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M usculoskeletal complaints improve with homeopathy
M illions of people suffer from musculoskeletal complaints including rheumatic diseases in
countries all across the world1-3. M any consult with complementary and alternative
medicine (CAM ) practitioners4 and homeopathy is one of the most frequently used CAM
modalities5. $Q LQFUHDVLQJ DPRXQW RI GRFXPHQWDWLRQ FRQILUPV KRPHRSDWKV¶ SRVLWLYH
experience in treating patients suffering from these complaints.
Twenty-three studies testing the effect of homeopathy in musculoskeletal complaints
As many as 23 research studies have been carried out to determine the effect of homeopathy for patients suffering from rheumatic and other musculoskeletal complaints6-30 (rheumatoid arthritis6-
14, osteoarthritis15-20, fibromyalgia21-25). These trials, which include a total of over 2 300 patients,
overall show positive results in favour of homeopathy. In most studies patients suffered from
long-term complaints and were treated with homeopathic remedies for an average of four to five
months. Examples include studies with 77 % improvement over the first month of treatment in
400 rheumatic patients20; reduced severity of pain in 87 % after six months14; and reduced pain,
stiffness and swelling of joints in 85 % after three months of treatment of long-standing
osteoarthritis17. Homeopathy is safer and at least as effective as conventional treatment
In five studies including almost 500 patients homeopathy was found to be more effective than
conventional treatment11,13-14,20,25, in three (n=778 participants) it was equally effective15-16,18 and
only in one small trial (n=36) was homeopathy inferior to conventional drugs19. All ten studies
considering the safety of treatment found that homeopathy was safe and not associated with any
of the side-effects which are typical of many conventional drugs10-12,14-16,18-19,25-26. In four trials
patients were able to reduce their intake of conventional drugs6,9,11,29, including reduction of
prednisone (p<0.05)6, a drug known to cause a number of unwanted side-effects. Homeopathy better than placebo
There is always a chance that improvement after any type of treatment may be the result of the so-FDOOHGSODFHERHIIHFWZKLFKWRDODUJHH[WHQWLVH[SODLQHGDVEHLQJLQGXFHGE\SDWLHQWV¶Eelief that they will improve. The positive effect of thorough homeopathic consultations, often lasting more than one hour, was indeed confirmed in a recently published trial on homeopathic treatment of patients suffering from rheumatoid arthritis7. However, in the case of homeopathic remedies used to treat patients suffering from rheumatic and other musculoskeletal complaints, seven out of ten studies show an effect which is significantly better than placebo (positive n=518 participants8,10-11,21-24,27,30, not positive n=1636-7,19). In a systematic literature review researchers found significant positive effects of homeopathy compared to placebo even when they only considered studies that were of the highest methodological quality (p=0.002)5. Other researchers concluded that although there was not sufficient evidence to allow for firm conclusions, results to date favoured homeopathic treatment in osteoarthritis31.
I mprovements in objective tests
In three trials objective tests were used to determine the efficacy of homeopathic medicines8,17,22-
23. Blood tests showed significant reduction of ESR after homeopathic treatment in a blinded trial
including 58 patients diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis (p<0.01)8. Blood tests also showed that
homeopathic remedies positively influenced antioxidant mechanisms in a trial of 47 patients
suffering from long-standing osteoarthritis17, an effect which is important in treatment of these
patients. In a study of patients diagnosed with fibromyalgia, EEG measurement showed
significant differences between those who had received homeopathic medicines and those who
were given placebo22-23. Conclusion
: Homeopathy should be considered as a viable therapeutic option for patients
suffering from rheumatic and other musculoskeletal complaints. More research should be carried
out to further determine the effectiveness of homeopathy for these patients.
For safe and effective homeopathic treatment, patients should make sure that the practitioner they
consult is a registered member of an ECCH or ICH Member Association. For information, please
refer tand outside Europe
1. Shapira Y, Agmon-Levin N, Shoenfeld Y. Geoepidemiology of autoimmune rheumatic diseases. Rheumatology
2. Branco JC, Bannwarth B, Failde I, Carbonell JA, Blotman F, Spaeth M, Saraiva F, Nacci F, Thomas E, Caubère
JP, Le Lay K, Taieb C, Matucci-Cerinic M. Prevalence of fibromyalgia: A survey in five European countries. Semin Arthritis Rheum 2010; 39: 448-453.
3. Tobón GJ, Youinou P, Saraux A. The environment, geo-epidemiology, and autoimmune disease: Rheumatoid
arthritis. Journal of Autoimmunity 2010; 35: 10-14.
4. Visser GJ, Peters L, Rasker JJ. Rheumatologists and their patients who seek alternative care: an agreement to
disagree. Br J Rheumatol 1992; 31(7): 485-90.
5. Jonas WB, Linde K, Ramirez G. Homeopathy and rheumatic disease. Rheumatic Disease Clinics of North
6. Andrade LEC, Ferraz MB, Atra E, Castro A, Silva MSM. A randomized controlled trial to evaluate the
effectiveness of homeopathy in rheumatoid arthritis. Scand J Rheumatol 1991; 20: 204-208.
7. Brien S, Lachance L, Prescott P, McDermott C, Lewith G. Homeopathy has clinical benefits in rheumatoid
arthritis patients that are attributable to the consultation process but not the homeopathic remedy: a randomized controlled clinical trial. Rheumatology Advance Access 2010. Doi:10.1093/rheumatology/keq234.
