What is Homeopathy?
Homeopathy, used in over 80 countries, by over 300 million patients, integrated in the national health services in other EU countries such as France Germany, Switzerland and Austria, and taught at universities all over the world.
Homeopathy, discovered by the german doctor Samuel Hahnemann (1755-1843), is a medicine which differs from conventional medicine in two main aspects: first, the effects on the body of the selected medicine in a pure state are almost the same to those caused by the condition (so called “similla similibus curentur”, and also Homeo=same and -pathy=disease), and second, the way the medicine is prepared (most of the remedies are high diluted substances from plant, mineral or animal origen).
• “Similla similibus curentur” (latin) “the same cures the same” (Hypocrates 460 - 370 b.C.), which means that the patient’s symptoms are approached with a high diluted substance which in pure state would cause very similar symptoms. In conventional medicine, we can find the same phenomenon, for example: beta-blockers and digoxine, used to treat cardiac arrhythmia can cause arrhythmia; ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) is treated with amphetamine; antidepressants can produce depression, benzodiazepines used to treat anxiety can cause anxiety or even panic attacks.
For example, if we had been stung by a bee, we would have redness, swelling, stinging pain which is worse for warm applications, so in homeopathy we would prescribe Apis mellifica (the bees venom) in a high diluted form.
• The remedies are prepared in the same way since the times of Hahnemann’s. The procedure of diluting the chemically active principle is what rises skepticism in some minds, because it seems that no active solutes remain upon a 12C potency (1/1024). However, in 2009, Nobel Prize laureate Luc Montagnier’s article proving that high dilution are effective, was published in the prestigious journal Interdisciplinary Sciences.
In addition, the ever increasing research in this field leaves now little doubt about the efficiency of Homeopathy1-10.
There is sufficient evidence that the homeopathic treatment, whether combined or not with conventional medicine, can reduce the frequency of recurrent infections, as shown in trials about acute otitis media or recurrent upper respiratory tract approached with homeopathy
1. Trichard et al compared homeopathy to antibiotics in 499 children with recurrent nasopharyngitis in a prospective study over 6 months and found a reduction not only in the number of recurrent infections in the group which received homeopathy, but also in the amount of side effects
2. A different pilot observational study evaluated the addition of homeopathy in recurrent upper respiratory tract infections in children below age 5 years N = 30 patients)
3. Primary outcome measures were the number of URIs in the 6 months prior to interventional treatment vs number of URIs after the beginning of homeopathic care. The findings showed a significant benefit from homeopathy. Studies in adults with URIs report similar outcomes
4. Another randomised, double blind, placebo controlled study, conducted by Chand KS et al5, demonstrated the superiority of homeopathy combined with antibiotics when compared to antibiotics plus placebo in multi drug resistant-tuberculosis (MDR-TB) patients. There was an improvement in all the outcome measures as per intention to treat (ITT) and per protocol (PP) analyses. ITT analyses revealed larger weight gain, reduction in ESR and increase in haemoglobin in those given homeopathy + antibiotics. Furthermore, the cure rate was 11.4% more as compared to placebo group.
Frass et al publicised a randomised, double blind, placebo controlled study with parallel assignment, in the journal CHEST6 in 2005, where 25 patients who received additionally Kalium bichromicum 30CH were compared to an equally large group controlled with placebo. As it revealed, the amount of tracheal secretions was reduced significantly (p < 0.0001); extubation could be performed significantly earlier (p < 0.0001) and length of stay was significantly shorter in the homeopathic group.
Last but not least, another randomised, double blind, placebo controlled study assessed the long-term outcome in 70 critically ill patients suffering from severe sepsis. 35 patients additionally received individualised homeopathic treatment, whereas 35 patients received placebo. On day 180, survival was statistically significantly higher with verum homeopathy (75.8% vs 50.0%, P 1⁄4 0.043), and furthermore no adverse effects were observed7.
Regarding the tolerability of the homeopathic medicines, the incidence of side effects is very low, and the vast majority are mild and temporary, according the bibliography in this respect. As described by Michalsen et al, in a non-interventional study publicised in 20158, where 1050 patients with upper respiratory tract infections were approached and followed over 8 days, in 64 homeopathic clinics. The physicians detected side effects in 14 patients (1,3%), 6 patients showed proving symptoms (0.57%) and only 1 homeopathic aggravation (0.1%) appeared. The rate of compliance was 84% in average for all groups and the global assessment of the homeopathic effects attributed to "good" and "very good" in 84.9% of all patients. A second randomised and controlled study, performed by Jong et al9, only 2 mild side effects in 89 were reported. A different clinical trail performed by the same authors10, in which two homeopathic medicines were compared in 200 patients, revealed mild side effects in only 5 of them.
1. Iris R. Bell, Nancy N. Boyer, Homeopathic Medications as Clinical Alternatives for symptomatic Care of Acute Otitis Media and Upper Respiratory Infections in Children. GAHMJ. Vol 2, Number 1, Jan 2013. 2013 Jan;2(1):32-43. doi: 10.7453/gahmj.2013.2.1.007 [PubMed: 24381823]
2. Trichard M, Chaufferin, G., Nicoloyannis, N. Pharmacoeconomic comparison between homeopathic and antibiotic treatment strategies in recurrent acute rhinopharyngitis in children. Homeopathy. 2005;94(1):3-9.
3. Ramchandani NM. Homoeopathic treatment of upper respiratory tract infections in children: evaluation of thirty case series. Complement Ther Clin Pract. 2010;16(2):101-8.
4. Schmiedel V, Klein P. A complex homeopathic preparation for the symptomatic treatment of upper respiratory infections associated with the common cold: An observational study. Explore (NY). 2006;2(2):109-14.
5. Chand KS et al. Homeopathic treatment in addition to standard care in multi drug resistant pulmonary tuberculosis: a randomized, double blind, placebo controlled clinical trial. Homeopathy. 2014 Apr;103(2):97-107. [PubMed: 24685414]
6. Frass M, Dielacher C, Influence of potassium dichromate on tracheal secretions in critically ill patients. Chest. 2005 Mar;127(3):936-41. [PubMed: 15764779]
7. Frass M, Linkesch M., Adjunctive homeopathic treatment in patients with severe sepsis: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial in an intensive care unit. 2005., Homeopathy. 2011 Jan-Apr;100(1-2):95-100. [PubMed: 21459302]
8. Michalsen A, Uehleke B, Stange R. Safety and compliance of a complex homeopathic drug (Contramutan N Saft) in the treatment of acute respiratory tract infections: A large observational (non-interventional) study in children and adults focussing on homeopathy specific adverse reactions versus adverse drug reactions. Regul Toxicol Pharmacol. 2015 Jul;72(2):179-84. [PubMed: 25882307]
9. Jong MC, Ilyenko L, A Comparative Randomized Controlled Clinical Trial on the Effectiveness, Safety, and Tolerability of a Homeopathic Medicinal Product in Children with Sleep Disorders and Restlessness. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2016;2016:9539030. [PubMed: 27242915]
10. Jong MC, Buskin SL, Effectiveness, safety and tolerability of a complex homeopathic medicinal product in the prevention of recurrent acute upper respiratory tract infections in children: a multicenter, open, comparative, randomized, controlled clinical trial. Multidiscip Respir Med. 2016 May 16;11:19. [PubMed: 27186371]
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