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Placebo Effect in Homeopathy

Posted by Sanjib Sarkar on Sat, Aug 28, 2010 @ 11:27 AM

homeopathy medicineA new study was done to see if the placebo effect is greater in homeopathy than conventional medicines. Researchers went through literature to match homeopathy trials to conventional trials.  These trials matched classical homeopathy trials.  In classical homeopathy trials, each remedy is individualized for each person and condition.   

Some matches had to be excluded for the data because insufficient amount of data.  Other matches were excluded because there was not a sufficient match on the conventional side to compare against.  Similar criteria was evaluated for each trial.  25 trials were evaluated.  13 trials showed the placebo effect in homeopathy to be more than conventional medicines.  12 trials showed the placebo effect in conventional medicines to be greater than homeopathy. The researchers found that the placebo effect in homeopathy is no greater than in conventional medicines.  

Homeopathy success rate in clinical trials is about 44%.  Roughly half of the trials in homeopathy are successful.  These trials include both classical homeopathy and combination medicine homeopathy in the trials.  Homeopathy has been successful in the following areas.  These trials have been replicated a couple of times as well.  The study groups in most of these trials are small.

The following treatments that homeopathy seems effective for in clinical trials are childhood diarrhoea , fibromyalgia , influenza, osteoarthritis, seasonal allergic rhinitis , sinusitis  and vertigo.

The treatments that homeopathy are not good for according to clinical trials are  anxiety, childhood asthma, insect bites  menopausal symptoms in breast cancer , migraines , muscle soreness, post-operative bruising, swelling, rheumatoid arthritis  , stroke , upper respiratory tract infection and warts.  Trials for these were either negative or inconclusive.

This basically shows that homeopathy's placebo effect is not stronger than conventional medicine.  People had theorized that homeopathy trials had a higher fail rate in trials because of a greater placebo effect than conventional medicines.  

References:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20129180

http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200910/cmselect/cmsctech/memo/homeopathy/ucm2402.htm

Tags: Homeopathy, Placebo Effect