Scientific evidence for homeopathy part 6

Christer Sundqvist

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We have conducted investigations into homeopathy with a well-known and respected Finnish homeopath, Jouni Jämsä (http://www.jounijamsa.fi/ ). We have touched on the general debate, discussed diluted homeopathic preparations, talked about homeopathy and plants, explored the effects in individual cells, informed about homeopathy in cancer and touched on animal research [1-5]. Now we have possibly reached the most interesting area, namely how homeopathy is used in human diseases.

The effects of homeopathy in humans are supported by those who have received homeopathic treatment, but homeopathy is also constantly criticized by those who may not be familiar with the topic. For our part, we have tried our best to increase the information about homeopathy in the earlier parts of our article series.

 

Clinical studies of homeopathy

”Jouni, are there any clinical studies of homeopathy? Is homeopathy effective against diseases?”

In homeopathy, a person is treated in a holistic way and not on the basis of a single disease state, so a double-blind and placebo-controlled study model is not optimal for studying the effects of homeopathy. Nevertheless, there are many studies that support this model of homeopathic treatment. I suggest we focus on some of these studies.

Randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled homeopathic studies are readily available. There are also follow-up studies and other beneficial homeopathic studies aimed at humans.

Let us first look at a study conducted in the UK, which examined on a general level how satisfied people were with their homeopathy treatments. A total of 455 follow-up interviews were conducted (1,100 consultations). The patients had received homeopathic treatment for their chronic diseases. Conventional treatment had not cured the disease, no progress had been made in the treatments or all sorts of complications had emerged, such as some side-effects, they were old or the patient's condition was requiring softer treatments.

Not everyone benefited from homeopathy, but still 66.8% said they felt better after the homeopathic treatment offered to them and 32.5% said they could completely stop or reduce their conventional medication. The report found that the ten most common clinical conditions treated with homeopathy were: eczema, anxiety, depression, osteoarthritis, asthma, back pain, chronic cough, chronic fatigue, headache and high blood pressure.

The effect of the treatment was not dependent on the patient's age. For women, the treatment was slightly more effective than for men; 71.3% of women and 58.5% of men felt better after homeopathy. In two patients (0.4%), the symptoms of the disease worsened due to the homeopathic treatment [6].

Another British study examined patients who received outpatient care at Bristol University Hospital for 6 years. A total of 6544 patients with varying disease status were followed up. Each patient who received treatment at the hospital during the study period was included in the first follow-up.

In interpreting the results, a 7-point scale was used in the final consultation, which was compared with the overall results in the first consultation. Positive health changes could be seen in 70.7% (n = 4627) of the patients and 50.7% (n = 3318) showed evidence of changes in health that they were either better (+2 points) or much better (+3).

“Thank you for this overview. Now, perhaps it makes sense to ask whether homeopathy is effective against individual diseases? ”

 

Homeopathy for individual diseases

Cancer

We have already dealt with cancer research in our earlier series of articles [3]. We observed e.g. that cancer patients who used homeopathy had a longer life expectancy than the diagnosis predicted [8]. For patients with breast cancer, homeopathy was a good complement to conventional cancer treatment and increased the overall well-being [9]. In a double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial of bleeding and swelling (edema) in patients with breast cancer, the homeopathic medicine Arnica Montana was shown to be so effective that its use could be recommended [10]. In a double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical study, the homeopathic remedy Traumeel significantly reduced the serious side effects of chemotherapy (stomatitis) in children undergoing bone marrow transplantation [11].

 

Women's Health

The endometriosis study at the University of São Paulo is quite well known. It was a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study. The aim was to evaluate the efficacy and safety of potentiated estrogen compared to placebo in endometriosis and especially regarding pelvic pain. The study lasted for 24 weeks and recruited 50 women (18–45 years) with a diagnosis of endometriosis.

Potentiated estrogen (12 cH, 18 cH and 24 cH) or placebo was administered orally twice daily. The results were obtained mainly by calculating specific pain values and assessing the change in the severity of the disease from the baseline after week 24. As a secondary result, a questionnaire from a standardized health study was used to assess quality of life, depression and anxiety symptoms. Potentiated estrogen was significantly more effective than placebo in reducing endometriosis-related pain [12].

Good results have been achieved with homeopathy for menopausal symptoms and hot flashes [13, 14]. In a randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind clinical study at the University of São Paulo, women with hot flashes received homeopathic bush pepper or Capsicum frutescens. 40 women participated in the study. The study concluded that homeopathic preparations were significantly more effective than placebo in reducing the intensity of hot flashes for menopausal women after a 4-week treatment period [15].

Homeopathy has been tested for menstrual cramps (PMS). An Israeli double-blind, placebo-controlled study followed 105 women with PMS symptoms to see if homeopathy was helpful. Participants received one of the fourteen homeopathic medicines or placebo. The study was conducted as a follow-up. The end result was that the group that received homeopathy was clearly expressing better health than the group that received placebo [16].

