Scientific Research

Research in Homeopathy- An Update

Robert Medhurst
Written by Robert Medhurst

Another in a series of important updates on research in homeopathy, by Homeopath Robert Medhurst.

Here in Australia, as is probably the case in most other parts of the world, it’s impossible to walk through a pharmacy or health food shop without seeing terms such as, “clinically proven”, “scientifically formulated”, or “clinically effective”, adorning advertisements for therapeutic goods. Clearly, the notion of scientific support is an important consideration for potential purchasers of these products, and it’s often an important consideration for people who may be considering a particular form of therapy for the first time. In the case of homeopathy, there’s an abundance of scientific research to support its choice as a therapy and following are brief summaries of recently published research studies from peer-reviewed journals.

Human Studies

  1. Karp JC, et al. Treatment with Ruta graveolens 5CH and Rhus toxicodendron 9CH may reduce joint pain and stiffness linked to aromatase inhibitors in women with early breast cancer: results of a pilot observational study. Homeopathy, 105, 4, 299-308. Aromatase inhibitors are a class of drugs used to treat some forms of cancer. The aim in this study was to determine the possible effect of two homeopathic medicines, Ruta graveolens 5CH and Rhus toxicodendron 9CH, in the prevention of aromatase inhibitor (AI) associated joint pain and/or stiffness in women with early, hormone-receptor positive, breast cancer. Women were recruited in two groups, according to which of the two study centres they attended: one receiving homeopathy in addition to standard treatment (group H) and a control group, receiving standard treatment (group C). All women were treated with an AI. In addition, women in group H also took Ruta graveolens 5CH and Rhus toxicodendron 9CH (5 granules, twice a day) up to 7 days before starting AI treatment. The homeopathic medicines were continued for 3 months. Clinical data were recorded using a self-assessment questionnaire at inclusion (T0) and 3 months (T3). Primary evaluation criteria were the evolution of scores for joint pain and stiffness, the impact of pain on sleep and analgesic consumption in the two groups after 3 months of treatment. 40 patients (mean age 64.9±8.1 years) were recruited, 20 in each group. Two-thirds of the patients had joint pain before starting AI treatment. There was a significant difference in the evolution of mean composite pain score between T0 and T3 in the two groups (-1.3 in group H vs. +3.4 in group C; p=0.0001). The individual components of the pain score (frequency, intensity and number of sites of pain) also decreased significantly in group H. 9 patients in group C (45%) vs. 1 (5%) in group H increased their analgesic consumption between T0 and T3 (p=0.0076). After 3 months of treatment, joint pain had a worse impact on sleep in patients in group C (35% vs. 0% of patients; p=0.0083). The differences observed in the evolution of morning and daytime stiffness between the two groups were smaller (p=0.053 and p=0.33, respectively), with the exception of time necessary for the disappearance of morning stiffness which was greater in group C (37.7±23.0 vs. 17.9±20.1 min; p=0.0173).
  2. Manchanda RK, et al. A randomized comparative trial in the management of Alcohol Dependence: Individualized Homoeopathy versus standard Allopathic Treatment. Indian J Res Homoeopathy, 2016, 10, 172-81. Workers from India’s Central Research Institute and Central Council for Research in Homoeopathy compared the effects of individualised homeopathy (IH) with standard allopathic (SA) treatment for people with alcohol dependence using a controlled, open‑label design. Subjects were screened verbally using the CAGE scale. 80 people who fulfilled the inclusion criteria were randomised to either IH (n=40) or SA (n=40) treatment and followed up for 12 months. The primary outcome was the level of change in the Severity of Alcohol Dependence Questionnaire [SADQ] rating scale at 12 months. Data analysis was done for both intention‑to‑treat (ITT) and per‑protocol (PP) populations. The results showed that IH was superior to SA in the management of alcohol dependence. The medicines most frequently used were Sulphur, Lycopodium clavatum, Arsenicum album, Nux vomica, Phosphorus, and Lachesis.
