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Placebo Effect in Homeopathy

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

Tags: Homeopathy, Placebo Effect

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

Placebo Effect ReExamined

Posted by Sanjib Sarkar on Wed, Apr 07, 2010 @ 12:48 AM

Tags: Homeopathy, Placebo Effect

  There has been much controversy about the placebo effect and homeopathy.  Most skeptics believe that the placebo effect is really what is making the person feel better.  They believe that  homeopathy did nothing at all.

  Some recent trials were done with placebos.  The results were interesting and quite contrary to popular belief about placebos.  Out of 464  studies, 26 meet the researchers criteria about placebo trials.  The researchers wanted to see how much improvements patients made with their placebos.  Patients actually showed no improvements when taking the placebo for their conditions or diseases.  The type of condition or disease did not show any relevancy.  However, patients did show a strong relationship between treatment effect and placebo effect.  An example of this would pain relief.  Placebos seemed to be effective in this type of study since it is subjective.

   Further studies need to be done to confirm that the placebo effect is not as strong as once previously thought.  Larger studies will be done to get a conclusion on the placebo effect.

References

[P274] The placebo effect dependent on time? - A meta-analysis.  Cochrane Collaborative.

 

Placebo Nightmare For Big Pharma

Posted by Sanjib Sarkar on Wed, Sep 02, 2009 @ 02:12 AM

Tags: Placebo Effect

  Trials with medicines are always compared to a placebo.  Alternative medicines such as homeopathy, herbs, acupuncture and allopathic medicine are usually tested against placebos.  Placebos are simply sugar pills that contain no medicines at all.  Not all placebos are sugar pills.  An acupunture placebo may be a fake needle.  Many skeptics claim that alternative medicines make patients feel better because of the placebo effect.

  The placebo effect is a strange occurrence.  It is where a person believes a medicine will help them.  It really does not matter what is in the medicine.  The person's belief in the medicine actually heals them.  Many people belief homeopathy is a great example of the placebo effect.  Homeopathy uses extremely diluted substances that scientists claim show no substance at all.  

  Pharmaceutical companies are now thinking the placebo effect is getting stronger.  Drugs like Prozac faired no better than a placebo in recent drug trials.  The FDA only approved 19 drugs in 2007 and 24 drugs in 2008.  Most drugs are doing no better than a placebo in clinical trials.  The pharmaceutical companies are spending more money than ever on research and development.  Pharmacy companies are feeling pressure because of the apparent strength of placebos. 

  No one is quite sure why placebo strengths have increased.  Some theories suggest that people hear about miracle drugs on the television.  They are seeing all of these miracle drugs on TV, magazines and anything else they see.  People are just assuming that they are taking the next miracle drug to help them cure their ailment. Pharmacetical companies own marketing may be increasing the placebo effect.

Another theory is that the mind is weirded differently than ten years ago.  The human mind is always evolving.  This evolution of the mind may also cause this increased placebo effect.  The brain is mysterious and difficult to understand.  Depression drugs and mind type drugs seem to show the placebo effect as well.  The human mind is thinking that taking any type of medicine will alleviate their issues.  This could help explain why prozac trials failed recently although they were successful several years back. 

 Pharmacetical industry is a billion dollar business.  The stronger placebo effects could potentially threaten their revenue stream.  Drugs that are already in stores are being flooded by cheaper generic medicines.  Much of big pharmacies money comes from new drugs that will reach the market place.  These new drugs can not be flooded by generics for at least 3 years.  Big Pharmas are desperate to get new drugs to the market to continue to grow their companies.