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Homeopathy: What Works

A team of Dutch medical professors, led by the noted Dutch physician Dr. Jos Kleijnen, none of them homeopaths, conducted a meta-analysis of controlled clinical trials of various forms of homeopathy dating from 1996 to 1990, and published their results in the British Medical Journal in 1991. Of the 107 controlled trials studied, 81 showed that homeopathic medicines had some clinical benefits, 24 showed they were ineffective, and 2 were inconclusive. Most of the studies were flawed in some way, but of 22 high-caliber studies identified by the researchers, 15 showed that homeopathic medicines were effective. This suggests that the better-designed and -conducted studies were more likely to find homeopathic medicines effective. Actually, the Dutch professors expressed surprise at the positive results of their study, which included:

  • 4 of 9 trials showing benefits in treating vascular disease;

  • 13 of 19 showing benefits in treating respiratory infections;

  • 5 of 5 successful in treating hay fever;

  • 5 of 7 showing faster return of bowel function following abdominal surgery;

  • 4 of 6 successful in treating rheumatological disorders;

  • 18 of 20 beneficial in treating pain or trauma;

  • 8 of 10 helpful in mental or psychological problems;

  • 13 of 15 successful in a variety of other conditions.


Since that time, a recent Cochrane review of the literature through 1995 by Dr. Wayne B. Jonas, immediate past Director of the NIH NCCAM, examined nearly 90 well-designed, randomized clinical trials, and the combined results from all these studies also tended to support homeopathy compared to placebo.

More recently, The Lancet published a state-of-the-art meta-analysis in 1997 of homeopathic clinical trials by Dr. Klaus Linde and Dr. Wayne Jonas. Working from the published literature, as well as reports from conferences and personal communications, the authors found a total of 186 clinical trials, 89 of which were randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, and had adequate statistical data for analysis. Based on this analysis of these 89 placebo-controlled studies, Dr. Linde and his colleagues concluded that "Results of our meta-analysis are not compatible with the hypothesis that the clinical effects of homeopathy are completely due to placebo. However, we found insufficient evidence from these studies that homeopathy is clearly efficacious for any single clinical condition. Further research on homeopathy is warranted, provided it is rigorous and systematic." Such a well-articulated research position characterizes the research and clinical practice of homeopaths, who increasingly rely upon scientific research for support.



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Copyright © 2000 by Dr. Kenneth R. Pelletier, Inc.

Reprinted by permission of Simon & Schuster, Inc., New York, New York.


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