Clinical Abstracts: Homeopathy and Asthma

With Comments by Adriane Fugh-Berman, MD

Source: Lewith GT, et al. Use of ultra-molecular potencies of allergen to treat asthmatic people allergic to house dust mite: Double-blind randomised controlled clinical trial. BMJ 2002;324:520.

Design/Setting/Subjects: A double-blind randomized controlled trial in 38 general practices in Hampshire and Dorset of 242 asthmatics allergic to house dust mites.

Intervention: Subjects received either oral homeopathic immunotherapy or placebo and were assessed over four months (including three clinic visits and every other week diary assessments).

Funding: Smith’s Charity, NHS Executive South and West Research and Development Directorate, Boiron.

Results: There was no difference between groups in most outcomes. Both groups improved significantly from baseline in forced expiratory volume in one second and asthma bother, as well as several diary measures, but homeopathy was not superior to placebo.

Comments: Several previous studies had suggested that homeopathy might be helpful in hay fever.1 This larger study focused on asthma, using both objective and subjective measures. There was a different pattern of response in the treated group, consisting of alternating deterioration and improvement, but the researchers point out that this is inconsistent with homeopathic theory (which holds that symptoms may initially be aggravated before improving).

Reference

1. Taylor MA, et al. Randomised controlled trial of homoeopathy versus placebo in perennial allergic rhinitis with overview of four trial series. BMJ 2000;321:471-476.