Homeopathy: Why Does It Work?
Today, I was asked for biological evidence of the mechanism for homeopathy. Homeopathy clearly works as I use it regularly and get remarkable results. Homeopathy, nutritional supplements, and electronic medicine have allowed me to avoid all drugs and antibiotics for over a decade now. As a more detailed example, Dr. Ramakrishnan has published data on thousands of his cancer patients showing more data and better results than most oncologists in our leading medical centers can muster. See:
Ramakrishnan, A.U. and Coulter, Catherine R. (2001) A Homeopathic Approach to Cancer. Quality Medical Publishing.
But how does it work and what can we find in the leading medical journals? Answering this question will take multiple postings so lets start with a review of the literature:
Clinical trials of homoeopathy.
Kleijnen J, Knipschild P, ter Riet G.
BMJ. 1991 Feb 9;302(6772):316-23.
OBJECTIVE–To establish whether there is evidence of the efficacy of homoeopathy from controlled trials in humans.
DESIGN–Criteria based meta-analysis. Assessment of the methodological quality of 107 controlled trials in 96 published reports found after an extensive search. Trials were scored using a list of predefined criteria of good methodology, and the outcome of the trials was interpreted in relation to their quality.
SETTING–Controlled trials published world wide.
MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES–Results of the trials with the best methodological quality. Trials of classical homoeopathy and several modern varieties were considered separately.
RESULTS–In 14 trials some form of classical homoeopathy was tested and in 58 trials the same single homoeopathic treatment was given to patients with comparable conventional diagnosis. Combinations of several homoeopathic treatments were tested in 26 trials; isopathy was tested in nine trials. Most trials seemed to be of very low quality, but there were many exceptions. The results showed a positive trend regardless of the quality of the trial or the variety of homeopathy used. Overall, of the 105 trials with interpretable results, 81 trials indicated positive results whereas in 24 trials no positive effects of homoeopathy were found. The results of the review may be complicated by publication bias, especially in such a controversial subject as homoeopathy.
CONCLUSIONS–At the moment the evidence of clinical trials is positive but not sufficient to draw definitive conclusions because most trials are of low methodological quality and because of the unknown role of publication bias. This indicates that there is a legitimate case for further evaluation of homoeopathy, but only by means of well performed trials.
Keijnan and coworkers note that “the subject of the efficacy of homeopathy can hardly be tackled without providing some plausible explanation as to its mechanism of action.” A good place to start studying this question is:
Bellavite, Paolo and Signorini, Andrea (1995) Homeopathy: A Frontier in Medical Science. North Atlantic Books.
Current research can only partly explain the phenomenon of homeopathy because the mechanism goes beyond the bounds of classical pharmacology. However, it has an interesting and remarkable connection to electronic medicine.