  3. Palm J, et al. Effectiveness of an add-on treatment with the homeopathic medication SilAtro-5-90 in recurrent tonsillitis. Complement Ther Clin Pract, 2017 28:181-191. In this international, pragmatic, controlled clinical trial, 256 patients (6-60 years) with moderate recurrent tonsillitis were randomised to receive either SilAtro-5-90,a homeopathic combination, in addition to standard symptomatic treatment, or to receive standard treatment only. The primary outcome was the mean time period between consecutive acute throat infections (ATI) within 1 year (analysed via repeated events analysis). During the evaluation year, the risk of getting an ATI was significantly lower (hazard ratio: 0.45, proportional means model, p = 0.0002, ITT) with SilAtro-5-90 compared to control. Tonsillitis-specific symptoms were significantly reduced (p < 0.0001, ITT) and the need of antibiotics to treat acute throat infections (p = 0.0008; ITT) decreased.
  4. Motiwala FF, et al. Effect of Homoeopathic treatment on Activity of Daily Living (ADL) in Knee Osteoarthritis: A prospective observational study. Indian J Res Homoeopathy, 2016, 10, 182-7. An Indian research team set out to investigate the effect of individualised homeopathic medicines in improving ADL by reducing pain, stiffness and limiting the disease progress. 131 consecutive patients with OA of the knee were recruited and followed up for minimum period of 12 months. Two orthopaedic surgeons diagnosed the disease based on clinical examination of the patients. Three trained homeopathic physicians prescribed individualised homeopathic medicines and the patients were evaluated for pain on WOMAC Osteoarthritis Index LK3.1 (IK) survey form measuring pain, stiffness and ADL. The pain was also measured on Numerical pain rating scale (NRS) for further confirmation. The homeopathic intervention was associated with a mean ADL score reduction of 35.85 down to 19.08 (p‑.0.0001). Mean pain on WOMAC Osteoarthritis Index survey form improved from 10.50 to 5.48 (p‑0.0001). The mean pain score on NRS improved from 6.34 to 3.77 (p‑0.0001) and the mean morning stiffness also improved from 4.55 to 2.18 (p‑0.0001).
  5. Sorrentino L, et al. Is there a role for homeopathy in breast cancer surgery? A first randomized clinical trial on treatment with Arnica montana to reduce post-operative seroma and bleeding in patients undergoing total mastectomy. J Intercult Ethnopharmacol, 2017, 6, 1, 1-8. This study aimed to evaluate the benefits of homeopathically prepared Arnica montana on post-operative blood loss and seroma production in women undergoing unilateral total mastectomy by administering Arnica Montana 1000 Korsakovian dilution (1000 K). From 2012 to 2014, 53 women were randomly assigned to A. montana or placebo and were followed up for 5 days. The main end point was the reduction in blood and serum volumes collected in drainages. Secondary end points were duration of drainage, a self-evaluation of pain, and the presence of bruising or hematomas. The results showed that the use of Arnica 1000 K was associated with a reduced post-operative blood and seroma collection.
  6. Mittal R, et al. An open‑label pilot study to explore usefulness of Homoeopathic treatment in nonerosive gastroesophageal reflux disease. Indian J Res Homoeopathy, 2016, 10, 188-98. This was a pilot study undertaken to explore the effect of homoeopathic medicines in the treatment of people with non-erosive gastroesophageal reflux disease or non-erosive reflux disease (NERD). 34 people were enrolled, having symptoms of heartburn and/or regurgitation at least twice a week, and having a gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) symptom score of more than 4. Homoeopathic medicine was prescribed on the basis of the presenting symptoms. Response to treatment was assessed on GERD symptom score, visual analogue scale (VAS) for heartburn, and the World Health Organization quality of life‑BREF (WHO‑QOL) questionnaire evaluated at baseline and at the end of 8 weeks of treatment. Significant differences were found in pre and post treatment GERD symptom score (8.79 ± 2.7 vs. 0.76 ± 1.8; P = 0.001) and the VAS for heartburn (47.47 ± 19.6 vs. 5.06 ± 11.8; P = 0.001). Statistically significant improvement was also seen in three domains of the WHO‑QOL score, i.e. psychological health, social relationship, and environmental domain.

