Reasearch in Homeopathy
Information about each remedy's particular healing qualities comes from several sources:
- Toxicological data
- Cured cases
PROVINGS are controlled administrations of unknown homeopathic remedies to healthy people, so that the effects can be observed and described. This process resembles conventional phase I drug trials done with ill patients.
Provers take the homeopathically prepared remedy, and carefully record all symptoms or changes they notice. From the patterning of these symptoms, a "drug picture" can be developed; once this information is collated and organized, it can guide homeopaths in using the remedy for healing sick patients.
Accounts of accidental poisoning, envenomation, and people who have been cured of their symptoms also add to the database homeopaths use in their work.
Though homeopathy is a controversial science, there is both historical and more recent research showing its clinical effectiveness. Homeopathy achieved impressive results treating several 19th century epidemics including cholera, yellow fever, typhoid, and scarlet fever. More recently, positive studies of homeopathy's effectiveness with many conditions including childhood diarrhea, allergies, post-operative trauma, fibromyalgia, and more have been published in peer-reviewed journals.
A 1997 meta-analysis of 89 clinical studies published in the journal Lancet found that, on average, patients treated with homeopathic medicine were 2.45 times more likely to experience a positive therapeutic effect than placebo. [Linde K et al: Are the clinical effects of homeopathy placebo effects? A Meta-analysis of placebo-controlled trials. Lancet. 1997;350:834-43.]
Larger collections of these studies can be found through the National Center for Homeopathy and the British Homeopathic Association web sites:
National Center for Homeopathy
British Homeopathic Association
Mechanism of Action
Controversy also surrounds the biological mechanism of action for homeopathic remedies. After all, they are diluted to the point where no molecules of original substance may be left.
Little is known about how remedies exert their effects, but answers may lie in the structure of the water-alcohol solvent itself. Bellavite and Signorini explored this extensively in their 2002 book, The Emerging Science of Homeopathy: Complexity, Biodynamics, and Nanopharmacology; the story continues to unfold. The molecular bonds in water may be able to store information about substances with which it was previously in contact, and then transmit this information to pre-sensitized biosystems (such as people and animals). This process would be similar to the storage of information on magnetic media like DVD's and computer flash drives.
The field of modern materials science offers possibilities as well. Researchers Dr. Rustum Roy and Dr. Iris Bell have been examining the concept of EPITAXY -- the transfer of information, not material, from the surface of one material (usually solid) to another material (usually liquid) -- with homoeopathic remedies. Since human bodies contain at least 70% water, this seems to at least be a testable hypothesis of action. Further information about this, including a video presentation, can be found at:
National Center for Homeopathy:
Overall, one of the most useful books for those new to homeopathy is Dr. Amy Lansky's Impossible Cure: The Promise of Homeopathy. In it she tells the story of her autistic son's healing through homeopathy, and explores the history, principles, and scientific basis of homeopathy as well. It is available through Homeopathic Educational Services