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 Homeopathic Medicines for Arthritis 
 
The following is one in an ongoing series of columns entitled Understanding Homeopathy by . View all columns in series
"I don't deserve this award, but I have arthritis, and I don't deserve that either."

Jack Benny


Sir William Osler, known as the "Father of Modern Medicine," once said, "When an arthritis patient walks in the front door, I feel like leaving by the back door." There is one simple reason that Dr. Osler and many other conventional physicians since him have difficulty facing arthritic patients: there is little that conventional medicine offers them. The lucky ones get temporary relief along with drug side effects; the unlucky ones only get the side effects.

Homeopathic medicine is natural pharmaceutical system that uses extremely small doses of substances from the plant, mineral, or animal kingdom to augment a person's own immune and defense system. Based on the "principle of similars," homeopathy uses substances which would actually cause, if given in large dose to experimental subjects, the similar symptoms that a sick person experiences.

Because symptoms of illness are efforts of the person's immune and defense system to fight infection, deal with stress, or try to heal itself, an individually chosen homeopathic medicine is chosen for its unique ability to mimic the very symptoms that the sick person is experiencing. The homeopathic remedy thus aids the body's own defenses, as compared to conventional drugs which typically treat and often suppress symptoms. A homeopathic medicine is not chosen simply based on the disease a person has but on the individualized symptoms each person has.

These natural medicines are known to stimulate a person's own healing abilities. A recent review research on homeopathy was published in the British Medical Journal (February 9, 1991, pp. 316-323) and indicated that 81 of 107 controlled studies showed that homeopathic medicines were effective in treating a variety of common ailments. Not all of these studies were adequately controlled, and yet, a still significant number of the high quality studies, 15 of 21, showed that the homeopathic medicines were effective


Homeopathic Medicine and Arthritis
Arthritis is one area in which there are several studies which have shown that homeopathic medicines are efficacious. Because homeopathic medicines need to be individually prescribed to the unique pattern of symptoms that sick people experience, controlled studies must be sensitive to this therapeutic requirement in order to adequately and accurate test this medical system.

One study published in the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology (1980, 9, pp. 453-459) showed that 82% of patients with rheumatoid arthritis experienced some degree of relief after being prescribed an individually chosen homeopathic medicine. Only 21% of patients given a placebo received a similar degree of relief.

This study used two homeopathic physicians, both of whom interviewed patients (46 in total) and prescribed individualized medicines for each. These prescriptions were given to a pharmacist who then blindly gave half their homeopathic medicine and gave the other half a placebo.

The British Medical Journal (1989, 299, pp. 365-6) published a double-blind, placebo-controlled, cross-over study on the treatment of fibromyalgia. Although cross-over studies are normally difficult when using homeopathic medicines due to the need for strict individualization of remedies, this unique study included a pre-qualification interview which allowed into the trial only those patients with fibromyalgia that fit the need for a specific remedy, Rhus toxicodendron (poison ivy).

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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 ...moreDana Ullman, MPH
 
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