Research in homeopathy

Research in homeopathy is frequently criticized, dismissed, or ignored. This offers an explanation.

Although there are substantial numbers of documented provings, they are essentially case reports with the inherent limitations thereof. Numerous objective studies have been attempted, but most are wrought with methodological limitations with wide variations in results.One extensive review of the homeopathic literature concluded that, in spite of a great deal of experimental and clinical work, there is only a little scientific evidence to suggest that homeopathy could be effective. This is largely because of poor design, execution, reporting, or failure to repeat experimental work. The authors did conclude that there was sufficient evidence to warrant the execution of well-designed, carefully controlled experiments (Scofield, 1984).

A well-known study by Linde et al. reviewed the available literature and concluded that homeopathy seemed to have a therapeutic effect, despite its implausibility (Linde et al., 1997).

Another study, sponsored by the European Commission Homeopathic Medicine Research Advisory Group, came to very similar conclusions, using only randomized controlled studies with concrete, predefined, outcome measures (Cucherat, Haugh, Gooch, & Boissel, 2000).

However, in a recent comparative review of homeopathic, controlled clinical trials, the authors concluded that the clinical effects of homoeopathy are placebo effects (Shang et al., 2005). It has been counter-argued that the methodology of this review was flawed and unfairly biased against homeopathy (Fisher, 2006).

Instead of criticizing, dismissing, or ignoring homeopathy, talk with a homeopath about documented homeopathic provings and about concerns you have about a specific homeopathic remedy.

Cucherat, M., Haugh, M. C., Gooch, M., and Boissel, J. P. (2000). Evidence of clinical efficacy of homeopathy: A meta-analysis of clinical trials. European Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, 56, 27-33.

Fisher, P. (2006). Scientific Research on Homeopathic Medicine, Proving and Improving the Efficacy. 1st Joint American Homeopathic Conference.

Linde, K., Clausius, N., Ramirez, G., Melchart, D., Eitel, F., Hedges, L. V., et al. (1997). Are the clinical effects of homeopathy placebo effects? A meta-analysis of placebo-controlled trials. Lancet, 359(9081), 834-43.

Scofield, A.M. (1984). Experimental research in homeopathy-a critical review. British Homeopathic Journal, 73(3 and 4), July and October, 161-180, 211-226.

Shang, A., Huwiler-Miintener, K., Nartey, L., Juni, P., Dorig, S., Sterne, J. A. C., et al. (2005). Are the clinical effects of homeopathy placebo effects?: Comparative study of placebo-controlled trials of homeopathy and allopathy. Lancet, KA” 6.

Portions of this post are excerpts, written by Bernardo A. Merizalde, which originally appeared in Integrative Psychiatry, edited by Daniel A. Monti and Bernard D. Beitman and published by Oxford University Press.