Research & Evidence
What research is there in homeopathy?
Yes. There is sound research and evidence in homeopathy.
For example; by the end of 2014, 189 randomised controlled trials of homeopathy on 100 different medical conditions had been published in peer-reviewed journals. Of these, 104 were placebo-controlled and were therefore eligible for detailed review.
41% were positive (43 trials), finding that homeopathy was effective 5% were negative (5 trials), finding that homeopathy was ineffective 54% were inconclusive (50 trials).14
In addition, there have been six meta-analyses of homeopathy (large scale overviews of all previous research).
One meta-analysis was negative, concluding that homeopathy had no effect beyond placebo. Five were positive suggesting that there was evidence of an effect beyond placebo, but that more high quality research would be needed to reach definitive conclusions. The most recent of these studies, published in 2014, found that homeopathic medicines, when prescribed during individualised treatment, are 1.5-2.0 times more likely to have a beneficial effect than placebo.15
With regards to the effectiveness of conventional medicine, things are not as clear cut as many people may believe. Every six months, the British Medical Journal (BMJ) publishes the scientific clinical evidence for treatments currently available on the NHS. This study found that of 3,000 commonly used NHS treatments 50% are of unknown effectiveness and only 11% are proven to be beneficial. See chart.16
SSRI anti-depressants, such as Prozac, are an example of such a treatment. These have now been confirmed as being no more effective than placebo in the treatment of mild and moderate depression, yet in 2006 the NHS spent around £150 million on them.17
The BMJ data clearly shows that the NHS funds many treatments for which the evidence of effectiveness is unclear.
Yes. There is sound evidence of homeopathy’s effectiveness
What is Evidence Based Practice?
“Evidence-Based Practice (EBP) is the integration of clinical expertise, patient values, and the best research evidence into the decision-making process for patient care. Clinical expertise refers to the clinician’s accumulated experience, education and clinical skills. The patient brings to the encounter his or her own personal preferences and unique concerns, expectations, and values.
The best research evidence is usually found in clinically relevant research that has been conducted using sound methodology.”18
In essence, this means that decision-making for patient care involves the integration of three factors; the experience, concerns and preferences of the patient and the doctor, as well as the research evidence. To focus only on the research evidence is to ignore the patient and the doctor, the people involved in the real world of suffering and its relief.
the patient and the doctor, as well as the research
What about the Parliamentary evidence check and the Lancet review?
The 2010 Parliamentary Evidence Check was produced by the small group of MPs to present the findings of their ‘evidence check’ it is not a scientific document and should not be used or viewed as such. No systematic scientific method was applied, it was not carried out by experts in the field and the choice of evidence allowed into the consultation showed a notable bias. Such fundamental flaws have been widely acknowledged and 70 MPs expressed their concern about the entire process by signing an Early Day Motion (EDM908). In addition, an independent critique by Earl Baldwin of Bewdley concluded that the report was, “an unreliable source of evidence about homeopathy.”21 Neither the Government nor the Department of Health acted on the recommendations of this report.
The 2005 Lancet Review, ‘Are the clinical effects of homoeopathy placebo effects?’ written by Shang et al is another often-cited report. The study, which purportedly matches 110 homeopathy trials with 110 allopathic trials, clearly demonstrates selection bias,22 only 8 out of 110 homeopathy trials were selected for final analysis. The authors ‘cherry picked’ the resulting data, in order to present a predetermined outcome. If they had used the 110 homeopathy trials, or if they had changed one of the eight selected trials it would have shown a positive result.
“an unreliable source of evidence about homeopathy” clearly demonstrated selection bias
Why don’t we see more research into homeopathy?
Medical research is a costly and involved undertaking that is generally funded by large pharmaceutical companies, charities, trusts and governments. Millions of pounds are involved in drug development, which is usually recouped through licensing the drugs. As homeopathic medicines are derived from natural sources, they cannot be patented; without the financial returns that patents help to provide, it is more difficult to find companies willing to invest in homeopathic research. This is unfortunate, given that homeopathy has the potential to be a safe, effective and inexpensive complement to conventional health care.
Funding for research into other Complementary and Alternative Medicines has been steadily growing with promising results. Professor George Lewith (professor of Health Research at the University of South Hampton) and others have received Government funding for their work.
The homeopathic profession encourages more research into homeopathy. However, the funding required for high quality research into homeopathy is not available in the UK at this time.
funding required for high quality research into homeopathy is not available in the UK
What is the best source of evidence and research into homeopathy?
The Homeopathy Research Institute (HRI) is an international charity created to address the need for high quality scientific research in homeopathy. In collaboration with the Carstens Foundation, the HRI website provides a clinical research database that contains over 1015 studies, from randomised controlled trials to observational studies. It is the most comprehensive and academically rigorous database of its kind in the world.
In the current climate, where misinformation about homeopathy in the mainstream media is common, there is a need for clear communication of the facts about the evidence base for homeopathy. HRI therefore aims to provide decision-makers, academics, healthcare practitioners and patients with reliable, academically sound information about homeopathy research.
In 2013 and 2015 the HRI held international conferences dedicated to research in homeopathy. Both events had around 40 speakers, including clinicians, PhDs and Professors from around the world.27
Find out about Homeopathy Awareness Week
A clinical research database
that contains over 1015 types of clinical outcome studies