An experimental study investigating the effects of high-dilution preparations of Rhus toxicodendron has sparked controversy in research circles. This paper caught the attention of many in the homeopathic community as it was published in ‘Scientific Reports’ – a member of the Nature Publishing Group – and appeared to provide evidence to support the efficacy of homeopathic dilutions.

At the time of its publication, in September 2018, HRI received a significant number of enquiries due to the study’s apparent relationship with homeopathy. However, as the Methods section specifically states that succussion was not used during the dilution process, it was clear that this study did not in fact involve a homeopathic medicine – only high dilutions of Rhus toxicodendron.

Recently, interest in the study has grown as a number of anomalies have emerged, highlighted by an Italian researcher. In particular, certain figures seem to have been duplicated and mislabelled, and the conclusions do not seem to be supported by the data. The journal editors were made aware of these concerns and have since retracted the paper.

It is disturbing to see any published paper subjected to accusations of fraud and misrepresentation, but it is particularly disappointing to see the peer review process at a reputable journal such as Scientific Reports fail to detect the alleged errors and prevent them from reaching publication.

However, contrary to statements made by Nature News and other outlets, it should be noted that the authors of the original paper made no claims about providing “proof” for homeopathy and accurately referred only to high-dilutions of Rhus tox throughout.

HRI is dedicated to promoting and supporting the highest quality of research and it is crucial that the integrity of the published research literature is safeguarded, especially for a controversial subject like homeopathy.