action of homeopathic remedy, homeopathic research.
Paolo Bellavite
added a research item
Arnica montana (Arnica m.), native to the temperate region of Europe, is an herbaceous perennial plant that belongs to the Asteraceae family and is widely distributed in mountainous area. This is one of the most popular remedies traditionally used in complementary medicine to treat several pathological conditions like contusion, swelling associated with trauma, pain, inflammation, wounds and post-operative clinical conditions, but the evidence of clinical efficacy is debated. There is some experimental evidence in laboratory animals of anti-inflammatory action of Arnica m. administered as crude ethanolic extract or at the homeopathic dilutions. We formulated the hypothesis that one of cellular targets of Arnica m. action is the macrophage, a key cell in all phases of inflammation and wound healing and we decided to evaluate through an in vitro model the action of several dilutions of this plant extract on gene expression of key regulatory factors. We used THP-1 human cell line, that is a widely used cell line to explore the function and regulation of monocytes and macrophages. These cells resemble primary monocytes but when treated with low doses of phorbol esters (PMA) differentiate to cells with morphologic and functional features of tissue macrophages, including adhesion, phagocytosis, free radical production and release of a number of inflammatory cytokines. Arnica m. dilutions were tested both on normal PMA-differentiated THP-1 cells (here defined as “Normal Mac”) and on PMA-differentiated THP-1 cells that were further differentiated by IL4 treatment for 24 hours (here defined as “IL4 Mac”). This T(H)2-type cytokine stimulates an alternative pathway of macrophage activation with a distinctive phenotype that is consistent with a role in humoral immunity and wound healing. As suitable molecular markers of drug activity at cellular level, we have analysed through RT-array PCR the gene expression of a series of cytokines, receptors, and transcription factors that are involved in wound healing cellular process. We then evaluated the whole transcriptoe of macrophages exposed to Arnica m.
Paolo Bellavite
added 2 research items
Breve intervista a Paolo Bellavite sulla sua esperienza di ricerca e la medicina integrata
Al recente congresso dell’European Committee for Homeopathy, tenutosi a Vienna in novembre, la lectio magistralis è stata tenuta dal dr. Robert Hahn del Dipartimento di Anestesiologia dell’università di Linköping, Svezia. Il relatore è un medico che non ha mai studiato omeopatia ma ha grande esperienza di ricerca clinica convenzionale. Egli ha dimostrato quanto sia difficile un giudizio obiettivo sull’efficacia dell’omeopatia e soprattutto come la cosiddetta “meta-analisi” di Shang e collaboratori pubblicata dal Lancet nel 2005 non fu rigorosa, anzi fu viziata da gravi difetti metodologici. Anche se sono passati anni, tale studio è ancora di attualità e citatissimo come presunta prova dell’inefficacia dell’omeopatia. Pochi hanno chiaro il fatto che i dati effettivamente provavano la buona qualità dell’omeopatia e la sua efficacia e che fu solo una manipolazione dei numeri e un’analisi applicata scorrettamente (“funnel plot”) a portare a delle conclusioni negative, poi amplificate dai mass media. Tutta la vicenda di questa micidiale “bufala” medica lascia perplessi e fa riflettere su come sia possibile che personaggi che sono ritenuti esperti nella materia della ricerca clinico-farmacologica abbiano potuto prestar fede senza batter ciglio a tale pubblicazione e continuino a citarla ossessivamente. Anche se la ricerca in omeopatia è ancora apertissima e sono necessari ulteriori studi prima di dirne provata l’efficacia in molti campi, l’equivalenza omeopatia=placebo è definitivamente confutata sia dalla ricerca clinica sia da quella di base, per cui la sua reiterazione non può che essere frutto di ignoranza o di malafede.
Paolo Bellavite
added an update
In this seminal book we conceived for the first time in a systematic way the research pathways for a complete scientific theory of homeopathy. Part of these views were confirmed by subsequent experimental studies from our and other's laboratories.
 
Paolo Bellavite
added a research item
Italian physicians Paolo Bellavite and Andrea Signorini thoroughly examine previous and current literature on the science of homeopathy in order to discover answers to the elemental questions: does it work? and if so, how does it work? The authors build a theory of the Law of Similars by comparing homeopathy to the use of drugs, that according to traditional views are considered to be harmful on specific healthy systems, to actually treat and cure disease in the long term. They offer a careful description of the inverse effects of drugs and paradoxical phenomena of cells, including receptors, transduction, and complexity of homeostatic networks in the inflammatory process. Tackling the problem of the nanopharmacological doses of homeopathy (high potencies, in homeopathic parlance) Bellavite and Signorini engage in a fascinating discussion of the biophysics of water, biological effects of electromagnetic fields, chaos theory, and fractals. They construct a plausible model of homeopathy’s mechanism of action and offer a compelling argument for homeopathy’s inclusion in the world of mainstream medicine and science.
Paolo Bellavite
added a project goal
We are currently working on the effects of homeopathic drugs on in vitro models (macrophagesa and astrocytes) and on human patients (in collaboration with qualified homeopathic doctors) through pilot observational study and evaluation of likelihood ratio for homeopathic symptoms.