Clinical Effects of Homeopathy: Just Placebo Effects?

The use of unconventional therapies by persons in developed nations is frequent, ranging from 30% to 70% of patients. Though popular support is prominent, research meeting the standards of current scientific endeavors in proving the efficacy of homeopathy is somewhat lacking.

The authors of this report selected double-blind and/or randomized placebo-controlled trials of homeopathy in a variety of clinical conditions. Of almost 200 trials identified, 119 met the inclusion criteria, and 89 had data adequate for meta-analysis.

Including the 89 studies, the odds ratio was clearly in support of the efficacy of homeopathy (OR = 2.45). Single specific selected clinical presentations were also addressed: ocular symptoms from seasonal allergies had an odds ratio of 2.03 in favor of the efficacy of homeopathy.

The authors conclude that their meta-analysis results are not compatible with the hypothesis that the effects of homeopathy are due to placebo. Although there is not sufficient scientific corroboration for any one individual clinical disorder that homeopathy is more effective than placebo, the aggregate data of meta-analyses indicate that, regardless of plausibility to the traditionally oriented scientist, investigation to discern further the potential of homeopathy is warranted.

Linde K, et al. Lancet 1997;350: 834-843.