Adverse effects of homeopathy: A systematic review of published case reports and case series

Complementary Medicine, Peninsula Medical School, Exeter, UK.
International Journal of Clinical Practice (Impact Factor: 2.57). 12/2012; 66(12):1178-88. DOI: 10.1111/ijcp.12026
Source: PubMed


The aim of this systematic review was to critically evaluate the evidence regarding the adverse effects (AEs) of homeopathy.

Five electronic databases were searched to identify all relevant case reports and case series.

In total, 38 primary reports met our inclusion criteria. Of those, 30 pertained to direct AEs of homeopathic remedies; and eight were related to AEs caused by the substitution of conventional medicine with homeopathy. The total number of patients who experienced AEs of homeopathy amounted to 1159. Overall, AEs ranged from mild-to-severe and included four fatalities. The most common AEs were allergic reactions and intoxications. Rhus toxidendron was the most frequently implicated homeopathic remedy.

Homeopathy has the potential to harm patients and consumers in both direct and indirect ways. Clinicians should be aware of its risks and advise their patients accordingly.

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    • "Rajiv Ahlawat et al. / International Journal of Pharma Sciences and Research (IJPSR) ISSN : 0975-9492 Vol 5 No 08 Aug 2014 478 certain ADRs [4] "
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    ABSTRACT: Background Homeopathy system of medicine is traditionally considered to be one of the safest system of medicine, as the drugs are made from the dilution of the active ingredients [1]. But there are certain evidences available which support the fact that homeopathic medicines can cause severe adverse drug reaction (ADRs) in children [2,3]. It is very important to know the patient medication history to find out the presence of such incidences. The present case of a 5 year old child shows the presence of fever, loose motion and weight loss due to consumption of homeopathy medicine. It is very important to report such cases so that the physicians can be made aware regarding the ADRs pertaining to the use of alternative system of medicine. Case presentation A 5 year old girl presented at our outpatient clinic for fever, loose motion and weight loss. The initial workup was negative for common causes and she had received multiple antibiotics without any specific diagnosis. However none of the treatments were effective. A continuous measurement of the weight and fever were carried out. It was found that her body weight declined from 18 kg to 12 kg (30 % of total weight) with persistent fever of up to 102 F during the observation period of approximately 1 month. She was admitted and various diagnostic tests and cultures were performed to rule out the possibilities of HIV, typhoid, TB and other infectious & non infectious causes. All the tests performed were found negative. From the patient medication history it was found, that apart from the allopathic medicines, the patient was receiving homeopathic medicines for small hypopigmented patches on her right eyelid. On retrospective review, the mother clearly appreciated that the symptoms of fever, loose motion and weight loss started soon after the start of homeopathic treatment. All the medicines were stopped & symptoms resolved soon after withdrawn of homeopathic medicine. Over the next 3 months the child gained all the lost weight and resumed normal activity. We conclude that the most reasonable explanation for the symptoms appears to be homeopathic medicines in this case, since the symptoms are very closely temporally associated with their use. Unfortunately, we were unable to find the name of the exact homeopathic medication used or its potency. No specific treatment is given. Antibiotic therapy and homeopathic treatment were stopped. The child was followed up for a period of one month on weekly basis, before admission, and later monthly for the next 6 months after discharge. Discussion Homeopathic medicine was found to be most likely causative agent for the present symptoms, because the symptoms were start observing soon afterwards the start of the homeopathic treatment. The possibility of all other known reasons for the symptoms was ruled out by the help of various examinations performed in the patients. The findings were further supported by the fact the patient start gaining weight as soon as these homeopathic medicines were withdrawn. Like all other medicines, homeopathic medicines may also produce Rajiv Ahlawat et al. / International Journal of Pharma Sciences and Research (IJPSR) ISSN : 0975-9492 Vol 5 No 08 Aug 2014 478
    Full-text · Article · Aug 2014
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    • "The Claims of Harm and the Failure to Seek Effective Care There is no question that, in some instances, homeopaths have failed to refer patients for conventional treatment and that this has led to adverse events (Freckelton 2012). Likewise, there is little question that deaths have occurred as a result of homeopathic treatment (Freckelton 2012; Posadzki, Alotaibi, and Ernst 2012). It is also true, however, that many patients have died as a consequence of conventional medical practitioners practicing negligently, or failing to refer or recognise the limitation of their own expertise, or failing to follow up with patients. "
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    ABSTRACT: Recent discourses about the legitimacy of homeopathy have focused on its scientific plausibility, mechanism of action, and evidence base. These, frequently, conclude not only that homeopathy is scientifically baseless, but that it is "unethical." They have also diminished patients' perspectives, values, and preferences. We contend that these critics confuse epistemic questions with questions of ethics, misconstrue the moral status of homeopaths, and have an impoverished idea of ethics-one that fails to account either for the moral worth of care and of relationships or for the perspectives, values, and preferences of patients. Utilitarian critics, in particular, endeavour to present an objective evaluation-a type of moral calculus-quantifying the utilities and disutilities of homeopathy as a justification for the exclusion of homeopathy from research and health care. But these critiques are built upon a narrow formulation of evidence and care and a diminished episteme that excludes the values and preferences of researchers, homeopaths, and patients engaged in the practice of homeopathy. We suggest that homeopathy is ethical as it fulfils the needs and expectations of many patients; may be practiced safely and prudentially; values care and the virtues of the therapeutic relationship; and provides important benefits for patients.
    Full-text · Article · Jul 2014 · Journal of Bioethical Inquiry
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    • "Se trata del fenómeno de la homeopatía y de los pro - ductos tradicionales . En relación con el primero , la crítica de parte de la comunidad médica y científica es constante ( Bellavite y Betti , 2012 ; Álvarez y Marina , 2006 ; Ernst , 2000 ) , ya que la homeopatía como seudociencia no cuenta con el respaldo científico que demuestre su eficacia ( Posadzki , Alotaibi y Ernst , 2012 , pp . 1178 - 1188 ) , al no existir ensayos clínicos validados metodológica - mente ( Shang et al . "
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    ABSTRACT: Resumen: El problema del acceso a los medicamentos no obedece siempre al rol cuestionable de la industria farmacéutica, como sí en gran medida a los Estados, responsables inmediatos por el abandono de millones de pacientes en los países bajo el umbral de pobreza y desarrollo. Para evidenciar esta información se plantean tres escenarios en los que las políticas públicas aún tienen una gran tarea pendiente: la ausencia de regulación y vigilancia, la permisividad con prácticas seudocientíficas y el abandono en regiones apartadas. A lo largo del texto, y a manera de conclusión, se propone un llamado de atención a los gobiernos, para que reorienten sus acciones y hagan presencia en un panorama que usualmente se deja a un lado cuando se aborda el problema del acceso a los medicamentos. Abstract: The problem of access to medicines is not usually the responsibility of pharmaceutical industry and its questionable role. The governments of developing countries, as we discuss in this article, has an important part of the responsibility for the abandonment of millions of patients who die before getting access to a treatment. To demonstrate this, we will refer to three scenarios in which public policies does not help to solve the problem: the lack of regulation and oversight; the permissiveness with pseudo-scientific practices; and the state’s abandonment in remote regions. Throughout the text, and as a conclusion, we will make a claim on governments to direct their actions towards solving the issues at hand.
    Full-text · Article · Jan 2014
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