The Status of Homeopathy Research

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Most analyses of the research on homeopathy have concluded that there is little evidence to support homeopathy as an effective treatment for any specific condition, and that many of the studies have been flawed. However, there are some individual observational studies, randomized placebo-controlled trials, and laboratory research that report positive effects or unique physical and chemical properties of homeopathic remedies.

 

Homeopathy Research Challenges

Homeopathy is difficult to study using current scientific methods because highly diluted substances (known as ultra-high dilutions or UHDs) cannot be readily measured, making it difficult to design or replicate studies. In addition, homeopathic treatments are highly individualized and there is no uniform prescribing standard for homeopaths. There are hundreds of different homeopathic remedies, which can be prescribed in a variety of different dilutions to treat thousands of symptoms. On the other hand, many aspects of the interactions between the homeopathic practitioner and his or her patients may be quite beneficial, and can be studied more easily.

Controversies Regarding Homeopathy

Homeopathy is a controversial area of CAM because a number of its key concepts are not consistent with established laws of science (particularly chemistry and physics). Critics think it is implausible that a remedy containing a miniscule amount of an active ingredient (sometimes not a single molecule of the original compound) can have any biological effect—beneficial or otherwise. For these reasons, critics argue that continuing the scientific study of homeopathy is not worthwhile. Others point to observational and anecdotal evidence that homeopathy does work and argue that it should not be rejected just because science has not been able to explain it.

NCCAM-Funded Research

NCCAM-supported exploratory grants have sought to understand patient and provider perspectives on homeopathic treatment, and have explored the effectiveness of homeopathic remedies with various succussions (vigorous shaking) and dilutions.