The use of natural and complementary medicine is often criticised for not being evidenced-based. It is true that complementary medicine doesn’t attract the same research funding as conventional therapies, however, research does exist including studies which show positive outcomes.
There is a growing research base for homeopathy, and more research is needed to confirm these results.
This page outlines the current status of research in homeopathy, and lists some of this research and where to find it. This page will be updated periodically.
- Resources & references
According to the Faculty of Homeopathy, by the end of 2014, there were 189 peer-reviewed papers (with useable data), that reported randomised controlled trials (RCTs) in homeopathy. 104 of these were placebo-controlled. The Homeopathy Research Institute states that the results of these compares similarity to the evidence using RCTs for conventional treatment:
|In-conclusive (neither positive or negative)||
Clinical trials in support of homeopathy
The table below lists some positive clinical trials for a range of conditions.
|Diarrhoea||A meta-analysis of three placebo-controlled randomised trials showed that homeopathic treatment reduced the duration of diarrhoea in children, see:
Homeopathy for childhood diarrhea: combined results and metaanalysis from three randomized, controlled clinical trials.
|Otitis media||Individualised homeopathic treatment for ear infections in children, see:
Homeopathic treatment of acute otitis media in children: a preliminary randomized placebo-controlled trial http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11224838
Randomized controlled pilot study to compare Homeopathy and Conventional therapy in Acute Otitis Media
|Hay fever (allergic rhinitis)||The homeopathic medicine Galphimia glauca for hay fever, see:
A Meta-Analysis of the Homeopathic Treatment of Pollinosis with Galphimia glauca
The isopathic medicine Pollen 30c for hay fever, see:
Is homoeopathy a placebo response? Controlled trial of homoeopathic potency, with pollen in hayfever as model.
|Flu (influenza)||This study found that the homeopathic medicine Oscillococcinum for the treatment of influenza was effective at treating influenza, but ineffective for preventing it, see:
Homeopathic Oscillococcinum(®) for preventing and treating influenza and influenza-like illness.
|Vertigo||The complex homeopathic medicine Vertigoheel for vertigo, see:
Treatment of Vertigo with a Homeopathic Complex Remedy Compared with Usual Treatments
For a list of more clinical trials by condition, see Homeopathy – What is it used for?
A range of potencies (concentrations of medicinal substances) are used in homeopathy, from tinctures containing raw (molecular) ingredients of a substance, to specially prepared dilutions which are considered ultra-dilute. It is these latter preparations which tend to generate negative media controversy.
Unlike pharmaceuticals, ultra-dilutions must work by a mechanism other than molecules interacting with the biochemistry of the body. More fundamental physics research is being conducted to try and understand how they may work.
Despite the mechanism not being known, there are studies which show the effects of these ultra-dilutes. For example, homeopathically prepared thyroxine, at the ultra-high dilution of 30x, slows down the rate at which tadpoles turn into frogs. It is usual form, the hormone thyroxine stimulates metamorphosis, showing the bi-phasic effect of ultradilutes in that that stimulates an opposite effect. What is interesting about this is that these amphibian studies have been conducted by various teams over almost 20 years. The experiments found the same trend – that thyroxine 30x inhibits metamorphosis.
Close to three-quarters (75%) of in vitro experiments on ultra-high dilutions show the substance having an effect, and a similar amount of replications have been positive.
For more information, see the following pages from the Homeopathy Research Institute:
- “There’s nothing in it – it’s just water”
- How do homeopathic medicines work?
- Basic science research in homeopathy
- The in vitro evidence for an effect of high homeopathic potencies–a systematic review of the literature
There is still a lot more research to do in homeopathy, but hopefully this shows some of the positive findings, and areas of focus for future investigation.
Resources & references
- Faculty of Homeopathy
- Homeopathy Research Institute
- There is no scientific evidence homeopathy works
- CORE-Hom Research database