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Scientific Evidence for Homeopathic Medicine

© Dana Ullman, MPH

There have been over 100 studies evaluating the prophylactic and therapeutic effects of homeopathic doses of normally toxic substances. A collaborative effort of scientists from German research institutions and from America's Walter Reed Hospital performed a meta-analysis of these studies.32 Like the meta-analysis described earlier on clinical trials using homeopathic medicines, most of the studies were flawed in some way. However, of the high quality studies, positive results were found 50% more often than negative results. What was particularly intriguing was that researchers who tested doses in the submolecular range (potencies greater than 24x) were found to have the best designed studies and more frequently found statisticially significant results from these microdoses. Specifically, several researchers gave, usually to rats, crude doses of arsenic, bismuth, cadmium, mercury chloride, or lead. The research showed that animals who were pretreated with homeopathic doses of these substances and then given repeated homeopathic doses after exposure to the crude substance, excreted more of these toxic substances through urine, feces, and sweat than did those animals given a placebo.

Several studies noted that pretreatment and treatment with potentized doses of substances different from those to which the animal was being exposed did not provide any benefit.

As horrible as this research may be for the animals tested, animal researchers claim that it can have considerable benefit for treating animals and humans exposed to toxic substances. Such studies cannot be performed humanely on human subjects, and because of the newness of the research, no computer models to simulate the effects of homeopathic medicines are presently possible. While public health measures must primarily focus on preventing exposure to toxic substances, medical treatment must be developed for healing if and when exposure takes place. The research suggests that homeopathic medicine may play a significant role in the treatment of toxicological exposure.

Homeopathic research has also explored the benefits of homeopathic medicines to protect against radiation.33 Albino mice were exposed to 100 to 200 rad of X-rays (sublethal doses) and then evaluated after 24, 48, and 72 hours. Ginseng 6x, 30x, and 200x and Ruta graveolens 30x and 200x were administered before and after exposure. When compared with mice given a placebo as treatment, mice given any of the above homeopathic medicines experienced significantly less chromosomal or cellular damage.

Albino guinea pigs were exposed to small doses of X-ray that cause reddening of the skin. Studies showed that Apis mellifica 7c or 9c had a protective effect and a roughly 50% curative effect on X-ray-induced redness of the skin.34 Apis mellifica (honeybee) is a homeopathic medicine for redness, swelling, and itching, common symptoms of bee venom.

In one very intriguing study, Thyroxine 30x (thyroid hormone) was placed in the water of tadpoles.35 When compared to tadpoles who were given a placebo, the study showed, morphogenesis of the tadpoles into frogs was slowed for those who were exposed to the homeopathic doses. Because thyroid hormone in crude doses is known to speed up morphogenesis, it makes sense from a homeopathic perspective that homeopathic doses would slow it down.

What makes this study more interesting is that additional investigations resulted in the same effect when a glass bottle of the homeopathic doses of thyroid hormone was simply suspended in the water with the lip of the bottle above the water line. This research was replicated at several laboratories, and results were consistent.

The implications of this study are somewhat significant, not only for verifying biological effects of homeopathic doses but for showing that these medicines have some type of radiational effect through glass. Some types of unconventional approaches to homeopathy have been developed over the past decades in which pupil reflex, pulse, muscle strength, and skin conductance have been changed as the result of simply holding on to a bottle of an individually indicated homeopathic medicine. While this approach may seem strange to classically oriented homeopaths, the above research provides some basis for its application.

One other interesting experiment dealing with water is worthy of mention. This study used nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR), also called magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), to determine whether high potencies of homeopathic medicines placed in water had any measurable effects.36 Without getting into the details of this highly technical study, the researchers found that high potencies of Silicea did, in fact, show a distinct difference as compared with placebo-treated water.

There have been several studies investigating very high dilutions of histamine (above 30x) on isolated guinea pig hearts, showing that this remedy increases blood flow through the heart. What is particularly interesting about these studies was that this effect was completely neutralized if the very high dilutions were exposed to 70 degrees Centigrade for 30 minutes or exposed to magnetic fields of 50 Hz for 15 minutes.37
Needless to say, it is unlikely that these microdoses could have only a placebo effect when known physical stresses to the medicine can halt its activity.

