In the US, we know that conventional medicine is the foundation of our health care system. But did you know that many homeopathic practitioners and colleges did exist in the US in the 19th century? What led to their demise, you may ask? To put it simply, the orthodox medical community “shut the door” on homeopathy due to faulty research coupled with the difficulty accepting ultra-diluted medicines, plus a ‘smidge’ of competition.
It stands to reason that personal stories of success with homeopathy may be the most effective way to persuade others. But in this age of “evidence based medicine”, it is crucial to weigh in scientifically on its efficacy.
There are three kinds of research to consider: Randomized, controlled trials (RCTs) (one group receives medicine, the other group receives a placebo), observational trials (observing real-world results in a private practice, clinic or hospital), and basic research (studies in a laboratory setting, using either cellular or animal models). It is also important to mention that when we read of “inconclusive” results in a RCT, it simply means that the data was not sufficient to make a conclusion one way or the other, i.e. primarily due to lack of financial or academic resources to carry out the research. Oftentimes, this gets spun around by critics into “negative findings”.
So here are the results—of 142 RCTs of homeopathy between 1950 and 2009, roughly six times as many trials were positive and, additionally, 4 out of 5 comprehensive reviews found homeopathy superior to the placebo. In observational trials, the evidence is overwhelmingly positive in that nearly all trials demonstrated significantly positive results for homeopathic treatment. And, finally, in basic research from laboratory tests that range from biological effects on isolated cells to measuring the chemical properties of homeopathic remedies, there is good evidence to show its effects and its differing properties.
However, there is one area of homeopathic research where there is a lack of evidence and that is how the remedies are able to affect humans, animals and plants. I believe that we just don’t have the equipment or know-how to test at that level of subtlety but that we will be able to at some point. Until that time when the “how” can be proved, calling homeopathy “vibrational therapy” or “energetic medicine” will succeed in scaring off the general public. For now, we can embrace what we can show. It is a safe and effective form of natural medicine when used through a qualified homeopathic practitioner.
Source: Homeopathic Research Matters by Christopher Johnson, ND; Homeopathy TODAY, Autumn 2011 issue, National Center for Homeopathy.org