Homeopathy does not show benefits beyond placebo

January 01, 0001

Homeopathy does not show benefits beyond placebo

The aim of this study by a researcher from the UK was to evaluate the evidence for and against the effectiveness of homeopathy. The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews (generally considered to be the most reliable source of evidence) was searched in January 2010. Cochrane reviews with the term "homeopathy" in the title, abstract or keywords were considered. Protocols of reviews were excluded. Six articles met the inclusion criteria.

Each of the six reviews was examined for specific subject matter; number of clinical trials reviewed; total number of patients involved; and authors’ conclusions. The reviews covered the following conditions: cancer, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, asthma, dementia, influenza and induction of labour. The findings of the reviews were discussed narratively (the reviews’ clinical and statistical heterogeneity precluded meta-analysis).

The reviewer concluded: "The findings of currently available Cochrane reviews of studies of homeopathy do not show that homeopathic medicines have effects beyond placebo."

An expected finding, although it would be preferable to see a study with more rigour making such a point.

For the full abstract, click here.

MJA 192(8):458-460, 19 April 2010
© The Medical Journal of Australia 2010
Homeopathy: what does the "best" evidence tell us? Edzard Ernst. Correspondence to Edzard Ernst: Edzard.Ernst@pms.ac.uk

Category: HSR. Health Services Research. Keywords: homeopathy, evidence, systematic review, journal watch.
Synopsis edited by Dr Stephen Wilkinson, Melbourne, Australia. Posted on Global Family Doctor 30 April 2010

Pearls are an independent product of the Cochrane primary care group and are meant for educational use and not to guide clinical care.