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“There isn’t a single good quality trial showing homeopathy works”

Many people believe that all high quality randomised controlled trials (RCT) testing homeopathy have been negative. This is untrue.

Below are examples of positive high quality RCTs and systematic reviews/meta-analyses testing various types of homeopathy:

  • Individualised homeopathic treatment for diarrhoea in children. A meta-analysis of three placebo-controlled randomised trials by Jacobs et al. 2003 showed that homeopathic treatment reduced the duration of diarrhea (p=0.008).1
  • Individualised homeopathic treatment for ear infections (otitis media) in children 2,3
  • The homeopathic medicine Galphimia glauca for hay fever (allergic rhinitis)4
  • The isopathic medicine Pollen 30c for hay fever5
  • The homeopathic medicine Oscillococcinum for the treatment of influenza6. This study showed that Oscillococcinum was effective at treating influenza, but ineffective for preventing it.
  • The complex homeopathic medicine Vertigoheel for vertigo.7

More research is needed to confirm the findings of these promising studies, particularly large-scale repetitions by other research teams.

To find out more about promising areas of clinical research, see ‘Homeopathy on trial – The need for targeted research’ by Tournier & Roberts, 2013.

The issue of ‘cherry picking’

Cherries_shutterstock_213948859‘Cherry picking’ is the practice of publishing or quoting only the positive trials on a given treatment, whilst ignoring conflicting negative trials. This can lead to distortion of the evidence, which is why there has been a recent drive to force research institutions and drug companies to disclose all trial results – both positive and negative – so that the balance of evidence can be considered in its entirety.

When strong positive studies are presented to critics of homeopathy, they often say that this is cherry picking because there are other negative trials on homeopathy. However, those negative trials are only relevant if they were testing the same homeopathic treatment for the same condition.

In the case of the studies listed above, to our knowledge there are no other repetitions of these trials which had negative results, so the evidence is unrefuted.

The need for replication of existing studies

As research in homeopathy is a relatively new field and there is very limited funding to support new trials, few high quality studies have been carried out, let alone repeated – something HRI is keen to change.

As and when more studies become available testing these same homeopathic treatments further, the evidence base will be updated as these findings are either confirmed, or contradicted, by new findings.

ReferencesLess

  1. Jacobs J, Jonas WB, Jiménez-Pérez M & Crothers D. Homeopathy for childhood diarrhea: combined results and metaanalysis from three randomized, controlled clinical trials. Pediatr. Infect. Dis. J., 2003;22:229–234 | PubMed
  2. Jacobs J, Springer DA, Crothers D. Homeopathic treatment of acute otitis media in children: a preliminary randomized placebo-controlled trial. Pediatr Infect Dis J., 2001; 20(2): 177-83 | PubMed
  3. Sinha MN, et al. Randomized controlled pilot study to compare Homeopathy and Conventional therapy in Acute Otitis Media. Homeopat. J. Fac. Homeopat., 2012; 101: 5–12 | PubMed
  4. Wiesenauer M & Lüdtke R. A meta analysis of the homeopathic treatment of pollinosis with Galphimia glauca. Forsch. Komplementärmed., 1996; 3: 230-234 | Link
  5. Reilly DT, Taylor MA, et al. Is homoeopathy a placebo response? Controlled trial of homoeopathic potency, with pollen in hayfever as model. Lancet, 1986; 2(8512): 881-886 | PubMed
  6. Mathie RT, Frye J & Fisher P. Homeopathic Oscillococcinum(®) for preventing and treating influenza and influenza-like illness. Cochrane Database Syst. Rev., 2012; 12:CD001957 | PubMed
  7. Schneider B, et al. Treatment of vertigo with a homeopathic complex remedy compared with usual treatments – a meta-analysis of clinical trials, Arzneim.-Forschung, 2005; 55(1): 23-29 | PubMed

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