A professor of hematology at the School of Pharmacy of Bordeaux has carried out eight years of research on the effects of acetylsalicylic acid (the active ingredient in aspirin) on blood.38 It is known that crude doses of aspirin cause increased bleeding, while this research showed that homeopathic doses of acetylsalicylic acid shorten bleeding time in healthy subjects.

Two Dutch professors of molecular cell biology recently completed a significant body of experimentation which not only provided evidence of the effects of homeopathic microdoses on cell cultures but that also suggested that these microdoses are only effective when homeopathy's principle of similars is followed.39 Specific reference to the body of studies cannot be provided in this chapter, both due to the space necessary to describe this work and due to its highly technical nature.

A now famous study by respected French physician and immunologist Jacques Benveniste tested highly diluted doses of an antibody on a type of white blood cells called basophils (basophils increase in number when exposed to substances such as antibodies which cause an allergic reaction). This work was replicated at six different laboratories at four different universities (the University of Paris South, the University of Toronto, Hebrew University, and the University of Milano). Although the prestigious journal Nature published this study,40 it also published concurrently an editorial stating that they did not believe the results.41 The editor insisted on going to the primary researcher's laboratory at the University of Paris South to observe the experiment conducted in his presence along with two known experts in scientific fraud (one of whom was a magician).

The details of what followed require more detail and technical information than is appropriate for this book. In summary, the experiment did not show significant results, leading the Nature editor to pronounce in his journal that the original study was a fraud.42 The problem, however, was that the editor and the fraud experts were not immunologists, and thus, they did not seem aware that many studies in immunology require considerably more replication than could be done in the couple of days that the Nature team visited.

Another problem was in the study itself, which was very difficult to do. The researchers later simplified it, provided even greater scientific controls, and found significant results. Nature, however, chose not to publish these results, and this study was published instead in the Journal of the French Academy of Sciences.43

Evidence of the bias that "defenders of science" have against homeopathy is their refusal to publish or even comment on the increasing body of research accruing to homeopathic medicine.

Science is supposed to be objective, though both physicists and psychologists teach us that objectivity is impossible. Science's long-term antagonism to homeopathy is slowly breaking down but not without significant reaction, fear, anxiety, and sometimes downright attack against homeopaths.

Change is difficult, and significant change is even more difficult. Even though science grows from new knowledge, it tends to be resistant, often very resistant, to perspectives and knowledge that do not fit contemporary paradigms and scientific theories. The information presented in this chapter and in this book is not meant to overthrow science but to enlarge its perspective so that it more broadly and accurately describes and accepts many presently unexplainable phenomena of nature.

In Summary
This review of research is not meant to be complete. Readers are encouraged to review the books listed in the Resources section of this chapter for access to many other clinical and laboratory studies as well as to theoretical foundations of homeopathic microdoses.

Despite the now strong evidence that homeopathic medicines promote biological activity and clinical efficacy, there is still great resistance to them. Recently, the Lancet published the research on the homeopathic treatment of asthma.44 In a press release announcing this research, they emphasized that although homeopathic medicines may provide some benefit to people with asthma, conventional medicines offer greater benefit.

This was a strange statement for two reasons. First, the study didn't compare homeopathic and conventional medicine; it only compared homeopathic medicine with a placebo. Any other conjecture was not founded on the data presented. Secondly, the Lancet refused to openly acknowledge that homeopathic medicines may work after all.

One can't help but wonder whether if a man flew and science proved that he flew, the editors of some medical journals would remark: "But he doesn't fly as high or as fast as a jet plane!"

Despite the resistance to change in general and to homeopathy specifically, it is getting increasingly difficult for physicians and scientists to doubt the benefits that homeopathic medicines offer. Italian hematologist Paolo Bellavite and Italian homeopath Andrea Signorini's Homeopathy: A Frontier in Medical Science is presently the most comprehensive resource of controlled studies on homeopathy. The authors conclude, "The sum of the clinical observations and experimental findings is beginning to prove so extensive and intrinsically consistent that it is no longer possible to dodge the issue by acting as if this body of evidence simply did not exist."45

They go on to say, "To reject everything en bloc, as many are tempted to do, means throwing out the observations along with the interpretations, an operation which may be the line of least resistance, but which is not scientific because unexplained observations have always been the main hive of ideas for research."

