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Acute electroencephalographic effects from repeated olfactory administration of homeopathic remedies in individuals with self-reported chemical sensitivity

Bell IR, Brooks AJ, Howerter A, Jackson N, Schwartz GE: Acute electroencephalographic effects from repeated olfactory administration of homeopathic remedies in individuals with self-reported chemical sensitivity. Altern Ther Health Med2012, in press.

BACKGROUND: Homeopaths report that individuals with heightened self-reported environmental chemical intolerance (CI) exhibit increased reactivity to homeopathic remedies. Persons high in CI sensitize their electroencephalographic (EEG) alpha responses to repeated intermittent chemical exposures.

PRIMARY STUDY OBJECTIVE:

The present feasibility study explored interactions between CI and one of two specific homeopathic remedies over time (Sulphur or Pulsatilla nigricans [Pulsatilla]).

DESIGN:

This study used a two-arm, double-blind, placebo-controlled repeated measures design. Intervention Participants underwent a series of three once-weekly sessions during which they repeatedly sniffed one remedy (6c, 12c, 30c; one potency per week) matched to their Homeopathic Constitutional Type Questionnaire (CTQ) type and two solvent controls (distilled water and a waterethanol [95%] solution). Within sessions, remedies and control solvents were administered via 2-second sniffs (eight sniffs of each of four different succussion levels per potency, in randomized order).

PARTICIPANTS:

Participants were college student volunteers (N = 96, ages 18-30, both sexes), screened for good health and relatively elevated Sulphur or Pulsatilla symptom pattern scores on the Homeopathic Constitutional Type Questionnaire (CTQ). Participants also completed a validated trait CI scale.

PRIMARY OUTCOME MEASURES:

Average 19-lead relative EEG alpha power (alpha 1 8-10 Hz; alpha 2 10-12 Hz).

RESULTS:

Trait CI interacted significantly with time factors for each remedy (both over visit weeks and over sniff cycles during sessions). The patterns were nonlinear and differed between the two remedies. Individuals high in CI showed greater variability over time in remedy EEG alpha effectsthan did those low in CI.

CONCLUSION:

The data suggest that CI, with an underlying susceptibility to time-dependent sensitization and oscillatory responses, could contribute to nonlinear dose-response patterns and inconsistent reproducibility of homeopathic clinical care and research.