International Scientific Research Group on Homeopathy Meets in Florence

The twenty sixth meeting of GIRI (International Research Group on Very-­low dose and High-­Dilution Effects), met in Florence, Italy on September 20-­22, 2012. The program was organized around four main axes: physicochemical features of HD [high dilution], studies in plants and the field, clinical and veterinary evidence, and laboratory models.
Paolo Bellavite and Lucietta Betti from the Department of Pathology and Diagnostics, University of Verona, Italy and the Department of Agroenvironmental Sciences and Technologies, University of Bologna, Italy discuss the issues presented:

For two centuries, homeopathy and science were considered to be two opposing and conflicting fields. Now things are changing, as scientific evidence begins to support many homeopathic tenets, and the homeopathic world increasingly stimulates science to investigate previously under-­evaluated and little understood subtle phenomena. For 26 years, GIRI has been promoting a fruitful dialog for the sake of furthering true science, i.e., science free from ideological barriers and preconceptions. Novel evidences have quite often disrupted previously dismissed phenomena grew in importance within new conceptual frameworks. The unusual properties of HD, which deserve further investigation, are potentially relevant not only ␣the environmental sciences and the future of humankind as a whole.

The full editorial pdf. article can be downloaded from here.

Scientific Trial: Homeopathic Remedy Treats Menopausal Hot Flushes Successfully

A study using a homeopathic remedy with menopausal women experiencing hot flashes in 35 active gynaecologists’ practices in France has shown dramatic success. Researchers are now recommending it as a “new therapeutic option with a safe profile for hot flashes in menopausal women.” “BRN-01 [the homeopathic remedy] seemed to have a significant effect on the HFS, compared with placebo.” The study included one hundred and eight menopausal women and was multicentered, randomized, double-blind and placebo-controlled.

Here is the Abstract

Background: Homeopathic medicines have a place among the non-hormonal therapies for the treatment of hot flashes during the menopause.

Objective: The objective of this study was to evaluate the efficacy of the non-hormonal treatment BRN-01 in reducing hot flashes in menopausal women.

Study Design: This was a multicenter, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study carried out between June 2010 and July 2011.

Setting: The study was conducted in 35 active centers in France (gynecologists in private practice).

Patients: One hundred and eight menopausal women, >=50 years of age, were enrolled in the study. The eligibility criteria included menopause for <24 months and >=5 hot flashes per day with a significant negative effect on the women’s professional and/or personal life.
Intervention: Treatment was either BRN-01 tablets, a registered homeopathic medicine containing Actaea racemosa (4 centesimal dilutions [4CH]), Arnica montana (4CH), Glonoinum (4CH), Lachesis mutus (5CH), and Sanguinaria canadensis (4CH), or identical placebo tablets, prepared by Laboratoires Boiron according to European Pharmacopoeia standards. Oral treatment (2 to 4 tablets per day) was started on day 3 after study enrollment and was continued for 12 weeks.
Main Outcome Measure: The main outcome measure was the hot flash score (HFS) compared before, during, and after treatment. Secondary outcome criteria were the quality of life (QoL) [measured using the Hot Flash Related Daily Interference Scale (HFRDIS)], severity of symptoms (measured using the Menopause Rating Scale), evolution of the mean dosage, and compliance. All adverse events (AEs) were recorded.
Results: One hundred and one women were included in the final analysis (intent-to-treat population: BRN-01, n = 50; placebo, n = 51). The global HFS over the 12 weeks, assessed as the area under the curve (AUC) adjusted for baseline values, was significantly lower in the BRN-01 group than in the placebo group (mean +/- SD 88.2 +/- 6.5 versus 107.2 +/- 6.4; p = 0.0411). BRN-01 was well tolerated; the frequency of AEs was similar in the two treatment groups, and no serious AEs were attributable to BRN-01.
Conclusion: BRN-01 seemed to have a significant effect on the HFS, compared with placebo. According to the results of this clinical trial, BRN-01 may be considered a new therapeutic option with a safe profile for hot flashes in menopausal women who do not want or are not able to take hormone replacement therapy or other recognized treatments for this indication.
Trial registration number (EudraCT): 2009-016959-21.

Pharmaceutical Industry Funding of Anti-homeopathy Skeptic Groups Uncovered

Sense about Science, a well funded anti-homeopathy skeptic organization in the United Kingdom, complained about a consumer’s group’s assertion that they represent and are funded by the pharmaceutical industry.  After further investigation, even more funding than previously revealed was uncovered.

