A report into the effectiveness,safety and cost efficiency of homeopathy has recently been published in
the UK. Unlike any previous reports, the research specifically looked at empirical evidence and homeopathy’s effectiveness in every day clinical practice. The investigation focused on patient outcomes and aimed to compare the quality of homeopathy trials against the quality of trials in conventional medicine
The report, which was conducted by the Swiss Health Technology Assessment and reviewed 22 stud- ies on homeopathy, concluded that￼ 20 of these studies had been favourable to homeopathy. They showed that as a system of medicine, homeopathy is efficient, and that in the majority of the cases investigated, homeopathic substances could stimulate a specific reaction. This was particularly notable for the treatment of allergies, e.g., hayfever, and upper-respiratory tract infections, where there was strong supporting evidence for the use of homeopathy. The report also highlighted the principle of individualisation within homeopathy and the importance that this holds.
The paper also discussed the safety and cost-effectiveness of the homeopathy. It concluded that when appropriately applied, homeopathic medicines produced few adverse reactions and because high potency remedies had been diluted so many times, they were free from toxic effects.
The remedies themselves were also cost efficient to deliver and when they were successful in the treatment of illnesses, this could indirectly reduce dependency on (costly) conventional interventions. In turn, by increasing the general well-being of patients, the number of days taken of work as a result of sick leave could be minimised.
Following on from this report, the Swiss researchers have called for further systematic clinical studies of homeopathy, preferably using larger cohorts of participants than in earlier trials and over an extended period of time. Wherever possible, they have recommended that homeopathic trials should be compared against conventional medical interventions used to treat the same conditions.
Confirmation by the report that homeopathy is now increasingly being acknowledged to provide a safe, effective and cost efficient system of medicine has consequently resulted in the need to explore issues such as how homeopathy works and what conditions it treats most effectively.
Homeopathy in Healthcare: Effectiveness, Appropriateness, Safety, Costs. Bornhöft & Matthiessen (2012).
This article was first published in issue 16 of 'Homeopathy Healthy Medicine'.
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