In-Vitro Studies

  1. Ganesan T, et al. Homoeopathic preparation of Berberis vulgaris as an inhibitor of Calcium oxalate crystallization: In-vitro evidence. Indian J Res Homeopathy, 2015, 9, 152-157. The aim here was to examine the potential role of the homeopathic preparation of B. vulgaris (mother tincture, 6C, 30C and 200C) on in-vitro Calcium oxalate (CaOx) crystallization. Spectrophotometric crystallization assay was carried out, and the slopes of the nucleation (till the maximum) and aggregation (after the peak) phases were calculated using linear regression analysis, and the percentage inhibition exerted by the modifiers was calculated. Light microscopic observation of CaOx crystals formed in the presence or absence of modifiers was carried out to support the spectrophotometric crystallization assays and to ascertain the potential role of B. vulgaris in CaOx crystallization. The crystallization studies performed indicate that B. vulgaris exert a strong inhibition of CaOx crystallization both at the level of nucleation and aggregation, at all potencies.
  2. do Nascimento HFS, et al. In-vitro assessment of anticytotoxic and antigenotoxic effects of CANOVA(®). Homeopathy, 2016, 105, 3, 265-269. Canova (CA) is a complex containing several homeopathic medicines, and is indicated in clinical conditions in which the immune system is impaired and against tumors. N-methyl-N-nitrosourea (NMU) is an N-nitroso compound, with genotoxic/mutagenic properties. This study evaluated the in-vitro antigenotoxic and anticytotoxic effects of CA in human lymphocytes exposed to NMU. Samples of human lymphocytes that were subjected to different concentrations of a mixture containing CA and NMU were used. The genotoxicity/antigenotoxicity of CA was evaluated via the comet assay, anticytotoxicity was assessed by quantification of apoptosis and necrosis using acridine orange/ethidium bromide. The use of CA was associated with a significant reduction in DNA damage induced by NMU and frequency of NMU-induced apoptosis after 24 h of treatment.
  3. Wani K, et al. Evaluating the anticancer activity and nanoparticulate nature of homeopathic preparations of Terminalia chebula. Homeopathy, 105, 4, 318-326.The objective of this study was to investigate the anticancer activity of homeopathic preparations of Terminalia chebula (TC) and evaluate their nanoparticulate nature. Mother tincture (MT) and other homeopathic preparations (3X, 6C and 30C) of TC were tested for their effect on the viability of breast cancer (MDAMB231 and MCF7) and non-cancerous (HEK 293) cell lines by 3-(4,5-dimethylthiazol-2-yl)-2,5-diphenyltetrazolium bromide (MTT) assay. Cell growth assay was performed to analyse the effect of the different potencies on the growth kinetics of breast cancer cells. MT and 6C were evaluated for the presence of nanoparticles by using scanning electron microscopy (SEM) and transmission electron microscopy (TEM). MT decreased the viability of breast cancer (MDAMB231 and MCF7) and non-cancerous (HEK 293) cells. However, the other potencies (3X, 6C and 30C) decreased the viability of only breast cancer cells without affecting the viability of the non-cancerous cells. All of the potencies reduced the growth kinetics of breast cancer cells, more specifically at 1:10 dilution at 24, 48 and 72 h. Under SEM, MT appeared as a mesh-like structure whereas under TEM, it showed presence of nanoclusters. The 6C potency contained 20 nm sized nanoparticles.
  4. Ahmad S, Rehman T. Ababsi WM. In vivo evaluation of antipyretic effects of homoeopathic ultrahigh dilutions of Typhoidinum on baker’s yeast-induced fever in comparison with Paracetamol. Indian J Res Homoeopathy, 2017, 11, 170-6. This Pakistani study looked at the effectiveness of some homeopathic medicines in fever in comparison with the effects of Paracetamol. A baker’s yeast fever model in rabbits was used in the study. Rabbits were divided into four different groups (n = 6). Rectal temperature was measured before and after fever induction hourly. After fever induction, medicines were administered orally. Paracetamol and Typhoidinum in 200C and 1M potencies were given orally. ANOVA followed by post hoc test was used for the statistical analysis of the results, which were considered statistically significant at P ≤ 0.05. The results of the study revealed the significant effectiveness of Typhoidinum in 200C and 1M potencies in baker’s yeast-induced fever (P = 0.05). Typhoidinum in both potencies showed less significant results as compared to Paracetamol. However, all the medicines’ effects were significant compared to the negative control.

About the author

Robert Medhurst

Robert Medhurst

Robert Medhurst BNat DHom DBM DRM DNutr is a qualified Naturopath & Homoeopath with 28 years of clinical experience and currently practices in the Adelaide Hills in South Australia. He has written many articles and lectured on homeopathy throughout Australia and the U.S. Robert previously operated several natural therapies practices in Sydney and was involved in teaching and research. He was formerly the Expert Advisor on Homeopathy to the Federal Government of Australia, Dept. of Health & Ageing. He specialises in homeopathy and is the author of The Business of Healing, the definitive guide for clinical practice establishment and management. For more information see . Robert Medhurst is author of the recently released : The Concordant Clinical Homeopathic Repertory

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