Research in Homeopathy
It is a myth that there are no scientific research trials in homeopathy. There have been a good range of studies and the numbers grow every year. Many are the same type of trials used in conventional medicine.
The Randomised Controlled Trial (RCT) is considered the ‘gold standard’ in medical research. One group of patients, the control group, receive placebo (a “dummy” pill) or standard treatment while another group of patients receive the medicine being tested. The trial becomes double-blinded when neither the patient nor the practitioner knows which treatment the patient is getting.
85% of conclusive RCTs demonstrate that homeopathy is more effective than placebo. To date, 142 RCTs on homeopathy have been published in good quality scientific journals: 74 were statistically strong enough to be able to draw firm conclusions; of those, 63 or 85% demonstrated homeopathy was more effective than placebo.
The absolute best evidence (according to researchers) is meta-analysis. This is where RTCs are pulled together and analysed ‘as if one’ to reach a more solid conclusion. There have been five meta analyses of homeopathy trials to date. Four showed that homeopathy worked above and beyond placebo.
The RCT model of measuring drug efficacy poses problems for homeopathic research. In homeopathy, treatment is usually tailored to the individual. A homeopathic prescription is based not only on the symptoms of disease in the patient but on a host of other factors that are particular to that patient, including lifestyle, emotional health, personality, eating habits and medical history. These factors often make a “one drug fits all” RCT less meaningful.
Every homeopath knows homeopathy works because they witness the positive results every day in their clinics. The recording of data from everyday practice is called a clinical observation trial. Such trials are important as they put the patient at the heart of the research.