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Can homeopathy help children with ADHD?

What is this project about?

This project evaluates the effectiveness of homeopathic treatment as experienced in clinical practice for children with ADHD.

The project consists of a series of increasingly robust research studies. It started with a case series involving 20 children receiving treatment by a homeopath for a year, who’s outcomes were compared with 10 children who received supportive visits.

Results found the homeopathic treatment was significantly more effective than a supportive visit, and warranted further investigation. The next step was a feasibility study consisting of a pilot randomised controlled trial.

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The feasibility of using the Trials within Cohorts (TwiCs) design, the intervention itself, and the measures and procedures was explored. Key elements of the design included recruitment of a representative cohort of children with ADHD; random distribution of some in the cohort to receive homeopathic treatment, compared with those remaining in the cohort who continued with their usual care; homeopathic treatment undertaken by several homeopaths in several locations; evaluation of clinical, cost effectiveness and safety using appropriate methods reflecting the requirements of stakeholders; and allowance of sufficient trial time to detect results.

A second treatment – by a nutritional therapist was also tested to enable comparison with another therapy.

The trial demonstrated the feasibility of the TwiCs approach to pragmatic RCT design and both treatments showed preliminary indications of effectiveness according to carers. Interestingly, treatment by homeopaths was significantly effective for emotional dysregulation, and treatment by nutritional therapists for restlessness and inattention. Since emotional dysregulation presages many of the poor outcomes experienced by those with ADHD, this finding will be explored in the next stage.

Current status

Planning is underway to conduct a fully powered trial with 100+ children in each group, using the same design (with adaptations according to feasibility findings).

Funding from the HRI supported the PhD stipend and pilot feasibility study, with sufficient remaining to initiate the full trial Funding bids are being written to augment this, to develop the trial design, build a large cohort of children with neurological conditions, and test other interventions.

A systematic review of homeopathy for ADHD is underway in collaboration with homeopathy researchers in India.

Research team

Philippa Fibert – Principle Investigator – post doctoral researcher, School of Biomedical Sciences, University of West London

Supervision by:
Dr Clare Relton – Senior Lecturer in Clinical Trials, Pragmatic Clinical Trials Unit, Institute of Population Health Sciences, Barts and London School of Medicine and Dentistry
Dr John Hughes – Director of Research, Royal London Hospital for Integrated Medicine, and associate Professor, University of West London
Dr Michael Loughlin – Professor in Applied Philosophy and co-director of the European Institute for Person-Centred Health and Social Care, University of West London.

Researcher

Philippa Fibert

Philippa Fibert, BEd (Hons Cantab) BSc MSc

Dr Fibert has a background working with children with special needs – first as a teacher (having studied English and Education at Cambridge University) then as a parent educator. During this time she studied homeopathy and found it to be a treatment method more effective than anything else she had encountered before. This led to her obtaining a BSc in Homeopathy at Thames Valley University and a research MSc at Goldsmiths, University of London (Research Methodology in Psychology). She then undertook a PhD within the School of Health and Related research, Sheffield University, and will now be working as a post-doctoral researcher at the School of Biomedical Sciences, University of West London, Dr Fibert provides research consultancy for homeopathic bodies such as the Society of Homeopaths, Homeopathy for Health in Africa, and the Central Council for Research in Homeopathy, India. She continues in private practice as a homeopath specialising in the treatment of ADHD.

Why is this project important?

ADHD imposes significant burdens on children, their families and a wide range of public services. It is a leading cause of child referrals to mental health services, and major risk factor for early criminality, school drop-out and exclusion.

Long-term evidence for the effectiveness of mainstream treatments is weak, associated with concerning side effects, and not effective for up to 25% of children. Current approaches to generating evidence are expensive and slow. New treatments which can improve outcomes are needed.

A pragmatic randomised clinical trial can provide information for public health decision makers about what homeopathy can achieve for these children, and how cost effective and safe it is.

Evidence for the effectiveness of individualised homeopathy for ADHD is growing. It is worth investing in research in this area to build up the evidence profile.Philippa Fibert

Publications related to this project

Rethinking ADHD intervention trials: feasibility testing of two treatments and a methodology
Fibert P, Peasgood T, Relton C.
European Journal of Pediatrics 2019 4(1), 61. doi: 10.1007/s00431-019-03374-z . [Epub ahead of print]
[Abstract] | [Full text]

Protocol for the STAR (Sheffield Treatments for ADHD) project: an internal pilot study assessing the feasibility of the Trials within Cohorts (TwiCs) design to test the effectiveness of interventions for children with ADHD.
Fibert P, Relton C, Peasgood T, Daley D.
Pilot and Feasibility Studies 2018; 4: 61
[Abstract] | [Full text]

A comparative consecutive case series of 20 children with a diagnosis of ADHD receiving homeopathic treatment, compared with 10 children receiving usual care.
Fibert P, Relton C, Heirs M, Bowden D.
Homeopathy 2016; 105(2): 194-201
[Abstract]

Case report of two siblings with multi-morbidities receiving homeopathic treatment for one year.
Fibert P.
International Journal of Integrative Medicine 2016; 8(2)S1:141-145
[Abstract]

Case report of a 16 year old youth with diagnoses of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), Asperger’s syndrome and dyslexia receiving homoeopathic and tautopathic treatment.
Fibert P.
International Journal of Integrative Medicine 2015; 7(3): 312-317
[Abstract]

Funding ADHD

Funding status
Fully funded by HRI
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