Fibromyalgia is a troublesome, difficult-to-treat disease that often affects women. Homeopathy has also been tested many times with great success. The prestigious journal Rheumatology published a double-blind, randomized, and parallel-grouped, placebo-controlled study of classical homeopathy. All participants (62 individuals) had been diagnosed with fibromyalgia and were divided into two groups. One of the groups received individualized homeopathic treatment according to classical homeopathy, the other received placebo. There were experienced homeopaths available who participated in the experiment for 2, 4 and 6 months. The homeopaths were instructed to treat each participant in the same way and, if necessary, to change or make corrections to the medications they prescribed. The primary research topics were e.g. pain assessments and location of pain points. Secondarily, depression and fatigue were studied.

The homeopathy group had significantly less pain compared to the placebo group. A significantly higher proportion of patients in the homeopathic group experienced at least a 25% improvement in pain point sensitivity compared with placebo. In addition, they found that homeopathic medicine reduced depression and aggression. Homeopathic treatment led to a better quality of life [17].

A double-blind study was conducted at St. Bartholomew's Hospital in London with the homeopathic remedy Rhus tox for those suffering from fibromyalgia pain. As a result, the number of pain values decreased by about a quarter, the quality of sleep improved and the amount of pain also decreased compared to the placebo group [18].

A double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled study of postpartum haemorrhage has been performed at the Jerusalem Department of Gynecology. The participants (40 women) were divided into three groups, one of which was a placebo group. The homeopathy groups received Arnica Montana / Bellis perennis of two different strengths (6C and 30C).

The criteria were very low hemoglobin and 72 hours had passed since the delivery. In those who received homeopathic preparations, the hemoglobin value remained close to the baseline level, while in the placebo group there was a marked decrease. Basogenic hemoglobin levels were very similar in all groups. The researchers believed that the homeopathic treatment made it possible for the hemoglobin levels to remain normal [19].

 

Migraine

Migraines in children have been treated with homeopathy. The study included 168 children and was conducted in 12 different countries. The children were 5-15 years old.

The occurrence of migraines was examined for 3 months and was based on questionnaires filled in by the child or guardian and the doctor. Absence from school was further examined. The end result was that homeopathy significantly reduced the number, severity, and duration of migraine attacks over a 3-month period. Absenteeism also decreased [20].

Migraines have also been examined in a homeopathy study for adults. This study included 212 adults who took preventative medications prescribed by doctors. The diagnosis of migraine had been made on average more than 10 years earlier (interval 10–15 years). The follow-up period was 2 years and 67 caring homeopaths were used. As a result, the severity of migraine attacks was alleviated and the need for medical treatment was significantly reduced, including necessary hospital visits. Homeopathy was apparently beneficial in the treatment of migraine during the two-year study period [21].

 

"Jouni, this is really interesting. Would it be good to end the debate this time? There is a lot to read here right now. Let us save a little of these clinical studies of homeopathy for the next article. What else do you have to say? "

That sounds like a good idea. Next time, we take into account e.g. insomnia, depression, allergies, flu, ADHD and HIV.

 

References:

1 Christer Sundqvist. Scientific evidence for homeopathy part 1. 30.4.2020 https://petrafoundation.com/en/blog/scientific-evidence-for-homeopathy-part-1   

2 Christer Sundqvist. Scientific evidence for homeopathy part 2. 15.5.2020 https://petrafoundation.com/en/blog/scientific-evidence-for-homeopathy-part-2

3 Christer Sundqvist. Scientific evidence for homeopathy part 3. 16.5.2020 https://petrafoundation.com/en/blog/scientific-evidence-for-homeopathy-part-3

4  Christer Sundqvist. Scientific evidence for homeopathy part 4. 30.5.2020 https://petrafoundation.com/en/blog/scientific-evidence-for-homeopathy-part-4

5  Christer Sundqvist. Scientific evidence for homeopathy part 5. 10.6.2020 https://petrafoundation.com/en/blog/scientific-evidence-for-homeopathy-part-5

6 R Sevar. Audit of outcome in 455 consecutive patients treated with homeopathic medicines. Homeopathy 94(4): 215-221, 2005 https://www.researchgate.net/publication/7540572_Audit_of_outcome_in_455_consecutive_patients_treated_with_homeopathic_medicines 

7 David S Spence, Elizabeth Thompson, S.J. Barron. Homeopathic Treatment for Chronic Disease: A 6-Year, University-Hospital Outpatient Observational Study. Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine 11(5): 793-798, 2005 https://www.researchgate.net/publication/7471537_Homeopathic_Treatment_for_Chronic_Disease_A_6-Year_University-Hospital_Outpatient_Observational_Study 

8 Katharina Gaertner, Michael Müllner, Helmut Friehs et al. (8 authors). Additive homeopathy in cancer patients: Retrospective survival data from a homeopathic outpatient unit at the Medical University of Vienna.  Complement Ther Med 22(2): 320-332, 2014 https://www.researchgate.net/publication/261733979_Additive_homeopathy_in_cancer_patients_Retrospective_survival_data_from_a_homeopathic_outpatient_unit_at_the_Medical_University_of_Vienna 

