Randomised controlled trials
This section examines the evidence available in the sub-set of peer-reviewed RCTs that have studied the effect of homeopathy that has been prescribed on an individualised basis to each participant in the trial.
Of 189 peer-reviewed papers in total that have useable data, there are 62 papers on individualised homeopathy:25 (40.3%) reported positive findings; 4 (6.5%) were negative; 33 (53.2%) were non-conclusive.
These 62 papers represent research in a total of 44 different medical conditions. In 13 of those conditions, there has been replicated research (i.e. there have been two or more trials on individualised homeopathy); for each of the other 31 conditions, there are singleton RCTs.
Using the same scoring system as described elsewhere on this website, the following findings emerge for a tentativelypositive direction of evidence for individualised homeopathy:
Childhood diarrhoea 4,5,6
No account is taken above of the intrinsic quality of the RCT research; this important factor is included in the BHA’s ongoing programme of systematic reviews and meta-analyses. In the first of the BHA’s papers on the topic, published in the journal Systematic Reviews,9 a statistically significant overall effect of individualised homeopathic treatment was identified over that of placebos.
These overall meta-analysis findings suggest that individualised homeopathic medicines have specific treatment effects. Such effects may be difficult to observe readily in any one given placebo-controlled trial, in which both groups of participants have had exactly the same type of empathetic homeopathic consultation, followed by the homeopathic prescription or the placebo.
In the BHA’s systematic review, the overall quality of the RCT evidence was assessed as low or unclear: only 3 of the trials in the review were judged to comprise ‘reliable evidence’ (2 of these RCTs are identified in the References list below). This indicates the need for caution in interpreting the review’s findings, and an obvious requirement for new and higher-quality research in this field.
1. Frei H, Everts R, von Ammon K, Kaufmann F, Walther D, Hsu-Schmitz SF, Collenberg M, Fuhrer K, Hassink R, Steinlin M, Thurneysen A (2005). Homeopathic treatment of children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder: a randomized, double blind, placebo controlled crossover trial. European Journal of Pediatrics; 164:758–767.
2. Jacobs J, Williams A-L, Girard C, Njike VY, Katz D (2005). Homeopathy for attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder: a pilot randomized-controlled trial. Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine; 11:799–806.
3. Oberai P, Gopinadhan S, Varanasi R, Mishra A, Singh V, Nayak C (2013). Homoeopathic management of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder: A randomised placebo-controlled pilot trial. Indian J Res Homoeopathy; 7: 158-167.
4 . Jacobs J, Jiminez LM, Gloyds SS, Casares FE, Gaitan MP, Crothers D (1993). Homoeopathic treatment of acute childhood diarrhoea. A randomized clinical trial in Nicaragua. British Homoeopathic Journal; 82:83–86.
5 . Jacobs J, Jimenez LM, Gloyds SS, Gale JL, Crothers D (1994). Treatment of acute childhood diarrhea with homeopathic medicine; a randomized clinical trial in Nicaragua. Pediatrics; 93:719–725. [Individually positive RCT in BHA meta-analysis] [Identified as ‘reliable evidence’ in BHA systematic review]
6. Jacobs J, Jimenez LM, Malthouse S, Chapman E, Crothers D, Masuk M, Jonas WB (2000). Homeopathic treatment of acute childhood diarrhoea: results from a clinical trial in Nepal. Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine; 6:131–139.
7. Bell I, Lewis D, Brooks A, Schwartz G, Lewis S, Walsh B, Baldwin C (2004). Improved clinical status in fibromyalgia patients treated with individualized homeopathic remedies versus placebo. Rheumatology; 43:577–582. [Identified as ‘reliable evidence’ in BHA systematic review]
8. Relton C, Smith C, Raw J, Walters C, Adebajo AO, Thomas KJ, Young TA (2009). Healthcare provided by a homeopath as an adjunct to usual care for fibromyalgia (FMS): results of a pilot randomised controlled trial.Homeopathy; 98:77–82.
9. Mathie RT, Lloyd SM, Legg LA, Clausen J, Moss S, Davidson JRT, Ford I (2014). Randomised placebo-controlled trials of individualised homeopathic treatment: systematic review and meta-analysis. Systematic Reviews; 3: 142.