Meta-Analysis of Clinical Research on Homeopathy
©1995, Dana Ullman, M.P.H.
Excerpted from Consumer’s Guide to Homeopathy, Tarcher/Putnam)
In 1991, three professors of medicine from the Netherlands, none of them homeopaths, performed a meta-analysis of 25 years of clinical studies using homeopathic medicines and published their results in the British Medical Journal. This meta-analysis covered 107 controlled trials, of which 81 showed that homeopathic medicines were effective, 24 showed they were ineffective, and 2 were inconclusive.
The professors concluded, “The amount of positive results came as a surprise to us.” Specifically, they found that:
- 13 of 19 trials showed successful treatment of respiratory infections
- 6 of 7 trials showed positive results in treating other infections
- 5 of 7 trials showed improvement in diseases of the digestive system
- 5 of 5 showed successful treatment of hay fever
- 5 of 7 showed faster recovery after abdominal surgery
- 4 of 6 promoted healing in treating rheumatological disease
- 18 of 20 showed benefit in addressing pain or trauma
- 8 of 10 showed positive results in relieving mental or psychological problems
- 13 of 15 showed benefit from miscellaneous diagnoses
Despite the high percentage of studies that provided evidence of success with homeopathic medicine, most of these studies were flawed in some way or another. Still, the researchers found 22 high-caliber studies, 15 of which showed that homeopathic medicines were effective. Of further interest, they found that 11 of the best 15 studies showed efficacy of these natural medicines, suggesting that the better designed and performed the studies were, the higher the likelihood that the medicines were found to be effective. Although people unfamiliar with research may be surprised to learn that most of the studies on homeopathy were flawed in one significant way or another, research in conventional medicine during the past 25 years has had a similar percentage of flawed studies.
With this knowledge, the researchers of the meta-analysis on homeopathy concluded, “The evidence presented in this review would probably be sufficient for establishing homeopathy as a regular treatment for certain indications.”
A study of the homeopathic treatment of migraine headache was conducted in Italy. Sixty patients were randomized and entered into a double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Patients regularly filled out a questionnaire on the frequency, intensity, and characteristics of their head pain. They were prescribed a single dose of a 30c remedy at four separate times over two-week intervals. Eight remedies were considered, and prescribers were allowed to use any two with a patient. While only 17% of patients given a placebo experienced relief of their migraine pain, an impressive 93% of patients given an individualized homeopathic medicine experienced good results.
Another study that involved individualized homeopathic care was in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis. The study involved 46 patients. Two homeopathic physicians prescribed individually chosen medicines to each patient, though only half of them were given the real remedy, while the other half were given a placebo. The study found that 82% of those given an individualized homeopathic remedy experienced some relief of symptoms, while 21% of those given a placebo experienced a similar degree of relief.
Another example of significant results from a homeopathic combination remedy was in the treatment of women during their ninth month of pregnancy. Ninety women were given the 5c potency of the following remedies: Caulophyllum, Arnica, Cimicifuga, Pulsatilla, and Gelsemium. They were given doses of this combination remedy twice daily during the ninth month. This double-blind, placebo-controlled study showed that women given the homeopathic medicines experienced a 40% (!) shorter labor than those given a placebo. Also, the women given the placebo had four times (!) as many complications of labor as those given the homeopathic medicines.
One of the limitations of research on combination remedies is that the results do not reveal whether the effective treatment came from one specific medicine or from the unique combination of remedies. A recent study of 22 healthy women in their first pregnancies tested Caulophyllum, one of the medicines used in the study cited above, which was administered in the 7c potency during the active phase of labor (one dose per hour repeated for a maximum of 4 hours). The time of labor for those women given the homeopathic medicine was 38% shorter than for women given a placebo. This trial was not double-blind; however, the researchers recently completed a double-blind trial and confirmed their earlier results.
A study of 61 patients with varicose veins was performed double-blind and placebo-controlled. Three doses of a popular German combination of eight homeopathic medicines were given daily for 24 days. Measures were venous filling time, leg volume, and subjective symptoms. The study found that venous filling time improved in those given the homeopathic medicines by 44%, while it deteriorated in the placebo group by 18%. Other measures also had significant differences.
The above articles are referenced from the following website where it may be found in its entirety: http://www.rocky-mountain-homeopathy.com/research.html