Areas of Research #01Open-mindedness is, in my opinion, a prerequisite of good science. A great deal of homeopathic research takes place regularly and often does not make its way into the media. The Homeopathic approach can be difficult to evaluate through the 'gold standard' of the Randomised Controlled Trial (RCT). In this context it is also worth considering that just 30 to 50% of medical practice in the UK today is supported by high-quality scientific evidence (2.). Often, in modern medicine, due to the extremely narrow context of medical technology through which examination is made of the human condition, we can miss the full picture. There is an important place, I would say a need, for homeopathic medicine alongside other disciplines today.

Despite the difficulties in measuring the individual and often complex process of homeopathic prescribing, over 200 well-verified clinical trials and at least 5 meta-analyses of such trials have demonstrated the effectiveness of homeopathy (3). Science is always changing and recent discoveries regarding the molecular structure of water have demonstrated that homeopathic potentisation is a scientifically plausible concept. It is vital to continue to look for explanations and meanwhile pursue a holistic model of medicine.

In September 2005 the Bristol Homeopathic Hospital carried out a survey over a six year period which showed that of the 6,544 patients treated for chronic diseases such as asthma, migraine, IBS, arthritis, depression and chronic fatigue syndrome, 70% reported significant improvement (4).

Should you wish to know more about research in homeopathy in general please use the following links.

Homeopathic Research Institute

HRI exists "To facilitate and disseminate high quality homeopathy research"

Alternatively please contact the Society of Homeopaths via this link

SOH

Results from a long term observational study.

How healthy are chronically ill patients after eight years of homeopathic treatment?
Witt CM, Lüdtke R, Mengler N, Willich SN.
BMC Public Health. 2008 Dec 17;8:413 (Full text)
An 8-year longitudinal cohort study of over 3500 adults and children found that "patients who seek homeopathic treatment are likely to improve considerably". The research was conducted to narrow the knowledge gap between homeopathy's continuing popularity and lack of data about effectiveness and outcomes over time.

A team at the Charité University Hospital, Berlin, under Prof. Claudia Witt, studied effectiveness of homeopathic treatment. The multi-centre observational study concentrated on patients in routine care by GPs with additional qualifications in homeopathy. The study gathered data at baseline, 2 years and 8 years. At the start, 97% of participants were diagnosed with a chronic complaint, with 95% declaring prior conventional treatment for their ailment; most common conditions included allergic rhinitis, headaches and atopic dermatitis.

Main outcome measures, utilising conventional medical research instruments, included quality of life (QoL) and numerical severity scale assessments. Almost three quarters of initial responders contributed to the final results. Of these, just over 30% were still under homeopathic treatment, almost 30% had stopped because of major health improvement (twice as many children as adults stopped due to improvement). But 26% of patients had stopped because homeopathic treatment failed to improve their condition, and 1.5% reported a deterioration. One in two patients experienced reductions of 50% in symptom severity after 8 years, with corresponding changes in QoL measures. Of adults, almost 50% of responders (67.4% total study population) experienced "clinically relevant treatment success" (complaint severity reduced 2 points or more on a 10-point scale); in children the figure was 80%.

Notably, after 8 years, figures were almost identical to 2-year follow-up, indicating steady long-term health benefits. The authors, considering this research in the context of other large-scale observational studies, note that broadly speaking positive outcome figures are comparable.

Synopsis by:
Suse Moebius BSc RSHom


References

(2.) Shaw, S. (2006). A Critical Approach to Evidence Provided Through Clinical Trials. Nursing Times 102[36]:36-8.
(3.) Reilly, D. (2005). Homeopathy: Increasing Scientific Validation. Alternative Therapies 11[2]:31.
(4.) Spence, D.S., Thompson, E.A. & Baron, S.J. (2005). Homeopathic Treatment for CDhronic Disease: a six-year University-Hospital Outpatient Observational Study. Journal of Alternative and Complimentary Medicine 11[5]: 793-8.