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New study rekindles homoeopathy debate

By Daniel Cressey

GPs report benefits for homoeopathy in three-quarters of all patients who receive it, a new observational study reveals.

The analysis of 1,783 consultations with 14 doctors – 10 of them NHS GPs – found homoeopathy seemed effective for a large number of clinical conditions, most notably for anxiety, and depression (see box, right).

But there was only a loose relationship between the type of condition and the particular homoeopathic remedy used to treat it – a phenomenon the researchers referred to as 'individualised prescribing'. The study was published in the peer-

reviewed journal Homeopathy.

Study leader Dr Robert

Mathie, research development adviser at the British Homeopathic Association, said: 'The majority of GPs in this study were treating patients within their normal consultations, which makes the findings all the more impressive. More homoeopathy in primary care would be indicated by this.'

In the study, doctors scored responses to homoeopathic treatments from –3, indicating major deterioration, to +3, for major improvement.

'There is a substantial number of patients for whom +2 or +3 is recorded – that is quite compelling,' added Dr Mathie.

Positive outcomes were recorded in 75.9 per cent of cases, an analysis of 961 cases where there was data from two or more homoeopathic appointments per patient condition found. Only 4.6 per cent were scored as negative.

Scores of +2 or +3 were scored in 61 per cent of anxiety cases, 64 per cent of cough cases and 74 per cent of depression cases.

But GPs remained less than wholly convinced.

Dr Brian Balmer, chief executive of Essex LMC, said: 'I'm quite aware there are lots of things we don't understand. It may be a massive placebo effect.

'But it's very difficult to argue for putting money into stuff that's unproven.'

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