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IBS pilot study

The HIBS study – a pilot study into the Homeopathic treatment of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (HIBS)

Lead researcher – Dr K Kapil
Data collection completed December 2013

It is often suggested that the improvement patients report from homeopathy is due to the ‘time and attention’ they receive during the consultation with the homeopath. Others believe that the improvement reported by patients is due to the therapeutic effect of the homeopathic medicines. Researchers at the Universities of Leeds and Sheffield worked with clinicians and patients at Barnsley Hospital NHS Foundation Trust to address this question.

This novel trial, which recruited over 100 patients, compared three groups of patients – those receiving usual care, usual care plus ‘supportive listening’ and usual care plus homeopathy – allowing the influence of the homeopathic consultation and homeopathic medicine to be assessed separately.

Initial analysis suggests:

  • Patients receiving homeopathy in addition to conventional care improved more than patients receiving conventional care alone
  • Patients receiving homeopathy in addition to conventional care improved more than patients receiving ‘supportive listening’, suggesting that improvements seen in the homeopathic group cannot be attributed entirely to the therapeutic effects of the ‘time and attention’ given to the patient during the consultation
  • Although this pilot study suggest a clinical benefit from individualised homeopathic treatment, attributable at least partially to the homeopathic medicines prescribed, the number of patients involved was too small to achieve a statistically significant result (this means that firm conclusions cannot be drawn)

The positive results of this pilot study warrant further investigation with a larger scale trial with sufficient numbers to reach firm conclusions.

Peter Whorwell, Professor of Medicine and Gastroenterology at the University of Manchester, who was involved in designing this study explains its clinical importance,

IBS remains an extremely challenging condition to treat and because current medications are not always effective, many patients turn to alternative approaches. Consequently we need to know if any of these approaches are of value by putting any prejudices on one side, and encouraging well conducted trials of such treatment options.

HRI has been proud to contribute partial funding to this project. At a time when homeopathy continues to be criticised for a lack of high quality evidence, this is exactly the kind of homeopathy research that is sorely needed – an expert team of professional homeopaths, gastroenterologists and researchers collaborating to carry out rigorous scientific research within the NHS.

Following the success of the HIBS trial, HRI is supporting Project Manager Jackie Raw with development of a new project within the same hospital – the IBS Service evaluation.

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The outcome measure used was the IBS Symptom Severity Score (IBS SSS). The result were: Homeopathy (decrease in 50 points: 62.5%, increase in 50 points 18.8%); Supportive Listening (decrease in 50 points: 38.9%, increase in 50 points 16.7%); usual care (decrease in 50 points: 25%, increase in 50 points 18.3%).

Lead researcher
Dr K Kapur – Consultant Gastroenterologist, Barnsley Hospital NHS Foundation Trust

Research team
Dr E Said – Registrar Gastroenterology
Mrs J Raw – Registered Homeopath
Mrs C Walters – Registered Homeopath
Dr C Relton – Research Fellow, School of Healthcare, University of Sheffield, Registered Homeopath
Ms Emily Peckham – PhD student, School of Healthcare, University of Leeds
Professor K Thomas – School of Healthcare, University of Leeds
Dr CM Smith – Research Fellow in Acute Care, Barnsley Hospital NHS Foundation Trust
Miss E Goodwin – Acting Research Fellow, Barnsley Hospital NHS Foundation Trust
Mrs Bowen – Patient Representative

Publications on this project

Preliminary findings from this project were presented at the first HRI International Research Conference in Homeopathy in Barcelona 2013 | Abstract

Interim results of a randomised controlled trial of homeopathic treatment for irritable bowel syndrome
Peckham EJ, Relton C, Raw J, Walters C, Thomas K, Smith C, Kapur K, Said E.
Homeopathy 2014, Jul;103(3):172-7

Open Access A protocol for a trial of homeopathic treatment for irritable bowel syndrome
Peckham EJ, Relton C, Raw J, Walters C, Thomas K, Smith C.
BMC Complement Altern Med. 2012 Nov 6;12:212