9 S. L. Hughes, AC Smith, Clare Relton. Homeopathy service in an NHS hospital breast cancer clinic: outcome study. Breast Cancer Research 10:1-1, 2008 https://www.researchgate.net/publication/226914438_Homeopathy_service_in_an_NHS_hospital_breast_cancer_clinic_outcome_study 

10 Sorrentino L, Piraneo S, Riggio E, et al (7 authors). Is there a role for homeopathy in breast cancer surgery? A first randomized clinical trial on treatment with Arnica montana to reduce post-operative seroma and bleeding in patients undergoing total mastectomy. J Intercult Ethnopharmacol. 2017;6(1):1-8. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5289077/

11 Oberbaum M, Yaniv I, Ben-Gal Y, et al (6 authors). A randomized, controlled clinical trial of the homeopathic medication TRAUMEEL S in the treatment of chemotherapy-induced stomatitis in children undergoing stem cell transplantation. Cancer. 2001;92(3):684-690. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11505416 

12 Marcus Zulian Teixeira, Sergio Podgaec, Edmund Chada Baracat. Potentized estrogen in homeopathic treatment of endometriosis-associated pelvic pain: A 24-week, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study. European journal of obstetrics, gynecology, and reproductive biology 211:48-55, 2017 https://www.researchgate.net/publication/312931405_Potentized_estrogen_in_homeopathic_treatment_of_endometriosis-associated_pelvic_pain_A_24-week_randomized_double-blind_placebo-controlled_study 

13 Marie-France Bordet, Aurélie Colas, Marijnen Philippe et al (5 authors). Treating hot flushes in menopausal women with homeopathic treatment - Results of an observational study. Homeopathy 97(1):10-15, 2008 https://www.researchgate.net/publication/5656288_Treating_hot_flushes_in_menopausal_women_with_homeopathic_treatment_-_Results_of_an_observational_study 

14 Jean-Claude Colau, Stéphane Vincent, Philippe Marijnen, François-André Allaert. Efficacy of a Non-Hormonal Treatment, BRN-01, on Menopausal Hot Flashes: A Multicenter, Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Trial Drugs R D 12(3):107-119, 2012 https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22852580/ 

15 Débora Cristiane da Silva Andrade, Fabio Carmona, Mateus Andrea Angelucci et al. (5 authors). Efficacy of a Homeopathic Medicine of Capsicum frutescens L. (Solanaceae) in the Treatment of Hot Flashes in Menopausal Women: A Phase-2 Randomized Controlled Trial. Homeopathy 2019; 108(02): 102-107  https://www.thieme-connect.com/products/ejournals/html/10.1055/s-0038-1676326 

16 Michal Yakir, Christien T Klein-Laansma, Shulamith Kreitler et al (7 authors). A Placebo-Controlled Double-Blind Randomized Trial with Individualized Homeopathic Treatment Using a Symptom Cluster Approach in Women with Premenstrual Syndrome. Homeopathy 108(4), 2019 https://www.researchgate.net/publication/335328046_A_Placebo-Controlled_Double-Blind_Randomized_Trial_with_Individualized_Homeopathic_Treatment_Using_a_Symptom_Cluster_Approach_in_Women_with_Premenstrual_Syndrome 

17 Iris Bell, Daniel A. Lewis, Audrey J Brooks et al (7 authors). Improved clinical status in fibromyalgia patients treated with individualized homeopathic remedies versus placebo. Rheumatology 43(5):577-582, 2004 https://www.researchgate.net/publication/8353681_Improved_clinical_status_in_fibromyalgia_patients_treated_with_individualized_homeopathic_remedies_versus_placebo

18 Peter Fisher, A. Greenwood, Edward C. Huskisson, P. Turner, and Philippe Belon. Effect of homeopathic treatment on fibrositis (primary fibromyalgia). BMJ Clinical Research 299(6695): 365-366, 1989 https://www.researchgate.net/publication/20649111_Effect_of_homeopathic_treatment_on_fibrositis_primary_fibromyalgia

19 Menachem Oberbaum, Narine Galoyan, Liat Lerner-Geva et al (7 authors). The effect of the homeopathic remedies Arnica montana and Bellis perennis on mild postpartum bleeding - A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study - Preliminary results. Complementary Therapies in Medicine 13(2):87-90, 2005 https://www.researchgate.net/publication/7709478_The_effect_of_the_homeopathic_remedies_Arnica_montana_and_Bellis_perennis_on_mild_postpartum_bleeding_-_A_randomized_double-blind_placebo-controlled_study_-_Preliminary_results

20 Karine Danno, Aurélie Colas, Jean-Louis Masson, Marie-France Bordet. Homeopathic Treatment of Migraine in Children: Results of a Prospective, Multicenter, Observational Study. J Altern Complement Med 19(2): 119-123, 2013 https://www.researchgate.net/publication/230857677_Homeopathic_Treatment_of_Migraine_in_Children_Results_of_a_Prospective_Multicenter_Observational_Study

21 Claudia M Witt, Rainer Lüdtke, Stefan N Willich. Homeopathic Treatment of Patients With Migraine: A Prospective Observational Study With a 2-year Follow-Up Period. J Altern Complement Med 16(4):347-355, 2010 https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20423206/

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