A spokesperson for the consumer group investigating Sense about Science said, “In investigating their complaints we looked more closely at the sources of funding of Sense About Science, and have found that our original figures for the charity’s support by the pharmaceutical industry were too conservative.”

The consumer group, H:MC21 also wrote in response to Sense about Science complaining:

You quote us as saying that Sense About Science “received over 35% of its donation funding from the pharmaceutical industry between 2004 and 2009”, but then refer only to funding “from pharmaceutical companies”. As a result of the investigation following your email, we have found that our original claim about Sense About Science’s funding was too conservative. In fact Sense About Science appears to have received an average of 42.3% of its total income between 2004 and 2010 from pharmaceutical companies or organisations clearly linked to the pharmaceutical industry. In 2006, the year [the anti-homeopathy] ‘Sense About Homeopathy’ was published, there was a huge leap in such funding, from £37,300 (36.9% of total income) to £102,165 (51.2% of total income). Full details are included in Appendix 1.

The Canadian and USA skeptic organization called Centre for Inquiry, which is another anti-homeopathy skeptic group, is almost entirely funded by a director of a pharmaceutical company. They initiated a law suit against a homeopathic manufacturer and retail pharmacy selling homeopathic remedies which was unsuccessful. Now they are attempting to block the sale of homeopathic remedies in pharmacies.

Both groups are attempting to stop consumers’ choice of alternative health modalities and stop the sale of homeopathic remedies.

Indian Homeopathic Doctors Double Over Two Decades to 246,000

In the last decade India’s registered homeopathic practitioners have doubled and the number of homeopathic hospitals and dispensaries has increased four fold. In 1980 there were 105,000 registered homeopaths and in 2010, 246,000 registered homeopaths.

According to the Times of India, the estimated number of people in India using homeopathy in 2010 was 120 million and by 2013 the number is likely to exceed 160 million.

Director general of Central Council for Research in homeopathy Dr R K Manchanda said, “Till now, the benefits of homeopathy were established through observational studies. Now we are validating homeopathy’s benefits through randomized controlled trials and fundamental research. Homeopathy is especially beneficial for arthritis, skin and respiratory diseases, gastric problems like irritable bowel syndrome and allergies. Homeopathy costs one fifth of an allopathic consultation in any government set up.”

Source: Times of India


German Research Centre for Environmental Health Says Large Percentage of German Children Use Homeopathy Remedies

A study by the German Research Centre for Environmental Health, Institute of Health Economics and Health Care Management in Neuherberg, Germany has determined through a study that over 24 % of German children are given homeopathic remedies. The study was published in a leading international pharmaceutical journal.

Here is the abstract of the study:

Utilization and costs of conventional and alternative pharmaceuticals in children: results from the German GINIplus and LISAplus birth cohort studies.
Italia S, Batscheider A, Heinrich J, Wenig C, Bauer CP, Koletzko S, Lehmann I, Herbarth O, von Berg A, Berdel D, Hoffmann B, Schaaf B, Wolfenstetter SB.
Helmholtz Zentrum München, German Research Center for Environmental Health, Institute of Health Economics and Health Care Management, Neuherberg, Germany.
The socioeconomic determinants for drug utilization, especially in children, have not been investigated sufficiently so far. The study’s aim was the estimation of prevalences and determinants of conventional, homeopathic and phytotherapeutic drugs and expenditures.
Population-based data on drug utilization of 3,642 children in two German birth cohorts (GINIplus and LISAplus, 10-year follow-up) were collected using a self-administered questionnaire. For analysis, the reported drugs (use within the last four weeks) were classified into the therapeutic categories of ‘conventional medicine’, ‘homeopathy’, ‘phytotherapy’ and ‘others’. Drug costs were estimated using pharmaceutical identification numbers.
In all, 42.3% of the children reported drug use; 24.1% of the drugs were homeopathic and 11.5% were phytotherapeutic. The proportion of children who took at least one homeopathic remedy was 14.3%. Drugs prescribed by physicians were dominated by conventional medicine (76.5%), whereas in non-prescribed drugs, both homeopathy and conventional medicine accounted for 37% each. Boys (OR = 0.78) used less homeopathy than girls. Income showed only a weak influence. Education had a strong effect on the use of phytotherapy such that children of mothers with higher school education (>10 years vs. <10 years) used more phytotherapy (OR = 2.01). If out-of-pocket payments arose (n = 613), the mean was €20. On average, total drug expenditures summed up to €39 in 4 weeks for drug users if only clearly identifiable prices for drugs were considered (58% of all data).
Utilization of homeopathy is common in children from the analyzed cohort. User profiles of homeopathy and phytotherapy differ from each other and should be analyzed separately. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.