8. Fisher PA, Scott DL. A randomized controlled trial of homeopathy in rheumatoid arthritis. Rheumatology 2001;
9. Freye E, Latasch L. Analgesic therapy of rheumatoid arthritis - Part II: A study of combined allopathic and
homeopathic therapy. Biomed Ther 2000; 18(2): 193-196.
10. Gibson RG, Gibson SL, MacNeill AD, Watson Buchanan W. Homoeopathic therapy in rheumatoid arthritis.
Evaluation by double-blind clinical therapeutic trial. Br J Clin Pharm 1980; 9: 453-459.
11. Gibson RG, Gibson SLM, MacNeill AD, Gray GH, Dick WC, Watson Buchanan W. Salicylates and homoeopathy
in rheumatoid arthritis: Preliminary observations. Br J Clin Pharm 1978; 6: 391-395.
12. Kozlovskaya LV, Mukhin NA, Rameev VV, Sarkisova IA, Epstein OI. Potentiated antibodies to tumor necrosis
factor-alpha in the therapy of patients with rheumatoid arthritis. Bull Exp Biol Med 2003; (Suppl. 1): 152-154.
13. Noskov SM, Snigireva AV, Dolgova LN, Somova MA, Polyakov DP. The use of homeopathic preparation
Vozraston in the therapy of patients with rheumatoid arthritis. Bull Exp Biol Med 2003; (Suppl. 1): 94-95.
14. Petrov VI, Babaeva AR, Cherevkova EV, Epstein OI, Sergeeva SA. Efficiency of potentiated antibodies to tumor
necrosis factor-alpha (Artrofoon) in the therapy of patients with rheumatoid arthritis. Bull Exp Biol Med 2003; 135(Suppl. 1): 155-158.
15. Anderson K. A complex homeopathic preparation for the treatment of osteoarthritis. Explore 2006; 2(3): 234. 16. Nahlaer G, Metelmann H, Sperber H. Treating osteoarthritis of the knee with a homeopathic preparation: results of
a randomized, controlled, clinical trial in comparison th hyaluronic acid. Biomed Ther 1998; 16(2): 186-191.
17. Pinto S, Rao AV, Rao A. Lipid peroxidation, erythrocyte antioxidants and plasma antioxidants in osteoarthritis
before and after homeopathic treatment. Homeopathy 2008; 97: 185-189.
18. Shealy CN, Thomlinson RP, Cox RH, Borgmeyer RN. Osteoarthritic pain: a comparison of homeopathy and
acetaminophen. American Journal of Pain Management 1998; 8: 89±91.
19. Shipley M, Berry H, Broster G, Jenkins M, Clover A, Williams I. Controlled trial of homoeopathic treatment of
osteoarthritis. The Lancet 1983, January 15: 97-98.
20. Van Haselen RA, Fisher PA. A randomized controlled trial comparing topical piroxicam gel with a homeopathic
gel in osteoarthritis of the knee. Rheumatology 2000; 39: 714-719.
21. Bell IR, Lewis DA, Brooks AJ, Schwartz GE, Lewis SE, Walsh BT, Baldwin CM. Improved clinical status in
fibromyalgia patients treated with individualized homeopathic remedies versus placebo. Rheumatology, 2004 a. Doi: 10.1093/rheumatology/keh111.
22. Bell IR, Lewis DA, Lewis SE, Schwartz GE, Brooks AJ, Scott A, Baldwin CM. EEG Alpha sensitization in
individualized homeopathic treatment of fibromyalgia. Intern J Neuroscience, 2004 b, 114, 1195-1220.
23. Bell IR, Lewis DA, Schwartz GE, Lewis SE, Capsi O, Scott A, Brooks AJ, Baldwin CM. Electroencephalographic
cordance patterns distinguish exceptional clinical responders with fibromyalgia to individualized homeopathic medicines. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 2004 c, 10(2), 285-299.
24. Fisher P, Greenwood A, Huskisson EC et al. Effect of KRPRHRSDWKLF WUHDWPHQW RQ ¿EURVLWLV SULPDU\
25. Relton C, Smith C, Raw J, Walters C, Adebajo AO, Thomas KJ, Young TA. Healthcare provided by a homeopath
as an adjunct to usual care for fibromyalgia (FMS): results of a pilot randomised controlled trial. Homeopathy, 2009, 98, 77-82.
26. Gottwald R, Weiser M. Treatment of rheumatic diseases with a homeopathic preparation. Biomed Ther 2000;
27. Haila S, Koskinen A, Tenovuo J. Effects of homeopathic treatment on salivary flow rate and subjective symptoms
in patients with oral dryness: a randomized trial. Homeopathy 2005; 94: 175-181.
29. Van Wassenhoven M. Retrospective study of rheumatological patients in a private homoeopathic medical practice.
30. Wiesenauer M, Gaus W. Wirksamkeitsnachweis eines Homöopathikums bei chronischer Polyarthritis. Eine
randomisierte Doppelblindstudie bei nieder-gelassenen Ärzten. (A randomized double-blind trial on the efficacy of a homeopathic drug for rheumatoid arthritis.) (German) Aktuelle Rheumatologie 1991; 16: 1±9.
31. Long L, Ernst E. Homeopathic remedies for the treatment of osteoarthritis: a systematic review. Br Hom J 2001;
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