High levels of satisfaction with homeopathy reported in pediatric oncology in Germany
In a recently published article in the open access journal Evidence Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine researchers compared the responses of homeopathy users (HUs); and users of other forms of CAM (NHUs) in pediatric oncology (PO) in Germany. Therefore, the study concludes that homeopathy is the most frequently used CAM treatment in PO in Germany.
Furthermore, HUs sustain treatment and therapies considerably longer than NHUs. Therefore, most families who had used homeopathy before their child was diagnosed with cancer also used homeopathy for the treatment of their child’s cancer. Compared to other CAM treatments; patient satisfaction with homeopathy appears to be very high. However, the study also shows that non-medical practitioners played a considerably greater role; as source of information than did treating physicians.
A full copy of the abstract and report can be found here:
Homeopathy works – it’s its plausibility that is the problem
Moreover, a meta-analysis of a subset of eight ‘larger higher quality’ randomized controlled trials (RCTs); drawn from 110 matched RCTs each of homeopathy and conventional medicine; concluded that the results of the trials were consistent with the hypothesis that homeopathy is a placebo effect. However, this meta-analysis was criticized for the heterogeneity of the trials; on which its conclusion was based; (all eight were for different conditions).
In an apparent paradox; the same meta-analysis concluded that homeopathy had a ‘substantial beneficial effect’ in acute upper respiratory tract infections (URTI); without evidence of positive bias. Other meta-analyses have reached similar conclusions. Meanwhile, there is evidence from clinical studies of varying designs that homeopathy may be effective in treating acute otitis media.
Furthermore, homeopathy is frequently prescribed for URTI by homeopathic GPs. There is also some evidence from western Europe that general practitioners (GPs); with homeopathic training prescribe fewer antibiotics; than their counterparts in conventional medicine.
Nonetheless, this might be a little bit off-topic. But you know what else really works? Using this method to find out your body fat percentage.
The plausibility paradox
However, the problem with homeopathy for most doctors as well as scientists; is the inherent implausibility of the idea that ultra-diluted solutions can have chemical effects. Clearly it is highly unlikely that a medicine that does not contain a single molecule of the original substance could work like a conventional medicine.
Sometimes the outcome of RCTs overturns theory. But at other times evidence is dismissed. This was because of theory. Vandenbroucke states; “Accepting that infinite dilutions work would subvert more than conventional medicine; it wrecks a whole edifice of chemistry and physics”.
Responses to specific homeopathy medicines can be measured
Nonetheless, a new piece of exploratory research from India; published in JACM; appears to show that responses of human subjects to the taking of potentized medicines can be measured and differentiated. Therefore, the objective of this investigation was to observe the changes produced in the variability spectrum of heart rate variability (HRV); as well as blood flow variability (BFV) following administration of placebo; as well as different potencies of certain homeopathic medicines.
Moreover, HRV and BFV were measured using a Medical Analyzer System developed by the Electronics Division, Bhabha Atomic Research Centre, Mumbai, India. However, the effect of different homeopathy potencies of Aconitum napellus; Arsenicum album; Gelsemium sempervirens; Phosphorus; Pulsatilla nigricans; and Sulphur on HRV and BFV were recorded in 77 subjects; within an age range of 18 -35.
Furthermore, the results show a range of responses that are varied and interesting; e.g. A pattern seems to emerge from these experiments that medium potencies; such as 30c and 200c have probable action on HRV and higher potencies; such as 1M have probable action on BFV. However, the authors state this is an exploratory study; and that ‘These are observations from exploratory experiments in emerging areas of physiologic variability; as well as need validation by repeated experiments of this type.
Detection of response was the primary objective of this study; which has been achieved. Nonetheless the number of subjects in each group was small. Hence it was not possible to show the statistical significance of the results; an aspect that will be covered in future studies.
A full copy of the article can be accessed at:
The Journal of Alternative and Complementary.
Medicine Volume 17, Number 8, 2011, pp. 705–710
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