The researchers admitted 42% of those they interviewed with fibromyalgia into the study. Then, half of the subject began taking Rhus toxicodendron 6c, while the other half took a placebo. Halfway through the trial the treatment was switched: the group who were unknowingly taking the placebo began taking the active treatment, and the group who were unknowingly taking the active treatment began taking the placebo.
The study showed that patients did better in all variables being tested (the number of tender spots, 10 cm visual analogue scales of pain and sleep, and overall assessment) when they took the active treatment rather than placebo. The number of tender spots was reduced by about a quarter (p<0.005). The number of patients with improved pain or sleep were 53 while taking active treatment and only 27 while taking placebo (p<0.0052).
Not all studies have shown the efficacy of homeopathic medicines in the treatment of arthritis conditions, though the following study had a major flaw in it which seriously threw into doubt its value. This study, published in The Lancet (January 15, 1983, pp. 97-98), was a controlled trial on the homeopathic treatment of osteoarthritis. The researchers compared the use of a single homeopathic medicine (Rhus toxicodendron) with fenoprofen (a standard anti-inflammatory analgesic) and a placebo.
In order for patients to be admitted to the study, they had to be diagnosed with osteoarthritis, and they had to have two key symptoms of Rhus toxicodendron (pain in the affected joints which was made worse by immobility and exacerbated on movement or by initial weight bearing and pain in the affected joints had to be aggravated by cold and damp and ameliorated by warmth).
Although these inclusionary features were important, they were inadequate. There are numerous other symptoms which suggest the appropriate prescription of Rhus toxicodendron. A perhaps even more significant problem in the study design is the fact that Rhus toxicodendron is often prescribed to patients with rheumatoid arthritis who have its unique symptoms, but it is rarely prescribed for patients with osteoarthritis.
The study predictably showed that the homeopathic medicine acted no better than the placebo, though numerous letters to the editor followed its publication (February 26, 1983).
Self-Treatment vs. Professional Care
Self-treatment of arthritis with homeopathic medicine is possible, including the use of homeopathic formula products for arthritis, though such care is generally only effective for treating acute exacerbations of the ailment, not the underlying disease. Although most arthritis sufferers would certainly welcome temporary relief, professional homeopathic care of people with arthritis offers the potential of deeper, more longlasting relief, possibly even a cure. Such treatment is provided through highly individualized constitutional treatment, usually a single remedy, though usually with a series of single remedies over time.
How Do I Learn More About Homeopathy?
The best source of homeopathic books, tapes, home medicine kits, and software is:
Homeopathic Educational Services
2124B Kittredge St.
Berkeley, CA 94704
(510) 649-1955 (fax)
Various homeopathic organizations provide training programs and general information:
National Center for Homoeopathy
801 N. Fairfax #306
Alexandria, VA. 22314