To ignore the body of experimental data that presently exists on homeopathic medicines and to deny the body of clinical experience of homeopaths and homeopathic patients, one would have to be virtually blind. One can only assume that this blindness is a temporary affliction, one that will soon be cured.

1A.R.D. Stebbing, "Hormesis: The Stimulation of Growth by Low Levels of Inhibitors," Science of the Total Environment, 1982, 22: 213-34. Also, Health Physics, May 1987. This entire issue was devoted to the increased effects of low doses.
2M. Oberbaum and J. Cambar, "Hormesis: Dose Dependent Reverse Effects of Low and Very Low Doses," in P.C. Endler and J. Schulte (eds.), Ultra High Dilutions, Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic, 1994. Stebbing, op. cit..
3Oberbaum and Cambar; Stebbing op. cit..; Health Physics op. cit..
4J. Kleijnen, P. Knipschild, G. ter Riet, "Clinical Trials of Homoeopathy," British Medical Journal, February 9, 1991, 302:316-323.
5Because much research on homeopathy has been performed by homeopaths who are primarily clinicians and are not adequately trained in research, they predictably committed errors in research design, analysis, and description of their studies.
6David Reilly, Morag Taylor, Neil Beattie, et al., "Is Evidence for Homoeopathy Reproducible?" Lancet, December 10, 1994, 344:1601-6.
7Jennifer Jacobs, L. Jimenez, Margarita, Stephen Gloyd, "Treatment of Acute Childhood Diarrhea with Homeopathic Medicine: A Randomized Clinical Trial in Nicaragua," Pediatrics, May 1994, 93,5:719-25.
8Bruno Brigo, and G. Serpelloni, "Homeopathic Treatment of Migraines: A Randomized Double-blind Controlled Study of 60 Cases," Berlin Journal on Research in Homeopathy, March 1991, 1,2:98-106.
9E. de Lange de Klerk, J. Blommers, D.J. Kuik, et al., "Effect of Homoeopathic Medicines on Daily Burden of Symptoms in Children with Recurrent Upper Respiratory Tract Infections," British Medical Journal, November 19, 1994, 309:1329-32.
10R.G. Gibson, S. Gibson, A.D. MacNeill, et al., "Homoeopathic Therapy in Rheumatoid Arthritis: Evaluation by Double-blind Clinical Therapeutic Trial," British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, 1980, 9:453-59.
11P. Fisher, "An Experimental Double-Blind Clinical Trial Method in Homoeopathy: Use of a Limited Range of Remedies to Treat Fibrositis," British Homoeopathic Journal, 1986, 75:142-47.
12P. Fisher, A. Greenwood, E.C. Huskisson, et al., "Effect of Homoeopathic Treatment on Fibrositis," British Medical Journal, August 5, 1989, 299:365-66.
13J. Paterson, "Report on Mustard Gas Experiments, Journal of the American Institute of Homeopathy, 1944, 37:47-50, 88-92.
14R.M.M. Owen and G. Ives, "The Mustard Gas Experiments of the British Homeopathic Society: 1941-1942, Proceedings of the 35th International Homeopathic Congress, 1982, 258-59.
15D. Zicari, et al., "Valutazione dell'azione Angioprotettiva di Preparati di Arnica nel Trattamento della Retinpatia Diabetica," Bolletino de Oculistica, 1992, 5:841-848.
16J.P. Ferley, D. Zmirou, D. D'Admehar, et al., "A Controlled Evaluation of a Homoeopathic Preparation in the Treatment of Influenza-like Syndrome," British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, March 1989, 27:329-35.
17Christopher Day, "Control of Stillbirths in Pigs Using Homoeopathy," Veterinary Record, March 3, 1984, 114,9, 216. Also Journal of the American Institute of Homeopathy, December 1986, 779, 4:146-47.
18M. Shipley, H. Berry, G. Broster, et al., "Controlled Trial of Homoeopathic Treatment of Osteoarthritis," Lancet, January 15, 1983, 97-98.
19David Reilly, Morag Taylor, C. McSharry, et al., "Is Homoeopathy a Placebo Response? Controlled Trial of Homoeopathic Potency, with Pollen in Hayfever as Model" Lancet, October 18, 1986, 881-86.
20P. Dorfman, M.N. Lasserre, M. and Tetau, "Preparation a l'accouchement par Homeopathie: Experimentation en double-insu versus Placebo," Cahiers de Biotherapie, April 1987, 94:77-81.
21P. Eid, E. Felisi, M. Sideri, "Applicability of Homoeopathic Caulophyllum thalictroides during Labour," British Homoeopathic Journal, 1993, 82:245.
22P. Eid, E. Felisi, M. Sideri, "Super-placebo ou action Pharmacologique? Une Etude en Double Aveugle, Randomisee avec un Remede Homeopathique (Caulophyllum thalictroides) dans le Travail de l'accouchement, Proceedings of the 5th Congress of the O.M.H.I. (Internatiional Organization for Homeopathic Medicine), Paris, October 20-23, 1994.
