Is there research to support Homeopathy and is it “evidence based”?
Yes! There are over 600 published research studies of homeopathy and more are being done every day. Research shows the effectiveness of homeopathy in a wide range of acute, chronic and epidemic conditions in both humans and animals, such as eczema, asthma, upper respiratory illnesses, ear infections, fibromyalgia, menopause, diarrhea, ADHD, irritable bowel and depression. There is even laboratory research showing the action of homeopathic remedies on individual cells, including cancer cells.
What is the history of research in homeopathy?
Homeopaths have been conducting homeopathic research since 1792, when Samuel Hahnemann completed the first homeopathic study of Cinchona bark. Every homeopathic remedy is first subjected to a study to elicit symptoms, called a “proving”. Homeopaths were the earliest researchers to introduce the use of placebo into their studies.
For decades homeopaths have been researching multiple facets of homeopathy including its role in treating infectious epidemics, acute illnesses and chronic diseases, the effect of homeopathic dilutions on human and bacterial cells, the mode of action of ultramolecular dilutions in the body, the success of treatment of acute diseases in livestock and farm animals and the cost effectiveness of homeopathy compared to conventional drug therapy.
What is the status of homeopathy research today?
Within today’s clinical research industry, homeopathy studies are considered “emerging” research. Traditional clinical trials are extremely expensive and, in the case of drug research, are often funded by pharmaceutical companies and the US National Institutes of Health. Millions of dollars are awarded to professional medical researchers at universities and medical centers to conduct this type of research. These centers are equipped to organize and implement clinical trials that include large numbers of patients. Homeopaths do not typically work in or have access to these research environments, therefore much of their research has been conducted with small groups of patients. In the last decade some professional homeopathic researchers have received funding and their work is showing great promise.
Research knowledge comes from building on previous individual studies and learning from the challenges and strengths of those studies. As more funding and experience is gained, homeopathic research is becoming more and more prominent.
Why is there questioning from some scientists about homeopathy research?
Some scientists will accept only one method of research, the Randomized Placebo Controlled Trial. The RCT is the most popular method used by pharmaceutical companies to test a new drug and the one that the media publicizes the most. However, it is not always the best scientific method for researching “whole systems” treatment approaches, such as homeopathy. A “whole systems approach” recognizes that the human body and mind are dynamic and complex, with each part influencing the other and acting together. Therefore, one part or system of the body cannot be studied in isolation without looking at the effect that it has on the whole person. Scientists find the RCT methodology is too restrictive when studying a “whole system.”
Many scientists and health officials question the usefulness of RCT studies even in standard drug testing. They prefer “real world” or “clinical outcome” studies that are more applicable to day to day practice instead of strictly controlled drug trials. Today health practitioners and the US Department of Health and Human Services are calling for “comparative effectiveness” research. These are studies that compare the usefulness of various treatments and provide more practical information about their use for patients and practitioners. “Clinical outcome,” “comparative effectiveness,” and “systems-based” studies are types of research that are better suited for investigating the healing ability of the body and the effect of homeopathic treatment.