The conclusions of systematic reviews of randomized controlled trials of homeopathy vary from “superior to conventional medicine” to “comparable to conventional medicine” to “no evidence of effects beyond placebo”. Sometimes the design of the study is limited or flawed and even biased to disprove homeopathy. Prior disbelief in homeopathy by researchers is rooted in the perceived implausibility of its mechanism of action, even though recent physic studies of ultra-high dilution have shown evidence of “homeopathic potency.” Plausibility bias impedes assessment of clinical evidence. Sweeping statements about the scientific impossibility of homeopathy are themselves unscientific; as scientific statements must be objective, precise and reproducible. If ever there were a medical system that cried out for a careful unbiased scientific trial, it is homeopathy.
There is growing evidence that homeopathic preparations can exert biological effects and aid in numerous illnesses. Evidence from multiple different, independent laboratories and researchers demonstrate that homeopathically-prepared remedies have biologically measurable effects in in vitro and in vivo animal studies. For example, the famous controversial Benveniste paper in Nature showing ultra-dilutions of immunoglobulin E antiserum modulated basophil histamine release (Davenas et al. 1988) was promptly attacked via evaluation by a “quackbuster” and his colleagues. Since then, another published European multi-site study with improved objective technology has now demonstrated that ultra-dilutions of histamine do modulate basophil activation (Belon 2004).
Importantly, the fundamental principles of homeopathy are that the treatment addresses the patient’s entire pattern of problems (holistically) at once in a patient-specific, but not disease-specific, manner. Homeopathic outcomes are different from those in conventional medicine; homeopaths report global and hierarchically-organized multiple, multidimensional changes at local (body part) levels. The very nature of homeopathy is inherently holistic and thus non-specific. Non-specific does not mean biologically inert, i.e., non-specificity is more than a simple “placebo” effect. To infer from the data that homeopathic remedies do not exert disease-specific effects, i.e., that they are not allopathic drugs, is consistent with the claims of homeopathic clinicians and the conceptual principles of the field, but such a conclusion only highlights the need to design clinical studies of homeopathy that reflect the philosophical underpinnings and clinical practices of homeopathy rather than those of allopathy.
The clinical evidence from numerous observational studies on hundreds to thousands of patients in different countries has consistently demonstrated that homeopathy benefits the majority of patients who receive it for a wide range of conditions and shows an excellent safety record. In addition to in vitro, in vivo and quantum physic studies of ultra-high dilution, the following include positive clinical studies of homeopathy efficacy for numerous conditions. Most trials use single remedy homeopathy, whereas a few use compound homeopathy based on homotoxicology.
Homeopathy, as a holistic medicine intervention, has important lessons to teach clinicians and researchers with regard to issues in individualized treatment, patterns of outcomes, and even the nonlinear dynamical processes of healing in the patient as a whole system. The following sampling of studies reflect several dimensions of homeopathy and add credibility to this unique, non-toxic system of medicine.