23J. Zell, W.D. Connert, J. Mau, et al., "Behandlung von akuten Sprung-gelenksdisotrionen: Doppelblindstudie zum Wirksamkeitsnachweis eines Homoopathischen Salbenpraparats," Fortschr. Medicine, 1988, 106:96-100.
24W. Thiel, and B. Borho, "Die Therapie von Frischen, Traumatischen Blutergussen der Kniegelnke (Hamartros) mit Traumeel N Injectionslogung," Biol. Medizin, 20:506.
25E. Ernst, T. Saradeth, K.L. Resch, "Complementary Treatment of Varicose Veins: A Randomised, Placebo-controlled, Double-blind Trial," Phlebology, 1990, 157-163.
26A.V. Williamson, W.L. Mackie, W.J. Crawford, et al., "A Study Using Sepia 200c given Prophylactically Postpartum to Prevent Anoestrus Problems in the Dairy Cow," British Homoeopathic Journal, 1991, 80:149. See also by the same researchers: "A Trial of Sepia 200," British Homoeopathic Journal, 1995, 84:14-20.
27G. Both, "Zur Prophylaxe und Therapie des Metritis-Mastitis-Agalactic: Komplexes des Schweines mit Biologischen Arzneimitteln," Biologische Tiermedizen, 1987, 4:39.
28M. Labrecque, D. Audet, L.G. Latulippe, et al., "Homeopathic Treatment of Plantar Warts," Canadian Medical Association Journal, 1992, 146(10):1749-53.
29R. Gupta, O.P. Bhardwaj, and R.K. Manchanda, "Homoeopathy in the Treatment of Warts," British Homoeopathic Journal, April, 1991, 80,2:108-11.
30W.E. Boyd, "The Action of Microdoses of Mercuric Chloride on Diastase," British Homoeopathic Journal, 1941, 31:1-28; 1942, 32:106-11.
31Mock, D., "What's Going on Here, Anyway?° A Review of Boyd's 'Biochemical and Biological Evidence of the Activity of High Potencies,'" Journal of the American Institute of Homeopathy, 1969, 62:197.
32K. Linde, W.B. Jonas, D. Melchart, D., et al., "Critical Review and Meta-Analysis of Serial Agitated Dilutions in Experimental Toxicology," Human and Experimental Toxicology, 1994, 13:481-92.
33A.R. Khuda-Bukhsh, S. Banik, "Assessment of Cytogenetic Damage in X-irradiated Mice and its Alteration by Oral Administration of Potentized Homeopathic Drug, Ginseng D200," Berlin Journal of Research in Homeopathy, 1991, 1,4/5:254. Also Khuda-Bukhsh, A.R. Maity, S., "Alteration of Cytogenetic Effects by Oral Administration of Potentized Homeopathic Drug, Ruta graveolens in Mice Exposed to Sub-lethal X-radiation," Berlin Journal of Research in Homeopathy, 1991, 1, 4/5:264.
34J. Bildet, M. Guyot, F. Bonini, et al., "Demonstrating the Effects of Apis mellifica and Apium virus Dilutions on Erythema Induced by U.V. Radiation on Guinea Pigs," Berlin Journal of Research in Homeopathy, 1990, 1:28.
35P.C. Endler, W. Pongratz, G. Kastberg, et al., "The Effect of Highly Diluted Agitated Thyroxine on the Climbing Activity of Frogs," Veterinary and Human Toxicology, 1994, 36:56. Also, P.C. Endler, W. Pongratz, R. van Wijk, et al., "Transmission of Hormone Information by Non-molecular Means," FASEB Journal, 1994, 8, Abs.2313.
36J.L. Demangeat, et al., "Modifications des Temps de Relaxation RMN a 4 z des Protons du Solvant dans les Tres Hautes Dilutions Salines de Silice/lactose." Journal of Med. Nucl. Biophy, 1992, 16:35-45.
37J. Benveniste, "Further Biological Effects Induced by Ultra High Dilutions: Inhibition by a Magnetic Field," in Ultra High Dilution, P.C. Endler and J. Schulte, (eds.), Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic, 1994, 35. Also J. Benveniste, B. Arnoux, L. Hadji, "Highly Dilute Antigen Increases Coronary Flow of Isolated Hart from Immunized Guinea-pigs," FASEB Journal, 1992, 6:Abs.1610.
38C. Doutremepuch, O. de Seze, D. Le Roy, et al., "Aspirin at Very Ultra Low Dosage in Healthy Volunteers: Effects on Bleeding Time, Platelet Aggregation and Coagulation," Haemostasis, 1990, 20:99.
39Roeland van Wijk and Fred A.C. Wiegant, Cultured Mammalian Cells in Homeopathy Research: The Similia Principle in Self-Recovery, Utrecht: University of Utrecht, 1994.
40E. Davenas, F. Beauvais, J. Amara, et al., "Human Basophil Degranulation Triggered by Very Dilute Antiserum Against IgE," Nature, June 30, 1988, 333:816-18.
41J. Maddox, "When to Believe the Unbelievable," Nature, June 30, 1988, 333:787.
42J. Maddox, J. Randi, and W. Stewart, "'High-dilution' Experiments a Delusion," Nature, July 28, 1988, 334:443-47.
43J. Benveniste, E. Davenas, B. Ducot, et al., "L'agitation de Solutions Hautement Diluees n'induit pas d'activite Biologique Specifique, C.R. Acad. Sci. Paris, 1991, 312:461.
44Reilly, et al., 1994. See note 6.
45Paolo Bellavite and Andrea Signorini, Homeopathy: A Frontier in Medical Science. Berkeley: North Atlantic, 1995.


--Paolo Bellavite and Andrea Signorini book, Homeopathy: A Frontier in Medical Science. Berkeley: North Atlantic, 1995.
--Harris L. Coulter, Homoeopathic Science and Modern Medicine: The Physics of Healing with Microdoses. Berkeley: North Atlantic, 1980.
--P.C. Endler and J. Schulte (editors), Ultra High Dilution: Physiology and Physics. Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic, 1994.
--M. Doutremepuich (ed.), Ultra-Low Doses. Washington, DC/London: Taylor and Francis, 1991.
--Gerhard Resch and Viktor Gutmann, Scientific Foundations of Homoeopathy. Munich: Bartel and Bartel, 1987.
--A.M. Scofield, "Experimental Research in Homoeopathy: A Critical Review," British Homoeopathic Journal, 73, 3-4, July-October 1984, 161-80, 211-26.
--Dana Ullman (ed.), Monograph on Homeopathic Research, volumes I and II, 1981, 1986.
--Roeland van Wijk and Fred A.C. Wiegant, Cultured Mammalian Cells in Homeopathy Research: The Similia Principle in Self-Recovery. Utrecht: University of Utrecht, 1994.
--British Homoeopathic Journal (2 Powis Place, Great Ormond St., London, WC1N 3HT, England)

The best source of homeopathic books, tapes, home medicine kits, and software is:
Homeopathic Educational Services
2124B Kittredge St.
Berkeley, CA 94704
(510) 649-0294
(510) 649-1955 (fax)

The Consumer's Guide to Homeopathy is available from Homeopathic Educational Services or through your local bookseller (starting January, 1996).

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About The Author
DANA ULLMAN, MPH, is one of America's leading advocates for homeopathy. He has authored 10 books, including The Homeopathic Revolution: Why Famous People and Cultural Heroes Choose Homeopathy, ...more
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